Join us for the 2015 Mary Nagel Sweetser Lecture

Delivered by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Andrea Davis Pinkney will deliver the 2017 Mary Nagel Sweetser Lecture on (im)possible dreams. A powerhouse in children’s literature and publishing, Pinkney embodies the liberating success possible when authors and publishers dream of excellence, inclusion, and diversity in books for young people. A New York Times bestselling author, she has been awarded multiple Coretta Scott King Book Awards, Jane Addams Children’s Literature Honor citations, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, as well as several Parenting Publication Gold Medals. Pinkney launched “Jump at the Sun,” the first African-American children’s book imprint at a major publishing company. She’s received four NAACP Image Award nominations, and, as an editor, has acquired authors such as Christopher Paul Curtis, Allen Say, Marilyn Nelson, Sharon G. Flake, Lois Lowry, and Toni Morrison.

Institute Speakers

M. T. Anderson, honored by the Michael L. Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the National Book Award, envisages the past in The Strange Mr. Satie, Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad, and the Octavian Nothing sequence.  He also speculates terrifying futures in Feed and in the upcoming Landscape with Invisible Hand.

Jeannine Atkins writes in prose and verse forms to conjure the dreams of women and girls who changed our worlds in Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science, Borrowed Names: Poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters, and Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis.

Julie Berry’s The Passion of Dolssa, selected as a 2017 Michael L. Printz Honor, turns to 13th century France to visualize the depth of faith, trials of friendship, and cost of compassion. Berry’s dreamscapes range across genres with wit and intricate narrative in All the Truth That’s in Me, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, and The Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys series.

Associate Professor at the University of Memphis, Lorinda Cohoon serves as the Carol S. Kline Visiting Professor to entrance students in the graduate symposium tied to this institute. Her publications include work on Margaret Mahy, “Transgressive Transformations of Maid Marian in Robin Hood Retellings,” and Louisa May Alcott.  

David Hyde Costello designed the signature image for our 2013 summer institute: Love Letters. His art features the fanciful, fluid line and vivid watercolors from his notable picturebooks, including A Crow of His Own, Little Pig Joins the Band, and Little Pig Saves the Ship, and his school visits invite viewers into reverie with music and puppets.  

Producer of the documentary “Eyes on the Prize” and visionary broadcast journalist in art, culture, and public affairs, Callie Crossley currently hosts “Under the Radar with Callie Crossley” on WGBH-Radio, is a regular commentator on Public Radio International’s “The Takeaway,” and is a frequent host of WGBH-TV’s “Basic Black.” 

Celebrated for her inventive informational books, Candace Fleming dreams new life into historical figures such as Buffalo Bill, the Romanov Family, and Imogene Tripp. Giant Squid, a 2017 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, debunks the chimeric creature, whereas On the Day I Died tells supernatural stories from beyond the grave.   

Whether in the Joey Pigza, Rotten Ralph, or Jack books, Jack Gantos creates characters who walk the line between loveable darlings and the stuff of nightmares. His memoir, Hole in My Life, received the 2003 Michael L. Printz Award and Robert F. Sibert Award; Dead End in Norvelt received the Newbery Medal and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction in 2012.  

Raúl Gonzalez III won the 2017 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award for Lowriders to the Center of the Earth, a graphic novel where innovative use of colored pencils and markers complements an astronomical adventure story grounded in real friendship. Committed to connecting young people to the visual arts, Gonzalez and 125 Boston kids created “and their Families” in the Linde Family Wing of the Museum of Fine Arts.

Christine Heppermann, an alumna of the Master of Arts in Children’s Literature program at Simmons, builds castles in the sky with the Backyard Witch series, speaks of hallucinatory realities of female identity in Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty, and complicates self-discovery in Ask Me How I Got Here, a verse novel.

Ekua Holmes captures the power of dreaming in her art for this institute program, a formative image from Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets. Her first picturebook, Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, received unprecedented acclaim in 2016 with Caldecott and Robert F. Sibert Honor citations and recognition with the John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award.

In Ash, Malinda Lo embraces the fairy tale as a revisionist form from which to plumb the profundity of emotions. Science fiction thrillers Adaptation and Inheritance debunk the delusion that identity is knowable, stable, and finite as they project a troubled and troubling future. Lo was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award and three-time finalist for the Lambda Literary Award.

Juana Medina’s Juana and Lucas defies easy categorization. Winner of the 2017 Pura Belpré Award, it captures a young child’s trials and aspirations in learning English as her second language, illustrates the energetic beauty of Bogotá, and gives its vibrant protagonist an enviable best friend in her dog, Lucas.

Neal Porter was selected as a Mentor by the 2015 Carle Honors in recognition of his 35+ year career championing the ambitions of award-winning authors and illustrators. Publisher of the Roaring Brook Press imprint at Macmillan, he collaborated with Fleming and Rohmann to bring Giant Squid into publishing reality.

Eric Rohmann was recognized with a 1995 Caldecott Honor in his debut picturebook, the wordless Time Flies, at once time-travel and informational book. In 2003, My Friend Rabbit won the Caldecott Medal.  His cover illustrations for His Dark Materials embody the majestic and the prophetic of Pullman’s series.  Bone Dog, Oh, No!, and The Cinder-Eyed Cats display the far-reaching styles of Rohmann’s evocative art.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz was named a 2013 Stonewall Book Award, Michael L. Printz Honor book, and Pura Belpré Award. There, in Last Night I Sang to the Monster, and in the newly released The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, Sáenz articulates the liminal vistas of hope and humanity that texture adolescent lives, loves, and individualities.

Sydney Smith’s limited palette and bold lines in the wordless Sidewalk Flowers, a 2015 USBBY Outstanding International Book, display the voiceless desires of a red-hooded young girl on a city walk with her inattentive father. The White Cat and the Monk, a 2016 New York Times Best Illustrated Book, employs haunting watercolors in its enchanting tale of solitary study and the promise of companionship.

In an inimitable mixed-media style, 2015 Caldecott Honor and Sibert Medalist Melissa Sweet presents achievements of the impossible in The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus; A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Peppin, winner of a Orbis Pictus Award; Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909; and the recent Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White

Don Tate, recently honored as the 2016 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award-New Writer winner for Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton, may be best known for his illustrations in over 50 books for young people. The recent Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions depicts the power of tinkering at daydreams.

Tim Wynne-Jones, Canadian nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, honored with multiple Governor General’s Awards, and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner, makes possible the finely crafted novel with intertwining stories and the inextricability of past and present in the historical fiction The Emperor of Any Place, the realistic Blink and Caution, and short story collections, Some of the Kinder Planets and The Book of Changes.