American Regional Series by Lois Lenski

lois lenski

Lois Lenski is a Newbery award winning author who wrote, among many others, Strawberry Girl.   I’d added Strawberry Girl to my Goodreads list, and I was interested once I found out more about Lenski as an author.  Strawberry Girl  is actually one book in a series that Lenski wrote about children in various regions of the United States.

American Regional Series on Goodreads

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” (183).

 

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.

 {From the Illinois State Library on Lois Lenski}

 This is such a fascinating series, in my opinion, because she chose to write history from a child’s point of view.  From my search, some books in this series are hard to find.  I only found two at my library, and some of them are out of print.  However, Strawberry Girl, jumped out at me because our family lived in Central Florida for a few years, so I was fascinated with how it would’ve been to live there – without air conditioning!

I highly recommend Strawberry Girl as a book for children to use to experience farming life in Florida.  Birdie is very protective of her family, and she has conflict with her neighbor’s son while her family learns the ways of the Florida back country.

Strawberry Girl 60th Anniversary Edition (Trophy Newbery)

The land was theirs, but so were its hardships

Strawberries — big, ripe, and juicy. Ten-year-old Birdie Boyer can hardly wait to start picking them. But her family has just moved to the Florida backwoods, and they haven′t even begun their planting.

Bayou Suzette

Blue Ridge Billy

Texas tomboy

Prairie school

If you were to have a book written about your childhood home, through your eyes, where would it be? Have you read Lois Lenski?

8 Comments

  1. Patty said:

    Thanks for posting about Lois Lenski – and the American Regional Series! I hadn’t realized the stories were a series. I stopped by from the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

    August 7, 2013
    • Brittany said:

      Thanks for stopping by to visit!

      August 8, 2013
  2. Christy said:

    I’ve never read Lois Lenski, but they sound like great books I should check out.
    My childhood home was in (northern) Alberta where there were lots of rivers, lakes, forests and rolling hills. I remember as a kid an author coming to speak at my school, about her picture book about a girl flying a kite. The author said the first publishers she talked to were from Toronto and all said it was unrealistic to have the girl able to fly a kite so close to home and her neighbours, but from where we were that was completely and totally realistic.

    August 7, 2013
    • Brittany said:

      How interesting to hear how publishers can/could really control the story and plot of what a character could do, and how you remembered it! I just don’t remember, except for a few, not that popular, rarely any books about growing up in Appalachian Virginia amongst the mountains. I see much more now, but it’s certainly interesting what children remember. Thanks for commenting!

      August 8, 2013
  3. reshamad said:

    I have to admit that I too have not heard about the series. And your review, the premise and the background of how this series came to be is really exciting. I am off to look for these at the library. Thanks much for sharing these on Kid Lit Blog Hop!
    -Reshama @StackingBooks.com

    August 7, 2013
    • Brittany said:

      Thanks for stopping in to visit! Lenski certainly has captured a piece of our country’s history; I hope they are more available in other’s libraries!

      August 8, 2013
  4. Katie said:

    Thank you for sharing the back story of the American Regional Series. I’m surprised that I haven’t read Strawberry Girl; I usually devour Newberry books!
    Thanks for linking up to the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

    August 8, 2013
  5. I have never seen this series before (maybe because I’m Canadian – but still!) Thanks for sharing them in the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

    August 17, 2013

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