2008 Award Summary

Opening Remarks
by Susan C. Griffith


groupThank 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 56th year, honor Jane Addams – her principles, her philosophy, and her activism.


As Chair of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Committee, I would like to acknowledge Erika Schlenkermann for her music, the special efforts of the JAPA Board in providing books for purchase and signing, the work of the editors, book designers and publishers whose bring the books we honor into being, and the girls of the Jane Addams Literature Circle for Girls.


And, of course, all the members of the award committee. Six of whom are here with us today: from Massachusetts, Ann Carpenter, from New York, Sonja Cherry-Paul, from Florida, Eliza Dresang, from Texas, Daisy Gutierrez, from Tennessee, Pat Wiser and from Illinois, Junko Yokota.


Other members—from Alaska, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington, D.C. and California—are listed on your program and are here in spirit.


Thirty five years ago, I was 21, fresh out of college and ready to take on the world as a school librarian. I returned to my home town and began working for a then-rural school system outside a Midwestern city. I was in charge of five elementary school libraries and reported to four principals.


My feminist lens was clear, my vision in sharp focus as I evaluated the five collections of books. I ordered every picture book with a strong female character, I ordered books like What Can She Be? A Lawyer (Goldreich & Goldreich, 1973) and I ordered biographies of the only women allowed to surface regularly in children’s books at the time, women like Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt and Jane Addams.


My heartfelt efforts met with a surprising range of responses: One of the principals addressed my actions with humor and derision. Another never spoke to me once all year. The third wrote a letter of complaint and had it placed in my personnel file. And the fourth—six-foot-three, Mr. Cook—took me out into the hall, looked down into my eyes, and said, ―Who was this Jane Addams anyway?oked down into my eyes, and said, ―Who was this Jane Addams anyway?


Before Mr. Cook ever called me into the hall, I knew that…


Jane Addams was a white, middle class single woman who, along with Ellen Gates Starr, founded Hull-House, one of the first settlement houses in this country. Hull House, like its inspiration Toynbee Hall in London and its counterparts across the United States, was a center of culture, advocacy and education located in the heart of a city. Hull House opened in September 1889 in the nineteenth ward of Chicago, a neighborhood of immigrant families living in the unsanitary, inhumane conditions that result from industrialized poverty.


And I knew that…


Jane Addams was a pacifist.


What I didn’t know about Jane Addams then, and have learned since, includes…


She spent the last twenty-five years of her life working for international peace. As part of this effort, in 1915, she was a founding member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She refused to support World War I even after the United States entered the conflict.


Jane Addams’ lived outside the mainstream in her private life just as she chose to do in her public life. In doing so, she complicated and mitigated the privileges of class and race that were a part of her heritage.


In her public life, Jane Addams resisted identification with organized religion and insisted that Hull-House remain unaffiliated. She did her work not out a sense of charity nor as a missionary. She lived and worked with—not for—the people in her neighborhood.


In her private life, Addams enjoyed a life-time partnership with Mary Rozet Smith, a wealthy white Chicago woman who tirelessly supported Addams and her work at Hull-House. Addams’ biographer Katherine Joslin chronicles Addams’ and Smith’s relationship as it developed in letters between the two. Joslin writes: ―Jane and Mary called their forty year relationship, quite simply, a marriage (Joslin, 2004, p. 11).


And, finally…
Jane Addams was a writer and philosopher. She was, according to Victoria Bissell Brown, ―the most effective and prolific writer of her generation of reformers. She wrote and published twelve books and over 500 essays, speeches, editorials and columns. Stories of her own experiences and stories of the experiences she observed in her neighborhood and the world at large lie at the heart of all her writings.


Jane Addams, activist, pacifist, writer and philosopher was a self-determined woman whose astute, persistent, thoughtful action struck at the roots of social injustice during the first decades of the twentieth century– what an inspiring and appropriate namesake for a book award that honors children’s books that ask children to think about social justice and social responsibility in their own lives and the lives of others.


And so, with a deeper appreciation for Addams’ life, philosophy and activities, developed over my own lifetime, I invite you to celebrate the books that carry her legacy forward into the twenty-first century–the 2008 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award winners and honor books.



  1. Brown, Victoria Bissell. (2001). Jane Addams. In R. L. Schultz & A. Hast (Eds.) Women building Chicago 1790-1990: A biographical dictionary. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 14-22.
  2. Joslin, Katherine. (2004). Jane Addams: A writer’s life. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.



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Award Presentation

Winner of Books for Younger Children


The Escape of Oney Judge: Martha Washington’s Slave Finds Freedom, the winner in the Books for Younger Children Category, is written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully and published by Farrar Straus and Giroux.


The daughter of a white indentured servant and an enslaved African-American woman, Onah Maria Judge grew up working as a slave and seamstress in the household of the first President of the United States. Her owner Martha Washington declares that young Oney has “become like another of our children.”


But Oney is not fooled: She has no personal freedoms. She has been denied the right to read. And, Mrs. Washington is clear—Oney will become her granddaughter’s slave when Mrs. Washington dies. Ever alert to the changing circumstances that deprive her of freedom, Oney seizes an opportune moment, acts courageously and, with the help of free Blacks and Quakers, flees.


Expressive watercolors shift Oney from foreground to background on each page of this picture book biography. In doing so, they reinforce the shifting limits and demands of her life as a slave. Together with the well-researched and carefully-written story, these illustrations show the precariousness of Oney’s position in relation to Mrs. Washington, white society and the law, even after she has attained her freedom.


This biography portrays the bravery of Onah Maria Judge, a self-determined African American woman who lived a life of “proud, independent poverty” and claimed the right to have “no mistress but herself.”


For creating a book for children that inspires breaking cycles of fear to confront injustice, it is with great pleasure that we present the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award in the Books for Younger Children Category to Emily Arnold McCully.


— Remarks by Susan C. Griffith, October 17, 2008.


Acceptance Remarks by Emily Arnold McCully, the author and illustrator of The Escape of Oney Judge: Martha Washington’s Slave Finds Freedom


This wonderful honor must be shared with Margaret Ferguson, the book’s exceptional and tireless editor. Also the erudite copy editor, Karla Reganold. And Evelyn Gerson, whose master’s thesis tells Oney Judge’s story in full.

The news that my book had won the Jane Addams Award sent me to the shelf at home where TWENTY YEARS AT HULL HOUSE had sat undisturbed for nearly forty years. Her clarity of mind and eloquence are thrilling to read after all this time. William James said to Addams, ”You utter instinctively the truths we others vainly seek.” I want to claim a modest kinship: I was also born in a small Illinois town. My father didn’t know Lincoln, as hers did, but he knew Carl Sandburg, Lincoln’s biographer, and I grew up proud that a Lincoln-Douglas debate took place on the campus of his college, which was a stop on the Underground Railway and educated young women. Emily McCully
Emily Arnold McCully


Jane Addams was born soon after that debate and grew up to enter a world riven by extremes of wealth and poverty. We find ourselves back in such a world today, stranded without Jane Addams, without her honesty, courage and willingness to pitch in at the most practical level to lift and empower those whom “the system,” a term coined in her day, has failed.


When Ida Tarbell stayed at Hull House she was startled to see the militant Miss Addams going about straightening cushions and dusting knickknacks. Addams championed equality without condescension, rejected the idea that a democracy must sink to the lowest common denominator.


For democracy to survive, children must learn and love history. The best way to hook them on it is through story. But it’s a complex discipline and very hard to simplify for children without reducing its appeal. In a picture book the job is done by two complementary tools. Story lets readers enter the action and get inside the heads of people who lived in very different times.


Jane Addams, by the way, opposed shielding children from “death and sorrow…on the assumption that the ills of life will come soon enough.” She advocated growing up.


Oney Judge’s is a story about growing up. It has all the suspense of the underdog coming to consciousness: realising, first, that freedom can even exist for people like herself, then that it is within her grasp if she can work up the courage to seize it. A reader can imagine being Oney and risking everything for freedom.


Imagination is the foundation of empathy. With empathy, other people matter- indeed, everyone matters. And if everyone matters there is the possibility of equality. That is why storytelling makes such a difference. In fact, the argument has been made that the very concept of inalienable human rights was born when novels began to be published. Before that, stories didn’t lay out the inner life of characters in a complex society.


Oney ran away from the most privileged home in America, where she was treated kindly. I discussed the story with some third graders and one of them said that if he had been in her shoes he would have chosen to remain a slave. Freedom, he understood, carries enormous responsibility. He is just a child, so he didn’t want to give up being taken care of, which, for a child isn’t demeaning. The third graders also began to see the iconic Washingtons as only human, limited by their times and by human vanity. The children realised that even someone as respected asDo we simply accept the way things are done and who is in charge? We also talked about the fact that Oney needed help to make her escape. History is a collective action, not just the work of heroes.


Oney Judge lived out her long life as a fugitive, earning her living as a seamstress, a maid and sometimes accepting charity. A woman who literally had a price established her own self-worth. Ironically, her sister, who stayed at Mt Vernon, was freed when Martha Washington died, married a free black with Custis blood and founded a school for girls in Washington. An easier life, but not one that compels us to remember the meaning of our democracy. What Oney got when she ran was what we in the United States say we value above all else. Certainly Oney did.


Thank you for honoring Oney Judge. I think that Jane Addams, had she known about her (and knowing more about lots of things is one blessing of our troubled times) would have found her story as amazing as I did.


— Posted with permission of  Emily Arnold McCully

Winner of Books for Older Children


We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin by Larry Dane Brimner, published by Calkins Creek, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, Inc., is the winner in the Books for Older Children Category.


African-American pacifist and civil rights activist Bayard Rustin was a member of the Youth Communist League in the 1930’s and1940’s, refused to fight in World War II, challenged bus segregation as part of the Journey of Reconciliation in 1947 and lived openly as a homosexual all of his adult life.


Already a seasoned expert on nonviolent social action by the time of the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, Mr. Rustin became Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s trusted teacher and adviser. Working behind the scenes because his homosexuality was considered a liability by many inside and most outside the movement, Mr. Rustin labored tirelessly for African-American civil rights. We Are One highlights his momentous and unparalleled grass-roots organizing achievement–the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.


In succinct prose punctuated with powerful quotations and fresh historical photographs, Larry Dane Brimner frames the story of Rustin’s life with the story of the March. Through telling and dramatic details, Brimner reveals the spirit, principles, breadth and depth of Rustin’s decades of commitment to confronting racism and promoting peace in this country and the world.


Mr. Rustin continued to work for human rights after the March on Washington. At a rally shortly before his death in 1987, he showed that, once again, he was in the forefront, taking risks in his analysis and activism. In a quote that gives this fine biography its name, Mr. Rustin said: tivism. In a quote that gives this fine biography its name, Mr. Rustin said:


“Twenty-five, thirty years ago, the barometer of human rights in the United States were black people. That is no longer true. The barometer for judging the character of people in regard to human rights is now those who consider themselves gay, homosexual, lesbian. We are all one. And if we don’t know it, we will learn it the hard way.”


It is with great pleasure that we present the 2008 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award in the books for Older Children Category to Larry Dane Brimner.


Remarks by Susan C. Griffith, October 17, 2008.


Acceptance Remarks by Larry Dane Brimner, the author of We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin

I bring you greetings from the land of saguaro forests, tumbling tumbleweeds, and marauding javalinas. And before I forget, I also bring a super-sized hug to Emily McCully from Lee Bennett Hopkins. I want to thank the Jane Addams Committee and most especially Susan Griffith for distinguishing WE ARE ONE: THE STORY OF BAYARD RUSTIN with the 2008 Jane Addams Award. Larry Brimner
Larry Dane Brimner


It is a great honor—especially considering all the many fine children’s books out there—and it makes me happy to have my book counted in the company of those by Christopher Paul Curtis, Mitali Perkins, and Carole Boston Weatherford. As much as I would like to say that this award is mine, I know that would be untrue because although the writing of books is a solitary act, the making of books is not. A lot of people listened to my vision for this book and helped with its ultimate look and feel, and so I accept the award in proxy on their behalf. They are Larry Rosler, my picture book editor who first saw the manuscript at Boyds Mills Press and encouraged me to send it to Carolyn Yoder at Calkins Creek, the Boyds Mills U.S. history imprint; Carolyn is owed thanks and gratitude for being an exacting editor—at times making me pull my hair for all her nitpicking—but without her nitpicking and suggestions for this and that and the other and all the hair-pulling, the book would have been less; Joan Hyman, who checked, double-checked, and triple-checked that my statements were accurate and that my quotations were spot-on; Jill Goodman, who managed the archival photographs that I’d collected and helped me to interface with copyright holders, artists, and photographers; Tim Gillner, the art director, who demanded four-color and by doing-so, took a black and white book from the realm of the mundane to one of appeal and excitement. There are others to whom I owe a great deal of thanks: the Oral History Project at Columbia University, California Newsreel, Pamela Powell at the Chester County Historical Society, Louis LoMonaco, whose fantastic artwork from that famous 1963 march caught my eye and is used on the title page and backcover, and Walter Naegle, Bayard’s long-time partner, for being so cooperative and helpful about everything.


I, of course, knew that my publisher had submitted the book for consideration to the Jane Addams Award Committee, but with my usual optimism I thought, FAT CHANCE. And looking back to that April day when I was struggling with another book, one that wasn’t going well, and when Susan Griffith called to inform me of the honor, I was totally surprised and somewhat disbelieving. Could it be Kathleen Krull or perhaps Pam Munoz Ryan from my writer’s group impersonating her? My writers’ group is known for playing practical jokes and pranks—but certainly they wouldn’t be so cruel. And then it began to register: Oh, my gosh, this is for real and I scrambled for some paper and a pen so I could take a few notes. To paraphrase a great American, Junie B. Jones, It’s amazing how a little bit of glitter can change a day! Granted, it didn’t make the writing I was working on go any easier that day or in the days which followed, but it sure made sitting in front of the monitor struggling with it a whole lot more bearable. Thank you for the glitter.


I’m especially pleased about this award because it will help bring attention to the importance of Bayard Rustin to the civil rights movement. I first became aware of Bayard Rustin around 2001 or 2002 when, in some reading I was doing, I saw a footnote that mentioned he had refused to move to the “colored” section of a bus long before Rosa Parks, and I wondered why I knew one name and not the other. Bayard Rustin was and is the forgotten man of the civil rights movement. Last spring I had the opportunity of speaking to an adult audience in Buffalo, New York, and I began by asking how many of them had heard of Rosa Parks. Every person in the audience raised a hand. I asked how many had heard of Mohandas Gandhi. Again, every person raised a hand. I asked how many had heard of Martin Luther King, Jr., and once again, there wasn’t a person in the audience who didn’t raise a hand. Then I asked how many had heard of Bayard Rustin . . . and not a single person in the audience raised a hand. Yet, he was a man who sat in white-only restaurants long before there were “Sit-ins,” who refused to move to the Jim Crow section of a bus a full ten years before Rosa Parks, who made freedom rides before the “Freedom Rides” of the 1960s that children learn about in school, and who taught Martin Luther King, Jr., just what nonviolent direct action was because when the Montgomery bus boycott began Martin didn’t really know. Bayard Rustin was a man who should not be forgotten.


Bayard embodied the tenets of the Jane Addams Peace Association by living a life dedicated to nonviolent direct action. His refusal to move to the Jim Crow section of the bus in the early 1940s eventually brought about a brutal encounter with the police. The bus driver had phoned ahead and on approach into Louisville, four officers stopped the bus, dragged Bayard off, and began beating him. He shielded the blows and tried to explain that he wasn’t resisting them. His refusal to return blow for blow seemed to confuse the officers and caused several dismayed white passengers to step up and demand that the beating stop. He didn’t change the world that day. He didn’t bring about racial equality. But he did change a few hearts. And this is what I think of when I think of Bayard Rustin—a man dedicated to changing the world a few hearts at a time.


When I think of Bayard Rustin, I’m reminded of a conscientious objector who chose to go to prison rather than perform non-combat duty because he felt it was immoral that, as a Quaker, he had an option that those without a religious objection to war did not have. I am reminded of how he and a small staff of workers and volunteers pulled off the 1963 March on Washington, at the time the largest protest of inequality ever, without hitch, glitch, or any violence. I am reminded of a man, who in spite of enormous contributions to the civil rights movement, is relatively forgotten and unknown.


The reasons why movement leaders kept Bayard in the background and why many African Americans consider him controversial even today really isn’t a mystery. In his youth when he first moved to New York’s Harlem, he joined the Young Communist League (as did many other young people of his generation)—not because he was a Communist but because the Communist Party was the only political party at that time which took an anti-war stance and which advocated racial equality on its platform. Strike One. He was a Quaker pacifist who protested the U.S. involvement in WWII, refused to register for the draft, and went to prison for his belief that there is no justifiable war. Strike Two. And he was not only openly homosexual, but he also had been arrested for lewd conduct—very possibly in an FBI/J. Edgar Hoover sting. A whopping Strike Three. Three strikes and he was relegated to history’s forgotten land by the African American leadership. Martin didn’t even acknowledge him in his autobiography in spite of relying on Bayard’s advice from 1956 until his death.


By celebrating Bayard Rustin with this honor to my four-year effort, the Jane Addams Committee is helping not only to make history more transparent, but also it is correcting a wrong by shining light on this gentle, remarkable civil rights warrior.


— Posted with permission of Larry Dane Brimner


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All Honor Books

Honors for Books for Younger Children


One Thousand Tracings: Healing the Wounds of World War Two was written and illustrated by Lita Judge and published by Hyperion Books for Children.


In December of 1946, Lita’s grandfather, Frederick Hamerstrom returned from military service to his family on their Midwestern farm. Their story is narrated by the character of Lita’s mother, a six-year-old who believed that “the war is over and that everyone we loved was home and safe.” But just before Christmas, a letter arrived that changed everything. German friends were hungry and cold. They had no shoes. Mama, Lita’s grandmother Fran, sent her own winter coat and enlisted her daughter’s help getting warm clothes and food.

Lita Judge

Lita Judge
Children love the illustrations of mother and the daughter packing shoes and clothing and are fascinated by the pictures of food from “olden times.” In his next letter, their friend Dr. Kramer wrote of the excitement when the packages arrived and asked, “Please send no more to me. Help others.” He sent tracings of the feet of members of 10 families, and his plea inspired Lita’s grandparents to lead a drive for food and clothing, especially for shoes. Soon more tracings arrived: from 10 to 100 to 1,000.


Through letters, Lita’s mother made a new friend, Eliza, whose father had not yet returned from the war. A small girl in the United States began to grasp the reality of life in post-war Germany, a place that had seemed far away.


In 1948, she was still helping her mother clean and refurbish boots and shoes, and a cloth doll went from a Midwestern farm to an apartment in Germany which held six families. Finally, on an October day 60 years ago, Eliza wrote, “Father is home.” The Hamerstroms joyously celebrated this good news as Grandmother danced in red shoes.


The word enemy is absent from this book, and the word friend is very much present. In a beautifully illustrated story, with collages of original photos and the original tracings, we meet a family who lived the values which are reflected in the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. A child learned that people can work together to help begin to heal the suffering of fellow human beings who have endured the devastation of war.


I was surprised to learn that, while Lita is a successful illustrator, One Thousand Tracings is the first picture book she has written and illustrated. She was inspired to write the book after finding the foot tracings in her grandmother’s attic. This modest woman, an ornithologist, had not spoken of their relief effort, which, in the tradition of Jane Addams’ service to others, resulted in over 3,000 packages going to 15 European countries. (p. 2)


The theme of her grandmother’s book is summarized in a letter from Germany that Lita found with the stored away foot tracings. “Friendship lets us believe once more in the future which, otherwise lay before us in frightful darkness.”


In recognition of this very important book I must add that Sewanee third graders asked me to say very three more times, and my Children’s Literature students send three more very’s from their class. So I am happy to present Lita Judge with an honor citation for her seven times very important book.


Remarks by Pat Wiser, October 17, 2008.

Honors for Books for Older Children


Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.


This novel is set in the year 1860 in Buxton, Canada where refugees from slavery and freed blacks live in a Settlement founded by a white Presbyterian minister named Revered William King.


This novel is told through the voice of Elijah, the earnest, fragile and endearing 11-year-old who was the first child born free in Buxton. Elijah’s life is filled with the comforts of family, friendship and familiarity. He and his best friend Cooter attend the local school, where they struggle with math and Latin; he uses his chunking stones to catch fish for his family and neighbors; and does chores at Mr. Segee’s barn relishing opportunities to spend time with Old Flapjack, the mule.


“One helping one to uplift all” is the Buxton Settlement Creed and Elijah puts these mighty words into effect when despite his fragile tendencies he bravely, sets off to help Mr. Leroy retrieve money stolen from Zephariah, the sinister, scheming, self-proclaimed preacher who lurks in and out of town. Along this perilous journey, Elijah learns the truth about the horrors of slavery and the responsibilities of freedom.


Elijah is a hero that breaks the stereotypical mold of a young male character. Although everyone in town thinks of Elijah as a fragile boy due to his sensitivity and compassion toward others, he proves he’s not as delicate as people think. He courageously saves a life and gives another the opportunity of freedom. Of himself and the residents of Buxton, Elijah proudly proclaims: “We don’t expect nothing in return, but if we see someone that needs a hand, we rush to give it. Good things always come from that.” When Elijah brings Hope to Buxton, these words ring as loud and as true as the town’s Liberty Bell announcing the newest residents of the Settlement.


Christopher Paul Curtis is a masterful storyteller and researcher who brings historical fiction to life with humor, heart-wrenching prose, and unforgettable characters who are imprinted on the hearts of readers. In the author’s note, Mr. Curtis says, “Buxton is an inspiration, and its importance in both American and Canadian history deserves to be much more recognized.” Mr. Curtis’ writing is an inspiration that recognizes the obstacles and honors the accomplishments of African-Americans. It is my great pleasure to present a Jane Addams Children’s Book award honor citation in the category of Books for Older Children to Christopher Paul Curtis.


Remarks by Sonja Cherry-Paul, October 17, 2008.


The 2008 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor book, Birmingham, 1963, written by Carole Weatherford, edited by Larry Rosier, and published by Wordsong, an imprint of Boyds Mills press, details events in the Civil Rights movement leading up to the tragic deaths of four young girls on September 15, 1963 in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

Violence had become so commonplace that Birmingham had become known as Bomingham. The historical events, brought to life by precise, evocative free verse; provocative design; and accompanied by expertly selected full-page black and white archival photographs, are recounted through the eyes of a fictional ten-year-old girl. Acceptance
Larry Rosler, Boyd Mills Press
and Eliza Dresang


The unnamed narrator vividly shares her emotions at the time of the bombing: “The day I turned 10/There was no birthday cake with candle/Just cinders, ash, and a wish I were still nine./I crawled past crumbled plaster, broken glass/Shredded Bibles and wrecked chairs/Yelling Mama, Daddy.”


Perhaps most moving and important for young readers is the poignancy of the “In Memoriam” to the four girls that bring this slim but powerful volume to a close: Addie Mae Collins: “The seventh of eight children/Who was the peacemaker/When her brothers and sisters argued.” Cynthia Wesley: “Who sang soul music and sipped sodas /With friends in the backyard.” Denise McNair: “Who always smiled for cameras/And would have been a real go-getter.” Carole Robertson: “Who thought she might want to teach history someday/or at least make her mark on it.”


Just as this church bombing was a pivotal point, a wake-up call, in the Civil Rights movement some 45 years ago, Birmingham, 1963 can be a pivotal event and a wake-up call in the life of contemporary young readers, who know little of the violence and racism of our recent past.


The Jane Addams committee is pleased to honor this well-documented, provocative work that ensures we will never forget the pain of the past in order to ensure the promise of the future. Congratulations and thank you to Carole Weatherford for her fine contribution to children and their sense of social justice, to Wordsong and to Boyds Mills Press, and to Carole Weatherford’s editor, Larry Rosier, who is here to accept this honor citation and deliver the author’s insight into how she hopes her book will inform and inspire today’s children.


Remarks by Eliza T. Dresang, October 17, 2008


Rickshaw Girl, written by Mitali Perkins and illustrated by Jamie Hogan, is published by Charlesbridge Publishing.


Naima a young girl living in modern Bangladeshis a gifted alpana painter who creates beautiful designs in the traditions of Bangladeshi girls and women. Lately her talents seem less important, since they do not earn any money. Although her family has made it clear that they love and adore their two daughters, Naima can’t help wishing that she were a boy so that she can help to support the family.

Mitali Perkins

Mitali Perkins
When Naima’s father is unwell, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Desperate for a way to help, she dresses up as a boy and attempts to drive the rickshaw on her own. But events do not go the way she had planned, and she soon finds that her actions have only made the family financial situation worse. It is only when Naima acknowledges the unique skills that she possesses as a Bangladeshi female that she is able to salvage the situation and help support her family.



Beautifully illustrated with pictures that help Western readers to instantly identify with Naima, her family, and friends, this contemporary novel introduces strong female characters in a variety of roles and positions. In doing so, it encourages thinking about the roles that gender can play in society and the ways that those roles are continuing to change. Naima’s story shows the importance of both self-reliance and collaboration in building community through the increasingly influential practice of micro-finance.


In recognition of the excellent writing, appealing illustrations and the lasting impact of important themes, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Committee is pleased to present the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor Citation in the Books for Older Children Category to Mitali Perkins and Jamie Hogan.

Jamie Hogan

Jamie Hogan


Remarks by Ann Carpenter, October 17, 2008.