Hemphill Wins the 2008 Virginia M. Law Award
The Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library Committee is pleased to announce that the 2008 Virginia M. Law Award for the most distinguished book for young adults on Texas history is awarded to author Helen Hemphill for The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones, published in 2008 by Front Street, Inc., in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. The announcement was made Friday evening, May 15, by Connie Impelman, Chairman of the DRT Library Committee, at the 118th Annual Convention of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas in Killeen, Texas.
A three-member panel of judges comprised of historians, educators, and librarians judge the entries. The 2008 committee included its chairman Dr. Barbara Immroth, professor in the School of Information, the University of Texas at Austin, and committee members Dr. Viki Ash, Coordinator of Children’s Services at San Antonio Public Library, and Linda Plevak, Adjunct Librarian at Northeast Lakeview College in Universal City, Texas.
Inspired by the 1907 autobiography of real African American cowboy Nat Love, The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones tells the story of thirteen-year-old Tennessee native Prometheus Jones. Prometheus wins a horse with a raffle ticket he earned by breaking Colonel Dill’s filly. When Dill’s sons, Pernie Boyd and LaRue, try to cheat him out of the prize horse, Prometheus sets off for Texas with his eleven-year-old cousin, Omar. The African American boys find work with a Texas cattle drive heading to Deadwood in the Dakota Territory and encounter thundering stampedes, raging rivers, and friendly and hostile Indians. While learning cowboy ways, Omar dreams of striking it rich in Deadwood and Prometheus longs to meet his father, purported to live in Texas.
The lively dialogue and authentic characters make this an appealing adventure story for middle school readers. Creative teachers of Texas history will find this a compelling read aloud.
The Virginia M. Law Award for the Most Distinguished Book for Young Adults on Texas History is endowed by Mrs. Law’s daughter, Nancy M. Law, and sponsored by the DRT Library. It is given annually to the author/illustrator of the most distinguished book for young adults, grades 7-12, that accurately portrays the history of Texas, whether fiction or nonfiction.
Mrs. Law, for whom the award is named, was an active member of the Alamo Mission Chapter, Daughters of the Republic of Texas; an enthusiastic supporter of the purposes and efforts of the DRT; and a strong proponent of education.
Please see the DRT Library’s website for information about past winners of the Law Award.