The Jefferson Cup Award honors a distinguished American biography, historical fiction, or history book for young people. The Youth Services Forum of the Virginia Library Association has presented this award annually since the 1982 publishing year. Through the award, the Youth Services Forum seeks to promote reading about America’s past; to encourage the quality writing of United States history, biography, and historical fiction for young people; and to recognize authors in these disciplines.
For information about the award or to submit a nomination, please contact:
Sue Trask, 2010 Chair
Head of Youth Services
York County Public Library, Tabb Branch
100 Long Green Blvd.
Yorktown, VA 23693
The Jefferson Cup Committee selects the winning book. The committee has nine members: a chair selected by the previous year’s committee, six individuals representing the six regions in the state, the outgoing chair of the Youth Services Forum (YSF), and the outgoing Jefferson Cup Award Committee Chair.
Bolden, Tonya. George Washington Carver. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2008. 41 pp. ISBN- 13: 9780810993662. 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 his 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 the agriculture of the South to more practical and economical crops. Carver testified before Congress, met Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 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. This beautifully illustrated book includes Carver’s photographs and time-appropriate drawings that represent different eras of his eventful life. 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.
Kendall, Martha E. The Erie Canal. Washington DC: National Geographic, 2008. 128 pp. ISBN-13: 9781426300226. (1817–1825.) Grades 4–6.
The story of 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 eighty-three 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 sixty-six-foot rock cliff. The canal, part of the Underground Railroad, also collected $750,000 in tolls during 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 nonfiction. What better testimonial to a book than that it encourages further reading and perhaps even inspires a ride on the Erie Canal?
Delano, Marfé Ferguson. Helen’s Eyes: A Photobiography of Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller’s Teacher. Washington DC: National Geographic, 2008. 63 pp. ISBN-13: 9781426302091. 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 Keller’s home in Alabama. Sullivan would spend the remaining fifty years of her life as “Helen’s eyes.” Despite having two teeth knocked out, she kept the job with Keller because she was afraid of returning to the poorhouse and she “never gave up a fight.”
Helen's Eyes focuses on this prickly, tenacious Irishwoman who earned medals and 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 Sullivan, Keller, 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.
Sandler, Martin W. Lincoln through the Lens: How Photography Revealed and Shaped an Extraordinary Life. New York: Walker Pub. Co., 2008. 97 pp. ISBN-13: 9780802796660. (1860–1865.) Grades 7–9.
Lincoln through the Lens was assembled as a wonderful tribute to our nation’s sixteenth 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.
Formatting the book according to a timeline of Lincoln’s life, Sandler uses an attractive layout, illustrations, and beautiful full-page photographs. 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.
Fletcher, Christine. Ten Cents a Dance. New York: Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children’s Books, 2008. 356 pp. ISBN-13: 9781599901640. 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.
Essential Events by 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.
At the 2009 VLA Annual Conference, Jefferson Cup Award Committee members discussed the 2009 winner, the honor books, and their favorites from the more than three hundred books they reviewed. Here is their select list of recommended reading.
Alsenas, Linas. Gay America: Struggle for Equality. New York: Amulet Books, 2008. 160 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0810994874. (1910–2009.) Grades 7 and up.
Anderson, Laurie Halse. Chains. New York: Simon and Schuster Children’s, 2008. 316 pp. ISBN-13: 9781416905851. (1776–1780.) Grades 6–10.
Aretha, David. The Murder of Emmett Till. Greensboro: Morgan Reynolds Pub., 2007. 160 pp. ISBN-13: 9781599350578. (1961–1975.) Grades 5–8.
—. The Trial of the Scottsboro Boys. Greensboro: Morgan Reynolds Pub., 2007. 128 pp. ISBN-13: 9781599350585. (1930s.) YA.
Aston, Dianna Hutts. The Moon over Star. Pictures by Jerry Pinkney. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2008. ISBN-13: 9780803731073. (1969.) Grades K–3.
Barker, M. P. A Difficult Boy. New York: Holiday House, 2008. 298 pp. ISBN-13: 9780823420865. (1839.) Grades 5–9.
Broyles, Anne. Priscilla and the Hollyhocks. Illustrated by Anna Alter. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2008. ISBN-13: 9781570916755. (1815–1861.) Grades K–3.
Bryant, Jen. A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2008. ISBN-13: 9780802853028. (1883–1963.) Grades 3–6.
Burleigh, Robert. Abraham Lincoln Comes Home. Paintings by Wendell Minor. New York: Henry Holt, 2008. ISBN-13: 9780805075298. (1865.) Grades K–3.
—. Fly, Cher Ami, Fly! The Pigeon Who Saved the Lost Battalion. Illustrated by Robert MacKenzie. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2008. ISBN-13: 9780810970977. (1914–1918.) Grades K–3.
Capaldi, Gina, adapt. A Boy Named Beckoning: The True Story of Dr. Carlos Montezuma, Native American Hero. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 2008. 32pp. ISBN-13: 9780822576440. (1866–1923.) Grades 3–6.
Coleman, Evelyn. Freedom Train. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2008. 140 pp. ISBN-13: 9780689847165. (1947.) Grades 5–8.
Cummins, Julia. Women Daredevils: Thrills, Chills, and Frills. Illustrated by Cheryl Harness. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 2008. 48 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0525479482. (1880–1929.) Grades 3–7.
Daves, Ray. Radioman: An Eyewitness Account of Pearl Harbor and World War II in the Pacific. Edited by Caroline Edgemon Hipperson. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2008. 284 pp. ISBN-13: 9780312386948. (1936–2002.) Grades 9–12.
Dowell, Frances O’Roark. Shooting the Moon. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008. 163 pp. ISBN-13: 9781416926900. (1961–1975.) Grades 5–8.
Dray, Philip. Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells: The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist. Illustrated by Stephen Alcorn. Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers, 2008. ISBN-13: 9781561454174. (1860–1900.) Grades 1–4.
Duble, Kathleen Benner. Quest. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2008. 240 pp. ISBN-13: 9781416933861. (1610.) Grades 7–12.
Faulkner, Matt. A Taste of Colored Water. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2008. ISBN-13: 9781416916291. (1960s.) Grades K–3.
Finkelstein, Norman H. Three Across: The Great Transatlantic Air Race of 1927. Honesdale, PA: Calkins Creek, 2008. 134 pp. ISBN-13: 9781590784624. (1896–1934.) Grades 5–8.
Fleming, Candace. The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008. 177 pp. ISBN-13: 9780375936180. (1809–1882.) Grades 5–12.
Freeman, Russell. Washington at Valley Forge. New York: Holiday House, 2008. 100 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0823420698. (1777–1778.) Grades 4–8.
Getzinger, Donna. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. Greensboro, NC: Morgan Reynolds Pub., 2009. 128 pp. ISBN-13: 9781599350998. (1911.) Grades 6–12.
Gonzalez, Lucia. The Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos. Illustrated by Lulu Delacre. San Francisco, Calif.: Children’s Book Press, 2008. 30 pp. ISBN-13: 9780892392223. (1929.) Grades K–3.
Goodman, Susan E. See How They Run: Campaign Dreams, Election Schemes, and the Race to the White House. Illustrated by Elwood H. Smith. New York: Bloomsbury, 2008. 96 pp. ISBN-13: 9781599901718. (1790–Present.) Grades 3–6.
Grimes, Nikki. Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope. Illustrated by Bryan Collier. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2008. ISBN-13: 9781416971443. (1961–2008.) Grades K–3.
Hopkinson, Deborah. Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A Tall, Thin Tale (Introducing His Forgotten Frontier Friend). Pictures by John Hendrix. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008. ISBN-13: 9780375937682. (1809–1865.) Grades K–3.
Jones, Elizabeth McDavid. Traitor in Williamsburg: A Felicity Mystery. Middleton, WI: American Girl Publishing, 2008. 179 pp. ISBN-13: 9781593692964. (1776.) Grades 4–6.
Krull, Kathleen. The Road to Oz: Twists, Turns, Bumps, and Triumphs in the Life of L. Frank Baum. Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008. ISBN-13: 9780375832161. (1856–1919.) Grades 2–5.
Landau, Elaine. Ellis Island. True Books. New York: Children’s Press, 2007. ISBN-13: 9780531126318. (1892–1900.) Grades 3–8.
Lemna, Don. When the Sergeant Came Marching Home. Illustrated by Matt Collins. New York: Holiday House, 2008. 215 pp. ISBN-13: 9780823420834. (1946.) Grades 4–8.
Lieurance, Suzanne. The Locket: Surviving the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 2008. 160 pp. ISBN-13: 9780766029286. (1911.) Grades 3–6.
Lubner, Susan. A Horse’s Tale: A Colonial Williamsburg Adventure. Illustrated by Margie Moore. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2008. ISBN-13: 9780810994904. (Colonial Period.) Grades K–3.
In Defiance of Hitler: The Secret Mission of Varian Fry by Carla Killough McClafferty. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008. 208 pp. ISBN-13: 9780374382049. (1907–1967.) Grades 6 and up.
McKissack, Patricia C. Stitchin’ and Pullin’: a Gee’s Bend Quilt. Illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera. New York: Random House, 2008. ISBN-13: 9780375831638. (c. 1930–current.) Grades 3–6.
Myracle, Lauren. Bliss. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2008. 444 pp. ISBN-13: 9780810970717. (1969.) Grades 9 and up.
Nelson, Kadir. We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball. Foreward by Hank Aaron. New York: Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 2008. 88 pp. ISBN-13: 9780786808328. (1920–1960.) Grades 3 and up.
Nelson, Scott Reynolds. Ain’t Nothing But a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry. With Marc Aronson. Washington DC: National Geographic, 2008. 64 pp. ISBN-13: 9781426300004. (1847–2009.) Grades 6–9.
Nobleman, Marc Tyler. Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman. Illustrated by Ross MacDonald. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008. ISBN-13: 9780375938023. (1930–1943.) Grades 2–5.
Olson, Tod. How to Get Rich in the California Gold Rush: An Adventurer’s Guide to the Fabulous Riches Discovered in 1848. Illustrations by Scott Allred. Washington DC: National Geographic, 2008. 47 pp. ISBN-13: 9781426303159. (1846–1850.) Grades 5–8.
Pferdehirt, Julia. Caroline Quarlls and the Underground Railroad. Badger Biographies Series. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2008. 96 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0870203886. (1842.) Grades 5–12.
Porcellino, John. Thoreau at Walden. From the writings of Henry David Thoreau. Introduction by D. B. Johnson. New York: Hyperion, 2008. 99 pp. ISBN-13: 9781423100386. (1845–1847.) Grades 5–8.
Rabin, Staton. Mr. Lincoln’s Boys: Being the Mostly True Adventures of Abraham Lincoln’s Trouble-Making Sons, Tad and Willie. Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. New York: Viking, 2008. ISBN-13: 9780670061693. (1843–1871.) Grades 1–4.
Randall, Alison L. The Wheat Doll. Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth. Atlanta: Peachtree, 2008. 30 pp. ISBN-13: 9781561454563. (Late 1800s.) Grades 1–4.
Ransom, Candice. Maggie L. Walker: Pioneering Banker and Community Leader. Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books, 2009. 112 pp. ISBN-13: 9780822566113. (1865–1934.) Grades 5–8.
Rappaport, Doreen. Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2008. ISBN-13: 9781423104087. (1809–1865.) Grades K–4.
—. Lady Liberty: A Biography. Illustrated by Matt Tavares. Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2008. ISBN-13: 9780763625306. (1865–1886.) Grades 3–6.
Rodman, Mary Ann. Jimmy’s Stars. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008. 257 pp. ISBN-13: 9780374337032. (1943–44.) Grades 5–8.
Stokes, John A. Students on Strike: Jim Crow, Civil Rights, Brown and Me: A Memoir. With Lois Wolfe and Herman J. Viola. Washington DC: National Geographic, 2008. 127 pp. ISBN-13: 9781426301537. (1950s.) Grades 5–8.
Stone, Tanya Lee. Sandy’s Circus: A Story about Alexander Calder. Illustrated by Boris Kulikov. New York: Viking, 2008. ISBN-13: 9780670062683. (1926.) Grades K–3.
Sullivan, George. Knockout! A Photobiography of Boxer Joe Louis. Washington DC: National Geographic, 2008. 64 pp. ISBN-13: 9781426303289. (1914–1981.) Grades 5–8.
Swain, Gwenyth. Riding to Washington. Illustrated by David Geister. Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2008. (1960s.) ISBN-13: 9781585363247. Grades 3–6.
Tanaka, Shelley. Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator. Illustrated by David Craig. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2008. 48 pp. ISBN-13: 9780810970953. (1897–1937.) Grades 3–6.
Thomas, Peggy. Farmer George Plants a Nation. Illustrations by Layne Johnson. Honesdale, PA: Calkins Creek, 2008. 40 pp. ISBN-13: 9781590784600. (1759–1799.) Grades 3–6.
Tripp, Valerie. Really Truly Ruthie, 1932. Illustrations by Walter Rane. Vignettes by Susan McAliley. Middleton, WI: Pleasant, 2008. 75 pp. ISBN-13: 9781593693220. (1932.) Grades 4–6.
Van Steenwyk, Elizabeth. First Dog Fala. Illustrated by Michael G. Montgomery. Atlanta: Peachtree, 2008. ISBN-13: 9781561454112. (1940–1945.) Grades 2–5.
Weatherford, Carole Boston. Becoming Billie Holiday. Art by Floyd Cooper. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong, 2008. 117 pp. ISBN: 9781590785072. (1915–1959.) Grades 6–9.
Young, Dwight and Margaret Johnson, comp., ed. Dear First Lady: Letters to the White House from the Collections of the Library of Congress & National Archives. Washington DC: National Geographic, 2008. 207 pp. ISBN-13: 9781426200878. (1789–2008.) Grades 5–9.
Young, Judy. Lucky Star. Illustrated by Chris Ellison. Chelsea, MI.: Sleeping Bear Press, 2008. 40 pp. ISBN-13: 9781585363483. (1920–1945.) Grades 1–4.