Ain't Burned All the Bright: Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin's 2022 BGHB Picture Book Award Speech

Jason Reynolds. (Photo courtesy of Jason Reynolds.)

REYNOLDS: First, I just want to take a moment to thank the Horn Book, not only as the bestower of this award but also as a relentless and consistent space exploring and celebrating children’s literature. I’m not sure that enough light is given to the fact that you, year after year, ensure our work gets a platform to be seen, and provide a centralized space for teachers, librarians, and parents to come in search of books for today’s youth. Beyond all this, I also want to thank the Horn Book and the awards committee for choosing our book as this year’s picture book winner. I was totally blindsided, and quite frankly I’m still wallowing in humility and gratitude. I must admit, being acknowledged for anything, especially by the Horn Book, feels incredible, but being acknowledged with Jason is extra special. So, I’d like to just take a second to ask you, J, as this is your very first award in this industry, how are you feeling?

GRIFFIN: Thank you, Jason, and thank you, Horn Book. You know, I’m not sure there’s a single word to adequately sum up the way I feel, but if I had to choose a single word, I’d have to say I’m feeling pretty awesome. For a book like this to win an award like this is huge! Who would have thought that a near-four-hundred-page picture book (we still can’t really categorize this thing) would be a hit? I mean, even we had our doubts while making this book, concerned about whether or not people would “get it,” but we would always encourage each other by saying it doesn’t matter what other people think. What matters is that we made the thing as best we could. That’s it. We put everything we had at the time into this. Many leaps of faith. Which is why I’m so grateful to you, Horn Book, for taking a leap of faith with us and seeing this book, despite its being unlike any other book out there, as award worthy. And thank you to our agent, Elena Giovinazzo, and our publisher, and to our amazing editor, Caitlyn Dlouhy, for all your support. It takes a village. So, J, how did I do?

[Read Horn Book reviews of the 2022 BGHB Picture Book winners.]

REYNOLDS: You did great, man. As you were talking, I was thinking about how this award also kind of feels like confirmation for us. At least to me. I look back on who we were over twenty years ago, crammed into our dorm room at the University of Maryland with absolutely no clue of what was coming, but knowing something had to come. I remember feeling like I’d met one of the world’s most interesting people, and learned that to collaborate on a friendship would be life changing. Sure, you and I would decide to mesh our disciplines there and would produce our first book. And of course we’d move to Brooklyn and do it all over again, this time landing our first publishing deal. But the truth is, the greatest thing we’ve ever made is space for each other to be ourselves. I think Ain’t Burned All the Bright is a culmination of the most current iteration of this ongoing alliance, which makes this award, our first award together, feel more like a gorgeous feather in a sturdy hat. Does that make sense?

GRIFFIN: Makes perfect sense, my friend. You know, you have a way with words. Anyone ever told you that before? Love you, man, and congrats!

REYNOLDS: I love you, too, my brother. Congrats to you! And thank you, Horn Book!

Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin. (Photo: Getty Images/Monica Schipper.)

From the January/February 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. For more on the 2022 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards, click on the tag BGHB22. Read more from The Horn Book by and about Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin.

Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin

Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin are the author and illustrator, respectively, of the 2022 Boston Globe–Horn Book Picture Book Award winner Ain't Burned All the Bright.

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