Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Giant Called Jane

This weekend at the Illinois Reading Council Conference in Springfield, I met a giant.  She was frightening only in her gravitas and great gift as a poet and writer.  Her books are three hundred strong and cover the gamut of genres from poetry to children's books to her new graphic novel.

Yes, the giant can only be Jane Yolen, and it was my honor and privilege to meet and have the opportunity to talk at some length with her.  She spoke of poetry, her home and her husband who  died five years ago.

One would never know this tiny person, this literary giant who has helped stitch together pieces of the American fabric like a consummate quilter, could be so funny, warm and caring.  But she is.

I know we've all read of Ms. Yolen's mega-accomplishments, among which are the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards and two Christopher Awards, to name but a very few.  And I know we have been touched by her significant works such as The Devil's Arithmetic and Owl Moon.  And, of course, so many many more.  But when she was asked which book was her favorite, she answered, "The one I'm working on now.  The others are in the past.  This one is in the present."

I have a suspicion this is how giants succeed.  Never looking back at past laurels.  Always forging on, setting goals and accomplishing them.  And never forgetting who they are and what their purpose is in life.

Yes, Jane is first among equals as far as giants go.  For me, meeting her was monumental.  Oh, and I look forward to her next three hundred books.


  1. How blessed BOTH of you are to have met! Everything I've heard about Jane tells me she is a lovely person and I KNOW you are, Nancy. I'm not surprised one bit that you would hit it off. I'm trying to not turn green with envy that I couldn't be part of the conversation. Glad you had such an enriching time.

  2. Wow! Nancy,

    I love Jane Yolen, As I sit and write this email I can see my all time favorite book: Owl Moon on my shelf. Thanks for posting this great news!
    Nicole Weaver