Jane (Margaret) (Margaret Hudson) Shuter (1955-)
Jane Shuter once told SATA, "As a teacher, I always enjoyed teaching history, and was saddened by the lack of history teaching at the primary level in many schools. Most of the teachers I worked with set their own curriculum, and rejected history as 'too difficult' or 'too boring,' doubtless as a result of unfortunate personal experience!
"The advent of the National Curriculum in [England] led to a period of upheaval and change in teaching. It dictated that children had to be taught a variety of subjects, including history and geography. This led, in turn, to a need for books on historical topics that were written for children under the age of eleven. Not only were these books needed, but they were needed fast, and I was lucky enough to be well placed to help provide some. I was, at the time, working as an editor from home, so I understood book production. I had a history degree. I had also worked as a primary school teacher. So I was in the right place at the right time with just the sort of qualifications that my publisher needed. I've been writing ever since."
Notable among Shuter's many historical books are her series on the Holocaust. Each fifty-six page book, geared for middle school students, gives a brief overview of one aspect of the Nazi system. A variety of topics are covered, including the system of death camps, day-to-day life in Nazi-controlled countries during World War II, and various resistance movements. The books offer "short but clear topic explanations and above-average photos," Paula J. LaRue noted in a School Library Journal review of Life and Death in Hitler's Europe and Survivors of the Holocaust. Another positive aspect of the books, commented upon by Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochman, is the combination of "a good historical overview with moving personal accounts," as she noted in a review of The Camp System and Resistance to the Nazis.
Shuter has also written several entries in the "Visiting the Past" series, which introduce various archeological sites to elementary and middle school students. At thirty-two pages and including many photographs, these are "broad but useful overviews," Edith Ching wrote in a School Library Journal review of The Acropolis. In her entries on Carisbrooke Castle, Mesa Verde, and the Greek Acropolis, Shuter discusses the design of each structure, its purpose, and aspects of daily life around the structure. School Library Journal reviewer Roxanne Burg declared Carisbrooke Castle and Mesa Verde to be "succinct and readable" and concluded that the books "provide good introductory information in a pleasing format."
Shuter continued: "I think it is vital for young children to be provided with reference books that are accurate, informative, and well designed. I also think that it is very important that these books are written so that young children can read them for themselves. We are lucky that the days of reference books for six and seven year olds that consist of dense text, an almost adult vocabulary, and the odd black and white photo or line drawing are now behind us."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, March 1, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of The Camp System and Resistance to the Nazis, pp. 1154-1155.
School Library Journal, May, 1995, David A. Lindsey, review of Charles Ball and American Slavery, pp. 128-129; June, 1996, Eunice Weech, review of Sarah Royce and the American West, p. 148; July, 1996, Shirley Wilton, reviews of Helen Williams and the French Revolution and Christabel Bielenberg and Nazi Germany, p. 148; November, 1997, Cynthia M. Sturgis, review of The Ancient Egyptians, p. 112; March, 1999, Peg Glisson, review of Egypt, p. 227; July, 1999, Linda Greengrass, reviews of Farmers and Fighters and Discoveries, and Cathryn A. Camper, reviews of Cities and Citizens and Builders, Traders and Craftsmen, all p. 90; February, 2000, Cynthia M. Sturgis, review of The Middle Ages and The Renaissance, p. 139; March, 2000, Edith Ching, review of The Acropolis, p. 244, Roxanne Burg, review of Carisbrooke Castle and Mesa Verde, p. 262; July, 2000, Cynthia M. Sturgis, review of The Ancient Egyptians, p. 94; December 2001, Ilene Abramson, review of Ancient Chinese Art, p. 170; March, 2003, Genevieve Gallagher, review of Ancient West African Kingdoms, p. 224; April, 2003, Paula J. LaRue, review of Resistance to the Nazis and The Camp System, p. 192; November, 2003, Paula J. LaRue, review of Life and Death in Hitler's Europe and Survivors of the Holocaust, p. 166.*
Brief BiographiesBiographies: Paul Anthony Samuelson (1915– ) Biography to Bessie Smith (1895–1937) BiographyJane (Margaret) (Margaret Hudson) Shuter (1955-) Biography - Writings, Sidelights - Personal, Career