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‘The Hate U Give’ author Angie Thomas picks up a prize at the Horn Book Awards in Boston

From left: Fiction honor winner Richard Peck, Fiction and Poetry Award winner Angie Thomas, Fiction honor winner Nikki Grimes.
Kayana Szymczak for The Boston Globe
From left: Fiction honor winner Richard Peck, Fiction and Poetry Award winner Angie Thomas, Fiction honor winner Nikki Grimes.

“The Hate U Give” author Angie Thomas captivated an audience at the Boston Globe Horn Book Awards at Simmons College on Friday night.

Thomas’s young adult novel, about a black high school student whose unarmed friend is killed by police, has topped the New York Times best-seller charts since its February release. Thomas told the local crowd that she began writing — and wrote this book in particular — because “my stories were never really told.”

She encouraged the many publishers in the room to make sure that “young Angies” can see themselves in the books they read, and added, “I foolishly think that books can change the world.”

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(Many in the room applauded in agreement.)

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Thomas was one of the big winners during the night, which honors children’s book writers and illustrators. Her novel — which is being made into a movie starring Amandla Stenberg, Issa Rae, Regina Hall, and Common — won this year’s Fiction and Poetry Award. The Nonfiction Award went to Deborah Heiligman’s “Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers.” The winner of the Picture Book Award was “Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life,” written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan, who led the crowd in a recitation of poems by Langston Hughes.

Emceeing the night was Roger Sutton, editor in chief of The Horn Book.

On Saturday, winners participated in the Horn Book at Simmons Colloquium, “Resistance: Children’s Books in Troubled Times.”