Love is in the Air with Mama's Kiss

Posted by: , February 7, 2009 in 6:42 pm

Mama's Kiss bookThis Valentine’s Day, love is in the air… literally, in Jane Yolen’s latest children’s book, Mama’s Kiss (Chronicle Books $14.99). Beautiful illustrations by Daniel Baxter fill the pages with kinetic images of flying lips and kisses and action-packed, rhyming text follow a kiss around the world, tracking its path as it whirs from mom’s lips past her kids, around the world and back.

This upbeat picture book begins with Mama’s kiss missing its intended target, but it will surely hit readers’ funny bones with the text that follows:  “Mama says she’ll throw another,/It sails off toward Baby Brother./Baby burps, the kiss goes wide,/Through the window and outside.” Yolen, a master of verse for children, weaves rhyme and emotion to create a playful book that teaches kids about the universality of love and the importance of showing affection.  Yolen has written nearly three hundred books for children and won several awards including the esteemed Caldecott Medal for Owl Moon in 1988.

A mother of three and grandmother to six, Jane Yolen chatted with us over email and shared her deep love for storytelling and sage wisdom on the imperfect art of parenting.  Would you say that you have learned things from parenting (and grand parenting) that has helped form your work as a children’s book author?

Jane Yolen:  Writing children’s books changed my life even before I became a mother and grandmother.  It centered me; stopped me from looking at the half-empty glass, seeing it instead as half full; made me lose my massive ironic stance.  But parenting added the ability to recognize and enjoy that perfect love we only get from (and give to) our children.

hb:  Inversely, is there anything that your characters have taught you about parenting?

JY:  My characters have taught me even more patience than my children have.  They wander off and often never look back.

hb: You have been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America.  What do you feel is the key to your writing’s universality and kid appeal?

JY:  I contact not only the universal mom/Nana inside, but my own inner child.  I read my work aloud as I write to emphasize the tell-ability.  And I love what I’m doing.

hb: Mama’s Kiss teaches a sweet lesson about unconditional and universal love.  Why do you feel this particular lesson is an important one for kids to understand?

JY:  Sometimes we can give children new clothes, dolls, trucks, teddy bears, parties.  Sometimes we can’t.  But there are two things we can always give them: stories and love.

You can learn more about Jane Yolen and her remarkable body of work by visiting her website,

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