Yeomans, Ellen 1962-
Yeomans, Ellen 1962-
Born July 26, 1962. Education: Vermont College, M.F.A.
Writer. Onondaga Community College, Syracuse, NY, lecturer.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (New York advisor).
Lost and Found: Remembering a Sister (picture book), illustrated by Dee deRosa, Centering (Omaha, NE), 2000.
Jubilee (picture book), illustrated by Tim Ladwig, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (Grand Rapids, MI), 2004.
Rubber Houses (young adult novel), Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2007.
Ellen Yeomans is a writer who frequently covers the topics of death and familial loss. She is an active member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Yeomans also lectures on writing at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, NY. Her first picture book, Lost and Found: Remembering a Sister, was published in 2000.
In 2004 Yeomans published Jubilee. With the illustrations of Tim Ladwig, this picture book portrays heaven as a large festival where everyone is happy and nobody has any cares or worries. Tables abound with favorite foods and everyone plays together across the spectrum of racial, gender, and religious differences. Booklist contributor Ilene Cooper praised the artwork but called the interpretation of heaven "common" among the mainstream and New Age circles. Cooper thought children might be confused, noting that "some children may wonder why, if being dead is so much fun, anyone wants to stay alive." Carolyn Janssen had a similar opinion in a School Library Journal review. Janssen pointed out that the term Jubilee was not defined in the text and children might confuse it with a family reunion. Janssen wrote that since heaven is "an unfamiliar concept to many" young children, if they were "aware that all of these people are deceased, the book could be very disturbing."
Yeomans published her first novel, Rubber Houses, in 2007. High-school junior Kit shares a love of baseball and mathematics with her fourth-grader brother, Buddy. However, when he is diagnosed with leukemia and later dies, Kit and her parents must face their altered reality and move forward with life.
Renee Kirchner, writing on TeenReads.com, remarked that "the novel, told in free verse, sings with honesty and pain." Kirchner concluded by calling it a "touching story," adding that Rubber Houses "will tug at the heartstrings of readers, with its beautiful use of language and its hopeful message." Writing in Kliatt, Myrna Marler thought that labeling the book as a novel would be "a stretch, as the narration is a series of poems that are like snapshots of the grieving process rather than a continuous narrative." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews thought that the book was "dismal" and "a little too cathartic and personal." The critic argued that the choice of baseball was "discordant with the somber and grave issue of premature death." Booklist contributor Frances Bradburn commented that mixing the story lines of cancer and baseball "works surprisingly well." Bradburn continued by saying that this mixing "enhances the realistic portrayal of a family, grief stricken." School Library Journal contributor Heather M. Campbell noted some flaws in the characterization but conceded that the story "speaks volumes" about the process of grieving. Campbell also wrote that the author "has very precisely selected her words to convey the fear and the grief that Kit feels."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Jubilee, p. 1312; January 1, 2007, Frances Bradburn, review of Rubber Houses, p. 84.
Book World, May 9, 2004, review of Jubilee, p. 12.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 2007, Deborah Stevenson, review of Rubber Houses, p. 274.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2006, review of Rubber Houses, p. 1275.
Kliatt, January, 2007, Myrna Marler, review of Rubber Houses, p. 19.
School Library Journal, July, 2004, Carolyn Janssen, review of Jubilee, p. 90; March, 2007, Heather M. Campbell, review of Rubber Houses, p. 221.
United Church Observer, July 1, 2004, Ruth Ferrari, review of Jubilee, p. 37.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 2007, Diane Tuccillo, review of Rubber Houses, p. 536.
TeenReads.com,http://www.teenreads.com/ (January 3, 2008), Renee Kirchner, review of Rubber Houses.