2013 The 2013 Jefferson Cup Committee is pleased to announce their selections for the 2013 Awards. The 2013 Jefferson Cup Award for Older Readers goes to Steve Sheinkin for Bomb: the race to build–and steal– the World’s most dangerous weapon, released by Roaring Brook Press. The 2013 Jefferson Cup Award for Younger Readers goes to Henry Cole for Unspoken, released by Scholastic Press.
The honor books for Older Readers are Come August, come freedom: the bellows, the gallows and the black general Gabriel by Gigi Armateau and Impossible Rescue: the true story of an amazing arctic adventure both released by Candlewick Press.
The honor books for Younger Readers are Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington, released by Little, Brown & Co. and Barnum’s Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World, released by Farrar Straus. The Committee reviewed almost 150 books and it is with great pleasure that we announce these results. Carol Farmer, Chair, Jefferson Cup Committee Technical Services Manager Appomattox Regional Library System
2011 Sparky: The Life and Art of Charles Schulz by Beverly Gherman. Chronicle Books, 2010. Grades 5 and up.
Writing in a style that is accessible yet fresh, Beverly Gherman paints a fun portrait of cartoonist Charles Schulz’s life. Beginning with his birth on November 26, 1922, Gherman focuses on how Charles “Sparky” Schulz’s love of drawing shaped his life, as well as how he used his own life experiences in order to shape his work throughout his lifetime. Like the shy Charlie Brown, he was not always successful in what he did, which could be compared to the fact that Charlie Brown never could kick that football. Schulz’s love for a little red-haired girl went unrequited and his first marriage experienced troubles, showing that things did not always work out for the cartoonist. What Gherman’s biography drives home is the point that, in spite of his flaws and setbacks, Schulz was tenacious, self-deprecating, and hard working, and these traits played a large part in his success.
Schulz’s tenacity did payoff, as he became an extremely well-loved and successful cartoonist. His work is easily recognizable, and Gherman’s biography touches on why the Peanuts became popular and the fact that Schulz kept the strip going up until the very end, the final strip being printed in newspapers just hours after his death in February of 2000. His characters have stayed relevant, years after Schulz’s death, as we still wait in anticipation for the Great Pumpkin or to follow Snoopy on his many crazy adventures.
Beverly Gherman uses wonderful anecdotes from Schulz’s life in order to make this biography fun and accessible. She does not shy away from less positive aspects of his life, but paints a very true portrait that will interest readers and inspire them to look at his cartoons in a different light. What Gherman manages to beautifully capture is the notion that, while Charles Schulz- like Charlie Brown- never got to kick that football or win the little red-haired girl’s heart, he truly got to do so much more.
The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery By Steve Sheinkin. Roaring Brook Press, 2010. Grades 7-12.
Ask someone who Benedict Arnold was and they will tell you he was a traitor. He was probably America’s first and most notorious traitor. However, before he became a traitor he was one of our country’s greatest war heroes.
Steve Sheinkin brings Benedict Arnold to life in a way that keeps readers wondering what will happen next. General George Washington said of Arnold, “The merit of this gentleman is certainly great. I heartily wish that fortune may distinguish him as one of her favorites.” Arnold believed that the American Revolution was the way for him to earn wealth, honor and respect. His strong military record is described with graphic immediacy by Sheinkin. In fact, if Arnold had been killed in the Battle of Saratoga, he would have died as one of America’s greatest heroes. So what turned a great hero into a traitor?
The sixth Benedict Arnold was born on January 14, 1741. He was actually the second child born to his parents that was given the name. His brother only lived for ten months. His parents feared for the life of this new baby. But he surprised everyone by living. As a child Benedict was a daredevil. Locals described him as lean and strong and always dressed in fine clothes. When he was eleven, Benedict’s parents sent him to a boarding school, which was the beginning of his troubles. Yellow fever took the lives of his sisters. An economic slowdown threatened his father’s business. When his father passed away, Benedict Arnold, smart, a quick learner and with a hard worker’s determination to succeed, was left with nothing but debts and a fouled family name. And it would seem that he was unlucky in love as well. A longing for action, a bold recklessness and a craving for attention gave Benedict enough fuel to power a dazzling rise to power and a spectacular crash.
Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey. Carolrhoda Books, 2010. Ages 4-8.
Ruth and her family set out from Chicago in their new 1952 Buick to visit Ruth’s grandmother in Alabama. Travel for an African American family in Jim Crow era America is not easy. Restrooms at service stations are for “whites only” and the family isn’t welcome when they stop at a hotel for the night forcing them to spend the night in their car. As they continue to encounter discrimination on their trip Ruth begins to be homesick for her Chicago neighborhood. When they spend the night with an old family friend in Tennessee they’re advised to look out for Esso stations, which will serve them, but to be careful as things might get worse on the road as they go further south.
The next day as they near the Georgia border, Ruth spots an Esso station. It is here that they learn about The Negro Motorist Green Book, a guidebook to help African Americans who are traveling. Ruth is fascinated by the book and proud that she is put in charge of it. The Green Book helps them find a place to sleep for the night and when their car breaks down, Ruth and her mother use it to find a nearby garage. The breakdown adds another day to their trip but they are able to find a place to stay, again with the help of the Green Book. Ruth, now a seasoned traveler, helps out a scared little boy who is also staying at the inn by giving him her teddy bear. Before falling asleep that night Ruth reflects on the difficulties but also the good things they’ve encountered on their trip.
The author takes something as simple and familiar to us as a family road trip and uses it to as a vivid illustration of how hard life could be for African Americans during the Jim Crow era. Although the journey is difficult, the family also encounters friendly faces and Ruth finds that she can help out other travelers. The illustrations evoke old photographs and help move the story along. A wonderfully written vignette of African American life during a difficult time; this story will draw young readers in and through Ruth they will get a real sense for this period in our nation’s history.
SERIES WORTHY OF NOTE
Published by Sterling ~ Young Adult
This attractive and approachable biographical series by Sterling examines the lives of historical figures in the context of their times. Combining fast action with anecdotes and analysis, the authors have created books which make for fascinating leisure reading as well as being useful for report writing. The research is thorough and documented and the writing is concise, clear and engaging. Thoughtful Illustrations such as black and white photographs from the period, enhance the text to provide a more complete picture of the individuals. Each book includes color and black and white photographs, drawings, paintings, a glossary, source notes, a bibliography and an index.
The entries for 2010 were Chief Joseph by Lorraine Jean Hopping and Sacagawea by Emma Carlson Berne.
Six Questions of American History
Published by Lerner Publishing ~ Ages 9-12
This colorful series not only presents nonfiction material in a visually appealing manner, but also contains features that will help readers improve their nonfiction reading skills. The colorful layout that contains maps, photographs, drawings and reprints of important documents will attract readers, but it is the six questions that are asked throughout the book that will keep their interest. The series features six questions that are answered throughout each book. To keep the reader turning pages, there is a question presented at the end of a chapter that is answered in the following chapter. In addition, challenging vocabulary is defined and additional information is presented in side notes. This series also contains timelines, source notes, bibliographies, excellent suggestions for further reading, and excellent links to resources.
The entries for 2010 were How Did Slaves Find a route to Freedom?: And Other Questions about the Underground Railroad by Laura Hamilton Waxman and Why did English Settlers Come to Virginia?: And Other Questions about the Jamestown Settlement by Candice Ransom
2010 All the Broken Pieces By Ann E. Burg. Scholastic Press. Grades 6-10.
Writing in simple yet elegant free verse, Ann E. Burg brings readers into the world of Matt Pin. Airlifted out of Saigon during the Viet Nam war at age 10, Matt has spent the last two years learning the ways of his adoptive American family. Now 12, Matt has gained enough confidence to try out for his school’s baseball team and has bonded with his adoptive family, which includes his mother, father, and toddler brother. However, Matt cannot escape the residual guilt he feels over leaving his younger brother by birth behind in Viet Nam, nor can he reconcile the claims that his birth mother loved him with the fact that she sent him away. Matt is convinced that he was sent away from his Vietnamese family as a punishment for a horrifying accident which maimed his little brother.
As he undertakes the daily activities of American boys, such as baseball games and homework, Matt remembers his life in Viet Nam. His experiences of bombs, war, and loss compel Matt to gather together the broken pieces of baseballs and other detritus of his American life in case he loses everything again. On a deeper level he gathers together the broken pieces of his Vietnamese life and uses them to become whole again and to help the Viet Nam veterans he meets who have a hard time coping with their experiences in the war.
Ann E. Burg’s first novel for young adults is a compelling work of historical fiction that examines the experiences of Vietnamese children brought to a new life in America, as well as the difficulties faced by Viet Nam veterans after the war. Beautifully and powerfully told, Burg’s novel brings to life the experiences of children who are often overlooked in remembrances of the Viet Nam war. Burg has created an outstanding work that will stay with readers long after the last page has been read.
Honor Book Review
The Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton & Aaron Burr By Judith St. George . Viking. Grades 6-9
It is the true mark of a good writer when an author can take an event, such as the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, and unfold the story in a manner that makes the reader refuse to turn out the light and sleep until the last page is turned. Those who have taken an American history course know that a duel happened between these two famous politicians, yet few know the interesting back story that makes The Duel: The Parallel Live of Alexander Hamilton & Aaron Burr engrossing.
Hamilton and Burr leap off of the history pages and come to life in this book as characters worthy of modern fiction. When St. George reveals the parallel aspects of their lives with an added glimpse into their egos, the coincidences are sometimes so dramatic that one understands how real life can inspire fiction. Interestingly, knowing the outcome of the duel before reading the first page does not diminish the impact of the last few chapters as the duel is carried out and the impact of the results is felt throughout the country.
Much is revealed about these two men without the reader feeling weighted down by the text-book like presentation of facts and dates, as is often the fashion with many non-fiction books. While the facts of the duel and the parallels in the lives of Hamilton and Burr are interesting, it is the ability of the author to bring these men of history alive that make it a fascinating read.
Hellie Jondoe By Randall Pratt. Texas Tech University Press, 2009. (1918) Grades 7-12
Scrappy thirteen-year-old Helena Smith was orphaned at four and by six was a very good beggar. Now it’s 1918, she is a tomboy known as Hellie Jondoe, and quickly learning how to be a successful pickpocket in bustling New York City. Life takes a dramatic turn when her beloved brother Harry is shot and Hellie, not longer under his protection, must leave the city. She soon finds herself traveling west on the Orphan Train with a large group of rag-tag children all who are looking for a better life. It’s not until the train’s last stop in Oregon that Hellie, nearly blind Lizzie, and disabled baby Joey discover their fate. They have been indentured to the wealthy Scholastica Gorence who has decided that she could use some extra help on her large ranch. It will take all of Hellie’s fortitude and problem solving skills to overcome this unfair situation and find a place where she can call home.
Well-researched and full of authentic characters this tale engages as well as educates the reader. From the exploitation of homeless children to the gut wrenching (and sometimes hilarious) adoption practices of these youngsters from the infamous Orphan Train, the author successfully weaves in interesting information about the Spanish influenza epidemic, World War I, and photojournalism. Full of unexpected twists and turns this page-turner will appeal to a wide range of readers.
Mission Control, This is Apollo: The Story of the First Voyages to the Moon. By Andrew Chaikin. New York: Viking Children’s Books, 2009. 114 pp. (1969). Grades 4-6.
With intricate illustrations and imaginative text, illustrator Alan Bean, member of the Apollo 12 crew, and author Andrew Chaikin introduce young readers to the historic, thrilling, tragic, and near-tragic Apollo missions 1-17. Based on exhaustive research, including many interviews with surviving members of the Apollo missions, Chaikin pays tribute to the courage and intellect of the Apollo astronauts, and gives moving tributes to the lost astronauts of Apollo 1. From the tragedy of Apollo 1, to the last hurrah of Apollo 17, readers gain insight into the mission and, where applicable, the successes of each individual mission.
Readers are not only transported back to each unique Apollo mission, but they are also treated to sidebar information detailing facts that everyone, regardless of age, really wants to know about space flight: How do they eat? How do they handle bodily functions? Although this creates a massive amount of information on each page, the skillful graphic design displays a clean balance of text and graphics.
This coffee table-sized book is brimming with beautiful NASA photography and Bean’s evocative illustrations, enriched with Bean’s personal explanations of each illustration. The attention-grabbing text will lure space aficionados as well as casual readers. The back matter, which includes an extensive account of the author’s research, source notes, index, and recommendations for further reading, is solid and satisfying. Out of the many young readers’ books published to mark the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, this stands out for its brilliant partnership of language and art, while being a fascinating read for all ages.
Tricking the Tallyman by Jacqueline Davies and S.D. Schindler • Knopf • Grades 1-4
It is October 1790 when Phineas Bump rides into Tunbridge, Vermont. Phineas is homesick and sore after three months of counting people. The townsfolk of Tunbridge are confused as to what the census means, they fear more people counted will mean more taxes, so all but one person hides, so as to be undercounted. Then young Boston Pepper hears that the census count is for representation in the new government. This time the townspeople gather everyone, including cats, dogs, pigs and sheep (in children’s clothing) and ask to be counted again. Finally at the end the count is right.
Appropriate to the times, this lighthearted look at what the census means came at the perfect time. Full of delightful, detailed illustrations, this book will be an excellent resource for teaching younger children about the census, but also about concepts of representation and government.
2009 George Washington Carver
By Tonya Bolden, Abrams Books for Young Readers, Grades 3-6
George Washington Carver is now so well known for his pioneering work with the by-products and uses of the peanut, that his multitude of other accomplishments are sometimes overlooked or unknown. This biography by Tonya Bolden brings the man, his times and his accomplishments to life in a way guaranteed to fascinate the reader.
Carver is in every sense an American marvel. Born into slavery, his meteoric rise to national prominence was entirely of his own engineering. Raised by a kind German-American couple, he was a sickly child who nevertheless learned the lessons of farm life in the Ozarks. As did virtually all farmers of that era, the Carvers were a self sustaining family. Young George showed early unusual ingenuity in creating products from the woods and gardens that surrounded their cabin.
The one thing he could not create from nature was a formal education, which was denied to most black children. At age twelve, he left home to attend school in a nearby town, beginning his irregular course of formal and vocational education that culminated in a Master’s degree in 1896. When Booker T. Washington approached him about joining the just developing Tuskegee Institute, Carver accepted the post. He flourished as a professor, researcher, inventor, author, speaker, and mentor to thousands until his death in 1943. His accomplishments in horticulture and botany became nationally known and changed agriculture of the South to more practical and economical crops. Carver testified before Congress, met FDR, and became a household name for promoting cultivation of the versatile peanut.
Tonya Bolden’s charming and informative biography gives insight and depth in the study of this American genius. Beautifully illustrated, Carver’s photographs and time appropriate drawings represent different eras of his eventful life. Ms. Bolden’s work is authoritatively cited with primary sources and prominent previous biographies. Bolden has done children’s literature an excellent turn with this informative look at a great American. 2009 Honor Books The Erie Canal By Martha E. Kendall, National Geographic, 2008 (1817-1825), Grades 4-6
The building of the Erie Canal in the 1820s combines history, politics, and engineering. New York Governor Clinton advocated for this remarkable passageway to the west despite some harsh criticism and many skeptics. Measuring 363 miles with 83 locks, this technological marvel, which joined Lake Erie to the Atlantic Ocean, involved all levels of society from Irish laborers to wealthy passengers.
Fascinating facts are interspersed in the chronological narrative of the building of the Erie Canal. For example, a school principal designed the series of locks to get the Canal over a 66-foot rock cliff. The Canal, part of the Underground Railroad, also collected $750,000 in tolls its first year of operation.
This well-researched book is both informative and enjoyable, enhanced with black and white illustrations. A chronology and a list of websites and places to visit contribute to the success of this excellent work of non-fiction. What better testimonial to a book than that it encourages further reading and perhaps even inspires a ride on the Erie Canal. Helen’s Eyes: A Photobiography of Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller’s Teacher By Marfé Ferguson Delano, National Geographic, Grades 5-9
Twenty-years-old, with no work experience and little tact, Anne Mansfield Sullivan first saw the six-year-old Helen Keller in March, 1887 on the porch of Helen’s home in Alabama. Annie would spend the remaining fifty years of her life as “Helen’s Eyes”. Despite having two teeth knocked out, she kept the job with Helen because she was afraid of returning to the poorhouse and “never gave up a fight.”
Helen’s Eyes focuses on this prickly, tenacious Irishwoman who earned medals, an honorary degree, and was the first teacher (and woman) to be interred at the National Cathedral. All of which could have never been predicted by her bleak beginnings.
Delano’s narrative is poignant and smooth, woven handsomely and effectively around illuminating quotes from Annie, Helen, and others who knew them. With the aid of elegantly muted photographs, Helen’s Eyes will introduce these fascinating women to a new generation of readers and will complete the post-pump story for the rest of us. Lincoln Through the Lens: How Photography Revealed and Shaped an Extraordinary Life By Martin W. Sandler, Walker Books for Young Readers, 2008 (1860-1865), Grades 7-9
Lincoln Through the Lens was assembled as a wonderful tribute to our nation’s 16th President by combining the historical significance of Lincoln’s presidency with the timely introduction of photography. Lincoln was in the first generation of individuals to be photographed and he learned to use photography as a vital tool during his career as a politician.
Formatted according to a timeline of Lincoln’s life, Sandler uses an attractive layout, beautiful full-page photographs, and illustrations. Included in this work are several stock images of Lincoln, as well as many photographs not often seen.
Using accurate and detailed facts, as well as engaging and unique photographs, Sandler has provided a new way of looking at Lincoln’s Presidency. Photography did indeed, reveal and shape the extraordinary life of Abraham Lincoln. Ten Cents a Dance By Christine Fletcher, Bloomsbury, Grades 9-12
Sixteen year old Ruby Jacinski is forced to leave school and take a job in a Chicago meatpacking plant when her mother’s health fails. Quitting high school to support her family is no hardship, but the work is unspeakably dreary. Looking for any chance to leave the stockyards, she gets a job at a nightclub, dancing with strange men for “ten cents a dance”. While this earns sufficient income, Ruby quickly learns this is not the glamorous job she once thought, and she has to weave a web of deception to protect her respectable mother from the truth. She learns about racism as well as the gritty side of the business. When her dance hall contacts lead her perilously close to crime, she has to make hard decisions to keep from being drawn into the dangerous Chicago underworld.
This not entirely respectable line of work for young women like Ruby is portrayed with imagination and atmospheric detail. Sympathy for the dancers, who had few career choices, is implicit. Chicago life in the 1940s is described with such accuracy in details of speech and slang, clothes, transportation, and clubs as to lend unusual veracity and authority to a work of teen fiction. Ruby is believably portrayed in her time and place as a feisty young woman doing her best with a difficult situation. Series Worthy of Note Essential Events Abdo Publishing Company, Grades 6-9
This exceptional series explores historic events around the world and how those events have influenced society, science and politics. Historically significant events such as Brown v. the Board of Education and the 1929 stock market crash have been thoroughly researched and are presented in an attractive layout with readable text. Well-chosen photographs accompany the narrative, and sidebars enhance the information in each chapter.
Back information for each volume includes a timeline, date of the event, place of the event, key players, highlights of the event, and quotations. Additional resources feature a select bibliography, further reading, web links, places to visit, a glossary, source notes, and an index. Each book in this series offers an unbiased account and can serve equally well as a starting point for research or as informative recreational reading.
2008 Birmingham , 1963
Carole Boston Weatherford Wordsong Publishing Grades 6-9
In stark, understated free verse, a young girl narrates the story of the turbulent events surrounding the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s in one of America ’s most segregated cities. Black and white archival photographs illuminate the words that personalize this event. Birmingham , 1963 is a tribute not only to the young girls who were killed but also to the bravery and selflessness of the civil rights protesters throughout the South.
Carole Boston Weatherford’s haunting account of the violence and hate protesters faced in Birmingham gives the reader a greater understanding of the intensity of America ’s struggle for equality. The sparse verse shares the pages with images of childhood objects innocently sprinkled throughout the background. Original photographs fill the opposite page of each spread with images that overwhelm one with the gravity and reality of this horrific event.
The anonymous narrator begins her story with a protest in early May. Many times children were gathered to march because children would not lose their jobs if they were jailed. Within a few hours, over nine hundred children were arrested and taken to jail in vans and school buses. The next day over 2,500 children joined the protest to end segregation. Their determination was met with police using K-9 dogs and firefighters with high pressure hoses to break up the protesters. The nation was shocked at the violence used on children, but the segregationists become more determined and bolder in their resolve. As the summer passed, the intensity of the fight grew.
“The day I turned ten…” begins the verses depicting a family going to church, and buzzes with the excitement of the young narrator preparing to sing the Youth Day solo. That day would be marked by an unfathomable act of violence that would shake the nation. Members of the Ku Klux Klan planted dynamite under the steps of theSixteenth Street Baptist Church . The explosion destroyed the church and four young girls were killed.
In concise words, Ms. Weatherford packs an enormously powerful punch making this emotional story extremely personal as it is seen through the eyes of a young child. The author’s note provides additional background information and gives details of the photos that were used. Spare, stark, evocative. No one can read this book and remain unmoved. Birmingham , 1963 can spark dialogue about race, about our shared American history, about faith, and about humanity.
Fire From the Rock
By Sharon Draper Dutton Publishing Grades 6 – 9
Little Rock Arkansas was a confusing time for a teenager in 1957 Sylvia Patterson is eager about going to high school for all the typical reasons – new classes, joining clubs, making new friends, and a social life surrounded by sporting events and dances. But the school board has decided to comply with the federal law to integrate High School, whether Little Rock is ready or not.
Sylvia is shocked when her teacher, Miss Washington, asks her to consider being one of the first black students to attend Central. It is an honor reserved to very few, but it is also a heavy burden that Sylvia may not be able to carry. She would be separated from lifelong friends (including a new boyfriend), excluded from social activities at school, and worse, subjected to threats and, possibly, violence. Sylvia is torn between wanted to bring about change and wanting to remain safe and happy in the life she has always known.
Before Sylvia makes her final decision, smoldering racial tension in the town ignites into flame. When the smoke clears, she sees clearly that nothing is going to stop the change from coming. It is up to her generation to make it happen, in as many different ways as there are colors in the world. Sharon Draper skillfully portrays the attitude and climate of late 1950s Arkansas and of the United States in general. The mixed reactions of blacks, some for and some against integration, and the cruelty of the other citizens, including the governor will surprise many readers. The author’s note summarizes the experiences of the Little Rock Nine and suggests further reading. Draper fans will not be disappointed by this compelling novel.
Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller
by Sarah Miller Atheneum Books Grades 5-9.
Annie Sullivan was barely more than a girl when she boarded a train in Massachusettsbound for Alabama . This young woman was on her way to meet her first student – Helen Keller. Little did Annie know the challenge that awaited her in Alabama and how her life would be changed. She would have to fight not only the Keller family, but her own personal demons.
Inter-woven in her struggle with Helen are Annie’s difficulties of her own past. She recalls her time in Tewksbury State Almshouse where she and her brother lived after their mother died. She remembers are own vision problems and the challenges she faced. Annie drew strength in recalling all she accomplished to reach and teach Helen.
Miller does a masterful job of drawing readers into this emotional drama. The frustration Annie felt when Helen failed to understand, her despair that maybe Helen would never understand, the determination that this child would overcome her challenges, and her fear that the family would interfere – all these complex hardships shaped Annie’s determination that Helen would learn.
Excerpts from Annie’s letters to her housemother at the Perkins Institute for the Blind can be found at the beginning of each chapter. Miller used these letters as the basis for much of this story. Photos, a chronology, and sources for more information are items found at the end of this book. This first novel gives us a compelling look at a young woman who overcame a terrible childhood to become a great teacher.
The Ultimate Weapon: The Race to Develop the Atomic Bomb
By Edward Sullivan Holiday House • Grades 10-12
In 1938, Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann discovered that they could split atoms by a process alled fission. Their discovery made it possible to build the atomic bomb. Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer was appointed to direct the Manhattan Project. Though many know about the outcomes of the Manhattan Project, most people are unaware of the depth of planning, the immense numbers of people involved, or the hazards encountered, or the dangers involved.
Sullivan provides information about the inception, production and dropping of the atomic bomb, while he tells about the people who developed the bomb, their families, the towns that grew up around the three sites, Los Alamos , New Mexico , Oak Ridge ,Tennessee , and Hanford , Washington , and the secrecy necessary during World War II. He provides much information about the project, including information about the aftermath of the dropping of the tomic bomb on Japan . While doing so, he shows the human side of those involved in all aspects of the planning, making, and dropping of the ultimate weapon.
The compelling black and white photographs of the people who worked on the Manhattan Project going about their everyday tasks portray the conditions through which men and women and their children lived and worked. The three government cities, located in remote areas of their respective states, were complete with the amenities expected in a small city of the early to mid 1940s.
The Ultimate Weapon contains a wealth of information that is easy to read, follow, and understand despite the number of people involved and the complexity of the topic, while photographs add impact to the telling of the story. The appendix, chronology, notes, bibliography, suggestions for further reading, including websites, and a glossary extend the information found in Sullivan’s exceptional work of nonfiction.
Series Worthy of Note Up Close
Published by Viking: A Division of Penguin Young Readers Group Grade 9-12
This series offers an Up Close look at twentieth-century life that speaks to people of all generations. Allowing the reader to take a closer look, these books portray heroes from all backgrounds. From media queen Oprah Winfrey to environmentalist Rachel Carson, these stories will invite you inside the world of fame and struggle.
The books unique size and inviting photographs will cause them to jump off the bookshelves and into the backpacks of eager and reluctant readers alike. Each author uses story-like rhythm that is easy to read and understand. Interesting facts are scattered throughout the series that capture the essence of each person being profiled. For example, UpClose: Elvis Presley mentions that during his tenth grade year at HumesHigh School Elvis served as a library assistant. Within these books stories are included to help close generations gap between readers. UpClose: Johnny Cash gives details on how Cash celebrated selling over to million copies of “I Walk the Line” by making snow cream from snow that had just fallen.
This series features role models that will spark an interest in any young reader, motivating them to work through their own struggles and inspire to be a person of greatness. Each book includes a personal forward from the author, detailed chapters, an insightful epilogue as well as thorough resources. Other biographies of this series include Robert F. Kennedy and Frank Lloyd Wright.
2007 Blood on the River: James Town 1607 By Elisa Carbone Viking Publishing
Sometime before the Christian year 1607, Chief Powhatan receives a prophecy from his trusted priests. It tells of a tribe coming from the bay of the Chesapeake who will rise up against the Powhatans and in the end the Powhatan kingdom will be no more. And so the story of Blood on the River begins.
In 1606, in London, England, the prophecy is beginning to come true. King James has granted a charter to send men in search of gold, silver and jewels, to find a new passage to the Orient and to cut down and send back New World trees to build English houses.
Eliza Carbone’s vivid account of four treacherous months as sea and the challenges of establishing the James Town settlement are depicted through the eyes of eleven-year-old orphan Samuel Collier. Chosen to serve as Captain John Smith’s page on the voyage, he relates the sights they encounter, the smells of stale air of the ‘tween deck, and even the taste of the fetid water. After arriving in Virginia, he reveals the challenges of establishing a settlement in rich description and endless adventure.
Samuel’s relationship with Captain Smith evolves from one of fear and mistrust to one of respect and confidence as Captain Smith teaches him about focusing his anger and the importance of working together and learning how to understand and interact with the Native Americans if the settlement is to succeed. Smith’s common sense approach to building a colony, establishing protection, and storing food for the coming winter wins Samuel’s loyalty. In contrast, daily clashes with the “gentlemen” who are not nearly as worried about food and shelter as they are about finding gold in Virginia, foreshadow much of the impending struggles among the settlers.
Carbone’s use of original journal entries and other primary sources to begin each chapter emphasizes the reality of incidents in her story. Pocahontas is portrayed as the young child who was fascinated by Smith, but not in love. Samuel Collier was in fact Captain Smith’s page who spent a year in the Warraskoyack village and learned many of the natives’ ways. Carbone’s account of the first settlement explains so much of what has been ignored about the realities of James Town. As our nation celebrates the quadricentennial of America’s first settlement, this novel presents an evenhanded chronicle of our beginnings. Honor Books
Dark Water Rising By Marian Hale Henry Holt and Company
A coming-of-age tale and the events of the devastating 1900 Galveston hurricane combine to make this historical novel a powerful read. Sixteen-year-old Seth is a recent transplant to vibrant Galveston, Texas, and harbors hope that his dream of becoming a carpenter will be realized in this boomtown. But his ambition conflicts with his father’s vision of a college education for his son. An immediate opportunity to work with a builder launches Seth into the thriving construction business, and he begins to develop relationships with other young people. A friendship with an African-American boy provides a window into race relations at the time, and a budding romantic interest in a neighbor girl gives the plot additional interest.
The story is expertly paced with a masterful building of dramatic tension. Well-chosen details foreshadow the events, and historical elements are seamlessly woven into the plot. The account of the storm transports the reader into a desperate scene with the characters clinging to life in a house battered by storm surge. Descriptions of the hurricane’s fury, along with grim details of its aftermath join to make the novel a page-turner that will resonate with all readers.
The story provides a compelling parallel to the events of Hurricane Katrina as the characters struggle to restore their shattered lives. This hard-to-put-down work concludes with photographs and source notes which impress the reader with the scope of this American disaster.
5,000 Miles to Freedom: Ellen and William Craft’s Flight from Slavery By Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin National Geographic, 2006
In December 1848, an ailing white Southern gentleman and his slave boarded a train in Macon, Georgia, headed for Philadelphia. Actually, the Southern gentleman was perfectly healthy, he wasn’t white, nor was he a gentleman! So begins the journey of William and Ellen Craft, two slaves attempting to flee to freedom in disguise. William could naturally play his role as a slave, but the risk light-skinned Ellen was taking by impersonating a white man threatened severe consequences for both of them: separation, torture, even death.
Although the fugitives reached Philadelphia safely, their success sparked such enthusiasm among abolitionists that their fame provoked further threats to their security. It became necessary for them to escape to Boston, then through Canada to England where they continued to relate their story to huge audiences. Although prejudice and the Fugitive Slave Act complicated their freedoms, the Crafts persevered and were rewarded with the privilege of raising a family of children who were not owned by any master.
5000 Miles to Freedom is the dramatic narrative of their journey and the transformation of their lives. The Fradins excel in building tension using authentic dialogue, details and emotions as described in the Crafts’ personal account, Running a Thousand Miles to Freedom. Supporting documents, including books, newspapers, diaries and letters, are listed at the end of the book. Nearly every page spread is illustrated with photos, drawings, maps and significant documents that enhance this remarkable story. The personalization of what freedom means to individuals is always a significant reminder of the cost of what we enjoy and what others still live without. The story of the Crafts’ successful escape from and their life outside slavery is both sobering and triumphant. Worthy of Note The 9/11 Report: a Graphic Adaptation By Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The 9/11 Report: a Graphic Adaptation condenses the 9/11 Commission’s 585 page document into 133 pages packed with colorful detail. The creators use the power of the graphic format to tell the story of that fateful day and the years preceding and to examine how we can learn from what happened. Against the stark black background, the parallel timelines clarify the day’s events in an unforgettable manner and leave no doubt as to what happened to the four hijacked planes and when.
The condensation of the text is faithful to the original report’s goal. The chairs of the Commission endorsed this version in the foreword, and hope it leads the American people to “read, reflect—and act.” Mature readers will appreciate this valuable addition to the national conversation surrounding 9/11. Series Worth of Note National Geographic Photobiography Series Published by the National Geographic Society
Beautifully presented and expertly documented, this series of photobiographies should not be missed by school or public libraries. Inspiring and influential people from history, such as astronaut John Glenn and polar explorer Matthew Henson are brought to life through exciting photographs and fascinating text.
The bold covers on these books are hard to overlook. Amazing historical photographs are well-placed throughout the series and add to the excitement of the text. The photographs highlight the pivotal moments in the lives of these icons, but the social climate of the time is also captured to bring more meaning to the reader. This series has carefully chosen individuals to inspire young readers. For example, Onward, about the African-American explorer Matthew Henson, describes not only his incredible achievements but inspires the reader by his determination despite the racism he endured. Liftoff, the story of John Glenn, illustrates the achievements we have all come to know and admire but goes on to focus on Glenn’s role as a statesman and his challenge to inspire people “to a purpose larger than themselves.”
This series includes clear chronologies, bibliographies, resources and indexes to assist students. Some of the series include web sites, places to visit and media resources as well. Children and adults will enjoy reading this stunning series.
Upon the death of their mother, two Mohawk sisters, Mattie and Sarah, are sent to the Carlisle Industrial School for Indians. Set at the turn of the 20th century, what follows is the poignant, haunting story of the sisters’ experience. Founded by Richard Henry Pratt in 1879, the purpose of the Carlisle School, as well as the other Indian schools, was to civilize the Indian by stripping the children of their language, culture, and religion. Mattie, who is willful, determined, and bossy, and Sarah, who is sensitive and more complacent, react differently to the demands placed upon them. While the girls do encounter sympathetic characters at the school, notably a teacher and custodian, these individuals are helpless to change a system that is intent on destroying the Indian in the children.
Based on the experiences of her husband’s family, Marlene Carvell has crafted a gripping novel that explores one of the chapters of American history that has not been told in history textbooks. In alternating chapters of free verse, Mattie and Sarah tell their stories. The voices are similar, which serves to heighten the reader’s understanding of the bond that connects the sisters, yet we see and feel their individual responses to their mutual experiences. It is these authentic voices that make Carvell’s novel so powerful. Initially, Mattie seems to be adjusting to her new surroundings, encouraged by a kindly teacher and her friend Gracie. Sarah, who is desperately homesick, feels even more alone because Mattie is so hardnosed about the need to adjust. A small sweetgrass basket helps the sisters reconnect. When Mattie is accused of theft, she makes a decision that has tragic consequences neither sister anticipates. This compelling and sensitive portrayal of forced assimilation and intolerance has much to say to us today as we continue to navigate the waters of immigration and what it means to be an American. Honor Books
Our Eleanor: A Scrapbook Look at Eleanor Roosevelt’s Remarkable Life By Candace Fleming ▪ Atheneum Books for Young Readers Grades 6 -12
When Eleanor Roosevelt spoke with reporters in 1932 after her husband was elected president, she said, “There isn’t going to be any First Lady. There is just going to be plain, ordinary Mrs. Roosevelt.” In this engaging “scrapbook” biography, Eleanor is depicted as anything but plain and ordinary. Through photographs, quotes, letters, diary entries, magazine and newspaper clippings, and other personal accounts, Candace Fleming captures the true essence of Eleanor Roosevelt. From her unhappy childhood and her bouts with depression, Fleming showcases Eleanor’s personal growth and her unique character by detailing her family life, marriage to Franklin Roosevelt, and relationships with her children, friends, and other social connections. The biography highlights Eleanor’s interest in social issues and human rights, which help define Eleanor as one of the most influential first ladies of all time. This is not your typical biography – Fleming does not shy away from controversial topics such as adultery and lesbianism, but the author treats these issues with care for young readers. The author also shares Eleanor’s family tree, and the biography is well documented through source notes, picture credits, and an extensive index. Books, videos, and web sites are given for further study on Eleanor. Fleming’s account captures the heart of Eleanor Roosevelt – what she believed in, stood for, and strived to achieve.
Children of the Great Depression By Russell Freedman ▪ Clarion Grades 4- 8
Once again, Russell Freedman has created a superb book in “Children of the Great Depression.” Although intended for middle-school students, this historical overview of the years of the depression will be appreciated by all who read it. The black and white photos lend themselves to the authenticity of the time. The intertwining of the photos and written passages has created another classic Freedman work, worthy of honor.
Told thru the eyes of children, it makes great use of letters, diaries and memoirs. On one occasion, although passed out from hunger herself, a small child tells her teacher the reason she is at school that day, “It was my sister’s turn to eat.” This is just one example of how powerful and memorable the book is. Freedman’s book gives clear description of the era—it tells of the dust storms, soup kitchens, kids at work and kids on the train, just to mention a few. Documented in a chart for generations to come, are the prices of items such as a quart of milk—10 cents, a used 1929 Ford–$57.50 and the average salary of a school teacher–$1227. Even though cheap by our standards, many of this generation were too poor to purchase basic staples. But all is not hopeless. During the years of the depression, 79% of the population had radios in their homes. This was the main source of entertainment—relying on the many programs of the day. Programs included soap operas, talent shows, dramas, comedy shows, quiz shows, sports (especially baseball) along with many others. Listening to these programs gave the children optimism. The realism and the sadness of this work will be engrained in the reader’s mind but the reader will also be left with the promise, as were the children depicted in the book, that there is always hope in the coming of tomorrow. Worthy of Note
The Sacrifice By Kathleen Benner Duble ▪ Margaret McElderry/ Simon and Schuster Grades 6-9
In 1692 there are rumors of witches in service to the devil in Salem, Massachusetts.
Widespread witchcraft hysteria soon reaches ten-year-old Abigail Faulkner and her family in the nearby town of Andover. Soon the girls from Salem Village are summoned to determine if the devil lives amongst the villagers of Andover. Everyone in town is ordered to present themselves to the girls. At first only gentle Mistress Osgood is named as a witch. Shortly Abigail’s Aunt Elizabeth is also accused and imprisoned in Salem Town. Then Abigail and her sister stand accused. The only way to freedom is by naming their mother as their recruiter into witchcraft. Based in part on the author’s family history, this novel captures the sweeping effects of community fear in an era when neighbor turned against neighbor in order to avoid punishment.
Built To Last: Building America’s Amazing Bridges, Dams, Tunnels, and Skyscrapers By George Sullivan ▪ Scholastic Nonfiction Grades 3 and up
In the study of U.S. history, the technology and engineering feats that have made us a superior nation are often overlooked. George Sullivan has given us a study in the prowess that has allowed this nation to expand and become a world leader in engineering and technology.
“Built to Last” tells the story of our nation’s engineering prizes, from the United States Capitol in 1793 to the Central Artery/Tunnel Project in 2005. Mr. Sullivan starts his book with the Erie Canal in 1817 and the Hoosac Tunnel in 1851, when the United States was looking for quicker and easier ways to move products and people across our vast new nation. New inventions, such as steel, led to the Brooklyn Bridge, the Flatiron Building and the Transcontinental Railroad. Hard times from 1920-1940 gave us government projects that again stretched our imagination and produced the Empire State Building, Fort Peck Dam, Hoover Dam, Golden Gate Bridge, and the Cascade Tunnel. The aftermath of the World Wars brought us to the Golden Age, 1950- 1965, that produced the U.S. Interstate Highway System, Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Arch and the Sears Tower. This book is well documented, has a bibliography of books and magazines for further reading, as well as a list of web sites for each building project. Series Worthy of Note
TIME FOR KIDS Biographies Published by HarperCollins Publishers Grades 3-6
Colorful and enticing, this new TIME FOR KIDS Biography series targeting young readers takes a close-up look at the lives of such famous Americans as Thomas Edison, Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. Through historical and contemporary photographs, timelines, interviews with experts, and “lively writing,” the editors of TIME FOR KIDS Biographies enable readers to “make a connection between the lives of past heroes and the events of today.”
For information about the award or to submit
a nomination, please contact:
Lorry Risinger, 2007 Chair
Lynchburg Public Library
2315 Memorial Avenue
Lynchburg, VA 24501
▪The book must be an original work published in the year prior to the
▪The book must be about U.S. history or an American person, or fiction
that highlights the United States past, 1492 to the present.
▪The author must reside in the United States.
▪The book must be published for young people.
▪The book must be accurate, informative, well researched, unbiased, literate, and give a clear and interesting picture of America’s past.
The Jefferson Cup Committee selects the winning book. The committee has eight members: a chairperson selected by the previous year’s committee, six individuals representing the six regions in the state, the outgoing chairperson of Youth Services Forum, and the outgoing Jefferson Cup chairperson.
2006 Jefferson Cup Committee
Deborah Wright, Chair
Donna Hughes, Outgoing Chair
Carlene Poole, Region I
Lorry Risinger, Region II
Anne Patterson, Region III
Heather Brandenburg, Region IV
Jeanette Shonk, Region V
Margarete Gillette, Region VI
Dena Smith, YSF Ex-Officio
2005 A House of Tailors by Patricia Reilly Giff ▪ Random House Grades 4-8
“Sometimes in life there are no choices….: Although Dina is only 13 she feels she has been sewing with her mother and sister forever. She wishes she could go with her sister to live in Brooklyn with their “rich” uncle. Her wish is granted when she returns from a nearly morning and secretive meeting with a friend in France and is chased by German soldiers. She barely eludes the soldiers and loses the gift from her friend – a pattern for a new hat. Her family decides she must leave Germany or be charged as a spy. How disappointed she is to discover that her uncle and his wife live on the top floor of a house in a small apartment and that she is expected to sew to make money for the family. She realizes that she has come one house of tailors to another and his one is poorer. Her room is nothing but a closet with no window and no view of the river she misses. It isn’t long before Dina begins to wish that she were still in Germany with her family and away from the uncle with whom she is constantly arguing. She determines to save money to return home.
Mrs. Giff gives us a lively and believable character, as well as a very realistic picture of life in 1870 Brooklyn. The reader can almost feel the heat, smell the dirty streets, and see the shops and the street merchants. The taste of cold ice cream shared in a park and the letters from home offer good contrasts to the drabness of Dina’s life.
It is the time of a smallpox epidemic in Brooklyn and Dina cares for her aunt and little cousin as well as protects them from the health inspectors who visit the apartments to take sick people away to the hospitals to die. At Christmas a terrible fire destroys their home and wipes out all of Dina’s savings. After the family resettles, the uncle offers to help her return to Germany. Dina must decide between her beloved family in Germany and her family and friends inn America, including Johann, a friend and aspiring tailor.
Giff’s author’s note explains that this story is based on the life of her great-grandmother, who also tried to escape sewing by coming to America. Honor Books
Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko ▪ G.P. Putnam’s Sons Grades 5-9
Built on an island in the middle of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Federal Prison was a community unto itself. In 1935, twelve-year-old moose Flanagan and his family move to Alcatraz when his father gets a job as an electrician and guard. Moose in unhappy about the move, but his mother is anxious to settle there because she hopes to send Moose’s autistic older sister, Natalie, to a special school nearby. Warden Williams is quick to tell Moose that Alcatraz children always obey the rules. The warden has a blind spot regarding his daughter, Piper, however. She relishes the power she has over the other children on the island and browbeats them into participating in a money-making scheme; namely, collecting clothing from classmates in their mainland school to be taken back to Alcatraz and laundered by the notorious gangster, Al Capone.
The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights by Russell Freedman ▪ Clarion Books Grades 4 -9
The stage is set for Anderson’s historic 1939 concert at the Lincoln Memorial. The books begins in anticipated silence illustrating the one that fell just before she began to sing. But before the reader can find fulfillment, Freeman goes back in time to Anderson’s childhood. He vividly accounts Anderson’s life from her childhood in Philadelphia through her acclaimed U.S. and European concert tours in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Freedman relays the sting of discrimination Anderson felt when she tried to apply to a music conservatory and was told, “We don’t take colored” and later, when Anderson toured the U.S. how she and her entourage were turned away from hotels and restaurants. There are thrilling accounts of her successes in Europe when she performed for royalty. At the end of the book the reader is brought back to the concert in which the beauty of Anderson’s voice can be felt. The backdrop for the historic concert is provided-the refusal of the Daughter of the American Revolution to revise their policy of “white artists only” and allow Anderson to perform at Constitution Hall and the intervention of Howard University officials and Eleanor Roosevelt, who organized the free public performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before 75,000 people. The many photographs are well chosen and include concert and family pictures as well as examples of program notes from some of Anderson’s recitals.
Going North by Janice N. Harrington ▪ Farrar, Straus & Giroux Grades 1-6
Jessie and her family are looking for a better life. Leaving behind relatives and the red soil of Alabama, they set out for the North. But traveling through the segregated South in the 1960’s is not so easy for the African American family. Too often they can’t find motels, gas stations, or restaurants that will serve them or treat them fairly. Going North is a vibrantly illustrated picture book of emotional power that tells the story of Jessie and her family and how they become pioneers of sorts, hoping for a better future.
Friend on Freedom River by Gloria Whelan ▪ Sleeping Bear Press Grades K – 6
It’s December and the Detroit River is soon to be frozen over and closed to any boat traffic. Young Louis is approached by a family escaping slavery and must make the decision to travel the distance across the river and deliver the mother, daughter and son to freedom in Canada. Louis decides to make the trip despite the risks because he remembers his father’s instructions to “just do what you think I would have done.” This richly illustrated picture book is a good introduction to the Michigan Underground Railroad that helped approximately 40,000 people on the road to freedom. Worthy of Note Titles: The Truth About Sparrows by Marian Hale ▪ Henry Holt Grades 5-8 A Dream of Freedom: The Civil Rights Movement from 1954 to 1968. by Diane McWhorter ▪ Scholastic Grades 5-12 Series Worthy of Note: American Battlefields
Published by Enchanted Lion Books ▪ Grades 3-8
For information about the award or to submit
a nomination, please contact:
Deborah Wright, 2006 Chair
Newport News Public Library System
700 Town Center Drive, Suite 300
Newport News, VA 23606
▪The book must be an original work published in the year prior to the
▪The book must be about U.S. history or an American person, or fiction
that highlights the United States past, 1492 to the present.
▪The author must reside in the United States.
▪The book must be published for young people.
▪The book must be accurate, informative, well researched, unbiased, literate, and give a clear and interesting picture of America’s past.
The Jefferson Cup Committee selects the winning book. The committee has eight members: a chairperson selected by the previous year’s committee, six individuals representing the six regions in the state, the outgoing chairperson of Youth Services Forum, and the outgoing Jefferson Cup chairperson.
2005 Jefferson Cup Committee
Donna Hughes, Chair
Martha Walker Baden, Outgoing Chair
Kathy McNalley, Region I
Lisa Isley, Region II
Deborah Wright Region III
Joy Antrim, Region IV
Peggy Howell, Region V
Susan Blanton, Region VI
Julie Ramsey, YSF Ex-Officio
2004 Grape Thief by Kristine L. Franklin ▪ Candlewick Press Grades 4-8
What does a twelve-year-old-boy in the small coal-mining town of Roslyn, Washington do for fun? Tussle with friends, steal grapes, and ponder the future. At least that’s what Slava Petrovich, nicknamed “Cuss” since he can curse in 14 different languages, does to pass the time in this novel of growing up in hard times in 1925. Slava’s older brothers, whose incomes as miners help support their widowed mother and the rest of the family, are accused of a crime and forced to leave town for their safety. Suddenly Slava, who is now the oldest at home, must grow up and make a tough choice between staying in school or dropping out to support the family. Slava is an avid student, and yearns for the education he so desperately needs to escape his destiny of becoming a miner.
The characterization of Slava’s friends, family, and mentors, are rich and varied, and Slava’s own voice rings true with the uncertainty and temptations of a boy his age. The priest who inspires a love of Latin in Slava, and the doctor who recognizes Slava’s intellectual gifts offer hope for the world outside the mines. Slava’s best friend, African-American “Perks,” struggles with accepting the prejudice around him and the knowledge that life could be different elsewhere. Slava’s mother, who knows only work, religious faith, and love for her boys, is full of mettle and of frailty.
Kristine Franklin draws on her Croatian father’s stories of growing up in Roslyn, the grape train that arrived once a year, and the nighttime escapades of young teenage boys to create a memorable tale that illustrates the hardships and hopes of many multiethnic communities of the 1920’s.
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly ▪ Harcourt Grades 8 and up
Mattie Gokey is working at the local Glenmore hotel when a guest, Grace Brown, is found drowned. Mattie is thrown unwillingly into an affinity to the young guest because she has a bundle of letters that Grace, on the previous night, told her to burn. The death and investigation of the drowning serves as a backdrop to Mattie’s personal struggle to reconcile conflicting decisions between her passion to pursue a writing career or to honor her mother’s death-bed promise to care for her younger siblings. With an unrelentingly dour and visionless father, she sees opportunities slipping away. It is through the experiences of a variety of relationships that includes a supportive teacher, a boyfriend, a schoolmate who marries and gives birth to twins, a friend who engages her in word duels, and the tragedy of Grace Brown that she finds the motivation to obey her desire for additional schooling at Barnard College in New York City. Through flashbacks and time shifts, the author builds suspense as tangible burdens develop around the mysterious death of Grace Brown, Mattie’s secret possession of the letters, and the decision of Mattie to pursue life outside of the North Woods and Big Moose Lake. Mattie deals with many conflicting emotions in this coming-of-age story set in the Adirondacks in 1906. The author cleverly addresses the complexity of relationships and the power of words. Each chapter of Mattie’s life opens with a word of the day. The author then uses the word to further the story. The reader is engaged in this story based on a true event that was explored in Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy and the classic film, A Place in the Sun, starring Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor and Shelley Winters.
Ben Franklin’s Almanac: Being a True Account of the Good Gentleman’s Life by Candace Fleming ▪ Atheneum Grades 4 and up
The author of the famous words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” comes to life in this fascinating work penned by Candace Fleming. Composed in the appealing scrapbook format ofPoor Richard’s Almanack, readers delight in the accomplishments, both great and small, of the renowned gentleman, Benjamin Franklin. Due to the complexity of his individuality, each chapter is organized topically rather than in traditional chronological order. From “Boyhood Memories” to “Final Rembrances,” visual sketches, cartoons, and quotations give a glimpse into the soul, wit, and personality of the great statesman and inventor. Through the use of primary source material, Fleming provides insight, not only into the well-known facts about this American legend, but also into his humorous, yet somewhat controversial, family and political life. The indexed work includes extensive picture source credits, a complete bibliography, timeline, recommended websites, and further reading sections. Either read cover-to-cover or enjoyed anecdotally, this fitting tribute will inspire young readers to ask themselves the same question as did Mr. Franklin, “What good shall I do today?”
In Defense of Liberty : The Story of America ’s Bill of Rights by Russell Freedman ▪ Holiday House Grades 4 and up
Just what was the amendment that James Madison felt was “the most important?” Why is the Ninth Amendment considered mysterious? What does the term “cruel and unusual punishment” mean? How does America protect the rights of the individual?
It begins with “A Knock on the Door in the Middle of the Night.” It ends with “A Right to Differ.” On the pages in between, Russell Freedman illuminates and elucidates the freedoms granted each of us by ten simple rules, America’s Bill of Rights.
Supported by pertinent black-and-white photographs and illustrations, the book contains stories that explain the principles of our freedoms. Presenting actual examples of how our liberties are protected through the Bill of Rights, Freedman provides the reader with an in-depth analysis of each amendment, yet it is written in language simple enough for upper elementary students. What could become dry rhetoric stays alive and interesting through the historical and contemporary cases that challenge our understanding of the Bill of Rights. This wonderfully informative book provides new insight for the reader into the rights and responsibilities of being Americans. For information about the award or to submit
a nomination, please contact:
Donna Hughes Handley Regional Library P.O. Box 1300 Stephens City, VA 22655 firstname.lastname@example.org
▪The book must be an original work published in the year prior to the
▪The book must be about U.S. history or an American person, or fiction
that highlights the United States past, 1492 to the present.
▪The author must reside in the United States.
▪The book must be published for young people.
▪The book must be accurate, informative, well researched, unbiased, literate, and give a clear and interesting picture of America’s past.
The Jefferson Cup Committee selects the winning book. The committee has eight members: a chairperson selected by the previous year’s committee, six individuals representing the six regions in the state, the outgoing chairperson of Youth Services Forum, and the outgoing Jefferson Cup chairperson.
2004 Jefferson Cup Committee
Martha Walker Baden, Chair
Michele DeBell Puleo, Outgoing Chair
Julie Elliott Short, Region I
Sandra Shell, Region II
Nikki Steckroth, Region III
Patrice A. Armbrust, Region IV
Connie Moore, Region V
Donna Hughes, Region VI
Maureen Harrill, YSF Ex-Officio
Three honor books were also named: In Defense of Liberty by Russell Freedman (Holiday House), Ben Franklin’s Almanac: Being a True Account of the Good Gentleman’s Life by Candace Fleming (Atheneum), and A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (Harcourt Children’s Books).
2003 Mississippi Trial, 1955 by Chris Crowe – Penguin Putnam Publishers Grades 7-12
In the summer of 1955, sixteen-year-old Hiram is living with his beloved grandfather in Greenwood, Mississippi when a horrific crime is committed. Despite a long and mysterious estrangement between Hiram’s father and grandfather, Hiram reveres his aging grandfather, a white farmer in a racially divided town. That summer, Hiram strikes up an uneasy acquaintance with Emmett Till, a black teenager from Chicago who is visiting relatives in Greenwood. Hiram watches one of his white friends viciously force Emmett to eat a raw fish at knifepoint, and does not intervene, foreshadowing Emmett’s fate and Hiram’s. After Emmett is rumored to have whistled at a white woman, he is dragged from his bed in the middle of the night and brutally murdered. The grandfather’s racism becomes clear as the controversy surrounding Emmett unfolds, and Hiram’s world is rocked. As an investigation into Emmett’s murder begins, Hiram is called as a witness and begins to realize that he is witness to much more than the police know.
Unflinching in his depiction of one of the ugliest events in American history, Crowe uses actual excerpts from the Greenwood newspaper to make the injustices of the period painfully real in this historical fiction. The Central story, however, is not Emmett Till’s but Hiram’s and through his sensitive perspective, the reader meets complex and conflicted characters, and the truth that hatred and racism come in many guises. Honor Books
Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam by Walter Dean Myers – HarperCollins Grades 4 and Up
A young American soldier faces fear and uncertainty as he and his squad go out on patrol during the Vietnam War. This story-poem serves to answer the question, “What was it like” without slipping into sensational descriptions of the horrors inherent in any war. Speaking from experience, Myers’ carefully crafted inner dialogue, pared down to the very essence of observation and emotion, reaches into our psyche to make the personal connection. Placed in the moment, we feel what the soldier feels. What is said begs for deeper thought. What is unsaid speaks volumes. Ann Grifalconi’s collages illuminate the text with a strong interplay of the hauntingly familiar and unfamiliar. A marvelous starting point for those wishing to venture into a discussion of the Vietnam War, Patrol elevates the Vietnam Veteran’s experience to a tangible level of understanding. Trouble Don’t Last by Shelley Pearsall and Alfred A. Knopf Grades 5-8
Trouble seems to follow eleven-year-old slave, Samuel, everywhere he goes. Trouble follows him on a dark night in 1859 when old slave Harrison quietly wakes him and leads him into an adventure of escape. Now Samuel and Harrison are runaway slaves, running away from the only home Samuel has ever known and running for their lives. As their master pursues them, Samuel and Harrison desperately make their way along the dangerous, sometimes fragmented world of the Underground Railroad, hoping to make it to
Canada and freedom. Ultimately, both Harrison and Samuel discover that freedom is worth any price.
Shelley Pearsall spins a riveting, catch your breath story of the perils and promise of the Underground Railroad. Samuel’s story is a must read for all children who can only imagine the terrifying, heart-wrenching experience of being a runaway slave hoping that “Trouble Don’t Last” and that freedom does. Worthy Of Special Note
Jericho Walls by Kristi Collier – Henry Holt. Grades 6-10
South Carolina, 1957. Eleven-year old Jo Clawson has just moved with her family to the small town of Jericho. Not fitting in with her peer group, who think only of make-up, clothes, and Elvis, she makes friends with an African American boy who shares her love of books. Jo struggles to understand the racial divisions of the southern Christian community as she drinks from the “colored” fountain, is mocked by the girls in her class, and watches her father be molded by the church deacons into a preacher who shrinks into a self-righteous coward. This powerful story illustrates the obstacles of innocent children trying to fit in to a community of racism and hypocrisy. Minuk: Ashes in the Pathway by Kirkpatrick Hill – Pleasant Company Grades 4-8
It is 1890 in Alaska and Minuk is a 12-year-old Yup’ik girl who wants very much to be a good woman in the Yup’ik tradition. Then white missionaries come to live in her village bringing a different way of life, Minuk becomes conflicted about the plight of women in her culture. When faced with the prospect of abandoning her way of life, she makes a surprising choice. With rich descriptions of the Yup’ik ways, the reader is at once immersed into a world that is tragic and triumphant. The text will inspire thoughtful discussion of a world unlike any that modern readers have ever known.
The afterward will help readers learn more, including what life may be like for contemporaryYup’ik girls. Six Days in October: The Stock Market Crash of 1929 by Karen Blumenthal -Atheneum Grades 6 – Up
Karen Blumenthal, Dallas bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal brings to life the six terrifying and life altering days of the 1929 stock market crash. The reader experiences the events and meets the people connected with this dark period in
United States history. Period photographs, political cartoons, and a ticker tape running along the bottom of each page work together to enhance the text. Stock market novices of any age will benefit from the author’s easily understood explanations of market terminology. When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson by Pam Munoz Ryan Scholastic Press Grades Preschool – 7
From her childhood to achieving her dream, When Marian Sang is a beautifully illustrated picture book biography of one of the greatest vocalists of all time. For older readers, the author has included notable dates and a history of Marian Anderson’s life. Resources for further reading and a discography of Marian’s recordings are also included.
2002 Storm Warriors by Elisa Carbone Alfred A. Knopf Publishing, 2001. Grades 5-9.
A ship has floundered off the North Carolina coast and it is up to the Pea Island Rescue Crew to rescue the men, women and children on board. The surf is raging. Nathan and his father race to the station. They join the crew in throwing open the doors and grabbing the towropes of the surfboat. Fighting the winds and the resistance of sand and surf, they finally launch the boat. Valiantly the crew rows toward the beached and listing vessel. Once along side the ship, the stranded sailors and their passengers are slowly transferred to the surfboat. As much as Nathan dreams of being a real member of the crew, not just an eager volunteer, he is only a boy. And… according to his father, has little hope of ever joining the crew.
The year is 1895 and, though the Civil War ended thirty years ago, segregation still exists. Only the sons and nephews of the all African American Pea Island Rescue Crew can hope to join their ranks. Not to be daunted, Nathan drills with the crew, learns to “sneak through” the waves, and practices his first aid skills. One night, after a particularly harrowing rescue, Nathan realizes he is not cut out to be a member of this elite crew. He knows in his heart he could never plunge into the dangerous, angry surf the way the crewmen did on that night. His grandfather’s words, “sometimes your dreams show up dressed a little different than you thought they’d be,” echoes in his mind. Nathan knows that while he can’t save lives on the water, he can save lives once the victims are brought to land.
Elisa Carbone skillfully weaves fictional characters into the unique history of the U.S. Lifesaving Service on Pea Island, North Carolina. Through extensive research, Ms. Carbone uses actual wrecks and rescues in creating the riveting plot. The characters are well developed and believable. Nathan, in particular, draws the reader into a time and place when many opportunities simply were not available to African Americans. Honor Books Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles Atheneum. Grades 1-4.
Joe’s best friend is John Henry. They shoot marbles, swim in the creek, and share ice pops during the hot southern summer of 1964. The only problem is that Joe’s skin is the color of “pale moths that dance around the porch light at night,” while John Henry’s is the color of “browned butter.” This means that John Henry can’t do everything that Joe does, including swimming in the “whites only” town pool. Then the Civil Rights Act is passed that forbids segregation, and the boys think that things will be different. What they discover, however, is that they have the power to determine their own behavior, despite the racial prejudice that is still prevalent in the town. Wiles’ concise text is both touching and inspiring, and Jerome Lagarrigue’s memory-like illustrations powerfully enhance the emotional response of the reader or listener. Under a War-Torn Sky by Laura Elliott Hyperion Press, 2001. Grades 7-12.
Henry “Hank” Forester, like many other young American fliers during the Second World War, enjoys the excitement of his missions and the camaraderie of the other American soldiers. He is very proud to be doing his part to bring the war to an end so he can go home to his family and his girl, and live the peaceful life he dreamed of having before war tore his world to pieces. Hank’s innate qualities become great strengths when his plane is shot down over Alsace during a bombing mission, and he must make his way across enemy-controlled borders and deep through the heart of occupied France in his efforts to return to the home that he loves.
Hank has only the Maquis (a French resistance group), his own keen instincts, and his wits to save him from the constant and oppressive threat of death. With page-turning excitement, drama, romance, and peppered with colorful characters amongst impeccable historical fact, this incredibly well written war novel is the ultimate bildungsroman. It will appeal to a vast variety of readers as they grow with Hank on his amazing journey under a war-torn sky. Worthy of Special Note The Belly Gunner by Carol Edgemon Hipperson and Dale Aldrich Twenty First Century Books, 2001. Grades 6-9.
Carol Edgemon Hipperson tells the story of Dale Aldrich, World War II veteran, who served as a ball turret, or belly gunner on a B-17 bomber with the U.S. Eighth Air Force. Aldrich describes his bombing missions over occupied Europe and Germany, being shot down, captured by the Nazi’s and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. Aldrich survives the horrors of the POW camp and comes back to America, goes to college on the GI Bill, marries and raises a family. His daughter, Janie Aldrich Hickel, encouraged the author to interview her dad and tell the story of the average GI who doesn’t think of himself as a hero, but was one of many American men and women who risked their lives to defend the free world. My Family Shall Be Free by Dennis Brindell Fradin Harpercollins Juvenile Books, 2001. Grades 7-12.
Peter and Levin, ages 6 and 8 are “kidnapped” and carried off to Kentucky after their mother runs away from her master taking her two baby daughters with her. The boys eventually are sold to a master in the Deep South. Over the course of 40 years, through hard work and determination, Peter is able to buy his freedom and, eventually, his family’s as well. Excerpts from 19th century printed sources help personalize the story of this divided family, their struggle and eventual reunion. Booklist calls it “an engrossing saga that is both sweeping and intensely personal”. The Ransom of Mercy Carter by Caroline B. Cooney Delacorte Press, 2001. Grades 7-9.
The Ransom of Mercy Carter begins in 1704 during the French and Indian Wars when the English village of Deerfield, Massachusetts is attacked by Mohawk Indians. Half the residents, the majority of whom are children, are taken on a forced march in the middle of winter, 300 miles north to Canada. Eleven-year-old Mercy Carter proves to be brave and levelheaded, helping other English captives and earning the respect and affection of her captors. Ransom by the English government seems to be her only hope but when it finally comes–what will her decision be? Series Worthy of Note
Encyclopedia of American Studies Grolier Educational, 2001. Grades 7-12.
This four-volume set encompasses a very wide range of topics relating American popular culture and American History. The easy to read entries range from baseball and beauty contests to Wall Street, Williamsburg and Woodstock. Useful to students will be the thematic guide to the contents and the extensive subject index. Users of this set will be able to find diverse information on American life difficult to find in other sources.
2001 Blizzard! by Jim Murphy Scholastic Press, 2000. Grades 4-8.
It was March, 1888, and the weather forecast was rain becoming fair. Little did anyone realize that not one, but two powerful weather systems were about to invade the northeastern United States. In his distinctive style, Jim Murphy presents the story of the “Great Blizzard” that knocked the Northeast to its knees. Through personal stories as well as historical narrative, Murphy brings readers into the storm. He shows the effect of the storm on all walks of life, from the homeless in the streets to a railroad president and politicians. Murphy provides stories of survivors as well as victims, with specific details that stand out, such as the society girl found buried in the snow, still clutching her feathered hat. The illustrations and photographs provide visual records to enhance the text and give the reader a glimpse of how massive this storm really was. From underground cables to subway systems to better weather prediction and communication, the blizzard of 1888 is still affecting life today. Honor Books
Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2000. Grades 4 and up.
Philadelphia is ill prepared for an epidemic of yellow fever. The wealthy flee the city as the epidemic spreads. Doors are barred; business falls off as people stay home in an attempt to avoid the fever. Knowledge of how the fever spreads is lacking, and medical treatment is the old-fashioned bleeding of the victim, almost guaranteed to help the patient die faster. As word of the fever spreads, towns will not let people from Philadelphia into their centers. With a scarcity of food, starvation becomes routine, because farmers will not venture into the city. At the Cook Coffeehouse, fourteen-year old Matilda’s life becomes a nightmare. When Matilda’s mother becomes ill, Matilda and her grandfather depart, leaving Mother in the care of Eliza, an African-American cook at the coffeehouse. The journey is aborted, however, and Matilda and her grandfather return to an empty coffeehouse. Not knowing her mother’s fate, more tragedy strikes and Matilda is left alone. Matilda’s story is intertwined with the history of the epidemic in a fascinating glimpse at medical practices and how a population reacts to this baffling illness. The Boxer by Kathleen Karr Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2000. Grades 5-8.
In 1885, in New York City, Johnny Woods is barely able to support his mother and fatherless siblings on sweatshop pay. The chance to make some easy money boxing is irresistible even though the sport is illegal. The first time in the ring, Johnny is arrested and sentenced to jail. There he meets Michael O’Shaunnessey who sees a champion boxer in Johnny’s uppercut and begins his training. Out of jail, and under Michael’s management, Johnny becomes a professional. His power and his passion help Johnny protect his family, win in the ring and plan for a better future. From Johnny’s first powerful punch, The Boxer, is exciting and gripping for the reluctant to the voracious reader. Worthy of Special Note
America’s Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle by David A. Adler Harcourt, Inc., 2000. Grades K-4
In this picture biography, David Adler describes the swimming accomplishments of Gertrude Ederle. After winning three Olympic medals and setting twenty-nine United States and world records, Trudy Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel in 1926. The memorable details of her record-breaking swim are enhanced by Terry Widener’s illustrations. The author’s note adds interesting background and general information about the era and Ederle’s life.
The Art of Keeping Cool by Janet Taylor Lisle Atheneum, 2000. Grades 5-8
The Art of Keeping Cool is a powerful story of life on the homefront during World War II. Set in a small New England town and narrated by thirteen-year-old Robert, this novel successfully portrays the fears and frustrations of those left behind at home. Robert and his mother are forced to move from Ohio to New England after Robert’s father has joined the Canadian Air Force and find life is not easy living with grandfather. Abel, a reclusive German painter, adds conflicts and tension when townspeople begin to believe he is a Nazi spy. The Art of Keeping Cool is a multi-layered novel with well-developed characters.
Radio Rescue by Lynne Barasch Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2000. Grades 2-5.
In 1923, Robert Marx became the youngest licensed amateur wireless radio operator. Ten-year-old Robert describes what Morse Code is through his story about setting up his transmitting station and picking up a signal from Florida hurricane victims. For 24 hours, Robert manned his receiver and enlisted the help of the Coast Guard to save a Key Largo family. Watercolor and ink illustrations capture information from the attractive endpapers to the small insets of code within large, full-page drawings of a past era. This personal history concludes with a newspaper photograph of the author’s father, the real Robert Marx. Young readers will note the parallel between the wireless radio and Internet chat, or surmise where Radio Shack got its name.
Spellbinder: The Life of Harry Houdini by Tom Lalicki Holiday House, 2000. Grades 3-7.
The Milk Can Escape, the Manacled Bridge Jump, the Chinese Water-Torture Cell, the Handcuff Escape, and the Suspended Strait Jacket Escape are among the most remembered of Harry Houdini’s magic tricks and can be experienced in this highly readable biography of the master magician. Noted for his spectacular feats of mystery and skill, the legendary Houdini was also a loving son who took care of his mother after the death of his father. He was a fighter who sought to promote the truth about spiritual mediums and was a blatant supporter of self-promotion as well as a man with a very strong work ethic. To perform his feats precisely, Houdini struggled to remain physically fit, as he practiced his magic continuously. Houdini’s life is described in the context of the times of the late 1800s and early 1920s. Economic problems abound in the country, society has concerns about World War I, and the state of entertainment during this time period influences the attraction of the vaudeville stage, the desire to believe in mediums, and the success of Houdini’s advertising. Each chapter heading is designed as a vaudevillian placard and chapters are interspersed with photographs of Houdini at work, with his family, as well as with President Theodore Roosevelt. A chronology, bibliography, and an author’s note append the text.
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan Holiday House, 2000. Grades 5-8.
Esperanza is the daughter of an affluent Mexican Rancher. She lives a life of great privilege and dreams of one day marrying the son of one of the areas richest families and then presiding over El Rancho de las Rosas. But her dreams are tragically shattered with the death of her beloved papa. Thirteen-year-old Esperanza and her mother are forced to flee Mexico to a farm labor camp in California during the Great Depression. Once in the United States they must adjust to life without servants and fancy dresses. The transition is not an easy one for Esperanza, who is confronted with a life of poverty, prejudice, hard work and earning acceptance. Pam Munoz Ryan weaves together historical facts and the daily struggles Esperanza faces into a compelling look at the Mexican workers’ plight and the injustices of the Mexican Deportation Act. Esperanza Rising is an unforgettable tale of a young girl who does not succumb to those who would hold her down while she transforms herself into a strong young woman who can not only take care of herself, but also her family.
2000 Preacher’s Boy by Katherine Patterson Clarion Books. Grades 5-9.
Beginning on Decoration Day in May 1899, this historical fiction novel gives a glimpse of Vermont small town life as related by Robbie Hewitt, a spirited lad who does not measure up to the town’s expectations of a preacher’s son. Robbie decides to make the most of his life before the end of the world, an event predicted by a former minister of his father’s church. He decides to become an “apiest” and forget about pleasing his father and God. Robbie does not really mean to get into trouble; things just turn out that way. He puts his mentally retarded brother in danger, almost kills another boy by letting his temper get the best of him, and then creates a harebrained kidnapping hoax that almost costs another man his life. The story closes with a reconciliation of father and son just in time to ring the church bell, welcoming the Twentieth Century. With her signature warmth, humor and memorable characters, Paterson has created another multilayered coming-of-age historical fiction masterpiece that never preaches but radiates enduring family values. Honor Books
Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges Scholastic Press. Grades 1-6.
On November 14, 1960, Ruby Bridges made history when she entered the front doors of the William Frantz Public School escorted by four U.S. Marshals. As a mob of angry white adults and children jeered and threw objects at her, the little six-year-old bravely helped begin the integration of the New Orleans Public Schools. Ruby tells her own story as if she were still that six-year-old child. Using simple, but compelling language and images, she describes the events and feelings she will always have of that year as Mrs. Henry’s sole first grade pupil. Large sepia-toned photographs, eyewitness accounts, and periodical excerpts give readers of all ages information and an emotional understanding of this pivotal time in our country’s history.
The Perilous Journey of the Donner Party by Marian Calabro Clarion Books. Grades 6 and up.
Told from the viewpoint of thirteen-year-old Virginia Reed, a member of the ill-fated Donner Party, this page-turner describes the overland trek of the Donner and Reed families who left Springfield, Illinois and headed for California in the spring of 1846. Based on a letter written by Virginia to a cousin in the East after the survivors settled in California, the author details the hardships, poor decisions, and the conflicts among the members of the party that plagued the journey. The story does not end with the harrowing events when the party was stranded in the Truckee Lake region and resorted to cannibalism to survive but follows the members to the end of the journey. This well researched book is a story of determination and survival. It is enhanced with information about the survivors in later years and includes a complete script of Virginia’s letter.
Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich Hyperion Books for Children. Grades 4-6.
One year. Four seasons. Small details of everyday life. For an Ojibwa family in 1847, much of each day’s activities center on obtaining food, clothing, and shelter. Through the eyes of seven-year-old Omakayas, we see the work involved in finding, preparing, and storing food. We see how skins are scraped and sewn for clothing. We see the family build a birchbark house for the summer, camp out for special events, and move to a log home for the winter. Beyond the surface of a simple family story, Louise Erdrich addresses the arrival of white settlers and traders in the area, the changes that are coming with them, and the secrets within Omakayas’ family that will affect how she can handle all of these events. Written in simple evocative style, The Birchbark House becomes an inviting home, welcoming its readers and giving them an unforgettable glimpse of another time and place. Worthy of Special Note
The Babe and I by David A. Adler Harcourt Brace & Company. Grades 1-4.
The Babe and I is a heartwarming picture book which immerses the reader in The Great Depression. With loving attention to detail, author David Adler and illustrator Terry Widener mesh story and illustration. The young boy telling the story shares the shock of learning that invincible dad is hiding his job loss from the family. By calling out news of his hero Babe Ruth, the boy learns to hawk newspapers in front of Yankee Stadium and earn money to help his family. A satisfying and believable ending captures the boy’s relationship with his father, the Babe’s relationship with his fans, and the emotional reality of The Great Depression.
Kids on Strike by Susan Campbell Bartoletti Houghton Mifflin Company. Grade 5-9.
In factories operating dangerous machinery that could injure or kill, in coal mines sorting through bins of coal for eleven hours a day, and in factories full of dangerous lint with no ventilation, children worked for extremely low wages during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Kids on Strike describes the children who stood up to mill, factory, and mine owners and demanded better conditions, pay, and hours. Bartoletti provides detailed descriptions of horrible working conditions and chronicles the lives of strike leaders such as eleven-year-old mill worker Agnes Nestor and Kid Blink, a young one-eyed newsie who dared to buck authority. Major strikes and incidents are related, such as the 125-mile march made by striking children and led by Mother Jones to confront President Theodore Roosevelt. Over one hundred photographs are included in the well-researched account that describes the history of child labor.
Angels of Mercy by Betsy Kuhn Atheneum Books for Young Readers. Grades 6 and up.
Kuhn has brought a fresh and engaging perspective to books on World War II by presenting the relatively unknown experiences of American Army nurses who served in the European and Pacific theaters. Interweaving compelling first person accounts of events, archival photos and historical background, the book chronicles both the grimmest experiences – nurses in POW camps and caught behind enemy lines- and the more lighthearted anecdotes—making fudge in foxholes and washing undies in helmets. The nurses bravely faced the harshest realities of war, working and living close to the front lines. Their stories dramatically and poignantly illustrate how these women supported and extended the American military effort.
Margaret Bourke-White: Her Pictures Were Her Life by Susan Goldman Rubin Harry N. Abrams. Grades 7 and up.
Margaret Bourke-White photographed and attended many historic moments worldwide from the 1920s to the 1950s. Over fifty of Bourke-White’s stunning photos are included and fill many pages of this over-sized book. Rubin relates personal details elegantly, including Bourke-White’s disastrous first marriage, her varied college career, her discovery of photography as a serious vocation, her growing skill and fame, and lastly her descent into illness and death. The combination of Bourke-White’s photos, Rubin’s excellent writing, and Abram’s high publishing standard has resulted in a fascinating book for young adults. Series Worthy of Note The Worlds of the American Girls Pleasant Company Grades 3-6.
This nonfiction companion series to the American Girls books gives an in-depth look at daily life and historical events during the time each girl lived. These books are lavishly illustrated and contain many fascinating facts. The titles are: Welcome to Addy’s World, 1864 by Susan Sinnott; Welcome to Felicity’s World, 1774 by Catherine Gourley; Welcome to Josefina’s World, 1824 by Yvette La Pierre; Welcome to Kirsten’s World, 1854 by Susan Sinnott;Welcome to Molly’s World, 1944 by Catherine Gourley; and Welcome to Samantha’s World, 1904 by Catherine Gourley. My Name is America Scholastic Grades 5-8.
This fiction series presents the diaries of young boys, recording in detail the daily events of their particular historical period. Epilogues bring the books to satisfying conclusions. Historical information placed at the end of each book adds to the realism of the diaries. The titles are: The Journal of Ben Uchida, Citizen 13559, Mirror Lake Internment Camp, California, 1943 by Barry Denenberg; The Journal of Sean Sullivan, A Transcontinental Railroad Worker, Nebraska and Points West, 1867 by William Durbin; The Story of Joshua Loper, A Black Cowboy, The Chisholm Trail, 1871 by Walter Dean Myers; and The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins, A World War II Soldier, Normandy, France, 1944by Walter Dean Myers.
1999 Soldier’s Heart: Being the Story of the Enlistment and Due Service of the Boy Charlie Goddard in the First Minnesota Volunteers by Gary Paulsen Delacorte Press, 1998. Grades 7 and up.
Soldier’s Heart, an incredibly powerful contribution to children’s literature, tells the story of young farmer Charlie Goddard’s experience as a soldier in the Civil War. Desiring to be a part of the anticipated short shooting war against Johnny Reb, Charlie lies about his age and enlistes. His naïve excitement, heightened by parades, patriotic slogans, pretty girls and a plush first train ride, vanishes after he experiences the physical horrors and mental anguish of his first Civil War combat at Bull’s Run. Although he does not know how, Charlie physically survives that and other battles until he is wounded, though not fatally, at Gettysburg. At age twenty-one when he should have been thinking about marriage, Charlie walks with a cane and is old not in years but “old from too much life, old from seeing too much, old from knowing too much.” The price of war leaves Charlie with a “soldier’s heart,” today known as post traumatic stress disorder. Charlie dies at age twenty-three. Because of Paulsen’s extensive research and attention to details, Soldier’s Heart captures the horrific history of Civil War battles with realism rarely experienced in books for young adults. Honor Books
Boss of the Plains: The Hat that Won the West by Laurie Carlson DK Publishing, Inc., 1998. Grades K-4.
The Stetson family made hats, but young John Batterson Stetson dreamed of the adventures he could have in the Wild West. As John grew, he learned the secret of creating hats using strong, sturdy felt; however, he never forgot his dreams of going west. Years passed before John finally arrived in the Colorado territory. One there, he wanted to do something special, something to say, “John Stetson was here!” So he made a hat, a very special hat that kept the rain off the cowpoke’s neck, shielded the sun from his face and impressed the ladies at the Saturday night dance. Stetson called his sturdy creation “The Boss of the Plains.” This hat cost a month’s wages but it was worth it. This colorful, fun picture book is a simple introduction to the life of John Stetson, whose hat became the symbol of the American West. Laurie Carlson’s engaging text and Holly Meade’s vibrant pictures will surely entertain readers of all ages. Worthy of Special Note What’s the Deal? Jefferson, Napoleon, and the Louisiana Purchase by Rhonda Blumberg National Geographic Society, 1998. Grades 7 and up.
A cast of characters, major and minor, including an explorer, spies, dictators, kings, presidents, and a host of others, sets the stage for an exciting telling of the Louisiana Purchase negotiated by President Thomas Jefferson. The recounting of diplomacy, the intrigue, and the hand of fate through other world events gives the book a true sense of suspense. Blumberg brings to life the lives and events that surrounded this acquisition, which was even challenged by some as unconstitutional. The author’s usual thorough research helps us to understand the controversy concerning this important land deal, which Jefferson hailed as the greatest triumph of his political career. The newspaper, National Intelligencer, praised Jefferson’s leadership for bringing about “so vast and important an accession of empire by means so pacific and just.” Reproductions of art from the period and an excellent bibliography listing primary and secondary sources add to the value of this book.
Stealing Freedom by Elisa Carbone Alfred A. Knopf, 1998. Grades 6-10.
Slavery’s harsh realities are graphically revealed in Carbone’s story of the life of Ann Marie Weems. Born into slavery in Maryland in the 1840’s, Ann Marie’s family suffered a wrenching blow when her three brothers were taken away under false pretenses by their master and sold into the deep South. Shortly afterwards, Ann Marie’s father, a free Black, contacted an abolitionist group, which arranged to purchase freedom for Ann Marie and her mother and sister. However, the owner refused to sell Ann Marie, saying that his wife needed her help, thus forcing her to separate from the remaining members of her beloved family. Later the same abolitionist group arranged to kidnap Ann Marie, setting in motion her harrowing journey to safety on the Underground Railroad. Meticulously adapted from historical records, Carbone’s story blends authentic details of the era with an exciting plot, and it is especially compelling because it is based on a true story. Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange by Elizabeth Partridge Viking, 1998. Grades 6-12.
“You can’t deny what you must do, no matter what it costs.” These words of Dorothea Lange illustrate the theme of this intimate portrait of her life and work, written by the daughter of her photographic assistant who grew up as part of the diverse bunch of people making up Dorothea’s family. This powerful photo-essay tells of Lange’s difficult childhood but focuses on the camera-art that brought to the nation’s attention the plight of the poor during the Depression, the migrant workers and the Japanese-American families interned during World War II. Restless Spirit reflects Lange’s passion for her work which may be summed up in her statement, “I had to get my camera to register the things that were more important than how poor they were – their pride, their strength, their spirit.” A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck Dial Books for Young Readers, 1998. Grades 5-8.
This “novel in stories” is a warm reflection of an older man’s memories of his childhood depression-years summers spent with his sister Mary Ann at Grandma Dowdel’s farm. In the humorous story telling tradition of Mark Twain, Peck tells of the feisty, never-to-be-outdone, larger-than-life Grandma Dowdel who seems different each summer. Joey and Mary Alice realize Grandma is not a good influence on them, which is why they like to visit there. She tells whoppers, gets even with the Cowgill boys who have blown up her mailbox with a cherry bomb and poaches fish to feed the Depression drifters. The story ends on a poignant note as Joey, now a World War II soldier passes in the night by her well-lit house and sees her waving. Peck vividly captures the Depression era, seen through a child’s eye.
Drummer Boy by Ann Turner Harper Collins Publishers, 1998. Grades 2-4.
A thirteen-year-old boy is so affected by hearing the charismatic Abraham Lincoln speak that he runs away from the farm and enlists in the Union Army as a drummer boy. His idealistic dream of battle glory and bravery are shattered when he becomes a participant in the true horror of war. Learning that the beat of his drum muffles the sound of gunfire and cries of the wounded and dying, the boy begins to believe that his job is important in helping the soldiers feel less fear. He worries that he is forgetting the faces of the “boys” who are killed in battle and visits the campfires at night, fixing faces in his mind. The illustrations add to the emotional appeal of the minimal, yet vivid, narrative, revealing a bright-eyed, expectant farm boy at the beginning of the book and then, at the end, a tattered, haunted young man who has seen “things no boy should ever see.” Mary on Horseback: Three Mountain Stories by Rosemary Wells Dial Books for Young Readers, 1998. Grades 2-5.
Through the experiences of three distinct characters, readers are introduced to life during the 1920’s in the Kentucky Mountains. It is a place of great beauty, but a place without modern conveniences such as electricity, running water and roads. The stories serve as a compelling biography of Mary Breckinridge, who came to the Appalachian Mountains determined to bring medical care to these people in need, founding the Frontier Nursing Service. This well crafted book is filled with language and imagery highlighting not only the hardships of life in Appalachia, but also the hope that Mary Breckinridge and her nurses brought to the people of the mountains. The lyric text is accompanied by wonderful illustrations based on photographs taken for the Frontier Nursing Service. Series Worthy of Note Dear America/My Name is America Scholastic, 1998. Grades 4-8.
These companion series present the diary of a young boy or girl, recording in detail the daily events of their particular historical period. Epilogues bring the books to satisfying conclusions. Historical information placed at the end of each book adds to the realism of the diaries. The five Dear America titles published in 1998 are: A Line in the Sand: The Diary of Lucinda Lawrence by Sherry Garland, Dreams in Golden Country: The Diary of Zipporah Feldman, a Jewish Immigrant Girl by Kathryn Lasky, West to a Land of Plenty: The Diary of Teresa Anglino Viscardi by Jim Murphy, Standing in the Light: The Captive Diary of Catharine Carey Logan by Mary Pope Osborne and Voyage on the Great Titanic:Diary of Margaret Ann Brady by Ellen Emerson White. The two My Name is America titles published in 1998 are The Journal of William Thomas Emerson: A Revolutionary War Patriot by Barry Denenbert and The Journal of James Edmond Pease: A Civil War Soldierby Jim Murphy. The Drama of American History by Christopher Collier and James Lincoln Collier Benchmark Books, 1998. Grades 4-8.
As stated by the authors, the aim of this series is to “draw in bold strokes, providing enough information, but no more that is necessary, to bring out the basic themes of the American story, and what they mean to us now.” The Colliers have focused on political and institutional history but have also tied in our social and cultural history. The five series titles published in 1998 are, Clash of Cultures: Prehistory-1638, The Paradox of Jamestown: 1585-1700, Pilgrims and Puritans: 1620-1676, The French and Indian War: 1660-1763, The American Revolution: 1763-1783.
1998 Leon’s Story 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. Honor Books 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 Scholastic, 1997.
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 HarperCollins, 1997.
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 Delacorte, 1997.
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.
1997 The Ornament Tree by Jean Thesman Houghton Mifflin, 1996. Grades 7-10.
The Ornament Tree tells the story of recently orphaned Bonnie Shaster, age fourteen, who moves to Seattle in 1918 to live with her genteel, elderly cousins. The Devereaux’s reduced financial circumstances have forced them to take in an eclectic group of boarders. The women are very progressive for 1918, as they support women’s suffrage, birth control, and the elimination of child labor. Conflicts between the boarders, as well as domestic help difficulties, play out against a devastating flu epidemic, labor strikes, class distinctions, and physical disabilities. Bonnie desperately wants to help her beloved intellectual cousins who are encouraging her to grow.
Jean Thesman’s subtle tone compliments the theme of women’s rights, class distinctions, and labor issues by providing an enlightened and educated point of view. Thesman utilizes the boardinghouse setting to create conflicts between characters. She also demonstrates the effect historical events have on the boarders as in the case of Mr. Johnson who manages a shipyard during the general strike. The symbolic ornament tree serves as a unifying element. Thesman seamlessly intertwines historical events, characterization, theme, and plot into a unified whole conveying a strong sense of time and place so important to historical fiction. Honor Books
The Wagon by Tony Johnston Tambourine Books, 1996. Grades 1-3.
On a Carolina morning a child is born. A child whose skin, “like smooth, dark wood,” makes him a slave. Johnston’s skillful use of contrasts and simile, perfectly matched with and enhanced by Ransome’s light and dark illustrations, tell the story of a young slave boy working for his master and longing for one thing he cannot have – freedom to go where he pleases and “to do what free boys do.” As the boy recounts his life as a slave and dreams of being carried to a better place, the reader can experience with him a gamut of emotions–from the despair, anger and hatred of slavery to the jubilation of freedom’s arrival and the sadness of hearing of Mr. Lincoln’s death. A very emotional and unforgettable look at slavery.
Train to Somewhere by Eve Bunting Clarion Books, 1996. Grades 2-6.
Eve Bunting’s powerful text tells an emotional story of a young girl who is heading west on an Orphan Train with fourteen other children. Marianne is sure that her mother will be waiting for her somewhere along the way. After all, her mother promised her that she could be back to get her—before Christmas—but Marianne has waited so many Christmases. Now she is heading west, too. Stop after stop, Marianne searches the crowd for her mother. As some of the children are chosen to be adopted, no one shows any interest in adopting plain Marianne. Then the train makes its final stop in a place called Somewhere.
This heart warming, emotional story mixed with Ronald Himler’s beautiful illustrations gives the reader an emotional account of the Orphan Trains that traveled west from the 1850’s until the 1920’s. Worthy of Special Note Full Steam Ahead: The Road to Build a Transcontinental Railroad by Rhoda Blumberg National Geographic Society, 1996. Grades 5 and up.
Rhoda Blumberg’s extensive research is evident as she leads the reader through the harrowing, sometimes deadly experiences, of the men who build the transcontinental railroad. After the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 was signed the Central Pacific Company, building east, and the Union Pacific Railroad, building west of the Mississippi River, set out to win the race, often dealing in underhanded tactics meant to defraud the government. The celebration on May 10, 1869 was a monstrous occasion throughout the United States as the final spike was driven, more so than at Promontory Summit where onlookers were trying to find the gold spike and souvenirs. The well written, well-documented text, along with many pictures and illustrations, captures the tenor of those who built the transcontinental railroad. The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker by Cynthia DeFelice Farrar Straus Giroux, 1996. Grades 4-7.
In 1849, the only cure mentioned for consumption is a macabre practice of unearthing a deceased relative who has died of consumption. Young Lucas Whitaker wishes he had known of the “cure” before his mother died. Perhaps he could have saved her. Scared, alone, and grieving, Lucas leaves his home and ends up in Southwick where he becomes the apprentice of Doc Beecher. Lucas does not understand why Doc does not use the cure for this dread disease. Although Doc tells Lucas this so called cure is nonsense, Lucas still believes that there is a way to help the dying people around him and he sets out to prove Doc wrong.
The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker is an interesting and gripping story of people who are desperate and will go to great lengths to save their loved ones from the disease we now know as tuberculosis. An American Hero: The True Story of Charles E. Lindbergh by Barry Denenbery Scholastic, 1996. Grades 8 and up.
Barry Denenberg’s excellent, well-researched biography captures Lindbergh’s drive to succeed, as well as his desire to remain a private person. The author uses quotes from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s diaries and letters and quotes from Charles’ writings, and the hour by hour log during the flight to Paris to give the reader a keener insight into Lindbergh’s struggles throughout his life.
The Life and Death of Crazy Horse by Russell Freedman Holiday House, 1996. Grades 5-8.
Crazy Horse was a sensitive youth who became the greatest of all Teton Sioux warriors. Faithful to a vision, he rode into battle with a single hawk feather in his hair and a few hailspots on his body. His most courageous victory was leading warriors against General Custer in the Battle of Little Bighorn on June 26, 1876. He never signed a treaty with the white men and he resisted them all his life.
Russell Freedman retells the legend of courage and idealism of an uncompromising warrior who died for his beliefs. The Unbreakable Code by Sara Hunter Northland Publishers, 1996. Grades 2-4.
Author Sara Hunter’s clear writing style and Julia Miner’s warm color illustrations highlight a little known moment in the history of World War II—the participation of Navy code breakers in communication efforts during battle in the Pacific. However, there is another story here about the special relationship between the grandson who tells the story of being a code breaker and the grandson who must find his own courage to deal with the death of his father. This unique tale is given extra force as it is played out against the backdrop of the Southwest landscape.
Small Steps: The Year I got Polio by Peg Kehret Albert Whitman, 1996. Grades 4-6.
Peg Schulze, a seventh grader in Austin, Minnesota, was looking forward to the Homecoming parade that afternoon. Her world was transformed into a nightmare of fear and pain as she fell victim to infantile paralysis or as it was commonly known, polio. Peg Schulze Kehret, recalls those long months as she strives to overcome the effects of the dreaded disease.
Suffering the worst form of polio, Peg was transferred to University Hospital in Minneapolis from the Sheltering Arms Hospital. Her days were filled with pain, loneliness, and anxiety about her future. With loving support from her parents, and a new treatment for polio, Peg began to improve. She was moved back to Sheltering Arms Hospital for physical therapy, and to a whole new world. Sharing her room with four other girls, Peg began experiencing the joy of relationships that uniquely bound them together through suffering. Seven months later, Peg Schulze, walked slowly with her walking sticks down the halls of her old school. Although she knew she would never be as strong physically as she once was, she knew in her heart she was much stronger in many ways.
The Brooklyn Bridge by Elizabeth Mann Mikaya Press, 1996. Grades 4-7.
The story of the world’s most famous bridge has fascinated generations of Americans. Elizabeth Mann provides a new generation of readers with a memorable experience. The text is not only lively and interesting, but resonates with the voices of those involved in the design and creation of the bridge. The illustrations, a mix of period photographs and art, underscore the telling of this engineering feat.
A Young Patriot: The American Revolution as Experienced by One Boy by Jim Murphy Houghton Mifflin, 1996. Grades 5-9.
Joseph Plumb Martin, an adventurous boy, heard the details of early skirmishes from soldiers who stopped at his grandfather’s farm in Connecticut. In July, 1976, he enlisted at the local tavern for a period of six months and served until the war ended in 1783. Joseph’s first encounter with the British in New York made him realize his fears and confusion were shared by other soldiers. He served under Washington and wintered at Valley Forge. Joseph’s curiosity, creativity, and humorous nature helped him survive the trails and triumphs of army life. Jim Murphy weaves the historical facts and the memoirs of Joseph Martin in a compelling image of the American Revolution. John Steinbeck by Catherine Reef Clarion Books, 1996. Grades 7-10.
In this well-written and very readable biography John Steinbeck grows from a sixteen-year-old hopeful, too shy to give publishers his real name and address, to a world traveling modern author and winner of a Nobel Prize for Literature. Steinbeck is portrayed both as a simple man with foibles of his own, and as a man who writes with a mission of “making people understand each other.” Through in depth research of Steinbeck’s life and skillful use of quotes from his own works and photographs of the people he wrote about, Reef has written a fascinating biography. The story not only chronicles Steinbeck’s life, but also the history of America from the turn of the century through the 60’s.
Second Daughter: The Story of a Slave Girl by Mildred Walter Scholastic, 1996. Grades 6-10.
The year is 1781 and slavery has been abolished in Massachusetts. The cry for independence and equality that began before and continued during the Revolutionary War inspired many blacks to seek their freedom from 1773 to 1779. Mildred Walter creates the story of one such slave in Second Daughter, based on the actual account of Mum Bett who sued her owner for her freedom under the Massachusetts Constitution and won.
The story unfolds as Bett’s younger sister, Aissa, narrates their struggle for survival and hope for freedom in a system that killed their parents and cast them into a seemingly endless life of servitude. As slave to a prominent Massachusetts family, Bett, does not succumb to the forces that would keep her and her family in bondage, but courageously upholds her right to freedom using the ideals that her master and other law abiding citizens of Massachusetts fashioned in their state constitution. Freedom becomes a reality for her family, and opens the long road toward the abolition of slavery everywhere. Series Award Winner
Dear America Series Scholastic, 1996. Grades 4-8.
Three well-known authors inaugurate the Dear America Series. Each book is presented as a girl’s diary which records in detail the daily events of a historical period. The books include account of real life, hardship, and sadness. Epilogues bring the books to satisfying conclusions. Historical notes are places at the end of each book as well as other published information. The notes do not detract from the realistic mood created in the diaries. The titles published this year are: A Journey to the New World, The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple, Mayflower, 1620 by Kathryn Lasky, The Winter of Red Snow: The Revolutionary War Diary of Abigail Jane Stewart, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, 1777by Kristiana Gregory, When Will this Cruel War be Over? The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson, Gordonsville, Virginia, 1864 by Barry Denenberg.
1996 The Great Fire by Jim Murphy Scholastic, 1995. Grades 4 and up
The Great Fire tells the story of one of America’s greatest disasters. Daniel “Peg Leg” Sullivan was first to put up the call “Fire Fire!” late Sunday night on October 8, 1871. Chicago was slow to react, allowing a small fire to catch, spread, devastates, and destroy. When the Great Fire was finished, half of Chicago would be burned down and 10,000 people would be left homeless.
Jim Murphy’s descriptive prose allows readers to follow the fire’s path. He also uses the personal accounts of several survivors to help him describe the tragic events of that night. Detailed illustrations, maps and photographs allow readers to visualize the fire’s path. This excellent integration of text and illustrations sweeps readers into the chaos Chicago battled until dawn. Honor Books
Dandelions by Eve Bunting Harcourt Brace & Company, 1995. Grades 3 and up.
Bunting’s simple powerful words and Shed’s richly muted illustrations tell the story of Zoe and her family as they travel West from Illinois to the Nebraska territory. The vast unchanging landscape of prairie grass which stretched for miles and miles was enough to discourage the bravest pioneers. Zoe’s childish perceptions of events like finding her family’s claim stake, wondering where water would come from, and living in a sod house allow readers to experience the strain and excitement of braving this bold new frontier. The story is brought full circle when Zoe and her family conquer some of their fears and plant their hopes and dreams on their part of this vast land.
Kate Shelley: Bound for Legend by Robert D. San Souci Dial, 1995. Grades 3 and up.
On July 6, 1881, in Iowa, a terrible storm suddenly came up and the water in the nearby creek rose swiftly. Fifteen-year-old Kate knew the midnight express would not be able to safely cross the bridge, especially since one train had already wrecked trying to cross the bridge. She bravely went out into the storm to warn the train station master. Her journey was not easy. After losing her light, she had to crawl across the bridge in the dark with her hands and knees bleeding and the river raging below. Exhausted and triumphant, she did reach the station. The train had already been stopped but Kate’s courageous act saved the lives of two men. She became a national hero. San Souci’s descriptive text and Ginsburg’s realistic illustrations breathe new life into Kate’s heroic efforts. Worthy of Special Note
Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution by Natalie S. Bober Atheneum, 1995. Grades 9 and up.
Unique in her distinction as wife of the second president of the United States, John Adams, and mother of the sixth president, John Quincy Adams, Abigail Adams was independent, intellectual, spirited, and noteworthy in her own right. With little formal education, she ran a large household successfully during her husband’s frequent absences. Displaying good business sense, she increased the family’s fortune in good years and managed to keep the farm functioning during bad times. She also read widely and wrote prolifically. Drawing from more than two thousand letters penned by the First Lady, Natalie Bober paints a lively and endearing portrait of an international celebrity who lovingly encouraged her family even when they were separated by great distances.
Carolina Shout! by Alan Schroeder Dial, 1995. Grades 2 and up.
Travel down the streets of Charleston, South Carolina, with Delia. Experience the melodic music of the everyday sounds of those streets with her. From raindrops, laughter, the squeak of a gate, the creak of a wheel, to the throaty calls of the workers beginning their day, and the carpenters singing to the sounds of their own hammering, the streets were alive with music. Similarly, vendors like the Waffle Man, the Chimney Man and the Charcoal Man called out the benefits of their wares. Schroeder’s text and Fuch’s illustrations capture the melodic magic of those streets and a bygone time when simple pleasures meant everything. Share the magic by singing the book’s poetic words to a whole new generation.
Keeping the Good Light by Katherine Kirkpatrick Delacorte Press, 1995. Grades 6 and up.
It’s 1903, the turn of a new century, which brings new attitudes and changes to the life of 16-year-old Eliza Brown. As the only daughter of a lighthouse keeper living off the coast of New York City, Eliza is extremely bored with her daily lifestyle and her family. Her only excitement comes as she travels from their island to attend school in the city. Eventually, tragedy strikes her family and in its aftermath, Eliza discovers that she has more freedom. She becomes a temporary substitute teacher. Maintaining a good reputation is the only way to make this position permanent. Yet, she seems unable to stop herself as she finds her own wings on a flight of adventure, romance, and danger. Kirkpatrick has brought us an independent, stubborn, and lovable character in Eliza. Her life and environment at the dawn of the twentieth century come to life. Mark Twain: America’s Humorist, Dreamer, Prophet by Clinton Cox Scholastic, 1995. Grades 7 and up.
In this thoroughly researched and well-written biography, American humorist Mark Twain is presented as a “towering figure”; however, the faults and foibles of this paradoxical man are also candidly addressed. Extensive quotations from Twain’s journals, letters, and memoirs as well as excellent archival photographs and illustrations enhance this work. Cox has penned a readable, fast-paced, and stimulating biography.
My Fellow Americans: A Family Album by Alice Provensen Harcourt Brace & Company, 1995. Grades 2 and up.
Twice winner of the Caldecott Award (Medal, 1984 and Honor, 1982), Alice Provensen has created the equivalent of a family album. From front to back, using quip, quote, and painting, this author and artist hosts a pictorial parade of dozens of people who became famous in the United States. The traditional and the renegade, the hero and the villain pose for portraits and some share their famous words. Politicians, painters, sports figures, soldiers, explorers, and evangelists peer out at the reader from their places of honor. Provensen’s mini-biographies inform, illustrate, and spark interest while maintaining racial and gender balance in this tribute to Americans of the past.
The Quilt Block History of Pioneer Days by Mary Cobb Millbrook Press, 1995. Grades 2 and up.
This is an interesting amalgam of history and craft projects. The text tells the reader what quilts are, describes how they came to America with the earliest settlers from Europe, and details their great social and practical value during our country’s westward movement. The reader learns that quilt-making was both a way to preserve a family’s history and an opportunity for women who seldom had a chance to socialize to get together at quilting bees. The history of various quilt patterns and types is clearly and simply tied to the underlying social events and circumstances that produced the patterns. In addition, each chapter gives an easy yet creative project which demonstrates the endless beauty and variety of quilts.
The Road Home by Ellen Emerson White Scholastic, 1995. Grades 9-12.
As a nurse in a Vietnam field hospital, Rebecca Phillips endures constant stress, fatigue, and danger. Amid all the horrors, she manages to forge a tentative friendship with her formidable commanding officer, Major Maggie Doyle, and begins a romance with Marine Mike Jennings. When her tour is over Rebecca heads home to the United States, but the war is still very much with her. She encounters unexpected hostility from old friends and is unable to discuss her experiences with her parents. Rebecca slowly sinks into despair. In a desperate attempt to save herself, she takes off on a cross-country odyssey. Along the way, she finds strength in her friendship with Maggie. She also visits Mike, now an embittered amputee, in Colorado. There in the warmth and concern of the Jennings family, Rebecca is able to face her troubling past and begin healing. White poignantly addresses the devastating effects of the Vietnam War on this brave young woman. Sound the Jubilee by Sandra Forrester Lodestar, 1995. Grades 6 and up.
Travel with 11-year-old Maddie and her family as they leave their Master’s house and try to find freedom and land on Roanoke Island during the Civil War. Things do not go smoothly for Maddie’s family on this journey as they discover bigots on both sides of the war. Eventually, they are forced to leave the Island and the land that they believed to be their own. Ultimately, Maddie’s intelligence and dreams help her create her own sense of place. As an assistant to a teacher from the North, she helps other self-freed slaves learn to read. Forrester masterfully weaves history with fiction to create a story that gives us an accurate picture of a little known slice of local American history.
The Stowaway: A Tale of California Pirates by Kristiana Gregory Scholastic, 1995. Grades 5 and up.
Argentinean, Hippolyte de Bouchard and his band of pirates plundered up and down the California coast conquering and claiming whatever they chose to seize. In 1818, they sailed into the quite, beautiful village of Monterey, California, and destroyed Carlito’s peaceful life. After eleven-year-old Carlito witnesses his own father’s death, he quickly became a young man and sought revenge against these raiders. Gregory gives us an exciting account of a little known part of American history and introduces us to a brave hero that readers care about from beginning to the end. Excellent for Reluctant Readers.
1995 Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco Philomel, 1994. Grades 4 and up.
Pink and Say tells the story of two young Union soldiers. Wounded and delirious, left to die on a Civil War battlefield, Sheldon Russell Curtis thinks he is dreaming when Pinkus Aylee appears before him. Say had never seen a black person so close before. Pink helps Say to safety, and, while hiding out in Confederate territory, the two boys become friends. Relating a tale that has been passed through generations of her family, Polacco depicts the effects of war in a personal manner. She effectively explores how racism, slavery, and random death can co-exist with bravery, strength of purpose and concern for others.
Polacco’s illustrations artfully extend the story, showing the characters’ emotions shift from hopefulness to pain, tenderness to fear, remorse to remembrance. Integrated with the drawings are actual family photographs of Say and his descendants. Honor Books Spite Fences by Trudy Krisher Delacorte, 1994. Grades 9 and up.
In the summer of 1960, Kinship, Georgia, is strictly divided by racial lines. Maggie, 13, feels more isolated than most because of her abusive mother, bullying next-door neighbor, and the Black friends no white girl can safely have. Some people try to erect physical and psychological spite fences to lock out those who are different. Maggie is not comfortable with all of Kinship’s fences. Using a camera, she starts to freeze life in snapshots so she can try to understand everything that is locked in and around her. Celebrate America in Poetry and Art Edited by Nora Panzer in association with the National Museum of American Art Hyperion, 1994. Grades 3 and up.
From the collection of the National Museum of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution come these paintings, sculptures, drawings, and photographs to accompany poetry of Americans. The American experience in all its vastness is expressed here, including the many peoples that have come to make up America, the unique landscapes, the political events that shaped the country’s early years, economic factors such as the Industrial Revolution, and the everyday activities that define a particular place in time. The verbal and visual images will fill readers with pride in the many faces of America. Worthy of Special Note Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor by Russell Freedman Clarion, 1994. Grades 5-9.
Freedman documents reporter, teacher, and photographer Lewis Hine’s efforts to end the exploitation of children in the workplace in the early twentieth century. The compelling text gives life to Hine’s wrenching pictures of children dwarfed by heavy machinery, carrying heavy loads in fields or markets, or tired and dirty from day in the coals mines. Thomas Jefferson, A Picture Book Biography by James Cross Giblin, illustrated by Michael Dooling Scholastic, 1994. Grades 2-5.
In simple, precise language, complemented by Dooling’s illustrations, Giblin skillfully captures the essence of our nation’s third President. Unconditional Surrender: U.S. Grant and the Civil War by Albert Marrin Virginia’s General: Robert E. Lee and the Civil War by Albert Marrin Atheneum, 1994. Grades 6-10.
Extensively researched and highly readable, Marrin’s biographies of Grant and Lee are excellent companion volumes. Numerous illustrations and clear, concise text highlight these finely drawn portraits of the Civil War’s two most famous commanders. A Stitch in Time by Ann Rinaldi Harcourt Brace, 1994. Grades 6-9.
In Post- Revolutionary Salem, Massachusetts, Hannah, the eldest of five children, holds together her motherless family while trying to deflect her father’s cruelty. Binding the siblings is a patchwork quilt project begun by Hannah made up of scraps of fabric from family and friend. Part one of a trilogy.
Mississippi Chariot by Harriette Gillem Robinet Atheneum, 1994. Grades 4-8.
Life is dangerous for twelve-year-old Shortning Bread Jackson and his family. His father is in jail for stealing a car that everyone knows he did not steal, and the sharecropper family is having a hard time surviving. Shortning decides he must do something to get his father released from jail. Since rumors rule events in this town, Shortning starts passing the word that the FBI is sending an agent to investigate his father’s imprisonment.
Crazy Horse by Judith St. George Putnam, 1994. Grades 8 and up.
Know primarily for his defeat of General Custer at the battle of Little Big Horn, this biography reveals the courage and loyalty Crazy Horse showed his family, friends and the tribe during the Sioux Wars fought on the Great Plains. I am an American: A True Story of Japanese Internment by Jerry Stanley Crown, 1994. Grades 5-8.
Based on a personal interviews and extensive research, I Am An American describes one man’s experience and the larger story of Japanese interment in America during the World War II. Although he was born in Berkeley, California in 1923, Shi Nomura and almost 120,000 Japanese-Americas like him were imprisoned by the federal government in 1942-1945. They had committed no crime, yet they lost their homes and businesses. Compelling photographs add to the book’s veracity and immediacy in examining this bleak chapter in American history. Cezanne Pinto by Mary Stolz Knopf, 1994. Grades 7-10.
The fascinating flight of an intrepid young runaway slave is recounted in lively prose as the boy makes his way halfway across a continent and back again. His plantation childhood, harrowing journey on the Underground Railroad, and new life as a cowboy in the American West produce an intriguing story of an uniquely American hero. Series Award Winner
African-American Artists and Artisans by Mary E. Lyons
1994 titles include Deep Blues: Bill Traylor, Self-Taught Artist and Master of Mahogany: Tom Day, Free Black Cabinetmaker, Scribners. Series Honor Winner
Young Oxford History of Women in the United States by Nancy F. Cott, General Editor
1994 titles include From Ballots to Breadlines: American Women 1920-1940 and The Road to Equality: American Women Since 1962, Oxford.
1994 Across America on an Emigrant Train by Jim Murphy Clarion Publishers, 1993. Grades 5-8.
Tracing the 1879 journey of Robert Louis Stevenson from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Monterey, California, to meet the desperately ill woman he loved, Across America on an Emigrant Train draws extensively on Stevenson’s own account of his trip. Traveling by the cheapest way possible on accommodations provided for emigrants, Stevenson’s sharp observations include descriptions of his companions, the passing countryside, the interior of the railroad cars, and daily life aboard a train. Rough manners, hardships, discomforts as well as friendships and beautiful scenery were all part of the experience.
Amid Stevenson’s commentaries, Jim Murphy skillfully intersperses a general history of the growth of the transcontinental railroad and the emigrant experience. Descriptions of the impact of the railroad on Native Americans, the rapid growth of rowdy railroad towns, the slaughter of herds of bison, and the development of the Pullman car are a few of the topics Murphy covers.
Abundant use of carefully selected period photographs, engravings, and lithographs greatly enhance the readable and absorbing text. Honor Books Giants in the Land by Diana Appelbaum. Illustrated by Michael McCurdy. Houghton Mifflin, 1993. Grades 1-5.
For thousands of years the forests of New England were filled with giant pine trees bigger than any found in England or Europe. The process by which the trees were cut down and hauled overland hundreds of miles to the sea to become masts on English warships is brought to life through Appelbaum’s text. McCurdy’s black and white scratchboard drawings generously spread over appropriately tall pages complement this fascinating account. Ticket to the Twenties by Mary Blocksma. Illustrated by Susan Dennen. Little, Brown, 1993. Grades 3-6.
Written as a time traveler’s guide, Ticket to the Twenties takes children back to an intriguing time in American history. Beginning with directions on what to pack (long scratchy underwear, black stockings, and high-top leather boots), Blocksma recommends sneaking in such modern conveniences as deodorant, ballpoint pens, and jeans. With cartoon-style art, short informational sidebars, and lists of amazing “firsts”, the history and popular culture of 1920’s is presented in an innovative and entertaining manner. Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery by Russell Freedman. Clarion, 1993. Grades 5 up.
Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the most influential people of the twentieth century, but her life was never easy. Her wealthy background could not erase her feelings of being unattractive and disappointing to her glamorous parents. Being orphaned before the age of ten further contributed to her sense of alienation. Although taught from childhood that a woman’s primary duty was to care for her husband and family, Eleanor wanted to “find a way to live widely and fully.” As First Lady, she promoted her husband’s programs, but also expressed her own views. Eleanor traveled all over the world championing human rights as one of the first delegates to the United Nations. Extensively researched and with numerous photographs, Freedman’s account honestly and sensitively captures Eleanor’s indomitable spirit. White Lilacs by Carolyn Meyer. Harcourt Brace, 1993. Grades 5-9.
A poignant novel based on an actual event that took place in Denton, Texas, in 1921. Looking back on her childhood, twelve-year-old Rose Lee recalls the surprise and sadness felt by her black family and community when they are uprooted from their homes to make way for a segregated park. The black residents are forced to relocate to the Flats, an undesirable and desolate slum. Meyer skillfully evokes time and place in this touching tale of a less enlightened era. Worthy of Special Note
Lindbergh by Chris L. Demarest. Crown, 1993. Grades K-3.
Demarest skillfully captures the plucky, practical, and active spirit of the pilot of The Spirit of St. Louis. Light, airy watercolors interplay with the succinct text to present Lindbergh’s early life accessibly to young readers. Bull Run by Paul Fleischman. Woodcuts by David Frampton. HarperCollins, 1993. Grades 5 up.
The glory and thrill as well as the horror and disillusionment of this first major battle of the Civil War are portrayed through a series of “snapshots” of sixteen varied characters who reveal their thoughts, actions, hopes, and dreams. Fleischman’s powerful writing brings these characters to life and shows us history through the eyes of, among others, a war-fevered boy, a disillusioned doctor, a slave woman, a sketch artist, and a black man determined to fight for freedom. Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom by Virginia Hamilton. Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Knopf, 1993. Grades 4 up.
In brief vignettes Hamilton tells the stories of Africans who were forced into slavery, transported to foreign countries, and robbed of their heritage but not their will to live. She relates brave episodes of escape, of court battles to protect fugitives, of protests from religious groups and abolitionists. Using primary sources, including many autobiographical accounts, Hamilton brings her subjects to vibrant life. Expressive illustrations by the Dillons add a haunting beauty to the book. Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson. Paintings by James Ransome. Knopf, 1993. Grades K-3.
Clara is a twelve-year old seamstress who works in the Big House. She uses her skills to make a patchwork quilt that is also a map to help other slaves find the way north to freedom. Lovely endpapers show the colorful quilt and its important landmarks.
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. Honor Books 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.
Going West 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. Rachel Carlson 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.
John Muir 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.
1992 The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane by Russell Freedman Holiday House, 1991. Grades 4-8.
“No one had ever seen what Amos Root saw on that September afternoon in 1904.” From this first sentence, readers are caught up in one of the great American stories: how two brothers who loved to take things apart and put them together again ended up as the first people in history to make a machine that could really fly.
Wilbur and Orville Wright not only invented the airplane; they documented their work with photographs. Russell Freedman has made a judicious selection of these original photographs to illustrate the book. Particularly striking is an eight-page section of photographs from their 1902 glider flight; the images echo early motion pictures and give readers an almost tangible sensation of the flight itself. Paired with the photographs is a lucid text that clearly and engagingly explains the origins of the first airplane and how the brothers came to build, test, refine and ultimately pilot their flying machine.
Helpful appendices give young readers a list of places to visit associated with brothers; suggest further reading; and explain how and why the photographs were taken and preserved. The generous use of white space, creamy paper and elegant design make this a book that is beautiful to hold, read and own. It is truly an example of informational writing at its fines. Honor Book I Am Regina by Sally M. Keehn Philomel Books, 1992. Grades 5-9.
Captured by Allegheny Indians who have killed her father and brother in anger over white settler’s’ taking their ancestral land, 11-year-old Regina is forced to fit into an alien culture. As memories of her original home fade, she comes to respect her new family and their way of life and to realize that such qualities as love, friendship–and brutality–are common to all people. Still, she drams of her own mother’s arms someday enfolding her; mother and daughter are finally reunited, recognizing each other only after the mother sings a hymn from Regina’s childhood, “Alone, Yet Not Alone Am I.” Based on the actual abduction of a German girl I Pennsylvania in the 1750’s, this is a moving story about family and identity. Worthy of Special Note Lyddie by Katherine Paterson Dutton, 1991. Grades 5-8.
From her encounter with a bear on the first page, to her final decision to go on to college on the last, Lyddie is a character readers will remember for a long time. This is a deeply compelling story of a gritty and fiercely independent girl, who struggles for survival and financial independence as she endures and finally rises above a harsh life as a factory girl in New England milltown in the 1840’s. Cowboys written and illustrated by Glen Rounds Holdiay House, 1991. Grades Preschool-1.
From sunup to sundown the cowboy deals with stray cattle, a runaway steer, and even a rattlesnake. Drawing what he knows with a distinctive, strong black line and colored pencil, Rounds conveys not just the work but also the camaraderie and humor of the cowboy’s life.
Love You, Soldier by Amy Hest Four Winds, 1991. Grades 3-5.
While her father is off fighting in World War II, seven-year-old Katie delights in such things as new shoes, a visit to the automat and a visit from Mom’s best friend Louise. But she also experiences the empty feeling of missing her father; and when she is nine, a telegram arrives, and Katie and her mother must face life alone. With the end of the war comes a chance to once again be a whole family. A short, simple book that celebrates family life and family love.
The Borning Room by Paul Fleischman HarperCollins, 1991. Grades 5-8.
The borning room is “set aside for both dying and giving birth,” and this book tells a family history that hinges on that happens there. While highlighting some memorable events and lasting elements of social history, the quiet and eloquently crafted text provides the framework for Georginia Lott’s deathbed retelling of life in her Ohio home. A Separate Battle: Women And The Civil War by Ina Chang Lodestar, 1991. Grades 5-8.
Stories of nurses, slaves, soldiers and spies mix with the lesser-known stories of ordinary women who stayed home to raise money, protect their families, and hope for an end to war. Liberal use of contemporary diaries, letters and photos give the book an immediacy that will engage young readers and encourage them to read further in this chapter of America’s history.
Duke Ellington by James Lincoln Collier Macmillan, 1992. Grades 5-7.
A readable and entertaining biography of a self-taught musician who ignored the rules to develop a style all his own. Collier not only tells Ellington’s life story; more unusually, he is able to convey to readers what was special and unique about his musicianship.
Now Is Your Time! The African-American Struggle for Freedom by Walter Dean Myers HarperCollins, 1991.
The history of African-Americans in the United States from the 1600’s through the present day is told directly and powerfully by a well-known novelist for young people. Myers weaves the story of his own family into the narrative, making this both a personal and a national history. Georgia O’Keeffe by Robyn Montana Turner Little Brown, 1991. Grades 4-6.
The work of this remarkable modern artist is made accessible to young people in a book from the new series, “Portraits of Women Artists for Children.” This slim volume is notable both for the excellent reproductions of O’Keeffe’s paintings and for the thoguthful discussion of her style.
1991 Franklin Delano Roosevelt by Russell Freedman Clarion, 1990. Grades 5-9.
The Great Depression left a scar on the economic and social life of the United States. The recurrence of that Depression is still a tangible fear in the minds of those who lived through it. Also tangible is the image of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the man to whom the country turned for hope, help, and understanding.
Yet, when he was born, the pampered only child of elderly parents, he seemed the least likely to be the one who would understand the burdens and cares of the dispossessed and the millions who stood in bread lines, rode the rails, or simply scratched their way through another year of drought, bank failure, unemployment, and starvation. Roosevelt did understand. He understood because through no fault of his, in the midst of a busy and productive life, he was made helpless by polio. He thought that governments have a responsibility to help their citizens through rough times.
This view of government made Roosevelt much reviled among the rich privileged classes, but made him much beloved by millions who depended upon him and the government to help them. He never again stood unaided after his attack of polio, but the American people saw him as a powerful, charismatic president—the only one they elected for four consecutive terms—whose social conscience cast a long shadow upon the political life of the United States.
In this full biography, Russell Freedman brigs Roosevelt and his times to life. Through skillful writing, meticulous research and telling photographs, the reader understands the complexity of the times and the power of this most fascinating and many faceted man. Honor Books Other Bells For Us To Ring by Robert Cormier Delacorte, 1990. Grades 5-12.
A shy and introspective only child, Darcy’s only close relationship has been with her parents until she moves to a new town and meets precocious and friendly Mary Kathleen.
Not only is Mary Kathleen enterprising and flamboyant, she is also Catholic. Catholicism holds mystery for Darcy whose interest is piqued when she and Mary Kathleen spy on saintly Sister Angela who is performing “miracles” in the church courtyard.
Later, when impulsive Mary Kathleen sprinkles Darcy with holy water and pronounces her a Catholic, Darcy wonders if she really has become one. Before she can question Mary Kathleen further, her friend mysteriously disappears. To add to Darcy’s anxiety and loneliness, her father enlists to fight in World War II and is shortly thereafter reported missing in action.
A private encounter with Sister Angela, the return of her father, and a tragic revelation about the abrupt disappearance of Mary Kathleen move Darcy from the safe and concrete world of the child into the ambiguities and paradoxes of adulthood. True Confessions Of Charlotte Doyle by Avi Orchard Books, 1990. Grades 5-8.
“Not every thirteen-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty”. So begins Avi’s rousing historical novel, which tells the story of Charlotte and her fateful voyage on the Seahawk in 1832. Ignoring several ominous warnings, Charlotte boards the ship and soon finds herself caught in a mutinous conflict between the brutal, unbalanced Captain Jaggery and the ship’s long-suffering crew. Charlotte’s loyalties are initially with the heartless but “gentlemanly” captain. When she sees the captain’s madness revealed in horrifying detail, she risks her life to side with the crew. Worthy of Special Note Vietnam, Why We Fought: An Illustrated History by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler Knopf, 1990. Grades 5-12.
The Hooblers have written penetrating step by step analysis of how the U.S. became involved, escalated, and ultimately withdrew, from the most divisive war in the 20th century. They dissect the conflict with precision, giving thoughtfulness to new terminology, maps, and photos.
The depth of comprehension of the war’s geopolitical and personal complexities as well as its myriad of repercussions makes this book unprecedented in juvenile literature. The authors are especially sensitive to presenting the balance between the Vietnamese perspectives and motivations within a historical context, with those of colonial French and the United States.
Mary Cassatt by Susan E. Meyer Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1990. Grades 4-7.
American painter Mary Cassatt prevailed against societal norms, not only as a woman artist but also as the only American to be invited into the Impressionists group in Paris. Her strong personality, hard work and love of family are vividly portrayed for young people in this handsomely designed volume illustrated with contemporary photographs and many color plates. Canyons by Gary Paulsen Delacorte, 1990. Grades 5-9.
Literally stumbling across the skull of an Indian boy who lived 100 years ago in the mountains of New Mexico, 15-year-old Brennan finds himself relentlessly pursuing the mystery of the Apache’s murder. A link of psychic proportions joins the two boys as Brennan fights to return the skull to the sacred Indian burying ground in the canyon.
The Buck Stops Here: The Presidents Of The United States by Alice Provinsen Harper & Row, 1990. All ages.
A book to delight all ages with its colorful period tableaux depicts the history of the presidents of the United States. In entertaining detail the book provides a perspective on America’s past—its art, architecture, fashion, ideas and values—through marvelous symbols and pictures tucked artistically within the tableau of each presidential term.
The rhyming couplets add another dimension to the already colorful book and the author suggests the rhymes may aid in remembering the president’s names and the order in which they served. … Also Worth Noting Shaker Inventions by Nancy Bolick and Sallie Randolph Walker, 1990. Grades 4-7.
From the circular saw to a pill-making machine, the Shakers invented many labor saving devices to help them live in cleanliness, order, purity, good health, hard work, simplicity, and avoidance of waste. They wanted the time to worship God. Many Lives Of Benjamin Franklin by Mary Pope Osborne Dial Books for Young Readers, 1990. Grades 4-7.
Franklin’s formal education ended at age ten, but he used his love of reading to become a printer’s apprentice, writer, publisher, merchant, inventor, scientist, educator, politician, statesman, militia colonel, postmaster, general, diplomat, and peacemaker. The many lives of Benjamin Franklin helped to shape the character of America. Oregon Trail by Leonard Everett Fisher Holiday House, 1990. Grades 4-7.
A vivid, exciting, dramatic depiction of the lifestyles, motives and hardships of the thousands of fur traders, missionaries, and families who endured the grueling 2000 miles west along the Oregon Trail. Great Monkey Trial: Science Versus Fundamentalism In America by Tom McGowan Watts, 1990. Grades 5-9.
On a hot and humid July in 1925 John Scopes went on trial in Dayton, Tennessee, accused of teaching evolution in a public high school. The significance of the trial went far beyond the wrangling of small- town controversy. The trial’s outcome would influence whether public schools would be free to teach scientific fact or would have to be confined by religious doctrine. Morning Glory War by Judy Glassman Dutton, 1990. Grades 4-7.
World War II is raging across the ocean, but in Brooklyn it’s school as usual and movies on Saturday afternoon for eleven-year-old Jeannie. Then suddenly the war begins to touch Jeannie’s life. In a school letter writing project to servicemen, her pen pal turns out to be a dreamboat who thinks she is at least 16 years old.
Teammates by Peter Golenbock, designed & illustrated by Paul Bacon Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990. Grades 1-5.
Jackie Robinson’s entrance into the major leagues as the first black baseball player is presented in this quiet but dramatic book that addresses the pain of prejudice, and the courage of two men who stood against it.
1990 Shades of Gray by Carolyn Reeder Macmillan, 1989. Grades 5-8.
Moving from Winchester to live with relatives in the Virginia Piedmont has never been part of 12-year old Will Page’s plans. After his father and brother are killed by Yankees and his little sisters and mother die of illness, Will must honor his mother’s wish that he go to live with her sister’s family in the country.
Not only are there problems adjusting to life with strangers, but everything is different from what Will knows and understands. Will’s family had owned three slaves to do heavy work. Uncle Jed wouldn’t own slaves because he feels it is wrong. In fact, Jed Jones wouldn’t even participate in the war, wouldn’t defend his state’s rights. That, more than anything else, is what Will can’t understand, even as he grows to respect and admire his uncle.
How Will learns that right cannot be measured in black and white terms; good people may hold different opinions; and you can love people even when they don’t agree with you; makesShades of Gray a book that can be enjoyed on several levels. Honor Books Great Little Madison by Jean Fritz G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1989. Grades 4 and up.
James Madison was a sickly, quiet child who grew into one of the most important voices in the formation of our country. This is a vivid portrait of our fourth president told in the wonderful style of Jean Fritz. Voices from the Civil War by Milton Meltzer Harper & Row, 1989. Grades 6 and up.
The history of the Civil War was much more than battles, logistics, soldiers and generals to the people who lived through those years. It was the draft riots, cities under siege, runaway slaves, overworked nurses and doctors, prisoners of war, women at home in the fields and factories, speculators and money grubbers here speaking across the years to tell us what that dreadful time was like for them. Arly by Robert Newton Peck Walker, 1989. Grades 7 and up.
Eleven-year-old Arly and his crop picking father live a hard scrabble existence of ignorance and virtual slavery in 1927. Life in Florida seems to offer no hope for spirited Arly, until the new schoolteacher Binnie Hoe, comes to town. Worthy of Special Note Extraordinary Black Americans by Susan Altman Grades 5-9.
A collective biography comprised of two page highlights of 85 men and women and 15 articles on historical events which give a feel for the times. Each biographical sketch is prefaced with a photograph or sketch.
The book is rated as “an excellent source for reports and assignments and it fills a need for biographical material on a wide range of black historical figures.” (S.L.J.) ABC Americana by National Gallery of Art Grades K-6.
A folk art representation of the alphabet using twenty-six paintings from the National Gallery of Art. And Also Worth Noting The Man Who Was Poe by Avi Watts, 1989. Grades 6-9.
Searching for his sister and aunt who have strangely disappeared in Providence, RI in 1848, eleven year-old Edmund enlists the help of Auguste Dupin (a.k.a. Edgar Allen Poe) to discover their whereabouts, thus giving Poe inspiration for a new tale. Courtship of Joanna by Catherine Gourley Graywolf, 1989. Young Adult.
Sixteen-year-old Joanna leaves her beloved family farm to become housekeeper for a recently widowed Irish miner and his mother in a Pennsylvania mining town in the 1880’s. This is an exciting, well-developed story of love, family, and hope in the midst of sorrow, hardship, and danger.
Silver Days by Sonia Levitin Atheneum, 1989. Grades 6-8.
Reunited in New York after a year’s separation from Papa, teenager Lisa Platt and her family find that the everyday reality of life in the 1940’s as Jewish immigrants is nothing like that of Americans they have seen in movies. Instead, life is full of poverty, hard work, worry and prejudice. It is also full of strength and spirit. Lisa is determined to make a new and better life for herself and her family and to become an American. This book is a poignant sequel toJourney to America, but can also be read independently. George and Martha Washington at Home In New York by Beatrice Siegel Four Winds, 1989. Grades 4-6.
Combining biography and social history, Siegel presents a lively and informative look into the months that Washington held office in New York City. American history comes alive as a new country and presidency take shape.
1989 Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave by Virginia Hamilton Knopf, 1988. Grades 7 and up.
Born into slavery in ante-bellum Virginia, Anthony Burns secured his place in history when he fled to Boston in 1854. After a few short months of freedom, he was arrested, tried and returned to slavery—all under the questionable legality of the Fugitive Slave Law. His incarceration and trail provoked a storm of controversy and abolitionist activity which led to demonstrations, riots, and violence. In re-telling the daily events of the trial, the author effectively portrays the political tensions which brought the nation to a fever pitch in the years before the Civil War. After much suffering, Anthony Burns obtained his freedom and fulfilled his dream of becoming a preacher, only to die of consumption at the age of 28. Virginia Hamilton’s stunning accomplishment is both a scholarly biography and a passionate drama of one man’s struggle for freedom. Honor Books
Buffalo Hunt by Russell Freedman Holiday, 1988. Grades 4-7.
Beautiful, full-color reproductions of contemporary artists illustrate this history of the relationship between the Plains Indians and the buffalo. The author’s vivid account details the uses the Indians had for every part of the animal and how the fabric of their society disintegrated with disappearance of the buffalo. Benjamin Franklin: the New American by Milton Meltzer Watts, 1988. Grades 6-9.
Incorporating Benjamin Franklin’s own words from primary source materials, Meltzer presents an engagingly human portrait of America’s best known self-made man. This disarmingly frank chronological account of Franklin’s various endeavors from printer to scientist to statesman captures the essence of a complex personality in a readable, forthright style. Behind Rebel Lines by Seymour Reit HBJ, 1988. Grades 5-8.
Using original source material including Edmonds’ memoirs, Reit has created an enthralling biography of fascinating woman who posed as a man and served in the Union Army. Edmonds’ exploits as a Union spy (in a variety of disguises) are engagingly detailed in a tightly written, fast paced style. And Also Worth Noting The Smithsonian Book of Flight for Young People by Walter Boyne Atheneum, 1988. Grades 7 and up.
This history of human flight “from man’s oldest dreams… to the present jet age” combines a clear, concise text with nearly one hundred illustrations to tell the story of how the dream became reality. A Girl from Yamhill: A Memoir by Beverly Cleary Morrow, 1988. Grades 6-12.
The beloved children’s author tells her own story of growing up on a farm and, later, in Portland with events both funny and poignant. Children will especially enjoy the glimpses of Ramona in the young Beverly. Island Boy by Barbara Cooney Viking, 1988. Grades Preschool-3.
“At first it was just the island” until the Tibbitts family makes it their home. It is Matthais, the youngest of 12 children, whose life from childhood to old age is entwined with that of the New England island. Monticello by Leonard Everett Fisher Holiday, 1988. Grades 3-7.
Thomas Jefferson, architect as well as president, spent 40 years building his home, a structure unique in American architecture. This handsomely designed “biography” of the house describe the planning, construction, and history of Monticello.
Log Cabin in the Woods: A True Story about a Pioneer Boy by Joanne Henry Landers Four Winds, 1988. Grades 4-6.
Oliver Johnson’s memories form the basis of this month-by-month account of his boyhood activities on a clearing farm in the wilderness of early 19th century Indiana.
A Circle Unbroken by Sollace Hotze Clarion, 1988. Grades 6-9.
Captured by the Dakota Sioux in 1838 and brought up as the chief’s daughter, Rachel Porter is return by force to a life with a widowed father she barely remembers. His disapproval of her Indian upbringing complicates her adjustment and influences her decision to return to her Sioux family.
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston Dial, 1988. Grades 1-4.
When young Ruthie’s papa is delayed in returning home from the war on Christmas Eve 1918, she and her mother must undertake a late night expedition to cut the perfect balsam for their Appalachian mountain community. The War for Independence: The Story of the American Revolution by Albert Marrin Atheneum, 1988. Grades 5-12.
This action-packed and highly readable account captures all of the excitement and drama of the American Revolution for young readers. The Coming Home Café by Gayle Pearson Atheneum, 1988. Grades 6-9.
Driven to despair by her family’s sinking fortunes in the Depression, 15 year old Elizabeth impulsively leaves home with Eddie, a hobo, in order to find work. Gritty realistic description and authentic historical detail make Elizabeth’s saga a compelling read.
Breaker by N. A. Perez Houghton, 1988. Grades 7-12.
After his father is killed in a mining accident, 14 year old Pat is forced to go to work in the coal mine breaker. This riveting story graphically conveys the harsh conditions of life in an early 1900’s Pennsylvania mining community. Barnstormers and Daredevils by K. C. Tessendorf Atheneum, 1988. Grades 6-9.
Numerous pictures illustrate this story of the intrepid young men and women who roamed the United States in surplus biplanes during the 1920’s. They performed daring aerobatics and crowd-pleasing stunts, risking life and limb to introduce America to the wonders of flight.
Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter Knopf, 1988. Grades 2-4.
Told in a few poetic words (and the lines of the song) and with highly dramatic illustrations, the author conveys the fear, dread and hope of slaves following the Underground Railroad to freedom in Canada.
1988 Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman Clarion, 1987. Grades 6-12.
Drawing upon Lincoln’s own words and other original sources of the times, Freedman moves beyond the legend of Lincoln to examine the man. Carefully researched details balanced with amusing personal anecdotes reveal an enigmatic personality of sharp contrasts. The keenly focused chronological account begins with his boyhood, traces his career as a young lawyer and aspiring politician, and relates his courtship and marriage to Mary Todd. The coherent and concise narrative skillfully explains the complex issues and personal struggles that Lincoln faced as president, climaxing with his tragic assassination. The book’s beautifully crafted design, carefully chosen photographs and prints, and simple yet eloquent prose create a portrait of Lincoln that rises square and tall like Lincoln himself. Honor Books Indian Chiefs by Russell Freedman Holiday, 1987. Grades 6-12.
Illustrated with haunting full-page photographic portraits, Freedman’s moving text features the stories of six western Indian chiefs, who each in his own way resisted the intrusion of the white man into his tribal lands. Each of the six well-written biographies uses quotations, maps and vivid character sketches to trace the culture conflict between the white man and Native American. West Against the Wind by Liza Ketchum Murrow Holiday, 1987. Grades 6-9.
It is 1850 and 14 -year-old Abigail Parker is traveling west from Missouri with her family by wagon train. Hoping to find her father, who is panning for gold in California and has lost contact with the family, Abby and her family overcome the adversities of an unkind wilderness trail. A brilliant portrait of pioneer life with a strong, realistic, and likeable female protagonist. The Friendship by Mildred Taylor Dial, 1987. Grades 4-6.
Growing up in rural Mississippi in 1933, Cassie Logan and her young black friends witness elderly black Tom Bee’s struggle for dignity as he refuses courageously to be intimidated by white folks’ expectations. The classic racial confrontation climaxes in a frightening and emotionally charged scene. Worthy of Special Note The Alamo by Leonard Everett Fisher Holiday, 1987. Grades 3-6.
The history of the Alamo comes alive through the author’s enthusiastic narrative style punctuated with fascinating personal information about heroes, known and unknown. Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz Putnam, 1987. Grades 3-6.
The drafting of the Constitution in 1787 is entertainingly and simply explained without sacrificing facts and details. An Actor’s Life for Me! by Lillian Gish Viking, 1987. Grades 4-7.
The stage and screen actress recounts her childhood in traveling theatrical troupe in the early 1900’s. Anecdotal in format, Gish’s account is both amusing and poignant. Death of the Iron Horse by Paul Goble Bradbury, 1987. Grades 1-3.
The derailment of a Union Pacific Train in 1867 is told from a Native American point of view. Young Cheyenne warriors, using tomahawks and knives, destroy the iron trail of this thundering, smoke breathing threat to their homeland.
Immigrant Girl by Brett Harvey Holiday, 1987. Grades 1-4.
Set in 1910 on New York’s Lower East Side the joyful story and expressive charcoal illustrations depict immigrant life as seen through the eyes of a 10-year-old Russian Jewish girl, Becky.
In Coal Country by Judith Hendershot Knopf, 1987. Grades K-2.
Family life a coal mining town from a child’s perspective offers the reader poignant and vivid insights. Muted color illustrations convey the pervasiveness of grime and grayness. A More Perfect Union by Besty & Giulio Maestro Lothrop, 1987. Grades 2-4.
This complex event is simply told making it comprehensible for young children. The Maestros focus on the delegates’ ability to compromise and their attention to detail, in establishing a government, which has lasted for 200 years. Pastel illustrations underscore details of this milestone in American history.
The American Revolutionaries: A History in their Own Words, 1750-1800 by Milton Meltzer Crowell, 1987. Grades 6-12.
Letters, diaries, journals, newspapers and speeches are sources the author uses to depict life and events in the American colonies as they struggle to become the modern world’s first democracy. Amelia Earhart by Blythe Randolph Watts, 1987. Grades 7-9.
Amelia Earhart’s disappearance while on a round-the-world flight in 1937 sparked a mystery with innumerable theories and added to the romance of her exploit as pilot. Randolph’s well-written account depicts Earhart as a courageous and fascinating woman. And Also Worth Noting Charlie Skedaddle by Patricia Beatty Morrow, 1987. Grades 5-8.
A young tough from the Bowery, filled with glorious visions of war, joins the Union Army as a drummer boy. Panic-stricken, he deserts, during his first battle. Guilt-ridden and shame-faced, he seeks refuge in the Virginia mountains, where he proves his courage. A Month of Seven Days by Shirely Climo Thomas Crowell, 1987. Grades 4-7.
When 12-year-old Zoe learns that her father, a Confederate Solider, is planning a visit, she tries ingeniously to chase off the Yankee soldiers occupying their Georgia farm by conjuring up spirits and ghosts. We the People: The Story of the Untied States Constitution Since 1787 by Doris & Harold Faber Scribner, 1987. Grades 7-12.
Outstanding chapters on the controversies and compromises faced by the Founding Fathers highlight this comprehensive history of the U.S. Constitution from its inception to modern day.
1987 After the Dancing Days by Margaret Rostkowski Harper & Row, 1986. Grades 6-9.
World War I has ended and thirteen-year old Annie Metcalf’s doctor father has come home from Europe, but the ramifications of the conflict continue to affect her family in this small Kansas town. When Annie volunteers to accompany her father and grandfather to the veterans’ hospital, she must confront men who are disfigured, both physically and psychologically. Despite her inner qualms, and in defiance of her mother, who resists acknowledgment of the wounded men, Annie continues her trips to read to them. Over time, she comes to befriend them and even develops a special love for one maimed young soldier.
Skillfully and movingly written, the novel makes a strong statement about the realities, myths, and horrors of the aftermath of war, a subject rarely touched upon in works of fiction for young people. Honor Books
An Album of the Vietnam War by Don Lawson Watts, 1986. Grades 5-8.
Straightforward text and numerous photographs vividly document the Vietnam War. Its beginnings, the escalating involvement of U.S. troops, criticism of the war on the homefront, and contemporary efforts to come to terms with the Vietnam experience are included. I Go With My Family to Grandma’s by Riki Levinson Dutton, 1986. Grades K-4.
In New York City at the turn of the century, cousins come from each of the five boroughs to visit Grandma by means of bicycle, wagon, train, trolley, and ferry. A beautifully illustrated and warm-hearted celebration of family life. Walking Up A Rainbow by Theodore Taylor Delacorte, 1986. Grades 6-9.
After her father’s death in 1852, fourteen-year-old Susan Carlisle, newly orphaned, discovers that she must pay off his debts in order to keep the family’s Iowa home. Spunky Susan devises an outrageous plan to herd sheep to California and sell them for profit. Journeying west with Susan, the reader is treated to realistic and intriguing adventure and an odd crew of memorable, unique, witty characters. Taylor skillfully supports and balances the story’s ultimate goal with a myriad of touching, humorous and very human relationships. Also Worth Noting
The Incredible Sixties: The Stormy Years That Changed America by Jules Archer HBJ, 1986. Grades 5 and up.
Ten tumultuous years are documented through photographs and quotes. Archer brings to life a decade that included the civil rights struggle, the sexual revolution, the Vietnam war and the anti-war movement, feminism, the drug scene and the counterculture lifestyle. Behave Yourself, Bethany Brant by Patricia Beatty Morrow, 1986. Grades 3-6.
Being a preacher’s daughter is trial enough for eleven-year-old Bethany, but her troubles increase when her widowed father sends her and her brother to live with an aunt and a resentful cousin. Bethany’s high spirits and determination soon win her friends and help her reunite her family in this humorous look at turn of the century Texas. The Tamarack Tree by Patricia Clapp Lothrop, 1986. Grades 5-7.
Eighteen-year-old Rosemary Leigh, newly arrived in Virginia from England, is torn between her affection for her southern friends and her belief that slavery is wrong. Her emotional and physical stamina are tested as she struggles to survive the siege of Vicksburg in 1863. The Josefina Story Quilt by Eleanor Coerr Harper, 1986. Grades 1-3.
Pa reluctantly allows daughter, Faith, to take her prize pet hen, Josefina, on a wagon train trip headed to California, and, of course mishaps abound. Josefina ultimately proves her worth when her squawks thwart a robbery attempt, but it is the hen’s last gasp. Knowing “how important quilts were for remembering,” Faith has recorded Josefina’s adventures in quilt patches and is comforted by her cloth treasure. An unusually touching tale in easy-to-read format. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doris Faber Messner, 1986. Grades 6 and up.
Faber’s biography reveals how King’s personal, religious, and political views were shaped by his experiences with prejudice and segregation. Quotations, excerpts from speeches, and black and white photographs highlight this informative introduction. Ellis Island: Gateway to the New World by Leonard Fisher Holiday, 1986. Grades 5-8.
The oral histories of immigrants combined with striking photographs and illustrations create a moving and vivid book. Fisher’s scratchboard drawings blend beautifully with the black and white reproductions. Happily May I Walk: American Indians and Alaska Natives Today by Arlene Hirschfelder Scribner’s, 1986. Grades 5-12.
A sensitive and comprehensive look at the lifestyles of Native Americans. This very readable book dispels common myths and stereotypes. I Lift My Lamp: Emma Lazarus and the Statue of Liberty by Nancy Levinson Dutton, 1986. Grades 4-8.
Emma Lazarus emerges as a “quiet hero”, admired and emulated by others. Levinson skillfully interweaves Lazarus’ life with that of the sculptor, Bartholdi, and portrays her dedication to the immigrant cause as well as her longing for recognition as a poet.
Guess Again: More Weird and Wacky Inventions by Jim Murphy Bradbury, 1986. Grades 4-7.
Fun-filled, amusing challenges require the reader to examine drawings of “weird and wacky inventions” and to guess their real purpose. Streams to the River, River to the Sea: A Novel of Sacagawea by Scott O’Dell Houghton, 1986. Grades 5-8.
The Lewis and Clark expedition is seen through the eyes of Sacagawea, who served as interpreter and guide. Portrayed initially as one who follows the will of others, Sacagaweaeventually gains the confidence to make her own life.
Bad Man Ballad by Scott Sanders Bradbury, 1986. Grades 6 and up.
An odd trio at best: Ely Jackson, a backwoods boy searching for his one surviving brother; Owen Lightfoot, an overstuffed Philadelphia lawyer with idealistic yearnings for frontier adventure; and Rain Hawk, a half-breed spice girl. Together they embark upon epic journey across the Ohio Valley in search of a murderer who has not only left behind the bone-crushed body of a dwarf, but also footprints three times normal size! The Sacred Moon Tree by Laura Shore Bradbury, 1986. Grades 5 and up.
Phoebe and Jotham embark on a dangerous journey through Confederate lines from Pennsylvania to Virginia in order to help Jotham’s brother escape from prison and to find Phoebe’s mother who is a Union spy.
1986 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. Honor Books 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. Prairie Songs 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.
Dakota Dugout 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. 1985 In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord 1984 Who Speaks for Wolf? by Paula Underwood Spencer
Beyond the Divide by Kathryn Lasky. Simon & Schuster, 1983. Grades 6-10
The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare. Houghton Mufflin, 1983. Grades 3-8
Under a Strong Wind: the Adventures of Jessie Benton Fremont by Dorothy Nafus Morrison. Atheneum, 1983. Grades 5-10. 1983 The Jewish Americans: A History in Their Own Words by Milton Meltzer
The Brooklyn Bridge: They Said It Couldn’t be Built by Judith St. George. Putnam, 1982. Grades 4-8
Witches’ Children: a Story of Salem by Patricia Clapp. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1982. Grades 4-8.
Worthy of Note:
A Girl Called Bob and a Horse Called Yoki by Barbara Campbell