Betty Mae Tiger Jumper

artwork C. Lisa Desimini in SHE SANG PROMISE: The Story of Betty Mae Tiger Jumper

She was a barefoot girl who readily handled small alligators and other wild creatures of the Everglades in the 1920-30s. She helped two learned medicine women, her mother and grandmother, birth babies, harvest crops and handle more, with much of her time spent outdoors. I met her as Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, News Editor, in the 1980s. She sat next to a crisp stack of her newspaper, The Seminole Tribune, as she also offered artwork at an open-air festival table. We gabbed about newswork, about her precedent-setting life as first woman leader of her tribe.  I bought more than I could afford in handcrafted Seminole Indian fabric arts. I kept in touch. On occasion she published my words in her newspaper. I was honored that she wanted me to write a book about her for children. In this, the nation’s women’s history month and also in April, birth month in 1923 of BMTJ, I’m honored to cherish her life by remembering her. First a poem from the book.

“Think of The Gigantic Glades Near The End of Land”


from SHE SANG PROMISE, used with permission of Capron Collection/P.K.Yonge Library/UF

Images and text of our creative illustrated biography for students of Betty Mae Tiger Jumper were approved with her/her family and tribe leaders. An esteemed leader, her son, Moses Jumper Jr. contributed a letter to readers. Honors for the book include those from the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum,  and at the blog of Dr. Debbie Reese who created American Indians in Children’s Literature. It also earned a place on curated lists such Social Justice Books. Other honors for She Sang Promise, The Story of Betty Mae Jumper include from the National Council on the Social Studies and the Library of Congress, which selected it for the National Book Festival. It won the Florida Book Award. I’m grateful to publisher National Geographic, whose wonderful team of editors and art director took the time to bring many readers to the project and to Lisa Desimini, for her care with details and beautiful artwork.

Sally Ash/ Woodville School photograph

Navigate to more details at tabs above. You may also want to visit the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki store, where our book is available online alongside Jingle Dancer, by a children’s author I’ve long admired, Cynthia Leitich Smith.

The best book on our esteemed subject is her own autobiography, told with historian Patsy West ~~~~ A SEMINOLE LEGEND [UF Press of Florida.] For another book Betty Mae Tiger Jumper wrote, please spend time with her interpretation of her Tribe’s oral teachings, in LEGENDS of the SEMINOLES ~~~~[ Pineapple Press].

And, as an adult, she wrestled alligators to entertain tourists. Yes. As an adult. Wearing her long handmade fabric-art skirt. Such an incomparable woman!

Interview with Katheryn Russell-Brown

It’s back to days of alarm clocks and paying attention in class.
This summer I found a new author who will be easy to pay attention to, for Bookseedstudio’s first interview of the fall semester.

I met the author of LITTLE MELBA and HER BIG TROMBONE
after sweet trombone sounds accompanied her lively library talk.

It was the most musical children’s book signing I’ve ever attended.

Extra fun floated through the room of our downtown library, because Dr. Russell-Brown’s daughter Sasha, a fifth-grader, stood proudly on stage, playing select notes on her very own big trombone.
When the author kindly asked if a little boy in the enrapt audience
wanted to try out Sasha’s big trombone, he did! It almost felt like it
could be a scene from the author’s lyrical Coretta Scott King honor book, illustrated beautifully by Frank Morrison with signature elongated touches. But, we were attending another nourishing event
for readers at the LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library.


Some background, from the story

Melba Doretta Liston grew up pushing the pedals on a player piano, while
beloved aunties danced in the living room. She was blessed with a mom who
bought the seven-year-old girl a trombone on the spot when Melba spied it offered
by a Kansas City traveling vendor. She insisted THAT was the instrument for her!
The rest is history. A history not widely known.
But it’s told for young readers via a spirited storytelling style in LITTLE MELBA.

Melba was one of the first women of any race to become a world-class trombone virtuoso – playing, composing and arranging. The back-of- the-book material shows a photograph of Melba with Quincy Jones. She also played for many others,
including Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin and the Supremes.

artwork c. 2014 copyright, al rights reserved FRANK MORRISON from Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

artwork c. 2014 copyright, al rights reserved FRANK MORRISON from Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

Melba experienced discrimination based on her race and for being a woman in a male-dominated artistic realm. Yet she performed all over the world, received many honors such as Jazz Master designation from the National Endowment for the Arts, and she eventually formed her own band. She was composing as recently as the 1990s. She was born in 1926 and died in 1999.

You might suspect the author is a music teacher but at the University of Florida College of Law, she is Dr. Katheryn Russell-Brown, professor of law and
director of the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations.

I know you’ll want to learn more about the author of LITTLE MELBA and HER BIG TROMBONE (Lee & Low Books) so let me bring her onstage.

Favorite music to listen to.
I’m a rhythm & blues girl, with particular affection for 1970s r & b. My list of favorite bands and singers is long. Let’s see, I love Earth Wind & Fire, the Isley Brothers, the O’Jays, the Spinners, James Brown, the Emotions, the Whispers, Maze, Stevie Wonder, Heatwave, the Commodores, Rufus, Kool & the Gang, the Jackson 5, Deniece Williams, the Dramatics…. I could go on for pages, there were so many amazing groups of musicians.

Author you’d like to meet.
Hands down, Toni Morrison. She writes with a twinkle in her eye. She is a masterful writer. Her fiction has received lots of attention but she also wields a mighty pen when writing non-fiction (“Birth of a Nation ‘Hood) and she’s written children’s books to boot (my kids love “The Big Box”).

What fact about Melba Doretta Liston amazes you the most?
Her incredible intellect and perseverance.

How did you learn about Melba Liston?
I heard a wonderful NPR radio broadcast in 2010 called, “Melba Liston: Bones of an Arranger,” narrated by Nancy Wilson.

Some favorite children’s movies.
I have two favorites. “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (the original with Gene Wilder) is one. It was absolutely magical. I saw it at the MacArthur/Broadway Mall in Oakland in 1971, when it first came out. The movie house was packed with kids who had been dropped off by their parents.

I also love “The Wiz” (1978). The music, the acting, and the production were fantastic. I’m thrilled that it will be back on Broadway next year. I’m taking my kids!

Future projects.
I have a few more stories up my sleeve. Please stay tuned!

Thank you, Katheryn.
It will be a pleasure to listen & stay tuned for more of your books.
Here is a website about Katheryn Russell-Brown

Those of us who are filling our book baskets with titles to read
this school year will want to add in LITTLE MELBA, which is a Coretta Scott King Award Honor Book, illustrated by Frank Morrison. It fits several good connections including stories on

high-achieving girls & women

African-American role models

musical instrumentals, jazz & orchestras

Here are two websites about children’s books on girls & women
Amelia Bloomer List/ALA

KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month (article by Katheryn Russell-Brown,
which includes a link to a video of a grown up Melba, performing)

Here are two websites about books on African-American topics
Coretta Scott King Book Awards
The Brown Bookshelf

Here is a website about children’s books on music

I hope your school year sings.

Answering questions

Kathy Halsey, a retired librarian who is writing for children, wants to know:

Q: What is your writing process?

Q: What are you currently working on?

Q: And so forth.


all rights reserved

all rights reserved


First, thank you for your career, Kathy, matching books to readers.

And thank you for your 2nd career, as a writer.

Back to the first. You likely answered ga-zillions of queries from anxious writers, seeking, for example an obscure local cookbook/history about Michigan maple sugaring via inter-library loan, from upper/lost/outer beautiful Michigan. Writers are also thankful for that. (Note to local taxpayers, support your library when it wants to continue the inter-library loan service, please.)

More  A:


Here is what should be, but is not always, on hand:

Cat, to do the typing

A deadline

Good health, rested body, peaceful mind

Fair trade (no child slave labor) organic dark chocolate, early a.m. only

Guayaki yerba mate (my hubby introduced it when he returned from Argentina), also a.m. only

An idea that I think about day & night & in my dreams & during conversations about movies & while I’m eating & walking & on & on. This is crucial.

The information I find to go with that idea.


Look at that.  Very little, to get me going.

I write in a rainbow of genres. For children, poetry, picture story book, concept book (like ABCs) illustrated non-fiction, fiction in chapter book & middle grade. For adults, magazine pieces, chapter contributions to non-fiction books, my own travel guides, poetry, & mystery stories.

So let’s narrow the mass down to a bit about how I wrote the newest book, SHE SANG PROMISE.

And this will also help me answer the pressing question of a school librarian from Winnetka IL, about the process for writing this specific book.

My newest book is an illustrated story from the life of a Native American leader who became a national figure with her achievements, including a presidential appointment. But she primarily made headlines in her home state, Florida.

And for kids, it was important to research one of her career oddities – she wrestled alligators. In the late 1940s, before reality teevee. For very little money.

I needed:


Local/regional/Tribe histories

A good oral history library

An understanding of events during the time span 1920s-1980s

My subject’s memoir & other publications

Old photographs/information about period clothing

Site visits to subject’s house/reservation/museums

My subject’s permission to tell her story to children (required by the publisher, but something I desire, anyhow)

Copy of her storytelling video

Details of her adult achievements

Observation of alligators & of people wrestling them

The story of her world took place significantly outdoors, so I needed notes about the flora & fauna & geography & weather of her child days.

I needed to begin lining up expert readers, to review my manuscript.

And I probably needed a few other things, which I am forgetting, here.



When I amassed shelves & binders & paper files of materials, including my subject’s newspaper articles & columns, because she edited her tribe’s paper, I began to write.

It was clunky.

So I did what any writer does. I turned to the editor for this project.

And bless her. She sent me lovely illustrated biographies. And then she gave me titles of others, to go look up.


In the second group, I found one that lit a fire under me & is still a favorite, when I read it in school.

It was created by Jacqueline Briggs Martin & Mary Azarian.

I get prickles on my arm when I remember first holding the powder blue cover, fringed with snowflakes. This wood-cut-assisted beauty is one of the best picture books I know about a real, but lesser-known, individual of our planet (that is the sort of person I am drawn to write about. ) The book  is SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY, a Caldecott winner.

And that book about a boy in Vermont obsessed with snowflakes, was a portal into feeling that I could pick my way along the path of  the story of a girl who grew up in subtropical Florida, keeping all manner of wild & domestic creatures as pets in her own informal hot-climate, outdoors zoo. Very different children, geography & life paths.

But the SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY team’s excellent storytelling in words & pictures inspired me.


By Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Artwork by Mary Azarian

By Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Artwork by Mary Azarian

Yet, I was still not writing something to send my editor.

How to begin it ? How to begin it?

When I disliked a ga-zillion first pages, I turned to something that has always amused me since my child days when I created a little cartoon character, Beanie. And that is, doodling. And so I doodled loopy loop shapes. And then on another page, after a few shapes took shape, I dropped the pad. I was unhappy. I looked up & saw on my wall, a map of Florida. The state where my subject was from. And I picked up the pad & began to draw an outline of the state of Florida. I began in the far northwest in the Panhandle. When my thick fat dark pencil reached the southeast part of the state, words appearing from who knows where  – the stars? the swamp?  engaged my neurons: “Think of a gigantic place at the end of land…”

And that was it. I was off and running.

Because I had amassed information on aspects of the world of Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, my subject, pieces of her life that would be kid magnets, I just kept on & on with the writing. Then, because I had written too much, my editor & the editor above her, helped me squeeze out duplications, of which there were umpteen-many.

O! there were many. But they got gone.

The story is told in chronological order, assisted with luscious artwork from Lisa Desimini, a letter to children from the subject’s son, and notes of further information for older children, parents, librarians & teachers.

Kirkus said: “Short poetic stanzas join jewel-toned illustrations to sing the satisfying story of Betty Mae Tiger Jumper.”

It is an American Library Association Top Ten Amelia Bloomer book (a list of titles about exemplary girls and women), it is selected by the National Council on the Social Studies &  it won the Florida Book Awards gold medal. The full title is SHE SANG PROMISE: The Story of Betty Mae Jumper, Seminole Tribal Leader.  It is part of the Accelerated Reader program & its listed on several library/history archives as a reference on Native American topics.

By Jan Godown Annino and Lisa Desimini

By Jan Godown Annino and Lisa Desimini


Q: What is your current project?


A:  A few in the cooker. This year so far I sent several poems for children to a university publisher’s contest & also submitted to an independent publisher, a 3,400-word mystery short story for adults. Another illustrated biography that I enjoyed researching is finished, not contracted, being read. I recently had fun writing a picture book based on my revision of a children’s folksong that has cool present-day ties, & I finished poems of whimsey, on a theme, for kiddos. A third new picture book manuscript is also almost ready to send out. If any of those see a green light I will  switch off from my zippy novel-in-progress for middle grade, & revise the previous project (s). Much as I love the current story & main character set in the 1960s in Florida, I hope for the temporary interruption via the working with-an-editor phase, of one of the “finished” pieces.

Thanks so very much for these Qs Kathy. And good luck with your contributions to the mighty fine new blog, GROG.

















The mystery is history

The mystery is history


About now in the school year a search is on.

Students round up a few likely suspects:

They probe into their past. And they

create a short script, or construct a table display

or write an essay about the object of their attention.

If they are passionate and well-informed and are favored

by the local, regional and state judges, they find

themselves in our nation’s capital for the National

History Day Fair.

A shake of the dance rattle  (traditional turtle shell or

modern day metal can) please, as I mention with

pride that this time around Betty Mae Tiger Jumper,

is highlighted as a worthy subject.

She receives a fine digital shout out directed at students:

Will students look closer at the woman who authorized me to

tell her story to younger readers?

Because she wrestled alligators, she grabs attention. For grade school

age,  a creative collaboration produced the gold medal, Florida Book

Awards title, She Sang Promise: The Story of Betty Mae Jumper.

It features a letter to readers from her son, Moses Jumper, Jr. and illustrations from Lisa Desimini, with  my text vetted by

the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

What pulls middle grade students in is that Betty Mae began

kindergarten at middle school age.

High school researchers may want to explore death threats

she survived, her election as the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s

first woman leader, her role in forming a four-tribe coalition

to speak with one voice. her appointment to a presidential


The 2014 national theme on rights and responsibilities is a smooth fit

for this trailblazer.

Brava! Betty Mae Tiger Jumper. Added to a list of

non-Native men and women who our nation’s students have presented

on, since at least 1974.


all images copyrighted by the author

PLUS – an additional resource from this site (any returning readers, apologies for the previous non-working link) is:

The “p” in April is for ?

The P in April is for ?

We played a game in our family that involved verses.

When I was six, seven, eight, my Aunt Florence if she was visiting,

but more often my mother, would point to me.

Then began the count, out loud: “ 1, 2, 3….

By 10, I had to start saying a nursery rhyme or poem.

I never saw a purple cow

I never hope to see one…

Then it would be my turn to point to one of them and count,

“1,2, 3…”

O captain, my captain…”

Woodman spare that tree…”

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea…” 

That Edward Lear ditty would be recited by Aunt Florence, who would give her other kidney in transplant to a cat if it would have prolonged the pampered life she provided her felines.

It would seem silly to the sisters, Florence, Marian and Lilly, to create only one month for poetry, when limericks, light verse & poetry, including patriotic ballads, filled a walloping large part of their world.

Today it might take a college poetry class to inveigle a young person to memorize a poem. But the gals finished their high school learning that poetry is meant to be heard. They carried their memorized recitations, declamations & elocutions with them, & shared them as portable nourishment all their days.

With the memories of those performances as part of my literary legacy, I was thrilled this month to visit a public school & find that a first grade teacher I’ve always suspected of being wildly creative, intends to lead her class in learning by heart one poem ( Shel Silverstein’s -“Sick.”) Not only will her wiggly ones be challenged to recite it, but they will also be asked to create their own list poem about sick days they have experienced & to create other responses.  If there is a National Poetry Foundation or Library of Congress poetry honor for school teachers, I want to nominate her.

Also in this poetry month I was surprised to hear writer Laura Lascarso asking me for a poem as we chatted together at our downtown spring festival.

I expected to send her one on a Florida topic that is to be published later this year in a small journal. But instead I found that the hard-worked farm across the road from me in my child years before Florida, sprang to mind. I wrote a new poem thinking of that farm; the result, not light verse, is “April is Open.” I invite you to read it and please leave a word or two about it on Laura’s site.

I started poetry month with the gift of a how-to book intended for younger writers, WRITE A POEM, by JoAnn Early Macken.

I wish Aunt Florence were around to appreciate like I do, the  lines:

Scratchy cat

looking for a rat

leaps to the window


I thank JoAnn Early Macken for this guide, which brings with it a plan, tools and model poems that are sure to lure words out of little ones and into the lines of poems . She shares with us that her verse above originally was this:

Scratchy cat

in the window sat

wearing a hat

looking for rats

and then she is patient in illuminating the substance of how & why the revised lines sound better. When I am done devouring her guide (I’ve read it once & I like to read books three times through if they are the kind to inhale,) I think WRITE A POEM is headed over to a certain first grade poetry palace.

Question answer: Although the P in April is for poetry, it is also for performance.

Hop Around the Block

Your correspondent here at Bookseedstudio, Jan Annino,  is in a tag team book blog hop.   
My  thanks  to  the author who tagged me,  Anne Macdonald of the Guppy Listserv & her blog,
Anne’s Writing Life   
At the end of this blog  I tag the next author-hoppers.
And if it’s enabled on your device/laptop/ etc., I hope you like the drifting snow. I’ll see you here again next year – Happy Holidays!

C. copyright notice – as always, all rights reserved.

working title of the current book
 I’m a blithering bundle of contradictions about title choices, especially in non-fiction, where a writer works with actual factual elements. So, the work remains untitled. A contender is “Peaches,” a nickname of the subject, but that likely won’t be it.
how did the idea occur?
I enjoy snooping in accomplished folks homes that are preserved as historic sites, open to the public. My parents brought me to the subject’s farm home as a kid. One family hobby was pulling over on rural drives to read historic markers. On occasion I got lucky & the historic markers actually had sites to climb around. My interest in Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, who won the Pulitzer Prize for THE YEARLING,  hasn’t dimmed. 
what genre does it fall into?
Illustrated biography, also known as a picture book bio for children.These are among the library books that kids in 2nd through 6th grade trudge home with, usually muttering, unless they are from a nerd family, like I am. Students are asked to create & post a movie, make a play, poem, drawing, diorama, poster, or traditional report, about an individual from times past. You may wonder, who asks them to do this? Thankfully, teachers & librarians or media specialists in todayspeak, ask.
a synopsis
In the early 1900s, a future Pulitzer-prize winner who is a little kid as the story begins, delights in days and nights under the wide welcoming sky of the family’s farm meadow, creek and woods.  This immersion in nature prompts the child to perform wolf calls and tell stories for playmates,  when the family is back in the city. She is young – seven, eight, nine – when she holds her neighbor audiences spellbound on the corner steps.  Of course there is a parent hovering around, who frowns upon this unladylike behavior. But despite a fusty Mom, fame and fortune follow our gal years later, as a rugged Florida farmer-writer who introduces the world to the Big Scrub.
will it be self-published or will you have representation?
Expensive -to-produce illustrated books, which come in different colors, shapes & sizes, with a variety of end papers, pull-outs & the like, work well with an experienced editorial traditional press that  teams up expert art direction, top-drawer artists & reproduction. Some time this genre may be created all online & be as heavily downloaded as adult fiction is today.  But for now it remains a standard production as far as I know. Also, recent information suggest that for kiddos, picture books in print form are still overwhelmingly preferred, even by avid e-reading folks. See the info.
For a fun story about the loveliness of traditional, print picture books, please see a discussion about a new book about the beloved school character Lotta Scales, from Carmen Agra Deedy & Michael P. White, Return of the Library Dragon. 
how long did it take you to write the manuscript first draft?
I created a first draft fast, maybe a month, that some folks were kind enough to critique & I realized it needed much more material. Then after a research trip, I enjoyed summer months at work on it. With all the rich added details from the on-site research, which was crucial to inform the writing, the story grew too long. This iteration is in about the 7th draft & I’m able to let go of material.  After idea ignition, revision is a beautiful process.
what other books do you compare this story to, within the genre?
River of Words, about poet William Carlos Williams,  John Muir by Kathryn Lasky, with Stan Fellows, & although it’s fiction, this has some of the feel of  Emerson’s Cook from author/artist Judith Byron Schnachner.
the inspiration for this book was…
Being stuck in other works. I found myself with two in-progress stories, both at a muddy mire. One, a chapter book mystery story, suffered plot stickyness in spots. My attempts at repair weren’t the right fix. The other was a novel for middle grade with a plot that clicked , and  characters who needed crucial issues to be reworked/resolved. That wasn’t happening despite all my overworking it, changes, newvisions, moans…  So I turned my back on both & worked on the picture book biography. It was a joy to be dwelling within a subject’s real life. And to allow the other stories to marinate. Later I went back to the chapter book mystery, which came together well enough to send off for at least a read.  And then back at our key topic today, I sent the p.b. bio manuscript to an illustrator who asked to see it & has generously shared some spot-on suggestions. I am one of those who would rather keep revising & revising & revising…. I always feel there is a way to make it better.
what else about the book will catch a reader’s interest? 
The Florida that readers don’t know – wild bears and boars, strange sinkholes into the earth, a cascade of other curiosities of nature in Scrub Country, a lesser-visited region.  On a political/social justice note,  I find compelling, MKR’s unsung integration writings & individual actions such as overnight stays at historically black campuses in the segregated South – in advance of the civil rights era.
which actors would you choose to play the characters in a movie version?
This is unlikely, but it’s fun to play along. So – Mary Steenburgen channeled MKR in “Cross Creek,” the atmospheric movie and therefore it’s a challenge to think of another interpreter for those years. But I’d be thrilled to see MKR as tackled by Sally Field, who I’ve liked since The Flying Nun & Gidget days & cheered on, as the factory worker, Norma Rae & many other characters she has portrayed.  She  is currently Mrs. Lincoln on the large screen.  For “Peaches,” MKR when she’s in her child years, spying on cows in the meadow and imagining wolves in the woods, it would be a treat to see how Abigail Breslin, Isabella Cramp, Elle Fanning or any of a wide field of talented child actors would enjoy that role.


That’s it for this Q & A. Please visit other blogs next week,  for the Q/As of these tag team authors,  with links (URLs also) below.  I thank them in advance for their contributions:

Wed. Dec. 12 JANET FOX


Wed. Dec. 12  M.R. STREET

Wed  Dec. 12  ASHLEY WOLFF

C. copyright notice - as always, all rights reserved.

March music

March is a month with a perfect (English-language) name. And it carries a perfect theme- Women’s History Month. Either way, March dwells in the world of movin’ on,  heading out.

PLUS, for a good cause you can bid on She Sang Promise, my picture book about Betty Mae Jumper, at the link below.


I think of two important books for young readers,  one about a real girl who is still a girl,  far across the ocean, and one about the girlhood of a real Canadian woman. Two titles about lives where a person’s struggle to gain the right of individual choice, paid off.

As the first story I share opens, NUJOOD ALI  is living a restricted life in Yemen, the land of the Queen of Sheba, as her book relates. This helps set  the exotic scene of men who wear curved daggers in public, while girls and women are expected to remain heavily veiled and to follow all wishes that their father desires. Nujood’s father arranges her marriage. She is beaten and held a prisoner by her husband and in-laws. She is raped by her husband, who has promised not to have intercourse until at least her first period. She is a child, after all. Her  true story is told in matter-of-fact and page-turning fashion, with the help of international journalist Delphine Minoui, in I AM NUJOOD, AGE 10 AND DIVORCED.

For the experience of MARGARET POKIAK-FENTON, travel far north of the United States into the realm of Arctic Canada. Margaret’s childhood shimmers with the love of her family and her community. She is a skillful Inuit child, able to direct her own dog sled across the vast Northwest Territory ice. And like Nujood, she is ten. Her parents make a mistake. They yield to Margaret’s insistence that she be allowed to go with the exotic nuns, who pluck Inuit children from remote villages to educate them far away in harsh boarding schools for native children. Margaret will be gone an entire school year. The humiliations and emotional abuse she experiences, both from the staff and other students, along with her  strong spirit that carries her through, are a journey similar to Nujood’s. Her book is FATTY LEGS. It is illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes. And it is expertly told by Christy Jordan-Fenton.

Each of these titles is a noted Amelia Bloomer book, listed by Feminist Task Force of the

Social Responsibilities Round Table , of the American Library Association.


KIDLIT Celebrates Women’s History Month. This link connects to a lively post-a-day blog, hosted by two librarians. It only occurs in March. It’s a treasure to bookmark, to pass along & to return to online. I learned about it last year when it debuted. So happy to welcome the KIDLIT team back.

National Women’s History Museum

National Women’s History Project This is the link where my book is part of a fund-raising auction.

National Women’s Hall of Fame

Without women

Last nite my hubby & I attended a school program to cap Black History Month.

The 5th graders who opened the evening’s commemoration had a take on things that was new to me.

Their potent question to the audience was:

What if there were no black people?  They they took us through a day. How would we manage without traffic lights,  medicines & a host of items from everyday to  exceptional, that were created by black people.

Today I borrow that concept of those bright children, to ask, where would be be without girls & women?

I do this because March 1 launches  Women’s History Month.

So as a published non-fiction writer of a picture book biography about a woman who deserves more attention from this world, I’m happy to share the KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month  link to resources on women

On March 6, I’ll be part of  the KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month online community of writers who each day of this wonderful month, provide insight into a book for young readers about women’s history or about an individual woman of notable achievement.

I am keen on reading the posts of my colleagues in this effort.

This collection of essay/blogs is a gift to families, schools, young readers, librarians & to us all from THE FOURTH MUSKETEER and SHELF-EMPLOYED.

Maybe this month will be the 31 days you delve more into the story of that intriguing woman in your family tree.

I hope so!

an author to know in texas

Q & A for JANET S. FOX:  FAITHFUL, May 2010 YA novel debut author

Today’s blog is a visit with Janet S. Fox.

I hope you enjoy your meeting with her, as much as I have.

Please look for her debut novel in your store & library.

Q Hi Janet.

You’re here because of FAITHFUL,  your new YA novel which debuts later this month.

But you are already a successful, published non-fiction author.  SO…

Q How would you introduce yourself to a standing room only crowd of

librarians?  And then, please, to an SRO room of students?


What a great question! To the librarians, I’d say, “Hi – I’m a former teacher, mom to a son with learning differences, and writer. I love teens – working with them and writing for them – and I’ve got one book out for middle graders to help them with schoolwork, and a literary young adult novel out this spring that will appeal to teen girls.”

To the kids I’d say, “Read! Pick out whatever you want from the bookshelves in this library. I won’t look. I won’t ask. Just read, and have a good time with it.”

Q   What are your quirky writer habits/processes in which you trust?


I write every day. I need a bit of warm-up. Right now that involves email (love/hate necessity); I’m looking forward to the time when it means some writing exercises, like it used to. But by ten AM I’m writing full out for at least 5 hours, every day. I write on the computer. I print out and revise. In my late stage revisions I read everything out loud; then I re-type the entire manuscript, right from page 1.

Q      What non-fiction book about literature, reading, writing, or about

language, do you want new & experienced writers to read?


Wow. If I had to pick one, it would be John Gardner, The Art of Fiction. If I could pick two, the second would be Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction.

Q    What is it about history & writing about historical times, that

speaks to you?


I love research. I love the fact that I can use a voice that feels less modern, more lyrical. I love the settings and historical details. But, you know, I fall in love with characters first, and sometimes they just live in the past.

Q    What are the origins of your inventive idea for FAITHFUL?


Inventive – thanks for the compliment! My family has a cabin in the mountains of Montana. We’ve been to Yellowstone many times. I find the Park fascinating and a bit frightening – all that edge of life/edge of death stuff jammed together – wolves and bears, hot springs and geysers, gorgeous vistas and sheer cliffs that fall into raging rivers. Everything I treasure about this wild planet is right there. So it seemed a natural thing to set a story about a young girl dealing with death and her future in Yellowstone.

Q     Tell us something that happens in FAITHFUL to Maggie Bennet

your protagonist, that no other book has in it.


Maggie comes face to face with a bear. And I’ll say no more so the mystery remains…

Q     How do you want readers to feel when they are finished

reading FAITHFUL?

I’d love it if readers feel moved. If they feel that they’ve been on a journey. If they feel that their lives have been changed and they’ve made discoveries about themselves.

Thank you Janet. We look forward to seeing FAITHFUL on our bookstore shelves! And a fantabulous MOTHER’s DAY to you this year.


Thank you, Jan, so much!

FAITHFUL, debut novel by Janet S. Fox

Florida Christmas tree 2

Last year the Florida Christmas tree posted on this blog shone with lights.

No branches. Strings of lights at the Cedar Key marina

glowing in the dark like a beacon.

c. Jan Godown Annino

c. Jan Godown Annino

Now for a tree like none you’ve ever seen,

I’ve reprised an image I took years ago, during a visit with

Betty Mae Tiger Jumper in South Florida.

This tree stood tall in the Seminole Tribe of Florida

headquarters, with a palm tree nodding nearby.

The tree is typical. Maybe yours is tall & green.

Red bows are standard. So are basic balls.

But the dolls!

How many trees have you seen, where dolls are the decoration.

Handmade dolls.

Dolls made with palm fibers. And dressed to represent

Seminole patchwork clothing. For the textile, fabric art

& history buff this tree is  worth a detour.

(Respect copyright. All rights reserved with these images.)

This is a little visit, here.

Or maybe it will inspire you to plan your trip.

c. Jan Godown Annino all rights reserved

c. Jan Godown Annino all rights reserved