Blowing the Horn: My First Horn Book Visit

The memory of my first trip to the Horn Book offices is both hazy and vividly clear. I had to do a bit of detective work to figure out the date, but I’ve deduced that it must have been in July of 1991. I’d gone with editor Susan Hirschman to Boston to speak at the Simmons College (now University) Summer Institute in Children’s Literature. Sometime after the conference I made a trip to the Horn Book offices on Beacon Hill for an arranged visit.

Editor in Chief Anita Silvey greeted me and gave me a tour. I felt as if I’d entered a temple to children’s books — and, oh, did I covet the books on the many shelves. I wanted to sit and look and read and take.

But Anita had other things in mind. My picture book Chrysanthemum would be published that fall. Anita presented cookies and champagne, and we toasted my new book. Then I was given a Xeroxed copy of the forthcoming Horn Book Magazine review of it. The review was starred, and in it, Mary M. Burns compared my work to that of both Beatrix Potter and Arnold Lobel. Talk about a place and a state of great happiness — I was in heaven.

I’ve been writing and illustrating children’s books for over forty years. Some of the traveling and appearances and conferences and book-related events have conflated, melted together, edited and amended themselves over time, disappeared. But moments from that Horn Book experience are with me forever, bright and lucid.

From the May/June 2024 special issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Our Centennial. For more Horn Book centennial coverage, click here. Find more in the "Blowing the Horn" series here.

Single copies of this special issue are available for $15.00 including postage and may be ordered from:

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Kevin Henkes
Kevin Henkes

Kevin Henkes is the winner of the 2020 Children’s Literature Legacy Award. He recently illustrated Finding Things, and his next novel is Still Sal (both Greenwillow, 2024).

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sherri winston

What a lovely remembrance. And so similar to my own experience. I vividly remember seeing all the books at Little, Brown and my urge to run and dive head first into all the stories. Thank you, Kevin, for all you've contributed to children's fiction.

Posted : May 10, 2024 12:33



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