Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bird in a Box, by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Abstract: It's 1937. America is struggling to get out of the Great Depression and 3 children, Otis, Willie and Hibernia, are about to become friends. They already have a lot in common: they've each lost a loved one, they're all reaching for their dreams and they're a lot like their hero, African American boxer Joe Louis. As their lives gradually converge to form friendship, family and love, the children learn that hope and determination can change their lives forever. In this moving novel, their trials and triumphs echo those of Joe Louis, as he fights to become the next heavyweight boxing champion of the world. Award-winning and bestselling author Andrea Davis Pinkney masterfully weaves in factual information about Joe Louis and actual radio commentary from his fights, enriching the narrative of this uniquely rendered and beautifully written novel. Bird in a Box was inspired by the author's great-grandfather, Cyclone Williams, a one-time boxing hopeful on whom the character of Willie is based. This novel captures her family's recollections of the night Joe Louis won the title and what it meant to them but it also shows how one victory gave hope to a nationwide community.

Publisher: Little Brown, 278 p

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Eliza's Freedom Road, An Underground Railroad Diary, by Jerdine Nolen

Abstract: A twelve-year-old slave girl begins writing in a journal where she documents her journey via the Underground Railroad from Alexandria, Virginia, to freedom in St. Catharines, Canada.

Publisher:   Simon and Schuster, 139 p

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Nation's Hope, the Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis, by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Abstract: On the eve of World War II, African American boxer Joe Louis fought German Max Schmeling in a bout that had more at stake than just the world heavyweight title; for much of America their fight came to represent America's war with Germany. This elegant and powerful picture book biography centers around the historic fight in which Black and White America were able to put aside prejudice and come together to celebrate our nation's ideals.

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers, unpaged

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Underground, written and illustrated by Shane W. Evans

A family silently crawls along the ground. They run barefoot through unlit woods, sleep beneath bushes, take shelter in a kind stranger's home. Where are they heading? They are heading for freedom.

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press, unpaged

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Great Migration, Journey to the North, by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist

Abstract:  The author's poetry describes the period of the 20th century when many African Americans left the South to make better lives for themselves in the northern states.

Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books, unpaged

Friday, April 15, 2011

Giant Steps to Change the World, by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, illustrated by Sean Qualls

Abstract: Pursuing one's own path in life takes courage, strength, and perseverance, as demonstrated by such inspirational leaders as Barack Obama, Albert Einstein, and Muhammad Ali.

 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, unpaged

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Roots and Blues: A Celebration, by Arnold Adoff, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Abstract: Lyrical text explores how Blues have been part of everyday life throughout history, from its origins in the sounds of the earth, through slaves' voices singing of freedom, to today's greatest performers--and listeners.

Publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Clarion Books, 86 p.

Coretta Scott King Book Awards 2012

Reading makes time pass so quickly. The American Library Association (ALA) will be announcing their 2012 literature awards before we know it! One of my favorite award-groups is the Coretta Scott King array of honors for African-American authors and illustrators.

The awards began in the late 1960's when two librarians met at a booth at the annual ALA convention. Both were trying to obtain a poster of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and their conversation turned to a discussion of the need to honor the work of African-American authors and illustrators. A publisher at the booth asked them why they didn't start an award. One year later, at a dinner of the New Jersey Library Association, Lillie Patterson was honored for her book Martin Luther King, Jr. Man of Peace. In 1982 the American Library Association added the CSK award to its nationally honored children's literature awards. (Source:

So, it's time to begin reading to find our favorites of this year's books meeting the criteria established by the many volunteer committee workers who have chosen those honored in years past. Please post your comments and book suggestions on the blog, or send them to