Jean Fritz

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Born (1915-11-16) November 16, 1915 (age 100)
Wuhan, China
Occupation Writer
Language English
Citizenship United States
Alma mater Wheaton College
Period 1954–
Genre Children's novels, biography, memoir
Subject American biography and history
Notable awards Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal
Spouse Michael Fritz

Jean Guttery Fritz (born November 16, 1915) is an American children's writer best known for American biography and history. She won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for her career contribution to American children's literature in 1986.[1] She turned 100 in November 2015.[2]

Early life[edit]

Fritz was born to American missionaries in Hankow, China, where she lived until she was twelve.[3] She was an only child (when she was eleven, a sister Miriam died one week after birth). Growing up, she went to a British school and kept a journal about her days in China with Lin Nai-Nai, her amah. The family emigrated to the United States when she was in the eighth grade. She graduated from Wheaton College in Massachusetts in 1937 and married Michael Fritz in 1941. They had two children, David and Andrea.


Fritz's writing career started with the publication of several short stories in Humpty Dumpty magazine early in the 1950s. Her first book was published in 1954, Bunny Hopwell's First Spring, followed in 1955 by 121 Pudding Street, a work based on her own children.[4] She often wrote westerns and other stories of frontier America because her father told her stories of American heroes as she was growing up. Her first historical novel for children was The Cabin Faced West (1958).

Her autobiography Homesick, My Own Story (1982) won a National Book Award for Young People's Literature in the Children's Fiction category[5] and was a runner-up for the Newbery Medal.[6] The latter American Library Association award recognizes the year's best American children's book but almost always goes to fiction.[6] Later she won two annual Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards for children's nonfiction.[7][a] In 1986 she received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal from the ALA, which recognizes a living author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made "a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children". At the time it was awarded every three years.[1] That year she was also U.S. nominee for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international recognition available to creators of children's books.[8]



  • Homesick, My Own Story, illustrated with drawings by Margot Tomes and photographs (New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1982) — 23 cm, 163pp, ISBN 0399209336[a]
  • China Homecoming, photographs by Michael Fritz (New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1985) — 23 cm, 143pp, ISBN 0399211829
  • Surprising Myself, photographs by Andrea Fritz Pfleger (Katonah, N.Y.: R.C. Owen Publishers, 1992) — 24 cm, 32pp, ISBN 1878450379


  • Bunny Hopwell's First Spring (1954)
  • 121 cake Street (1955)
  • And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?, illus. Margot Tomes (Coward, 1973)[a]
  • Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?, illus. Trina Schart Hyman (Coward, 1975)[a]
  • Stonewall, illus. Stephen Gammell (Putnam, 1979)[a]
  • The Double Life of Pocahontas, illus. Ed Young (Putnam, 1983), winner of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, Nonfiction[7]
  • The Great Little Madison (Putnam, 1989), winner of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, Nonfiction[7]
  • Around the World in a Hundred Years
  • Brady
  • Brendan the Navigator, the History Mystery about the Discovery of America
  • Bully for You, Teddy Roosevelt
  • The Cabin Faced West
  • Can't You Make Them Behave, King George?
  • Champion Dog Prince Tom
  • China's Long March: 6,000 Miles of Danger
  • Early Thunder
  • Meow, is that My Cat?
  • George Washington's Breakfast
  • Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln
  • Leonardo's Horse
  • The Lost Colony of Roanoke
  • Mk
  • Shh! We're Writing the Constitution
  • Surprising Myself
  • Traitor: the Case of Benedict Arnold
  • What's the Big Idea, Ben Franklin?
  • Where Do You Think You're Going, Christopher Columbus?
  • Where Was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May?
  • Who's That Stepping on Plymouth Rock?
  • Why Don't You Get a Horse, Sam Adams?
  • Why Not Lafayette?
  • You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton?

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Fritz was a runner-up for a Boston Globe–Horn Book Award four times from 1974 to 1983, three times in the Nonfiction category and in Fiction for the autobiographical Homesick. She won the Nonfiction Award in 1984 for The Double Life of Pocahontas and in 1990 for The Great Little Madison—the second person to win any of the three annual awards twice.


  1. ^ a b "Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, Past winners". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). American Library Association (ALA).
      "About the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award". ALSC. ALA. Retrieved 2013-06-11.
  2. ^ Scales, Pat (2015-11-16). "Saying Thank You to Jean Fritz, Again!". Booklist. American Library Association. Retrieved 2015-11-20. 
  3. ^ "Meet the Author: Jean Fritz". Houghton Mifflin Reading.
  4. ^ The Continuum Encyclopedia of Children's Literature, Bernice E. Cullinan, Diane G. Person, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005, ISBN 0-8264-1778-7.
  5. ^ "National Book Awards – 1983". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
  6. ^ a b "Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922–Present". ALSC. ALA.
      "The John Newbery Medal". ALSC. ALA. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  7. ^ a b c "Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards Winners and Honor Books 1967 to present". The Horn Book. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  8. ^ "Candidates for the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 1956–2002". The Hans Christian Andersen Awards, 1956–2002. IBBY. Gyldendal. 2002. Pages 110–18. Hosted by Austrian Literature Online ( Retrieved 2013-07-22.

External links[edit]