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Books beyond buildings: Support your local bookstore and library!

For book lovers everywhere — and particularly parents across the country trying to homeschool their children right now — the services of libraries and bookstores are essential. But this pandemic has left these institutions extremely vulnerable, and they need our support now more than ever. Back in February, when we...

Rule Breakers: Stepping Off the Hamster Wheel

I was thirty-one years old. I had two fine arts degrees, both in printmaking. “Printmaking?” an acquaintance once commented. “That’s like having a degree in dressage.” In terms of usefulness or relevance, he meant. Or employability. I was onto something now, though, working at a graphic design and typesetting business...

Rule Breakers: Rule Number One

We’ve been writing about art and artists since 1990 — fourteen books in thirty years — and, like any longtime collaborators, we have a long list of rules. Sometimes we even remind each other about them (politely, of course). One rule we’ve agreed on since we planned our first book...

"Give Me a Decent Bottle of Poison": Writing a Mystery

My most recent book is a middle-grade mystery, my first. I realized, after only a few days of struggling to construct a murder, that I didn’t know how to do it. I’d written plenty of novels, but I’d always begun with a person, not the plot. The person, in this...

Rule Breakers: Trusting My Instincts

I have never felt especially burdened by rules. In fact, I sometimes find it necessary to impose them on myself. For instance: you must spend the next hour writing your essay for The Horn Book! There! Rules are a part of creative work. With every project, an artist must grapple...

Rule Breakers: The Good Kid

From the May/June 2020 Horn Book Magazine Special Issue: Breaking the Rules. Find more in the "Rule Breakers" series here. ...

Disturbing the Universe: Books That Broke the Rules

Betsy Hearne and I have been colleagues for forty years, including working together for a decade at The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. Below, we discuss some landmark rule breakers from our collective memory. —R.S. ROGER SUTTON: So here we are: two longtime reviewers remembering books that broke...

Rule Breakers: The Workaround

From the May/June 2020 Horn Book Magazine Special Issue: Breaking the Rules. Find more in the "Rule Breakers" series here. ...

Rule Breakers: Walk Away

I started ninth grade as one of five girls admitted to the Friends Boys School in Ramallah. We all needed a school that taught in English, but from the first week, the girls were often in trouble for minor infractions. A school mistress kept her sharp eye on us. We...
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