Editorial: Centennial Eve (November/December 2023)

“Twas the eve of our hundredth / and all through these pages / we’ve been Blowing the Horn / for Fine Books for All Ages!” Shoshana Flax’s parodies are far superior (see Holiday High Notes on page 10; and her Parodies for Charities ­side-gig). But it’s hard for any of us Horn Bookers to contain our enthusiasm in this final issue as ninety-nine-year-olds. January/February 2024 kicks off our centennial, a year-long commemoration of the history of our publication, our industry, and our shared regard for “fine books for young people.” See details — and our clever new HB100 logo by Lolly Robinson — at right. These are just some of our many ideas. We’re taking requests, so let us know* what you’d most like to see ­covered. And gather up memories, anecdotes, photographs, fanart, and all things Horn Book for a planned yearlong virtual scrapbook (there might be swag).

The cover of this issue features gorgeous art by Erin K. Robinson from The Magical Snowflake. It’s not snowing here in New England (yet), but doesn’t it just feel like you could reach out and touch those fluffy flakes? Follow the ­children into the magazine (and to page 10) to discover our annual selection of ­winter-holiday-themed picture books, including Erin K. Robinson’s offering written by the late, great Bernette Ford. Roger Sutton interviewed Bernette and George Ford in our May/June 2019 Special Issue: The Coretta Scott King Book Awards at 50; all the articles from that issue are on our website, hbook.com, along with a vast collection of archival materials (and counting!), all of which would be perfect for professional edification and/or snow-day reading.

In case you missed Zetta Elliott’s Zena Sutherland Lecture last May, we’ve included an excerpt on page 22; you can watch the entire presentation on YouTube. Zena Sutherland was Roger Sutton’s mentor (more in our archive); and Elliott’s examinations of her own family background and influences, the origins of her “blue boy” character, and the meanings and trappings of fame are fascinating and ­instructive. Educator Pamela Brunskill’s article “Teaching News Literacy” on page 40 has intriguing resonances with the Lecture. I’m imagining Elliott’s Scottish tour guide, “Bob,” caught embellishing the facts and on trial along with Elsa (she was arrested — did you hear?). Critical thinking skills are absolutely key to young people’s learning, and Brunskill makes the vital case for their natural and deliberate integration into all curricula.

And now for some “Jewish geography”: at a neighborhood block party last year, I discovered that Laurel Snyder is my neighbor’s cousin. (“What does that make us?” “Absolutely nothing!” Reference, anyone?) Snyder’s Writer’s Page column on page 32 reflects on her childhood experiences of feeling apart from her own culture, until finding one special book that made her feel seen and no longer alone. It calls to mind the insidiousness of book banners’ mission to keep underrepresented people isolated — and why they must not succeed.

A few months ago, and inspired by this year’s blockbuster Barbie movie, I asked online: What are the most memorable last lines in children’s literature? Now, with the year coming to a close, I’d still like to know. For me it’s hard to beat “…and it was still hot” (Where the Wild Things Are) and “Charlotte was both” (Charlotte’s Web), but the possibilities are endless.

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


From the November/December 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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