Horn Book Reminiscences: The Heart of the Horn Book

While it has been two years since relinquishing the Horn Book editorship, and two more since getting to work meant going to work, I dream almost every night about being back in the office. Recently, identical twins dressed like Stanley Kubrick’s came to visit me there.

A few weeks ago, I became incensed when word came down from management that I had to plug a sweepstakes promotion right smack in the middle of the review I was writing. Another night I dreamed that we were cleaning the office and found one of Anita Silvey’s iconic hats, which we promptly plopped on Elissa’s head and took pictures.

Spooky twins notwithstanding, these are happy dreams. I am in my element: reading, writing, pontificating, and spending time with some of the dearest friends I have ever made. While I have dropped out of any book club I have had the hubris to join, nothing beat sitting around the Horn Book office talking about books — conversations that could be educational, inspirational, hilarious, petty, and downright unprintable in turn, sometimes all in the space of fifteen minutes.

Such dialogue was at the heart of my years at the Horn Book, and I think it is the heart of the Horn Book itself. One hundred years of conversation about books among the editors in the office, between the editors and reviewers, between the Magazine and its readers.

And between Horn Book present and Horn Book past. How often would Martha and I, tackling the week’s cart of books together and assigning reviewers, hold up one title or another and say, “Oh, the Horn Book would love this” and roll our eyes? We knew what we meant; we knew our own history and conversed with it every day. Ghosts — angels? — of Horn Bookers past sat around the book cart with us, chiming in on all the books we were seeing joining all the books we had read, joining the entire library of books the Horn Book had seen across the decades. What a marvelous party.

From the January/February 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton

Editor Emeritus 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 MA in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a BA from Pitzer College in 1978.

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