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.
Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp
by Jerry Stanley
Crown Publishers, 1992. Grades 4-8.
A highly readable account that makes abundant use of period photos and first person accounts,Children of the Dust Bowl follows the “Okies” from the drought-stricken Oklahoma Panhandle of the 1930’s to what they hoped was a better life in California. Instead they found hardship and prejudice.
In 1937 the federal government built several farm-labor camps in the San Joaquin Valley, where the Okies could stay until getting work. At the Arvin Federal Camp, known as Weedpatch Camp because of its location on Weedpatch Highway, children went without education until they built their own school under the guidance of educator Leo Hart. Both photos and text portray the development of this remarkable school, which taught not only traditional subjects, but also such courses as shoe cobbling, animal husbandry and aircraft mechanics. (Students maintaining a 90 percent or better average in mathematics could drive a C-46 airplane, bought from military surplus, down a makeshift runway and back.) Once hostile local residents clamored to enroll their children, and the school eventually became part of the local school district.
Good-bye, Billy Radish
by Gloria Skurzynski
Bradbury Press, 1992. Grades 5-9.
A coming-of-age novel, Good-bye, Billy Radish details the friendship between Hank Kerner and the Ukrainian Bazyli Radichevich, dubbed “Billy Radish” by Hank. It is set in World War I Pittsburgh, a time and place when the steel mills were a part of everyone’s sensory existence, each and every moment of the day. The boys must deal with losses caused by steel mill accidents and the war, but it is the Spanish influenza that brings about their final, painful separation.
Don’t You Know There’s a War On?
by James Stevenson
Greenwillow, 1992. Grades K-3.
To a ten-year-old boy left at home, World War II is victory gardens and kale, rationing, blackouts, Spam, spies and saboteurs, men going off to war and some not returning. Impressionistic watercolor illustrations complement this spare account from the homefront, which is by turns funny and sad.
Worthy of Special Note
My Great-aunt Arizona
by Gloria Houston, illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb.
HarperCollins, 1992. Grades 1-4.
Houston draws on her Appalachian roots to tell the story of her great-aunt Arizona, who taught generation after generation of students for fifty-seven years. Arizona inspired her students to learn of faraway places that she only visited in her imagination. A beautiful blending of text and illustrations, this picture book biography celebrates the inspiration a special teacher has on the lives of the students she touches.
Letters from a Slave Girl: The Story of Harriet Jacobs
by Mary E. Lyons
Scribner, 1992. Grades 5-9.
Based on the autobiography of Harriet Jacobs, this fictionalized version describes what life was like for a female slave in the mid-1800’s in North Carolina. Enduring many years hidden in her grandmother’s tiny attic, Harriet shares through letters her fears, hardships and hopes for freedom. Concluding the work is a factual account of her accomplishments after her escape to the North.
The Long Road to Gettysburg
by Jim Murphy
Clarion, 1992. Grades 5-8.
The glory and excitement of battle as well as its tedium and horror are vividly portrayed in this account of the Battle of Gettysburg, based on the journals of two young participants. Lieutenant John Dooley, C.S.A., is a nineteen-year-old of a slave-holding Richmond family. Corporal Thomas Galway, U.S.A., is a seventeen-year-old who had experienced discrimination against the Irish at home in Cleveland. Both would be wounded during Pickett’s Charge. Abundant photographs and drawings, clear maps, and the moving words of the two young officers brings this pivotal Civil War battle to life.
by Jean Van Leeuwen, pictures by Thomas B. Allen
Dial, 1992. Grades K-3.
Muted, dreamlike illustrations accompany the quiet text which describes the difficult and lonely life of a pioneer family traveling and settling out west. Men, women, children and babies fought hard to survive and thrive as they struggled to turn the rugged land into their home.
An Indian Winter
by Russell Freedman
Holiday House, 1992. Grades 4 up.
Freedman relates the experiences and observations of a German prince, Maximilian, and a young Swiss artist, Karl Bodmer, who traveled together in 1833 to the area of North Dakota to study the Mandan and Hidatsa people. Quoting extensively from Maximilian’s accounts and using the numerous sketches and paintings by Bodmer, he presents a fascinating and compelling portrait of Native America.
by Ginger Wadsworth
Lerner Publications, 1992. Grades 4-9.
From coast to coast Rachel Carlson shared her love of nature and her belief that it should be protected from harm. This biography is notable both for its illustrations and superb text.
by Ginger Wadsworth
Lerner Publications, 1992. Grades 4-9.
John Muir shared his love of the land both as a photographer and as a conservationist. Our national parks are his legacy. Wadsworth has captured both his words and pictures in this excellent and accessible biography.Start Slide Show with PicLens Lite