2009

Author Award Winner

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson, J AWARD 796.357 NEL
The story of Negro League baseball is the story of gifted athletes and determined owners; of racial discrimination and international sportsmanship; of fortunes won and lost; of triumphs and defeats on and off the field. It is a perfect mirror for the social and political history of black America in the first half of the twentieth century. But most of all, the story of the Negro Leagues is about hundreds of unsung heroes who overcame segregation, hatred, terrible conditions, and low pay to do the one thing they loved more than anything else in the world: play ball. Using an “Everyman” player as his narrator, Kadir Nelson tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through its decline after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947. The voice is so authentic, you will feel as if you are sitting on dusty bleachers listening intently to the memories of a man who has known the great ballplayers of that time and shared their experiences.

Author Award Honor Books

Keeping the Night Watch by Hope Anita Smith; illus. by E. B. Lewis J SMITH, HOPE
So many unanswered questions weigh down thirteen-year-old C.J. as he struggles to understand why his father walked out. His father is back now, though C.J. is not as quick to forgive as the other members of his family. He still feels the weight of responsibility that fell on his shoulders when Daddy was gone, and he’s not prepared to give that up. But C.J.’s anger is making him a stranger in his own home, and instead of life seeming better now that Daddy has returned, it feels worse. Through powerful poems, Hope Anita Smith chronicles the nuanced emotions of a family that is slowly learning to heal and put the pieces back together.

The Blacker the Berry by Joyce Carol Thomas; illus. by Floyd Cooper J E THOMAS, JOYCE
A collection of poems, including "Golden Goodness," "Cranberry Red," and "Biscuit Brown," celebrating individuality and Afro-American identity.

 

Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford; illus. by Floyd Cooper YA WEA
Before the legend of Billie Holliday, there was a girl named Eleanora. The world, however, would know her as Billie Holliday, possibly one of the greatest jazz singers of all time. Eleanora's journey into legend took her through pain, poverty and run-ins with the law. By the time she was fifteen, she knew she possessed something that could change her life - a voice. Eleanora could sing! Her remarkable voice led her to a place in the spotlight with some of the era's hottest big bands. Billie Holliday sang as if she lived each lyric and in many ways she had. Through a sequence of raw and poignant poems, award-winning poet, Carole Boston Weatherford chronicles Eleanora Fagan's metamorphosis into Billie Holliday and the dream she pursued with passion.

Illustrator Award Winner

The Blacker the Berry by Joyce Carol Thomas; illus. by Floyd Cooper J E AWARD Thomas, Joyce
A collection of poems, including "Golden Goodness," "Cranberry Red," and "Biscuit Brown," celebrating individuality and Afro-American identity.
 

 

Illustrator Honor Books

The Moon Over Star by Dianna Hutts Aston; illus. by Jerry Pinkney J E Aston, Dianna
In July 1969, the world witnessed an awe-inspiring historical achievement when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon. For the young protagonist of this lyrical and hopeful picture book, that landing is something that inspires her to make one giant step toward all of the possibilities that life has to offer.

 

 

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson, J AWARD 796.357 NEL
The story of Negro League baseball is the story of gifted athletes and determined owners; of racial discrimination and international sportsmanship; of fortunes won and lost; of triumphs and defeats on and off the field. It is a perfect mirror for the social and political history of black America in the first half of the twentieth century. But most of all, the story of the Negro Leagues is about hundreds of unsung heroes who overcame segregation, hatred, terrible conditions, and low pay to do the one thing they loved more than anything else in the world: play ball. Using an “Everyman” player as his narrator, Kadir Nelson tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through its decline after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947. The voice is so authentic, you will feel as if you are sitting on dusty bleachers listening intently to the memories of a man who has known the great ballplayers of that time and shared their experiences.

Before John Was a Jazz Giant, Carole Boston Weatherford; illus. by Sean Qualls J 921 Coltrane, J., Wea
Young John Coltrane was all ears. And there was a lot to hear growing up in the South in the 1930s: preachers praying, music on the radio, the bustling of the household. These vivid noises shaped John’s own sound as a musician. Carole Boston Weatherford and Sean Qualls have composed an amazingly rich hymn to the childhood of jazz legend John Coltrane.


 

John Steptoe New Talent Award for Illustration

Bird by Zetta Elliott; Shadra Strickland illustrator J E AWARD Elliot, Zetta
Young Mekhai, better known as Bird, loves to draw. With drawings, he can erase the things that don't turn out right. In real life, problems aren't so easily fixed. As Bird struggles to understand the death of his beloved grandfather and his older brother's drug addiction, he escapes into his art. Drawing is an outlet for Bird's emotions and imagination, and provides a path to making sense of his world. In time, with the help of his grandfather's friend, Bird finds his own special somethin' and wings to fly. Told with spare grace, Bird is a touching look at a young boy coping with real-life troubles. Readers will be heartened by Bird s quiet resilience, and moved by the healing power of putting pencil to paper.
 

 

2008

Author Award Winner

Elijah of Buxton by Chrisopher Paul Curtis,  YA CUR
It's 1860, and eleven-year-old Elijah is a first-generation freeborn child. His Canadian town of Buxton, located just across the border from Detroit, serves as a haven for runaway slaves and their children, where Blacks can live free and govern themselves away from the horrors of pre-emancipation America. When the town's corrupt preacher steals money from a citizen who's been saving to buy his family's freedom, Elijah sets off for Detroit in pursuit. He encounters a group of captured runaway slaves; unable to save them all, he escapes with the youngest--a baby--and returns to Buxton a hero.

Author Award Honor Books

November Blues by Sharon Draper  YA DRA
When November Nelson loses her boyfriend, Josh, to a pledge stunt gone horribly wrong, she thinks her life can't possibly get any worse. But Josh left something behind that will change November's life forever, and now she's faced with the biggest decision she could ever imagine. How in the world will she tell her mom? And how will Josh's parents take the news? She's never needed a friend more.

Jericho Prescott lost his best friend when he lost his cousin, Josh, and the pain is almost more than he can bear. His world becomes divided into "before" and "after" Josh's death. He finds the only way he can escape the emptiness he feels is to quit doing the things that made him happy when his cousin was alive, such as playing his beloved trumpet, and take up football, where he hopes the physical pain will suppress the emotional.
But will hiding behind shoulder pads really help? And will his gridiron obsession prevent him from being there for his cousin's girlfriend when she needs him most?

This sequel to The Battle of Jericho is a no-holds-barred look at what happens when life doesn't go as planned, by the acclaimed author of the 2007 Coretta Scott King Award winner Copper Sun.

Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali by Charles R. Smith YA 921 ALI, M., Smi Illustrator: Bryan Collier
A dynamic author-illustrator team follows the three time heavyweight champ through twelve rounds of a remarkable life.

   "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. . . . I’m the prettiest thing that ever lived!"

From the moment a fired-up teenager from Kentucky won 1960 Olympic gold to the day in 1996 when a retired legend, hands shaking from Parkinson’s, returned to raise the Olympic torch, the boxer known as "The Greatest" waged many a fight. Some were in the ring, against opponents like Sonny Liston and Joe Frazier; others were against societal prejudice and against a war he refused to support because of his Islamic faith. Charles R. Smith, Jr.’s rap-inspired verse weaves and bobs and jabs with relentless energy, while Bryan Collier’s bold collage artwork matches every move — capturing the "Louisville loudmouth with the great gift of rhyme" who shed the name Cassius Clay to take on the world as Muhammad Ali.

New Talent Award - Author

Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It by Sundee T. Frazier  YA FRA
TEN-YEAR-OLD TAE KWON DO blue belt and budding rock hound Brendan Buckley keeps a "Confidential" notebook for his top-secret scientific discoveries. And he's found something totally top secret. The grandpa he's never met, who his mom refuses to talk about or see, is an expert mineral collector and lives nearby! Secretly, Brendan visits Ed DeBose, whose skin is pink, not brown like Brendan's, his dad's, or that of Grampa Clem's, who recently died. Brendan sets out to find the reason behind Ed's absence, but what he discovers can't be explained by science, and now he wishes he'd never found him at all. . . .

Illustrator Award Winner

Let It Shine: Three Favorite Spirituals Author/Illustrator, Ashley Bryan J E Award LET
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
 With a kaleidoscope of color and cut paper, Hans Christian Anderson Award nominee and two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner Ashley Bryan celebrates three favorite spirituals: "This Little Light of Mine," "Oh, When the Saints Go Marching In," and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." The power of these beloved songs simply emanates through his joyous interpretations. Come, sing, and celebrate!

Illustrator Honor Books

The Secret Olivia Told Me by N. Joy, Illustrator, Nancy Devard
Can you keep a secret?
 Olivia has a secret -- a BIG secret. It’s a secret that she tells only to Jade, her very best friend. And Jade promises she won’t say a word. But the secret is really big and really juicy. What happens when Jade slips and the secret gets out?


Jazz on a Saturday Night Author/Illustrator, Leo and Diane Dillan  J E DIL
If you have ever been lucky enough to hear great jazz, then you will understand the pure magic of this book. Leo and Diane Dillon use bright colors and musical patterns that make music skip off the page in this toe-tapping homage to many jazz greats. From Miles Davis and Charlie Parker to Ella Fitzgerald, here is a dream team sure to knock your socks off. Learn about this popular music form and read a biography of each player pictured-and then hear each instrument play on a specially produced CD. What's the featured song? "Jazz on a Saturday Night," written and recorded to accompany this book.