Ethel Footman Smothers

Children, Young Adult

Ethel Footman Smothers is the author of two novels—Down in the Piney Woods (1992) and Moriah’s Pond (1994)—and two picture books: Auntee Edna (2001) and The Hard-Times Jar (2003), which was selected for the Junior Library Guild. Praised for their “fresh, authentic language” and “sense of place,” Smothers’ works depict an African-American experience in the 1950s.

Speaking of Down in the Piney Woods, Smothers said: “When I decided to tell my story, I felt that Piney Woods rhythm in my head, with the black English and short, choppy sentences. That's the language of my childhood, and of my people. That uniqueness—that real flavor of our ancestry—must be preserved, or our children—all children—will be deprived of a rare richness that never can be recaptured. You see, it's not just black history. It's American history.”

Born in Camilla, Georgia, Smothers currently resides in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


Festival Years: 1998