Jean Alicia Elster (1953-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1953; Education: University of Michigan, B.A., 1971; University of Detroit, J.D.
Agent—c/o Author Correspondence, Judson Press, P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851.
Writer, 1990—. Has practiced law in Michigan and worked as an editor for Judson Press, Valley Forge, PA.
State Bar of Michigan, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Residency fellowships, Ragdale Foundation, 2001 and 2003; Governor's Emerging Artist Award, ArtServe Michigan, 2002.
"JOE JOE IN THE CITY" SERIES Just Call Me Joe Joe, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell, Judson Press (Valley Forge, PA), 2001.
I Have a Dream, Too!, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell, Judson Press (Valley Forge, PA), 2002.
I'll Fly My Own Plane, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell, Judson Press (Valley Forge, PA), 2002.
I'll Do the Right Thing, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell, Judson Press (Valley Forge, PA), 2003.
Contributor to magazines, including World Vision, Christian Science Sentinel, and Ms.
Jean Alicia Elster has felt called to be an author since she was six years old. Although trained as an attorney, she has chosen to write children's books especially addressing
the issues of minority youngsters. Her "Joe Joe in the City" series features an African American boy named Joe Joe who seeks guidance not only from his loving parents, but also from famous African American figures who he reads about in books. In Just Call Me Joe Joe, for instance, a white store owner accuses Joe Joe of vandalism, and Joe Joe—who is innocent—must work out his anger at being the victim of racism. Inspiration comes from a book about the Negro Leagues and the career of baseball star Cool Papa Bell.
Elster told the Associated Press that she wrote Just Call Me Joe Joe after realizing that her own son was growing up and would occasionally be judged in a prejudicial way. She wanted to create characters and situations in fiction that could give minority children—not just African Americans, but Asians and Arab Americans as well—strategies to preserve their self-esteem. A Publishers Weekly reviewer of Just Call Me Joe Joe praised Elster for her aims, noting that the book "addresses a genuine need" and that families can use it for "reinforcement" in values education.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Publishers Weekly, September 17, 2001, David Waters, "Jean Elster: For and About Boys," pp. S22-S23; February 25, 2002, review of Just Call Me Joe Joe, p. 63.
School Library Journal, January, 2002, Kathleen Simonetta, review of Just Call Me Joe Joe, p. 98.
Morning Sun, http://www.morningsun.net/ (March 7, 2002), Alexandra R. Moses, "Books Offer Minority Viewpoint."
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