The Jefferson Cup Award honors a distinguished American biography, historical fiction or history book for young people. The Youth Services Forum of the Virginia Library Association has presented this award annually since the 1982 publishing year. Through the award, the Youth Services Forum seeks to promote reading about America’s past, to encourage the quality writing of United States history, biography and historical fiction for young people, and to recognize authors in these disciplines.
by Leon Walter Tillage
Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1997.
Leon’s Story is based on the reflection of Leon Walter Tillage, a Baltimore school custodian and son of a North Carolinian sharecropper. Born in 1963, Tillage describes his life as an African America before, during and after the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. He recalls sitting on Coca-Coca crates in the balcony at the movie theater- hiding during intermissions to avoid being struck by objects thrown by the white children sitting in the seats below. He remembers his father’s murder by a carload of drunken white teenagers- and the $100 compensation paid.
Tillage describes his life during the days of the Ku Klux Klan and Jim Crow laws, but Leon’s Story is told with dignity, compassion, and optimism. Based on a speech he gives annually during an assembly at The Park School and additional interviews conducted by Susan Roth,Leon’s Story is gentle, direct, honest, and powerful. Susan Roth’s black-and white colleges honor the simplicity and strength of Leon Walter Tillage and his story.
Kennedy Assassinated! The World Mourns
by Wilborn Hampton
Candlewick Press, 1997.
Wilborn Hampton has frozen a moment in time for today’s readers. On November 22, 1963, he happened to be the first in the United Press International news office to hear that President Kennedy had been shot. This first-hand account of his energetic fact collecting and reporting over the next few days gives those tragic events a real immediacy. Journalism has change and the author has cover many stories since, but this one will always be the biggest- a turning point in American history.
Out of the Dust
by Karen Hesse
The compelling yet lyrical language of this novel in free verse gives a clear picture of rural Oklahoma in the dust bowl Depression years. Its heroine is Billie Jo, “a red-headed, freckle-face, narrow-hipped girl with a fondness for apples and a hunger for playing fierce piano.” It is not only possible to see Billie Jo’s home, we also know what it sounds, feels, and tastes like. Her feelings are richly revealed as she suffers terribly through her mother’s death, agonizing over whether to stay home or leave for good. Even the music she loves fails to offer solace. Billie Jo says, “hard times aren’t only about money or drought or dust. Hard times are about losing spirit, and hope, and what happens when dreams dry up”.
Treasures in the Dust
by Tracey Porter
Out of the Depression and the Oklahoma dust bowl come two girls’ voices telling of treasures in the dust- family, friends, and their dreams for a better life. Porter’s alternate-chapter format uses rich imagery and poetic language to portray Annie, “a plain brown bird of a girl. A sparrow” in contrast with Violet, “more like a hawk…spirited and ready to fly.” Annie and Violet are good friends who, ruined by the loss of their livestock, must leave their home for the California migrant camps. A powerful and hopeful picture of 1930s America.
Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff
School’s out and Lily can’t wait for summer to truly begin with her family’s move to their house on stilts over the Atlantic Ocean. World War II has changed everyone’s life. Lily’s best friend moves, Lily’s father is being sent overseas to help rebuild Europe, and Lily is thrown together with Albert, a refugee with secrets and traumas of his own. Will Lily’s habit of telling lies cost Albert his life? Will her father be able to keep his promise to let Lily know where he is in Europe in spite of the censors? Patricia Reilly Giff shows readers that love and friendship do make a difference in this charming book about a rascally little girl in small town America during World War II.
Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man
by David Adler 1997.
David Adler’s simple text tells the story of Lou Gehrig, a Yankee Legend, whose record of playing 2,130 consecutive games stood unbroken until Cal Ripken, Jr. surpassed it in 1995. Gehrig lived his life with courage, humility, and steadfastness and faced his biggest challenge, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, with grace and dignity. Major Fiorella La Guardia spoke for the people of New York on July 4, 1939, at Yankee Stadium’s Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, when he told Gehrig, “You are the greatest prototype of good sportsmanship and citizenship”. Terry Widener’s acrylic paintings excellently portray Gehrig- his style and era.
Jack London: A Biography
by Daniel Dyer 1997
Jack London’s life and writing are deftly placed in contrast with the times in which he lived. A hard-living man, London’s diverse experiences enriched his writing with details that the author knew first-hand. The biography provides a balanced look at London’s life investigating both his positive and negative qualities. Daniel Dyer has created a biography that is both informative and entertaining- an excellent accompaniment to the study of London’s works.
Charles A. Lindbergh: A Human Hero
by James Cross Giblin
Clarion Books, 1997.
In this skillfully designed book, Giblin presents a balanced portrait of Lindbergh, a man remembered for his aviation achievements, a family tragedy and controversial viewpoints. Lindbergh, shy as a young person, first developed a love for motorcycles and then airplanes, purchasing his first airplane before really understanding how to fly it. Giblin tells of Lindbergh’s overnight rise to fame and his contentious relationship with the media in the early years of our hero-worshipping society. The famous kidnapping and murder of Lindbergh’s first son is handled with empathy. Giblin is frank in discussing Lindbergh’s active stance first as a naïve isolationist and then as a Nazi sympathizer. The most compelling part of the book describes Lindbergh’s 1927 thirty-three hour solo nonstop flight over the frigid Atlantic. The text is meticulously researched, complimented by an abundance of archival photographs, and contains a lengthy bibliography and thorough index.
Marven of the Great North Woods
by Kathryn Lasky
Harcourt Brace, 1997.
“For Marven, my dad, with love”, reads Kathryn Lasky’s dedication to this true story of a small, city bred ten-year-old’s odyssey. Wearing a cut down overcoat of his father’s and homemade skis, Marven sets out from the lonely train platform at Bemidji, Minnesota, following a track through the snow to the distant forest, where he finds a world very different from his familiar Duluth. In the great North Woods, Marven lives among giant French Canadian lumberjacks during the winter of 1918, safe from the deadly influenza epidemic which prompted his Jewish immigrant parents to send their only son so far from his loving family. As Marven brings order to the bookkeeping operation at the logging camp, he shares the rough-and-tumble life of the lumberjacks: prodigious breakfasts, rollicking dances, and French Canadian songs about bears and beautiful women.
The melting of the snow signals the end of Marven’s exile, and his huge, bearded friend, the logger Jean Louis, presents him with his very own axe. Although the story ends with Marven’s reunited family, “one big hugging bundle” on the train platform in Duluth, Lasky’s postscript tells us that the real Marven was still skiing at age eighty-three! Kevin Hawkes’ colorful illustration contrast warm indoor settings with the blue-white splendor of the North Woods by day and by night.
Commander in Chief: Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War
by Albert Marrin 1997.
Albert Marrin’s meticulous research has culminated in a unique biography about Abraham Lincoln. For example, the frontispiece pictures Lincoln with his hair in disarray; the captain explains that the President rumpled it intentionally. Throughout the book, illustrations are well placed and compliment the text. Numerous quotations by Lincoln and his contemporaries add a sense of immediacy to the biography. The author’s writing style is both lively and sympathetic, portraying Lincoln as a highly complex man with unwavering principle. By the end of the book, the reader gains a true appreciation for the effect unfolding events had on Lincoln’s character.
Sky Pioneer: A Photobiography of Amelia Earhart
by Corinne Szabo
National Geographic Society, 1997.
Szabo’s handsome, upbeat, visual biography celebrates Earhart’s career and character, focusing on her achievements as a pioneer aviator. The lively text, sixty carefully chosen photos with lengthy, informative captions, and thirteen quotes from Earhart’s writing make this volume stand out among the many Earhart biographies. The reader get to know Earhart as a child of progressive parents nada a World War I nurse’s aide; however, it is Earhart the darling, skillful, record-breaking aviator who gets primary coverage. Through maps and through the commentary and photos she sent home, the reader sees Earhart attempting to become the first woman to fly around the world. Szabo concludes by discussing theories of Earhart’s disappearance. A bibliography, index, and photo credits are appended.Start Slide Show with PicLens Lite