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2011 Award Summary

Opening Remarks: “Welcome from the Chair”
by Marianne I. Baker
Associate Professor, Literacy Education
James Madison University

Thank you, Mary, and thanks to the Jane Addams Peace Association and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom for sponsoring these awards that, in this 58th year, honor the activism of Jane Addams and her quest for social justice. The work of so many make today’s celebration possible. As chair of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Committee, I would like to acknowledge:

Ericka Schlenkermann for her music,

The editors and book designers and publishers whose work helps create the books we honor today,

The Jane Addams Peace Association Board for their ongoing efforts and particularly in providing books for purchase and signing,

Executive director and queen organizer, Linda Belle,

reader

Past Chair Donna Barkman, and past committee member Pat Wiser,

Past Chair Susan Griffith (and also current committee member) for her mentorship and for loving so completely what this award embodies,

All of the believers who’ve come out today to honor our friends seated here today,

book table

And, of course, all of the members of the Award Committee. Some of them, from Colorado, Illinois, Wisconsin, Texas, and Washington, D.C. send their best. Some are able to be here. We have from Massachusetts, Ann Carpenter; from California, Julie Olsen Edwards; from Tennessee our newest member Tracy Randolph and her daughter Isabelle; from New York Sonja Cherry-Paul, who leads the Jane Addams Literature Circle for Girls.

These Addams Literature Circle girls, along with many groups across the U.S., read and discuss issues related to peace and equity raised in the books honored by the Jane Addams Award. To honor them and the commitment Jane Addams displayed for young people, and to begin our celebration of this year’s Addams Award Winners and Honor Books, I ask the young people here with us today to stand. Let’s begin with a round of applause for them, their imaginations, and the stories we honor today.

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Award Presentation

Winner of Books for Younger Children

Emma's Poem

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips, “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to brSend, these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty, by Linda Glaser with paintings by Claire A. Nivola is this year’s winner of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award for Books for Younger Readers.

This is a beautiful book. A book about injustice and hope. A book about creativity in the face of injury. A book about haves and have-nots, which clarifies that having plenty may not be all you need to be human. Although written about events which took place 130 years ago, the story is a needed and timely reminder of one of the finest dreams of what the United States can be and has sometimes been.

In simple, age appropriate words, Glaser writes about Emma Lazarus, born into a world of privilege and intellect – who against the rigid expectations for women of her class, became an activist on behalf of the immigrants pouring into New York from Eastern Europe. Horrified by the conditions of the newly arrived immigrants, Emma defied the expectations for women of her class and became an activist, tutoring, helping them find training for jobs, making friends. Reaching beyond personal, one-on-one connection, Emma wrote articles and newspaper columns –calling on others to support the immigrants, to see them as people, to know their stories, to recognize social injustice.

Emma became well known for her writing, and was asked, along with famous writers like Mark Twain and Walt Whitman, to write a poem to be in a book that would be sold to raise money for the U.S. share of the building of the Statue of Liberty. At that time, the Statue was not seen as having anything to do with immigration, but Emma, wondered – what would the immigrants entering NY harbor think when they saw that great Statue? And what would the colossus sized woman see as she stood in peering out into the waters? Emma envisioned the Statue as strong, compassionate woman, and wrote a poem that put words of welcome into the mouth of “Lady Liberty.” Her words turned the statue into a symbol not just of freedom—but of the United States as a safe harbor for the poor and persecuted.

In a perfect dance between words and art, Claire Nivola’s beautiful, detailed water colors not only illustrate, but deepen the story of this book. The complex history of the pogroms is not explicitly stated in the text, but one illustration of burning homes and people fleeing carries the message of persecution. The disdain for the impoverished immigrants is dramatized by the picture of two families passing on the street, the immigrants with heads down, in tattered clothes, the wealthy family rushing by – while their children look back in confusion. These are illustrations which invite children to think, to closely observe. One child said to me “Look Julie, the kids see the poor family even if their Mom and Dad don’t!” In another picture, a large fancy home seen through the windows from the street, one of the children said “There. There’s Emma. She’s reading instead of going to the party. She’s really thinking!”

Today, as xenophobia is fanned into legislation, this gentle book is a reminder of the U.S. heritage of compassion for the immigrant. The book is dedicated to “immigrants, then and now.” And, not as a footnote, but as punctuation–the biographical information on the back cover leaf shows not the author and artist, but the immigrant families from whom they have come.

For their work portraying in highly readable, child centered words, complex, needed ideas of courage, compassion, and using one’s gifts on behalf of justice, the Jane Addams prize for younger readers is presented to Linda Glaser and Claire Nivola.

Thank you both for lifting up the lamp again.

— Julie Olsen Edwards

 

Nivola and Glaser
Claire Nivola and Linda Glaser

Acceptance Remarks by Linda Glaser, the author of Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty

Ever since I can remember, I have loved and admired the Statue of Liberty. Admired is a strange word to use for a statue. However, to me she has never been just a statue.

Her words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”  transformed her from a lifeless copper structure into a great and compassionate spokeswoman.

As a girl, I had learned that the person who wrote those lines, Emma Lazarus, was a young Jewish woman. That was particularly meaningful to me because I was a young Jewish girl who loved to write.

The lines themselves spoke deeply to me. I felt they were about my own grandparents, all of whom were immigrants and poor. I found it stirring that this huge woman was proclaiming to the world that my grandparents were welcome and valued in this country.

I knew very little of the hardships they had endured before coming to the United States, but I knew they’d had hard lives. I was grateful that this country had opened its doors to them. I am still grateful for that.

When my editor Ann Rider asked me to write something I cared deeply about, I realized that I wanted to write about Emma’s poem. As a writer, I find it awe inspiring that a single poem could play such a significant role in shaping the hearts and minds of a whole nation. Before Emma wrote her poem, the Statue of Liberty had nothing to do with immigrants. But her bold sonnet permanently linked the two. And the statue became known as “The Mother of Exiles.”

Just as none of us can ever truly know how far the effect of our actions may extend, Emma Lazarus had no idea that her poem would have such a profound impact. For well over a century, it has offered hope and welcome to people around the world who, “yearn to breathe free.”

As I researched, I found that attitudes back then weren’t much different from today. Some people felt compassion for the immigrants and a sense of common humanity. Others saw them as a threat to society claiming they’d ruin the country.

Linda Glaser
Linda Glaser

I learned that Emma Lazarus was more than a writer. She was also a humanitarian and became an outspoken champion of immigrants at that time. She saw beyond her own comfortable life, recognizing her commonality with strangers who were desperately poor. While many saw them as a burden, she saw their potential and believed that with education and training, they would vastly contribute to society. I feel this is a particularly important message to share today.

I especially hope that children who are immigrants or whose relatives are immigrants may read Emma’s Poem and gain a sense of pride and deep belonging that I felt as a child when I first heard those stirring lines, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” I also hope it will remind all of us of the importance of speaking out for our shared humanity.

I’m grateful to Claire Nivola for bringing Emma’s Poem to life with her sensitive and beautiful artwork. I wish to thank the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Committee for selectingEmma’s Poem for this award and the Jane Addams Peace Association for promoting peace, social justice and world community.

— Posted with permission of Linda Glaser

Acceptance Remarks by Claire Nivola, the illustrator of Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty

I have received this prize twice now in 3 years and I am truly grateful for the generosity the Jane Addam’s Peace Association has shown me. I won the prize in 2009 for a book I wrote and illustrated about one woman’s work to repair the damage we have done to the environment. The environment continues to be my greatest concern. All, it seems to me, pales in the face of the prospect – inevitable now – of a Natural world coming unmoored.

But everything is connected: how we treat our own bodies is how we treat the body of our planet, the way we treat one another is also the way we treat the living world that we all inhabit. The question of immigration, of how we greet those who come to seek a life in this country, is highly complex, with arguments on all sides. But on a simple level it seems to me that in times of stress, such as ours, we can clutch and protect from others what we are lucky enough to have ourselves, or we can choose to become more compassionate, more inclusive. ourselves, or we can choose to become more compassionate, more inclusive.

Claire Nivola

In working on Emma’s Poem, I based several illustrations on historic black and white photographs taken of immigrants on their first arrival in America, those haunting images many of us have seen of families carrying belongings tied in an old sheet or worn suitcase. They clutch their children, exhausted, afraid, hopeful, the smell of their home countries still in their nostrils. As I worked, I often seemed to catch the scent of that human travail, and not just from a distant past.

Emma’s Poem is Linda Glaser’s book. It is her heartfelt subject and her passion informs it. But as the daughter of immigrant parents myself who fled anti-Semitism and Fascism in 1939, and having grown up largely within an extraordinarily talented and eccentric circle of European émigrés, I share Linda’s perspective and her resounding gratitude to Lady Liberty.

Claire Nivola

Again, thank you so very much for honoring us with this award.

— Posted with permission of Claire Nivola


Winner of Books for Older Children

ALongWalktoWater

A Long Walk to Water is written by Linda Sue Park. It was published in November, 2010 by Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. This is our winner in the books for o is based on the true story of Salva, one of nearly 4000 Sudanese Lost Boys airlifted to the United States beginning in the mid 1990s.

Linda Sue Park, Newbery award medalist for A Single Shard and the author and award winner of many books says:

“Meeting Salva was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. His story is both horrifying and uplifting, a testament to the strength of the human spirit against the worst adversities, and the generosity in people’s hearts when we’re at our best. I wrote this book because I want young readers to know that there are people like Salva in this world, to admire and maybe even to emulate however we can.”

Park with Baker
Linda Sue Park and Marianne Baker

Through the stories of Nya in 2008, and Salva, starting in 1985, A Long Walk to Water begs the question: “Who are the keepers of the water?”

–Marianne Baker

Acceptance Remarks by Linda Sue Park, the author of A Long Walk to Water

It is difficult for me to express what an honor is to receive this award. I would like to thank the Jane Addams Book Award committee and the International Women’s League for Peace and Freedom. Thanks also to everyone at Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, especially Betsy Groban, Julia Richardson, and Dinah Stevenson. Dinah edited A Long Walk to Water with the same skill and attention she brings to all my books, and none of them would be what they are if it weren’t for her work.

A big thank-you to my husband, who first learned about Salva Dut and introduced me to him. Ben also did most of the research for Nya’s part of the story when he traveled to southern Sudan in 2009 with Salva. He observed, interviewed, photographed and experienced everything on my behalf, then took on the role of head cheerleader as I wrote and worried my way through the story. I could not have written this book without his help.

But of course, my biggest thanks are to Salva Dut himself. I first met Salva in 2004, through my husband. The more I learned about Salva’s life, the more astonished I became, and I started telling everyone I knew about him. Then it occurred to me that if I wrote about him, I could tell a whole bunch of people at once, so that is how I came to write his story.

In 1985, when Salva was eleven years old, war came to his village. To escape the war, he began a journey which would take him hundreds of miles through dangers too numerous to list: ferocious animals, vicious people, harsh terrain, starvation, dehydration, disease, loneliness, despair. I can still hardly believe everything he went through, and even more remarkable, how his story continues today.

Salva made his way to refugee camps, first in Ethiopia, then in Kenya. Several years later, in 1996, 3,800 boys and young men were liberated from the refugee camps and brought to the United States to begin new lives. They became known as the ‘Lost Boys,’ and Salva was one of them.

Linda Sue Park

A Long Walk to Water is a dual narrative. Running parallel to Salva’s story is the story of Nya, a girl who lives in present-day Sudan. Nya has to fetch water for her family. She walks two hours to the pond and two hours back—twice a day. This is what most of the girls and women in south Sudan do—provide water for their families. Because of this, they cannot attend school. South Sudan has one of the highest female illiteracy rates in the world. 97 percent of the girls and women cannot read or write.

When Nya’s village receives the gift of a well, the villagers join together to build a school. The girls will no longer have to walk to fetch water; the boys will not have to take the cattle to the pond. The village children will be able to go to the school for the first time. They have no materials—no books, no pencils or paper. The teacher has a sixth-grade education. On the first day of school, the teacher draws letters and numbers in the dirt floor with a stick. But even in that remote community, 300 miles from the nearest electricity, the people know that education is the only chance for their children to have a better life.

The opportunity to write Salva’s story has truly been a blessing. Since the publication of the book last fall, I’ve traveled all around the country to talk to people who are reading it. In that way, the story has stayed close to me, and it is a perspective-bringer of the best kind. Whenever I start to feel like life isn’t going quite the way I’d like it to, I think about Salva and Nya, and that shuts me up real fast. What a remarkable gift that is.

Salva is currently in Sudan, preparing for the next drilling season. I know he wishes he could have been here and is very grateful to you all for your support of this book.

To all of you and especially to those of you who work on what I think of as the ‘front lines’ of children’s literature—the classroom teachers and the librarians. I know you all probably have days when your work seems humdrum, or unappreciated, or embattled, and I hope on those days you will take a few moments to reflect with pride on the importance of the work you do. For it is indeed of enormous importance. You have chosen to use the written word, one of the most powerful weapons in human history, to help to prepare the next generation to save the world.

The ability to read and think critically about what we read is not just a power: It’s a superpower. Which means that all of you who work to pass on this power, to connect young people with books—you’re not just heroes. You’re superheroes. I truly mean that. Thank you.

— Posted with permission of Linda Sue Park

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All Honor Books

Honors for Books for Younger Children

Ruth and the Green Book

Ruth and the Green Book, by Calvin Alexander Ramsey with Gwen Strauss and illustrated by Floyd Cooper, published by Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc., has been named an Honor Book for Younger Children. In the 1950s, young Ruth and her parents travel south in their new car when she discovers her African American family is not always welcome along the way. An Esso attendant shows the family a Green Book as a way to safety in the Jim Crow era, enabling Ruth to relish the kindness of strangers.

 

 

 

 

 

Strauss and Cooper
Calvin Alexander Ramsey
Gwen Strauss and Floyd Cooper
Calvin Alexander Ramsey

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down , by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney and published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Hachette Book Group is a lyrical, powerful portrayal of the sit-ins and nonviolent protests that forcibly integrated many areas of the country in the 1960’s.

A doughnut and coffee, with cream on the side. This is all four young black men are hoping for when they sit down at a Woolworth’s counter and patiently wait for service—a wait that will last for years. But, as the text makes clear, the young people’s fight “is not about food—it’s about pride.” It’s about no longer being the hole in the doughnut, made to feel invisible by oppression and injustice.

The spirit and determination of the sit-in participants are reflected in dynamic watercolor and India ink illustrations that create a sensation of energy, momentum, and power. Even when sitting still, the protestors seem to vibrate with a sense of purpose.

 

Rhythmic and lively, the written verse fairly begs to be read aloud. Pulsing with vibrant imagery and a very apt food-related metaphor, the text is both accessible to children who want to learn about the history of the Civil Rights movement and a work of beauty and art in and of itself.

Pinkneys
Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney

The slogan for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee – one of the prominent organizations involved in the sit-in protests across the country – was “We are all leaders.”  In highlighting the simple actions of a small group of young people that grew exponentially until thousands of people were involved, until those patiently waiting men could no longer be ignored, until the very laws of the country were changed – this is a message that encourages children that they, too, have power, that it is dedication and commitment, not wealth or the powers of authority, that will ultimately change the world.

For providing creating a passionate, lyrical portrayal of an important event in the history of the American Civil Rights movement, the Committee awards Brian and Andrea Davis Pinkney the Honor Award in the category for younger readers.

— Ann Carpenter


Honors for Books for Older Children

Ninth Ward

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes, published by Little, Brown and Company, is a coming–of-age-story set in New Orleans just before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. Lanesha, a twelve year old African-American girl, lives in the Ninth Ward with eighty-two year old Mama Ya-Ya, a healer and midwife who took her in when her mother dies from childbirth and her Uptown extended family pretends she doesn’t exist.

In the sultry days before the hurricane, Lanesha’s life is changing: At home, Mama Ya-Ya’s health is clearly failing. At school, Ginia sees beyond Lanesha’s “strange and different” green-yellow eyes to befriend her. In the neighborhood, sad, “picked-on-all the-time” Ta Shon enlists her help to rescue a scrufty stray dog he names Spot. All the while, tension from the impending hurricane grows. EVACUATE! EVACUATE! EVACUATE!

But, sidelined by poverty, racism and Mama Ya-Ya’s increasing frailty, Lanesha, Mama Ya-Ya and Spot face the hurricane from the second floor of their Ninth Ward home. Joined by Ta Shon when chaos in the Superdome separates him from his family, the two friends and their dog watch Mama Ya-Ya die and face the flood from the second floor, the attic, and then the roof of the now devastated house. Here, Lanesha’s natural intelligence and resilience forge with the legacy of confidence and strength given her by Mama Ya-Ya and the ghost of her own mother. Here, she and Ta Shon rescue themselves. Here, she becomes, in her own words, “Lanesha. Born with a caul. Interpreter of signs and symbols. Future engineer. Shining love. . . . Mama Ya-Ya’s girl.”

For a novel that questions gender roles, racism, poverty and prejudice by drawing us into the story of a girl who breaks cycles of fear to learn how to approach life with self-confidence and strength, I am pleased to present a Jane Addams Children’s Book Award honor citation to Jewell Parker Rhodes.

— Susan C. Griffith

Jewell Parker Rhodes
Jewell Parker Rhodes

Birmingham Sunday

In Birmingham Sunday, published by Calkins Creek, author Larry Dane Brimner speaks directly to readers and implores us to, “remember this, the most horrendous day of the civil rights movement – Birmingham Sunday” (p. 45). Using primary sources such as FBI files, police records, and oral-history accounts, Brimner educates young readers about a horrific event that galvanized a nation into action.

Capturing the intense emotions of this dark moment in American history, Brimner unveils the hatred and violence inflicted upon African Americans by segregationists and the Ku Klux Klan that was commonplace in Birmingham, Alabama. Brimner informs readers about bombings by White supremacists that were so frequent, the city acquired the moniker “Bombingham.”

Yet, the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on September 15, 1963 — resulting in the death of four young African American girls, and later, two young African American boys, — shined a spotlight on Birmingham. Its repercussions were felt across the nation. However, in Birmingham, “justice was hard to find” (p. 40) and often delayed. The horror of this event was exacerbated by the overt actions of city commissioner, Bull Connor and the covert actions of FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover, who withheld information and failed to prosecute the individuals known to have murdered the four young girls and injured others in the bombing.

With this tragic event as well as precedent events chronicled in Birmingham Sunday such as Brown vs. The Board of Education in 1954 and the Bus Boycott from 1955 to 1956, the need to confront a passive and complacent stance about segregation had been thrust upon the United States government and its citizens.

There is so much to admire about Mr. Brimner’s work. But, it is particularly important to highlight his resolve to shine a light on history’s unsung heroes. Birmingham Sunday illuminates the tireless efforts and heroic endeavors not only of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but also Fred Shuttlesworth, The Freedom Riders, James Bevel, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, the children and teenage demonstrators, and others who have received less attention and may be less familiar to young readers. Truly, the actions and persistence of these Civil Rights leaders and protestors helped to transform public opinion.

Birmingham Sunday begins and ends by urging readers to remember. Remember Cynthia Wesley. Remember Carole Robertson. Remember Addie Mae Collins. Remember Denise McNair. Remember Johnny Brown Robinson. Remember Virgil Ware. Remember those who sacrificed everything for justice and equality.

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 Larry Dane Brimner.

— Sonja Cherry-Paul

Carolyn Yoder
Carolyn Yoder on behalf of Larry Dane Brimner

 


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Jewell Parker Rhodes with fans