Anna Smucker Photo






   Photo credit Cindy Wilson


Anna Egan Smucker's own web site and blog:

Anna Egan Smucker was born in Steubenville, Ohio, and grew up in Weirton, West Virginia. She has a B.A. from Carlow College (now Carlow University) in Pittsburgh, and M.A. from Michigan State University. Anna has been a children's librarian and a teacher as well as a writer. She has served as the Writer-in-Residence for Harrison County Schools, West Virginia, and has taught children's literature at Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, West Virginia. She has given presentations and conducted writing workshops for over 18,000 students and adults throughout West Virginia and the United States. She is available for presentations in schools, libraries, and at professional meetings.

Anna drew upon her childhood in Weirton, West Virginia, to write her first book for children, No Star Nights. Illustrated with oil paintings by Steve Johnson, No Star Nights is a story about growing up in the steel mill town of Weirton, West Virginia in the 1950s. Play Quia Java Games for No Star Nights at this link, including Matching, Flashcards, Concentration, and Word Search. An interesting Lesson Plan that includes No Star Nights is "A Pittsburgh Memory: A Memoir Study Focusing on Location," by Victoria A. Baumann, Fort Pitt Elementary School.

Anna's second book, Outside The Window, was published by Knopf in 1994. It is a bedtime story illustrated by California artist Stacey Schuett.  (See special activities for Outside The Window.) 

A History of West Virginia, a book for adult new readers commissioned by the West Virginia Humanities Council, was published in 1997. It is being translated into Japanese. An Online Version of A History of West Virginia for New Readers, including Workbook Chapters, is available through West Virginia Humanities Council, edited and produced by Therese M. Hess for The West Virginia Humanities Council. 

Anna's poems have been published in Now and Then, The Best of West Virginia Writers, Wild Sweet Notes, and A Gathering at the Forks, an anthology published in 1993 that featured works by writers who attended the Appalachian Writer's Workshop in Hindman, Kentucky. 

Anna has also contributed a letter, "Dear Students," to the audience of Hillchild: A Folklore Chapbook about, for, and by West Virginia Children. Edited by Dr. Judy Byers and Noel W. Tenney, West Virginia Folklife Center, Fairmont State College. Vol. 2, 2003, pp. 24-25.

Anna appears on the Literary Map of West Virginia (2003).

She has authored, or co-authored with her husband, parts of over thirty teacher's editions, workbooks, and student texts in the areas of reading and social studies for the Macmillan/McGraw Hill School Division and has served as a consultant for Houghton Mifflin Company's School Division.

Anna is the recipient of a 2005 West Virginia Arts Commission Artist Fellowship Award in Children’s Literature. 

Anna's husband, Kim Smucker, works as a grant writer and German instructor at Alderson-Broaddus College in Philipi, West Virginia.  The Smuckers have a daughter, Mary, a son, Ben, and two grandsons, Daniel and Aaron. They live in Bridgeport, West Virginia. 


Anna in her study.

She really does 

live at the end of a

road called 


                         Photo credit Linda Kucan


No Star Nights

No Star Nights, a story about growing up in a steel town in the 1950s, published in 1989 by Alfred A. Knopf. Illustrated by Steve Johnson. Fond memories of childhood pleasures overshadow the reality that the mill furnaces polluted the air, blocked out the stars, and left big slag heaps.

See part of the first draft of No Star Nights at this link.

1994 West Virginia Library Association Literary Merit Award

1990 International Reading Association Children's Book Award in the Younger Reader's Category

1989 American Library Association Notable Book

1989 Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies

1989 Junior Library Guild Selection

No Star Nights has been a featured selection in both the Macmillan/ McGraw-Hill and Harcourt Brace new reading programs in the Fourth Grade student texts.

Suggestions from Anna Smucker for classes studying this picture book:

Students might enjoy hearing someone read Cynthia Rylant’s book WHEN I WAS YOUNG IN THE MOUNTAINS. That book and that author were the inspiration for NO STAR NIGHTS. Students might compare the two books. Students might also interview their parents or grandparents and write a story about what life was like when they were young. 

NO STAR NIGHTS lends itself well to an art project in which students cut rectangles, squares, and triangles out of black paper to make the silhouette of the mill. This can be pasted onto a “frame” that red Handy Wrap has been taped onto, and hung in the window, or pasted onto a sheet of construction paper.

Reviews of No Star Nights:

Budd, Mary Lou. "No Star Nights." School Library Journal 35.(Nov 1989): 115. 

Dirda, Michael. "Young Bookshelf." The Washington Post 8 Oct. 1989. Book World, p. X11.

Reminded of his own childhood in a small steel town, Dirda comments, "My children will never know this world, but I can show it to them in this wonderful book....Johnson's paintings match the nostalgia of the prose; but his cranes and ladles and smokestacks are just right. One can almost hear the constant din, the clanging of steel on steel in the rolling mill, smell the rotten eggs of the pickling vats, see the scale dropping off the hot ingots. The more homely details are right too: Smucker and her sister playing hopscotch on a breezy autumn day, dressed in their Catholic schoolgirl uniforms; the baton twirlers at the Fourth of July parade; kids playing dodge ball in the street."

Tesich, Steve. "Everyone's Dad Worked There." Review of No Star Nights by Anna Smucker. The New York Times Book Review 12 Nov. 1989. Sec. 7, p. 51.  Available online through library services such as LexisNexis.

Interesting review in which Tesich observes that the book's "words bring back a lost time for me, as well as the pang of something else that has been lost, perhaps forever. There was a dignity in manual labor then, in that once-upon-a-time period in America. It was a dignity so inseparable from the men themselves that nobody had to bother to qualify it with language. . . . My Dad also worked in the steel mill [in East Chicago, IN] and I remembered as I read the book and gazed at the beautiful glowing paintings by Steve Johnson how I used to think of the mills as the mountains of the Midwest, not merely because they were so imposing but because I thought they would be as enduring as the Rockies. The period when those steel mills operated day and night marked the last time in our history, at least up to now, when men and machines were capable of not merely turning out a product but generating a myth - the manual laborer as a hero. This mythic quality, although never explicit, informs ''No Star Nights.'  . . . Mr. Johnson's paintings capture the narrative tone beautifully."

Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher. "No Star Nights." The New York Times 30 Nov. 1989): B2(N), pC22(L). 

Needham, Nancy R. "No Star Nights." NEA Today 8 (Dec 1989): 15. 

"No Star Nights." Booklist 86 (Oct 1, 1989): 356. 

"No Star Nights." Publishers Weekly 241 (Oct 24, 1994): 63.

"No Star Nights." Smithsonian 22 (Nov 1991): 181. 

Roback, Diane. "No Star Nights." Publishers Weekly 236 (Sept 8, 1989): 69. 

Zeiger, Hanna B. "No Star Nights." The Horn Book Magazine 66 (March-April 1990): 195 (2).

~ New ~

Golden Delicious: A Cinderella Apple Story. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman, 2008. This picture book recounts the discovery of the Golden Delicious apple with allusions to Cinderella. Every Golden Delicious apple tree in the world is descended from one tree "that just grew" on Anderson Mullins's farm in Clay County, WV in the early 1900s! A nursery in Missouri purchased the tree and took twigs for growing new trees. The Author's Note gives further background on the apple's history and the grafting process.recounts the discovery of the Golden Delicious apple.

Watercolor illustrations by Kathleen Kemly


Reviews of Golden Delicious:

Bock, Lee. "Smucker, Anna Egan. Golden Delicious: A Cinderella Apple Story." School Library Journal 54.10 (Oct 2008): 137(1). Available through library services such as General OneFile. Gale.

Rochman, Hazel. "Golden Delicious: A Cinderella Apple Story." Booklist 104.22 (1 Aug. 2008): 78(1). General OneFile. Gale.

"Smucker, Anna Egan: GOLDEN DELICIOUS." Kirkus Reviews (Sept 1, 2008): NA. General OneFile. Gale.

"This lightly fictionalized story of the golden delicious apple truly reads like a fairy tale....The colors of Kemly's charming watercolor-and-ink illustrations neatly evoke the time period and the agricultural theme. A standout amidst the proliferation of apple books found in elementary classrooms."

Other Books for Children by Anna Smucker

To Keep the South Manitou Light is a fast-paced historical novel (ages 8–12) set on an island in Lake Michigan , published by Wayne State University Press, Jan. 2005. Wayne State University Press provides an excellent review of this book. Winner of a 2006 Literary Merit Award presented by the Historical Society of Michigan. Be sure to check out The Reading Tub for more information on this book.

Suggestions from Anna Smucker for classes studying this novel:

My historical fiction novel TO KEEP THE SOUTH MANITOU LIGHT, set in 1871 on an island in Lake Michigan, lends itself to many across-the-curriculum activities – in history, geography, math, and science, as well as language arts. The Inland Seas Education Association at is an excellent interactive website with a wealth of information about places described in my book, as well as accounts of daily life at the life-saving stations on the treacherous Manitou Passage. After going to the website listed above, click on “Stewardship,” click on “Life Along the Manitou Passage,” then click on “Visit Web Site.”

The Life of Saint Brigid retells legends of an early Irish saint, along with an examination of the Celtic goddess Brigid, folk customs, traditional prayers, and the symbolism behind, as well as how to make, a Brigid’s cross. Belfast, UK: Appletree Press, 2007.

To order books and/or to obtain 
information on the following and other customized programs,
please call 
(304) 842-6250, 
or write 
Anna Egan Smucker, 
1002 Rainbow Road, Bridgeport, 
West Virginia 26330. 


Guidelines for Teachers on Author Visits

(.doc file)

Update on Author Visits:

To prepare students for my presentation on Golden Delicious: A Cinderella Apple Story, there is a wealth of across-the-curriculum teaching ideas & resources for all grade levels at the educators’ site and at Often schools will ask their county's nutrition coordinator to supply Golden Delicious apples for lunch on the day of my visit. Other schools have apple-tasting of different kinds of apples. Yum!


"Author Explains Writing Process to Preston Students." Dominion Post [Morgantown, WV] 4 March 2006: NA. Read article online through library services such as General OneFile. Gale.


  Photo credit Carl Briggs

Examples of Special Programs Offered

No Star Nights/Outside the Window Slide Presentations

A reading and discussion of the books from the first drafts to the published works, including the artists' sketches, dummies, and the author's rough drafts.      

Classroom Writing Workshops

Emphasis is on writing as a discovery process of drafting and revising. Students are encouraged to write about what they find personally relevant. Poetry; Short Stories; Personal Narratives; Writing the 5-Paragraph Essay using a detailed graphic organizer.

Writing Workshops for Adult

Writing stories using your own life experiences. Writing and publishing stories for children.

Especially for Teachers

Staff Development Workshops: Workshop on using Outside the Window across the curriculum. Classroom-tested writing activities using the 5-Paragraph Essay, Personal Narratives, Poetry, and Story Writing.

Presentation: Using samples of literature by West Virginia authors to teach reading and writing.

Special activities for Outside The Window
First draft of No Star Nights 

This Page Created by Judy A. Teaford:  09/03/2001
Last Updated: by Tina Hanlon  6/2/10
Links Checked:  4/21/08

AppLit Logo

Site Index