Renee's Retreat
contact me
Woody's World 

In 1929, twelve-year-old Woody thinks little about money. Then the stock market crashes, crumbling his father’s business with it. Suddenly, money becomes very important to Woody, so he searches for ways to help his family. Sometimes his efforts earn him a few coins. At other times, his efforts remove letters from an imaginary chocolate “RESPECT” bar, that his father uses to keep track of Woody’s mistakes.

In the end, woody learns about hard work, true friendship, and earning respect. But, will his efforts ever be enough to earn the respect of his father?

Woody’s World is loosely based on the escapades of my father, as he grew up in Princeton, NJ.  I have also added snippets of my mother's life during this tumultuous time in American History. 

This book has a Lexile of 793, which makes it perfect for reading groups in 4th grade.  Click HERE to order.

Click below to order a personalized, signed copy of Woody's World

International Children's Literary Classics is pleased to announce that the book, Woody's World, by E. Renee Heiss, has been selected to receive the 2013 Silver Medal for Teen/Tween historical fiction. The CLC award is a designation reserved for those books which uphold the rigorous criteria set forth by the International Children's Literary Classics review committee, a team comprised of individuals with backgrounds in publishing, editing, writing, illustration, and graphic design.

Review from Homeschool.com:

Woody's World is a charming, thought-provoking book about the adventures of a creative twelve-year-old boy during The Great Depression. The book chronicles his fun, fool-hardy life prior to the stock market crash, through the following year, as he grows from a boy who tends to get into trouble, to a determined, hard-working young man—a true entrepreneur, who is able to partially support his family. 

Because this book was written about a different time, there are numerous historical/cultural talking points. Read the book with your child and take the time to stop and discuss various subjects as they arise.  On the positive side—it was a time when kids played outside safely for hours on end, without needing to tell their parents where they were, and a time when close-knit communities kept an eye out for each of their young members. Unfortunately, it was also a time when it was the norm for children to receive corporal punishment, and a time when African Americans were called negative names due to their race.

An integral part of Woody's World is the imaginary RESPECT bar.  Every time Woody misbehaves, his father "erases" another letter on that bar. Order your respect bars to go with Woody's World.  Cost is $5.00 for 10 custom, Kosher mini-Hershey bars that say RESPECT on the front and Woody's World by Renee Heiss on the back.  To order, use the button below.  FREE SHIPPING!!  Please allow up to 2 weeks for delivery.

10 mini-Hershey bars
Click the secure Buy Now button, which links to PayPal. You can use your PayPal account, or a credit/debit card.
Other Links for Teachers

Here are links to primary sources that will help teachers plan a unit on The Great Depression, which would incorporate the lessons learned in Woody's World:

  1. Poetry from the Great Depression
  2. Letters from children to Mrs. Roosevelt
  3. Photographs from the Great Depression
  4. Lyrics of songs from the Great Depression

And here is a link to assorted plans on the Great Depression: http://webtech.kennesaw.edu/jcheek3/depression.htm

Here is a packet of fun activities related to Woody's World: Activities (please email me if you can't open the word document and I'll send it to you in a different format)

Click to go to the Princeton Historical Society to learn more about the world in which the real Woody lived!


Lynn C. | 2 reviews

Got this for my homeschooled kids who are 12, 7 and 5. All of them liked it, but my 7-yr-old adored it! It was hard for my 5-yr-old to pay attention to some of the chapters, but I was pleasantly surprised that she did listen and comprehend most of the book. My 12-yr-old has caught on to my way of sneaking history lessons into stories, so he approached the book with great bias. He was not enthusiastic about beginning it, but after he started reading it, I had to make him put it down at lights out! I heard him laughing in his room as he read. Personally, I loved it, and I am very happy with the purchase. Renee Heiss does a great job of making a serious topic fun while still conveying the gravity of the situation (the Great Depression of the 1920s) to children. I have a feeling we will come back to it many times during the course of our lessons.

Emily D., age 12 | 2 reviews

I fell in love with this book from the first page alone. With insightful situations of the great depression from a child's point of view, you can see how devastating these times were, but yet how people adapted and pushed through when the going got tough. With times when you can't help but laugh and others when you are on the verge of tears, this book has everything. It was truly wonderful!

Review of Woody’s World
By Charles A. Bourg
Hancock Middle School History Teacher and Department Chair
“As my parents got poorer, I found myself getting richer…richer in friendships and richer in understanding about life.”—Woody
Kids do not really understand the level of deprivation that occurred during the Great Depression, nor how quickly life can change from events beyond our control.   Woody’s World brings this truth to light for children and shows how truly connected we are to one another thru events in the world. Woody and Henry have this fact thrown at them ripping apart the picture they thought was their world, in the process gaining an appreciation and a “respect” for the world Elmer, their African-American friend, occupied.
     The book itself is written with a firm understanding of the thought processes of a child, in a style that flows easily from scene to scene. The illustrations have a dream-like quality that provides insight into the chapter to come. Combining these features with a subject matter (The Great Depression) that is becoming more and more confusing as generations pass, any history teacher would find much value in its pages.
     Additionally, this book provides an excellent resource for enhancing reading skills through history which is a central focus of Core Curriculum. But like their vegetables, children are not going to digest something because it is good for them, so with vivid characters and imagery, children of all ages will enjoy this story. The book ultimately achieves its intended goal, children will gain some “respect” for themselves and the world around them.