National Book Awards Acceptance Speeches

Kimberly Willis Holt, Winner of the 1999 YOUNG PEOPLE'S LITERATURE AWARD
for When Zachary Beaver Came to Town

I tried to do the run, Steve, but I think I was going to trip. I'll hope you'll forgive me, because I'm so nervous, so I'm going to be reading this speech. I did not expect to be up here, because I read all of the finalists' books, and I was just touched by all of them. And so, when I was with my agent yesterday, walking around New York, I said, I didn't write a speech. And she was horrified. So, I went back to the hotel room and did that.

I would like to thank, first of all, everyone at Henry Holt for their support. Particularly my editor, Christy Ottaviano, who challenges me to reach for my best, and then asks me to reach a little bit more. I'd also like to thank Jennifer Flannery, who has been such a loyal champion of my work, and continues to be. And also to my husband, Jerry, and my daughter, Shannon, who love me even when my writing does stink.

And I also want to thank the National Book Foundation, for recognizing children's literature. By doing this, you have given honor to every children's book, so I appreciate that. And of course, last, I really do appreciate the National Book Award committee for young people's literature, for selecting my book. I will remember this moment forever.