Nine Months: Author Miranda Paul's 2019 BGHB Nonfiction Honor Speech

Thank you for honoring Nine Months. (It’s a risky thing to tell your agent and editor you want to write a children’s book, intended for the trade market and aimed at three-to-six-year-olds, on the topic of fetal development.) 

Tonight you honor a ten-year journey to produce a book that I had wanted, but that didn’t yet exist. You also honor the scientists and doctors who assisted with this book’s production, or helped make the discoveries behind the research, which is especially important in these times when science books and science itself are often pushed behind other topics of the day. 

To my husband Baptiste Paul, the father of our two beautiful children, I am grateful for all the support as I researched, wrote, and rewrote this book. To my children Soleil and Amani, who provided the real-life inspiration for Nine Months, thank you for putting up with all my science-fun-facts-at-dinner conversations. 

To my parents, who have expressed their pride in and support for my work, thank you. To my Grandma D, who took in fourteen foster babies in addition to giving birth to seven of her own, I am grateful for the frequency of new-baby news that our extended family experiences (the newest of which arrived at 6:30 p.m. yesterday). 

To my agent, Karen Grencik, for making this book deal happen. To my editor, Neal Porter, who didn’t flinch (well, maybe a little) at tackling this sensitive biological topic and who honored me greatly by using anatomically correct terms within editorial discussions and email subject lines. Thank you for accepting my firm stance on the beauty of the birth scene, and for keeping my sections about premature babies and infant loss in the book. These sections mean more to my family — and to many women — than you may know. To the entire team at Holiday House, for giving this book an incredible birth into the world.  

[Read Horn Book reviews of the 2019 Nonfiction winners.]

Jason Chin — once again, you’ve captured the vision in my head and transformed it into something more miraculous than I ever could have imagined. You’ve now given our family two distinct gifts, and my children delight in seeing another interracial family and biracial characters spotlighted on the pages. 

Thank you to the educators who have invited me to share Nine Months with students. Moments of student engagement mean everything. Minerva, a fourth-grade student here in Massachusetts, opened up to share her story. “That’s me,” she said, pointing to the preemie baby on the last page. She told me about how she, too, had been born six weeks early and spent her first Halloween in the intensive care unit. She was so proud to talk about how the UV lights and the doctors were able to save her (and her mom let me know I could share this story with you). 

Nine Months is the story of the born, the unborn, and the science that powers the miracle of life. Science knows each and every one of us. It’s an honor to help young people come to know science, too. Thank you.

From the January/February 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. Read illustrator Jason Chin's BGHB speech here. For more on the 2019 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards, click on the tag BGHB19.

Miranda Paul

Author Miranda Paul received a 2019 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book Award for Nonfiction for Nine Months: Before a Baby Is Born (Porter/Holiday).

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