A cup, usually silver, with two handles, of the type that is given as a championship prize, is traditionally called a "loving cup". The term takes on a double meaning, however, when the Souls win the State Academic Decathlon Championships. The four children who make up the team are exceptional in that they have such good, positive attitudes. In a day and age when students as young as sixth graders have insolently started asking "So what?" instead of "Now what?" (Chapter 3), Noah, Nadia, Ethan, and Julian are special. Each of them have undertaken a journey in their lives in which they have learned the meaning of kindness, and now that they have each experienced that quality themselves, they are capable of giving it away to others.
Mrs. Olinski first notices something different about the four children when she visits Sillington House for the first time. She observes Noah, Nadia, Ethan, and Julian as they "talking among themselves and drinking tea". The children do not interrupt one another, and there are "nods and smiles and obvious pleasure in one another's company". Mrs. Olinski notes how "unusual" it is "to find four sixth graders who listen to one another sympathetically, unselfishly" (Chapter 5).
Mrs. Olinski does not realize it at first, but she herself is the direct recipient of the Souls' attitude of love and caring. When they saw how cruel the other students were to their teacher because of her disability, they made a conscious decision to "give her a lift" (Chapter 4).
When the Souls win the "loving cup", their prize is truly symbolic. It represents a joint effort of love and caring that is, sadly, increasingly rare in the world.