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The Writer's Page: Hello Again

Writing sequels or companion books to my novels has never been tempting to me, probably because I like to think each book accomplished all I’d intended to say. After completing When Zachary ­Beaver Came to Town (1999), I felt satisfied that I’d finished the story of Toby, Cal, and Zachary....

Why Read Books from the Past?

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Mitali Perkins's nonfiction book for adults Steeped in Stories: Timeless Children's Novels to Refresh Our Tired Souls (Broadleaf Books) will be published in August. In it Perkins examines seven classic children's novels — Anne of Green Gables, Heidi, Emily of Deep Valley, The Hobbit, Little Women, A Little Princess, and...

Nonfiction Windows So White

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Every reader of this magazine knows that Rudine Sims Bishop’s “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors” framework has become a central part of our vocabulary as we evaluate books for children and teenagers. Indeed it is a kind of organizing metaphor in the industry-wide push for a more representative literature...

More Than a Footnote: Challenges for BIPOC Nonfiction Authors

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For as long as I can remember, I have had three loves: jazz, poetry, and history. Those passions merged in my 2000 nonfiction title The Sound That Jazz Makes — a manuscript that was rejected more than a dozen times. The book’s first review was so negative that I cried....

In Memoriam: Jill Paton Walsh (1937–2020)

It’s a trick of the human mind that we rarely remember experiences in sequence. Rather, our brain does something scattershot, collaged. When emotion inflects memory, as happens at the death of a friend, it can be a struggle to organize the onrush of the past into narrative coherence. The news...

"Sometimes You Have to Lie": A Conversation with Leslie Brody

Nearly sixty years after the publication of Harriet the Spy (Harper, 1964) the book remains as fresh as ever, so it’s not surprising that Harriet’s author was just as captivating. In her new, thoroughly researched biography, Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author...

The Writer's Page: Navigating the N-Word

The mere mention of the n-word is usually cause for conversation and consternation, to put it mildly. Whenever used in a song lyric or a piece of literature, dialogue and debate are quick to follow. Even so, the n-word is a brick wall I occasionally crash into, on purpose, whenever...

Writing as an Act of Defiance

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As the Vietnam War escalated in the late 1960s I marched and protested, raged and wept for our country and Vietnam. Fifty years later, we are living through another extraordinary, terrifying time. We’re being stalked by a pandemic, living under political strong-arming, in a deeply divided country. Our economy teeters...

In Memoriam: Lee Kingman Natti (1919–2020)

Editor, author, artist, and designer Lee Kingman Natti’s association with The Horn Book, Inc., spanned eighty years — surely a record. Bertha Mahony, founder of The Horn Book Magazine and owner of The Bookshop for Boys and Girls, gave the nine-year-old Lee advice on choosing ten free books from the...
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