Jane Addams Award for Peace and Justice

jane addams award

“The Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards are given annually to the children’s books published the preceding year that effectively promote the cause of peacesocial justiceworld community, and the equality of the sexes and all races as well as meeting conventional standards for excellence.” From the Website http://www.janeaddamspeace.org/jacba/


oney judge

McCully, Emily Arnold. The Escape of Oney Judge. Farrar Straus Grioux, 2007. 32 pages. $17.99

ISBN-13: 978-0374322250

Picture Book Biography

Age Range: 7-12

Rating: 4 out of 5 for quality, 1 out of 5 for popularity.

Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, 2008

Oney Judge is a slave belonging to George and Martha Washington. Although she is treated well by her owners, the reality of her life was one in which her decisions and family relations were not hers to dictate. As Martha Washington talks about her eventual death, she tells Oney that she will be passed on to a relative. Oney is appalled at the fact that she will be forced to separate from her family and work for people who she doesn’t like. The book is filled with many small examples of the ongoing injustices of life as a slave and one feels for Oney when she makes her escape through the resources of local friends. I found it very interesting that because of the status of her owners, her escape had to be kept hushed to an extent that even though they knew where she was, the Washingtons could not really do anything to get her back. The illustrations are lovely and vibrant, giving this interesting story life and movement. The facial expressions are particularly interesting, Martha Washington is often of sour disposition, or totally oblivious.  I am very drawn to the idea of an award for children’s books that emphasize peace and justice, and this one has some themes that are better suited to children that have a bit more experience in the world than a preschooler.

Read Alikes

Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine

Taking Liberty: The Story of Oney Judge by Ann Rinaldi

Book Discussion

  1. Why does Oney run away? How does she manage to stay independent.
  2. One of the reasons Oney resents slavery is the loss of control families have to stay together, yet in order to be free she has to leave her family. How do you think that makes her feel?

Book Talker

If Martha Washington were your boss, you might have a life of ease and prestige, but what if she owned you. What if you could not use you skills or knowledge to pursue your own career or interests? What would you do if you had to choose between freedom and your family?


Author Website http://www.emilyarnoldmccully.com/

Historical Biographical Note from Mount Vernon http://www.mountvernon.org/educational-resources/encyclopedia/oney-judge

Brief Interview with author at the blog Historically Speaking http://nancycastaldo.blogspot.com/2007/09/interview-emily-arnold-mccully.html

 planting trees of kenya

Nivola, Claire, A. Planting the Trees of Kenya: The story of Wangari Maathai. Frances Foster Books, 2008. 32 pages. $18.99 ISBN-13: 978-0374399184

In an effort to overcome deforestation in Kenya, Wangari recruits other women to slowly plant trees, an effort which wins her the Nobel Prize.

Picture Book Biography

Age Range:  5-12

Rating: 5 out of 5 for quality, 3 out of 5 for popularity.

Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, 2009

ALA Notable Book, 2009

When Wangari was a little girl, Kenya was a lush, green, beautiful place. After returning home from pursuing a biology degree in the United States, she finds her home trees gone and the fields and streams replaced with tea plantations. This transition took away the trees families used for firewood and fuel, as well as the gardens used to feed them. Wangari said “When we see that we are part of the problem, we can become part of the solution.” With this in mind she began to organize the local women to plant trees to help hold the topsoil and replace the fields to graze the cattle and goats. She spread her mission and over 30 million trees were planted in 30 years. This story is not only exceptionally inspirational by itself, this telling is simple, moving, and beautiful. Nivola’s illustrations are incredibly detailed, full of color, liviness and beauty.   This author has done other beautiful biographies of strong, environmentally aware women, so I would collect and recommend anything by here, but this book is especially beautiful.


Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya Donna Jo Napoli

The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel

Book discussion questions

  1. Why did Wangari organize women to plant trees?
  2. Who else did she recruit into her work?

Book talking

Are there trees where you live? How about grass and bushes? What if you left and came back and your home was empty of all you remembered being beautiful? What would you be willing to do to make it better?


Interview with author at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?p=2104


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