Judith Fradin

   A former teacher, Judy’s writing career began in the late 1980’s as a researcher for her husband Dennis’ books. While researching famous people from Mississippi, she unearthed the true story of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, a courageous woman who crusaded against lynchings in the United States. Judy’s discovery resulted in the award-winning Ida B. Wells: Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.

   From there, Judy and Dennis went on to co-write over three dozen books, including several featuring fascinating female historic figures: Sacagawea (Lewis and Clark’s legendary tour guide); Mary Church Terrell (a civil rights activist); and Daisy Bates, who mentored the nine African American teens braving their way into Little Rock’s Central High… and into history. The talented Fradins are currently at work on the National Geographic series “Witness To Disaster.”

Selected Reviews of Judith’s Books

Jane Addams: Champion of Democracy
Judith Fradin and Dennis Fradin
   This very well presented account of Jane Addams is a pleasure to read. Dotted with letters and many photographs, it is approachable by even reluctant readers. Explaining her early youth, from her mother’s death to times spent with her best buddy, step-brother George, and including her outspoken nature at college, we grow to know the very interesting and driven person of Jane Addams. This book does not eulogize her, noting her weaknesses, such as overeating, but does pay due tribute to a woman who was a compelling force in the social movement a century ago. Her tireless work in the face of the insurmountable did, eventually, make strides in the way poorer and immigrant people lived in this country. Her devotion to peace earned her at least as much hatred as fame, as did her social champion status, but she persevered nonetheless. Her story is an inspiration to all readers, and is proof that determination and will can win out in the end. Shortly before her death, she received the Nobel Peace prize and was recognized and appreciated as one of the most important people in America. This book is an excellent resource on Jane Addams and her era as it covers every aspect of her life and what was happening in the world around her over a seventy-five-year period, including the Civil War, World War One, and the Great Depression. 2006, Clarion, $21.00. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Kathryn Erskine (Children’s Literature).

The Power of One: Daisy Bates and the Little Rock Nine
Judith Fradin
   This excellent biography of Daisy Bates, the catalyst behind the integration of the Little Rock, Arkansas, public schools, shines with detail. The Fradins begin with a short overview of Daisy Bates’s considerable contributions to the Civil Rights Movement and a first chapter which plunges young readers right into Bates’s battle to commit to the cause. As a result, in the late summer days of 1957, her young high school age charges would integrate Central High School as “The Little Rock Nine.” The text marshals detail from numerous interview and printed sources and puzzles together Bates’s early life, her marriage to her longtime companion L. C. Bates, and her involvement with his black newspaper, the Arkansas State Press. The rise and eventual fall of the press because of white pressure is a moving story on its own and a measurement of the insidious racism that worked throughout the white community. The high-school children emerge as people in their own right, as well, and readers can see “what happened next” in a quick fast forward that tells where they went to college and their later occupations. The network of Civil Rights workers is clearly drawn here: Martin Luther King came to the graduation of Ernest Green, the first black graduate of Central High. Jackie Robinson, now retired, spoke with the group by telephone; other notables supported the high schoolers and Daisy Bates. Well-chosen black and white photos of Daisy Bates, the high school students, the day of the students’ entry into school “helped” by the National Guardsmen, segregation evidence from the times, the notes and bricks thrown through her window, cartoons by Bill Mauldin, and of the elderly Bates carrying an Olympic torch in 1996, are a moving tribute to her courage in leading. This is an important and well executed book and a valuable contribution to young people’s knowledge of the history of civil rights. 2005, Clarion, $19.00. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Susan Hepler, Ph.D. (Children’s Literature).

5,000 Miles to Freedom: Ellen and William Craft’s Flight From Slavery
Judith Fradin
   This is the inspiring story of Ellen and William Craft, a married slave couple, who flee to the north in disguise, a riveting adventure story set in the deep south of 1848. Ellen, a light-skinned African American, dressed as a wealthy white Southern gentleman and William, who was dark skinned, posed as the gentleman’s slave. They rode as passengers on trains and steamboats to reach freedom in Philadelphia. Their journey continued to Boston and finally to England where they no longer could be pursued due to the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. In England the Crafts learned to read and write and gave lectures to raise money describing their long journey to England. A highlight of the show was when Ellen modeled her fugitive disguise. With new opportunities available to them, they taught, raised a family, and opened a boardinghouse. After the Civil War they returned to the United States and began a school for black children. Their extraordinary story demonstrates the power of freedom, as well as the harsh realities of slavery. The text is enhanced with period illustrations, archival photographs, maps, and re-creations of contemporary newspaper articles. The Craft’s own book, Running a Thousand Miles, is the basis for nearly all of the dialogue. There are source notes, a bibliography, and an index. Pair this with Julius Lester’s Day of Tears for a powerful fictional account of the thoughts and feelings of slaves. 2006, National Geographic Society, $19.95. Ages 9 to 14. Reviewer: Joyce R. Laiosa (Children’s Literature).

Program Details

   Judith Fradin does school visits together with her husband and fellow writer Dennis Fradin. Their engaging visits take a variety of forms. Often they’ll showcase one of their books in particular with a slideshow. These days they usually focus on the Witness to Disaster books, or on their Lewis and Clark titles Who Was Sacagawea? and The Lewis and Clark Expidition. Judy also has two presentations for younger kids–one on an outsider artist called Mr. Imagination and another on a work-in-progress called How do You Say Grandma?.

   In addition to these presentations, they have dozens of books they can talk about. They will tell the kids about how they transform research into a finished product, spotlighting the editorial aspects and the rewriting and rewriting–and even more rewriting!–involved in each book. Having written so many books and met so many experts along the way, they have zillions of stories describing how gathering information from primary sources–awesome scientists, disaster survivors, descendants and relatives of famous people–has enhanced their lives as well as their books. The Fradins will show the kids themselves how they can do similar primary text and photo research, emphasizing what an exciting treasure hunt it can become.

   Their rates for schools visits often vary, and they are negotiable. A common honorarium for Dennis and Judy’s visits would be $1000 plus expenses per Fradin per day (with 3 presentations per day). They like working together, so $1500+ expenses (one hotel room) for both Fradins per day is fine, assuming they present the three daily presentations together rather than separately. For out-of-town visits, the Fradins prefer more than one day in an area.

Additional Information

To learn more about Judith and her publications please visit www.scbwi-illinois.org/Fradin.html.