Hostesses with the Mostesses - Jane and Heidi

Hostesses with the Mostesses – Jane and Heidi

I know it’s been a few weeks since I’ve managed a Gratitude Sunday post, but since what I am most grateful for these past few weeks was the opportunity to spend four days writing with and learning from my favorite children’s author of all time — Jane Yolen.

Jane held a picture book boot camp master class over a four-day period. I was ecstatic to have been accepted, but terrified all at the same time.

It was more than a little nerve-racking to share some of my work with a woman who has written more than 300 books spanning a 50-year career (so far) and who’s won almost every children’s book award that’s available to win. Here’s little me with my one published book crossing the threshold of one of my heroes.

I’m sure Jane won’t mind me saying that I discovered she’s not a hero. Not in the sense of capes and magical powers and superhuman strength. The kind who flies in and out, doing deeds for recognition and glory.

Jane is a hero of a quieter kind. One who works impossibly hard and creates her own success. She does not hoard her literary riches, but instead reaches back to those behind her, gives them a strong hand to grasp.

One of the words that kept coming up throughout the weekend was “collegial,” which is exactly how Jane made us feel. As if we were equals, colleagues. By the end I think we understood that we ARE her colleagues. We are because we too are hardworking, serious about the craft, willing to weather the whims and tides of the business.

Still, I remain overwhelmed by her generosity in sharing her home, her food, her books, her libraries, her DAUGHTER, and her immense wisdom with people who came as strangers and left as family.

So when my friend Stacy Jensen, upon my arrival home, asked me: “How does Jane Yolen say goodnight?”

Well, that was just too juicy of a writing prompt. Here is my answer. Bless you Jane and Heidi for what will go down in my personal history as one of the most amazing experiences of my life!

How Does Jane Yolen Say Goodnight?

How does Jane Yolen

say good night

as we circle together,

in the rising moon light?

Does she creep

with sharp claws,

shredding our stories?

Dashing our dreams

of publishing glories?

Does Jane Yolen

flail her arms in the air

commanding we put

our butts in our chairs?

Does Jane Yolen … GLARE?

How does Jane Yolen

say good night

when we’re trying our best

to write our words right?

Does she stomp on our stanzas

and pummel our prose,

snicker and snort at the

words that we chose?

Does she scream,

Does she bash

Does she roar,

Does she slash?

Does she crumple our drafts

to toss in the trash?

No, Jane Yolen doesn’t.

She’s pure kindness and heart.

Jane examines each piece

of our blossoming art,

she gives reassurance,

we’ve made a great start.

She asks her wee Heidi

to bring us sweet treats,

and spins splendid tales

of publishing feats.

She tells us,

“Remember the child you once were.

Forget all the critics.

Just write for her.”

Jane sprinkles hope

on the crown of our heads,

wishes sweet dreams

as we slide into beds.

Our hearts give a whisper,

as Jane slips from sight.

Good night, Jane Yolen. Good night.

Categories: Authors, Children's Books, Creativity, Friendship, Picture Books, Poetry, Publishing, Rhyming, Travel, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,



  1. LOVE!!! What a fabulous tribute! 🙂

  2. What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful author! Well done! 🙂

  3. Love it. We have all learned so much from you all sharing your experience at Jane Yolen’s bot camp. Especially, the wonderful, reminder to simply have our butts in the chair and WORK/WRITE! Thanks Julie.

  4. Great prompt and fabulous execution!

  5. You had me laughing in the beginning (because to imagine Jane roaring and bashing and snorting could be nothing but comical, she’s so nuturing) and going awwwww at the end. Nicely done tribute, Julie.

  6. Love it! What a fabulous experience:-)

  7. Thank you so much for sharing, Julie. It would have been an amazing time. The line ‘Just write for her’ is the one I love. I will try to hold on to that as I challenge myself to do better.

  8. What an amazing experience that was! I’m so grateful that you were able to be part of this, and then share with us. Wonderful poem (now I must go and find a tissue…). Thank you, Julie!

  9. What a wonderful way to honor someone who inspires you and sharing a moving experience! I am so happy for you, Julie. You are definitely living your dream. It inspires me to keep going with my own goals for my writing. Bless you for sharing so much.

  10. Loved your goodnight, Julie! It was inspired by the best, and that shows.

  11. Julie,
    Excellent writing. You are the next generation. When you’ve been writing 50 years you too will have 300 books. I’m grateful for you and all the encouragement you give to other writers. Well done.

  12. Beautiful poem to honor a lovely heart! 😀

  13. Love love love your ode to Jane! Please write more about your weekend.

  14. That was beautiful! Well done! Love it.

  15. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. Your poem is just gorgeous!

  16. what a wonderful, heart-warming post! I want to go too!! maybe someday…..

  17. What a lovely poem! I can see why you feel such gratitude for your days spent in her home!

  18. Jane is pretty fabulous–and your ode is just as remarkable! Can’t wait to hear more…

  19. Just beautiful. Love the idea of writing for that little girl I was.

  20. What a wonderful experience and beautiful tribute!

  21. Awww. That was lovely. Great tribute, and sounds like a great time.

  22. How fun, Julie! I’m so glad you got to know Jane. I was just thinking about her today. How I treasure each little moment I’ve spent with her and her books. She is an icon and a dear person. So grateful you got to connect with her.

  23. Very inspiring. I enjoyed every line in your article. What a lovely tribute to one of great children’s authors.

  24. Lovely, Julie. Although I’m not doing 12×12 this year I’m following your adventures with great pleasure. This one with Jane sounds v-e-r-y special indeed. It’ll be hard to beat, but I hope you’ll have many more such.

  25. Fabulous Julie-just fabulous.

  26. Just beautiful! So glad you had this experience. What does Jane think of your poem?

    • Hi Tina, I did send it along to her, and she said it was a fantastic tribute AND an excellent satire of her work. I was relieved when I got that message back. I was sweating it a little. But then, as I told her, imitation is the finest form of flattery. 🙂

  27. Wow, thanks for sharing your talent and experience.

  28. Julie, this is so beautiful! I was so envious of your weekend with Jane Yolen, but in true kid lit- Julie Hedlund- spirit, you shared every bit of it with us. Thank you! 🙂

  29. A lovely ode to Jane! Love it! Jane sounds even more lovely than one imagines! So glad you had a marvelous time!!!

  30. Hand over my heart, wistful smile on my face, and a contented sigh…
    Such an inspiration, especially as I revise right now. 🙂

  31. Awesome; it gave me goose bumps!!

  32. Love this, Julie! You did a great job. I’m so glad you got to spend that time with Jane.

  33. That was really fun! You did a great job with it, Julie.

  34. You’ve been kind and gracious (words you use to describe Jane) to share with us your boot camp experience, Julie! Thank you so much…I love ‘remember the child you once were – forget all the critics and write for her’. Oh yes…that is a keeper…to be inscribed on my heart.:)
    So happy you got the opportunity to do this!

  35. How very beautiful. Especially the part about writing for the child we once were. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

  36. Generous is as generous does. Love the poem! 😀

  37. I cried reading this stanza – She tells us, “Remember the child you once were.
    Forget all the critics. Just write for her.” How wonderful for you Julie.

  38. If Jane doesn’t use this poem as her first line if marketing for next year’s retreat, I’ll, I’ll, well I don’t know WHAT ILL DO! It is fantastic!

    Thank you for sharing your fabulous weekend, Julie!

  39. Beautiful, what an opportunity… 🙂

  40. Julie – What an awesome and funny tribute to Jane Yolen!

  41. Julie, I love the way I personally connected to this. What a feeling of quiet inspiration. And, i love Jane’s advice to write for your inner child and forget the critics. I have a feeling that advice will go a long way.

  42. What a fantastic opportunity! I’m going to look up that inner child.

  43. This started my Monday morning with a huge smile! So fun, Julie! I’m sure Jane is tickled by the tribute.

  44. Awwwwww. . .love it!

  45. Love it. What a cool opportunity too.

  46. Oh Julie what fabulous, tribute! That event is probably going to be the most memorable writing story you’ll have. Though maybe Italy is a close second 😉

  47. Love the tribute. Thanks for sharing, I do hope you share more with us. Her words to write to that child we are to remember was priceless. I will carry that with me always.

  48. Bravo! What a great tribute to Jane and Heidi. If. I were them, I’d post this on my wall.

  49. What a great experience and a wonderful tribute!

  50. from your heart to our collective heart ~
    Grazie con tutto il mio cuore, bella Julie. Con amore da tua sorella in spirito, Mary Alice Deveny

  51. This is a fine tribute to Jane, who is full of heart and caring after 300 books? Must be because she writes for children. Thanks for sharing this poem and the lesson: “write for the child in you.”

  52. Jane is certainly my favorite children’s author and my continuing inspiration.

  53. Super rich word use in your tribute to Jane. Loved lines like “stomp on our stanzas, pummel our prose, snicker and snort at the words we chose.” Bravo!

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