Like most children's book authors, I have files full of rejection letters. Some broke my heart. Some pissed me off. Just a couple encouraged me to continue. One good rejection letter I received was from Calkins Creek editor, Carolyn Yoder. Even though she did not buy my manuscript on Mount Rushmore, she took the time to write me a two page critique. I want to thank her publicly for that encouragement. I am thrilled that Carolyn Yoder agreed to be interviewed.
When and why did you become a children’s book editor?
Well, that’s interesting. I was working in Boston, in scholarly publishing, and basically answered an ad for an editor at a small children’s magazine publisher.
I wanted to get out of the city and move
north. I knew nothing about children’s lit but knew some about
publishing and lots about research. I started at Cobblestone when I was only 30 and there were just a few magazines. In a way, Cobblestone and I grew up together. They now publish all kinds of wonderful magazines!
Name some of your favorite children’s books?
When I look at the books I read as a child -- and are still on my shelf – I’m amazed at how many nonfiction titles there are. Lots of biographies. Elizabeth Blackwell: Girl Doctor by Joanne Landers Henry was a particular favorite. I got it on Valentine’s Day 45 years ago! I also absolutely loved ANNE OF GREEN GABLES and ALL the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Books that featured places vastly different than where I grew up (in the middle of New Jersey).
What qualities are you looking for in a manuscript?
A deep passion for research and writing -- originality in both!
What advice can you give a newly published writer?
Read, research, listen, pause, and write. Pause, listen, and rewrite.
What projects are you working on now?
Things are growing at Calkins Creek, the new U.S. history imprint of Boyds Mills Press, where I edit books. Recent titles include Healing Water, a historical fiction novel by Joyce Moyer Hostetter, Farmer George Plants a Nation, a nonfiction picture book by Peggy Thomas and illustrated by Layne Johnson, and Robert H. Jackson, a chapter book biography, by Gail Jarrow.
When I have any free time, I write. I have been hanging out in the 18th century recently – John Adams: The Writer was just published, but I’ve been thinking of investigating the more recent past. Maybe something connected to Hollywood. I was in LA recently visiting friends who are very persuasive tour guides. I absolutely love it there.
What is your favorite dessert and why?
Crème brulee, crème brulee, crème brulee. Once I traveled throughout France and had crème brulee almost every evening. I kept a journal listing who had the best crème brulee and why. I think I need to go back and do more research. That’s the sheer joy of research!
Carolyn P. Yoder is the editor of Calkins Creek Books, the U.S. history imprint of Boyds Mills Press, and the senior editor of history at HIGHLIGHTS Magazine. She is the author of BECOMING GEORGE WASHINGTON: TEACHER’S RESOURCE GUIDE, French and Indian War 250, Inc.; GEORGE WASHINGTON: THE WRITER, Boyds Mills Press; and three books in the WE ARE AMERICA series, Heinemann Library. Her forthcoming book is entitled JOHN ADAMS: THE WRITER.
Carolyn has been an editor and writer for The New Jersey Historical Society, the executive director of The New Hampshire Antiquarian Society, and a writing tutor at New England College. From 1983-1996, she served as editor, editor-in-chief, and assistant publisher of Cobblestone Publishing, Inc.
Carolyn received a BA degree in literature from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and a MA degree in literature from The University of Iowa in Iowa City. She lives and works in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.