Jeri Chase Ferris, the award-winning author of eleven biographies for children and young adults, specializes in chronicling the lives of women and minorities—people who have done great deeds, but have often been overlooked in history. Her books, she says, are an attempt to set the record straight.
When asked why she is a writer, Jeri explains that "I write because I have something to say." Despite her success as an author, it was not a career move that she planned early on in her life. Growing up on a small farm in Nebraska, the young Jeri loved the many books that adorned the Carnegie library's shelves, but the process by which these stories were created remained a mysterious, magical process outside of her experience. It never occurred to her, she says, during that time to create a book for herself.
At first she planned to be a librarian, then a veternarian, and finally an archaeologist. Though not as exciting, her actual career moves were no less important in contributing to her eventual choice to become an author: she tried her hand at several different occupations, including a secretary, a mother to her two sons, and finally a full-time teacher, a post she mantained for over twenty-five years. It was to meet a need in her students' lives that she first began writing biographies.
Searching for books in which her students could find brave heroes to emulate, she discovered that many great men and women had been overlooked, unrecognized by historians often because of their race. Her goal was to "ake these determined men and women inescapably alive, to make their deeds inescapably real, and to plant seeds of similar determination and self-confidence in the children who read about them." She desires every child to believe that "I, too, can make a difference" in the lives of others.
Jeri is currently working on two historical novels for ages 8-12: Surrounded is the story of a boy's fight for survival during the first winter, 1941, of the Siege of Leningrad, a devastating siege in which one million people died; Andrew and the Ark is the story of a boy's struggle to get his family safely down the danger-filled Ohio River in the 1790s.
In addition to her numerous writings, Jeri is a frequent speaker at schools and conferences, bringing history to life through the lives of these eleven (so far) remarkable women and men.
Her books include:
- Walking the Road to Freedom: A Story About Sojourner Truth (1988)
- What Are You Figuring Now?: A Story of Bejamin Banneker (1988)
- Go Free or Die: A Story About Harriet Tubman (1988)
- Artic Explorer: The Story of Matthew Henson (1989)
- Native American Doctor: The Story of Susan LaFlesche Picotte (1991)
- What I Had Was Singing: The Story of Marian Anderson (1994)
- With Open Hands
- Demanding Justice (2003)
Did you find this review helpful?