Cover of Uncle Lemon's Spring by Jane Yolen

Uncle Lemon’s Spring

This tall tale is based on some Stemple family history. My husband, David Stemple, was born and brought up inWest Virginia, up in the mountains, We had a number of family vacations there. He actually had an Uncle Lemon. David’s older brother Bill taught him to “fish for chickens.” FJ (for Fritz John) was my father-in-law’s nickname but he was a teacher and school superintendent, not a law man. I think I made the rest of it up. In the first draft or two, the child was a boy until my editor said, “Is he supposed to be a girl or a boy?” I morphed him into a her and the book was all the better for it.


  • Selected for the William Allen White Award Master List 1983-1984
  • Made into a play for LIfeline Theater in Chicago, 1991

What reviewers have said:

  • “Yolen draws on her husband’s West Virginia childhood to create this story in the tall tale tradition. She embues it with homespun humnor and warmth, emenating from the gutsy characters, earthy dialogue, and colorful folkways. . . .pure fun for middle grade readers”–The Advocate
  • “The cheerfully outrageous tall tale is told in the first person by a practical, sturdy little girl whose feet are set firmly on the ground . . the author has a sure ear for dialect, and her use of language is coloiful and very funny.”–Horn Book
  • “The author surprises us with the frantically comic doings in an old-time West Virginia setting. .”–Publisher’s Weekly