by Donna Barkman
Thank you, Ann, and thanks to the Jane Addams Peace Association and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom for sponsoring these awards that, for the 53rd year, honor Jane Addams – her principles and her activist heritage. As chair of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award committee, I would like also to acknowledge Michele Zayla for her music, Beth Puffer of the Bank Street Book Store for providing books for us to purchase and have signed, and all the members of the committee. Here today are Susan Griffith, from Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, Jo Montie, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Dionne Delancy, Brooklyn, New York and Sarah Park, Los Angeles, California who will join us for next year’s deliberations and selections, and Ginny Moore Kruse, former chair of the committee and long-time member, who continues as a participant in the local Madison Wisconsin reading group supporting our committee member there. Other members, spread across the country are listed on your program and are here in spirit. More can be learned about our work in an article in your packet, “Imagining Peace and Social Justice,” whose duplication was graciously permitted by Book Links, and the American Library Association.
The article, too, refers to the heritage of Jane Addams’ principles and activism as the standard by which we honor books. And just what is that heritage? We know that she co-founded Hull House, in Chicago, the flagship settlement house of all those that were founded in the late 1890s and early 20th century. We know that she was a founder, in 1915, of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, as it grew from the Women’s Peace Party. We know that in 1931 she was the first woman from the United States to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
What most of us don’t know is that she was a prodigious writer (150 articles just from 1900 to 1910, appearing in everything from scholarly periodicals to Ladies Home Journal to Machinists Monthly) as well as a dozen books over the course of her career, spreading her message about reform in every arena: social, economic, education – child labor laws, housing and factory regulations, public health services – and, of course, peace. She also was outspoken in her support of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and for the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
Although an esteemed leader herself, she did not believe in the hero theory of change, but that cooperative work across class was imperative if the nation was to solve the social problems of the day. Oh, that she were alive right now!
Ultimately, her work for peace brought great public acclaim. However, before and during World War I, she spoke strongly against United States participation in the conflict, traveled widely with the Women’s Peace Party to talk with world leaders, and proposed to President Wilson an international peace conference. In reaction, Teddy Roosevelt spoke: “Jane Addams – don’t talk to me of Jane Addams, I have always thought a lot of her, but…she’s all wrong about peace,” and, later, “Pacifists are cowards, and your peace conference scheme is both silly and base.” She also visited troops and reported on their dangerous and debilitating conditions – and their heroism. In a speech at Carnegie Hall in 1915, she said “we heard it everywhere – that this was an old man’s war; that the young men who were dying, the young men who were doing the fighting, were not the men who believed in the war.” That night she spoke of the strength it took for patriotic young men to question the war. As she spoke of the bloodshed, she mentioned that some were turning to drink in order to bear killing another human being and some were killing themselves rather than kill others, and for that she earned a torrent of abuse from all quarters: A letter in the New York Times claimed that she had belittled America’s military. Editorials: “Jane Addams is a silly, vain, impertinent old maid, who may have done good charity work at Hull House, but is now meddling with matters far beyond her capacity.” Large numbers of American Legion members would not forgive her wartime involvement in WILPF, and the DAR cancelled her membership, claiming she was unpatriotic. Her response to that: “I supposed at the time that membership had been for life, but it was apparently only for good behavior.” She lost income, respect, and popularity, but continued to work for peace, untamed by criticism and slander.
And that’s the Jane Addams we are honoring here today with books about people who speak out, who stand up, who settle disputes amicably, who construct community, and who never give up in their fight for their ideals of equality and justice!
- Victoria Bissell Brown, “Jane Addams,” in Women Building Chicago 1790-1990: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. Rima Lunin Schultz and Adele Hast (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2001): 14-22. (http://tigger.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/urbanexp/main.cgi?file=display_docs.ptt&id=130)
- Peggy Caravantes. Waging Peace: The Story of Jane Addams. Greensboro, NC: Morgan Reynolds Publishing, Inc., 2004.
Winner of Books for Younger Children
That is Life: A Haitian Story of Hope, the winner in the Books for Younger Children Category, is written and illustrated by Youme Landowne, from Cinco Puntos Press.
It begins like a folktale. “Not so long ago and not so far away” a homeless child “went north and south, east and west.” But it quickly moves to the contemporary reality of Haiti. One lost boy is found by another named TiFre (Little Brother). Tifre tells the child that he can name himself Hungry, Sleepy, or Little Traveler. And the child says I am all these things, and that’s life. And so, Sélavi becomes his name.
|This is our winner in the category of Books for Younger Children: Sélavi, That is Life: A Haitian Story of Hope, by Youme. Based on real experience, Youme details the lives of street children who live in a banyan tree and who support themselves by working and begging. When their self-sufficient community is dashed by uniformed men (police? soldiers?), a church congregation rescues them, saying: “Alone, we may be a single drop of water, but together we can be a mighty river.” Together, young and old build a house for them. It is wrecked by political opponents, and they build it again. They start a children’s radio station that broadcasts their troubles and triumphs, a station that exists today. And that’s life, too.|
Published by Cinco Puntos Press, Sélavi is feelingly illustrated by the author in glowing pastel colors, both realistic and symbolic. An afterword by Edwidge Danticat and affecting photographs of Haitian children are appended to complete this beautifully designed book. A story with a universal message of struggle, caring, and organizing honors the Jane Addams legacy. Here to accept this award for her first book is Youme. Congratulations!
— Remarks by Donna Barkman
Winner of Books for Older Children
With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Vote, by Ann Bausum, published by National Geographic Society. is the winner in the Books for Older Children Category.
|Our winning book in the category of Books for Older Children is a triumph of design, illustration, text and topic. With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Vote was written by Ann Bausum, published by National Geographic Society. Bausum chronicles the decades-long struggle for woman suffrage by summarizing the better-known history of the 19th Century and then focusing on the period from 1900 to 1920.|
She details the two branches of the movement and their strategies: the National American Woman Suffrage Association and Alice Paul’s more activist National Woman’s Party. These women wrote editorials and pamphlets, petitioned politicians and President Wilson, staged parades and protests and picket lines and went to jail for their troubles where they were force-fed during hunger strikes.
Bausum does not shy away from the difficult issues: the tension, philosophical and practical, between the two branches of the suffrage movement, the evidence of racism that pitted women’s rights against African-American rights, or the violent opposition of some citizens, legislators and police who were more concerned with disciplining suffragists than controlling the mobs that threatened and attacked them.
With Courage and Cloth is totally accessible to readers because of its succinct, powerful, even suspenseful narrative (will Tennessee, the last state to approve the 19th Amendment, ever come through?) and because of its stunning archival photographs in one- and two-page spreads. The book includes all you could ask for to inform its readers, young and old, by using profiles of the leaders, a chronology, and clearly organized notes and resources, all produced in the gold and purple colors of the movement.
I have run out of superlatives for a social history that exemplifies the principles and activism of Jane Addams. Ann Bausum, congratulations on a much-needed and welcome book.
Remarks by Donna Barkman
Acceptance Remarks by Ann Bausum, the author of With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Vote…
Thank you very much. So much of the writer’s life is spent in solitude that we learn to cherish those moments when we step away from the tasks of research and writing and enter the wider community of book lovers. Nothing affirms our months of isolation more than receiving an award such as this one. I appreciate the honor to my core. I’ve enjoyed discovering the various intersections between my book and the life of this award’s namesake, too. Jane Addams was a contemporary of the women profiled in my book, and she shared their interest in voting rights. There are more personal coincidences of history and geography, too. Miss Addams’s alma mater, Rockford College, was a sister school to my own nearby Beloit College, and our Professor Blaisdell was among her mentors, as well.
Authors may write in solitude, but our books would not take form without the help of so many others. Let me acknowledge a few people who are invaluable to my work. First there is, my husband Dan Boutelle, to whom I dedicated this book, and who is in attendance today. Quite simply, I would not stand before you were it not for Dan’s confidence in my work and his willingness to support our family through the years that it takes to develop a writing career. My teenage sons are not here, but I acknowledge them, too, for coping admirably during those many times when I have dropped from view with only vague promises of a return.
I’m gratified that Jennifer Emmett, my editor from National Geographic, is able to share in today’s celebration, as well. This gifted, unflappable, and cheerful woman adds immeasurably to the joy and success of any collaboration we undertake. It is a privilege to work with her. Jennifer represents a whole team of people from National Geographic Children’s Books who helped make With Courage and Cloth into an award-winning book. I must at least mention Bea Jackson, the Art Director who created the fabulous design for this book with its symbolic use of purple and gold. These two women not only labored over the editing and production of the book. Each of them gave birth to daughters during the lifetime of the project, too. Something magical happened when so many female spirits crossed paths with this work. All of us wanted to get it right for ourselves and for the next generation.
I’m frequently asked where I find the ideas for my books. Each one has its own story, and often these tales stretch back years before the time when I actually begin work on a project.With Courage and Cloth dates farther back than any other of my subjects. As I write in its Introduction, my connection to this topic dates to a chance encounter—or perhaps a fated one—with Alice Paul, the suffragist featured in the pages of this book. My life was just 13 years old. Hers was nearing its 92-year conclusion. We met thanks to my parents. That summer my father, a historian, rented a room from the National Woman’s Party headquarters in Washington, D.C., so that he could do research nearby. Alice Paul lived there, too, and our paths crossed during a visit my mother and I made to see my dad.
I grew up several hours south of Washington, D.C., in Lexington, Virginia. Surely few places claim more ties to history per square inch of territory. During fourth grade I had a particularly long walk home from school that took me across the campus of Washington and Lee University, past the tomb of Robert E. Lee, across the campus of Virginia Military Institute, and past statues, buildings, and markers that honored the likes of Stonewall Jackson, Matthew Fontaine Maury, George Patton, and George C. Marshall. By veering only slightly off my homeward course I could visit my favorite relic, Little Sorrell, the stuffed remains of Stonewall Jackson’s horse. I kid you not. I told you this community takes history seriously.
Is it any wonder that after being so steeped in history and having a historian for a father I would write about history myself someday? How fortunate that I crossed paths with Alice Paul during my childhood, immersed as I was then in the male-dominated world of Southern history. I had little idea at that time of how many women deserved tribute and commemoration equal to that accorded the male figures from my local history scene. It’s been a privilege during my adult years to help correct that imbalance by exploring the role of women in our nation’s history through this book.
History has always mattered to me, and it is my greatest joy to be able to share that pleasure with others as an author. By writing with young readers in mind, I seek to help young people see the paths that have brought us to the present. And, as important, I hope to inspire them to blaze ahead into the future.
Thank you for affirming my efforts with this award. The warmth of today’s gathering and your vote of confidence in my work will sustain me through many days of solitude and labor.
— Posted with permission of Ann Bausum
Honors for Books for Younger Children
Hot Day on Abbott Avenue by Karen English, with collage art of Javaka Steptoe published by Clarion Books, centers on the friendship and conflict of two girls on one particularly hot day. The rhythmic text poetically conveys the evolving emotions and experiences in Kishi and Renee’s friendship. The feelings move from a “never-going-to-be-friends again day ” into a “ropes-making-a -rainbow day,” aided by a lively game of double dutch. The resolution is complete when Kishi shares an ice pop with Renee and now it’s a “forgetting-all-about-what-you-were-mad-about day.”
|Steptoe’s fresh collage art creatively depicts the people and activities of the neighborhood — the tissue-paper footwear of many types, the rope hose spraying ribbons of water, expressive hair, and varied skin colors — these features collectively communicate the fullness of the community. Hot Day on Abbott Avenue receives an honor award due to its emphasis on two children solving a believable conflict in a believable way. With adults allowing them space to explore and express their feelings, the story provides a fine example of the girls’ anger being validated, not denied or discounted, and affirms the range of feelings shared by all of us.|
The Jane Addams Committee commends Karen English and Javaka Steptoe for their outstanding example of resolving conflict in our everyday lives.
Jo Montie, 2005
Henry and the Kite Dragon, by Bruce Edward Hall, with paintings of William Low published by Philomel Books/Penguin Young Readers Group.
|Eight-year-old Henry makes kites with Grandfather Chin. In Henry and the Kite Dragon, a conflict emerges between Henry and his Chinatown friends and Tony and his friends from Little Italy who are throwing rocks at the beautiful kites. Eventually, in this suspenseful story written by Bruce Edward Hall and vibrantly illustrated by William Low, we observe the two groups facing one another. Their finger-pointing anger begins to dissolve as talking and listening begin. We hear that Tony and his friends are trying to protect their homing pigeons, beloved pets being chased away by the gigantic kites. Ultimately, the children invent a solution and Grandfather Chin affirms their solution with a shimmery, shiny pigeon kite that embraces both Chinese and Italian cultures.|
Hall’s evocative words draw us into the story set in New York’s Chinatown in the 1920s, and Low’s stunning paintings parallel the range of perspectives that emerge from the text, as he contrasts the brilliance of the kites with the stark silhouettes of the pigeons. Published by Philomel Books, Henry and the Kite Dragon illustrates a creative response to conflict and cautions against making assumptions about others. Up until they face each other, Henry, and perhaps we as readers, prejudge Tony. By truly listening to one another, perspectives shift and turn toward cooperative connections, making this book so powerful as a Jane Addams honor book. We are delighted to present this award to Amy Hall, on behalf of her brother, author Bruce Edward Hall, and to illustrator William Low for this compelling book.
Jo Montie, 2005
Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing, by James Rumford (and translation into Cherokee by Anna Sixkiller Huckaby), is more than a picture book, more than a biography—it is an elegant rendering of the legendary life of Sequoyah, a man of rare genius who, as Rumford tells us, is “one of . . . a handful of people in the last seven thousand years who can claim to have invented a writing system.” Published by Houghton Mifflin Company, the book’s stately watercolors, done in the greens, browns and golds of a forest, give heart to Sequoyah’s persistence in the face of serious opposing forces: impending genocide from outside of his community and suspicion from within.
|Excellent historical notes, a chart of the writing system Sequoyah invented and the text’s translation into Cherokee by Anna Sixkiller Huckaby amplify the grandeur of Sequoyah’s accomplishment. In a volume whose proportions echo the stature of Sequoyah and the trees named after him, Sequoyah’s story demonstrates the political power of literacy and the written word.
For giving us an historical example of a truly creative response to injustice, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award recognizes James Rumford. Please accept this honor citation for your important work.
Susan C. Griffith, 2005
Honors for Books for Older Children
The Heaven Shop, by Deborah Ellis, published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside. This story, set in Malawi, sub-Saharan Africa, has as its central character, 13-year-old Binti Phiri, a popular radio show star who attends a private school for girls and helps her father in The Heaven Shop, his coffin-making business. Life was good, then. However, it takes a drastic turn south when Binti’s father dies from AIDS and she and her siblings are descended upon by greedy relatives who seize their possessions and half-heartedly offer to let them live in their homes. Binti is separated from her brother as she now has to live with a mean, abusive uncle who warns his children to stay away from Binti and her sister because there is AIDS in the family.
Binti’s character is well-developed and we come to know her innermost feelings. Though self-centered and self-important when life was good, Binti learns through adversit, and her grandmother Gogo’s example, to behave more generously. Gogo devotes her home, time and energy to caring for AIDS orphans and because of this selflessness, Binti learns the value of hard work and compassion.
Deborah Ellis’ poignant story gives us a memorable look at a country’s view about the deadly AIDS virus and how they are dealing with the epidemic. The Heaven Shop was chosen because of its excellence as a catalyst to opening the eyes of young people to an important world problem. Those who read this book will likely pay closer attention to headlines about AIDS in Africa and in our own country and perhaps show compassion and care to those who suffer from it.
We believe this book exemplifies the importance of the social issue of AIDS in Africa, and for that, The Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Committee recognizes, Deborah Ellis for The Heaven Shop.
Dionne Delancy, 2005