Have You Ever Seen a Flower? by Shawn Harris

Hello, Shawn Harris!

Shawn Harris: Hi Mr. Schu!

Congratulations on winning a 2022 Caldecott Honor for Have You Ever Seen a Flower? I love learning about the CALL. What was running through your heart when the Caldecott committee was clapping and cheering for you?

Shawn Harris: My phone had been off, (it was Saturday afternoon) and my wife got a call from my editor at Chronicle Books, Taylor Norman, to pass along the message that I should turn on my phone. It was relayed that Taylor’s husband, Mac Barnett, (who, aside from being my oldest friend, is also a kids’ book author) needed an urgent caucus with me about a book we’re working on. When I powered on and called Mac, he said he was on the road with poor cell service, and that he’d call me right back on his google number.

I know, in retrospect, suspicious behavior with the ALA Awards approaching, but honestly, I was properly foiled. When we’re working on a project together, a lot of our interactions go down like this. Our definition of “urgent” is laughable.

So picking up the call, I was expecting to opine on, say, whether the First Cat in Space should sleep in its suit, not RECEIVE EMBARGOED NEWS OF A CALDECOTT HONOR! I was truly stunned, and received the news in a daze. I did clock how proud and confident the committee sounded about choosing my book for the honor. That felt really nice. They clapped and cheered, and then the call was over.

I tottered out of my studio, told my wife the news, and called my editor. She picked up the phone laughing. I began piecing together the dominoes they’d had to line up to get me to answer the call. As if my mind wasn’t sufficiently blown, Taylor told me to look outside. Mac wasn’t lying about being on the road– there they were, unbuckling my godson Rafe from his carseat, waving. The sun was warm for January. Oxalis blossoms were popping from every ditch after a hard rain. It was an afternoon I’ll never forget.

What does receiving a Caldecott Honor for Have You Ever Seen a Flower mean to you?

Shawn Harris: It’s fun to imagine the Caldecott committee with my book open on their table, poring over it, poking at it, and approaching it from every angle to see if it remains sturdy and true. The immense trust librarians and picture book fans around the world place on the committee’s work means that so many more kids will get to read my book and maybe recognize themselves in the creative splendor that is the natural world.

Please finish the following sentence starters:

School libraries are the gardens where tomorrow takes root.

Picture books are like songs– the best ones can be repeated over and over and they never get old.

Thank you, Shawn! Congratulations! 

Shawn Harris is an artist and musician who lives and works in Half Moon Bay, California. His first picture book, Her Right Foot, by Dave Eggers, was the recipient of seven starred reviews. He is also the illustrator of Dave Eggers's What Can a Citizen Do? and Colin Meloy's Everyone's Awake. This is his authorial debut.


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