Friday, January 29, 2010

Take Joy

Jane Yolen has been involved in children's literature forever. Her books have won many awards including the Caldecott Medal, an Honor Award, the Nebula Award, the Christopher Medal, the World Fantasy Award, the Mythopoeic Society's Asian Award, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Award, and others. She has been published via picture books, YA, poetry, short stories and nonfiction books on folklore, storytelling and children's literature.

I think she qualifies for sure as an expert in the area of children's literature.

I read Take Joy: A Writer's Guide to Loving the Craft hoping not only to learn some things, not only to be inspired, but hoping that some of her star dust might rub off on me!

Take Joy is written as fifteen chapters on topics familiar to budding writers. One chapter explains fiction. Another helps the reader translate and understand rejection letters. Another explains POV. Yet another describes different voices that fiction authors adopt. There is a chapter on research and poetry. And more.

But Yolen tackles each tired topic with a fresh, amusing approach. I caught myself laughing out-loud in many places in the book.

In Chapter 5 "The Alphabetics of Story" she delightfully explains and illustrates many common facts about writing from "A is for Architecture" down through "J is for Juggler" all the way to "Z is for Zero." I guarantee you've never read such useful tidbits written in such a hilarious manner.

Chapter 12 "Killing the King" is about plot. Dry? No way. Yolen's explanations and examples are interesting and funny, and memorable.

Chapter 6 "Advice" contains much of the same advice other authors offer. But Yolen dares to turn some of that advice upside down which really encouraged me to be myself--to feel free to break rules once I've learned to obey those rules well.

As a matter of fact many of the things she states (or maybe it's the way she states them) sort of released me from the chains of thinking I must do everything "the right way."

All in all Take Joy is a delightful book. I learned some new things about writing, and along the way had a couple of "a-ha!" moments, too. The book is positive and encouraging. It made me remember how much fun writing (even for publication) can be. I remembered that writing for children shouldn't be all work.

Reading this book gave me permission to follow Yolen's advice:

"Take a deep breath, and when you blow it out slowly, you will see your story take on its own life. Not the life that you impose upon it, but the life the story itself tells you it needs."

It was well worth the money and time I invested in it. I purchased my copy ON SALE from Writer's Digest here.

Now, quit reading this blog post and start writing...

With joy!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


WordWrangler said...

You just keep telling me about wonderful books, my friend. My stack is going to be huge. I should have enough to last me through retirement.

I am going to keep an eye for this one!


Anonymous said...


Take Joy sounds like a great resource. Thanks for telling about it. Take joy in your writing!

Linda A.

Janet, said...

This sounds like a great book by a really good author.'s a great price!

Faith Imagined said...

I will definitely have to check this one out!!! Thanks for the review!!!

-Alisa Hope

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...


Love your blog!

Thanks for entering my contest. I signed you up for the giveaway of The Writing and Critique Group Survival Guide