My Great-Aunt Arizona
My Great-Aunt Arizona

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Annotation: An Appalachian girl, Arizona Houston Hughes, grows up to become a teacher who influences generations of schoolchildren.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #206110
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 1992
Edition Date: 1992
Illustrator: Lamb, Susan Condie,
Pages: 32
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-443374-9 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-8557-2
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-443374-7 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-8557-0
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 90044112
Dimensions: 23 x 26 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
In a tribute to her great-aunt Arizona, a teacher for fifty-seven years, the author recalls Arizona's exuberant lifestyle and the zest for learning that she instilled in generations of her students. Warm illustrations adeptly capture the spirit of a story rooted in the joy of family reminiscence.
Kirkus Reviews
Echoing Barbara Cooney's fictionalized picture-book biographies of strong, independent women whose stories both challenged and exemplified their times (Miss Rumphius, 1982; Hattie and the Wild Waves, 1990), Houston (her The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree, 1988, was illustrated by Cooney) recounts the story of a great-aunt who spent her entire life in rural North Carolina. Though she dropped out of school to care for the family when her mother died, Arizona was eventually able to fulfill her ambition of becoming a teacher, returning to the one- room school she had attended, marrying, and bringing her own children to school with her but never going to the ``faraway places'' she visited only ``in my mind.'' Arizona doesn't have Hattie's individuality or Miss Rumphius's vision, and her story has less energy and unique flavor than either of theirs; still, Houston's simple narrative is warm and exceptionally graceful and clean, while Lamb's settings (which seem to be in watercolor plus color pencil) are well researched. Her impressionistic outdoor scenes are especially attractive; figures are less expert if lively—the young Arizona reading with high-button shoes aloft, or dancing with skirts aswirl above the knee, are engaging bits of poetic license. A nostalgic but appealing portrait of another generation. (Picture book. 5-9)"
Publishers Weekly
Born in a log cabin, the author's great-aunt teaches in a one-room schoolhouse for 57 years; PW's starred review deemed Houston """"a graceful, affecting storyteller."""" Ages 6-9. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 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
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Houston, the author of The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree and Littlejim , again draws on her Appalachian roots as she tells of her great-aunt Arizona, who lived to be 93. Born in the mountains, Arizona grew up dreaming of faraway places. When her mother died, Arizona (in her teens) did a woman's work on the farm until her father remarried; then she left home to be educated. After returning to Henson Creek as a schoolteacher, Arizona married, had a baby (whom she tended in her fourth-grade classroom), and taught generations of children, filling many heads with learning and curiosity about those faraway places she had seen only in her mind. The pleasant, conversational rhythm of the prose, the unobtrusive use of repetition, and the ability to sum up the unique quality of a life in a few telling phrases give the writing its substance. Houston's text is as satisfying as home-baked bread, and Lamb's illustrations provide the jam. Sunny and lively, the watercolor paintings have a naive quality that suits the story well. Fully expressing the joyful tone underlying the text, the pictures' narrative quality will draw children into Arizona's story. Like Cooney's Miss Rumphius , this picture book concerns the ideals, events, satisfactions, and ongoing effects of a life well lived. And like Miss Rumphius it has an elusive, emotional resonance that will touch a sympathetic chord in many readers. (Reviewed Jan 1, 1992)
Word Count: 937
Reading Level: 4.0
Interest Level: 1-4
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.0 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 6133 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.9 / points:2.0 / quiz:Q08093
Lexile: AD660L
Guided Reading Level: N
Fountas & Pinnell: N

Reminiscent of the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, My Great-Aunt Arizona is an inspiring tale rich with history, family, and artistry. Based on a true story, author Gloria Houston's joyous recounting of her great-aunt Arizona's quiet yet meaningful life reminds us of the special place a great teacher can hold in our hearts—even after we've grown up.

Arizona was born in a log cabin her papa built in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She grew into a tall girl who liked to sing, square-dance, and—most of all—read and dream of the faraway places she would visit one day. Arizona never did make it to those places. Instead she became a teacher, helping generations of children in the one-room schoolhouse which she herself had attended.

Supports the Common Core State Standards.

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