Editorial: The Best Job in the World (January/February 2022)

Back in 1996, when I accepted the position of editor in chief at the Horn Book, I told my new boss Duncan Todd that I would stay for five years. Ha! It’s been more than twenty-five years since then, and it’s time for someone else to have a go. By and large, I have had a wonderful time doing what my predecessor, Anita Silvey, once called the best job in the world. She also told me that the Horn Book’s greatest asset was its staff, a fact proven every single day I have worked here. Please let me thank the current staff members and hope that you will allow me to allow them to stand in for all of the terrific people who have worked at the Horn Book during my duration: Al Berman*, Shoshana Flax, Kitty Flynn, Elissa Gershowitz, Cynthia Ritter, and lastly Martha Parravano, whom I must single out as the swellest of editorial colleagues and keeper of the Horn Book flame. Let me also shout out to my main mentors, Zena Sutherland and Betsy Hearne; my best friend in this business, Elizabeth Law; and my off-the-books associate Richard Asch, who, when five years came and went, picked up sticks and moved from our beloved Chicago to be with me in Boston. Reader, I married him. And to all of our reviewers and contributors, thank you. Our readers, you most of all.

I break my tenure at the Horn Book into three eras. Harry Potter appeared on the scene soon after I started, and he changed everything, including — second era — the subsequent creation of a huge market for books for high-school readers, expanding what we thought of as YA in ways both commercial and aesthetic. The third era commenced in 2014 with We Need Diverse Books, a social movement in the children’s book world that, helped by the simultaneous Black Lives Matter movement in the world at large, sought and won better representation of nonwhite faces in publishing and in books. All three of these phenomena — and everything about my job at the Horn Book — occurred in and because of the brave new world of digital publishing and social media. It’s funny to remember that the Horn Book (and please, in my memory, never refer to us as “Horn”) in 1996 had a single email account, and it was housed at AOL. We published the Magazine in print six times a year (and The Horn Book Guide semiannually) until Lolly Robinson taught us how to build a website and make it grow. Now we publish daily in a variety of formats — print, website, blogs, tweets, newsletters, e-blasts, videos. In a world where publishing is a 24/7 business, we’re just trying to keep up.

Back in the last century, people wondered/worried about how I might change the Horn Book, but in truth it is I who have changed the most. I used to roll my eyes whenever the Magazine would re-up founder Bertha Mahony Miller’s high-minded intent (as she stated in the first issue in 1924) “to blow the horn for fine books for boys and girls.” But that is exactly what we have done for almost one hundred years, and I am grateful and proud to have been here for it. I might swap “young people” for “boys and girls” today, and I suspect Bertha and I would argue about just what we mean by “fine,” but the mission is intact. May it go on for another hundred years.

*Al, our advertising director, hates when I say “retirement” because he and I will be continuing with our advertorial interview programs (Talks with Roger, ­Publishers’ Previews) as well as making plans for the Horn Book’s upcoming centenary ­celebration in 2024. I hope you all will join us!

From the January/February 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton was editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc. from 1996-2021. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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Lois Lowry

Godspeed, Roger. May the coming years be wonderful ones.

Posted : Jan 08, 2022 10:09


GraceAnne DeCandido

I simply want to put a few hearts here, from me.

Posted : Jan 07, 2022 06:28


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