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FIVE ON FRIDAY with Jane Kurtz

This week it’s my pleasure to welcome award winning author Jayne Kurtz to Five on Friday. Jane has written numerous YA, Middle Grade novels and picture books and not only that, she has great stories about growing up in Africa. Jane’s newest book is Lanie: An American Girl, her newest entry into the mega-popular American Girl series. Please welcome Jane with a comment (and just for the heck of it, post a comment and you’ll get entered into my contest) and visit her on the web at www.janekurtz.com. Thanks for visiting Jane!

When did you know that you first wanted to be a writer/illustrator?

It’s complicated because I grew up besotted with books–and watching my mom write letters home from our remote village in Ethiopia to her mom and my dad’s parents in the U.S. So I thought of myself as a writer waaay back. But I didn’t catch a dream of publishing a book until my kids were lap-sitters and I was going to the library and checking out armloads of books that I read out loud to them.  That’s when I truly got to know children’s books.

What book or writer/artist do you feel influenced you the most?

I had different book mentors at different stages, but one of the most powerful was Sarah Plain and Tall. I wanted to figure out how she managed to make me feel so much with so few words.

What book or books are you currently reading or have recently read that you’d recommend to others?

I teach in the Vermont College MFA program for children and YA literature, and I once had Jandy Nelson in a workshop at one of the residencies. Her work dazzled me then and her first YA novel, The Sky Is Everywhere is dazzling me now. Wow.

If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Read, read, read, and when you feel something–while you’re reading–try to figure out how the author did it.

Can you share with us your next project or any information about the next book you’re working on?

Hey! My two books for the American Girl Doll of the Year, nature girl Lanie, just came out mere weeks ago. Right now, I’m blogging about how I wrote them, not thinking about the next book.


  1. I loved my brother’s letters from Addis Abba (where he raised his family). His daughter, Kirsten Jacobson Stasney is a writer.”Thy Father’s Will.”

    Congratulations on “Off Like the Wind”!

  2. I used to read the American Girl book all the time. I once had all the historicl book read but not all the girl of the year books which I was proud of. Now they have two new historicl book series and alot of girl of the year books and I am a little old for them but, if I have a daughter someday, I will read her the books.

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