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Don’t Forget Winona


Readability Age Range



Year Published

Book Review

This historical fiction book by Jeanne Whitehouse Peterson, illustrated by Kimberly Bulcken Root, is published by Joanna Cotler Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Don’t Forget Winona is written for kids ages 4 to 8. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Plot Summary

Many Americans fled the dust bowl in the 1930s, heading west on Route 66 to California. In this fictional tale, a young girl tells about her journey out of Oklahoma with her parents, baby brother, Teddy-Boy, and little sister, Winona. She talks about riding in the back of the loaded-down truck.

The girls are always thirsty and barely able to breathe from all the dust. They pass through Amarillo and into New Mexico. At a roadside stop, Winona stubbornly refuses to rest in the shade and goes off on her own. Everyone thinks she is with someone else, even as they load up and drive off. Later, a honking truck pulls up behind them. The driver has found Winona and returns her to her parents.

The family drives through Tucumcari and Albuquerque, and Winona gets sick and weary. She sleeps a lot, missing many sights along the way. She wakes up, feeling better, just before they cross the Continental Divide. They get gas, fix a flat and head on. Winona is pleased to learn Arizona has a town bearing her name. They travel through Arizona at night because it’s so hot, breaking down several times on the way and meeting up with other Okies like themselves. The family is joyful upon reaching California.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Ma sings to the children. Pictures show her and Pa holding and hugging the kids.

Profanity & Violence


Sexual Content


Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • Why did so many people from Oklahoma move West in the 1930s?
  • Why did they choose to go to California?

  • What are some of the difficult things Winona’s family experiences on their trip?

  • Why does Winona get left behind?

  • How does her family feel when they see her again?

Additional Comments

An author’s note in the back provides additional historical information about Route 66 and the migration of Oklahoma residents (Okies) to California.

This review is brought to you by Focus on the Family, a donor-based ministry. Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book’s inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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