Caldecott Honor Artist Vera Brosgol

Yippie-i-oh! I have not stopped smiling for Javaka Steptoe, Vera Brosgol, R. Gregory Christie, Carson Ellis, and Brendan Wenzel since the ALA Youth Media Awards press conference on Monday. It is an AWESOME week for children's literature. 

Click here to watch the ALA Youth Media Awards Webcast
For the fourth year in a row, I asked the Caldecott winners to answer two questions and finish two sentence starters. Vera Brosgol, the author-illustrator of Leave Me Alone, kicks off the series. Thank you, Vera! 

Congratulations, Vera! Everyone loves hearing about THE CALL. What ran through your head when the phone rang? What were you thinking about when the Caldecott committee was clapping and cheering for you? 

Vera Brosgol: Please understand, it had never crossed my mind that I stood any chance of getting a call that morning. No one at my publisher or agency had suggested it might be in the running, and while a couple of very sweet schools had included it in their Mock Caldecotts, it was my understanding that you don’t get awards for your first picture book. You work hard for years and years and maybe then you get one if you’re lucky. So I was sleeping the sleep of the dead.

My phone is always on vibrate so it took about six calls for me to even wake up. The number was from Atlanta, which is where my boyfriend’s family lives, so my first thought was “Oh no, why are they calling us at 4 am.” By this point they’d given up and left a voicemail, so I listened to it with dread in my heart and a frightened, wide-awake boyfriend next to me. 

“It’s okay! It’s good! It’s good! It’s so good!!!” I whispered. Now I have a recording of that shining moment to replay anytime I want. And I wasn’t given the opportunity to embarrass myself on speakerphone to a roomful of librarians, so I’m calling it a double-win.

Illustration Credit: Vera Brosgol 
What does the Caldecott mean to you? 

Vera Brosgol: It means reassurance. Last year I quit my animation job to pursue writing and illustrating full-time, and I was terrified. I didn’t know if I would be good enough, if my books would find an audience, if I would get to do it for more than a few sweet years before going back to a day job. But I wanted to take the risk and see how it went. This honor is the biggest “YES! KEEP GOING!” I could possibly have hoped for, and that’s all that I want to do.

Illustration Credit: Vera Brosgol 
Please finish these sentence starters: 

Reading is the key to empathy, self-knowledge, and a really good time.

School libraries are a tiny-chaired wonderland.

Borrow Leave Me Alone! from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 


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