celebrating the best

Attending the National Book Awards Finalists reading was a fabulous experience. Congrats to young people’s literature winner Judy Blundell for What I Saw and How I Lied!

I was able to reunite with fellow Viking Children’s Books author Laurie Halse Anderson, who read from her incredible Chains. She has an amazing talent for writing both young-adult and historical fiction. All of her young-adult novels are my absolute faves and Fever 1793 was so gripping that it left a lasting impact on me. When a book can make you laugh and cry and change the way you see the world, that is a remarkable achievement indeed. Here’s Laurie with BH:

Laurie Halse Anderson and Scot

Laurie let me hold her medal. I am happy to report that it is just the right weight. She was amazed at this second opportunity to win the National Book Award, but I think it’s karma. She has consistently and impressively put out such substantial, shattering, inspiring work, that how can she not be nominated again?

Thought: Contemporary poetry rocks. This is not the dusty poetry of back in the day that we had to decode in high school English during the mandatory poetry unit every year that I completely dreaded. What a snore that stuff was. But if we had read fantastic poetry from this century, I might now have a more authentic love for poetry that extends beyond E. E. Cummings. Things have definitely changed, and I do hope that high school curricula will be updated to reflect this evolution.

The poetry winner was Mark Doty for Fire to Fire: New and Collected Poems. It includes such astute observations as “all things by nature are ready to get worse.” He wrote about the Pulaski Skyway and other random details I didn’t know anyone else noticed, ones that depict a bittersweet time of our lives so perfectly. That’s what’s so amazing about all of these finalists. They tell the stories of our lives in a way that is relatable and true, a way that connects us all. Kudos!

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