Coretta Scott King Award (2010) – Bad News for Outlaws, The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshall by Vaunda Michaux Nelson and illustrated by Gregory Christie. This story is a non-fictional account of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshall circa 1884 in “in Indian Territory.” It is told in typical cowboy fashion of outlaw folklore. There is even a glossary of western words found in the text like dry-gulch and tumbleweed wagon. It is illustrated so beautifully and with such vibrancy and detail that you are really drawn into Reeves’ life as it is being told. One can only imagine the bravery and integrity that filled the man who became one of the most feared and respected U.S. Deputy Marshals of his time.
Pura Belpre Award (2012 Honor Book for Illustration) – The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R Vamos and illustrated by Rafael Lopez. This is a fun tale about farm animals, a farm maiden, and a farmer making rice pudding. It uses both English and Spanish words. It would be a great addition to a lesson plan in a Spanish class or for cultural diversity activities. The illustrations come to life and it is very fun to read aloud (even if you are just reading it to yourself!)
Sibert Medal (2005 Honor Book) – An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy. Yellow fever wiped out thousands upon thousands of people in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries alone. It was an absolutely quick and horrible way to die. Murphy delivers a very graphic and chronological account of a particular outbreak in Philadelphia in 1793 that reads more like a mystery than nonfiction. He really knows how to engage the reader and gives enormous insight into the conditions of life at the end of the 18th century in, what was at the time, the Capital of the United States.
Schneider Family Award (2015 Middle School) – Rain, Reign written by Ann M. Martin. This is the story of Rose, a fifth grader with Asperger’s syndrome. The author helps us understand some of the everyday struggles she faces at school and at home. When she adopts a stray dog, and names him Rain, her life is filled with joy and purpose. When a terrible storm hits their town, Rain is lost. Rose sets out determined to find him by contacting every pet shelter in the local radius. With sheer determination and the help of her uncle she actually locates her dog. To their shock, they discover Rain had been micro-chipped by his former owners and they want him back. Rose selflessly decides that it is the right thing to give the dog back although she is heart-broken.
Golden Sower Award (1985 Intermediate) – A Dog Called Kitty by Bill Wallace. This is a story about Ricky, who just moved with his family to live on a farm. When he was very young he was maliciously mauled by a dog and was so traumatized that he still has panic attacks whenever a dog or puppy is near. A stray puppy finds Ricky and is eager to be fed and to have a new friend. But Ricky is scared to death. As Ricky slowly develops a relationship with his new pet, Kitty, he slowly comes to terms with his paralyzing fear of dogs. It is a very touching story but contains enough action to engage readers at varying levels.