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Books Written and Illustrated by Lois Lenski

 

This bibliography contains books that were written and illustrated by Lois Lenski. Lenski also illustrated hundreds of children's books written by other authors; these are listed in a separate bibliography. Lenski's works in this bibliography are divided into general categories with the titles listed chronologically in each category.

 

Autobiographical Novels Religious
Early Picture Books Roundabout America Series
Early Story Books Song Books
Mr. Small Series Read-and-Sing Series
Historical Novels Poetry and Short Stories
Davy Books Debbie Books
American Regional Series Collected Speeches
Other Picture Books Articles, Essays, and Autobiographies
Seasons Series  

 

Autobiographical Novels

After illustrating other author's texts for several years, Lois Lenski was given the opportunity to be both author and illustrator. While both Skipping Village and A Little Girl of 1900 are works of fiction, Lenski drew upon the real people, places, and events of her childhood in Ohio when writing them.

Skipping Village. Stokes, 1927.
A Little Girl of 1900. Stokes, 1928.

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Early Picture Books

Jack Horner's Pie: A Book of Nursery Rhymes. Harper, 1927.
Alphabet People. Harper, 1928.
The Wonder City: A Picture Book of New York. Coward, 1929.
The Washington Picture Book. Coward, 1930.
Benny and His Penny. Knopf, 1931.
Johnny Goes to the Fair: A Picture Book. Minnton Balch, 1932.
The Little Family. Doubleday Doran, 1932.
Gooseberry Garden. Harper, 1934.
Little Baby Ann. Oxford University Press, 1935.
Sugarplum House. Harper, 1935.
The Easter Rabbit's Parade. Oxford University Press, 1936.
Susie Mariar. Oxford University Press, 1939; Walck, 1968.

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Early Story Books

Two Brothers and Their Animal Friends. Stokes, 1929.
Two Brothers and Their Baby Sister. Stokes, 1930.
Spinach Boy. Stokes, 1930.
Grandmother Tippytoe. Stokes, 1931.
Arabella and Her Aunts. Stokes, 1932.
Surprise for Mother. Stokes, 1934.

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Mr. Small Series

This series of picture books features Lenski's best-loved character, Mr. Small. This versatile hero becomes an aviator, sailor, engineer, farmer, fireman, cowboy, policeman, and father. In her autobiography Journey Into Childhood, Lenski credited her son Stephen with being the inspiration for Mr. Small. When watching Stephen and his friends playing, Lenski noticed that -- contrary to what many adults believe -- the boys never gave their imaginary automobiles, trains, or planes a personality, but instead were more concerned with being the driver of that vehicle.

The Little Auto. Oxford University Press, 1934; Walck, 1959.
The Little Sail Boat. Oxford University Press, 1937; Walck, 1960.
The Little Airplane. Oxford University Press, 1938; Walck, 1959.
The Little Train. Oxford University Press, 1940.
The Little Farm. Oxford University Press, 1942.
The Little Fire Engine. Oxford University Press, 1946.
Cowboy Small. Oxford University Press, 1949.
Papa Small. Oxford University Press, 1951.
Songs of Mr. Small. Oxford University Press, 1954.
Policeman Small. Walck, 1962.

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Historical Novels

Lois Lenski bought a house in Harwinton, Connecticut, in August, 1928, and lived there for thirty-five years. Built in 1790, the house, called Greenacres, was the inspiration for Phebe Fairchild. Lenski wanted to write a story of the house and how people had lived in it in the 1830s when the house was forty years old. In her autobiography, Journey Into Childhood, Lenski describes her motivation for the historical novels. She wanted to "describe the everyday life of people in a given period, to tell what they thought, felt, said, and did, how they got their food, shelter, and clothing" (154). Phebe Fairchild was the first in a series of seven meticulously researched historical novels for preteens. Both Phebe Fairchild: Her Book and Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison were selected as Newbery Honor Books.

Phebe Fairchild: Her Book. Stokes, 1936.
The year is 1830 and ten-year-old Phebe Fairchild is sent to spend a year with her father's family on their farm in northwestern Connecticut. Phebe's sea-captain father is off on a voyage while at the same time her mother travels to visit relatives in London. Phebe struggles to adapt to the strict Puritanical customs of her large extended rural family.

A-Going to the Westward. Stokes, 1937.
Twelve-year-old Betsy Bartlett and her family emigrate from Connecticut to the Scioto Valley in central Ohio in 1811. The book chronicles the travelers' adventures and hardships as they travel by covered wagon and riverboat to begin their new life on the American frontier.

Bound Girl of Cobble Hill. Lippincott, 1938.
When her father dies and her mother is reduced to poverty, seven-year-old Mindwell Gibbs becomes an indentured servant to her aunt and uncle. Her uncle is the landlord of a small village tavern in northwestern Connecticut in 1784 and Mindwell must work for her keep. Through her struggles, Mindwell lives up to her name and becomes a favorite with the locals. When she can no longer tolerate the neglect of her aunt and uncle, Mindwell runs away but later returns to be adopted by them with a promise of better treatment.

Ocean-Born Mary. Stokes, 1939.
Ocean-Born Mary begins her life aboard a ship carrying her parents to America in 1720. As a twelve-year-old girl living in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Mary has the unique ability to bring out the best in people. The story describes events and activities that would have been typical experiences for a child of that place and time period.

Blueberry Corners. Stokes, 1940.
Fanny and Becky are young girls in a large, poor family in the hill country of Connecticut in the 1840s. Their father is a minister and the girls learn lessons in courage, hope and generosity in the face of poverty and discouragement. They also learn that some of their wishes can and do come true.

Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison. Stokes, 1941.
In 1758, during the Seven Years War, twelve-year-old Mary Jemison is captured from her Pennsylvania home by an Indian raiding party. After being traded to a Seneca family, Mary gradually learns the native way of life and chooses to remain with them rather than return to White society. The book is carefully researched and based upon the real-life experiences of Jemison.

Puritan Adventure. Lippincott, 1944.
The children in the ten-year-old New England colony of Massachusetts Bay have been raised as Puritans strictly to work and not to play. Aunt Charity, newly arrived from England, brings fun into their lives and reminds the adults that children should have some enjoyment in their spartan lives.

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Davy Books

These small-format picture books feature the everyday adventures of a young boy named Davy: going to school, taking care of a dog, going shopping with his mother, and riding on a train. Lenski's inspiration for this series of books came from the summers she spent taking care of her step-grandson.

Animals for Me. Oxford University Press, 1941.
Davy's Day. Oxford University Press, 1943; Walck, 1959.
A Surprise for Davy. Oxford University Press, 1947; Walck, 1959.
A Dog Came to School. Oxford University Press, 1955.
Big Little Davy. Oxford University Press, 1956.
Davy and His Dog. Oxford University Press, 1957.
Davy Goes Places. Walck, 1961.

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American Regional Series

Beginning with Bayou Suzette in 1943, Lois Lenski began writing a series of books which would become known as her "regional series." In the early 1940s Lenski, who suffered from periodic bouts of ill-health, was told by her doctor that she needed to spend the winter months in a warmer climate than her Connecticut home. As a result, Lenski and her husband Arthur Covey traveled south each fall. Lenski wrote in her autobiography, "On my trips south I saw the real America for the first time. I saw and learned what the word region meant as I witnessed firsthand different ways of life unlike my own. What interested me most was the way children were living" (183).

In Journey Into Childhood, Lenski wrote that she was struck by the fact that there were "plenty of books that tell how children live in Alaska, Holland, China, and Mexico, but no books at all telling about the many ways children live here in the United States" (183).

The positive reception that Bayou Suzette received convinced Lenski that there was indeed a need for these type of books. Her second regional, Strawberry Girl, published in 1945, received the 1946 Newbery Medal. At first Lenski wrote about the regions which were on the way of her journeys from Connecticut to Florida. But as the series became well known children began writing to Lenski asking her to visit their area and write about them. Thus the regional books were written about many states and regions in the U.S.

Bayou Suzette. Stokes, 1943.
Suzette, a loveable young white girl, and Marteel, an orphan Indian girl who comes to live with her family, become constant and close friends. The bayou country of Louisiana serves as a colorful backdrop for the girls' lively adventures which include surviving a major flood in the Louisiana bayou country.

Strawberry Girl. Lippincott, 1945.
This 1946 Newbery Award-winning book portrays life for the hard-working Boyers, a Florida Cracker family developing a strawberry farm in Florida when such farming was just beginning there. The Boyers must learn to cope with their proud but lazy neighbors, the Slatters, who are squatters rather than farmers.

Blue Ridge Billy. Lippincott, 1946.
Billy Honeycutt, a mountain boy of North Carolina, has a busy life working on the family farm and enjoying the woods where he lives. His great ambition is to own and play the banjo. He eventually gets a fiddle instead, which suits him just as well.

Judy's Journey. Lippincott, 1947.
Ten-year-old Judy longs for a permanent home as her family goes from sharecropping in Alabama to Florida, where they become migrant workers. The family follows the crops north up the coast to New Jersey. The hardships of the lives of migrant workers and their children are realistically portrayed.

Boom Town Boy. Lippincott, 1948.
Set in the 1920s in Oklahoma at the height of the oil boom, Orvie Robinson's grandfather strikes it rich when oil is found on his land. He teaches the family a lesson in values when he gives them money and they spend it recklessly. Eventually the Robinsons miss the work of the farm and learn to value both hard work and money.

Cotton in My Sack. Lippincott, 1949.
Joanda's family are sharecroppers growing cotton in Arkansas. The children share in a life of hard work and poverty. A revealing tale of life among the sharecroppers, tenants, and farm-owners in cotton country.

Texas Tomboy. Lippincott, 1950.
The story is set pre-1920 as agricultural farmers were moving into the traditional ranching area of West Texas. Ten-year-old Charlie Boy Carter, whose real name is Charlotte, learns about the difficulties of ranching during a drought while helping her father with the ranch work. She becomes friends with the neighbor farm children and learns that ranchers and farmers can live in harmony.

Prairie School. Lippincott, 1951.
Portrayal of one winter in a one-room school in rural South Dakota. Delores and Darrell, with their schoolteacher Miss Martin, use their wits to survive the Great Blizzard of 1949 when stranded in the schoolhouse on the prairie.

Mama Hattie's Girl. Lippincott, 1953.
Lula Bell is a dissatisfied young girl who thinks life must be better elsewhere. Set both in the South and the North, this story shows that neither region is particularly welcoming to poor blacks. Lula Bell begins to grow up and accept responsibility for herself when she finds it necessary to help her ailing grandmother.

Corn-Farm Boy. Lippincott, 1954.
The story follows a young boy through one growing season on a corn farm in Iowa. Dick Hoffman loves to drive the new tractor and to care for the farm animals. A quaint depiction of the simple pleasures of farm life.

San Francisco Boy. Lippincott, 1955.
The setting is San Francisco's Chinatown in the early 1950s. The Fong family has just moved to San Francisco from Alameda. Felix, the eldest child, has difficulty adjusting to the move while his sister, Mei Gwen, thrives in the new environment. The siblings have various adventures and meet children from many ethnic groups.

Flood Friday. Lippincott, 1956.
Sally Graham is an eleven-year-old living in Connecticut. A major flood in the town affects most of the houses and everyone living in the area. Sally and her family are rescued by boat while one of her friends is rescued by helicopter. The adventure continues as the family must live in the high school building for a few days until the flood water recedes.

Houseboat Girl. Lippincott, 1957.
Nine-year-old Patsy learns responsibility while her family lives on the Mississippi River. Patsy's great wish is that her family will stop traveling and settle in one place. She finally gets her desire to stay in one place and go to school.

Coal Camp Girl. Lippincott, 1959.
Wilson and her brother, Jeff, are permitted to go down into the coal mine with their uncle. Later Jeff is lost temporarily in an abandoned mine. Their adventures are related to the dangers and poverty of a 1950s mining community in West Virginia.

Shoo-Fly Girl. Lippincott, 1963.
A compelling story of the life of a young Amish girl in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. When some "English" (non-Amish) neighbors move next to their farm, Suzanna, called Shoo-Fly, is curious about their strange customs and way of life. She learns to accept the value of the Amish lifestyle and that it is all right to be different from some of her friends.

To Be a Logger. Lippincott, 1967.
Set in the 1960s, Joel Bartlett lives in a rural area of Oregon. His father and male relatives are loggers who experience the typical dangers of accidents and forest fires. Joel and his friend meet a forest ranger when the boys camp out in the National Forest near their homes. Joel enjoys the beauty of the forest and decides he would rather be a forest ranger than a logger.

Deer Valley Girl. Lippincott, 1968.
Abby Peck's family live on a farm near a small town in Vermont in the 1960s. There is a conflict among the people of the valley over protecting the deer, which sometimes are a nuisance, and deer hunting. Abby's family also has a long-standing feud with a neighbor over a boundary line. Abby's mother gets a job to earn enough money to hire a surveyor to solve the dispute.

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Other Picture Books

Forgetful Tommy. Greenacres Press, 1943.
Let's Play House. Oxford University Press, 1944.
My Friend the Cow. National Dairy Council, 1946.
Ice Cream is Good. National Dairy Council, 1948.
Mr. and Mrs. Noah. Crowell, 1948.

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Seasons Series

Using a rhyming text and simplified illustrations, Lenski depicts the change of seasons as it affects children: windy days, gardening, playing outside, and celebrating holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I Like Winter and On a Summer Day include a song with lyrics by Lenski and music by Clyde Robert Bulla. All the books use a child-size format.

Spring Is Here. Oxford University Press, 1945; Walck, 1960.
Now It's Fall. Oxford University Press, 1948.
I Like Winter. Oxford University Press, 1950; Walck, 1960.
On a Summer Day. Oxford University Press, 1953.

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Religious

Living with Others. Hartford (CT) Council of Churches, 1952.

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Roundabout America Series

Responding to the requests of teachers who asked her to write stories for their students who were too old for her picture books but too young for her regional books, Lenski began her "Roundabout America" series. The "We Live in . . . " titles are collections of short stories centering around a specific geographic region; the remaining five titles feature one distinct location, such as Cape Cod for Berries in the Scoop, a South Dakota Indian reservation for Little Sioux Girl, and a World-War-Two veterans' housing project for Project Boy. All of the "Roundabout America" books draw upon the research that Lenski did for her regional books.

Peanuts for Billy Ben. Lippincott, 1952.
We Live in the South. Lippincott, 1952.
Project Boy. Lippincott, 1954.
We Live in the City. Lippincott, 1954.
Berries in the Scoop. Lippincott, 1956.
We Live by the River. Lippincott, 1956.
Little Sioux Girl. Lippincott, 1958.
We Live in the Country. Lippincott, 1960.
We Live in the Southwest. Lippincott, 1962.
We Live in the North. Lippincott, 1965.
High Rise Secret. Lippincott, 1966.

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Song Books

We are Thy Children. Music by Clyde Robert Bulla. Crowell, 1952.
Songs of the City. Music by Clyde Robert Bulla. E.B. Marks, 1956.
Up to Six: Book I. Music by Clyde Robert Bulla. Hansen Music, 1956.

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Read-and-Sing Series

I Went for a Walk. Music by Clyde Robert Bulla. Walck, 1958.
At Our House. Music by Clyde Robert Bulla. Walck ,1959.
When I Grow Up. Music by Clyde Robert Bulla. Walck, 1960.

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Poetry and Short Stories

The Life I Live: Collected Poems. Walck, 1965.
Lois Lenski's Christmas Stories. Lippincott, 1968.
City Poems. Walck, 1971.
Florida. My Florida: Poems. Florida State University Press, 1971.
Sing a Song of People. Little Brown, 1987.
Sing for Peace. Herald Press, 1987.

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Debbie Books

A series of small-format picture books which show Debbie going to nursery school, collecting a variety of pets, visiting her grandmother, and playing with her dolls. Like the earlier Davy series, Lenski's inspiration for the Debbie books came from observing her granddaughter.

Debbie and Her Grandma. Walck, 1967.
Debbie Herself. Walck, 1969.
Debbie and Her Family. Walck, 1969.
Debbie and Her Dolls. Walck, 1970.
Debbie Goes to Nursery School. Walck, 1970.
Debbie and Her Pets. Walck, 1971.

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Collected Speeches

Adventure in Understanding: Talks to Parents, Teachers, and Librarians, 1944-1966. Friends of Florida State University Library, 1968.

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Articles, Essays, and Autobiographies

"Can a Child Think?" Ed 75 (1954): 139-44.
"Creating Books." Library Journal 88, no. Oct. 15 (1963): 3987-90+.
"Creating Books." School Library Journal 10 (1963): 109-12+.
Journey into Childhood (autobiography). Lippincott, 1972.
"Miss Lois Lenski Accepts Regina Award: Address." Catholic Library World 41 (1969): 16-20.
"Regional Children's Literature." Wilson Library Bulletin 21 (1946): 289-92.
"Seeing Others as Ourselves." Horn Book 22 (1946): 283-94.
"What Are Books For, Anyway?" National Elementary Prinicipal 31 (1951): 268-74.

--Pam Day, Nancy Duran, and Denise Anton Wright

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Last Updated: 8/16/12