Editorial: Pedals to the Medals (March/April 2023)

Sometime after the start of the pandemic, and after we were allowed to go back outside to the city playgrounds, my younger son began to ride his bicycle ­without training wheels. First the learning and then the doing became a bright spot of fresh air and relative freedom, slightly expanding his perimeter and providing ­tangible results of sometimes frustrating, sometimes frightening, physical hard work. “Kids on bikes having adventures” is something of a trope (see: Horn Book Guide/Reviews Database: Subject: Sports--Bicycles and bicycling), but first you’ve got to learn how; as does the star of Elena Rides / Elena monta en bici by Juana Medina, which provides this issue’s cover art. “Kids on bikes on Horn Book covers” is becoming another trope, as Elena joins Ramona (March/April 2016), S­parrowboy (­September/October 2017), and the Patchwork Bike rider (January/February 2020) in demonstrating their great pride in pedaling. Our covers are something in which we take great pride, and you can see the Horn Book cover ­gallery at hbook.com/page/horn-book-magazine-cover-gallery-2.

Last issue’s strikingly gorgeous and enigmatic cover was by Jason Griffin, and the Caldecott committee must have agreed with our 2022 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards judges that Ain’t Burned All the Bright is rightfully a picture book (at nearly four hundred pages), since Griffin was awarded a Caldecott Honor at the 2023 American Library Association Youth Media Awards on January 30. The YMAs are always a treat, and this year’s selection offered much to contemplate and discuss, not least being Amina Luqman-Dawson’s excellent novel Freewater, a Horn Book Fanfare selection, winning both the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Author Award. We’ll have lots more to say about this year’s winners and honorees in our annual July/August ALA–themed special issue.

Until then, check out our web coverage on hbook.com, especially Martha ­Parravano’s sheroic Calling Caldecott work. This is Calling Caldecott’s thirteenth year, and its sixth year of bestowing the ceremonial Robin Smith Picture Book Prize. It went to The World Belonged to Us by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Leo ­Espinosa: “the quintessential Robin Smith picture book,” as selected by Robin’s husband, Dean Schneider. On page 22, Schneider ruminates on his own life lived in dedication to family, teaching, and story in “I Gave My Life to Books” (paraphrasing Sendak). Nonfiction author Pamela S. Turner takes an ­evolutionary and anthropological approach to storytelling on page 8. “We usually think of story as a product of culture…rather than a product of biology. We forget that our minds, as much as our opposable thumbs, have deep evolutionary roots.”

We’re debuting two new columns in this issue: “The Illustrator’s Eye” (­companion to our longtime “The Writer’s Page”), with an inaugural article on page 13 by JooHee Yoon about her visit to the Kerlan Collection and her color-separation ­inspiration from the work of Roger Duvoisin; and “On Audiobooks,” with an ­article by former Horn Book intern Kate Smith on page 18 about the challenges and rewards of transforming a graphic novel into an audiobook edition. Having myself listened to the audiobook version of Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl with my kids about a billion times, I’ve marveled at the thought and preparation that goes into ­making those very specific visual-to-audio decisions, and even more so with a graphic novel as source material. To be honest, I could’ve done without a few of those whistle-blow sound effects in the Jamieson, but to quote the actual book by Lee ­Durfey-Lavoie and Veronica ­Agarwal being highlighted in Smith’s article: Just Roll with It.

From the March/April 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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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