For generations of children, including a young Oprah Winfrey, opening a Lois Lenski book has meant opening a world. This was just what the author wanted: to help children “see beyond the rim of their own world.” In Lois Lenski: Storycatcher, historian and educator Bobbie Malone takes us into Lenski’s own world to tell the story of how a girl from a small Ohio town became a beloved literary icon.
Author and illustrator of the Newbery Award–winning Strawberry Girl and numerous other tales of children from America’s diverse regions and cultures, Lenski spent five decades creating stories for young readers. Lois Lenski: Storycatcher follows her development as a writer and as an artist, and it traces the evolution of her passionate belief in the power of empathy conveyed in children’s books. Understanding that youngsters responded instinctively to narratives rich in reality, Lenski turned her extensive study of hardworking families into books that accurately and movingly depicted the lives of the children of sharecroppers, coal miners, and migrant field workers. From Bayou Suzette to Blue Ridge Billy, Corn-Farm Boy to Houseboat Girl, and Boom Town Boy to Texas Tomboy, Lenski’s books mirrored the cultural energy and concerns of the time.
This first full-length biography tells how Lenski traveled throughout the country, gathering the stories that brought to life in words and pictures whole worlds that had for so long been invisible in children’s literature. In the process, her work became a source of delight, inspiration, and insight for generations of readers.