So, David L. Harrison was posting on his personal web page about how when his son (now in his 60s I believe) was a boy, David had always promised to write him a story about a lonely tiger, but never did. And so I wrote back (also on David’s site) the beginning of the story set in India and after we had this open to the public several pages going on, I said: “Think it’s time to take this offline and really go for it.”
Daughter Heidi Stemple and I were telephoned by the editor of a new early-reading imprint “Rises” for Penguin Random house. We knew her though had never actually done a book for her. Se told us about an idea and we ran with it, and it became this book…
MIRIAM AT THE RIVER is based on the Biblical story of Moses’ sister, a seer in her own right, who saved her baby brother by putting him in a woven basket and sending it into the Nile River, where she watches over it until it is pulled out by the pharaoh’s daughter who raises him as a prince of Egypt.
So I had a brilliant idea. Humorous poems about stinky animals. Lots of back matter. You know–skunk, stink bug, mink, ferret,. Had a moment’s doubt that there wouldn’t be enough. Google set my mind at rest. Talked to daughter Heidi about doing the book with me.
A lyrical book about a little boy, his obsession with the moon, and how he becomes an astronaut who gets to walk on the moon. And though the book is dedicated to Neil Armstrong, it’s not about him. It’s about desire, dedication, and hard work. In fact, the very things that created the book itself.
So, I got an email asking for a short story for a new dragon anthology and thought: I am SO done with dragons. But no sooner had I said that aloud, then my traitor mind responded: “The tsar’s dragons were harrowing the suburbs again.” The next three or four sentences spun out quickly.
The Yolen-Stemples are a family of birdwatchers. (I must admit I am the least of them.having been a city girl the first fourteen years of my life.) My late husband David Stemple grew up in the mountains of West Virginia. And our three children began early, because David (“Pa” in OWL MOON) taught them how to bird.
This is the second book that my three children and I have done for National Geographic, the first being ANIMAL STORIES.
NG asked us to do the first book, we pitched the second. I made a rough outline and once NG gave us a contract for the book, we divided up who would do which sections.
My old friend (ex-student of mine, then a member of my critique group, winner of the Jewish Book Award among other citations—Barbara Diamond Goldin—and I decided to write a book that would be feminist, 21st century midrashim about the girls and women of the Hebrew Bible. That meant for most of them
It took Heidi and me close to fifteen years till this book finally came out. I tried it as a picture book, a middle grade novel, an easy-reader. When Heidi signed on and we did it together as a picture book (MUCH better than my first feeble attempt) we actually had a book. Scholastic bought it and put the very inventive John McKinley