Cover of Wee Rhymes by Jane Yolen

Wee Rhymes

The then head of Simon & Schuster’s children’s book trade department, and my old friend, Rubin Pfeffer came to my house to visit with me and my very ill husband, David. The three of us told stories, laughed, lifted the spirits of everyone in the room.

And then Rubin outlined three ideas he had for books he wanted me to write. One of them was WEE POEMS. (You can see that the name has changed! ) He wanted to “reunite the Janes,” as illustrator Jane Dyer and I had been known at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich when Rubin had published our first books together there. And what better, he suggested, than a book of baby and toddler poems written by me and illustrated with Jane’s instantly- recognizable paintings of little ones. “It will be the one book every new mother and father will want for their newborn. A book to be treasured.”

With David’s cheerful encouragement, I sent Rubin off some poems I thought fit the bill and he loved what I did.

David died a few short months later, and seven years after his death, the book came out.

Why so long? Because books take time, Rubin left S&S to become an agent, Jane Dyer wrestled with her own illnesses, I had to work through my terrible sadness, life (and death) happen. But I think David would have loved this book, remembering the early days of our own three children, and the lovely interlude of each of our six grandlings.


  • On the Bank Street Best Books of the Year list.

Around the web:

  • Paul, Bob Walch’s review of WEE RHYMES by Jane Yolen and Jane Dyer for Curled Up with a Good Kid’s Book has posted to
  • Read a lovely article about the book.

What reviewers have said:

  • “‘We both believe that literature begins in the cradle,’ write Yolen and Dyer at the beginning of this collection of 75 brief but vivid poems. Most are originals from Yolen (10 poems are credited to Mother Goose), and she provides many options for incorporating song and rhyme into a child’s day, from mealtime to naptime, from games to errands (‘Let’s go to the supermarket,/ Ride down every aisle,/ Wave at all the shoppers,/ Make everybody smile’). Beloved toys and objects also get attention, and several poems suggest interactive moments between parent (or grandparent) and child. Tidy borders frame Dyer’s pencil-and-watercolor illustrations, which offer an ethnically diverse array of children and adults. Tenderness and comfort radiate from every page, making the book a lovely addition to any new family’s library.”—Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW
  • “Years ago, Jane Dyer illustrated one of our favorite anthologies: Animal Crackers: A Delectable Collection of Pictures, Poems, and Lullabies for the Very Young, so I was delighted to see her lovely artwork show up in this new collection by Jane Yolen. Both Janes have grandchildren, and a sweet ‘Note from Two Grandmothers’ opens the book, which features little verses perfect for the everyday experiences of babies and toddlers. Most are written by Yolen, though there are some Mother Goose rhymes within as well. I was happy to see a diverse cast of characters: happy little people in all shades of skin color and hair type. This is an anthology of happiness.”—PW Shelftalker
  • “This lovely volume will be appreciated by parents and caregivers using lap rhymes for the first time as well as those looking to expand their repertoire.”—School Library Journal
  • “Two well-known names combine their considerable talents for this book of baby’s first poems…The audience…is the very youngest, for whom language is new, and these short poems are great for the age group. Not only do they roll off the tongue, but they are mostly eight lines long, so no one is getting bored—neither the speaker nor the listener. Built around a child’s everyday activities, the rhymes tend to the practical (“Here comes the engine. / Open wide. / The train choo-chews / The food inside”); “Street Rules” explains what to do when the traffic light turns red or green. Dyer’s signature soft-edged watercolors give the events a happy glow. Children of every ethnicity will see themselves in the art, and Dyer includes images of the items that make up their day: dolls, toothbrushes, teddy bears, and wheelies of all kinds. A charming addition to shelves for preschoolers.”—Booklist
  • “When my sister, brother and I was young, I remember my mother always reciting nursery rhymes to us, so that by the time I was 5, I could recite them myself. I loved those rhymes. And so did my daughter when I recited them to her. The only problem was knowing a limited number of these little pleasing poems. Well, now two grandmothers who understand how delightful poems can be for young children have put together a book of rhymes, perfect for babies and toddlers…If you are looking for a baby shower gift, a birthday gift for a child or just because you think your own kids would like a nice poetry book, this is one you might want to seriously consider. “—
  • “…Just right to start young children on the path to appreciating beautiful language.…Yolen and Dyer have given a great start for anyone interested in sharing simple poems with a loved one with this marvelous lap book of poetry.”—International Reading Association