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February 16, 2005

"Lottie's Courage" chosen as Beacon of Freedom Award winner

Colonial Williamsburg and the Williamsburg Area Regional Library recently announced the 2004 winner of the Beacon of Freedom Award (BOFA). “Lottie’s Courage: A Contraband Slave’s Story” by Phyllis Hall Haislip of Williamsburg, Va., is a novel based on the experiences of runaway slaves who found refuge at Virginia's Fortress Monroe during the Civil War.

BOFA is an annual children’s literature award that focuses on early American history up to 1865. Each year fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders from the City of Williamsburg, James City County and Bruton District of York County schools select their favorite book from eight titles that were nominated by the BOFA committee.

“The Beacon of Freedom Award is always special because the children who read the books choose the winner,” said John Hornback, chairman of the committee and an inventory buyer for Colonial Williamsburg. “But this year it is more special with the winning author being a local resident and having her attend the award ceremony.”

Haislip will be honored at a reception 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24 at Williamsburg Booksellers, which is located in Colonial Williamsburg’s Visitor Center. “I’m deeply honored that ‘Lottie’s Courage’ has won the Beacon of Freedom Award,” she said. “My thanks to the librarians, teachers and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation who have supported the book. My thanks to the children who have taken Lottie into their hearts.”

Books submitted for consideration for the award have a history line between 1607 and 1865 and are in the following categories: Biography, Fiction, Non-Fiction and Illustrations/Picture Book. In addition to “Lottie’s Courage,” the other top 2004 books were “The Hatmaker’s Sign: A Story of Benjamin Franklin” by Candace Fleming and “A Young Patriot, The American Revolution as Experienced by One Boy” by Jim Murphy.

Participating schools included: Rawls Byrd Elementary School, Norge Elementary School, Waller Mill Elementary School, Magruder Elementary School, Clara Byrd Baker Elementary School, Matthew Whaley Elementary School, James River Elementary School, Stonehouse Elementary School, D.J. Montague Elementary School, Williamsburg Montessori School, Williamsburg Christian Academy and Walsingham Academy Lower School.

BOFA is a volunteer committee created by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the Williamsburg Regional Library. BOFA takes its name from comments made by Colonial Williamsburg benefactor John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1934 that the restored city would serve as “a beacon light of freedom” to the rest of the world. The BOFA mission is to establish a greater awareness of history through reading with a target audience of students from the local schools.

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Penna Rogers
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