Editorial, First Issue, 2024 (January/February 2024)

At long last: welcome to the very first issue of our second century! The Horn Book Magazine began publication in 1924 (in October, but who’s counting?) as an offshoot of The ­Bookshop for Boys and Girls in Boston, one of the first ­children’s bookstores in the country. No one can say it quite like Bertha E. (Mahony) Miller — “Lest this horn-blowing become tiresome to you or to us, we shall publish The ­Hornbook only when we have something of real interest to say; not oftener than four times a year.” Please read our founder’s inaugural editorial on page 11.

The bookstore was established in 1916 as an adjunct of the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union, a groundbreaking social services organization in Boston that began in 1877 (and, after a couple of mergers, continues its mission today as EmPath). Before the Magazine but after the bookstore, in 1920, was a “book wagon.” A traveling branch of The Bookshop for Boys and Girls and Women’s Educational and Industrial Union, and nicknamed William, the vehicle was driven by two very game young women, Ruth Drake and Pauline Langley, who had been recruited by Bertha, delivering books throughout New England.

This was all between 1916 and 1924 — we’re just getting started! Check out our wonderful seventy-fifth anniversary coverage, from 1999, and our website, hbook.com, for more background and context. The Horn Book “grew up” alongside the then relatively new fields of children’s publishing and children’s librarianship, and there is so much to learn, appreciate, question, critique, and ponder. There are our luminary contributors — pick any name in children’s literary history (not to ­mention Eleanor Roosevelt’s 1940 letter to the editor!). The splendid cover ­gallery: it was Randolph Caldecott until 1985, when Maurice Sendak took up the charge. Our annual Fanfare best books selections, the most recent starting on page 12. Reviewers’­ greatest hits and misses. “Controversies & Kerfuffles.” The ­Newbery, Caldecott, Children’s Literature Legacy, and Coretta Scott King Book Awards speeches and profiles. Our own glorious Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winners and honorees; find 2023’s on page 28.

While it would be so tempting to spend hours and days and our entire centennial­ year looking back, what matters greatly is where we are now, how we got here, and where we are going. Our overarching theme for the year is: Exploring the Past, ­Present, and Future of Children’s Literature (more on page 17), with a secondary theme of collaboration that has emerged quite organically. Our website will delve more deeply into the archive, with supporting articles, interviews, reviews, and other materials. We’ll also have some online fun: Trivia Tuesdays, March Madness Cover Bracket, polls, contests, photos, Horn Book Reminiscences — Roger Sutton’s is on page 62; please share yours.*

The Horn Book has always been unique in that our readership is as varied as it is discerning. You are librarians (primarily), children’s literature scholars, authors and illustrators, booksellers, teachers, parents, young people. “Children’s ­literature enthusiasts,” as we like to say; and we’re optimistic that this year’s excellent ­coverage — and our next hundred years of it — will make everybody into one. (And a subscriber — we love subscribers!)

*Email: info@hbook.com | Facebook.com/TheHornBook | X (formerly Twitter) @HornBook | IG @thehornbook

From the January/February 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. For more Horn Book centennial coverage, click here.


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

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Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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