1994

Author Award Winner

Toning the Sweep by Angela Johnson
Before Emily's grandmother leaves her beloved desert home, possibly for the last time, the sensitive teen sets out to record the memories of the woman, her friends, and relatives on video. While documenting the reminiscences, she learns about her African American family's past and gains the strength to say good-bye.
A powerful story about connections and coping. Grades 6-9

Honor Books

Brown Honey in Broom Wheat Tea by Joyce Carol Thomas; ill. by Floyd Cooper
These joyous and unusually moving poems celebrate family, individuality, and African-American heritage. Richly illustrated with affectionate, glowing paintings, the poems ask us to remember where we came from, to cherish who we are, and to look with hope and courage to the future. Full color. Ages 4-8

Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary by Walter Dean Myers
In his preface, Newbery Honor book author Myers ( Scorpions ; Fallen Angels ) notes that Malcolm X's pivotal impact on the civil rights movement of the '60s was the result of his distinctive, dramatic approach: ``It was Malcolm's anger, his biting wit, his dedication, that put the hard edge on the movement, that provided the other side of the sword, not the handle of acceptance and nonviolence, but the blade.'' Appropriately, it is with incisive, precise prose that the author chronicles the labyrinthine path of Malcolm's life, from his 1925 birth in Omaha to his assassination in Harlem 40 years later. Seamlessly fusing historical notes on the era with the activist's story, Myers tells of Malcolm's childhood, which was greatly influenced by his father, a disciple of Marcus Garvey; his life as a youth on the streets of Harlem and Boston, where he was convicted of burglary; his self-education while imprisoned for more than six years; his crucial role in and eventual split from the Nation of Islam; and his pilgrimage to Mecca, which inspired his Organization of Afro-American Unity, established ``to unify Africans on an international basis.'' The inclusion of quotations from Malcolm X's eloquent autobiography brings an added dimension to Myers's account and successfully rounds out this carefully researched portrait of a deeply devoted individual.
Ages 10-up.

Illustrator Award Winner

Soul Looks Back in Wonder , ill. by Tom Feelings; text ed. by Phyllis Fogelman
After completing the stunning art for Soul Looks Back In Wonder, Tom Feelings approached stellar authors Maya Angelou, Margaret Walker, Walter Dean Myers, Lucille Clifton, among others. They wrote these inspired poems to pass on the heritage of strength, beauty, and creativity to today's African Americans--especially young people. Full color. 40 pages,
Ages 4-8

Honor Books

Brown Honey in Broom Wheat Tea , ill. by Floyd Cooper; text by Joyce Carol Thomas
These joyous and unusually moving poems celebrate family, individuality, and African-American heritage. Richly illustrated with affectionate, glowing paintings, the poems ask us to remember where we came from, to cherish who we are, and to look with hope and courage to the future. Full color. Ages 4-8

Uncle Jed's Barbershop , ill. by James Ransome; text by Margaree King Mitchell  j E MIT
Sarah Jean's Uncle Jed was the only black barber in the county. He travelled far to cut his customers' hair--and he dreamed of the day when he could open his very own barbershop. With Ransome's richly colored paintings brimming with life, this is a stirring tale of dreams long deferred and finally realized. 40 pages, Ages 4-8

1993

Author Award Winner

Dark Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural by Patricia A. McKissack  YA McKissack, P.
When I was growing up in the South, writes McKissack, we called the half hour just before nightfall the dark-thirty. Her nine stories and one poem, however, are far too good to be reserved for that special time when it is neither day nor night and when shapes and shadows play tricks on the mind. These short works-haunting in both senses of the word-explore aspects of the African American experience in the South, from slavery to the Underground Railroad and emancipation, from the era of Pullman cars to the desegregation of buses, from the terror of the Ku Klux Klan to '60s activism. Here, African Americans' historical lack of political power finds its counterbalance in a display of supernatural power: ghosts exact vengeance for lynchings; slaves use ancient magic to enforce their master's promise of emancipation. As carefully executed as McKissack's writings, Pinkney's black-and-white scratchboard illustrations enhance the book's atmosphere, at once clearly regional in setting and otherworldly in tone. Ages 8-12.

Honor Books

Mississippi Challenge by Mildred Pitts Walter
Incorporating the reminiscences and thoughts of many of the participants, this study of the history of African Americans in Mississippi chronicles the struggle for civil rights, from the time of slvaery through the events of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Young Adult

Sojourner Truth: Ain't I a Woman? by Patricia C. & Frederick L. McKissack
Gr. 5-8. Born a slave in the North and sold on the auction block, Sojourner Truth became a leading abolitionist and feminist, a speaker of wit and wisdom who drew on her own experience to fight against human suffering. Standing six feet tall and dressed in black, she stirred audiences across the country and spoke with presidents. Illiterate, she dictated her autobiography, Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave, in 1850, editing and updating it several times. The McKissacks (who won the Coretta Scott King Award for A Long Hard Journey: The Story of the Pullman Porter ) draw on Sojourner Truth's Narrative, and they integrate her personal story with a general history of slavery, resistance, and the leading figures in the abolitionist movement. The style is straightforward, but it's the dramatic quotes from Sojourner Truth herself that grab you. Readers will be stirred by her speeches (including the famous one with the refrain "And ain't I a woman?"). They'll also love her fierce one-liners: "No more scars and stripes," she said, "just stars and stripes for all God's children." Includes a bibliography, but no notes; many black-and-white photos to come. Ages 9-12

Somewhere in the Darkness by Walter Dean Myers  YA Myers, W.
A teenage boy accompanies his father, who has recently escaped from prison, on a trip that turns out to be an, often painful, time of discovery for them both. Young Adult

Illustrator Award Winner 

The Origin of Life on Earth: an African Creation Myth , ill. by Kathleen Atkins Wilson; retold by David A. Anderson j 398.2 AND
This Yeruba creation myth begins in the heavenly court of the all-powerful and his agents, male and female orishas. All the orishas are content, save one named Obtala, whose wondering impels him to employ his power in some meaningful way. He prepares thoughtfully for this work, aided by his fellow orishas, and descends from heaven on a golden chain. He takes soil that has been sown with the personality of the orishas and forms humans in his own image,``carefully and lovingly,'' so that the resulting creatures (even the imperfect ones) are ``beautiful to behold.'' The all-powerful then brings them to life and sets the earth spinning, completing this noble, reverent, and positive tale. In the colorful illustrations, glowing with hot yellow and sapphire, ebony silhouettes are effectively set off by elegant, vibrantly patterned clothing and gold ornaments. The bright backgrounds recall batiked African textiles. This story's themes of determination, effort, generosity, and the sacredness of life, as well as the attractive art, extend its appeal beyond myth, religion, or ethic collections. Grades 2-6

Honor Books

Little Eight John , ill. by Wil Clay; text by Jan Wahl  j E WAH
Little Eight John, ``a fine-looking boy . . . as mean as mean there was,'' flouts every one of his mother's safeguards against bad luck. He kicks toads, sits in the chair backwards, counts his teeth--then laughs himself silly when these acts bring trouble. But an encounter with ``Old Raw Head Bloody Bones'' (in what turns out to have been a dream) makes him change his ways. Wahl's almost cinematic telling of this cautionary tale from the black South jumps rapidly from incident to incident, a pared-down approach that tends to overemphasize the moral and downplay the comedy. In his second collaboration with Wahl (after Tailypo! ) Clay dramatizes the story with realistic yet stylized acrylics. His loosely rendered images of a rural African American household of a few generations ago place Little Eight John's expressive face in the sharpest focus, ensuring that the reader's attention will remain focused, too. Ages 5-8.

Sukey and the Mermaid , ill. by Brian Pinkney; text by Robert San Souci  j 398.21 SAN
Sukey is a hardworking daughter of poor South Carolina Islanders. One day she escapes to the beach to hide from her stepfather's scoldings. There she unwittingly calls up Mama Jo, a beautiful brown-skinned, black-eyed mermaid, who gives Sukey a gold coin to present to her parents so they won't be mad at her. The coin sets in motion a richly textured tale of greed, loyalty and the power of love. Full-color illustrations. Ages 4-8  

Working Cotton , ill. by Carole Byard; text by Sherley Anne Williams  j E WIL
The child's eye-view of a long day's work picking cotton in a poet's resonant language. Full-color illustrations by award-winning artist Carole Byard capture the dramatic texture of life in the fields.
Ages 4-8

1992

Author Award Winner

Now is Your Time: the African American Struggle for Freedom by Walter Dean Myers
Combining the emotional and plot-weaving powers of his novelist talents with a strong author's presence, Myers portrays the quests of individual Africans against the background of broader historical movements. Instead of a comprehensive, strict chronology, Myers offers, through freed slave Ibrahima, investigative reporter Ida Wells, artist Meta Warrick Fuller, inventor George Latimore, artist Dred Scott, the 54th Massachusetts Regiment and others, history at its best--along with deeper understanding of past and contemporary events. Readers will grasp reasons behind incidents ranging from bewildering Supreme Court decisions to the historical need for the black extended family. Intriguing and rousing. Photos not seen by PW. Ages 11-up.

Honor Book

Night on Neighborhood Street by Eloise Greenfield, ill. by Jan Spivey Gilchrist
A collection of poems exploring the sounds, sights, and emotions enlivening a black neighborhood during the course of one evening.
Ages 4-8

Illustrator Award Winner

Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold  j E RIN (2)
A young girl dreams of flying above her Harlem home, claiming all she sees for herself and her family. Based on the author's quilt painting of the same name.
Ages 4-8

Honor Books

All Night, All Day: A Child's First Book of African American Spirituals , ill. and selected by Ashley Bryan
Ashley Bryan, one of America's most renowned storyteller-anthologizers, presents an inspiring introduction to the African-American spirituals that he has also illustrated with twelve gloriou full-color paintings. From over 1,000 songs collected since the Civil War, Ashley Bryan has chosen twenty of the best-loved spirituals. Full color illustrations. Ages 4-8

Night on Neighborhood Street , ill. by Jan Spivey Gilchrist, text by Eloise Greenfield
A collection of poems exploring the sounds, sights, and emotions enlivening a black neighborhood during the course of one evening.
Ages 4-8

1991

Author Award Winner

The Road to Memphis by Mildred D. Taylor  j TAY
Sadistically teased by two white boys in 1940's rural Mississippi, a black youth severely injures one of the boys with a tire iron and enlists Cassie's help in trying to flee the state. Young Adult

Honor Books

Black Dance in America by James Haskins
A history of African-American dance in the United States discusses such celebrated artists as Bill ""Bojangles"" Robinson, Katherine Dunham, Arthur Mitchell, and others who were influential in the dance world. Young Adult

  When I Am Old With You by Angela Johnson  j E JOH
ďA small child imagines a future when he will be old with his Grandaddy. . . . The African-American child and grandfather are distinct individuals, yet also universal figures, recognizable to anyone who has ever shared the bond of family love across generations."--School Library Journal, starred review. Full color. Ages 4-8

Illustrator Award Winner

Aida , ill. by Leo and Diane Dillon; text by Leontyne Price  j 782.102 PRI
Opera diva Leontyne Price tells the compelling, romantic story of Aida, the captive Ethiopian princess who falls in love with her country's greatest enemy. Full-color illustrations. Ages 4-8

1990

Author Award Winner

A Long Hard Journey: the Story of the Pullman Porter by Patricia C. & Frederick L. McKissack
The moving story of the courage and solidarity that helped shape the history of African Americans explains how the actions of the train workers fraternity helped change the way of labor and the civil rights movement in this country. Young Adult

Honor Books

Nathaniel Talking by Eloise Greenfield, ill. by Jan Spivey Gilchrist
The rhythm of Greenfield's text is infectious from a very early line: ``It's Nathaniel talking / and Nathaniel's me/ I'm talking about / My philosophy/ About the things I do / And the people I see / All told in the words / Of Nathaniel B. Free / That's me.'' Her sentiments are equally affecting, but in a more sobering way; Nathaniel wonders when he'll ever be old enough not to have to answer a question ``I don't know,'' and he remembers his mother, who has died: ``Mama was funny / was full of jokes / was pretty / dark brown-skinned / laughter.'' His experiences are warmly universal, as are Gilchrist's depictions of his joyful and sorrowful moments, and both poetry, picture and mood come together in one wistful moment when Nathaniel says, ``I know life ain't no piece of pie . . . I know I got to try.'' Ages 5-11.

The Bells of Christmas by Virginia Hamilton
Award-winning author Virginia Hamilton provides a heartwarming story perfect for the Christmas gift-giving season. Full-color illustrations. Ages 4-8

Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Freedom Movement by Lillie Patterson  Young Adult

Illustrator Award Winner

Nathaniel Talking , ill. by Jan Spivey Gilchrist; text by Eloise Greenfield
The rhythm of Greenfield's text is infectious from a very early line: ``It's Nathaniel talking / and Nathaniel's me/ I'm talking about / My philosophy/ About the things I do / And the people I see / All told in the words / Of Nathaniel B. Free / That's me.'' Her sentiments are equally affecting, but in a more sobering way; Nathaniel wonders when he'll ever be old enough not to have to answer a question ``I don't know,'' and he remembers his mother, who has died: ``Mama was funny / was full of jokes / was pretty / dark brown-skinned / laughter.'' His experiences are warmly universal, as are Gilchrist's depictions of his joyful and sorrowful moments, and both poetry, picture and mood come together in one wistful moment when Nathaniel says, ``I know life ain't no piece of pie . . . I know I got to try.'' Ages 5-11.

Honor Book

The Talking Eggs , ill. by Jerry Pinkney, text by Robert San Souci  j 398.2 SAN
The author of such delights as The Christmas Ark and The Enchanted Tapestry joins forces with illustrator Pinkney to resurrect a colorful folktale that captures the unique flavor of the American South. Ages 4-8