Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales by ldwellin

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									Author Study on Jane Yolen                 Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales 1

        Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales
                    An Author Study on Jane Yolen

                               By Luke Welling
                             Children’s Literature
                                   LAE 4416
                                Summer 2010
Author Study on Jane Yolen                             Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales 2

        Before starting this author’s study, I was unfamiliar with Yolen’s work. After reading
only ten children’s books that she had written, I experienced Yolen’s world of fantasy and fairy
tales and was very satisfied. From The Young Merlin Trilogy book series to the world of Sleeping
Ugly, each book was filled with creativity and educational lessons. Writing over 300 story books
for children and adults alike, Yolen introduces different writing styles to meet the needs of each
audience. Her writing in How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?, Welcome to the River of Grass,
and Sleep Black Bear, Sleep, is very poetic. Similarly, her writing in The Young Merlin Trilogy
including Merlin and the Dragons, the book that preceded the trilogy, the style is very
descriptive and paints the picture the reader is to see. I have chosen Jane Yolen for this author
study because of the wide audiences that she writes to, as well as for her educational insights into
life morals, language studies, and science. This unit of study would be for a 3rd grade class and
would last for a week.

Guided Qustions:
   1. What has Jane Yolen produced and what influences have shaped her work?
   2. Does the author write in one genre or in more than one category?
   3. Is the setting the same in the books?
   4. Are they type of characters found in more than one book?

About the Author
        Born in New York City, New York on February 11, 1939, Jane Yolen’s destiny as a
successful writer in the world of literature was set. Yolen grew up in a family that was immersed
in reading and writing. In early age, she viewed her surroundings and came to believe that when
people grow-up, they write. This idea was gained from her immediate family, her father being a
journalist and her mother being a writer of short stories. She would discover, for the first time,
her own talent as a writer in the 1st grade, writing a class musical about vegetables coming
together to make a salad (, n.d.). This talent would become more and more refined
as her life went on.
        Yolen started publishing at the age of 22. Since that day, she has produced more than 300
books ranging from pre-k all the way through adulthood. Marrying her one and only husband,
David W. Stemple, they moved to a farm in Massachusetts where they had three children. It is in
one of the barns on their property that Yolen would produce most of her work. Throughout her
work, she has shown her versatile and imaginative side displaying a fine use of language across
the spectrum (Gale Group, 2009). Most of her work is rooted in fantasy, fairy tales, and folklore,
the very styles that Yolen enjoyed reading as a child. When speaking of her writing, Yolen says
that through the use of fairy tales and fantasy, “young readers can learn about themselves,” about
the nature of love, and their place in the world (2009). It is evident what values are most
important to her. In her writings, she greatly promotes self-reliance, loyalty, and friendship
(EBSCO Host, 2008). These are the recurring themes found in each of the books below, and
numerous other books that were produced by Yolen.
Author Study on Jane Yolen                              Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales 3

         During her writing career, Yolen traveled to many places to share her stories and also
won many awards to go with them. A handful of the awards she has won include the Caldecott
Medal, the Nebula Award, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Council Award &
Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Book Award, the Christopher Medal, and the
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. Currently Yolen no longer travels to schools but does go to the
occasional book signing (, n.d.).
         An accomplished and creative writer, Yolen has contributed greatly to the world of
literature, especially that of children’s literature. Through her own creativity, she teaches others
to also be creative. To Yolen, a good book is on that “touches her head and her heart,” and her
own books do just that.

        To learn more about Jane Yolen, her website is This is a fun site
that answers questions that many other have had for the author. It also tells more about her life
through her biography.

Introductory Lesson
        To introduce this unit about Jane Yolen, I will create a Photo Story 3 that depicts Jane’s
family life, pictures of her farm in Massachusetts, and various books that she has published.
After the Photo Story 3 presentation, we will have a short discussion about any books the
students might know that have been written by Yolen. After the discussion, I will choose one of
my favorite books that I read from Yolen, do a short read aloud, then talk about the unit and how
we will learn much more about how to become creative writers by using Jane as a model for our
writing, keeping the guiding questions of the unit in mind.

Annotated Bibliography
Merlin and the Dragons,        In this story, young King Arthur comes to Merlin with a bad dream
Yolen, J. (1995)               and worries of not being fit to be a king. Merlin tells Arthur about
                               another boy who was an orphan who had to gain courage and tell a
                               dooming prophecy to a king of the past, King Vortigern. He then
                               enlightened young King Arthur of another prophecy, one of great

                               I chose this book because it precedes the Young Merlin Trilogy and
                               sets the scene for the three books that would be published soon after.
                               I would read this book to the class then introduce the trilogy. It is a
                               fine example of the descriptive fantasy writing that Yolen so
                               brilliantly puts together, writing that spurs on the imagination.
Passager, Yolen, J. (1996)     This story is the first of a trilogy. It introduces a young orphan who
                               is left to the wild. After being found by a falconer, the wild orphan
Author Study on Jane Yolen                           Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales 4

                             once again becomes tamed and is once again part of a family. He is
                             young, but strong and because of this his name becomes Passager.

                             I chose this book because it talks about the life of an orphan and
                             how he finds his place of belonging. There will be students in my
                             classroom that might identify with this in one way or another.
                             Yolen’s educational teachings are evident in this book introducing
                             new words and meaning to those words. In this book, once again,
                             she takes the imagination on a stroll through her world of classic
Hobby, Yolen, J., (1996)     This book is the second of a trilogy. Hobby resumes the tale of a
                             young orphan again displaced, losing his new family to a fire. On
                             his travels he meets a mage and his beautiful partner. He joins this
                             magical duo and learns about his own new power.

                             I chose this second part of The Young Merlin Trilogy because it
                             continues the story about this orphan, only an orphan in a different
                             way. This book is great for one trying to find a sense of belonging.
                             The story theme is very imaginative, the recurring theme in Yolen’s
                             writings. One way Yolen introduces morals into this story is by the
                             question, “Is lying ever ok?” Through this story, a lesson is taught
                             about lying. This would be great for children to read.
Merlin, Yolen, J., (1997)    This book is the final book of The Young Merlin Trilogy. In this
                             story, Hawk-Hobby, the boy orphan, discovers a community of
                             outcasts. Once learning about his magical power, the community
                             goes against Hawk-Hobby and takes advantage of his talent. After
                             much experience with his magic now, he discovers the true extent of
                             his power with a young boy who he would come to walk with and
                             protect the rest of his life.

                             I chose this book to complete The Young Merlin Trilogy. Yolen
                             gives a sensational sense of imagery to her text in this book. Every
                             chapter is like a painted picture. This is a model that continues to be
                             the trend of Yolen’s genius writing.
Sleeping Ugly, Yolen, J.     Sleeping Ugly is a story that goes off of the story of “Sleeping
(1981)                       Beauty,” only this story is told with a twist. This story advocates
                             that beauty does not mean much when it comes to character. A
                             prince must choose who to kiss in this tale.

                             This story was chosen for its fairy tale element and it’s element of
Author Study on Jane Yolen                           Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales 5

                             the unexpected. This is another example of Yolen’s creative writing,
                             taking a classic fairy and adding a twist to it.

Piggins and the Royal        Piggins and the Royal Wedding is a story of a sleuth pig that must
Wedding, Yolen, J. (1988)    discover who the perpetrator of a stolen royal ring was. He must pay
                             attention to the smallest traces, problem solving his way through an
                             effort to crack this case.

                             I chose this book because it would make an easy read for anyone in
                             the classroom. It is also a great book that teaches about how one
                             should never be quick to judge. This is a great lesson for the
                             classroom. Yolen continues her imaginative storytelling with a
                             moralist tone throughout this story setting up a great plot with an
                             unexpected ending.
Soft House, Yolen, J.,       In this book, Yolen shows her imagination through a girl character
(2005)                       named Isabelle. On a rainy day, Isabelle and her brother are bored
                             with nothing to do. They brainstorm through ideas and finally come
                             to a conclusion, “Soft House!” This is a very warm story that
                             illustrates a typical brother-sister bond.

                             I chose this book because of a connection I made to my own
                             childhood. Instead of “soft house”, my sister and I called it “playing
                             tent.” Yolen writes this book for imaginative ideas children can do
                             on rainy days.
Welcome to the River of      This is a poem book that tells of the many forms of life to see in the
Grass, Yolen, J. (2001)      Florida Everglades. Every life has a beginning and an end, each
                             playing a role in a grander picture. Even the life of the Florida
                             Everglades itself has a life that is slowly dwindling away.

                             I chose this book because it explores the different animals and
                             environments in south Florida, something that all Florida students
                             must know. Yolen displays her creative writing through poetry,
                             beautifully quilting together pieces of the south Florida region that
                             makes it so radiant, yet mysterious.
Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep,    This book is a poetic lullaby about different animals and how they
Yolen, J., (2007)            sleep through the cold winter nights.
Author Study on Jane Yolen                              Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales 6

                               I chose this educational rhyme because it teaches about hibernation
                               and the different habitats available to these slumbering animals.
                               Yolen brilliantly ties her words together like a song in this creatively
                               educational lullaby.

How Do Dinosaurs Say           This poetry book is about how a dinosaur says good night to mama
Good Night? Yolen, J.,         and papa. Do the dinosaurs react how we think when they hear that
(2000)                         it is time for bed? Not as you might expect.

                               I chose this book because of its teaching about various types of
                               dinosaurs. Yolen always uses each book as an opportunity to teach.
                               In a poem about how to say good night, Yolen identifies each animal
                               with a child’s reaction to hearing the words “It’s time for bed.” The
                               twist occurs when she turns all of the reactions around teaching
                               children how to act when asked to go to bed.

Lesson 1
1A. Sunshine State Standards:                           1B. Goal 3 Standards

                                                        Standard 5 - Responsible
LA The student will use                       Workers
information from the text to answer                     Florida students display
questions related to explicitly stated main             responsibility, self-esteem,
ideas or relevant details;                              sociability, self-management,
                                                        and honesty.
2. Objectives (3)

Students will:

      Recall prior knowledge from the Photo 3 story shown the day prior for anticipation guide.
      Record answers to relevant details about the life of Jane Yolen and advice she would give to young
      Discuss interesting facts learned about Jane Yolen.
Author Study on Jane Yolen                                  Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales 7

3. Assessment & Evaluation

Initial-What do students recall about Jane Yolen from the prior day. Also, prior knowledge is tested through
the anticipation guide.

Informal-Students will complete the Web Quest question sheet.

Formal-Students will successfully complete an anticipation guide after going on a Web Quest about Jane
Yolen. Students will score a 90% or better on the anticipation guides after the Web Quest.

4. Introduction to Lesson:                                  5.Materials

                                                                  3 pictures of a dog
I will ask the students anything they can recall from the         3 pictures of a pig
Photo Story 3 that we watched the day before. I will ask
for three things learned.                                         3 pictures of a bear

                                                                  3 pictures of a frog

                                                                  4 pictures of a badger

                                                                  16 anticipation guides for each student

                                                                  5 Web Quest question sheets, one for
                                                                   each group
                                                                  Pencils for each student
Author Study on Jane Yolen                                 Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales 8

6. Technology Integration (List them)

Students will complete a webquest using the following sites:

7. List any types of strategies you will use

At the start of the lesson, I will remind students that this week we will be learning about Jane Yolen and her
contributions to literature.

Next, I will split the students up into groups of 3-4 by using the picture game. Each student will be handed
a card with a picture on it. The students must find all of the other members that have the same picture.
These members will be their group members for this activity.

After that, I will hand out anticipation guides to each student that contain seven statements about Jane
Yolen. Before starting our activity, each student will check whether they agree or disagree with the
statement. After the activity, the students will once again take out their anticipation guides and mark
whether they agree or disagree with the statements.

For the activity, we will do a Web Quest called “All About Jane.” In this Web Quest, groups will be given a
question sheet that has questions which must be sought and found. The group will write in their answers
on the Web Quest question sheet.

To wrap up, we will briefly talk about the most interesting things we learned about and from Jane Yolen.
Author Study on Jane Yolen                          Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales 9

Differentiated Instruction

      ADHD students are accommodated by movement around the room while splitting the
       students up into groups.

      ESOL students practice the English language by listening to an online interview, reading
       information, speaking during discussion, and writing answers about Jane Yolen.

      ESE students are able to work in a non-discriminating group setting.

      ADD students will be checked on by the teacher to make sure they are on task.

      Audible learners are given opportunity to learn information from an interview about Jane

      Gifted/Advanced students may construct their own Web Quests about Jane Yolen to
       present to the teacher.

Lesson 2
1A. Sunshine State Standards:                       1B. Goal 3 Standards

LA. The student will demonstrate            Standard 4 - Creative and
knowledge of the characteristics of various         Critical Thinkers
genres (e.g., poetry, fiction, short story,         Florida students use creative
dramatic literature) as forms with distinct         thinking skills to generate new
characteristics and purposes;                       ideas, make the best decision,
                                                    recognize and solve problems
                                                    through reasoning, interpret
                                                    symbolic data, and develop
                                                    efficient techniques for lifelong
Author Study on Jane Yolen                               Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales 10

2. Objectives (3)

Students will:

       Identify the different genres and styles Jane Yolen uses in her books.
       Explain what qualifiers allow a book to fall under different genres.
       Apply knowledge about genres and classify Jane Yolen books under different genres.
       Explain why a writer might use different genres in a writer’s career.

3. Assessment & Evaluation

Initial-Students will be asked what they know about classifying books and how they might be classified.

Informal-That teacher observes that students are on-task finding criteria and drawing a picture for each

Formal-Students are given a list of books with clues about each. According to the clues, students are asked
to classify each book under the correct genre.

4. Introduction to Lesson:                                5. Materials

“Can someone tell me what they know about                 -3 cards that say fiction
classifying books?” After taking 3 answers, a short       -3 cards that say nonfiction
discussion will take about how books might be             -3 cards that say folklore
classified.                                               -3 cards that say poetry
                                                          -4 cards that say fairy tale
                                                          -5 sheets of construction paper for criteria
                                                          -5 sheets of construction paper for drawing
                                                          -These books by Jane Yolen: Sleeping Ugly,
                                                          Welcome to the River of Grass, How Do
                                                          Dinosaurs Say Good Night, Piggins and the Royal
                                                          Wedding, Soft House, Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep,
                                                          and Merlin and the Dragons.
                                                          -16 book lists and classifying sheets
                                                          -10 magnet clips for criteria sheets and drawings.
6. Technology Integration (List them)

Smart Board for Semantic Feature Analysis Chart
Author Study on Jane Yolen                                 Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales 11

7. List any types of strategies you will use

Students will be given different cards that say fiction, nonfiction, fantasy, folklore, poetry, and fairy tale.
Students will find other students who have their same genre. There should be five groups of 3, and one
group of 4. In their groups, the students must find five criteria that make a book fall under their genre and
one drawing that describes the genre. We will post all of the criteria and pictures on the board for
everyone to see.

Next, each group will be given a book written by Jane Yolen. The students must decide which genre the
book falls under, also realizing it might fall under more than one genre. The books that will be categorized
will be the following: Sleeping Ugly, Welcome to the River of Grass, How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night,
Piggins and the Royal Wedding, Soft House, Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep, and Merlin and the Dragons.

For the next part of the lesson, students will be asked to discuss in small groups what made their book
unique. Examples might be the setting, character names, or even if the character was an animal or human.

After that, we will do a semantic feature analysis together. On the vertical left side of the chart will be the
name of each title. On the horizontal top part of the chart will be the categories. The categories will be the
following: fiction, nonfiction, fantasy, folklore, poetry, fairy tale, setting nature, setting home, character
animal, character human.

Next, students are given a list of books written by Jane Yolen with clues that allude to the genre to which
it belongs. Students must classify each book according to its clues.

Finally, we will have a class discussion about why it is so important to use different genres as a writer. The
goal would be to get to the point that not everyone has the same interests. Each audience requires a
different writing style.
Author Study on Jane Yolen                                Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales 12

Differentiated Instruction

      ADHD are given the opportunity to move around the room during the group activity.
      ADD students are checked on by the teacher to make sure they are on task.
      ESOL students are able to interpret meaning through pictures.
      ESE learners are integrated into group activity in a safe cooperative environment
      Gifted/Advanced students will be challenged to classify other books in the room according to their
       separate context clues.
      Visual learners see how the books are related and different by means of the semantic feature chart

Lesson 3
1A. Sunshine State Standards:                              1B. Goal 3 Standards

LA. The student will write a variety               Standard 2 - Effective
of expressive forms (e.g., fiction, short                  Communicators
story, autobiography, science fiction,                     Florida students communicate in
haiku) that employ figurative language                     English and other languages using
(e.g., simile, metaphor, onomatopoeia,                     information, concepts,
personification, hyperbole), rhythm,                       prose, symbols, reports, audio and
dialogue, characterization, plot, and/or                   video recordings, speeches,
appropriate format.                                        graphic displays, and
                                                           computer-based programs.

2. Objectives (3)

Students will:

      Explain influences that might affect a writing work.
      Interpret a Jane Yolen character with a writing style that ties in a part of their own lives.
      Compose and present a written work that is classified under the correct genre.
Author Study on Jane Yolen                                Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales 13

3. Assessment & Evaluation

Initial-Prior knowledge about genres and classifying criteria are tested from the day prior.

Informal-The teacher observes students as they write in their double-entry journals, making sure they
understand the meaning and interpretation of characters in context.

Formal-Students make a Jane Yolen character their own by interpreting the character in a story, poem, or
song that tie-in experiences or backgrounds of their own lives. The writing style is then classified under
the correct genre.

4. Introduction to Lesson:                                  5. Materials

“Who can tell me a genre and a criteria that                       Books from the Jane Yolen collection
classifies a book under that genre?”                               Paper and pencil for each student
                                                                   Colored pencils for picture stories
6. Technology Integration (List them)

Students may use Power Point or Photo Story 3 in an oral presentation to the class.
Author Study on Jane Yolen                                    Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales 14

7. List any types of strategies you will use

Students will choose a story from the Jane Yolen book collection, or will find a different Jane Yolen book
in the school library. The student will read that book in class. While reading the stories, the student will use
a double-entry chart to write about a character. On the left side of the chart, the student will write a quote
from the story that describes that character. On the left side of the chart, the student will reflect on how the
author meant to perceive that character in the story.

Next, the student will be asked to identify the genre or writing style Yolen wrote in.

After that, the student will use the character that he/she reflected on and will use that character in his/her
own story. The story with this character can fall under any genre or writing style. This is where the student
makes the character their own, interpreting the character with a different perception. For this story, students
will also be reminded to take into account different environments they might know, different cultural
backgrounds, and personal experiences they have that might make their story unique. A picture story will
also be accepted. Students may also use a Power Point or Photo Story 3 if they choose.

Finally, the students will present their stories in front of the class, first stating the genre or style of writing
used. (Picture stories will be told orally).

Differentiated Instruction

       Students connect their own diverse backgrounds to a Jane Yolen character.
       Students choose a book that best fits their interests.
       ESOL practice writing the English language by telling a story. The story may also be
        interpreted by pictures.
       Audio-stories will be available for audible learners and those with dyslexia.
       ESE students use pictures or other writing style to interpret meaning.
       ADD/ADHD students are observed by the teacher to make sure they are on task.
Author Study on Jane Yolen                         Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales 15

Culminating Activity
      After learning about the many different styles of writing and how personal
influences can affect the writing in a story, we will come up with 10-15 good
questions about personal influences that shaped so many of Jane Yolen’s stories.
We will then talk to Jane Yolen via Skype, interviewing her with these questions.

Works Cited
Yolen, J. (n.d.), “Biography”. Jane Yolen Journal Archive. Retrieved from:

Yolen, J. (n.d.), “Awards”. Jane Yolen Journal Archive. Retrieved from:

Jones, L.E. (2007). “Jane Yolen”. Novelist Author Biography. Retrieved from:

Yolen, J. (2009). “Jane (Hyatt) Yolen”. Biography Resource Center. Gale Group. Retrieved

Scholastic Inc. (n.d.), “Jane Yolen Biography”. The Beta Stacks. Scholastic Incorporated.
       Retrieved from:

Wands, D.C., Dickinson, L.E. (2010). “Jane Hyatt Yolen Stemple”. Fantastic Fiction. Retrieved

Reading Rockets. (2010). “A Video Interview With Jane Yolen”. WETA Website. Retrieved
Author Study on Jane Yolen                             Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales 16

FEAP Reflection
         After completing this project, I was able to complete the following FEAPs: planning,
diversity, and critical thinking.
         Here is how I was able to meet the practice of planning. In this project, I was able to
[plan] and [implement] lessons connecting goals, learning activities, outcomes, and evaluation
by putting together a unit that takes the learner on a journey in finding out who Jane Yolen is,
which writing styles and different genres she uses, and what personal experiences might have
impacted her writing. In the unit plan was a collection of activities that highlighted each of these
ideas. By constructing this unit, I was also able to [assist] students in developing skills in
accessing and interpreting information through a Web Quest activity I did in day one. Students
accessed a collection of websites with the goal of finding and interpreting answers to questions
given on a question sheet. Planning this unit was a new experience for me. Throughout this
degree program, I have gained experience in teaching content-area material, but the focus was
never so specific as an author. This is what made this planning process difficult for me, but was
beneficial none the less. Along with planning, I was also able to find different ways to meet
diverse needs in the classroom.
         Not every learner is the same. This is something we are drilled on in the education
program. By means of this unit I was able to address diversity according to the following
indicators: conducts lessons that honor the various learning styles and cultural and linguistic
backgrounds of students and accepts and values students from diverse cultures and linguistic
backgrounds and treats all students equitably. An example of how I conducted a lesson that
honored the various learning styles was in my first lesson. This indicator was evident when I
installed in a Web Quest both reading material and an online interview. Had I not installed the
online interview, I might have been ignoring my audible learners. What would they have gained
from just reading text? These students must hear both directions and learning material in order to
successfully thrive in the classroom. Another way that I touched on diversity was when I had
students share their stories, poems, or songs, each tying-in their own personal experiences and
backgrounds, and having them share these stories in front of the classroom in lesson three. I did
this because I would want my students to value each other in an understanding and respectful
         Finally, I was also to install the practice of critical thinking in this unit according to the
following two indicators, plans lesson activities that require students to gather information and
solve problems and conducts lessons that include open-ended projects and other activities that
are creative and innovative. In lesson two, students were broken up into groups to find five
criteria and draw one picture of a genre. The students had to work together to gather this
information. The problem was solved when we placed books written by Jane Yolen under each
genre according to the criteria for each genre that we found. Another way we met this practice is
when we adapted characters of Yolen into our daily lives. Students were allowed to use whatever
writing style and genre they wanted to communicate to us some kind of story, whether by song,
plot, or rhyme, that included the character.
Author Study on Jane Yolen                            Fantasy, Folklore, and Fairy Tales 17

         These are the practices that were met by doing this unit plan. It was a great experience for
me to put this unit together. It stretched my mind to boundaries it hadn’t yet been stretched to. I
feel it greatly benefited me in my journey of becoming an elementary school teacher. I would use
these books that were included in my annotated bibliography in the classroom and would tinker
with each lesson plan in order to make the perfect learning experience for each book while also
doing an in-depth study of its author.

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