Carole Boston Weatherford
2019 Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award Winner
The Children’s Book Guild of Washington, D.C., has selected Carole Boston Weatherford as its 2019 Nonfiction Award Winner. The award, given annually since 1977, honors authors or illustrators whose total work has contributed significantly to the quality of nonfiction for children.
Weatherford’s books introduce individuals and subjects through careful research, often using different poetic styles to engage young readers. While some of her books tell the stories of famous figures such as Lena Horne and Billie Holiday, she also brings lesser known people such as photographer Gordon Parks and race car driver Wendell Scott to a wider audience. Though she writes on many topics, Weatherford’s work often showcases the breadth and depth of African-American history, from the 1700’s to the present day.
Weatherford has won numerous honors for her individual books. Freedom in Congo Square won a Charlotte Zolotow Award for best picture book text. Weatherford also won a Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor for Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement and the 2018 Walter Dean Myers Award for Schomberg: The Man Who Built a Library.
Nonfiction Award Committee member Cecilia Cackley was particularly impressed by the text in Weatherford’s picture books. “Whether she is writing in rhyming poetry, free verse or rhythmic prose, she has great respect for the child audience and doesn’t talk down to the reader, even when writing about difficult topics.”
Weatherford will be honored at a Children’s Book Guild Award Luncheon on May 11, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Luncheon details will be available online at childrensbookguild.org.
Kirkus Reviews Editor Vicky Smith Addressed the Guild on October 18th
As children’s editor of Kirkus Reviews (a position she’s held for 10 years), Vicky Smith has witnessed numerous trends in children’s publishing. Some, such as spates of books featuring giraffes or octopuses, may be fleeting. But others, such as growing awareness of the need for books that reflect the racial, ethnic and gender diversity of readers, are here to stay. She explains that one of her goals in the 21st century is to ensure that books “by and about people of color and other diversities will find readers across the country regardless of their personal identities.”
For this reason, she instituted a policy at Kirkus whereby characters in children’s and young adult fiction are identified in reviews by race or ethnicity. She has also diversified her roster of reviewers to foster sensitivity to cultural nuances in reviews.
A former children’s librarian and later director of an independent public library in Maine, Smith has served on Newbery and Caldecott committees, and she chaired the 2010 Sibert Award Committee. In addition, she is an adjunct professor of children’s literature at Simmons College.
Smith’s interests are wide and include beekeeping and cycling. She was a contestant on Jeopardy, and she formerly held the Guinness world record for a team read-aloud marathon (which only proves, she says, that anyone who can read can break a record). She encourages everyone to read often and widely, offering this advice: “Approach each book you open with the willingness to be surprised.”
On October 18, Vicky Smith discussed the evolving landscape of children's literature and the challenges it presents, including the joys and pitfalls of reviewing diversity.