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Jo S(usenbach) Kittinger (1955-) - Sidelights

birds review books look

Jo S. Kittinger is the author of several nonfiction books for children. Stories in Stone: The World of Animal Fossils, a book for middle readers, explains how fossils are created, as well as providing definitions of related words. Eric Hinsdale, writing in Horn Book Guide, called Stories in Stone "clear and well written." Continuing on a similar theme is A Look at Rocks: From Coal to Kimberlite, which Science Books and Films reviewer Irene Gesiak Kelley called "a delightful, attractive, concise, and clear explanation of the three categories of rocks." In A Look at Minerals: From Galena to Gold, Kittinger describes the five characteristics that make up minerals—specific gravity, hardness, cleavage, luster, and streak—as well as the formation and uses of minerals. Karen Hutt of Booklist found A Look at Minerals "an excellent introduction to a fascinating topic."


Kittinger focused on the animal world with two volumes about birds: Birds of North America: East and Birds of North America: West, both part of the "Smithsonian Kid's Field Guide" series. The books offer simple text so that younger children can learn more about the physical characteristics of birds. They feature tips on identifying birds by size and shape, color, voice, and habits, as well as hints on bird watching and attracting birds. In describing Birds of North America: East, Daniel J. Levinson of Kliatt wrote, "This is a most attractive and useful guidebook."


Not all of Kittinger's books are science related. She has also written a series for Children's Press for beginning readers about everyday activities—such as going to the beach and making lunch—as well as moving and growing up. In A Lunch with Punch, a boy goes through the process of making his own lunch, including checking the money his mother has given him for milk and adding all kinds of other food to his lunch bag. He then shares his lunch with another student who forgot his. Booklist's Carolyn Phelan called the book "a small but satisfying package."

Kittinger once told SATA: "I have always loved books, the written word. I was on my high school yearbook staff and became editor my senior year. In college, I pursued art with a minor in biology. My art and interest in publishing led to freelance crafts designs which appeared in numerous books and magazines. But my desire was to see a book with my name on the cover. I decided to take some classes being offered locally by a published children's author. The class led to a critique group. I have to confess, without the support, encouragement, and prayers of fellow writers, I would have quit before ever realizing my dream. I began with writing fiction and received many rejection slips. A speaker at a conference of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators suggested nonfiction was perhaps a quicker road to publication. As one of those people who always loved school and learning, this appealed to me. Research was even more enjoyable than I expected. My first nonfiction query netted a contract for Dead Log Alive!


"I try to write every day but keep my family as a higher priority. When the kids are out of school, the time spent with them is valuable fodder as a children's author. Every event and activity becomes more material that I can incorporate in my writing. It is important for authors to remember that a great deal of writing goes on in our heads and in our hearts, not only in our computers. Freelance writing and/or illustrating can help writers get experience, income, and encouragement in the face of frequent rejection. I write, illustrate, and take photos for a local parenting publication, Child Times of Alabama.


"I seek to use, to the best of my ability, the gifts God has given me. I want children to enjoy learning through my books. I want them to run to a friend and say, 'Did you know. . . .'"


Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS


American Reference Books Annual, Volume 33, 2002, Shannon Graff Hysell, review of Birds of North America: East, p. 646.

Booklist, February 1, 1999, Denia Hester, review of Stories in Stone: The World of Animal Fossils, p. 972, and February 1, 1999, Karen Hutt, review of A Look at Minerals: From Galena to Gold, p. 972; October 15, 2001, Stephanie Zvirin, reviews of Birds of North America: East, and Birds of North America: West, p. 414; October 15, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of A Lunch with Punch, p. 419.

Horn Book Guide, spring, 1998, Danielle J. Ford, review of A Look at Rocks: From Coal to Kimberlite, p. 123; spring, 1999, Eric Hinsdale, review of Stories in Stone,
p. 105, and Danielle J. Ford, review of A Look at Minerals, p. 104.

Kliatt, September, 2001, Daniel J. Levinson, review of Birds of North America: East, p. 42.

School Library Journal, January, 1998, Kathryn Kosiorek, review of A Look at Rocks, p. 126; April, 1999, Kathryn Kosiorek, review of Stories in Stone, p. 149.

Science Books & Films, April, 1998, Irene Gesiak Kelley, review of A Look at Rocks: From Coal to Kimberlite,
p. 80.

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