Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy News for Me

I got an email yesterday telling me that How Oliver Olson Changed the World is on the Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books Blue Ribbon list for 2009. From all three imprints under the Macmillan Children's Publishing Group umbrella (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Holt, and Roaring Brook), it was one of only five books to make this list, and one of the others was a National Book Award winner and one a National Book Award finalist.

What makes me happiest is not even that I got this pleasing email (well, maybe that IS what makes me happiest), but that a book of this KIND was recognized. So often recognition goes to BIG books, books that cry out, "I am a major book on an important topic!" or "I am a dark, harrowing book that will sear your very soul!" My book is not a dark, harrowing book that will sear your very soul. And I don't think it's a major book on an important topic.

Except that, in a way, it is. Because whether Oliver Olson will be able to convince his over-protective parents to let him attend the third-grade space sleepover is important to Oliver. Whether Oliver can convince them that he is able, without their hovering help, to make his own solar system diorama (which turns out to be a protest diorama on behalf of Pluto) is important to Oliver. I've sometimes thought that to be a children's book author is by definition to care about problems that the rest of the world doesn't think are very important.

One year I had a book nominated for a bunch of state readers' choice awards, always in competition against the amazing work of genius, Holes, and my son Gregory, meaning to be sympathetic, said, "It's not fair to put a little book like yours on the same list as a big book like Holes."

But sometimes little books do okay. Sometimes they do.


  1. Congratulations Claudia! So exciting!

  2. I am so thrilled for you, Claudia! Bravo for you and Oliver Olson and Pluto! I love Oliver Olson. It's a wonderful book. I bought a copy and gave it to my great nephew.