I am thrilled to be heading to Boston on October 2nd for the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards as Almost Astronauts is one of the two honor titles this year. One of the things I’m most excited about is being in the company of the other two authors in the nonfiction category—David Macaulay and Candace Fleming.
I have long admired Macaulay and Fleming. Candy and I, happily, have had occasions to see each other. But David I have yet to meet, even though we share a home-base state. The closest I have come is hearing him give a downright brilliant speech several years ago in New York. I have been a fan of the mind and the man (and of course, the books) ever since.
It was actually my son, an avid non-fiction reader from a young age, who first brought Macaulay’s books into the house. Underground and Unbuilding were both eye-opening for me. They showed me that however I, as a writer, wanted to look at a topic, was just fine. The old rules didn’t apply. These books have a perspective unique to the author and that was a revelation to me. He also helped me think of my writing in visual terms even though I am not an illustrator. His newest book, The Way We Work, is his latest gem, and the other honor title for the BGHB award.
The winner in the nonfiction category this year is Candace Fleming’s The Lincolns, a book that I have pulled off my shelf over and over again this past year, always to discover some new tidbit or interesting item. I thought The Lincolns was by far one of the most outstanding nonfiction titles of 2008 and literally let out a “Hooray!” when I read she was the winner. Candy’s skill shines out from the pages of this book. But that’s no surprise to me. I became a fan back in 2003 with her Boxes for Katje picture book. Not only did I love the story, I admired the way she took a real story about adults (based on her Mom’s experience) and transformed it in a way that captured the essence of its meaning so kids could better relate to it.
So why am I using my monthly blog spot on INK to gush about my fellow BGHB nonfiction colleagues? It is not simply because I am a fan, but also because it’s important to recognize the lessons we continually learn from our peers as we grow and evolve as artists. Whether it is conscious in the moment or not, there are nuggets we respond to in other people’s work that tells us something about our own truths. And for that I will be forever grateful.
And now…I have to go buy new shoes!