By Yvonne Rodriguez and Pui-wah Wong
Phillip Hoose was born on May 31, 1947 in Speedway, Indiana. He attended school at Indiana University and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (Cappy). He and his wife, Sandi Ste. George, have two children, Hannah and Ruby. Originally Hoose wrote for adults, and then later focused on children’s and young-adult books in order to relate more with his two daughters (Robinson). Not only is Phillip Hoose a well-known author, he is also known for his songwriting and music. He is a member of a band, Chipped Enamel, as well as a founding member of the Children’s Music Network (Amandolare). He has a love of history and has tied this into his many works about young adults. Some of Hoose’s works include: Hoosiers (1995); Hey, Little Ant (1998); We Were There Too!: Young People in U.S. History (2001); It’s Our World Too! (2002); The Race to Save the Lord God Bird (2004); Perfect Once Removed (2006); Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice (2009); and Moonbird (2012) (Cappy).
Hoose first learned about Claudette Colvin while he was writing his book We Were There Too!: Young People in U.S. History. He later wrote Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice hoping the book would inspire young readers to learn about the Montgomery bus protests and about how segregation in the public transportation system came to an end. Claudette Colvin was the first in the south to refuse to give her seat to a white person. She, along with three other women (Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, and Mary Louise Smith) was a plaintiff in the Browder v. Gayle lawsuit, which ended the legal discrimination that existed in the public transportation system in Montgomery (Augenbraum). Hoose says he wanted to write about Claudette because she had influenced human rights movements at a young age. By writing this book, Hoose hoped to present Claudette in a new light because her courage was “far too important to be forgotten” (Cappy).
Hoose has played an important role in children’s literature. Besides the role of author, Hoose also acts as a researcher, an advocate, a guest speaker, and a role model for conservation. For instance, in an interview between Hoose and Marc Aronson, Hoose told Aronson that in writing his other book, We Were There Too!, he took six years to complete his research and writing (Aronson). In his books, he celebrates the social contributions of young people; he motivates teens to take a stand against injustice; he promotes peace, respect and perseverance; he helps youths to empower themselves; he promotes awareness of cultural diversity; and he promotes the ethical treatment of nature (Phillip Hoose).
In Claudette Colvin, Hoose also examines how adults’ prejudices and stereotypes regarding young people might have lifelong adverse effects. As an example, Hoose relates that people described Colvin as smart and explains that she had a dream to be a lawyer and/or President of the United States (Hoose 12, 56, 124). However, her life changed after she took a stand for her human rights: she was convicted of violating the segregation law, disturbing the peace, and “assaulting” one of the police officers when she was dragged off the bus. Although the first two convictions were discharged after an appeal, the third conviction of “assaulting” one of the police officers was maintained. Colvin felt resentful at the appeal court’s decision in maintaining the third conviction because she had to bear a lifelong criminal record for a crime she did not commit (49, 54). To make matters worse, after her arrest, most of her school’s teachers, parents, and students looked down on her protest. They whispered that she was a trouble maker and that she deserved the criminal charges (42). As Hoose’s work shows, Colvin’s dreams might have come true had she not been criticized as “emotional” and “uncontrollable” by her community (52).
Hoose was honored to be the first non-fiction author to win the Young Reader’s National Book Award in 2009 for Claudette Colvin (Aronson). He was also winner of the Christopher Award for his book Its Our World, Too!: Young People Who Are Making aDifference. Further, Hoose also won the Parents’ Choice Award for his books We Were There, Too!: Young People in U.S. History and The Race to Save the Lord God Bird. His books have also been nominated for the Newbery, Robert F. Sibert, YALSA, Young Adult Library Services Association, Jane Addams Children’s Book, and American Library Association Book Awards (Phillip Hoose).
Amandolare, Sarah. “Phillip Hoose, Author of “Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice”. Finding Dulcinea. Dulcinea Media Inc., 2010. Web. 20 February 2012. <http://www.findingdulcinea.com/features/edu/Phillip-Hoose–Author-of–Claudette Colvin-Twice-Toward-Justice-html>
Aronson, Marc. “The Greatest Story Never Told.” School Library Journal 2010. 56.1 (2010):30-33. Database: OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Calif.State Univ.,Fullerton, Pollak Library. 10 Mar. 2012
Augenbraum, Harold. “National Book Foundation.” National Book Foundation, 2007. Web. 20 February 2012.<http://www.nationalbook.org>
Cappy , Kirsten . “Word Press.” Phillip Hoose. N.p., 03 November 2011. Web. 20 February 2012. <http://philliphoose.wordpress.com/>
Hoose, Phillip. Claudette Colvin. New York: Square Fish, 2011.
Phillip Hoose. “Claudette Colvin”. Phillip Hoose. 2 Mar. 2012 <http://philliphoose.wordpress.com>
Robinson, Dick. “Biography Phillip Hoose.” Scholastic. http://www.scholastic.com, 2010. Web. 4 Apr 2012.<http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/contributor/phillip-m-hoose>