Seven Impossible Interviews
Before Breakfast #77: Jane Yolen

h1 August 20th, 2008 by Eisha and Jules

Jules: Eisha, Jane Yolen’s here! I have to say that this is a big ‘ol highlight in our short, little existence as 7-Imp. Wouldn’t you agree?

And here’s one reason why it’s exciting: As I have been working on her interview, reading and then re-reading her responses, reading other interviews with her online, reading all about her, I am struck by her generosity as a writer. I mean, she’s THE one and only Jane Yolen. She’s as prolific a writer as they come, having written over 250 books; Newsweek declared her America’s Hans Christian Andersen (and someone else declared her a modern-day Aesop, though I’m not sure who); she’s written in just about every genre for every age, from board books to books for adults (even songbooks — and didn’t she write a comic book, too?); she’s an accomplished poet; she’s been awarded many an honor, including a Caldecott, a World Fantasy Award, two Christopher Medals, a Jewish Book Award, a Golden Kite Award, and much more; she’s written books that children are in love with and crazy about, including her dinosaur books with illustrator Mark Teague and The Devil’s Arithmetic; she’s written one of the top-five best picture books that’s ever existed (in my not-so humble opinion), Owl Moon; she is a former president of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and served on the board of directors of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators for more than twenty-five years; she is admired and respected by all kinds of readers, from folktale nerds (and I say that lovingly) to science fiction geeks (ditto) to historical fiction nerd-geeks (I say that lovingly and respectfully); she has collaborated with a whole slew, to be precise, of illustrators and other children’s book authors, including her own grown children…oh heavens, I could go on.

Where was I? Yes, so she’s, to put it bluntly, AMAZING…and yet she takes the time to speak and read to children (and write to them); she advises other authors; she has a very robust online presence…I could go on again. I’m just struck by how this graceful, immensely talented…well, I’ll say it: living legend (as cliché as that sounds) takes the time to share her wisdom. And she’s modest, to boot. I mean, really…check out the below photo of her sitting and talking to those child readers (next to the big ‘ol Teague dinosaur). I dare say that photo sums up nicely what Jane is all about: sharing the love of reading with the wee ones of the world. I love that picture.

Know what I mean, E? Whew. Are you still with me? Do you have a favorite Yolen book, or is it too flippin’ hard to pick?

Here There Be Dragonseisha: A single favorite? Can’t be done. There are just too many to choose from. Like you, I’m a big fan of Owl Moon, which has to be one of the most graceful and seamless pairings of text and illustrations to ever happen between an author and an illustrator. I also have read all of the Teague-illustrated dinosaur books to raucously enthusiastic storytime crowds, so I’m very grateful for their existence. But I’ll add a few you didn’t mention: the “Here There Be…” anthologies, such as Here There Be Dragons, Here There Be Unicorns, and Here There Be Ghosts. You know I loves me some supernatural lit, and Jane’s apparently encyclopedic knowledge of folklore and myth informs her creative and original way with words to great effect in these stories and poems.

Like you, I could also go on and on, but I’m sure most of our readers are at least somewhat familiar with Jane Yolen’s impressive canon. And if they aren’t… well, this interview should be enough to convince them to remedy the oversight, don’t you think? Especially the so-far-unpublished poems she shared with us… but I’m getting ahead of myself. Ourselves? Whatever.

I’m just so thrilled she agreed to hang out with us for the day on our lil’ blog. Thank you, Jane, for your willingness to be subjected to the 7-Imp treatment, and for being so delightfully candid in your answers. We love you all the more for it.

Jules: And I second the thanks! Readers can also note that her web site has a thorough bibliography. So, let’s get to it, with much gratitude to Jane for stopping by…

* * * * * * *

7-Imp: We know that Betsy Bird already asked you about your amazing prolificacy and that she double-checked to see if you a). sleep or b). have a robot butler. And we know that you told her you are happiest when you write. But how did you do it when your children were wee? Did you have a regimented writing schedule?

Jane: Since I’d rather write than cook or clean house, and my children were growing up in the late ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, you can just imagine the household! We had a rambling Victorian farmhouse with fifteen rooms (still do), so we can fill up one room and move on to the next. Luckily, I had a saint for a husband who believed in my talent. Also, I made sure the children learned independence early. I think they grazed a lot.

We also had a lot of barns on the property, and in one of them there were about ten craftspeople at any one time working in individual studios, who were all like strange and ditsy aunts and uncles. So there were always plenty of interesting grownups around. Many of them lived with us for months at a time, and one potter stayed for five years in our attic.

It seemed really normal at the time, but as I look back on it now, I see several things. 1. My children really had an idyllic childhood. They had their parent around much more than most kids. (My husband was a college professor.) 2. Many of the things they learned then—reading, writing, poetry from me, bird-watching, math, and computers from their father—are still vital to them as adults and parents themselves. 3. That adults can be healthily creative. They can truly love their work. 4. They saw a long-term loving relationship between their parents that lasted to my husband’s death and—to be frank—beyond.

7-Imp: You talk at your web site about being surprised when you became a children’s book author, selling your first book (pictured here) on your 22nd birthday. Take us back to that time. What led you to want to write a children’s book after starting out in journalism?

Jane: I was a lousy journalist. Hated interviewing people. I was really a poet.

While I was working in publishing—having left journalism behind–I was contacted by an editor in New York (Judith Jones at Knokpf, who became editor for, among other great folks, Julia Childs.) She had talked to people at my old college and was given my name. Writing to me, she asked to see my work and really, all I had to show were old journalistic pieces and some very jejeune poetry. So I wrote something quickly, and—looking back—I see how bad it was. She passed me on to the children’s book editor, because the “quick” stuff was an attempt at poetry and a book about my father’s kite flying. It was years before I ever published with Knopf, but that suddenly gave me an interest in trying to write something GOOD for children.


Speaking and reading at Winterthur Estate and Gardens, for whom Jane serves as the honorary children’s ambassador.

7-Imp: We know you talk a great deal about the writing process at your site—at the wonderful “For Writers” page. And even at your online journal — “to me, {writing} is a combination of pleasure and compulsion and there’s nothing amazing or stunning or astonishing about it. Except when it works well.” We like that. We also like this bit on your web site:

Here is a trick that painters know. They will often turn a picture upside-down to see if it works. Upside-down the painter cannot count on reading the actual figures, only the composition. Well, we can’t read a story or poem upside down, but we can do the equivalent.

Take a story or chapter and break it up into breath spaces as if it’s a poem. Write it down that way. You will very quickly see where you have overwritten a piece, where your repetition is not helpful but just a mistake. When you see a cliché on a single line, it leaps out, grabs you by the throat, threatening to silence you.

This is also true with poetry. Break the lines down into the smallest groupings possible. Suddenly the errors are appallingly clear. They wink at you like neon lights.

Do you have any other tips for writers that are not posted at your site?

Jane: Well, from a speech I am working on right now:

None of us love what our elbows look like. If any of you are believers in creationism, please ask God about elbows. Except for jamming them into your best friend’s side when she or he is being stupid or annoying or careless, what good are elbows?

For me, books like the Gossip Girls are elbows. They stick out, aren’t particular pretty, and everyone talks about them when they get in the way. Especially other authors.

And this is also in the speech:

No matter how hard you work on your writing, there will always be other writers who are better, faster, deeper, more popular, richer. And that’s fine.


Jane with child readers and the Scholastic dino from
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?

7-Imp: On that note, you are known for your generosity toward other writers, particularly those who are just starting out. The aforementioned “For Writers” page at your site is testament to that. Tell us about your inspirations when you first began writing books for children. Who inspires you today?

Jane: I have always found inspiration from the books I read and the people I talk to, music, nature, living, life. Early on, three children’s book folks were inspirational: poet and editor Lilian Moore, editor Frances Keene, and editor Ann Beneduce. They taught me most of what I knew about the field. Also, my husband and children constantly inspired me.

I am in a weekly writing group with six amazing women. And these days I am being inspired by other writers with whom I am working—poets Pat Lewis, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Andrew Fusek Peters, and my daughter Heidi Stemple; novelists Midori Snyder, Robert J. Harris, my son Adam Stemple; and my photographer son Jason Stemple, whose work constantly astonishes me.

But really, once I start work on a book, the book itself unfolding inspires me.

7-Imp: Tell us what it’s like to collaborate with your grown children on writing projects.

Jane: Nothing is more exciting to me than working with one of my kids. Heidi and I just sold a book in rhyme to Simon & Schuster called NOT ALL PRINCESSES DRESS IN PINK. We’ve just finished BAD GIRLS (a nonfiction book) for Charlesbridge. Adam and I are working on a book about a Jewish boy being bullied who builds a golem. There’s klezmer music (the golem is the drummer) and a bar mitvah. The book is right now called BUG and is being published by Dutton. We have just sold a gonzo novella about the Russian Revolution and dragons to a Daw anthology. And Jason and I have sold two new books to Boyds Mills — A MIRROR TO NATURE: POEMS OF REFLECTION and THE EGRET’S DAY.

I joke and say, “It’s easier than giving them money!” But what I really like is how we have gone into real friendships and colleagueship during the process. Each of them has grown from a junior partner, afraid to question my obvious superior knowledge, to a full partner willing to edit me thoroughly as well as take my suggestions on their work. I think they also have a better sense of what drives me.

7-Imp: Does your Muse speak differently to you—rather, handle you differently—when you’re writing a picture book vs. a novel vs. a poetry anthology vs. non-fiction, etc.? Or is your process fundamentally the same, even though those things are, on the surface at least, very different in many ways?

Jane: My process is quite simple, really. Cup of tea. Computer. (It used to be a typewriter.) Start writing. Sometimes what comes out is a poem. Sometimes an essay. Sometimes a story.

I wish I could have all the wonderful tools that artists have: different papers, lots of pens, paints, bits of stuff to use in collages. All lovely tools. I just took a one-day art course with a woman here in Scotland who had us use flowers to color our work. Amazing.

But writers are such simple folk. Black words, white page.


Jane with her thirteen-year-old granddaughter, Maddison, in Scotland

7-Imp: You have written, to be precise, a whole slew of poetry books for children -– rhymed and unrhymed works. Do you find that one is easier than the other to write (rhyme as compared to free verse, that is)?

Jane: Some individual poems are more difficult than others, and whether they are rhymed or not doesn’t seem to matter. (Though I am terrible at some of the more intricate rhymed forms—triolets and the like, the kind that Pat Lewis seems to spit out on a bad day.) Sometimes a poem works practically from the beginning. Most take days, weeks, months—even years—to get right.

7-Imp: Tell us please about the process of choosing the poems—along with Andrew Fusek Peters—for the superb Here’s a Little Poem. And what was it like to see Polly Dunbar’s illustrations for the first time?

Jane: Andrew, who had taken some of my poems for anthologies, asked me if I wanted to do a first book of poems for very young children. He had Walker UK sort-of interested, but they wanted an American to do the American choices so that Candlewick would come on line to do it as well. As I already had a picture book with Candlewick (SOFT HOUSE) and a book of lap games and clapping games (THIS LITTLE PIGGY) I was thrilled to be asked. I mean—imagine, sitting down and reading reams of poetry and calling it research! What’s not to like?

Andrew and I began by talking about poems we loved, and poets we’d like to approach. And, as we sent poems back and forth (thank goodness for the Internet!), we began to see a pattern for the book. After that, we began to narrow our focus to go with those very organic sections.

My husband and I went down to London from Scotland, where we have a summer home, and in the Walker UK offices met Andrew; the editor, Caroline (Caz) Royds; and Polly for a lunch and a show-and-tell. I was knocked over by the energy of her drawings. I call her Sendak With a Kick. She truly brought the book together.

7-Imp: We’re going to be REALLY BOLD and ask if you have a never-seen-before poem you’d like to share here – a children’s poem or otherwise.

Jane: This is a poem from an as-yet-unsold book for children:

Consider the Wolverine

The largest of Mustelidae,
He’s not real nice and not real shy,
He’s called a bear, I don’t know why,
He really is a weasel.

He’s strong, he’s big, he lives in snow,
His fur is glossy, he’s not slow.
But really, all you need to know
Is that he is a weasel.

He’s always moving, never still,
He leaves a stench upon his kill,
So no one else will eat its fill.
He’s really such a weasel.

And from an unsold book of poems about my husband’s death:

Christmas Bird Count Night: 2006

This was the time you would get out of bed,
dress in double layers, thick socks,
stick granola bars in your pockets,
check the owl map, add another ballpoint pen,
extra batteries for the recorder, the flashlight,
make the tea with milk and double sugars,
hot water in the thermos first to warm it up.

This was the time I would mumble
“Should I get up?” and throw back the covers,
counting on you to tell me to sleep in,
take advantage of the freshly warmed side,
your side of the double bed, closest to the door.

This was the time I would be grateful for sleep,
for being the one to stay home with the kids,
making breakfast for the hardy bird count folk,
out all night in the cold, the snow, the ice, the dark,
while I nestled in our snuggled of blankets, oblivious of owls.

This was the time you should be here, next to me,
not spread all over the world in little clumps
of cold ash and scorched bone while the owls,
like unfaithful lovers, answer any old birder
who calls them out on bird count night.

7-Imp: Wow. Thank you very much for sharing, Jane. That’s beautiful.

Switching gears in a big way now…You did school visits for twenty-five years. How do you think school visits with children informed your writing, if at all?

Jane: It reminded me that the books were for real children. Nowadays I have grandchildren for that!


Jane Yolen with daughter, Heidi Stemple, and two granddaughters, Glendon, 25, and Maddison, 13, at Winterthur Estate, where Jane is the honorary children’s ambassador. They are in the fairy house.

7-Imp: If you could change one thing, if anything, about how writing is taught in schools today (whether primary or intermediate or older), what would it be?

Jane: Also from that speech:

Now, there are two kinds of writers in the world, and they were described for me by my friend Susan Shwartz. “I,” she said, “am a mad monk, going up a rock face with a rather large chisel and carving out great swaths of story. But you are a gem polisher. You take a small, wonderful gem of a tale and polish it till it shines.”

I tell you this, because in your classrooms you will have some children who are like Susan and love to tackle large subjects with a great sharp implement, while others want to use a jeweler’s loupe, while picking at short, pithy, gem-like pieces. And I am afraid, my friends, try as you might, you cannot—and should not—try to turn one kind of writer into the other. They are both what they are. You will damage their writing skills and your digestive track trying for a Conversion. Make them better at what they do. Do not try and make them do what they cannot.

7-Imp: What’s next?

Jane: First, What’s Now! I had seven new books out this year. Hey–don’t blame me. Some of these were written years ago. An author is at the mercy of slow editors, slow illustrators, slow money, slow market. I have books out there that took took me ten years to find a home for. Some that are waiting another five years for the illustrators. SPIT HAPPENS, as my twin granddaughters’ bibs announced. In a perfect world, I’d have two books out a year, in spring and fall. In a perfect world, I’d live to 150, still writing. In a perfect world, I could eat all the chocolate I want and weigh what I did in high school. In a perfect world, we’d have world peace, a balanced ecologically safe world, and no child would go to bed hungry or abused.

So first I had three baby board books out: ONE HIPPO HOPS, HIP HIPPOS, and SAD, MAD, GLAD HIPPOS. Then a picture book about an immigrant girl and the Statue of Liberty: NAMING LIBERTY. The immigrant part of the story was based somewhat on my own family story. Then for the Fall, a nonfiction book about one of my all time favorite subjects, women pirates: SEA QUEENS. Another fact-based picture book JOHNNY APPLESEED that will also be a piece of concert music (with narration) this Fall. And finally a rhymed picture book about mothers and daughters (have I said how much I love my daughter, Heidi?), MAMA’S KISS.

What’s next? Well, I have forty books under contract, all but ten of them completely written. I have about fifteen other books, mostly picture book and poetry collections, making the rounds. I have five novels in my head. If I am lucky, I will live long enough to finish all of them.

7-Imp: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Jane: That I have a new knee so am a bionic woman, but am re-learning how to dance. Took a year of Lindy hop lessons. Now this year I want to learn Scottish Country dancing.

Jane Yolen's Scotland home

Wayside, Jane’s home in St. Andrews, Scotland

7-Imp: Even though, as Betsy pointed out in her interview, you’ve met EVERYONE, we’re still going to ask: If you could have three (living) authors and/or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose?

Jane: Shannon Hale, Kelly Murphy, Rima Staines. I may actually have met Shannon at a conference but never actually talked with her.

7-Imp: Is there something you wish interviewers would ask you -– but never do?

Jane: What is the difference between your love of writing and compulsive disorder?

I don’t think there is much difference from a psychologist’s point of view. I am compulsive—about only this one thing. But, as I love to write and my writing seems to make other people happy as well, what’s the problem?

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

7-Imp: What is your favorite word?

Jane: “Traghairm.” It’s a Scottish word that means to prophesy behind a waterfall while wrapped in a bullock’s skin. Truly. Also I love the word “blevit,” which means one-and-a-half units in a one-unit container.

7-Imp: What is your least favorite word?

Jane: “Can’t.”

7-Imp: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Jane: Sitting in front of a computer, touching a grandchild’s skin, the woods at dawn.

7-Imp: What turns you off?

Jane: Someone hurting a child.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Jane: “Shit.” Or “Fewmets,” which is dragon shit, so much bigger than bullshit or horse shit.

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you love?

Jane: A baby laughing.

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you hate?

Jane: High-pitched dentist’s drill.

7-Imp: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Jane: Musical comedy.

7-Imp: What profession would you not like to do?

Jane: Toll collector. Or elephant holer. (The person who cleans out elephants bound on long trips.)

7-Imp: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Jane: “Everyone’s here, waiting to see you. Come on in.”

* * * * * * *

For more online information about Jane:

Note: Despite the length of this list—because Jules is a Big Nerd—we make no promises that it is comprehensive in any way whatsoever. There may very well be approximately seven skerjillion more online interviews with Ms. Yolen.

* * * * * * *

Photo credits for Scholastic dino photos, Winterthur photos, and Scotland photos: Heidi E.Y. Stemple.

Author photo (with flowers): Jason Stemple.

“Something About Me” and “I Am Rose” spread from HERE’S A LITTLE POEM. Compilation copyright © 2007 Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters. Illustrations copyright © 2007 Polly Dunbar. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Inc., Somerville, MA. on behalf of Walker Books Ltd., London.

Share!Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on Tumblr




46 comments to “Seven Impossible Interviews
Before Breakfast #77: Jane Yolen”

  1. Thanks, Jules and Eisha. Great questions. Only one gripe–the lovely photo of me with the flowers is by son Jason Stemple. The others are by Heidi. (Don’t I have talented kids!)

    Jane


  2. WOW.

    FORTY BOOKS UNDER CONTRACT?! Do I *ever* want that to be me??? I don’t know how the woman manages to do it all, I really don’t. Like B.Bird, I think she does not sleep. She may possibly be part fey.

    I really, really, really, REALLY admire this woman. THANKS for doing this very squee-inducing interview.


  3. Once again you have me floored. This interview had everything — good questions, beautiful photos, poetry, and of course, answers that were candid, illuminating and inspiring. Love the speech excerpts. Love the bird count poem. Love that dinosaur photo!

    Prolific and uber creative doesn’t even begin to describe this woman, whom I once had the honor of hearing at an SCBWI conference years ago. And you nailed it in your intro, Jules — her generosity is off the scale. Thanks so much!

    P.S. Her house in Scotland is to die for!


  4. Not only is this interview fascinating and fun, but Jane Yolen and I gave the same Pivot answer for “least favorite word.” Obviously, with 40 books under contract, she’s putting more effort into despising “can’t” than I am, however. :)

    And on the topic of her helping other writers, when I was struggling with my revisions, Tricia sent me the most lovely bookmark with a Jane Yolen poem about revision on it. It’s called “Revision Takes Wings.” I clipped it to the outside of a book on my desk so I could look at it while I worked. Jane, if you’re reading this, can you tell me where else that poem can be found? In a book somewhere, I hope?

    Her book, Take Joy is also out on my desk to remind me to…well, take joy in the writing.


  5. Wow, what a terrific interview, and what a great writer!


  6. Jane, you are amazing. Absolutely amazing.


  7. Sara–revision poem is only a bookmark.

    Anyone who wants one: Send me a self-addressed, stamped envelope and a note asking for a copy.

    Email me and I will have it sent on.

    Janeyolen@aol.com


  8. Thanks, everyone…

    Jane, I edited the post to include the correct photo credit…


  9. Just delightful… a goldmine of lovely inspiring thoughts .. a splendid interview and am enormously chuffed and grinning to be included amongst the writers and artists Jane’d like to meet for coffee!!
    She’s a marvel :)


  10. Thanks so much for a terrific interview. And for compiling such a *huge* list of resources. Jane Yolen is one of those awe-inspiring writers that I can’t get enough of!


  11. WOW, what an incredibly inspiring interview! I’ve always been a huge Jane Yolen fan :)


  12. Great interview! I’ll be sharing this with the teachers at my school next week. I highlight different authors in the library each month, and now I’ll have some new things to tell my students during Jane Yolen month.


  13. I’ll add a big old squeal here myself. I was the lucky winner of Reading Reptile’s auction lot of signed Jane Yolen “stuff.” This included bookmarks, six books (wahoo!) and some posters. I gave the posters to classroom teachers this summer and have sent bookmarks to a few lovely people I know. The books I am hoarding and savoring.

    Thanks so much for this lovely, lovely interview. What an inspiration Jane and her talented children are!


  14. Have you guys read Jane’s books about unsolved mysteries from history–The Mary Celeste, Roanoke, etc.? I love those, and I recommend them to kids here at the library all the time.


  15. Wow. You have raised the bar on this one. What an incredible talent and you’ve done such a fine job of presenting her. Thank you.


  16. My daughter and I love Where Have All the Unicorns Gone? written by Jane and illustrated by Ruth Sanderson (one of my former professors). We made Winterthur part of our vacation last week. I love the pictures on this post of Winterthur! My daughter found the Enchanted Gardens (pictured above), well, enchanting.


  17. Wonderful work as always, J & E. And that second unpublished poem totally killed me. Wonderful, powerful poem, but oh, the sorrow it holds.

    Thank you to you for running this gig, and to Jane for participating.


  18. Man, do you guys rock. Thanks to you both and to Jane for a fabulous interview.

    One thing’s bugging me, though–I keep wondering if Jane knew about the profession of Elephant Holer BEFORE this interview or if the question prompted research… :D


  19. I came across Elephant Holer years ago and have never been able to put it in a story or poem anywhere. (Go figure!) So this was my first opportunity to actually mention it! In a private note, Jules asked me if I meant “elephant holder” but there it is. Disgusting and no one in his or her right mind (unless desperate for a job) would take it on. Mostly used, I believe, when circuses had long distance trains hauling their animals to the next destination.

    Jane


  20. I’ve heard Jane speak a couple of times, and she’s amazing in-person and online. Her poetry books quietly change the way I see the world, and these two poems shared here…just a microcosmic example of her range of moods and styles. That last stanza of her bird count night poem–shattering. Thanks, Jules, Eisha, and Jane!

    P.S. When we went to Scotland earlier this year, I had fantasies of “running into” Jane while there. Um…didn’t happen:>)


  21. I was probably holed up writing! What part of Scotland were you in?

    Jane


  22. Thanks to all…It was a pleasure for us to interview Jane (that’s an understatement — It’s more like: I emailed some friends and my old grad school prof, sent the URL, and typed “I can die happy now”). And it’s extra great to read that someone gets something out of the nerdy resource lists we do.

    Adrienne, no, I haven’t read those books. But yesterday my girls and I read a new Baby Bear book we hadn’t read before, and I was reminded how much use I’ve gotten out of those, too — and how much children enjoy them.

    And, Kelly (and everyone else), yes, that poem about her husband is so beautiful. The ending is so powerful and manages to speak on a level very unique to her loss but on a universal one, too, for anyone who’s ever lost a loved one and knows how it feels to have this hole where they used to be. She does a great job of capturing that on both levels, you know?


  23. Once upon a time, I would haved wanted to meet Jane Yolen so we could have tea and dazzling conversation. Now, I would want to meet Jane Yolen so I could say in person, “Thank you for all you’ve done.”

    “Christmas Bird Count Night: 2006″ got me where it hurts.


  24. Jane, you might not have even been in the country, since it wasn’t actually summer. We were there in late April, early May. Gorgeous! We did Glasgow, Isle of Mull, Fort William, Inverness, Edinburgh, and back to Glasgow. It was a fantastic and full two weeks, and we were just stretching across the middle part of the country!

    And I’ll add here that I not only love your poetry, but also the anthologies you’ve put together with your son. Once Upon Ice is one of my absolute favorites.


  25. I read Jane Yolen books for as long as I can remember — in fact I incurred my first library fine for keeping one of her books out too long.

    This was a gorgeous and insightful interview. Thanks, guys!


  26. Oh ~ Many thanks for the elbow bit. I shall remember that whenever I feel the urge to air my opinion about such books. This is a far more elegant way to say it.

    Thanks, Jane

    From another Western Massachusetts Jane


  27. [...] case you missed it, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast has a lovely interview with the very busy Jane Yolen.  40 books under contract? [...]


  28. I hope I’m not too late to add my appreciation for this great interview. And the owl poem is beautiful.


  29. One is never too late on blogs, Emmaco. Thanks!


  30. I’m late, too:) This was absolutely delightful. Thank you!!!


  31. Thanks for this wonderful interview with Jane Yolen, one of the icons of children’s literature. There are so many great books of hers that I love. One of my favorites is GIRL IN A CAGE, which she wrote with Robert Harris. It’s a fine work of historical fiction. Once I picked up the book I couldn’t stop reading. I also love LETTING SWIFT RIVER GO, illustrated by Barbara Cooney.

    I can’t count the number of her poetry books that I have. I believe the first one I got was RING OF EARTH: A CHILD’S BOOK OF SEASONS.

    As for HERE’S A LITTLE POEM: It’s perfect, absolutely perfect. It’s a poetry book I enjoy giving to parents of newborn babies.


  32. Me, too, Elaine! It’s the perfect gift at baby showers.

    So glad you got to get caught up and see the interview, Elaine. I thought of you as I worked on it. I know you are a big fan!


  33. I saw this interview a few days ago and waited until today, so I could savor every word of this interview. I am in awe of Jane Yolen and her work. I had just been telling everyone in my critique group about her book, “The Radiation Sonnets,” which I found particularly helpful.

    This interview is so fantastic. Plus, I teared up with her poems and then had to crack up over “Fewmets.”


  34. Thanks, Vivian!


  35. [...] [It's from an interview in this blog: Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.] [...]


  36. [...] Jane Yolen (interviewed August 20) on how writing is taught in schools today: “…{I}n your classrooms you will have some [...]


  37. [...] In a continued celebration of National Poetry Month, this morning 7-Imp welcomes author and poet Jane Yolen and freelance photographer Jason Stemple, who happens to be Jane’s son. Jason’s [...]


  38. [...] (and its neighbor, Northampton) and the literary history of the area. Emily Dickinson grew up here; Jane Yolen lives here; Eric Carle built his picture book museum in an apple orchard down the street. The list [...]


  39. [...] Felicia Bond, Margot Apple, Jane Dyer, Michael Emberley, Lois Lowry, Barry Moser, Ed Young, Jane Yolen, David Macaulay, Allen Say, Salley Mavor, and Chris Van [...]


  40. [...] O We don’t usually include interviews as part of our Round-ups, but this one is just … well, you HAVE to read it yourself.  Jules and Eisha over at 7-Imp have this [...]


  41. Your books are awesome!i love books by Jane Yolen. whenever i see one of her books i have to get it.


  42. [...] And here’s an interview with Jane Yolen! [...]


  43. [...] (believe me, I’m usually good for an afternoon cup), along with author Jane Yolen (who visited 7-Imp in ‘08 for an extensive interview), to discuss Foiled, their YA graphic novel release from this year. [...]


  44. To write like Jane does takes discipline and talent. Jane is blessed with both. The interview reveals a lot about who Jane Yolen is. Her books, poetry, and interviews inspire us all.


  45. [...] to enlarge cover image)   * * *   Some illustrations and the cover from Pat’s and Jane Yolen’s Take Two!A Celebration of Twins (Candlewick, March 2012), illustrated by Sophie Blackall:   [...]


  46. [...] from J. Patrick Lewis’ and Jane Yolen’s Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs (Charlesbridge, July 2012),illustrated by Jeffrey Stewart [...]


Leave a Comment