I have had a love/hate relationship with Hans Christian Andersen since
I first heard his stories. It was during World War II, and since my
father was away in London as a soldier and journalist, we were living
in Virginia with our grandparents. My mother read to me all the way
through a collection of Andersen’s tales while my baby brother napped.
I was probably 4 or 5 at the time. There were wonderful pictures that
made me dream of the stories at night.
As I was already a reader myself, when I got up the next morning, I sat
quietly re-reading the stories my mother had read to me the day
before. I loved “The Princess and the Pea” and “Thumbelina.”  I
thrilled at “The Tinder Box,” with its dogs who had saucers eyes. I
wept at “The Nightingale,” and “The Little Mermaid.” And I positively
loathed “The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf,”  “The Little Match Girl,”,  and
“The Red Shoes.” Probably I showed early signs of being a literary
critic, not a writer.

But years later, when I was called “The Hans Christian Andersen of
America,” and had my picture taken sitting on the lap of the Andersen
statue in New York City, with dozens of books behind me, I did not
think to do a picture book biography of Andersen the
man/storyteller/celebrity until I was asked to do so by editor Steven
Meltzer at Dutton Children’s Books. He sent a surprise snail mail to my
agent, Marilyn Marlow, July on 13, 2001. She faxed it on to me in
Scotland where I was spending the summer. I faxed back a big YES in a
heart!

Yes. Yes. Yes. It seemed the perfect fit.

About the illustrations:

The editor said to me "I know you have worked with Dennis Nolan before. What do you think of him for the illustrator? And I, dancing inside with delight, said: "Perfect!" I gave him Dennis' contact information since at that time Dennis lived just two towns away.

We worked the way we had before--the editor sent me a copy of Dennis' 
dummy and I adjusted the text a bit wherever there were problems of 
length. An author only rarely can dictate the actual page by page flow 
of the book.  That job belongs to the editor, art director, and most of 
all the artist. So it was with first trepidation and then growing joy 
that I turned the pages.

The copies of that and the final art work in color xerox form and then 
the color proofs and then f&g’s always came through the editor even 
though Dennis lived fifteen minutes away. As I recall, when we had done Wings and Dove Isabeau (both from Harcourt, and a different editor) I had seen some of the actual pictures before the book was into the print phase. But I don't remember seeing the pictures of this book ahead of time.

Dennis gave me the original picture after the book was published and I 
had it framed.  It is much cherished.

                                                                      - Jane Yolen






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