Newbery Honor Author Carole Boston Weatherford

Click here to watch the 2021 ALA Youth Media Awards press conference.

I asked Tae Keller, Christina Soontornvat, Carole Boston Weatherford, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, and Erin Entrada Kelly to answer two questions and finish two sentence starters.

Hello, Carole Boston Weatherford! Congratulations on winning a Newbery Honor for BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom.

I love hearing about the CALL.

Carole Boston Weatherford: When I answered the phone and heard the invitation to log onto a Zoom call, I assumed it was a spam caller. I hung up. Then a committee member called. He told it was not a spam call, but an ALA committee and asked me to log on Zoom when I received the next call. This was not my first rodeo and I assumed the call was from the Sibert committee since the call had come the night before to inform me of a Sibert Honor for Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement. I figured the Sibert Committee was probably calling about R-E-S-P-E-C-T or perhaps about Beauty Mark. When the committee informed me that BOX had won a Newbery Honor, I was beyond surprised.

What was running through your heart when the Newbery committee was clapping and cheering for you?

Carole Boston Weatherford: After 25 years in the industry, I am grateful for the recognition. I felt most blessed that my 95-year-old mother was visiting and could share in the moment. I had dictated my first poem to her in first grade and she later enlisted my father, a high school printing teacher, use my early poems as typesetting exercises for his students. So, at age seven or eight, I first saw my work in print—before the dawn of desktop computers. A literary career was beyond my parent’s realm of possibility in those early days of the civil rights movement, but they instilled in me the confidence to pursue this path.

What does receiving a Newbery Honor for BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom mean to you?

Carole Boston Weatherford: This honor affirms my mission: to mine the past for family stories, fading traditions and forgotten struggles. BOX chronicles one of slavery’s most daring escapes. Although slavery is a shameful chapter in our national saga, I am committed to documenting that history. When the Civil War erupted, 4 million African descendants were enslaved in the U.S. Imagine the stories not yet told. With narratives like BOX, I give voice to my ancestors. The Newbery ensures that Brown’s story will be passed down.

Please finish the following sentence starters:

Story is the building block of civilization.

School libraries empower lifelong learners.

Thank you, Carole Boston Weatherford! 

Carole Boston Weatherford, a New York Times best-selling author and poet, was named the 2019 Washington Post Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award winner. Her numerous books for children include the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor Book Becoming Billie Holiday, illustrated by Floyd Cooper; the Caldecott Honor Books Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, and Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, which was also a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book; and the critically acclaimed Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library, illustrated by Eric Velasquez. Carole Boston Weatherford lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Michele Wood is an illustrator, painter, filmmaker, and designer with a master’s in divinity from Christian Theological Seminary. She has won numerous awards for her illustration work, including a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, as well as a nomination for an NAACP Image Award. Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom is her first book with Candlewick Press. She lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Borrow Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 


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