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February 16, 2007

"Miracle: The True Story of the Wreck of the Sea Venture” chosen as 2006 Beacon of Freedom Award winner

Colonial Williamsburg and the Williamsburg Regional Library announced the 2006 winner of the Beacon of Freedom Award (BOFA)–“Miracle: The True Story of the Wreck of the Sea Venture” by Gail Karwoski, published by Darby Creek Publishing, Plain City, Ohio.

“Miracle” recalls the voyage of nine ships that left England bound for the Jamestown Colony in 1609. Days before landfall, the fleet was hit by a hurricane. Four nights later, the flagship, Sea Venture, ran aground on the reefs on Bermuda's northern coast. Miraculously everyone survived. William Shakespeare read about this event and made it the basis of his play, “The Tempest.”

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 the Bruton District of York County schools select their favorite book from six titles that are nominated by the BOFA committee.

"The final vote was very close, and the kids were enthusiastic in their decision,” said John Hornback, chairman of BOFA. “We are proud of the effort they put into the selection process.”

The award will be presented at a reception 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 10 at Williamsburg Booksellers®, which is located in Colonial Williamsburg’s Visitor Center.

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 “Miracle,” the other candidates for the BOFA award were: “Walt Whitman: Words for America” written by Barbara Kerley and
illustrated by Brian Selznick; “Trouble Don't Last” by Shelley Pearsall; “Let It Begin Here!: Lexington & Concord: First Battles of the American Revolution” written by Dennis Brindell Fradin and illustrated by Larry Day; “George Washington, Spymaster: How America Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary War” by Thomas B. Allen and illustrated by Cheryl Harness; and “Dangerous Crossing: The Revolutionary Voyage of John and John Quincy Adams” by Stephen Krensky and
illustrated by Greg Harlin.

Participating schools included: D.J. Montague Elementary School; James Blair Middle School; James River Elementary School; Magruder Elementary School;
Matthew Whaley; Norge Elementary School; Rawls Byrd Elementary School; Waller Mill Elementary School; Walsingham Academy Lower School; and Williamsburg
Montessori School.

Past BOFA winners have included: “The Captain’s Dog: My Journey with the Lewis and Clark Tribe” by Roland Smith, 2002; “Behind Rebel Lines: The Incredible Story of Emma Edmonds, Civil War Spy” by Seymour Reit, 2003; “Lottie’s Courage: A Contraband Slave’s Story” by Phyllis Hall Haislip, 2004; and “Victory or Death: Stories of the American Revolution” by Doreen Rappaport and Joan Verniero, 2005.

BOFA is a volunteer committee created by Colonial Williamsburg 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” for education and research. The BOFA mission is to establish a greater awareness of history through reading with a target audience of students from the local schools.

The Williamsburg Regional Library (WRL) consists of the James City County Library, Mobile Library Services and the Williamsburg Library. The WRL service area includes 70,000 people in the City of Williamsburg, James City County and portions of York County.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture — stories of our journey to become Americans. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. Williamsburg is located 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information or reservations, call toll-free 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg on the Internet at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121