Ginger Wadsworth writes books that reflect her interest in the natural world. She has written biographies about several people whose lives have helped improve environmental awareness, including John Muir and Rachel Carson. She considers herself a “science detective” and loves writing about animals, where they live, and why. Growing up near the Pacific ocean, Ginger would explore the tidepools and swim in the ocean. Her family would often camps in the deserts of southwest California and spent their summers on a working ranch in Idaho. These experiences would later inform Ginger’s writing. A California native, Ginger often writes about her home state and western American history, especially young pioneers who traveled west by covered wagon. When not writing, Ginger often takes to the hills with her “writing buddies”, Willa and Scott (her golden retrievers), and a pair of binoculars. While hiking, Ginger thinks about ideas and inspiration for her books.
Ginger lives in Northern California with her husband Bill and their two dogs. She has two grown sons and three grandchildren.
Survival in the Snow
Moses Schallenberger was 17 years old when he set off for California with his sister and her husband. Their wagon train was the first to cross the Sierra Nevada range, and like the fated Donner party who made the attempt two years later, the party got caught in early winter storms. In an attempt to reach Sutter’s Fort before heavy snow trapped them in the mountains, the party abandoned their possessions and advanced on horseback. Moses and two young men stayed behind to guard their things, with the understanding that help would return for them as soon as possible. According to an author’s note, Moses’s story is based on his own recollections of the event as related to his daughter many years afterward. Orback’s illustrations capture the rugged landscape; although the human figures at times appear static or posed. Moses’s struggle to survive on his own in the harsh environment of one of the “snowiest places in the world” will engage new readers, in spite of the sometimes uneven writing. The story complements a unit on the Western Migration, giving students a glimpse of the personal side of this important historical event. 2009, Millbrook Press/Lerner Publishing Group, $25.26. Ages 6 to 8. Reviewer: Heather Christensen (Children’s Literature).
Students reading or hearing this book from the “On My Own Biography” series will get a glimpse of the history associated with farm laborers toiling in the fields to harvest fruits and vegetables as they ripen, are picked and make their way to market. This biography depicts the tireless efforts of a young Mexican-American boy, Cesar Chavez, who grew up in a hardworking loving family environment, was forced to move to California because of the depression, and labored in the agricultural fields–the same fields that were to become the battleground for protesting and negotiating for social justice through the United Farm Workers organization. The text tells of Chavez’s quest to ensure that those migrant farmworkers had satisfactory wages and improved working conditions including health benefits, appropriate tools, available drinking water, field bathroom facilities, satisfactory housing, and were free from exposure to dangerous pesticides. Written in story format, the simple text features type printed on white or sky-blue backgrounds. Soft and peaceful full- and half-page, earth-tone illustrations expressively portray the action and nonviolent emotions of Chavez and his family. An afterword and a timeline highlight important events and dates. This is a great title for introducing Chavez’s life, providing research resources, or just reading for pleasure. 2005, Carolrhoda Books, $23.93 and $5.95. Ages 6 to 10. Reviewer: Barbara Troisi (Children’s Literature).
Words West: Voices of Young Pioneers
The journey west was a different experience for each pioneer that had the courage to blaze new trails. Families, friends, and people who wanted to start a new life were willing to head to the unknown. Full of hope at the beginning, they soon realized that the trip was going to be more difficult than they had ever thought. It was filled with terrible illnesses, attacks by Indians, and other hardships; however, it was also filled with beauty, excitement, experiences, and bonds of friendships that would last a lifetime. This book is written through the voices of many pioneers, through their letters, diaries, and memoirs. The author uses a unique way of approaching that part of history and the reader can actually feel the emotions that came directly from the hearts of the pioneers. Reading some of the letters moved me to tears. This book is well organized, well written, and includes maps, and well selected archival photos and prints that added so much more interests and understanding for the reader. I can’t think of a better resource book for students writing about the West, and it should be included in all school libraries. What a wonderful book to own. 2003, Clarion Books, $18.00. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Kathie M. Josephs (Children’s Literature).
Ginger enjoys speaking to school groups of about 60 students in grades K-8. She shares materials related to her writing and book subjects (rejection letters, edited manuscripts, book dummies, press sheets, tree cones, puppets, and so forth). Her talks are customized to each school and group and generally are a half hour with a 15 minute question and answer session. Ginger also brings a limited number of autographed bookmarks for teachers to distribute, and more can be supplied.
For a single day the price is $800. Fees for a single talk are negotiable.
To learn more about Ginger Wadsworth and her publications please visit www.gingerwadsworth.com.