The Massachusetts Center for the Book hosted a lovely gathering of authors, poets, illustrators, legislators, librarians, readers, and writers, Tuesday, at the State House, to present Massachusetts Book Awards for books published in 2014 and 2015, and also to award the first annual Library of Congress Literacy Award for Massachusetts to the Literacy Volunteers of the Montachusett Area.
For complete information about the 2014 and 2015 winners, please visit Massachusetts Center for the Book. Today I thought I’d share a few photos and some impressions from the event, which celebrated books and reading and libraries as well as recognizing and honoring the talents of the authors and illustrators.
In addition to receiving book awards, many of the authors and illustrators received citations from their senators or representatives. At the podium after receiving a citation from his legislator, poet Richard Michelson, whose children’s picture book S Is for Sea Glass (Sleeping Bear, 2014) was a 2015 Must Read honor book, quipped that it was nice to receive “a different kind of citation” for a change.
Jennifer Taub, author of Other People’s Houses, a book about the housing bubble that preceded the 2008 financial crash, spoke sobering words about the current situation and said that Other People’s Houses (Yale, 2014) is still very relevant now.
“Thank you to all of you who support literature, especially poetry. I think it is the least-selling genre, but the one that we reach for when we need it the most.” — January Gill O’Neil, author of the poetry collection, Misery Islands, winner of the 2015 Massachusetts Book Award for Poetry.
“I grew up in a tough neighborhood in Brooklyn and, without libraries, instead of standing here I’d be in rehab. Of that, I am positive!” — Randy Susan Meyers, author of Accidents of Marriage, a Must-Read 2015 Fiction honor title.”
I didn’t get a decent photo of Jennifer Haigh, who was there to receive the award for News from Heaven (HarperCollins, 2013), the Massachusetts Book Award 2014 Fiction winner, but she joined many of the honorees and legislators in saying how much of a role libraries have played in her life. Because of where she grew up, in a small Pennsylvania town, she commented that “Without books and libraries, unlike Randy, I wouldn’t be in rehab, I’d be doing hair somewhere. So thank you to libraries and the Massachusetts Center for the Book!”
“We are an immigrant nation…The Boston Girl reminds us of the gifts people bring when they come to our shores.” — Anita Diamant, author of The Boston Girl (Scribner, 2015), a Must Read 2015 Fiction honor book.
Accepting the Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction 2015 for her book, Everything I Never Told You (Penguin, 2014), author Celeste Ng said she grew up in Ohio but came to Massachusetts as a child and when she got out of the car she told her mother, “I want to live here.” She came here for college and never left.”I did the math and realized I’ve now lived longer in Massachusetts than anywhere else.” – Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You, Massachusetts Book Award 2015 for Fiction winner.
Massachusetts native Alicia Potter, author of Jubilee: One Man’s Big, Bold, and Very, Very Loud Celebration of Peace, a Must Read 2015 children’s picture book honoree, said she was a teen librarian in the 80s and was sure that had an influence on her becoming a children’s book author. Jubilee illustrator, Matt Tavares, said he had never heard about the National Peace Jubilee of 1869 before receiving the assignment to illustrate this book, “and it took place right here.”
Young adult author Katherine Howe, told a story of getting angry with her parents as a teen and fleeing the house, but her parents knew her well enough to find her right where she had fled to…the local bookstore.
“Thank you to libraries for young readers’ being able to ‘flee their parents’ into worlds of imagination and literature.” – Katherine Howe, author of Conversion, a Must Read 2015 young adult honor title.
“Going Places is a book about collaboration. I’ve done a lot of books, but it means a lot to me to do a book with the collaborator I was born with.” – Peter H. Reynolds, illustrator of Going Places (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, 2014), winner of the Massachusetts Book Award 2015 for Children’s/YA.
“Since poets are known to be failed talkers, I’m just going to say thank you.” – Jeffrey Harrison, author of the poetry collection Into Daylight (Tupelo, 2014), a Must Read 2015 Poetry honor book.
Thank you to Sharon Shaloo and the Massachusetts Center for the Book; the senators and representatives who took time out of their busy days to come to the ceremony and luncheon; the library community who came to Boston again right after ALA Midwinter; and especially to the authors and illustrators whose creative talents were being honored!