Cover of Once Upon Ice by Jane Yolen and Jason Stemple

Once Upon Ice

Photographs by Jason Stemple
Boyds Mills 1997
ISBN# 1-56397-408-8 Boyds Mills hardcover
ISBN# 1-59078-174-0 paperback

When Jason showed me some of the pictures of ice he’d taken–especially the one that looks just like Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream,” I knew what our follow up poetry book to “Water Music” had to be. Originally I called the book “Ice Song” but the publisher renamed it. Figuring I couldn’t come up with 20 different poems about ice, I enlisted the help of other poets. I sent Jason’s photos out to about a dozen of them–including Marvin Bell, X. J. Kennedy, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Nancy Willard, J. Patrick Lewis, and Ann Turner. They all responded enthusiastically to his photographs. As did I. There are four of my own poems in the anthology.

See Jason’s description of this book.

What reviewers have said:

  • “Each picture covers the entire page, muted to a stone-on-tone value. Sometimes, a small area of detail from the background is intensified to its true quality, and this highlighted image is the focus of the poem. Styles are as varied as the poets themselves–whimsical, descriptive, storytelling, emotional. Each poem is true to its photograph, giving a special dimension to both. Words like “creaking,” “brittle,” “chattering,” “snaps,” and “a-shiver” make the poems expressive read-alouds. The book has curricular connections to units on weather, seasons, matter, or creative writing. Reading it in winter will give readers a chill, even if they are in Florida or southern California.” — School Library Journal
  • “Generally, words inspire illustrations in children’s books. In this case, editor Yolen sent her son Jason Stemple’s photographs of ice formations to poets and let the pictures serve as inspiration for their words. Featuring many dramatic close-ups of ice in nature, the photography is beautiful, both as abstract imagery and as a reflection of natural formations and sensations.” — Book List
  • “A visually appealing format is achieved through printing each poem’s title in brightly colored ink and the varied placement of each poem and its accompanying photograph.” — The Reading Teacher
  • “This is a powerful, thought-provoking and very eye-catching collection, excellent for classroom use or for pleasure reading.” — NOTES FROM THE WINDOWSILL, An electronic journal of book reviews
  • “Ice is an ordinary substance with extraordinary properties. Jane Yolen, along with sixteen other writers, contributed to this collection of poetry based upon photographs taken by Yolen’s son Jason Stemple. The photographs illustrate the many strange and ethereal ways ice presents itself and the tone of the book varies from poem to poem.”– ChildrensLit