Betsy Hearne
The Bulletin
of the Center for Children's Books

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Betsy Hearne Wins the Anne Devereaux Jordan Award

Dr. Betsy Hearne, former editor of the Bulletin and professor emerita in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, is the 2010 recipient of the Anne Devereaux Jordan Award for Outstanding Achievement in Children's Literature from Children’s Literature Association.

Here at the Bulletin, we’ve always thought Betsy was pretty swell, but it is wonderful to see her recognized with such an award. She has long emphasized the importance of youth literacy, as well as the necessity of critical research, through her scholarly work, reviewing, teaching, and mentoring. Her long and distinguished career in the field of children’s literature crosses disciplines of library science, folklore, art history, and women’s studies.

"Betsy Hearne is a scholar with heart,” says Dr. Kate McDowell, Assistant Professor at GSLIS and Bulletin reviewer. “Her work in children's literature has always been analytically sophisticated, but few scholars also maintain such an enduring commitment to children as people who deserve the best literature."

For over thirty years, Betsy has been a prominent reviewer of children’s literature, serving as the editor of the children’s section in ALA’s Booklist and, most notably, as the editor of the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. She was instrumental in establishing our current review committee structure and stayed on with the publication when we moved in 1992 to our current home at the University of Illinois, where she also joined the faculty at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science as an assistant professor. In 2004, Betsy assumed the directorship of the Center for Children’s Books (CCB), emphasizing its research, teaching, and service missions while continuing to act as a consulting editor for the Bulletin, a double whammy of greatness that served both the audience of the Bulletin and the students at GSLIS quite well.

“Her tireless and often behind-the-scene labors on behalf of youth services and students may well be her proudest legacy,” says Deborah Stevenson, current editor of the Bulletin and former student of Betsy, “Her impact will continue in the work done by her former students, which will be passed on to their students, and so on, becoming a part of the children’s literature heritage of generations of devoted professionals.”

Beyond her book reviews, Betsy’s publications include two authored academic books; seven edited collections; over three dozen articles in various journals and essay collections, including The Lion and the Unicorn, The Horn Book, Book Bird, Marvels and Tales; and several works of fiction and poetry. Her scholarly work in folk and fairy tales was seminal in extending modern critical focus beyond the traditional texts toward a continuum of fairy-tale retellings.  Beauty and the Beast: Visions and Revisions of an Old Tale (1989) was the first full-length study to consider contemporary and popular retellings of a fairy tale, serving as a model for subsequent studies of how culture continues to shape and retell classic tales.

If that weren’t enough, Betsy has also been president of USBBY, the United States chapter of the International Board on Books for Young People, and chair of the American Library Association’s Caldecott Award Committee. She received a National Teaching Award from ALISE, the Association of Library and Information Science Education; and from the University of Illinois, a University Scholar Award and a Graduate College Outstanding Mentor Award.

Betsy retired from academia in 2007 (much to our dismay) but continues an active life of writing, editing, and advising diverse research in the field (much to our pleasure). As for receiving the award, she says it was one of the high points in her life – literally. “I was standing on an Italian mountaintop overlooking Florence, trying to find a signal for our Blackberry when the email came,” Betsy says, “I’m honored, humbled, and excited by the recognition of children’s books as a subject that bridges literature, education, library and information science, history, folklore, and art. Most of all, I’m grateful to interdisciplinary colleagues whose work has enriched my own for so many years.”

The Children's Literature Association (ChLA) is a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting serious scholarship and high standards of criticism in children's literature. The Anne Devereaux Jordan Award recognizes an individual’s significant contributions in scholarship and/or services to the field of children’s literature and is awarded annually.

Kate Quealey-Gainer, Assistant Editor


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This page was last updated on August 1, 2010.