Children's Literature (all forms)

Another look at the Arbuthnot Lecture

Kris Lill has already given such a beautiful account of the Arbuthnot Lecture itself that I don’t have anything to add but “yes.”  Instead, I’ll describe some of the events surrounding the lecture, details that made it so meaningful for me.

Frances Foster with Helen Frost

When I realized that Peter Sí­s would be giving the lecture at Miami University, only a three-hour drive from my home (a drive I have often made), I wrote to Frances Foster–Peter’s editor, and mine–to see if she would be attending, and when she said she was, my husband and I decided to make the trip.

I’ve been working with Frances for over ten years, and this was the first time she and Chad (my husband) have met. It was clearly a pleasure for both of them, and for me. In addition, Miami University is the home of the Myaamia Project, and Chad and I have both been working closely with linguists and historians there, he on a project related to the Myaamia (Miami) language, and I on a novel involving Miami history. Frances is editing this novel, and it was a great pleasure to take her up to the Myammia Project office to meet some of the experts I have been consulting. The conversation we had there was a perfect opportunity to talk through some questions we’d all been trying to answer.

That evening, I sat beside Frances at the lecture, which was beautifully composed and delivered. At the end, Peter received a standing ovation, clearly an emotional moment for Frances. “I suppose,” she said quietly, “it’s like when one of your children does something that makes you proud.” Which made me feel like Peter was my brother, and think of other “sibling authors” I have gotten to know.

Shawn Brommer, Aimee Strittmatter, and Mary Fellows

For the organizers of the event at Miami University, especially Brenda Dales, and for the ALSC members and Arbuthnot committee members, all leaders in the field of children’s literature, this was a very big event, beautifully handled from beginning to end.




Our guest blogger today is poet, playwright, and author, Helen Frost. Helen is the author of many books including the Printz Honor Book, Keesha’s House, the nonfiction picture book Monarch and Milkweed, and her most recent work, Step Gently Out. Read more about Helen and her work at

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at

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