Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Author Bringing History to Life for Younger Readers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Author Bringing History to Life for Younger Readers

Article excerpt

Byline: Nancy Bethea

Jane Wood has worn many hats - teacher, stay-at-home mom, newspaper reporter, and television producer. But since her first days teaching school, she has wanted to write books for kids.

I listened to Wood talk about her books at Callahan Intermediate School on Feb. 18, when she was there as part of the Amelia Island Book Festival's Authors in Schools program.

Wood sipped water as she watched about 75 fifth-graders file in and sit cross-legged on the floor still warm from the fourth-graders who had just exited. Her voice, raspy after giving three presentations, greeted everyone as she began her final talk of the morning.

Perhaps Wood's birthplace is responsible for her lifelong love of history. She was born in Astoria, Ore., - the end of the Lewis and Clark's journey to the Pacific Ocean in 1805.

When she was 10, her family moved to Central Florida near another historic place, the Kennedy Space Center. In 1976, Wood moved to Jacksonville and has stayed ever since.

After being laid off from a job producing educational television programs, Wood decided it was time to write books.

Her works - a series of four historical fiction books for kids - feature the adventures of siblings Bobby, Joey and Katy Johnson. Wood's second book in the series, "Adventures on Amelia Island: A Pirate, A Princess and Buried Treasure," is set in Nassau County. Wood said she used pirates to lure young readers.

"Then, I can teach them about Bosque Bello cemetery, Fort Clinch, Old Town, the Amelia Island Museum of History and the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival. Hopefully, young readers will want to visit Amelia Island and discover its history first-hand," Wood said.

Research is a key to writing historical fiction, Wood told the students. She spends the first six months of any book project taking photographs, going on tours and interviewing locals in the places where her books are set.

After completing her research, Wood outlines her story, including a beginning, middle and end. Then, she writes two or three chapters at a time in her quiet home office. Later, she rereads her work and either keeps it or deletes it. …

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