Phillip Hoose and Claudette Colvin, whose story inspired Hoose's book, celebrating his win. Photo: Nancy Crampton.

The National Book Award for Young People’s Literature was given Wednesday night to Phillip Hoose, for Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (FSG/Kroupa), a true-life account of the 15-year-old African-American girl who refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in March 1955, nine months before Rosa Parks.

Hoose walked to the podium with Colvin, and in accepting his medal, called the honor “unreal.” He began by thanking his “brilliant” editor, Melanie Kroupa, as well as his “wonderful wife and daughters.”

Then he turned to Colvin and said, “I thank this woman standing beside me for taking a chance on me. My job on this book was to pull [out] someone when they were about to disappear under history’s rug. We have saved that story.”

And he recapped for the audience the importance of that story he had told: “She did what Rosa Parks did a year before she did it, then she had the guts to sue [on the grounds] that the laws were unconstitutional. Because of this woman, our lives have changed.”