Judy Young began her career as a children’s book author at age 10, writing poems that thrilled her grandmother, and is still writing rhymes today.
Now writing books, more than a dozen, the popular storyteller has reached into magical places far beyond “Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill” to landscapes of ordinary creatures with fancy ideas and imaginary beings that never were.
Her book “R Is for Rhyme” offers 26 of her poems, one for each letter of the alphabet, with sidebars that tell how poems are made in words so direct that young readers can grasp it.
Haley Higgins, who is in the second grade at Coleman Elementary, thought the poems in the book were fun. When asked to name her favorite Judy Young book she didn’t hesitate. “R Is for Rhyme,” she said.
Young’s stories are about things young readers recognize in their community, but always with flair. Included in “R Is for Rhyme” is a butterfly that marries a rose, which has an unexpected, but very believable ending.
The Springfield-based author’s books have won numerous awards and even been staged. “R Is for Rhyme” was included in the 58th annual performance by the University of Utah Tanner Creative Dance Program.
The author, who makes frequent presentations to schools, brought samples of a dozen books to a Meet the Author event at Coleman Elementary April 9. She talked with individual classes in the school library about how she approaches writing and what young readers may find in her books.
Finding things is the key to “Hidden Bestiary of Marvelous Mysteries” and (maybe even) “Magical Creatures.”
“It’s my favorite,” said Caleb Garcia, pointing to the cover that has 47 creatures hidden in the ivy and architecture of the entrance of a mythical museum. The introduction sets the stage for a search.
“I’m Basil B. Barnswhitten and I have a quest, to find hidden creatures that I like best, then help me determine if those I have listed, are extinct or endangered or never existed.”
Young met with six groups of students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
Some second-graders were not only familiar with her books but also were quick to identify the one they liked best.
Mariana Smith picked up a copy of “Minnow and Rose” to show the reporter. The story set on the Oregon Trail tells of a 10-year-old who could swim like a fish. Her name was Girl Who Comes With Berries, but everyone calls her Minnow.
Mandi Fievet squeezed a copy of “Lucky Star” like a favorite stuffed animal. This story is about Ruth, a 10-year-old girl who may not be able to go into the fifth grade because it was the middle of the Depression and the town could not afford a teacher for the upcoming school year.
“Thank your lucky star,” Ruth’s mother said. “That you were the star pupil in last spring’s spelling bee.”
All Young’s books are beautifully illustrated, with each illustrator chosen for special skills that match the content of the book.
“The writer doesn’t get to pick the illustrator,” she said. “The publisher selects the illustrator. But on my Missouri books, my husband was chosen as the illustrator because he’s from Missouri.”
In addition to visiting schools, Young teaches poetry workshops for students and teachers.
Racine Lindemann, Coleman public relations coordinator, said the school was excited to have the author.