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Brooklyn Book Festival to present ‘Best of Brooklyn’ Award to Jacqueline Woodson

Brooklyn BookBeat

September 1, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Jacqueline Woodson. Photo courtesy of Juna F. Nagle
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Multi-award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson has been named the recipient of the Brooklyn Book Festival’s annual Best of Brooklyn (BoBi) Award. The festival, which is New York City’s largest free public literary event, each year pays tribute to an author whose work exemplifies or speaks to the spirit of the festival’s hometown, Brooklyn. In addition to honoring Woodson, the festival is recognizing three more of Brooklyn’s own—Andrea Davis Pinkney, Ben Katchor and Bernice McFadden — with collectible bookmarks that will be available in library branches and select bookstores.

“The Literary Council chose Jacqueline Woodson this year in recognition of an extensive and phenomenal body of work that gives voice to Brooklyn past and present, for readers of all ages,” said Johnny Temple, chair of the Brooklyn Book Festival Literary Council. “We celebrate Ms. Woodson as a proud daughter of Brooklyn whose writing honors community, family and friendship, perfectly capturing the spirit of the festival.”

“I am deeply honored to be chosen by the Brooklyn Book Festival Literary Council to receive this year’s BoBi Award,” said Woodson. “My years and life in Brooklyn guided my stories and my hopes for what I wanted to accomplish as a writer. I wanted to write about communities and people that were familiar to me. I wanted to write about people of color. I wanted to write about girls. I wanted to write about friendship and all the ways we form family. There were huge holes in the literature of my childhood. I wanted to fill those holes and my life in Brooklyn helped guide me in creating those lives and stories,” Woodson continued.

The festival launched the BoBi Award in 2007. Past honorees include Jonathan Lethem, Edwidge Danticat, Jhumpa Lahiri, Paul Auster, Walter Mosley, John Ashbery, Pete Hamill, Lois Lowry and James McBride.

Woodson, who lives Brooklyn, is the author of more than two dozen award-winning books for young adults, middle-graders and children. Among her many accolades, Woodson is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a three-time National Book Award finalist, and a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. Her “Miracle’s Boys,” which won the Coretta Scott King Award in 2001, was followed by “Feathers” (2007), “After Tupac & D. Foster” (2008) and the Newbery Honor-winning “Brown Girl Dreaming” (2014), which also received the National Book Award. In June 2015, Woodson was named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation, a position she will hold until June 2017.

“Jacqueline Woodson’s Brooklyn reflects the diversity and richness of our borough. It is a pleasure to honor an author who so clearly loves Brooklyn; another fine chapter in our long and storied literary tradition,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

Writing as a profession first occurred to Woodson when she was chosen, in the fifth grade, to be the literary editor of a magazine. Eventually, three books helped convince her to make writing her career: “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, “Daddy Was a Number Runner by Louise Meriwether, and Ruby” by Rosa Guy. Before connecting with these works, Woodson thought that only books featuring mainstream white characters or works by William Shakespeare constituted valid literature. But in these three books, Woodson saw parts of herself and her life, and realized that literature could be about people like her — and she knew she wanted to write.

Woodson’s most recent novel, “Another Brooklyn,” is her first adult novel in 20 years. Narrator August and her friends Sylvia, Angela and Gigi transport the reader to 1970s Bushwick in a coming-of-age story reflecting on the nature of friendship and innocence lost.

Woodson will receive the award at the festival’s annual celebration of authors on Sept.17.


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