I was born on February 11, 1939, in New York City. My father was a journalist, writing for the New York newspapers. My mother was a psychiatric social worker until I was born. I went to PS 93, where I was a gold-star kid, writing a lot and singing with my pals. I took piano lessons, and I studied ballet at Balanchine’s School of American Ballet. Then I got into Hunter Junior High School and discovered that there were a lot of gold-star girls all over the city. What a shock! I had to work hard just to stay in the middle of the class.
At Smith College, I discovered (again) that many of the gold-star girls were there. I had to work hard just to stay in the middle of the class. But by the end of my four years, I was president of the Press Board, won the poetry and journalism awards, and wrote the lyrics to the class musical as well as starring in our senior show. I wrote a book of poems, many of which were published in small journals like the Grecourt Review
and the Chicago Jewish Forum
After college, I moved to New York City and became an editor, writing during lunch breaks, evenings, and weekends. I considered myself a poet and a nonfiction writer. But to my surprise, my first book was for children, selling it on my twenty-second birthday. It was called Pirates in Petticoats
I have written more than three hundred books since then.
The first man I married, David Stemple, is the only man I married. He and I had three children and six grandchildren. Alas, he died of cancer in 2006, after forty-four years of a wonderful marriage. I live in western Massachusetts next door to my marvelous daughter, Heidi (the little girl in Owl Moon
) and her two daughters. My sons live far away with their families: Adam in Minneapolis, Jason in Charleston, South Carolina. I also have a house in Scotland where I live four months of the year. The rest of my life is all book talk.
My Candlewick books are pretty varied, as are all my books. There is Soft House,
a picture book about how on rainy days my children used to make a house out of sofa cushions and eat chocolate chip cookies in there, accompanied by the cat. This Little Piggy
is a compilation of lap and clapping songs, finger games, knee-bouncing rhymes, and songs (with music by my son Adam), many of the games were ones I use to play with my children when they were small. Our special favorite was “Trot, Trot to Boston,” a raucous knee-bouncer. Then there is Here’s a Little Poem,
an anthology of a child’s first poems that I collected with my British friend Andrew Fusek Peters and that includes (among other poets) my daughter Heidi’s poem about ice cream. The book has won a number of awards and citations, including the Bank Street Children’s Book Award. Switching on the Moon,
another anthology done with Andrew, concentrates on night poems and lullabies. Take Two: A Celebration of Twins,
created with J. Patrick Lewis, is a collection of poems and images for the twins of the world.
And there are two rhymed picture books called Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters
, and Romping Monsters, Stomping Monsters.
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:
1. I lost my fencing foil in Grand Central Station on a date. And no—I don’t remember who I was dating, or why we were in Grand Central Station, or why I had my foil with me.
2. I have ridden Lipizzaner horses, been on a dogsled ride in Alaska, and gone white-water rafting down the Colorado River, but the wildest thing I have ever done is to sing blues with my son’s rock-and-roll band!
3. Mr. Rogers shook my hand and told me he was a big fan of my books and I almost passed out with excitement.
Books written by Jane Yolen