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Opinion

Gimlet-eyed and occasionally -addled views on what's wrong and right in the world of books for young people.

From the Editor – June 2018

Elissa, Martha, and I are all headed south later this month to ALA in New Orleans and I do hope you will say hello. The Horn Book can be found at booth 1425 in the exhibit hall, and we’ll be giving away posters of Caldecott-winner Matthew Cordell‘s cover for the July/August Magazine, which itself will […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Write What’s Missing

It started in seventh grade, the day my best friend brought a beat-up paperback to school and asked me to hold it for her. Garla’s mom was very religious, so at times I found myself keeping stuff for her at my house, things her mother wouldn’t approve of, like her DeBarge and Prince records. That […]

The Book That Changed My Life: A Lifelong Journey

When I was a sophomore in college, I read the book that changed my life. I was considering a major in religious studies, and took the required foundation course. On our syllabus were books and articles looking at many different religions from various points of view: theological, psychological, historical, sociological, anthropological. One book caught my […]

The Book That Changed My Life: A Galloping Good Story

Dear Mrs. Henry: You probably don’t remember me. It’s been a long time — forty-five years, can you believe it? — since I last wrote you. I was in fourth grade then, and my teacher Mrs. Rouse (I’m pretty sure I wrote you about her last time) assigned the class your book Misty of Chincoteague. […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Why Do I Like This Story So Much?

It was spring of my freshman year of high school. While working crew for the spring musical I’d made a new friend, a sophomore named Sarah. (She would become a lifelong friend, my only daughter’s cherished godmother.) Sarah loved books the way I do and was shocked that I’d never read anything by her favorite […]

The Book That Changed My Life: At Home in the Pages

My mother, now ninety — the first person who ever read poems to me — must have given me this book, but she does not remember the occasion. By the time I was seven (1959), my copy was hand-worn and familiar. I toted it proudly. At 608 pages, containing more than 700 poems, it was […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Advice for an Author

I came across Alice Schertle’s book Advice for a Frog, published in 1995 and illustrated by Norman Green, at a time when I was still trying to find my voice in children’s literature. I’d written two middle-grade novels (rejected); countless picture-book texts (all rejected); many, many adult poems (let’s not even go there); and a […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Barbara’s Book

I decided when I was a teenager that I wanted to write and illustrate children’s books. I’d always considered myself an artist, but when I was in high school I narrowed my focus. Children’s books would be my life’s work. This decision came to me, in part, because of Barbara Bader’s book American Picturebooks from […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Oh, What a Circus

Dr. Seuss sketched the spiritual background of my childhood — particularly in books such as If I Ran the Circus, If I Ran the Zoo, and On Beyond Zebra! As a kid, I loved weird beasts, and each of these books featured a menagerie of goggle-eyed, fanged, tufty mammals with bizarre and hilarious habits. But really […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Aliens Don’t Discriminate

As a former librarian and teacher, I have seen the power of books and their ability to change lives—and save lives. A book is a place to fall in love with words, the first seeds to grow into a garden of imagination. The book that changed my life was Virginia Hamilton’s Willie Bea and the […]