On the Reading Road with Gloria Whelan
Her books take readers to Michigan's deep woods, the dusty streets of India, Chinese fishing boats, and on an Alaskan dog sled trail. And those are only the stories set in today's world.
She has also written books set in revolutionary Russia, on the 1880s American frontier, 1918 British East Africa, and along the Underground Railroad. All of these journeys she writes for us begin with another story--a true one--of a little girl who was very sick.
When Gloria Whelan was nine years old, she was struck with a terrible rheumatic fever. The only cure in those days was lots and lots of bed rest. For a whole year, she stayed in bed and read, read, read. One of her favorite books was Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. When she wanted to write stories and couldn't, her babysitter would type out the stories for her.
When she grew up, she married and became a social worker. Later, she and her family moved to the woods of northern Michigan. Although she had written some through the years, she didn't have time to write novels until they moved to the countryside.
Some of her books, such as Forgive the River, Forgive the Sky and A Time to Keep Silent take place in her beloved Michigan forests today. Others, such as Friend on Freedom River, Once on This Island and The Indian School, are set in the same place, but over 100 years ago. How does she research her many books about far away places and times long past? At her local library! She's never been to those exotic places, and she certainly doesn't have a time machine, but her library is able to find her all the details she needs to make her books come to life. She starts with basic resources to get background and then branches out to additional sources for more and more details.
Lose yourself in one of her books for a long, lazy afternoon of fun and discovery:
For Young Readers
Hannah is a young, blind girl living on the frontier. She has never been to school, but when a new teacher comes to the settlement, Hannah is willing to try despite serious obstacles.
Next Spring, an Oriole
Ten-year-old Libby Mitchell travels out West from Virginia in 1837. On the wagon trail to Michigan, she and her family face many hardships before settling into their new home.
Here is an exciting book about a young girl who dreams of racing in Alaska's Iditarod dog sled race with her beloved Husky named Silver.
Night of the Full Moon
In this sequel to Next Spring, an Oriole, Libby Mitchell's decision to sneak off and visit her friend at the Potowatomi village has serious consequences.
For Older Readers:
Angel on the Square
Pretty, young Katya--chosen to be a companion to Czar Nicholas' children--doesn't understand why her cousin Misha and his friends are so angry with the royal family until she meets ordinary Russian workers. When historic and tragic events break into the glittering palace routine, Katya is there to witness it all.
This book's sequels are The Impossible Journey and Burying the Sun.
At age 13, Koly is married to a boy she has never met. Within only a few days, she is his widow. Unwanted, she is abandoned in the holy city of Vrindavan by her hateful mother-in-law to get by as best she can.
This story is set in modern day India and winner of the National Book Award.
Chu Ju's House
Today, families in the Chinese countryside are only allowed to have two children. When 14-year-old Chu Ju's mother gives birth to her little sister, her angry grandmother makes preparations to give the baby girl away so she can have a grandson. Chu Ju loves her sister and takes the tremendous risk of running away so that the tiny girl can grow up with her family.
Fruitlands: Louisa May Alcott Made Perfect
If you've read Little Women and admire Jo, you know something about Louisa's own strong character. But while Jo's father was beloved and caring, Louisa's own father often put his lofty ideals ahead of his family's welfare. When she and her sisters were quite young, he moved them to an experimental communal farm called Fruitlands. There they would be strictly vegetarians and think high-minded thoughts, working themselves towards perfection. In this fictional secret diary, Louisa tells of her anger, worry, and frustration during their stay at Fruitlands.
These are only a few of Gloria Whelan's many fascinating books, and she just keeps on writing them. Do you have any questions for Gloria Whelan? You can email her: firstname.lastname@example.org
Some Good Web Sources on Gloria Whelan:
Author Interview: Gloria Whelan
The author talks about her writing and research process, particularly for Angel on the Square.
Visiting this Web site is almost like having a visit with the author herself. She writes about her wonderful writing life in Michigan and includes several photos. Look for news of her books here, including her latest ones.
You will need a library card to use these resources
Biography Resource Center
Has articles from Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults and others.
Literature Resource Center
Read what other writers and librarians think of Gloria Whelan's work.