Three-time Newbery Honor Author Christina Soontornvat

Happy Tuesday! I'm launching my tenth annual Newbery series today! Yay!

I asked Amina Luqman-Dawson, Andrea Beatriz Arango, Christina Soontornvat, and Lisa Yee to answer two questions and finish two sentence starters. First up is three-time Newbery Honor author Christina Soontornvat.

Hello, Christina Soontornvat! Congratulations on receiving a 2023 Newbery Honor for The Last Mapmaker!

Christina Soontornvat: Thank you, John! These past few days have been very surreal. The first time I received Newbery Honors, everything was shut down and no one was gathering in person at all. So to watch librarians cheering the announcement together and gathering at the Candlewick booth in the ALA exhibit hall – all of that has been so emotional to watch!

I love hearing about the CALLS. What was running through your heart when the committee was clapping and cheering for you?

Christina Soontornvat: I was thinking “I can’t believe it!” and also, “Wow, this is maybe the least glamorous place to take a phone call from the Committee!” I was standing in a parking lot of a grocery store because I had just finished helping my daughter sell Girl Scout cookies with her troop. We were loading cookies into the car, and trying to reconcile the cash with the boxes, and when the phone rang I was sure that it was another Girl Scout parent calling to come pick up a folding table. My daughter answered and then handed it to me. I could tell from the look on her face that it wasn’t about a folding table! I really do love that the call happened that way because my kids have been such a huge part of my writing life, and so it makes perfect sense that they would be a part of that amazing moment!

What does a Newbery Honor for The Last Mapmaker mean to you?

Christina Soontornvat: It is really unbelievable, honestly. I started working on the book in 2013, and I have revised this novel more than any other. It has been completely rewritten – and I’m talking stripped down to the bones – several times, changing POV, changing main characters, everything. Even as we went to print I wasn’t confident that I got it fully right (although I think authors often feel that way). So to have it come out and be well received by readers and then – and then! – recognized by the Committee in this way is just amazing. It means that more readers will get to meet Sai and go with her on her journey, and that just means the world to me.

Please finish the following sentence starters: 

Story is what connects us to the people who came before and to the people we will become.

School libraries are the beating hearts of their communities.

Congratulations, Christina!!! 

Borrow The Last Mapmaker from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 


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