Monday, March 12, 2007

Celebrating Virginia Hamilton

Virginia Hamilton was born on this day in 1936. One of five children, she traced her interest in literature to the fact that her parents were "storytellers and unusually fine storytellers, and realized, although I don't know how consciously, that they were passing along heritage and culture and a pride in their history." She was so moved by this tradition that oral storytelling methods appear in her writing. For her work, she was honored with the National Book Award, the John Newbery Medal, the Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and the Hans Christian Andersen Medal.

Even though M.C. Higgins, The Great won the Newbery and all sorts of other awards, my favorite book is still The People Could Fly. This terrific collection of American Black Folktales was honored as the Coretta Scott King Award winner, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book (with fantastic illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon), a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, a Horn Book Fanfare selection and a Notable Social Studies Trade Book (just to mention a few).

Ms. Hamilton died five years ago, but her family has kept her web site going. Stop in and take a look, then pick up one of her books and remember her this day.

1 comment:

  1. In one of my graduate courses we spent a month studying her work, I liked her folklore books. (They're very well done, and very practical for a classroom setting.) But I must admit I'm partial to Bluish.