Bringing Up a Writing Family: A Kidlit Journey with Award-Winning Author Jane Yolen

I hope you’ll have a chance to enjoy Jane’s interview too.


René Bartos: I am so excited to be able to chat with author Jane Yolen today! Welcome to Writers’ Rumpus Jane! I am humbled and honored to talk to a writer with your expertise and experience. Newsweek dubbed you “The Hans Christian Anderson of American Children’s Literature.” Wow! You have authored more than 400 books and are also an esteemed poet and essayist. My brain is trying to process this…Can you tell us a little about your journey into the kidlit world?

Jane Yolen: The funny thing is—I stumbled into it. I was a poet from early childhood, and with my younger brother used to interview neighbors in our apartment for a “newspaper” we wrote. Our mother typed it up with carbon papers and we sold it back to the neighbors for 5 cents each.

My father was a journalist, president of the Overseas Press Club and later on…

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My autobiography – THERE ONCE WAS A BOY – coming soon.

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I said I hoped to share some nice news soon, and now I can. I’ve been in discussions with TOM PETERS, Dean of Library Services at Missouri State University in Springfield, about publishing my autobiography. A number of my manuscripts are housed in the Duane G. Meyer Library archives and I hold an honorary doctorate of letters from MSU so I’m especially happy that the university is going to publish my memoires. Yesterday I met with ELAINA KERSEY, managing editor for Ozark Studies Institute and had a productive meeting. This morning, Dr. Peters published the following note in the MSU Library Notes.

Picture by Elaina Kersey, 8/24/22

David Harrison to partner with Ozarks Studies Institute on publication of autobiography

Local children’s book author David Harrison is working with the Ozark Studies Institute to publish his autobiography, tentatively titled There Once Was A Boy. This week, he met with OSI managing editor, Elaina Kersey, to discuss his hopes for the book and ideas for cover design, distribution, and more. Harrison, a Springfield native, is in his mid-eighties and has had a long and successful career, publishing books as a standalone author and a collaborator such as the recent titles Rum Pum Pum, The Dirt Book: Poems About Animals That Live Beneath Our Feet, and After Dark: Poems about Nocturnal Animals. He still wakes up early and works from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. The rest of the day, he spends with his wife. There Once Was A Boy is only in the early stages, but it’s already an inspiring page-turner that OSI is excited to share with generations of fans.

An early pub date is expected to make THERE ONCE WAS A BOY available for year-end holiday seasons. The target audience includes writers, emerging writers, teachers, parents, counselors, and, of course, students old enough to be thinking about what they might want to be when they finish their school years. It will be made available to libraries and book stores as well as online. I’ll provide information about how to order copies soon. Early expressions of interest here and on FB will help the publisher determine the size of the first run.

History repeats itself

Hi everyone,

I mentioned recently that I’m pausing now and then to add a bit more to my autobiography. Yesterday, June 6, 2022, I was working on a segment about catching my first Black Witch moth. It was fluttering against the window in a bowling alley in Mexico City where I was bowling with my dad in 1955.

This morning on my “Facebook Memories” a memory popped up from June 6, 2020, when I noticed a Black Witch moth perched on a stairwell wall here at Bella Vita.

Later in the day yesterday, June 6, 2022, Jeff found a dead Black Witch moth on a walkway no more than 60 feet from where I saw the one two years ago on the same date. I think the moth in 2020 was a female and the one yesterday is a male. Females are somewhat larger and have more distinctive markings. What do you make of that, Stephen King?

Signing for a new book

Hi everyone,

Picture by Nathan Papes, Springfield News-Leader

I’m delighted to say that yesterday I agreed to terms in the contract for a new book with a favorite publisher of mine. It’s a picture book told in free verse and has been in the works since 2019. I don’t have a pub date yet and am not at liberty to provide details. I’m just happy and wanted to say so.

Hi everyone,

As an experiment, I’m reposting BRYN STRUDWICK’s June poem here to see if I can add the picture he sent to go with it.

(An Acrostic)

Something magical happens every year,
Under the bird table I built out here.
Not from something that I do,
Food for the wild-life holds the clue.
Loading his beak too full through greed,
One sparrow drops a sunflower seed,
Whereupon it takes root where it lies.
Every day I watch it rise,
Reaching up towards the skies.

by Bryn Strudwick