Jane Addams Peace Association News

The final installment of our six part series on the 2014 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Ceremony features the introduction given by Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards Committee member Julie Olsen Edward for Brave Girl written by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, named the winner in the Books for Younger Children category.

Introduction by Julie Olsen Edward

Imagine: You are 14 years old. You arrive in the U.S. with almost no English. You deeply want to go to school to read, to learn ? but your father does not find work, so you pick up your sewing machine and you go to work, making blouses (called shirtwaists) ? in an unsafe factory where the doors are padlocked so you cannot leave.

Imagine: In this factory (as in all the factories across the U.S.) you must work ten - twelve hours a day. If you prick your finger on a pin and get blood on the cloth, or if you have to leave your machine to go to the bathroom - you are fined. And for all your hard work you earn just a few dollars a month - while the factory owners grow rich on your labor.

Imagine: You understand how wrong this is. You realize that it’s not just you who is being treated so unfairly, but workers all across the city. Imagine struggling with English, but speaking up, louder and louder - calling for the right to organize. Calling for safe working conditions. Calling for a living wage.

Brave Girl is the true story of that 14 year old immigrant, Clara Lemlich, who became the voice of the 1909 General Strike in which 40,000 women from across New York closed down the shirtwaist factories and led the way for workers across the U.S. to strike for their rights too.

In the book, Brave Girl, author Michelle Markel writes with crisp, compelling power about Clara’s courage and about the importance of what she accomplished. Melissa Sweet’s illustrations vividly show the details (Clara’s hand in handcuffs - she was arrested 19 times! - the padlocks on the factory doors) - and in full page paintings, show the depth and power of Clara’s efforts.

Together Michelle and Melissa have crafted a book that speaks to concerns still alive today: a living wage - worker’s rights to organize - the importance of our immigrant populations - and leave us with the promise that in the U.S. “wrongs can be righted, warriors can wear skirts and blouses, and the bravest hearts may beat in girls only five feet tall.”

Michelle Markel’s Acceptance Speech

I can’t think of a more meaningful honor for Brave Girl. I’m crazy happy thrilled about this award, and thrilled that you’re celebrating a book about the struggle of working people - of immigrants, and of women - in America. This has been an overlooked subject for picture books, but its time has come.

On a personal note, I was thinking about my father on the plane coming out here. He was the son of Russian immigrants, an airline mechanic and president of his machinist’s union. He had a good job, and dignity, and was able to provide well for his family and give us as much culture as he could- bread and roses- and that union is greatly responsible for my being here today.

But there are many other people who made this possible.

I’m indebted to Melissa Sweet, for her exuberant and textured illustrations, to my publisher, Balzer and Bray/Harper Collins for their impeccable taste and vision, to my editor Kristin Rens and the whole team that got the word out about this book.

Brave Girl is only one chapter in the long remarkable life of Clara Lemlich. She
unionized garment workers, she led rent and consumer strikes, she fought for suffrage and worked for peace and in her 90’s at an old age home she organized the orderlies.

For my book, I focused on Clara’s pivotal role in the strike of the 20,000 because it was a dramatic story that could engage young people.

The story takes children to a dark period in our country’s past, when immigrant girls, teens and women were locked in factories, and treated little better than slaves, with long hours, low wages, and other inhumane conditions.

But in these trying times, there were brave souls who believed that in America, people could and should do better. Clara and the other girls refused to be cowed by their bosses or limited by the low expectations of the male garment workers. They battled hunger, violence, and a cold winter but ultimately prevailed. Their fight for the right to unionize helped bring us the five day work week, pay for over time, and other human decencies.

My wish is that this story will spark discussions in classrooms about issues that are as relevant today as ever- our social responsibility to workers, the power of collective action, and misperceptions about the strength of women.

I would love to be able to tell Clara about this award, but failing that, I was able to tell her grandchildren about it. A few months ago I had the privilege of meeting Julie Velson, Joel Schaffer, and David Margules. They’re delighted with the recognition their grandmother is receiving, and were happy to give me a message I could bring back to you.

Julie said that her family’s legacy was that change was possible. She stressed the importance of teaching children about massive social movements. It was those collective movements that brought us 8 hour work days, the war on poverty, and other great pieces of legislation.

Joel said, and I quote, “Clara was just a regular person who did unusual things. But it’s something that everyone can do… What she did was she got up and said ‘Enough! Enough of this! I think its time to fight.’ Everyone is faced with that at some point…”

David wanted children to know that “you too can be a Clara Lemlich.”

The overall message from Clara’s family was, that compassion, and action, should not be extraordinary, they should be ordinary.

I hope Brave Girl is just the beginning. There are so many untold stories about labor history and immigrant workers, and women leaders- that can enlighten and inspire children. We’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

As Clara’s daughter told her son, about his labor activism,
“it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”

Now we’re on our way! Thank you for being so supportive of such an important subject, and thank you for this incredible award.

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Since 1953, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award annually acknowledges books published in the U.S. during the previous year. Books commended by the Award address themes of topics that engage children in thinking about peace, justice, world community and/or equality of the sexes and all races. The books also must meet conventional standards of literacy and artistic excellence.

A national committee chooses winners and honor books for younger and older children.

Click here to read more about the 2014 Awards. http://www.janeaddamspeace.org/jacba/2014summary.shtml

This concludes our sixth installment of the six part series leading up to the announcement of the 2015 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Winners and Honorees.

Happy Tax Day!

WV Book Festival to return with big-name authors

New York Times best-selling authors Neil Gaiman, Jodi Picoult, Jacqueline Woodson and Jeff Shaara will headline the book festival, which will be hosted by the Kanawha County Public Library in Charleston Oct. 23-24.

Read More | Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson 2013 Awardee
From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson 1996 Awardee
I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson 1995 Awardee


Trini among writers shortlisted for literary award

And Dancing in the Rain by Lynn Joseph, the author of several other successful children’s and young adult books, is gripping in its depth of emotion, strong plot and realistic handling of relationships and conflicts. Lynn Joseph is a Trinidadian author of several books for children, including A Wave in Her Pocket, The Mermaid’s Twin Sister, An Island Christmas, Jump Up Time: A Carnival Story, and Coconut Kind of Day, and two Young Adult novels, The Color of My Words and Flowers in the Sky.

Read More | The Color of My Words by Lynn Joseph 2001 Awardee


Kentucky Writers’ Day and Poet Laureate Induction is April 24

“Then you step out into footlight’s / dazzle all hope and high hearts.”
Those two lines from Lexington writer George Ella Lyon’s poem “Debut” are appropriate as she steps into the spotlight to be inducted as Kentucky’s poet laureate at 10 a.m. April 24, in the Capitol Rotunda as part of Kentucky Writers’ Day.

Read More | You and Me and Home Sweet Home by George Ella Lyon and Stephanie Anderson 2010 Awardee


Lafayette teen book fest: Female young adult authors pushing boundaries

Orinda author Mitali Perkins is one of the local authors taking part in the Teen Book Fest on April 14, in Lafayette

Read More | Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins 2008 Awardee


Jewell Parker Rhodes: Living the Dream and Writing for Children: Children’s Institute 2015

Despite her lifelong compulsion to tell stories, to write, and that brief brush with third-grade literary fame, Rhodes says she “never once thought” that she could actually become a published author because she never read any books during her childhood “that had any diversity.” There were neither characters with her skin color nor any whose lives reflected her own experience of being raised in the inner city by her grandparents after her mother abandoned her as an infant.

Read More | Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes 2014 Awardee
The Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes 2011 Awardee


Book Launch for Ann Bausum, author of Stonewall

A Room of One’s Own is excited and honored to host Ann Bausum for the launch of her new book for young adults and up detailing the history of Stonewall and its impact on the gay rights movement in America.

Read More | Marching to the Mountaintop: How Poverty, Labor Fights and Civil Rights Set the Stage for Martin Luther King Jr’s Final Hours by Ann Bausum 2013 Awardee
With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Vote by Ann Bausum 2005 Awardee


Van Dusen, Sweet get Maine book awards

Midcoast children’s book authors and illustrators Chris Van Dusen and Melissa Sweet were honored during the Maine State Library’s 26th annual Reading Roundup convention April 9 at the Augusta Civic Center.

Read More | Brave Girl illustrated by Melissa Sweet 2014 Awardee

The fifth installment of our six part series on the 2014 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Ceremony features the introduction given by Member of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards Committee Lani Gerson for Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes, named the winner in the Books for Older Children category.

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Introduction by Lani Gerson:

It is thrilling to be here today, introducing Jewell Parker Rhodes and her gift to us - Sugar. Sugar, the title of this winning novel is also the name of its ten-year-old heroine. And, Sugar is a great heroine ? a spunky, inspiring role model for today?s young readers. Jewell has succeeded in writing a finely tuned historical novel about a time and a place that many don?t know much about. Set in Reconstruction-era Louisiana on the banks of the Mississippi, this story takes the reader through the cycle of seasons in the planting, growing and harvesting of sugar cane.

Left behind by the more able-bodied, who have moved on into newly found freedom, Sugar, alone, without parents, has stayed on in a former slave enclave with the old and the infirm. Her mother is dead; her father was sold away from her years before. Cared for by an older couple, Sugar joins them in the arduous work of the fields, but she yearns for more.

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The plantation owner, worried about his dwindling labor force brings in a group of Chinese workers from Guyana. And, in many ways, the arrival of these strangers from another part of the world opens up dreams and possibilities of a better future for Sugar. Through her friendship with Bo, the youngest of the newcomers, a tenuous bridge is built between the two oppressed communities. Sugar’s one other friend and playmate is Billy, the white plantation owner’s son. Although it is a friendship fraught with ups and downs and met with general disapproval, the friendship nevertheless points to a better future when such friendships might bring understanding and healing.

By weaving together allegorical images as well as folk tales from both the African American and Chinese traditions, Jewell has added texture and depth to the painful stories of hard times in this novel. The novel is filled with life, with facts of history seamlessly told in Sugar?s voice with sadness, realism and humor.

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Author Jewell Parker Rhodes is the Piper Endowed Chair and founding artistic director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. She is an award-winning author of numerous books for adults and for children. These include a book entitled Ninth Ward, an earlier JACBA honor book for older children. Somehow Jewell also makes time in her productive life to travel throughout the world, teaching creative writing to middle, high school and college students.

Thank you, Jewell, for your fine book, Sugar, published by Little, Brown and Company. It is my honor and pleasure to introduce you as the winning author of this year’s Jane Addams Children?s Book Award for older children.

Acceptance Remarks by Jewell Parker Rhodes:

I am so honored by the Jane Addams Award. Thank you committee members. I am also honored to be sharing the company of so many esteemed authors. Today is an absolute thrill.

I?ve chosen to forget most of my childhood, but I haven?t forgotten all the wonderful teachers and librarians who fed me books. I was often a sad young girl?abandoned by my mother, raised in poverty. I preferred books where animals or people were rescued and overcame challenges. The story of the horse that didn?t become dog stew or the abused dog that found a loving home or the Little Princess who went from rags to riches, all appealed to me. I also remember vividly reading a children?s book about Hull House and wishing Ms. Addams would come to my neighborhood, too. (Little did I know I?d be accepting a book award in her honor!)

As a child, books saved me, kept me alive emotionally and spiritually.

My family called me the? little professor? because all I ever wanted was books?for my birthday, for Christmas, for every day, books and more books. Never once did I dream that I would actually become a professor.

It wasn?t until I was a junior in college that I discovered black people wrote books. Within a day I switched my major to English/Creative Writing. Curriculums with non-diverse books had limited my dreaming. But at Carnegie-Mellon University, it felt as though the librarian had placed a book right near the entrance just so I could see it and affirm my right to become a writer, to tell culturally inspired stories.

As a young woman, I discovered my true love, my husband, Brad, who for thirteen years put up with my whining??I?ll never be a published writer? ?until my first novel for adults was published.

Now here is the truest secret?I ALWAYS wanted to write for children. That was my highest aspiration. I needed every book I read as a child to keep me kind, loving, and more humane. While the children?s authors I read didn?t provide a mirror of me, they did provide a window into a wider, better world.

So, I wrote nine books for adults practicing, getting ready to give my best effort to youth?for they deserve it. Now I am living my truest writing life?it took me six decades to achieve it. What I like best about Sugar is her resilience and spunk. (I used to hide in the closet. I?d wait for my Grandmother to call?and once feeling affirmed that I had been missed me, I?d exit from beneath the piles of winter coats.)

Sugar, literally, appeared to me. One day I was doing dishes and I turned around and there she was!?this beautiful black girl?hands on her hips, demanding, ?How come I have to work, how come I can?t play? How come I?m not free??

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Special thanks go to my editors?Allison Moore and Liza Baker. And special thanks goes to Victoria Stapleton, Director of Little Brown School and Library Marketing. Victoria puts Sugar into the hands of teachers and librarians who will feed Sugar?s courageousness and love of adventure to kids. The Jane Addams Award closes the circle. The award makes it more likely that the child who needs to read Sugar will receive it and be reminded to be resilient, that the world is a good place, prejudice is wrong, and that friendships can thrive across cultures.

Thank you for the splendid honor of the Jane Addams Book Award for Older Children.

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Since 1953, the Jane Addams Children?s Book Award annually acknowledges books published in the U.S. during the previous year. Books commended by the Award address themes of topics that engage children in thinking about peace, justice, world community and/or equality of the sexes and all races. The books also must meet conventional standards of literacy and artistic excellence.

A national committee chooses winners and honor books for younger and older children.

Click here to read more about the 2014 Awards. http://www.janeaddamspeace.org/jacba/2014summary.shtml

This concludes our fifth installment of the six part series leading up to the announcement of the 2015 Jane Addams Children?s Book Award Winners and Honorees.

The fourth installment of our six part series on the 2014 Jane Addams Children?s Book Award Ceremony features the introduction given by co-chair of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards CommitteeMarianne Baker for Brotherhood by Anne Westrick, named an Honor Book for OlderChildren.

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Brotherhood by Anne Westrick and published by Viking is a 2014 Honor Book for Older Children. Uneasy in Reconstruction-era Virginia, Shad feels torn between conflicting loyalties when teachers at a controversial school for freed slaves, including an African American girl his own age, are able to help with his dyslexia at the same time that he is reveling in the sense of community and comradeship he feels with his recent induction into the newly formed Ku Klux Klan. Choosing between his new understanding of the African American community and his family and community results in hard choices and no easy answers in this look at a complex period of our history.

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Marianne Baker, Charlottesville, VA, co-chair of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards Committee (on left) introduced Westrick (on right) at the Awards Ceremony.

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Since 1953, the Jane Addams Children?s Book Award annually acknowledges books published in the U.S. during the previous year. Books commended by the Award address themes of topics that engage children in thinking about peace, justice, world community and/or equality of the sexes and all races. The books also must meet conventional standards of literacy and artistic excellence.

A national committee chooses winners and honor books for younger and older children.

Click here to read more about the 2014 Awards. http://www.janeaddamspeace.org/jacba/2014summary.shtml

This concludes our fourth installment of the six part series leading up to the announcement of the 2015 Jane Addams Children?s Book Award Winners and Honorees.

Henry Beston’s The Outermost House: A parallel world of unknown sensation
By Sy Montgomery

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Much of my work as a science writer and author has been spent considering these wonders. The discoveries about animals’ powers expand our consciousness, opening up to us the equally real, equally rich, and equally valuable sensory worlds that exist parallel to our own.

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Read More | Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery 2013 Awardee


Naomi Shihab Nye: Palestine and poetry meet at Cuirt

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Whereas so many political poems ? especially those on subjects as emotional as Palestine ? are about as artistic as a woman with mad, staring, eyes repeatedly banging a galvanised shed roof with a bit of lead pipe, Shihab Nye’s poems on the subject manage to speak plainly, to allow room for the nuance always present in any such situation ? however apparently white and black ? and, crucially, to retain their sense of humour.

Read More | Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye 1998 Awardee
Sitti’s Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye 1995 Awardee


Exhibits kick off for the Big Read in St. Croix Valley

…Libraries and art organizations have been gearing up for April 2015 and the collaborative regional program. Although each interpretation of the book is up to the artist, they are all inspired by “Love Medicine.”

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“Home Dreams,” 3-D mixed media, by Jennica Kruse of Minneapolis, will be on display at ArtReach St. Croix as part of a special exhibit in April.

Read More | The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich 2000 Awardee



© 2015 Jane Addams Peace Association

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