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Cover image for Don't forget Winona
Don't forget Winona

Publication Information:
New York : Joanna Cotler Books, 2000.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations
A young girl describes her family's experiences--and her younger sister's antics--when a drought forces them to make their way on Route 66 from Oklahoma to California.


Call Number
J ILLUST Peterson, J.

On Order



Winona waved her kerchief and called: "Good-bye, cat! Good-bye, swing! Don't forget me!" Like so many Americans in the late 1930s, Winona's family must flee the dust bowl and begin the long trip west to California in hopes of starting a better life. The road they travel is Route 66, now a celebrated historic highway. Jeanne Whitehouse Peterson's beautiful text and the illuminated artwork of Kimberly Bulcken Root bring this one journey of thousands to life. don't forget winona is not only a stirring portrait of the migration westward that would reshape the face of America, but it is also a celebration of how the strength of a family can weather the most difficult of times.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-A young girl describes her family's departure from the dust bowl of Oklahoma in the late 1930s. Her little sister Winona shouts out, "Don't forget me!" and it becomes the child's signature line. With their belongings piled on the back of their truck, the family heads west on Route 66. When Winona is accidentally left behind after a rest stop ("Oh no!- We forgot Winona!"), a trucker saves the day. The line is repeated at the conclusion as Ma and Pa make plans for migrant life upon their arrival in California. The writing is competent, but not terribly compelling, and the author never creates a strong feeling of identification with the characters. Root's breezy, grainy illustrations, evolving from tan to deep blue, convey both the dryness of dust and the refreshment of water and shade. Back matter includes a map of the journey and notes about the road's historical significance. Pair this with Natalie Cole's upbeat rendition of "Route 66" on Unforgettable (Elektra, 1991) and encourage children to listen for the phrase that must have inspired the book's title. An additional purchase where historical picture books are popular.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

(Primary) In 1937, Sarah and her family, like thousands of other Okies, pile their belongings on the bed of a truck and follow Route 66 west to the Pacific. Along the way they meet some misfortune: the Oklahoma dust clogs their throats, their truck breaks down several times, and little sister Winona is left behind (but quickly reunited with her family) and then falls ill (she soon recovers). Far from painting a portrait of despair, these hardships take a backseat to the upbeat family portrait that drives this story. Root's jacket art introduces a family embarking on a great adventure, and even though the internal illustrations show the bleakest of conditions, they also depict a family that, despite the open campsites, primitive sanitary facilities, and concern for Winona, still manages to laugh, sing, and show an exuberant affection for one another. Finally, they reach California: ""At last we looked down on a sea-green valley. We hugged each other until tears filled our eyes."" Sarah's naive optimism and childlike perceptions permeate the narrative, whose warmth is further conveyed through the homely textures of the illustrations. Those wishing to introduce a broader point of view about the period will find a natural segue to Bonnie Christensen's Woody Guthrie: Poet of the People (rev. 1/02) as the family sings a Guthrie favorite, ""Cleano."" An author's note, providing some historical background but primarily detailing the history of Route 66, concludes the book. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

As drought forces a family from their farm in Oklahoma, their trip west via Route 66 is recounted in first-person voice by the older sister of Winona, a rambunctious little girl who loves to laugh, sing, and run around instead of listening to her sister, who's responsible for her. As they pack the truck, Winona hides among the cook pots and blankets and laughingly says, "Don't forget me!" This theme runs through the story, as she does get left behind at the New Mexico state line, but is retrieved by a truck driver. Later, Winona is thrilled to discover a town in Arizona with her name. Adults will recognize the historic time when Okies fled to escape the terrible dust storms, but kids will appreciate the unnamed narrator's emotions and be charmed by Winona's likable impishness. Root's familiar wispy, softly hued, blue-toned watercolors are the right match to convey the countryside, while details subtly add credence to the family's experiences. The first-hand voice brings the journey to life, personalizing the hardships the family weathers and characterizing an unforgettable little girl. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

K-Gr. 2. The migration of the Okies from the Dust Bowl to California is brought to a child's level in this story about a family looking for a better place. The road they travel is Route 66. The unnamed narrator has a younger sister, Winona, who doesn't want to go but doesn't want to be left behind. Peterson does a good job of capturing the hardships of travel, especially when there's no money--not even for a soda pop. In New Mexico, Winona does get left behind, and the trauma takes time to get over. Finally, they arrive at the promised land, where We'll pick oranges in winter and strawberries in spring. Peterson's free verse is initially hard to read aloud, but it's effective in setting the personal story against the larger one. Root's paintings are masterful pieces of storytelling on their own. They portray individuals with hopes, fears, and dreams, set against an ever-shifting landscape; even the sky looks different as the travelers move on. An afterword offers more about the road west. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2004 Booklist