Lois Lenski (October 14, 1893 – September 11, 1974) was a popular and prolific writer of children's and young adult fiction.
Born in 1893, in Springfield, Ohio, Lois was a voracious reader from a young age, a passion that never left her. She went to college at Ohio State University, where she trained to be a teacher. During that period, she took as many art courses as she could make time for and was the art editor for the university yearbook. After graduation, Lois became an art student in New York, in preparation for what she hoped would be a career in fine art. There she met Arthur Covey, a painter and muralist, whom she married in 1921; he was a widower with two young children already, and the couple also had a son, Stephen, in 1929.
One of her projects was a collection of "regional" novels about children across the United States. The series includes her most famous work, Strawberry Girl, about a girl in Florida; Blue Ridge Billy, about a North Carolina youth living in rural Appalachia; Bayou Suzette, etc. Her "historical" series included Phebe Fairchild (1937), Ocean-Born Mary (1939), and Indian Captive (1942). She illustrated the first four Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. Another beloved series was the picture book collection about Mr. Small.
She received Newbery Honors for Phebe Fairchild and for Indian Captive, won the annual Newbery Medal for Strawberry Girl in 1946, and took the Children's Book Award for Judy's Journey in 1947.
In 1967 Lenski established the Lois Lenski Covey Foundation, which provides grants for book purchases to libraries and organizations serving children who are socially and economically at risk. By the time of her death in 1974, Lois wrote and illustrated well over one hundred books for children of various ages.
“We need to know our country better. We need to know not only our own region, where our roots are firmly put down, but other regions where people different from ourselves—people of different races, faiths, cultures and backgrounds…..When we know them, understand how they live and why, we will think of them as ‘people’—human beings like ourselves.”
—Lois Lenski, Newbery Award acceptance speech, June 18, 1946
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