Catherine Woolley was born in Chicago to Edward Mott and Anna Lazelle (Thayer) Woolley. She grew up in Passaic, New Jersey where her father was a newspaperman. After first attending Barnard College in New York, Ms. Woolley earned her bachelor's degree from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1927.
After college, she worked as an editor and public relations writer in New York returning to her parents' home in Passaic in the 1930s during the Great Depression. A prolific writer of over eighty books, Ms. Woolley published so many children's books that her publisher recommended using a pen name for some of her works. She chose the name, Jane Thayer - her grandmother's name - which she used for the many picture books she wrote. In the early 1960s, Ms. Woolley moved to Truro, Massachusetts where she wrote book after book on an old Remington typewriter.
Ms. Woolley was an easily recognized figure at writing and book events in Truro. She helped start a book club, worked with the Friends of the Truro Library, taught at writing workshops, and held story hours at the library. The children's room in the Truro library is named after Catherine Woolley. Though never having had children of her own, Ms. Woolley had a special gift for communicating to her young readers. Her works have been and continue to be enjoyed by many generations. Parents today have the joy of sharing the books of Catherine Woolley with their own children.
The Ginnie and Geneva series is a favorite among Ms. Woolley's readers. Below is a listing by date of original publication along with descriptions of each story in this classic series.
Ginnie and Geneva Series (With year of original publication)
Ginnie and Geneva 1948
Ginnie Joins In 1951
Ginnie and the New Girl 1954
Ginnie and the Mystery House 1957
Ginnie and the Mystery Doll 1960
Ginnie and Her Juniors 1963
Ginnie and the Cooking Contest 1966
Ginnie and the Wedding Bells 1967
Ginnie and the Mystery Cat 1969
Ginnie and the Mystery Light 1973
After traveling with her mother and father for the first nine years of her life, Georgina Fellows, known as Ginnie, is able to attend school for the first time. Ginnie is shy and feels a bit timid about joining the fourth grade class at Lincoln Grammar School . After a few ups and downs, Ginnie ultimately makes friends with her classmates. Ginnie's best friend is mischievous tomboy, Geneva Porter. Her other close friend, Anna, is an orphan who is adopted by Ginnie's grandmother. The series has a lovely, warm feeling of family, friends, and a happy state of well being. As Ginnie and Geneva mature, they begin exploring activities such as babysitting, cooking, and solving mysteries!
Individual Book Descriptions
Ginnie and Geneva . Ginnie has not gone to school as early as other children, but because of her mother's lessons, she is ready for the fourth grade. Although she has looked forward to school eagerly, it is a disappointment at first, for Ginnie has never played games or roller skated or had any practice in making friends with boys and girls. Geneva Porter, the most confident and popular girl in the class, bothers Ginnie most of all, as Geneva loves to tease. But Ginnie, who finds it hard to defend herself, has no trouble at all in standing up for her new friend. This is a warm and understanding story of children learning to get along with each other and having a wonderful time as they do!
Ginnie Joins In. It sometimes seems to Ginnie that the other girls are prettier or smarter or more sure of themselves than she is. She is enchanted at the prospect of spending a summer at the lake, but when she gets there she discovers there is one thing that stands between her and complete enjoyment: she doesn't know how to swim! With even the smallest children swimming or jumping fearlessly off the float, Ginnie feels that her feeble efforts make her conspicuous. But Ginnie's practice and determination help her find her way among her friends. At last Ginnie finds out how much fun she can have when she learns to accept herself and even laugh at herself.
Ginnie and the New Girl. Ginnie and Geneva are best friends - they walk to and from school together every day and play together every afternoon. Geneva 's companionship means a great deal to the less self-confident Ginnie - until the new girl comes. Then all Geneva 's time and interest seems to be devoted to Marcia, and Ginnie feels lonely and hurt. At first she is miserable, but gradually she develops other resources. Ginnie finds out what happens when she seeks her own solutions to her problems.
Ginnie and the Mystery House. When it is time to take down the Christmas tree, Ginnie thinks of the long, gloomy winter ahead - nothing to look forward to, nothing to do. But that is not at all the way the winter turns out. The excitement begins when Ginnie first helps the strange old lady with her bundles and realizes that she is desperately afraid of something. Before long, Ginnie is a little frightened herself, and mystified, too, because she discovers that the old lady lives in a forbidding shuttered house where footsteps can be heard in the attic and someone, or something, wails in the night! The weeks go by, with snowstorms and sleigh rides and parties, but still the dark house refuses to yield its secret. And Ginnie and her friends will not be content until at last they solve the mystery.
Ginnie and the Mystery Doll. The name of the doll is Lady Vanderbilt and she is very beautiful. Her gown is of lavender taffeta, and around her neck she wears a pearl. When Ginnie and Geneva heard about Lady Vanderbilt, they longed to see her, but the doll had disappeared thirty years ago and no one knew where she was. Then, suddenly, she appears at a church auction, and for a tantalizing moment the girls think she will be theirs. But a twist of fate takes her away once more and it will take all of Ginnie's determination to find her and solve her mystery!
Ginnie and Her Juniors. When Ginnie and Geneva want to earn extra money for Christmas, they think first of baby sitting. Initially, most of the mothers feel they are too young. But suddenly, a few mothers begin to show confidence in Ginnie. From wheeling a baby around the block in his carriage, she graduates to entertaining the toddlers, Susan and Tommy, for an afternoon. Her success with these two difficult three-year-olds lead her at last to the grandiose scheme of starting a day nursery, an endeavor in which Geneva turns out to be a disruptive element! But Ginnie is undaunted and once again tests her abilities and comes up with unexpected rewards.
Ginnie and the Cooking Contest. When Ginnie spots the newspaper headline announcing a juvenile cooking contest, she is immediately fired with enthusiasm and determination to win first prize, a trip to Washington , D. C. For weeks she pored over a multitude of cookbooks trying to find the ideal menu to submit and a superlative recipe to prepare the day of the contest. Although an experienced cook for her age, Ginnie begins to lose confidence as she samples her friends' mouth-watering dishes and cannot decide on her own entry. Even with her plans settled, Ginnie finds she has not allowed enough time to prepare her material. How she manages to enter the contest on time, and what happens then, makes a suspenseful climax to a warm, appealing story.
Ginnie and the Wedding Bells. Ginnie is delighted when she is asked to be a junior bridesmaid. But her joy is short-lived. Her first shock comes minutes after reading the invitation. A hard-packed snowball, tossed in fun by her friend Geneva , strikes her on the cheekbone, grazing her eye - which begins to turn black. A bridesmaid with a black eye! Impossible! There is nothing to do but to cancel plans for joining the wedding party. That calamity, however, is only the beginning. One crisis follows on the heels of another as Ginnie and her parents arrange to attend the ceremony as guests of the groom. The Christmas wedding is to be held in Nantucket . They plan to go by plane, but the weather is uncertain. Then Ginnie seems to be coming down with a virus - and at the last minute, the cat has kittens, which cannot be found! Will Ginnie and her family be able to get to the wedding after all?
Ginnie and the Mystery Cat. When Ginnie hears that her parents are planning a tour of Europe , she begs to go along. And taking along best friend, Geneva , makes the trip sound all the more exciting. Not long after they arrive, Ginnie notices suspicious things happening wherever they go. Clutching the good luck cat figurine she had acquired, she dismisses her uneasiness. From Portugal to Spain then on to historic Greece , the trip provides one new experience after another. The girls visit museums such as the Prado in Madrid , enjoy horse-drawn buggy rides through Old World city quarters, and of course, sample delicious new foods. Nevertheless, the nagging idea lurks that the party is being followed. When a confrontation occurs, Ginnie is most surprised to find herself a heroine!
Ginnie and the Mystery Light. Ginnie is invited to spend the Christmas holidays with Geneva in the South. Though Ginnie hopes for excitement, she doesn't bargain for anything as spooky as the mystery light on Lonesome Bay Road . Still, she is determined to find out what causes it. Is it the ghost of a Civil War slave looking for his wife? Is it related to black magic, voodoo, root doctors? And who is the flamboyant Doctor Turkey ? Before Ginnie helps to solve the baffling riddle, she learns something of the nature of superstition, ignorance, fear - and evil. Based on an actual experience of the author, in which she participated in a university-sponsored investigation of a similar legendary light, this story is full of surprises and will keep its readers guessing from start to finish.