Jerrie Preston Oughton Author
Jerrie Preston Oughton, a Georgia native, grew up in North Carolina where she graduated from Broughton High School. The English teacher who inspired noted novelist and Duke University Professor, Reynolds Price, Armistead Maupin, and novelist Anne Tyler, also touched a chord deep within Oughton. Jerrie dedicated her first book, How The Stars Fell Into The Sky to Phyllis Peacock. After graduation from Meredith College, where she was chosen Outstanding Student Teacher of the Year, Oughton taught elementary school in Raleigh.
Literary dreams for Oughton may have begun in Raleigh classrooms in the late 50's, but it took her tenacity to make it pay off almost 40 years later when she became a published author. The Magic Weaver of Rugs, her 2nd book was published spring of 1994 by Houghton Mifflin Co. and was also named by the National Council for Social Studies as one of the notable books of the year. Both picture books were featured in Smithsonian Magazine in their year-end celebration of the best in children's books.
Oughton's first novel for young adults, Music from a Place Called Half Moon, takes place in the mountains of North Carolina. This novel won the 1995 Bank Street College Award for exceptional literature for young people and was nominated for the South Carolina Junior Book Award for 1997-98. The War In Georgia, Jerrie Oughton's second novel for young adults was honored by the American Library Association by being placed on the 1998 list of Recommended Books for Young Adults. Perfect Family, a novel of teen problems, is a favorite among teenage girls. A gripping story of teen love gone awry in the fifties, its subtle message is one of empowerment for young women in todays world.
Since publication of her first book in 1992, Jerrie has made author visits to over three hundred schools and universities in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Maryland, and Ohio. Jerrie delights in visiting schools and sharing her message of hope and hard work paying off.
NEW Adult Fiction a KIndle Book
What if you go to your volunteer job
and are taken hostage for eighteen hours? What if the perps make you their go-to
gal? And, what if you survive, even save the day, only to find out that glory
can cut like glass?
Thelma Wooten, retired high school Spanish teacher, experiences all of the above. The challenges of teaching and parenthood did not begin to match her life as it plays out now in the small eastern North Carolina town of Whitleyville. Bundle in an angry daughter, a hearing-impaired husband along with her own arthritic knees and she has challenges enough. She doesnt need two kidnappers and their halfwit buddy, Wafford Buncombe, but shes got them all.
Award-winning childrens author Jerrie Oughton stretches out for a debut adult novel about life on the fast track in small town America.
Some time ago my husband and I met a man
who told us his story, and then, graciously, gave it to us. He said it was a
I suppose you could call it a love story. Maybe even a ghost tale. I guess you might say its about finding courage to dance in the brokenness of life. You would definitely be walking on the edge of truth if you accused me of filling in the blanks with my imagination.
But this I know for certain: you can believe it; because somewhere out there are a man and a woman and a girl who lived this story.
Zoe Willoughbys first glimpse of Ki Kamamoto in September of
1941 isnt favorable. Hes stomping through mud puddles, acting stupid, just
like other boys in her sixth grade class in Kentucky. But Ki isnt like the
others. Hes good at art, funny, and easy to talk with. Even so, at school and
at home, Zoe doesnt always feel close to friends and familyuntil that December
when the awful news of the Japanese attack arrives from Pearl Harbor.
Because the Kamamotos have the face of the enemy, Kis classmates and the community begin to harass his family. The abuse begins on a small scale but soon escalates into a life or death situation.
A decision has to be made. How Zoes family can best protect their Japanese friends. There are two possibilities: Help them get to one of the Japanese Relocation Camps or hide them in their home.
During those opening months of WWII, Zoe discovers that friendship can be a lot like fire. The closer you get, the warmer you feeland the greater the chance for getting burned.
HOW THE STARS FELL INTO THE SKY, by Jerrie Oughton, Lisa Desimini (Illustrator), 1992 Houghton Mifflin Company, Reading level: Ages 4-8, available in .
Paperback, ISBN 0395587983
Hardback, ISBN 0395779383
From Kirkus Reviews , February 1, 1992
Oughton's first book for children is a lyrical retelling of a potent myth: It is First Woman's idea that ``the laws'' should be written for all to see. Using stars from the blanket at her feet, she is slowly recording them by ``placing her jewels across the dome of night'' when she is observed by Coyote, who offers to help. Unfortunately, he lacks First Woman's patience. Picking up the blanket, he hurls the stars at the sky in ``wild disarray, shattering First Woman's careful patterns'' and leaving the world forever in confusion about exactly what the laws may be. Oughton's fine debut provides Desimini with the best vehicle she's had for her spare, powerful style; she sets the heroic figures of the early world against deep blues and greens, the shadowed earth glowing ruby red against a starry sky. A dramatically handsome setting for an especially noble Native American tale. (Folklore/Picture book. 4-10) -- Copyright 1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
From Horn Book
In the smoothly rendered retelling, First Woman creates carefully designed patterns with her jewels, the stars, against the sky to serve as a uniform code of laws for all to see and observe. Unfortunately, she accepts help from Coyote, who impetuously flings the remaining stars into the heavens, destroying forever her dream of universal harmony. Complemented by rich, jewellike illustrations, the story has the sense of a universal myth. -- Copyright 1992 The Horn Book, Inc. All rights reserved.
Native American legend, selected as one of the Notable Books of 1992
by the National Council of Social Studies-Children's Book Council
1992 California Children's Media Award for Excellence in Poetry, Music and Legend
Selected by Smithsonian Magazine for review among 50 books chosen in their year-end Celebration of the Best in Children's books for 1992.
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THE MAGIC WEAVER OF RUGS, 1994 Houghton Mifflin Company, by Jerrie Oughton Illustrations by LISA DESIMINI. Reading level: Ages 4-8 Hardcover - 32 pages (March 1994.)
From Booklist , March 1, 1994
Ages 7 and up. This sober and sophisticated tale--another fine collaboration from the gifted team that produced How the Stars Fell into the Sky (1992)--recounts how the Navajo came to acquire their weaving skill. During a period of hunger and cold, "when the white wolf of fear crept among them," two women leave the tribe to pray for aid. Spider Woman obliquely answers their prayer by building a loom and teaching them how to prepare wool and fashion a magnificent patterned rug, cautioning them to "hold only beautiful thoughts in your mind while you weave." But the tedium of the chore and concern for their hungry families cause the women to break faith with Spider Woman, who reproaches and dismisses them, keeping the rug. But the skill is now their own, and the tribe prospers through weaving and trade. Only then do the women understand Spider Woman's lesson. Returning to give thanks, "they called and called to her. But she did not come." Desimini's surreal paintings underscore the other worldly nature of the encounter. Eerily lit landscapes blanketed in shadow are suggestive of sacred place and time. And Spider Woman is no gentle earth mother but, rather, a complex, powerful woman. This wild-haired and sharp-toothed goddess hurls rocks and summons rain. But surprisingly delicate fingers also coax the colors from the whole world into her yarn. Spider Woman's web, cast around trees, sheep, and the earth itself, is at once her magical tool and her embrace. Elizabeth Bush Copyright 1994, American Library Association. All rights reserved
From Kirkus Reviews , March 15, 1994
A second Navajo myth from the team that collaborated on How the Stars Fell into the Sky (1992). The unsourced tale tells how two women, concerned for their cold and hungry people since ``Even when winter had come and gone, it stayed winter in their hearts because the white wolf of fear crept among them,'' encounter Spider Woman, who pulls them into her land near the sky, makes a giant loom, and shows them how to prepare wool, gather colors from all creation, and weave with reverence as well as skill (``Weave with your very souls and be sure to bind each end of the rug carefully''). Testy and imperious, Spider Woman isn't patient with their questions, so even when the lesson is complete the women don't understand, at first, what they have learned. Powerful and pleasingly enigmatic in Oughton's lyrical, compact retelling, the tale is well served by Desimini's handsomely designed illustrations featuring biomorphic forms--the land itself seems as organic as the human figures--and the glowering rusts and blues that are becoming her trademark. (Folklore/Picture book. 5-10) -- Copyright 1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
From Horn Book
Dark, glowing illustrations accompany a tale of how the surprising and powerful deity Spider Woman teaches two Navajo women to weave when their tribe is starving. Although they are told to think only beautiful thoughts as they work with the extraordinary colors brought from the earth and sky, the women lose their faith in the process. The tale, which has a positive ending, is strong and satisfying. -- Copyright 1994 The Horn Book, Inc. All rights reserved.
Native American legend, named as one of the Notable Books of 1994 by the National Council of Social Studies-Children's Book Council
Selected by Smithsonian Magazine for review among 50 books chosen in their year-end celebration of the Best In Children's Books for 1994.
YOUNG ADULT NOVELS
Perfect Family, by Jerrie Oughton, Houghton Mifflin Co., Publication Date : 4/2000 No.Of Pages : 208
ISBN : 0395986680
Welcome Marie O'Neal is finally starting to enjoy her 15th year and can't wait to turn 16. She meets Nicholas Canton and, though her parents don't approve, the two start dating. Soon Welcome is head over heels in love and she can't believe it won't last forever. But the romance ends with the summer and when things fall apart, Welcome finds herself confused, heartbroken, and...in trouble. There aren't many people Welcome can turn to for help or advice in her small Southern town in 1955, especially not in her "perfect" family. The decisions Welcome has to make will change her life forever.
From Children's Literature A throwback to the gritty "problem novels" of the '80s, this young adult work is actually set in the mid1950s. Its protagonist, fifteen year old Welcome Marie O'Neal, is a smalltown girl from North Carolina who falls for an older boy and winds up "in trouble," as they used to say back then. Her character is wonderfully drawn; Welcome wants more than girls were allowed to want in those days, but despite the constraints of time and place, she learns and grows in a realistic way when she is forced to make some hard choices. Oughton's strong storytelling skills call to mind the writing of southern novelist Reynolds Priceanother author who knows that life is full of painful tradeoffs, but that our pain also reminds us that we are truly alive. 2000, Houghton Mifflin Company, Ages 13 up, Reviewer: Donna Freedman
From The Book Report Once in a great while you come across a book that absolutely grabs you in the first chapter and you read it quickly even though you don't want it to end.
From VOYA June 2000..."...This title belongs in most high school and public libraries where older teens will enjoy the accurate portrayal of small-town life and Welcome's determination." Alice F. Stern
From Publishers Weekly The characters throughout are memorable, like Welcome, each uniquely combines ordinary vulnerability with unexpected stores of strength. ...lyrical prose and perceptive characterizations.."
From Booklist The oddly named Welcome Marie O'Neal is the product of a 1950's eastern North Carolina small town, a gossip-hungry place where a teenager who becomes pregnant is sent away "to boarding school" or "to visit family." Oughton takes readers back to a time before legalized abortion, when young women visited grimy, back-street houses and often fled in fear, choosing to raise their babies when faced with the reality of their choices. This is Welcome's story, but it is also the story of a family that supports and loves - and forgives - its own, a family that works. Its about a young woman growing up who makes the ultimate sacrifice and atones for it. And though the story takes place years ago, it's still relevant to teens today: it deals with making choices, looking to the future, and realizing that, though no family is truly perfect, some families are just right for new babies and teens.
Best Books for Young Adults 2001 (ALA)
Best Books for 2001 (Bank Street College)
Nominated for the Bluegrass Award 2001
Music From A Place Called Half Moon By Jerrie Oughton, 1995 Houghton Mifflin Company, Reading level: Ages 9-12 Hardcover - 160 pages (April 1995)
Hardback ISBN 0-395-70737-4.
It's 1956 in Half Moon, North Carolina, and Edie Jo Houp's father has just opened "the biggest can of worms you ever did see" by suggesting that their church open its Vacation Bible School doors to all the children in town -- including the Indian children. "A riveting contribution to the literature of compassion, without being trite or preachy." -- School Library Journal
Starred Review From Publishers Weekly Understated and candid, Oughton's first novel will linger in the readers memory.
From Kirkus This powerful, passionate, and moving novel is ripe with intriguing characters.
From Booklist , May 1, 1995
A story of small-town bigotry and personal transformation in the 1950s is told with quiet drama. There's uproar in Half Moon, North Carolina, when Edie Jo's father wants to allow the local Indian and half-breed kids to attend the Baptist Vacation Bible School. Thirteen-year-old Edie Jo is as mad as her mother that Daddy has dragged the family into his "fizzled integration crusade." She's afraid of them, the Indians who live in the shacks on the edge of town. Then she gets to know and love her classmate Cherokee Fish, and she reaches beyond herself to imagine his life. The first-person narrative is sometimes too articulate, but the characters are drawn with complexity. Edie Jo comes to see that her wise, gentle grandmother understands grief but not integration. Poverty doesn't ennoble people: the Indian outsiders are as angry and alienated as the whites. As the tension builds to a violent climax, Cherokee Fish's simple words to Edie Jo echo through the story: "You are so far from where I am." Hazel Rochman Copyright 1995, American Library Association. All rights reserved
From Cynthia L. Smith I am recommending MUSIC on my page listing Native historical fiction. I strongly believe that it is the best children's historical novel with Native characters or themes. Really touching, amazing, credible writing. 1992
This book is now available in Braille.
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This novel won the 1995 Bank Street College Award for Exceptional Literature for young people and has been nominated for the South Carolina Junior Book Award for 1997-98.
Selected to the 1996/97 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award Master List
Named to the 1995 New York Public Library "100 Titles--For Reading and Sharing" List
On Required Reading Lists for many Middle and High Schools
The War in Georgia, by Jerrie Oughton, 1997 Houghton Mifflin Company. Reading level: Ages 9-12 Hardcover - 183 pages (March 1997)
Hardback ISBN 0-395-81568-1
|Living in Georgia during World War II, 13 year-old Shanta sometimes feels that her family and neighborhood are more hopeless battlefields than those in foreign lands.|
Translated into Italian as
paperback ISBN: 0440227526
Starred Review From Booklist , April 1, 1997 "It's hard to keep our minds on the war. We are up against so much ourselves." Shanta remembers herself at 13 during the last days of World War II, when the domestic battlefield in her Atlanta home and in the family across the street nearly breaks her heart. She tells it in the present tense and in a relaxed southern idiom that draws you right into her scary summer of 1945 and will not let you go. Shanta is an orphan living with her grandmother, helping care for her young uncle Louie, whose wife deserted him when he was bedridden with arthritis. Shanta befriends a girl and her brain-injured brother, whose family moves in across the street, until gradually she discovers the atrocity of child abuse and howling terror in that home. The portrait of the disabled brother, a 21-year-old with the mind of a five-year-old, is unforgettable: tender, funny, uncondescending, friendly. Then there are all the neighborhood eccentrics, including her uncle's friends, who visit and leave anonymous gifts of money and whose practical jokes light up the dark of poverty, desertion, and cruelty. The parallels between the wars are sometimes too heavily spelled out, but they do prepare us for the horrifying climax when Shanta finds that at home, as in Europe, the innocent suffer at the hands of savages. This story makes you believe in the love and laughter and friendship that give you hope in the worst of times. Hazel Rochman Copyright 1997, American Library Association. All rights reserved
Named one of the ALA Best Books For Young Adults 1998
Translated into Italian as "Carissima Noona"
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As a former teacher, Jerrie has the experience and the love of the classroom needed to enthrall her audiences. For the younger grades, she shares the message that "there is more than one way to tell a story" by presenting an interactive puppet show of her picture book How the Stars Fell Into the Sky. Involving elementary students in an exercise of how a picture book is made brings to their attention the importance of REWRITING and CHOOSING STRONG WORDS to convey emotion.In Middle School and High School, Jerrie leads a power point discussion of: STORY FORM and how famous writers used STRENGTHENING TECHNIQUES to become published authors. She discusses MAKING DREAMS COME TRUE with all audiences, giving 3 keys for success, leaving a lasting impression and lots of ideas and hope.
Jerrie is equally adept at presenting In-Service Programs, inspiring teachers and parents. She holds out the truth that even just one person outside the core family can make a difference in a child's life. In universities from New York to Florida, she has encouraged writers to write from the heart and then face the hard but necessary task of REWRITING.
Jerrie Oughton makes Author School Visits to Elementary, Middle, and High Schools. Her presentations depending on grade level.
Jerrie's visit may include: 3 sessions -- 1 lunch with a select group of students -- an autographing party in the library.
(One school district gave that privilege to special ed. students who entered a contest. 12 students, one parent each, and a "best friend" shared pizza in the library with the author and the two students each received an autographed copy of one of her books, thanks to the grant the teacher wrote.)
Jerrie's fee is $800 per day plus travel and accommodations. She is open to sharing her day with two schools, or a school and a library or workshop.
School Visit, Keynote Speaking, and Workshop comments:
"I just had to write you to tell you what an inspiration you were to me and to thank you for the 'writers spark' that you sent out to me that day." Iris Ann Hirsch, Prince Georges County, MD
"Your participation with the 2003 conference was Wonderful! Great! Uplifting! Straight-forward! Phenomenal presenter! Very polished! Invaluable & Inspiring! And yes - Informative!" Heather Woods, Kansas City Writer's and Readers Conference.
"Great presentation. She is warm, fun. I liked the combination of personal experiences, quotes, reading from her book, and movie clips and practical tips. Attention keeping!" 23rd Kansas City Writer's and Readers Conference
" Spectacular. Jerrie's session thrilled me with inspiration, and was the perfect way to start this early Saturday morning conference." 23rd Kansas City Writer's and Readers Conference
Jerrie Preston Oughton may be contacted through her Publisher by calling Kathleen Rouark at Houghton Mifflin Company in Boston at 1-(617) 351-5956 or contact Jerrie directly:
Jerrie Preston Oughton
305 Steeplechase Dr.
Washington, NC 27889
Phone (252) 946-7909
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