Publishers' Preview: Fall 2023: Five Questions for Jason Reynolds, Jerome Pumphrey, and Jarrett Pumphrey

This interview originally appeared in the September/October 2023 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Fall 2023, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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When the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture dedicated the Langston Hughes Auditorium, There Was a Party for Langston at the New York Public Library. This book turns the party into a celebration of Black creativity writ large.

1. Jason, what is your most cherished discovery at the ­Schomburg Center?

The Rivers Cosmogram. To learn that Langston Hughes’s ashes are buried beneath it…it was the first time in my life experiencing one of my heroes having a living monument.

2. When did you first discover Hughes’s work?

I recited “I, Too” in middle school and fell in love with it.

3. We’re seeing another Black Renaissance in books for young people today. What do you see as your place in that?

I’m not sure what my place in it is, but I feel extremely fortunate to be part of it. When I’m done, if I’m missed, I hope it’s briefly; there are so many great voices, so many beautiful Black stories to read in my stead. Then we’ll know things have changed.

4. Jerome and Jarrett, what artists would you honor at the party? Pick three.

If we had to pick only three, they would probably be Aaron Douglas, Jacob Lawrence, and Elmer Simms Campbell. All three worked with Langston. They were all trailblazers in their own right, and their work inspires us to this day.

5. Jason, Maya Angelou and Amiri Baraka danced at the party for Langston — who would be your first partner on the dance floor there?

Toni Morrison. There are many pictures of her in her writing studio but also many of her having a good time, laughing and partying. I think she’d be a good dance partner.

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Jason Reynolds photo: Adedayo "Dayo" Kosoko.

Jerome Pumphrey photo: Jerome Pumphrey.

Jarrett Pumphrey photo: Eric Pumphrey.

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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