It all started several weeks ago when the phone rang at 7:30 on a Monday morning. I couldn’t imagine who was calling me at that hour, but since I’m an early riser, I answered the phone on the first ring. Thank goodness I was sitting down, because the next few minutes were a wonderful blur! I listened in amazement as a very nice woman from the American Library Association (ALA) told me that the ALA had awarded a Newbery Honor to my latest novel, A Corner of the Universe. After telling me that the news would be officially announced at 9 a.m., she held out the phone so the rest of the members of the Newbery committee could say congratulations with a rousing cheer. Wow! Let me tell you, this is a great way to start off the day!
For those of you who may not be familiar with the Newbery Award, it goes all the way back to 1922 when it was first awarded in recognition of creative contributions to children’s literature. Newbery committee members read hundreds (maybe even thousands!) of new children’s books each year and then decide which single book will receive the Medal (the top award), and which books, if any, will receive special recognition with an Honor. This year, Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi won the Newbery Medal, and A Corner of the Universe, along with four other books, was awarded a Newbery Honor. This is so exciting, because Newbery books have always been special to me. I was a big reader as a child, and when I saw a gold-embossed Newbery sticker on a book in my library, I’d usually add the book to the must-read stack I was collecting to go home with me. I never imagined that one day a sticker would be on a book I’d written.
After I thanked the Newbery committee members, the fun began. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one excited by the news. The doorbell and telephone started ringing as family, friends, former coworkers, fellow authors, and illustrators treated me to congratulatory flowers, candy, e-mails, and phone calls. My fabulous editor, Liz S., cracked me up by calling me every couple of hours just to talk about it all over again! Hearing from so many people, many of whom I hadn’t seen in a long time, made this one of the best days of my life.
The awards ceremony will take place this June in Toronto, and I’ll be sure to tell you all about when I get back. (I’ll even bring my camera and take some pictures!) For now, readers, I want to say thank you for all your support over the years and for letting me share my good news with you. You know what happy thought I just had? Maybe years from now while browsing through the library, a reader will see the Newbery Honor sticker on A Corner of the Universe. And just like me when I was young, she’ll decide that she simply has to add it to her stack of ‘must-read” books!