I was already slated to visit Jane Yolen, author of over 400 books, in Hartfield, Massachusetts via a funded research grant for a project she and I are working on. (I illustrated three of her picture books.) The tickets were purchased, and the trip was arranged before my life went pear-shaped. Jane and Heidi Stemple (Jane's daughter, manager, and author of over 40 books) encouraged me to come anyway, despite the rawness of my emotional state. Jane lost her husband (and Heidi's father) 20 years ago. "We know grief." I thought the change of scenery, and the hugs, might do me good - so I went. It was the right thing to do.
That said, the initial plan was to just go hang out and attend a book signing on Saturday. And then Jane's schedule did what it does... it grew, until it was positively jam-packed! Jane is a hard woman to keep up with. At 83, she has more energy than most people half her age, and she is in demand!
Friday night, she hosted an illustrators’ critique group at her house - Phoenix Farm - mostly led by my dear friend Ruth Sanderson. It was fun to look at people’s work and make some new friends.
Sunday late afternoon was the annual children’s book show opening (first time since Covid) at the R. Michelson Gallery. It was jam-packed with Caldecott winners and authors. I was thrilled to be able to pose with the published attendees.
While they were filming during the day, Ruth took me on a tour of her studio, which I'd somehow never visited before. Here she is with some work from her newest book, A Storm of Horses.
When we got back to Jane’s they were just wrapping up the interview. Lin gave me a big hug and asked all about how I was doing and what I was up to. She is such a love. When you talk to her, it's like the sun has turned to face you directly.
Here are Heidi, Me, Ruth, Lin, and Jane.
Tuesday morning, Heidi and I went for a lovely, COLD, walk around Hartfield.
Stan wasn't planning to be with me on this trip anyhow, so the pangs hit when I wanted to call him and tell him about everything going on... and, of course, when I returned home - with a cold. It's not been easy, but I'm lucky to have so many good friends in my life to help see me through this tough time. Especially my friends in Massachusetts.