Winter, Jonah 1962-

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Winter, Jonah 1962-


Born 1962, in Fort Worth, TX; son of Jeanette Winter (a writer and illustrator).


Home and office—Brooklyn, NY.


Author, illustrator, and poet. Worked variously as a llama rancher, a flower deliverer, and a children's book editor; George Mason University, VA, former instructor. Performer in musical band Ed's Redeeming Qualities.

Awards, Honors

Cohen Award, Ploughshares magazine, 2000, for "Sestina: Bob"; Slope Editions Book Prize, 2001, for Maine: Poems; Parent's Choice Gold Medal, 2002, for Frida; Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Books citation, 2006, and Booklist Top-Ten Black History Books for Youth selection, 2007, both for Dizzy.


Diego, illustrated by mother, Jeanette Winter, Knopf (New York, NY), 1991.

Wyatt Earp and the Showdown at Tombstone, Disney Press (New York, NY), 1995.

(Self-illustrated) Fair Ball!: Fourteen Great Stars from Baseball's Negro Leagues, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1999.

Once upon a Time in Chicago: The Story of Benny Goodman, illustrated by Jeanette Winter, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2000.

Béisbol!: Latino Baseball Pioneers and Legends, introduction by Bruce Markusen Rodríguez, Lee & Low (New York, NY), 2001.

Wild Women of the Wild West, illustrated by Mary Morgan, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2002.

Frida, illustrated by Ana Juan, Arthur A. Levine (New York, NY), 2002.

Paul Revere and the Bell Ringers, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2003.

Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates, illustrated by Raúl Colón, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2005.

The 39 Apartments of Ludwig van Beethoven, illustrated by Barry Blitt, Schwartz & Wade (New York, NY), 2006.

Dizzy, illustrated by Sean Qualls, Arthur A. Levine (New York, NY), 2006.

The Secret World of Hildegard, illustrated by Jeanette Winter, Arthur A. Levine (New York, NY), 2007.

Muhammad Ali: Champion of the World, illustrated by François Roca, Schwartz & Wade (New York, NY), 2008.

Steel Town, illustrated by Terry Widener, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2008.


Maine: Poems, selected by David Lehman, Slope Editions (Raymond, NH), 2002.

Amnesia (poetry), Oberlin College Press (Oberlin, OH), 2004.

Contributor of poetry to periodicals, including Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, and Literary Review.

Authors works have been translated into Spanish.


Jonah Winter began his career as a poet, publishing his work in adult magazines as early as the age of seven. After graduating from college, however, Winter found the market for his poetry more competitive. Persisting in his efforts, he was ultimately rewarded for his perseverance when he received a Pushcart Prize for a ten-year-old poem that had been rejected by a number of periodicals.

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Alongside his poetry for adults, Winter has written several picture books for young readers. From jazz musicians to baseball players to artists, Winter introduces young readers to important people in history in biographies such as Diego, which recounts the childhood of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Featuring illustrations by the author's mother, Jeanette Winter, as well as a bilingual text, the book's "crisp text" and "dynamic illustrations successfully convey the spirit of the man and his work," according to a Publishers Weekly contributor. Winter continues his focus on the lives of Mexican artists in Frida, which gives readers an introduction to Frida Kahlo, the wife of Rivera and an artist in her own right. A Publishers Weekly contributor considered the book "an outstanding introduction to an influential artist," and Nell D. Beram wrote in Horn Book that "Winter consistently manages to convey much" about his subject's life "with a few well-chosen words." Jane P. Marshall, writing in the Albany Times Union, cited the "poetic sparseness" of Winter's text. Another biography, Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates, provides young readers with what a Kirkus Reviews contributor dubbed "a well-constructed introduction to a compassionate, dignified, multi-talented sports hero."

Winter's long interest in baseball began as a child, when he collected baseball cards. For his self-illustrated Fair Ball!: Fourteen Great Stars from Baseball's Negro Leagues he creates nostalgic paintings that mimic these old-time sports collectibles. "Winter's distinctive, painterly illustrations make the strongest statements in the book," Carolyn Phelan wrote in a favorable Booklist review of the book. Along with providing the history of fourteen major stars of the historical Negro Leagues, "Winter also slips amusing lore into his conversational text," explained a Publishers Weekly contributor. Béisbol!: Latino Baseball Pioneers and Legends is similar in theme, focusing on fourteen legendary Latino baseball players. "This title will be a welcome addition to any baseball collection," predicted Blair Christolon in a review of Béisbol! for School Library Journal.

In a departure from his fact-based titles, Winter creates a picture book in the style of a "mockumentary" in The 39 Apartments of Ludwig van Beethoven. Based on fact-based trivia that includes the number of legless pianos Beethoven owned and the large number of apartments where the composer resided, Winter imagines how Beethoven might have moved those pianos from one place to another. "Older readers will enjoy its tongue-in-cheek lampoon of portentous documentaries," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor, the critic concluding that "this irreverent account of a brilliant musician is full of satiric pleasures." Of Winter's characterization of Beethoven, a Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that, "through it all, Beethoven looms larger than life, as well he should."

Moving from classical music to jazz, Winter presents a picture-book biography of jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie in Dizzy. As a Kirkus Reviews contributor noted, Winter's prose "breaks into ecstatic scat," providing "syncopated rhythms of bebop [that] form the backbeat" of the biography. According to School Library Journal contributor Lee Bock, "through a powerful marriage of rhythmic text and hip and surprising illustrations, the unorthodox creator of Bebop comes to life." School Library Journal contributor Ilene Cooper noted that, by inspiring an interest in "trumpet revolutionary Dizzy Gillespie," Winter inspires readers "to learn more about his music."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Albany Times Union (Albany, NY), Jane P. Marshall, "Life Stories Make Great Tales for Children to Read," p. J5.

Booklist, April 15, 1999, Carolyn Phelan, review of Fair Ball!: Fourteen Great Stars from Baseball's Negro Leagues, p. 1528; September 1, 1999, Sally Estes, review of Fair Ball!, p. 132; October 1, 2001, Annie Ayres, review of Béisbol!: Latino Baseball Pioneers and Legends, p. 317; March 1, 2002, Hazel Rochman, review of Frida, p. 1148; February 15, 2005, Bill Ott, review of Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates, p. 1082; August 1, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of The 39 Apartments of Ludwig van Beethoven, p. 79; November 1, 2006, Ilene Cooper, review of Dizzy, p. 63.

Children's Bookwatch, December, 2006, review of The 39 Apartments of Ludwig van Beethoven.

Christian Century, December 4, 2002, review of Frida, p. 34.

Horn Book, March-April, 2002, Nell D. Beram, review of Frida, p. 233; November-December, 2006, Lolly Robinson, review of Dizzy, p. 738.

Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2001, review of Frida, p. 1691; February 15, 2005, review of Roberto Clemente, p. 238; August 15, 2006, review of The 39 Apartments of Ludwig van Beethoven, p. 854; September 15, 2006, review of Dizzy, p. 970.

Publishers Weekly, August 9, 1991, review of Diego, p. 57; May 10, 1999, review of Fair Ball!, p. 68; December 10, 2001, review of Frida, p. 69; April 21, 2003, review of Maine, p. 58; July 17, 2006, review of The 39 Apartments of Ludwig van Beethoven, p. 157.

School Library Journal, July, 2001, Blair Christolon, review of Beisbol!, p. 101; March, 2002, Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, review of Frida, p. 224; February, 2004, Gina Powell, review of Paul Revere and the Bell Ringers, p. 136; February 7, 2005, review of Roberto Clemente, p. 59; May, 2005, Marilyn Taniguchi, review of Roberto Clemente, p. 116; July, 2005, Coop Renner, review of Frida, p. 44; October, 2006, Joy Fleishhacker, review of The 39 Apartments of Ludwig van Beethoven, p. 130; October, 2006, Lee Bock, review of Dizzy, p. 143.


Arthur A. Levine Web site, (May 18, 2007), "Jonah Winter."

Oberlin College Web site, (winter, 2003), Katie Hubbard, "Winning Words."