Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

Lynne Jonell

Lynne Jonell

Lynne Jonell is the author of the novels Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat, Emmy and the Home for Troubled Girls, and The Secret of Zoom, as well as several critically acclaimed picture books. Her books have been named Junior Library Guild Selections and a Smithsonian Notable Book, among numerous other honors. Born in Little Falls, Minnesota, Jonell grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis. She now teaches writing at the Loft Literary Center and lives with her husband and two sons in Plymouth, Minnesota, in a house on a hill.

Q & A

Where did you grow up? I grew up in Richfield, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis.

What is your earliest memory of writing/drawing?
My mother gave me a paper plate and crayons to keep me busy while she did laundry, and I made a mask, and asked her how to spell "tiger".

What inspired you to write/illustrate your first book?
It was just in me to do it, and I couldn't not do it. The minute I was married and out of school and had time to myself, I sat down at the typewriter, put in a sheet of white paper, and typed "Chapter One". That first book didn't go anywhere, of course, nor did the second or the third or the first half of a fourth. But then after that I had some mastery of my craft, and publishers began to pay attention.

Do you use your childhood as inspiration?
In the sense that my childhood is part of me, yes. But not in the sense of looking back and trying to view my childhood from the outside, or from the perspective of an adult. It's more of an inward thing; that child is still within, and influences all that I do.

What books from your childhood have most influenced your work? What about adult titles?
The fantasy work of E. Nesbit I will be forever indebted to. Other authors that most strongly influenced me were Hilda Lewis (The Ship that Flew), C. S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia), T. H. White (The Once and Future King), Roald Dahl (anything at all), Eleanor Cameron (the Mushroom Planet books), Elizabeth Goudge (Linnets & Valerians), Joan Aiken (The Wolves of Willoughby Chase), Elizabeth Enright (everything of hers), Edward Eager (Half Magic and more), Ruth Chew (everything), E. B. White (Charlotte's Web), Susan Cooper (The Dark is Rising), Madeleine L'Engle (A Wrinkle in Time), Astrid Lindgren (Pippi Longstocking) and Anne Holm (North to Freedom).

What are your hobbies and interests besides reading and books?
I love to sail, I love to wander in the woods and near water, and I play the piano a lot, especially when I'm working on a book (pretty much all the time).

What one or two words of advice would you give for young authors?
1) read
2) live your own life
3) find out what matters to you
4) write and learn your own style
5) find a good teacher and study your craft
6) don't give up when everyone says "no." Because they will. But eventually they say "yes!"

Books by the Author

Emmy and the Rats in the Belfry
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Emmy and the Rats in the Belfry

Emmy and the Rat

Lynne Jonell; illustrations by Jonathan Bean
Square Fish
Square Fish

Don't miss the stunning conclusion to this magical middle grade series about a girl with special powers.

Emmy was not an ordinary girl. She could talk to rodents. She could shrink...

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The Sign of the Cat
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The Sign of the Cat

Lynne Jonell
Square Fish
Square Fish

Talking cats, a missing princess, swordfights with villains, and secret identities combine in this epic tale of bravery and self-discovery on the high seas.

Duncan is very smart. He also has...

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The Secret of Zoom
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The Secret of Zoom

Lynne Jonell
Square Fish
Square Fish

A mystery involving strange explosions, hidden tunnels, and . . . singing orphans?

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