Female. Education: Southeastern Louisiana University, B.A.
Home and office—P.O. Box 13367, New Orleans, LA 70185-3367. E-mail—[email protected]
Singer, songwriter, and author. Worked at Isidore Newman School, New Orleans, LA, for fourteen years. Musical performer and recording artists.
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Independent Children's Artist Network, Children's Music Network, Haiku Society of America, New Orleans Haiku Society.
Five Parents' Choice awards; two Parent's Guide to Children's Media awards; three National Parenting Publications awards; three iParenting Media awards; Family Choice award; Family Review Center award; Imagination Award.
A Squirrel Jumped out of a Tree, Colonial Press, 1990.
Today Is Monday in Louisiana, illustrated by Deborah Ousley Kadair, Pelican (Gretna, LA), 2006.
(Adapter) Down in Louisiana: Traditional Song, Pelican (Gretna, LA), 2007.
Recordings include (with Dickie Knicks) New Moon: Music for Little Folk, 1990; Music Time, 1992, re-recorded 2005; From the Gumbo Pot: Stirring up Tasty Tunes, 1998; Wild and Woolly Wiggle Songs, 2001; Silly Sing Along, 2002; The Second Line: Scarf Activity Songs, 2003; and Fins and Grins, 2006.
Contributor of poetry to anthologies, including Katrinaku: Storm Poems, New Orleans Haiku Society, 2006, and to periodicals such as Frogpond, bottle rockets, World Haiku, Nisqually Delta Review, and YAWP. Contributor of articles to Pass It On! and Applause!
Louisiana-based singer/songwriter Johnette Downing has performed her music all over the world, earning her the title "the Pied Piper of Louisiana music traditions," according to a reviewer for the New Orleans Gambit Weekly. Downing's songs are "consistently enjoyable and encouraging," wrote Paul Shackman in a review of her album The Second Line: Scarf Activity Songs for Booklist. In her music, as well as in her written work, Downing is dedicated to sharing her Louisiana musical and literary heritage with children. Her picture books Today Is Monday in Louisiana and Down in Louisiana: Traditional Song both focus on Downing's home state and the unique culture of that colorful region of America.
Today Is Monday in Louisiana, an adaptation of a popular song, introduces a new variety of Louisiana food for each day of the week. As the song moves on from day to day, each new verse repeats the previous meal, giving readers and listeners a chance to chime with the re-
frain from memory. "Downing's rhythmic, repetitive text will appeal to children," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor, and Judith Constantinides wrote in School Library Journal that Today Is Monday in Louisiana would be "a pleasing addition to Louisiana lore and a fun, light note" for possible school projects on the state. As a Publishers Weekly critic maintained, "keeping with the spirit of the culture it celebrates," Downing's book includes a recipe and a full description of each dish, encouraging young readers to continue their discovery of the region's cuisine.
In Down in Louisiana Downing introduced young readers to another traditional Louisiana song, this time presenting a rhyming tour of the state's landscape. The book serves as both an introduction to the marshes, wetlands, and bayous of Louisiana and a counting game where young readers are encouraged to determine the number of native animals that appear on each page. A wide variety of unusual creatures—from pelicans and armadillos to crawfish and alligators—are pictured, each in their natural environment.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, November 1, 2003, Paul Shackman, review of The Second Line: Scarf Activity Songs, p. 524; February 1, 2006, Paul Shackman, review of Music Time, p. 77.
Children's Bookwatch, January, 2007, review of Fins and Grins.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2006, review of Today Is Monday in Louisiana, p. 1069.
Publishers Weekly, February 2, 2004, "Sing, Play, Learn," p. 30; October 16, 2006, review of Today Is Monday in Louisiana, p. 52.
School Library Journal, February, 2004, Beverly Bixler, review of The Second Line, p. 77; December, 2005, Stephanie Bange, review of Music Time, p. 86; December, 2006, Judith Constantinides, review of Today Is Monday in Louisiana, p. 96; May, 2007, Kirsten Martindale, review of Fins and Grins, p. 75.
Johnette Downing Home Page,http://www.johnettedowning.com (October 8, 2007).
Pelican Publishing Web site,http://www.pelicanpub.com/ (October 22, 2007), "Johnette Downing."