Later this evening, the literary community finds out whether David Small's "Stitches" will be the first graphic novel ever to win a National Book Award. This morning, Big Think asked Mr. Small what the honor would mean to him personally and whether he believes (as some of his fans do) that his book was nominated in the wrong category. His answer, which will be posted prior to the ceremony, revealed much about which side he takes in the eternal conflict between young people and grown-ups.
David Small is a Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator of over 40 children's books. "Stitches" represents a departure for him, as it recounts in often heartbreaking detail the story of his own troubled childhood. Its nomination for the NBA has been tinged with controversy, with many graphic novel aficionados calling its content far too sophisticated for the "Young People's Literature" category. (Events depicted in the book include, among other things, childhood cancer surgery, insanity, and death by self-administered Drano poisoning.) Small's discussion of whether he himself feels in any way misunderstood was just the beginning of a conversation as frank and funny as his work.