Printer Friendly

The 2007 NSK Neustadt prize for children's literature: Katherine Paterson.

Katherine Paterson Laureate of the 2007 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature

Katherine Paterson was born in China, the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries who returned to the United States at the onset of World War II. She is the author of more than thirty books, including fifteen novels for young people, and her works have been translated into more than twenty-five languages. Two of these novels are National Book Award winners, The Master Puppeteer (1977) and The Great Gilly Hopkins (1979), which was also the single Honor Book for the 1979 Newbery Medal. She received the Newbery Medal in 1978 for Bridge to Terabithia and again in 1981 for Jacob Have I Loved. Lyddie was the U.S. contribution to the Honors List of the International Board of Books for Young People in 1994, and Jip, His Story was the winner of the 1997 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. She is the 1998 recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Medal and was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress in 2000. The Swedish government awarded her the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2006. Her most recent books are a novel, Bread and Roses, Too (which received the Christopher Award in 2007) and a picture book, Blueberries for the Queen, which she co-authored with her husband, John. The Light of the World: The Life of Jesus for Children was published in January. The Patersons have four grown children and seven grandchildren. Their son, David, was a writer and producer of the film Bridge to Terabithia, released in 2007.

Jury and Nominees for the 2007 NSK Prize


Patty Campbell

Chris Crowe

Corinne Demas

Sarah Ellis

Ginny Moore Kruse

Yuyi Morales

Joyce Carol Thomas

Virginia Walter

Nana Wilson-Tagoe


Walter Dean Myers

Katherine Paterson

Jane Yolen

Margaret Mahy

Peter Sis

Peter Sis

Jean Craighead George

Chris Raschka

Nyambura Mpesha



Bridge to Terabithia

The Devil's Arithmetic & Owl Moon Memory

Starry Messenger

A Small Tall Tale from the Far Far North

My Side of the Mountain

Yo! Yes?

Junior Pilot & Kuku na Mwewe

Timeline: Katherine Paterson

October 31, 1932: Katherine Paterson is born in Qing Jiang, China, where her parents were serving as missionaries.


Paterson returns to the U.S. with her parents and four siblings at the onset of World War II.


"During World War II, we lived in Virginia and North Carolina, and when our family's return to China was indefinitely postponed, we moved to various towns in North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, before my parents settled in Winchester, Virginia."

1954: Paterson graduates summa cum laude from King College in Bristol, Tennessee, with a degree in English literature.

"On the way to becoming a missionary, I spent a year teaching in a rural school in northern Virginia, where almost all my children were like Jesse Aarons. I'll never forget that wonderful class.... I hope they can tell by reading it how much they meant to me."

1957: After her year teaching sixth grade, Paterson returned to school, receiving her M.A. in English Bible studies from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia.

1957: Paterson moves to Kobe, Japan, to begin studying Japanese. over the next few years, she would conduct missionary work in the country.


"If you've read my early books, you must know that I came to love Japan and feel very much at home there. I went to language school, and lived and worked in that country for four years. I had every intention of spending the rest of my life among the Japanese. But when I returned to the States for a year of study in New York, I met a young Presbyterian pastor who changed the direction of my life once again. We were married in 1962."


1964: "The Presbyterian church asked me to write some curriculum materials for fifth and sixth graders. Since the church had given me a scholarship to study and I had married instead of going back to work in Japan, I felt I owed them something for their money. So I began writing. By the time the books were published, I had moved three morer times, acquired three children, and was hooked on writing."


1973: Paterson's first book, Sign of the Chrysanthemum, is published.


1977: Paterson receives the National Book Award for Children's Literature for her third book, The Master Puppeteer.


1978: Paterson wins the Newbery Medal for Bridge to Terabithia. She went on to win this award again in 1981 for Jacob Have I Loved. Other awards over the years include the Janusz Korczak Medal, the Silver Pencil Award, the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, the Phoenix Award, and the Hans Christian Andersen Medal.


"Do I like being a writer? I love it. I often tell my husband that it's the only job could hold now. I'm spoiled. I work at home in my own study, wearing whatever I please. I never have to call in sick. From time to time, I get to go to schools and other places where I meet delightful people who love books as much as do."


2000: Paterson is named a Literary Light by the Boston Public Library and a Library of Congress Living Legend.

2007: Katherine's fifteenth book, Bread and Roses, Too is published and receives the Christopher Award.


"Eventually a character or characters will walk into my imagination and begin to take over my life. I'll spend the next couple of years getting to know them and telling their story. Then the joy of writing far outweighs the struggle, and I know beyond any doubt that I am the most fortunate person in the world to have been given such work to do."

COPYRIGHT 2008 University of Oklahoma
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:SPECIAL SECTION
Publication:World Literature Today
Article Type:Cover story
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2008
Previous Article:Trees Are Read.
Next Article:Fighting the long defeat: the 2007 NSK prize lecture: Katherine Paterson.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters