Jeanne Whitehouse Peterson (1939-) Biography
Personal, Career, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1939, in Walla Walla, WA; Education: Washington State University, B.A., 1961; Columbia University, M.A., 1965; doctoral study at University of New Mexico, beginning 1976.
Elementary school teacher in Pullman, WA, 1961-62; U.S. Peace Corps, Washington, DC, volunteer worker in Sabah, Malaysia, 1962-64; University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, educational director for teacher's aides in career opportunity program, 1971-74; part-time lecturer in children's literature in Albuquerque, beginning 1975.
I Have a Sister, My Sister Is Deaf, Harper (New York, NY), 1977.
That Is That, Harper (New York, NY), 1979.
While the Moon Shines Bright, Harper (New York, NY), 1981.
Sometimes I Dream Horses, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1987.
My Mama Sings, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.
Don't Forget Winona, illustrated by Kimberly Bulcken Root, Joanna Cotler Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Jeanne Whitehouse Peterson now lives in New Mexico, where she has worked in education and authored a number of highly praised books for young readers, including I Have a Sister, My Sister Is Deaf. Her book Don't Forget Winona is the story of one family's migration along Route 66 as they leave behind the Dust Bowl for a better life in sunny California during the 1930s. Along the way the family endures many hardships, including saying goodbye to one family member in New Mexico, and surviving, like many who made such a trip, on their meager savings. Throughout her text Peterson includes information about the history of Route 66 and the Dust Bowl migrations. While noting that the book's free-verse text makes the story less than ideal as a read-aloud, Ilene Cooper wrote in Booklist that the prose is "effective in setting the personal story" against its historical backdrop. Betty Carter, reviewing Don't Forget Winona in Horn Book, praised the story, noting that, "far from painting a portrait of despair, these hardships take a backseat to the upbeat family portrait that drives this story." A Kirkus Reviews critic took pleasure in the narration, commenting that Peterson's "first-hand voice brings the journey to life, personalizing the hardships the family weathers and characterizing an unforgettable little girl."
Peterson once explained that her books are based on her own experiences: "I have a deaf sister and for many years I wondered how I could share the warm feelings I have for her," she once wrote. "My father died when I was ten, and my book That Is That mulls over how it feels to be left behind."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, June 1, 1994, Hazel Rochman, review of My Mama Sings, p. 1843; June 1, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Don't Forget Winona, p. 1746.
Horn Book, May-June, 2004, Betty Carter, review of Don't Forget Winona, p. 317.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2004, review of Don't Forget Winona, p. 336.
Publishers Weekly, April 18, 1994, review of My Mama Sings, p. 61.
School Library Journal, May, 2004, Wendy Lukehart, review of Don't Forget Winona, p. 121.*