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Writers Against Racism: Jan Godown Annino

Introducing my next wave of authors who are joining the W.A.R series. 

Jan Godown Annino writes fiction and non-fiction in Florida, where she moved as a  child, from rural New Jersey. You can visit her blog, or contact her on Facebook: She Sang Promise: The Story of Betty Mae Jumper, Seminole Tribal Leader (National Geographic Children’s Books (March 9, 2010)


How did you find your topic for this, your first picture book?


Betty Mae Jumper, who is an amazing woman, spoke to me when I stopped at her table at a festival I was covering for a newspaper. We stayed in touch. Years later after she wrote two books herself, including A Seminole Legend, her memoir, she said she would like me to present her story to young readers.


You aren’t American Indian, so as an outsider, what qualities do you bring to this topic?


I knew Mrs. Jumper for a long time before I thought I would be writing books. She was a newspaper editor when we met, so we were colleagues in journalism. I made sure that my young daughter who is now an older teen, met her. Another time, we enjoyed a fun car ride together with other women, in travel to a storytelling event in another city. The biggest factor was that she trusted me to write it. Instructive for other writers is that this collaborative process with the artist Lisa Desimini, and also with Moses Jumper, Jr. who wrote a letter to children for the book, involved vetting the images and story with the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum at the Big Cypress community, affiliated with the Smithsonian.


Why is it important for young readers to know about Betty Mae Jumper?


Anytime young people can see how a child goes from infancy, when her story begins, to great achievement, that’s exciting. Her world in the 1920s in outdoors Florida was so different than what children experience today. And she is an exemplar because she never gave up on her dreams of a good education and improvements for the people she loves – the unconquered Seminole Tribe of Florida.


Her blog/website:

On facebook: She Sang Promise: The Story of Betty Mae Jumper, Seminole Tribal Leader


  1. Adrian Fogelin says

    Jan is a gifted children’s book author and journalist because she has an inate interest in, and sensitivity to, the lives being lived around her. She is a magnificent storyteller and her stories always have the ring of truth.

  2. I totally agree with Adrian. Jan is a wonderful author as well as human being. She speaks, & everyone listens. Always positive and upbeat. Her writing demonstrates that love of writing and her love for people.

  3. B Herrera says

    I like seeing the expansion of authors in your group. The more the merrier. Pretty soon there will be so many authors in W.A.R. that officials in charge will be forced to acknowledge you.
    Keep going.

  4. Doug Alderson says

    Jan is the perfect person to write Betty Mae Jumper’s story. She is sensitive and articulate, and as a result, the book rings with authenticity. The book will help the world know the Florida Seminole culture and its first elected woman leader a little better. Thanks Jan!

  5. George Edward Stanley says

    Fantastic interview, Amy! May this second wave turn into a tidal wave! The W.A.R veterans will be surfing it! (Stay hungry! Stay foolish! I’m living it, Amy!!)

  6. Ann Morrow says

    Jan’s story of Betty Mae Jumper is as layered and lovely as a work of Seminole patchwork. It is full of color, heart, poetry and artistry and is a fitting tribute to a remarkable woman. Thank you to Jan and illustrator Lisa Desimini for sharing your talents.

  7. Amy Bowllan says

    I’m curious if BETTY MAE JUMPER has made its way onto K-12 booklists? I will be adding it to mine.

  8. jan godown annino says

    Posters – you are all wonderful with your thoughts about Betty Mae Jumper. And – Amy many, many thanks for W.A.R & for your support. jga

  9. Susan Cerulean says

    She Sang Promise is what I’m giving to every child from newborn to age 10 (at least). Especially every Florida child. Especially every girl child. Jan’s taking us into new territory of the landscape and life of a woman everyone should know. Thanks, Jan!

  10. Joan Broerman says

    I reviewed SHE SANG PROMISE on March 11 and interviewed Jan on March 12 on Booklog. my blog for readers of children’s books.
    Enjoy at

  11. Megan Allen says

    A great addition to my fourth grade classroom library…a story that the kids can relate to and that fits in so nicely with the standards! A beautiful book!