2007

Author Award Winner

Copper Sun by Sharon Draper, YA DRA
When pale strangers enter fifteen-year-old Amari's village, her entire tribe welcomes them; for in her remote part of Africa, visitors are always a cause for celebration. But these strangers are not here to celebrate. They are here to capture the strongest, healthiest villagers and to murder the rest. They are slave traders. And in the time it takes a gun to fire, Amari's life as she's known it is destroyed, along with her family and village.

Beaten, branded, and dragged onto a slave ship, Amari is forced to witness horrors worse than any nightmare and endure humiliations she had never thought possible -- including being sold to a plantation owner in the Carolinas who gives her to his sixteen-year-old son, Clay, as his birthday present.


Now, survival and escape are all Amari dreams about. As she struggles to hold on to her memories in the face of backbreaking plantation work and daily degradation at the hands of Clay, she finds friendship in unexpected places. Polly, an outspoken indentured white girl, proves not to be as hateful as she'd first seemed upon Amari's arrival, and the plantation owner's wife, despite her trappings of luxury and demons of her own, is kind to Amari. But these small comforts can't relieve Amari's feelings of hopelessness and despair, and when an opportunity to escape presents itself, Amari and Polly decide to work together to find the thing they both want most...freedom.


Grand and sweeping in scope, detailed and penetrating in its look at the complicated interrelationships of those who live together on a plantation, Copper Sun is an unflinching and unforgettable look at the African slave trade and slavery in America.

Honor Books

The Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes
Paris has just moved in with the Lincoln family, and isn’t thrilled to be in yet another foster home. She has a tough time trusting people, and she misses her brother, who’s been sent to a boys’ home. Over time, the Lincolns grow on Paris. But no matter how hard she tries to fit in, she can’t ignore the feeling that she never will, especially in a town that’s mostly white while she is half black. It isn’t long before Paris has a big decision to make about where she truly belongs.

Nikki Grimes has created a portrait of a young girl who, in the midst of being shuffled back and forth between homes and realizing things about other people and the world around her, gradually embarks on the road to discovering herself.

New Talent Award - Author

Standing Against the Wind by Traci L. Jones
Patrice Williams was happy living in Georgia with her grandmother, who called her “cocoa grandbaby.” Then her mother lured her to Chicago and ended up in jail. Now Patrice lives with her Auntie Mae, and her new nickname is “Puffy” – thanks to her giant poof of hair. But Patrice’s hair isn’t the only reason she sticks out: she cares about her grades and strives for the best. That’s why Monty Freeman, another eighth grader who lives in the building, asks Patrice to tutor his little brother. Even though Monty’s friends make Patrice uneasy, Monty himself is friendly, confident, and surprisingly smart. When he becomes her guardian angel, Patrice begins to think something stronger than friendship might be growing between them. Still, nothing will stop her from applying for a scholarship at prestigious Dogwood Academy – her ticket out of the project and a school populated by gangs and drug runners.

In her debut novel, Traci L. Jones presents a girl with grit she never knew she had, and a boy so inspired by her that he begins to take pride in his own abilities.

Illustrator Award Winner

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by  Kadir Nelson
written by Carole Boston Weatherford  Weatherford's handsome picture book about Harriet Tubman focuses mostly on Tubman's religious inspiration, with echoes of spirituals ringing throughout the spare poetry about her struggle ("Lord, don't let nobody turn me 'round"). God cradles Tubman and talks with her; his words (printed in block capitals) both inspire her and tell her what to do ("SHED YOUR SHOES; WADE IN THE WATER TO TRICK THE DOGS"). Nelson's stirring, beautiful artwork makes clear the terror and exhaustion Tubman felt during her own escape and also during her brave rescue of others. There's no romanticism: the pictures are dark, dramatic, and deeply colored--whether showing the desperate young fugitive "crouched for days in a potato hole" or the tough middle-aged leader frowning at the band of runaways she's trying to help. The full-page portrait of a contemplative Tubman turning to God to help her guide her people is especially striking.

Illustrator Honor Books

Jazz il. by Christopher Myers, written by Walter Dean Myers
From bebop to New Orleans, from ragtime to boogie, and every style in between, this collection of Walter Dean Myers’s energetic and engaging poems, accompanied by Christopher Myers’s bright and exhilarating paintings, celebrates different styles of the American art form, jazz. "Jazz" takes readers on a musical journey from jazz’s beginnings to the present day. Time line, glossary.
 

Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes il. by Benny Andrews, edited by David Roessel and Arnold Rampersad j 811 HUG
Gr. 7-10. Hughes' stirring poetry continues to have enormous appeal for young people. In this illustrated collection of 26 poems, Andrews' beautiful collage-and-watercolor illustrations extend the rhythm, exuberance, and longing of the words--not with literal images, but with tall, angular figures that express a strong sense of African American music, dreams, and daily life--while leaving lots of space for the words to "sing America." The picture-book format makes Hughes' work accessible to some grade-school children, especially for reading aloud and sharing, but the main audience will be older readers, who can appreciate the insightful, detailed introduction and biography, as well as the brief notes accompanying each poem, contributed by Hughes scholars Roessel and Rampersol. Their comments, together with the quotes from the poet himself, will encourage readers to return to the book to see how Hughes made poetry of his personal life, black oral and musical traditions, urban experience, and the speech of ordinary people. Whether the focus is the Harlem Renaissance, the political struggle, Hughes' African heritage, or the weary blues, this book will find great use in many libraries.
 

2006

Author Award Winner

Day of Tears: A Novel in DialogueDay of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue by Julius Lester, YA LES
Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue is a masterful fictionalized account of the largest slave auction in U.S. history, held 1859 in Savannah, Georgia. In a powerfully dramatic format, the voices of enslaved Africans and their masters move between monologues and conversations. This is an accessible novel that allows the reader to understand the moral dilemmas faced by the characters, and their challenge to affirm humanity in the midst of slavery.
 

 

Honor Books

Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl by Tonya Bolden, j 921 Lyons
“Aim high! Stand tall! Be Strong! and do” are the opening words of Tonya Bolden’s Maritcha: A Nineteenth Century American Girl. Embellishing on Maritcha Remond Lyons’ eighty-one page memoir, this beautifully crafted book, describes the life of the daughter of a well established free black family living in New York City in the mid 1800’s. Racial riots causing the flight of the Lyons family does not prevent Maritcha from graduating as the first black student from the local high school in her new home state of Connecticut. She truly stood tall!

Dark Sons by Nikki Grimes YA GRI
Two first-born sons, one from Biblical times, one contemporary are heartbroken when their beloved fathers each shift their devotion to the second born son. The parallel stories of Ishmael and Sam reveal the deep anger and hurt they both feel from their father’s betrayals. Nikki Grimes’ powerful novel in free verse closes with both young men finding forgiveness for their earthly fathers through the guidance from the Father they “could count on.”

A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson, J 811 NEL
Marilyn Nelson has memorialized the life of Emmett Till in a crown of sonnets that is heart wrenchingly beautiful. An innocent fourteen year old whose “stuttering whistle” at a white woman leads to his brutal beating and drowning death, Till’s story is one of several incidents that sparked the Civil Rights Movement.

New Talent Award - Author

Jimi & Me

Jimi & Me by Jaime Adoff
Jimi & Me is a poignant novel written in free verse describing the tumultuous experience of Keith James, a thirteen year-old, bi-racial teen who must cope with the unexpected murder of his father. Left destitute, Keith and his mother must leave their comfortable life in Brooklyn to live in a small town in Ohio, to share a home with his paternal aunt. Faced with loss, change, and betrayal, Keith finds solace in his music and his idol Jimi Hendrix.
 

 

Illustrator Award Winner

RosaRosa Illustration by Bryan Collier, Written by Nikki Giovanni  j Award 921 Parks
In Rosa, Bryan Collier uses uniquely bold illustrations depicting Rosa Parks as an inspirational and unwavering force. Intricate profiles hidden in the details of the background gives the reader a sense of collective community spirit. Collier portrays the legendary seamstress known as the mother of the Civil Rights Movement in a vivid mix of watercolor and collage. Illuminated with golden light he creates an image of a weary and determined Mrs. Parks. Her frustration with the status quo of the Jim Crow South is palpable.



Illustrator Honor Books

Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan, by R. Gregory Christie
This is the story of an eight year old boy’s courage to lead a group of orphans safely out of the Sudan, their war-torn homeland. R. Gregory Christie uses a combination of muted earth tones and bold colors as a backdrop to tell the story of young men who have persevered through hard times. Their courage and beliefs allow them to overcome insurmountable circumstances of survival.