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Acclaimed biographer, Jean Fritz, was born in China to American missionaries on November 16, 1915. Living there until she was almost thirteen sparked a lifelong interest in American history. She wrote about her childhood in China in Homesick, My Own Story, a Newbery Honor Book and winner of the National Book Award. Ms. Fritz was the author of forty-five books for children and young people. Many center on historical American figures, gaining her a reputation as the premier author of biographies for children and young people. Among the other prestigious awards Ms. Fritz has garnered are: the National Humanities Medal, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, the May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture Award. the Christopher Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Non-Fiction Award, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and many ALA Notable Books of the Year, School Library Journal Best Books of the Year, and ALA Booklist Editors' Choice Awards. She passed away on May 14, 2017.
Gr 4-6 Jean Fritz has done it again. In her tightly woven, well-researched biography of the Texas hero, she has demystified Sam Houston by presenting the facts of his life and providing interpretations. Her writing turns this larger-than-life character into a very real person. Houston was a self-educated man who fought in the War of 1812, served as a congressman and governor of Tennessee, fought for Texas independence, served as its first president and later as governor and senator after Texas joined the union. Much of his life was influenced by his boyhood reading of hero stories, especially those of Caius Marius, a Roman general and statesman. Fritz does not glide over Houston's weaknesses such as his problem with alcohol and his marriage to an Indian woman when still married to another woman. She delights in recounting Houston's dramatic flair. He stole the show from Mirabeau B. Lamar, elected to replace him as president of Texas, on his inauguration day by arriving dressed as George Washington and proceeding to give a three hour farewell address to the extreme consternation of Lamar. Other biographies of Houston have joined the ranks of o.p., but even collections that still have them should make room on their shelves for this splendid biography.Therese Bigelow, Hampton Public Library, Va.
Fritz's wit, sensitivity and understanding of the young reader have won her numerous awards and honors. They have also granted her the ability to make history and historical figures come alive. Her new book chronicles the colorful life of Sam Houston from his boyhood in Virginia to his death in Huntsville, Texas. While this biography is not easy reading, and a knowledge of the Civil War is helpful in understanding Houston's story, Fritz tempers the complicated background material with amusing anecdotes, such as the time one of his children interrupted a senate session while Houston was the governor of Texas, by locking the senators in the meeting room. Fritz's thoroughly researched narrative is supplemented by writings and quotes by Houston and his acquaintances. Involving reading for biography and history buffs. (10-up)