Congratulations: 2008 AESOP AWARD goes to Ain't Nothing But a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry by Scott Reynolds Nelson
Interestingly enough, the American Folklore Society has given its 2008 Aesop Award, not to a retelling of an American folk tale, but to a nonfiction book, Ain't Nothing but a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry, a learned and absorbing account of the author's investigations into the origins of the well-known folksong and legendary railroad builder.
Author Scott Nelson provides young readers with an example of how a modern historian works to separate the mythic from the historical in the story of this landmark American character. Illustrated with numerous photos and drawings by National Geographics' editors and filled out with scholarly back matter, this learned study reads like a page-turning mystery as the author methodically works his way toward that glorious "aha!" moment when he comes upon just the right dust-covered box of crumbling documents which lead to what appears to be the real person behind the myth of John Henry, that steel drivin' man.
For my review of this outstanding work of nonfiction for young readers, see my post of July 7, 2008, here.