Oct. 14, 1893 - Sept. 11, 1974
popular and prolific American writer & illustrator
of children's and young adult fiction.
My favorite books written by Lois are . . .
Beginning with Bayou Suzette in 1943, Lois Lenski began writing a series of books which would become known as her "regional series." In the early 1940s Lenski, who suffered from periodic bouts of ill-health, was told by her doctor that she needed to spend the winter months in a warmer climate than her Connecticut home. As a result, Lenski and her husband Arthur Covey traveled south each fall. Lenski wrote in her autobiography, "On my trips south I saw the real America for the first time. I saw and learned what the word region meant as I witnessed firsthand different ways of life unlike my own. What interested me most was the way children were living" (183). In Journey Into Childhood, Lenski wrote that she was struck by the fact that there were "plenty of books that tell how children live in Alaska, Holland, China, and Mexico, but no books at all telling about the many ways children live here in the United States".The positive reception that Bayou Suzette received convinced Lenski that there was indeed a need for these type of books. Her second regional, Strawberry Girl, published in 1945, received the 1946 Newbery Medal. At first Lenski wrote about the regions which were on the way of her journeys from Connecticut to Florida. But as the series became well known children began writing to Lenski asking her to visit their area and write about them. Thus the regional books were written about many states and regions in the U.S.
I have always been intrigued by the fact that Lois traveled to each region she wrote about to do her research. Not only did she illustrate all of the books she wrote, but also for other authors.
Here's the map from 'Boom Town Boy'.
Here are the six books in my personal collection.
~ Boom Town Boy ~
Set in the 1920s in Oklahoma at the height of the oil boom, Orvie Robinson's grandfather strikes it rich when oil is found on his land. He teaches the family a lesson in values when he gives them money and they spend it recklessly. Eventually the Robinsons miss the work of the farm and learn to value both hard work and money.
You may think 'Boom Town Boy' is my favorite because I'm from Oklahoma, but 'Prairie School' is my favorite because it's about a one room school house in South Dakota.
~ Prairie School ~
Portrayal of one winter in a one-room school in rural South Dakota. Delores and Darrell, with their schoolteacher Miss Martin, use their wits to survive the Great Blizzard of 1949 when stranded in the schoolhouse on the prairie.
Billy Honeycutt, a mountain boy of North Carolina, has a busy life working on the family farm and enjoying the woods where he lives. His great ambition is to own and play the banjo. He eventually gets a fiddle instead, which suits him just as well.
~ Strawberry Girl ~
This 1946 Newbery Award-winning book portrays life for the hard-working Boyers, a Florida Cracker family developing a strawberry farm in Florida when such farming was just beginning there. The Boyers must learn to cope with their proud but lazy neighbors, the Slatters, who are squatters rather than farmers.
Suzette, a lovable young white girl, and Marteel, an orphan Indian girl who comes to live with her family, become constant and close friends. The bayou country of Louisiana serves as a colorful backdrop for the girls' lively adventures which include surviving a major flood in the Louisiana bayou country.
~ Houseboat Girl ~
Nine-year-old Patsy learns responsibility while her family lives on the Mississippi River. Patsy's great wish is that her family will stop traveling and settle in one place. She finally gets her desire to stay in one place and go to school.
The next time you're at the library check to see if these books are in the children's section. You might even find some copies at a flea market or antique shop. Also, check Amazon, that's where I found some of my books.