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.
Sarah Plain and Tall
by Patricia MacLachlan
Harper and Row, 1985. Grades 3-5.
Set in the wildflower prairies of the old West, this small jewel of a book tells the story of a widowed father’s search for a mother for his two young children, Caleb and Anna. When Papa places an advertisement in a newspaper, he receives a letter from a women named Sarah Wheaton, of Maine, whose straightforward acceptance of an invitation to visit is as plain and uncomplicated as she is herself: “Dear Jacob, I will come by train. I will wear a yellow bonnet. I am plain and tall.” Seen through Anna’s eyes, the tale becomes a search for words—those magic talismans that Sarah drops—hints that she will, indeed, stay when her agreed-upon month is up. “Sarah said later, Caleb whispered… Sarah will stay.” The story of how these four individuals come to make a family is a rich melody of voices singing by the fire at dusk, set against the ever-shifting sound of wind sweeping through the prairie grass. When Sarah discovers how to bring the sea, blue and grey and green, to the “grass fields that bloomed with Indian paintbrush, red and orange,” it is not by luck or magic, but through one of those small everyday acts of love which make the world whole.
Cowboys of the Wild West
by Russell Freeman
Clarion, 1985. Grades 4-6.
A lively, readable account of cowboy life in the late nineteenth century, covering—in individual chapters—clothing, equipment, roundups, trail and ranch life. Debunked along the way are a number of movie myths—many cowboys were not white (Blacks, Mexicans and Indians predominated, especially in the early days); most were poor shots (ammunition was too expensive to use for target practice); and many did not even wear guns (too cumbersome and dangerous on horseback). The spacious, attractive format is enhanced by photographs drawn from historic collections, making this a worthy companion volume to the author’s earlierChildren of the Wild West.
The Mount Rushmore Story
by Judith St. George
Putnam, 1985. Grades 4-6.
The history of the Mount Rushmore memorial from its inception, through fourteen labor-intensive years, to the day when the last drill was turned off and sent back down the mountain. From beginning to end, the text is packed with interesting details about the history of the region, the politics of the times, the values of society in that era, not to mention the fascinating and controversial personality of the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, and his fanatical devotion to seeing the project finished. St. George is careful to recount the involvement of the Sioux tribe and the injustices perpetrated along the way to creating this monumental shrine. A well-designed format is enriched by black and white photographs of archival quality. A unique blend of history, sociology, natural science, political science and biography that casts a new light on some well-known faces.
And Also Worth Noting
One Way to Ansonia
by Judie Angell
Bradbury, 1985. Grades 5-7.
Arriving in the midst of her father’s wedding, ten-year-old immigrant Rose must marshall all her self-reliance and determination in order to learn English and make her own way in the new world despite her father’s cavalier approach to keeping the family together-he farms Rose as well as her brothers and sisters out to various relatives to appease his new wife who married him without knowing he had children. As the paths of the children cross and re-cross on the turn-of-the century streets of New York’s Lower East Side, a picture emerges of the Olshansky family’s struggle to create a new life for themselves.
Brothers of the Heart
by Joan W. Blos
Scribner, 1985. Grades 7-9.
After a misunderstanding with his father, Shem—who is lame—runs away from the difficulties of his pioneer home to become the youngest member of a trading expedition. During the course of an arduous winter in the wilderness, Shem’s growing relationship with an elderly Indian woman helps him come to terms with his disability and make a decision to face the journey home—a step toward reconciliation and maturity. Blos’ philosophical slant and skillful interweaving of historical fact infuse the novel with an unusually rich atmosphere.
Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun
by Rhoda Blumberg
Lothrop, 1985. Grades 5 & up.
The moment of contact between two alien cultures has seldom been so distinct and vivid as in the 1853 American expedition to Japan. Plentiful illustrations and colorful anecdotes give immediacy to this evenhanded portrayal of the misunderstandings, biases, and none-too-noble motivations that shaped relations between these two powerful countries.
Hiram Bingham and the Dream of Gold
by Daniel Cohen
Evans, 1984. Grades 5 & up.
Breaking away from his family’s missionary tradition, Hiram Bingham discovered the lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu, before becoming a World War I aviator and later a United States Senator. Complex characterization and taut adventure bring a unique individual to life in this highly readable biography.
by Pam Conrad
Harper & Row, 1985. Grades 8 and up.
Into Louisa’s sturdy prairie existence come the new doctor and his fragile pregnant wife, Emmaline, bringing beauty and poetry but also bringing sorrow. Emmaline’s fear of the wilderness turns to madness after the tragic stillbirth of her baby. A poignant picture of the harsh realities and stark beauty of turn-of-the-century life in a sod house on a Nebraska farm.
George Midgett’s War
by Sally Edwards
Scribner, 1985. Grades 7-9.
The Ocracoke islanders of North Carolina were too independent to join in the Revolutionary War until British soldiers committed murder in their midst. Their decision to send vital supplies to Valley Forge gives a young boy, who fears the sea, a chance to prove himself.
Coming-and-Going Men: Four Tales
by Paul Fleischman
Harper & Row, 1985. Grades 6 & up.
Beginning with the tale of a silhouette cutter who’s chasing the Devil, four unique short stories tell about traveling men as they pass through New Canaan, Vermont during the year 1800.
Watch the Stars Come Out
by Riki Levinson
Dutton, 1985. All Ages
Diane Goode’s paintings enrich Grandma’s bedtime story with drama, humor and gentle warmth.
Vietnam, There and Here
by Margot C.J. Mabie
Holt, 1985. Grades 6-8.
A concise history of the conflict in Vietnam, including major events which made it clearly an American War, stateside attitudes that both reflected and altered the course of conflict, and after effects which continue to influence Americans today.
1812, The War Nobody Won
by Albert Marrin
Atheneum, 1985. Grades 5 and up.
An exciting, anecdotal account of the second war between the United States and Britain.
Mark Twain: A Writer’s Life
by Milton Meltzer
Watts, 1985. Grades 6-9.
In this upbeat biography, Meltzer reveals the events in Samuel Clemens’ life that led him to become Mark Twain, the writer. Anecdotes, photographs, and quotations enliven this account of one of America’s most fascinating characters.
Sam Ellis’s Island
by Beatrice Siegel
Four Winds, 1985. Grades 1-3.
The Indians called the barren sandbar Kioshk. In 1775, it was purchased by a merchant named Sam Ellis. Over the years, as the country grew, the island served as a military recruiting station, a fortification, a storage depot, and finally the official United States immigration center—a gateway for the vast tide of people seeking opportunity in the new world.
How They Built the Statue of Liberty
by Mary Shapiro
Random, 1985. Grades 2-4.
The construction of one of the tallest statues in the world—a feat that made engineering history—is described step by step in a detailed sketchbook.
by Ann Turner
Macmillan, 1985. Grades 2-4.
A grandmother recalls the early years of her marriage when she lived in a sod house. Poetic and nostalgic, the text is enhanced by Ronald Himler’s evocative black and white drawings.Start Slide Show with PicLens Lite