My Great-Aunt Arizona Paperback – Mar 14 1997
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From Publishers Weekly
The author of The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree and Littlejim again demonstrates her skill as a graceful, affecting storyteller. In spare yet stirring prose, she recounts the life of her great-aunt Arizona, who "was born in a log cabin her papa built . . . in the Blue Ridge Mountains." Arizona and her younger brother attended a one-room school, helped tap the maple trees in spring and "caught tadpoles in the creek." Later, she went away to school, and returned to teach in the same schoolhouse where she herself learned. For 57 years, Arizona hugged her students, and "taught them words and numbers, and about the faraway places they would visit someday." Lamb's bustling paintings--with glowing characters straight out of Laura Ingalls Wilder--convey the timeless beauty of the region, as well as Arizona's warmth and charisma. Though her great-aunt died at the age of 93, Houston concludes that she "travels with me and with those of us whose lives she touched. . . . She goes with us in our minds." Readers will be among the many touched by this very special relative. Ages 6-9.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3-- Arizona, a child of the Blue Ridge, is named by her older brother, a cavalryman out West. As she grows up, she longs to visit the faraway places she learns about, but life doesn't offer her those opportunities. Her mother dies and she takes on family responsibilities. Still she becomes a teacher in spite of the obstacles in her path. For 57 years, she teaches generation after generation of students in her one-room schoolhouse, describing for them the wonders of the larger world that she herself has never seen and inspiring in them the satisfaction of learning. Even after her death she still walks with those whose lives she has touched. The text is superimposed over Lamb's full-page paintings. The pictures reflect an idyllic world of light-filled joy and simplicity. Roads, fences, and houses all fit into the landscape of woods and hills as though placed there by nature rather than by human hands. Arizona ages from a baby to a woman in her 90s gracefully and unaffectedly, keeping her high-button shoes and her aprons. The continuity of her life seems to flow from Lamb's brushes, filled with light and color, and her connection to the future is beautifully expressed in the painting of the road curving out of sight into the misty forest. Thanks to Houston and Lamb, readers can still enjoy Arizona's optimism and determination. --Ruth Semrau, Lovejoy School, Allen, TX
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
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The author's Great Aunt, Arizona Houston Hughes was born on Henson Creek in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She attended a one room school house and from the very start, dreamed of visiting far away places and seeing wonderful sights. The story follows the little girl, Arizona, as she grows from a young girl to a woman, a wife, mother and teacher. Yes there were hardships, obstacles placed in front of her, but her obvious determined spirit prevailed. Through sheer stubbornness and will, Arizona does indeed receive her teaching certificate and begins her life long teaching career teaching in the little one room schoolhouse where she herself attended.
The story follows the author's aunt through marriage, the birth of her child and her final retirement from a profession in which she excelled. Mrs. Arizona Houston Hughes ended teaching several generations of fourth grade students and having a great impact on their lives. She lived to the age of 93.
This is a well written work. The author's low keyed, yet precise and poetic prose is almost hypnotic at times. You feel and see what the young teachers feels and sees; through her eyes and the eyes of those around her and knew her. Her wish to see far away places was never actually fulfilled literally, but was fulfilled through the wonderful gift of knowledge, curiosity and wonder that she was able to passes on to her many students.
The illustrations in this small work are wonderful and perfectly executed. Each frame fits the story line perfectly. This team of Houston and Lamb is a winner by any standard. The background, dress, details and feeling of the Blue Ridge Mountains are captured perfectly.
As a side note; I have read this same story to the same group of third graders four times now. After this lat reading I had three little girls come up after class and inform me that they wanted to be teachers just like the "lady in the book." I have to admit that I got a bit choked up over that.
This is a wonderful read for children, either on their own, or as a group read. It is a strong, strong tribute to teachers, those in a profession which I personally feel is one of the most important we have. Not only should teachers read this one, but all those that are interested in their child's education and it is a good reminder to all of us that one person can indeed make a tremendous difference in many, many lives.