Willard, Nancy 1936–
Willard, Nancy 1936–
Born 1936, in Ann Arbor, MI; daughter of Hobart Hurd (a chemistry professor) and Margaret Willard; married Eric Lindbloom (a photographer), August 15, 1964; children: James Anatole. Education: University of Michigan, B.A., 1958, Ph.D., 1963; Stanford University, M.A., 1960; additional study in Paris and Oslo.
Office—Department of English, Vassar College, Raymond Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY 12601. Agent—Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, 336 E. 73rd St., Ste. C, New York, NY 10021.
Poet, author of children's literature, essayist, and short-story writer. Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY, lecturer in English, 1965—. Instructor at Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, 1975.
Children's Literature Association, Lewis Carroll Society, George MacDonald Society, Poetry Society of America.
Five Jules and Avery Hopwood Awards for poetry and essays, University of Michigan, including one in 1958; Woodrow Wilson fellowship, 1960; Devins Memorial Award, 1967, for Skin of Grace; O. Henry Award for best short story, 1970, for "Theo's Girl"; Sailing to Cythera and Other Anatole Stories selected as one of the Fifty Books of the Year by the American Institute of Graphic Arts, 1974; Creative Artists' Public Service Award, 1977, for poetry; National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1976, fellowship, 1987-88; Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, 1977, for Sailing to Cythera and Other Anatole Stories, and 1979, for The Island of the Grass King; Art Books for Children citation, Brooklyn Museum and Brooklyn Public Library, 1978, for Simple Pictures Are Best; New York Times Notable Book designation, 1981, for The Marzipan Moon; Special Honor Book Plaque, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Golden Kite fiction honor, and Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for illustration, all 1981, and John Newbery Medal, American Library Association (ALA), Caldecott Honor Book award, ALA, and American Book Award nomination, all 1982, all for A Visit to William Blake's Inn; National Book Critics Circle award nomination (poetry), 1990, for Water Walker; KC Three award, 1992-93, for The High Rise Glorious Skittle Skat Roarious Sky Pie Angel Food Cake; award from School Library Media Specialists of South Eastern New York, 1992; Michigan Author Award, Michigan Library Association, 1994; Creative Artist Service Award; Empire State Award, 1996.
Sailing to Cythera and Other Anatole Stories, illustrated by David McPhail, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1974.
The Snow Rabbit, illustrated by Laura Lydecker, Putnam (New York, NY), 1975.
Shoes without Leather, illustrated by Laura Lydecker, Putnam (New York, NY), 1976.
The Well-mannered Balloon, illustrated by Haig and Regina Shekerjian, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1976.
Simple Pictures Are Best, illustrated by Tomie de Paolo, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1977.
Strangers' Bread, illustrated by David McPhail, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1977.
The Highest Hit, illustrated by Emily McCully, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1978.
The Island of the Grass King: The Further Adventures of Anatole, illustrated by David McPhail, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1979.
Papa's Panda, illustrated by Lillian Hoban, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1979.
The Marzipan Moon, illustrated by Marcia Sewall, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1981.
Uncle Terrible: More Adventures of Anatole, illustrated by David McPhail, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1982.
The Nightgown of the Sullen Moon, illustrated by David McPhail, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1983.
The Mountains of Quilt, illustrated by Tomie de Paolo, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1987.
Firebrat, illustrated by David Wiesner, Random House (New York, NY), 1988.
The High Rise Glorious Skittle Skat Roarious Sky Pie Angel Food Cake, illustrated by Richard J. Watson, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1990.
Beauty and the Beast, illustrated by Barry Moser, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1992.
Cracked Corn and Snow Ice Cream: A Family Almanac, illustrated by Jane Dyer, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1996.
The Tortilla Cat, illustrated by Jeanette Winter, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1997.
(And illustrator) The Magic Cornfield, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1997.
Shadow Story, pictures by David Diaz, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1999.
The Moon and Riddles Diner and the Sunnyside Cafe, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2001.
The Mouse, the Cat, and Grandmother's Hat, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2003.
Cinderella's Dress, illustrated by Jane Dyer, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 2003.
The Tale of Paradise Lost, illustrated by Jude Daly, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2004.
Sweep Dreams, illustrated by Mary GrandPré, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2005.
The Flying Bed, illustrated by John Thompson, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 2007.
The Doctrine of the Leather-Stocking Jesus: Collected Stories, Cowley Publications (Cambridge, MA), 2007.
POETRY; FOR CHILDREN
The Merry History of a Christmas Pie: With a Delicious Description of a Christmas Soup, illustrated by Haig and Regina Shekerjian, Putnam (New York, NY), 1975.
All on a May Morning, illustrated by Haig and Regina Shekerjian, Putnam (New York, NY), 1975.
A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers, illustrated by Alice Provensen and Martin Provensen, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1981.
Night Story, illustrated by Ilse Plum, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1986.
The Voyage of the Ludgate Hill: A Journey with Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by Alice Provensen and Martin Provensen, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1987.
The Ballad of Biddy Early, illustrated by Barry Moser, Knopf (New York, NY), 1989.
Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymous Bosch, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1991.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1993.
A Starlit Somersault Downhill, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1993.
(And illustrator) An Alphabet of Angels, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1994.
(With Jane Yolen) Among Angels, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1995.
Gutenberg's Gift (pop-up book), illustrated by Bryan Leister, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1995.
(And illustrator) The Good-night Blessing Book, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.
(Collector) Step Lightly: Poems for the Journey, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1998.
The Tale I Told Sasha, illustrated by David Christiana, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1999.
Poems anthologized in Lullaby Moons and a Silver Spoon: A Book of Bedtime Songs and Rhymes, edited by Brooke Dyer, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2003.
POETRY; FOR ADULTS
In His Country, Generation (Ann Arbor, MI), 1966.
Skin of Grace, University of Missouri Press (Columbia, MO), 1967.
A New Herball, Ferdinand-Roter Gallerias (Baltimore, MD), 1968.
Nineteen Masks for the Naked Poet, Kayak (Santa Cruz, CA), 1971.
The Carpenter of the Sun, Liveright (New York, NY), 1974.
Household Tales of Moon and Water, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1983.
Water Walker, Knopf (New York, NY), 1990.
Poem Made of Water, Brighton Press (San Diego, CA), 1992.
Swimming Lessons: New and Selected Poems, Knopf (New York, NY), 1996.
In the Salt Marsh, Knopf (New York, NY), 2004.
John Kater, The Letter of John to James, Seabury (New York, NY), 1981.
John Kater, Another Letter of John to James, Seabury (New York, NY), 1982.
The Lively Anatomy of God, (short stories), Eakins (New York, NY), 1968.
Childhood of the Magician, (short stories), Liveright (New York, NY), 1973.
Angel in the Parlor: Five Stories and Eight Essays, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1983.
Things Invisible to See, (novel), Knopf (New York, NY), 1984, reprinted, Cowley Publications (Cambridge, MA), 2007.
East of the Sun, West of the Moon: A Play, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1989.
Telling Time: Angels, Ancestors, and Stories, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1993.
Sister Water, (novel), Knopf (New York, NY), 1993.
A Nancy Willard Reader: Selected Poetry and Prose, University Press of New England (Hanover, NH), 1993.
The Left-handed Story: Writing and the Writing Life, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 2008.
Work represented in anthologies, including Rising Tides. Contributor to periodicals, including Esquire, Field, Massachusetts Review, Redbook, New Yorker, and New Directions.
A filmstrip based on A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers was produced by Random House/Miller Brody.
Nancy Willard is an award-winning author of dozens of books for children, as well as of works for adults that include novels, poetry, short stories, and the memoir The Left-handed Story: Writing and the Writer's Life. The first recipient of a Newbery Medal for a volume of poetry, Willard mingles the "magical and the mundane" in a technique that "requires a leap of faith on the part of the reader," according to Publishers Weekly contributor Sybil Steinberg. As E. Charles Vousden and Laura Ingram pointed out in a Dictionary of Literary Biography essay, "Everything [Willard] writes affirms her belief in the ‘magic view of life’; that is, a view of life that incorporates the imagination and stresses the appropriateness of things meant to be taken metaphorically."
Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Willard was encouraged in her artistic leanings. Her father was a respected professor of chemistry, and her mother ensured that her daughters would form an early love of words, taking them boating at Stony Lake, Michigan, where the family spent many summers. As often as not, Willard's mother would simply take them out to the middle of the lake and read to them as the boat drifted lazily. Also following their mother's encouragement, Willard and her sister began publishing a summer newspaper, going all over their small vacation community to gather newsworthy items and gaining a good ear for speech and story.
From a very early age, Willard was drawing and creating her own stories, influenced largely by the books she was reading: the stories of Lewis Carroll and the fantasies of George MacDonald and L. Frank Baum. "To me, these books were as exotic as the descriptions of court life in ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ or ‘Cinderella,’" the writer later recalled in Writer magazine. The fantasy from these idyllic summers blended with Willard's reading as well as with the pragmatism she gained from her scientist father. "I grew up aware of two ways of looking at the world that are opposed to each other and yet can exist side by side in the same person," she explained. "One is the scientific view. The other is the magic view."
By age seven Willard had published her first poem, and as a senior in high school her "A Child's Star" was published in Horn Book. In addition, one of her teenage illustrations was featured on a Horn Book Christmas card. Willard eventually enrolled in the honors English program at the University of Michigan, where she wrote and illustrated a children's book for the student literary magazine. Graduating in 1958, she then earned a master's degree at Stanford University and went on to complete a doctorate at the University of Michigan. Thereafter she took a position at Vassar College, where she still teaches creative writing, and in 1964 she married photographer Eric Lindbloom. Two years after her marriage, she published her first collection of adult poetry, In His Country.
While Willard focused on adult readers early in her career, writing poetry, short stories, and criticism, the birth of her son, James, inspired her to turn her attention to younger readers. Her first children's book, Sailing to Cythera and Other Anatole Stories, features "an imperturbable youngster named Anatole, whose adventures take him to a world that is a mixture of C.S. Lewis's Narnia, Lewis Carroll's Wonderland, and L. Frank Baum's Oz," according to Vousden and Ingram. Visiting magical lands, Anatole has a series of adventures involving wizards and sentient animals, battling always for good against evil. This debut children's title won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1977, and Willard has followed this success with other titles about the boy, including The Island of the Grass King: The Further Adventures of Anatole, Stranger's Bread, and Uncle Terrible: More Adventures of Anatole. In the last adventure, Anatole is visiting a friend of his parents named Uncle Terrible. The two are shrunk to the size of an insect and Uncle Terrible even takes on the form of a snake at one point in this "imaginative book," as Horn Book critic Nancy C. Hammond characterized it. "Like its predecessors," Hammond concluded, Uncle Terrible "is beautifully designed and illustrated; the union of text and illustration is inspired."
Willard has continued to produce picture books for children, both with prose and verse texts, celebrating everything from Christmas to the adventures of another boy inspired by her own son. A boy named James stars in two early works, The Snow Rabbit and The Well-mannered Balloon. The former describes the boy's attempts to bring a snow sculpture inside, where, of course, it promptly melts, and in the latter a balloon upon which James paints the face of a pirate becomes a foe in the middle of the night, until the boy is forced to pop it. Willard's first children's novel, The Highest Hit, recounts the adventures of a plucky little girl named Kate Carpenter, who is, in part, fashioned after the author as a young girl.
In 1982 Willard won a Newbery Medal for her picture book, A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers, which uses lyrical as well as nonsense verse to tell of events at an enchanted inn. According to Barbara Karlin, writing in the Los Angeles Times, nineteenth-century author William Blake both "inspired" the book and "is an integral part of many of the poems." "The title should not suggest that this picture book is merely a chronicle of the mystical English poet-painter," Michael Patrick Hearn explained in the Washington Post Book World. "Instead, it is a collection of lyrical nonsense poems inspired by a reading of [Blake's] Songs of Innocence when Willard was a little girl." As Donald Hall commented in the New York Times Book Review, "Blake … is transformed into an innkeeper" in poems that "successfully embody a 7-year-old's imagining of the poet who keeps an inn
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for the imagination." Reviewing the same title in School Library Journal, Peter Neumeyer called A Visit to William Blake's Inn a "magical and original collection" in which poems and pictures, "integrated in spirit, flow into each other across double-page spreads." Another famous work of poetry that is retold by Willard, The Tale of Paradise Lost finds the "patriarchal … and puritanical" verse of seventeenth-century writer John Milton soften and distilled into "an elegantly readable tour of heck," according to New York Times Book Review critic James Hynes.
In several of her books, Willard reinterprets classic tales. Her version of Beauty and the Beast is set in the late nineteenth century, with Beauty's father recast as a wealthy New York merchant, while in Cinderella's Dress the young heroine is aided by a nest of resourceful magpies in outfitting herself for her magical night with the handsome prince. Beauty and the Beast was praised by a Kirkus Reviews writer as a "felicitous retelling," while Linda Boyles wrote in School Library Journal that Willard's version "startles and surprises." A critic for Publishers Weekly similarly commended the author's use of "lavish language" in her retelling, concluding that Beauty and the Beast has "the assured look of permanence." Praising the story for containing "rich details of shimmery things," a Kirkus Reviews writer predicted that Cinderella's Dress "will be a lovely addition to any fairytale collection," while in Booklist Karin Snelson noted that because "Willard varies her rhyming pattern throughout," the "original" and "challenging" retelling will intellectually involve developing readers. In School Library Journal, Rita Soltan had special praise for the book's illustrations, writing that Jane Dyer's "muted watercolors bring out the whimsy and fanciful spirit of the story."
In The Sorcerer's Apprentice Willard updates another traditional tale, this time with a contemporary heroine who rides a bicycle and replaces Disney's magical brooms with an uncontrollable sewing machine. Gary Wolfe praised Willard's "ingenious verse revision" in Locus, while Michael Dirda described the book as "masterly" in a Washington Post Book World review. Commending this new revisioning of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochman concluded that "Willard tells her story in lively rhyme that jumps with the unexpected."
An award-winning poet, Willard displays her imaginative, lyrical verse in books such as A Starlit Somersault Downhill, a children's story about a hospitable bear who invites a rabbit into his winter den, though the rabbit soon thinks better of the arrangement and leaves. As Shirley Wilton observed in School Library Journal, "Willard effectively communicates inherent dangers in nature as well as contrasting the safe life with that of risk and adventure."
In An Alphabet of Angels and The Good-night Blessing Book Willard incorporates her own photographs of angel figurines and statuary in a rhyming alphabet and
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litany that encompasses everyday items featuring the theme of angels. A contributor to Publishers Weekly praised An Alphabet of Angels due to the "sheer loveliness of her cryptic poetry" and The Good-night Blessing Book was cited for its collection of the author/illustrator's "arresting and sometimes humorous" photographic images. Willard also serves as both illustrator and author in The Magic Cornfield, a "creative risk," according to a critic for Kirkus Reviews, in which Willard assembles stamps and photographs to help illustrate the travels of an itinerant. "Marching to her own drummer, Willard once again emerges with an unconventional picture book," declared a reviewer for Publishers Weekly in appraising the work.
In Gutenberg's Gift Willard reinterprets the events that contributed to the historic invention of the printing press in Germany in the early 1400s. While factually inaccurate, as is noted by the curator of the Morgan Library in the book's afterword, Willard spins an engaging tale that describes Johannes Gutenberg's determination to produce a printed Bible for his wife in time for Christmas. The traditions of Christmas as well as other
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seasons of the year are showcased by Willard in Cracked Corn and Snow Ice Cream: A Family Almanac, a nostalgic view of family life in the rural Midwest that a Publishers Weekly critic dubbed "exquisitely designed and compulsively readable…. An American quilt of fact and folk wisdom."
Other original books by Willard include The Tortilla Cat, The Moon and Riddles Diner and the Sunnyside Café, Sweep Dreams, and The Flying Bed. In The Tortilla Cat Dr. Romero's children are saved from a deadly illness by a gray cat reciting nonsense verse and dispensing magic tortillas. Ann Welton, writing in School Library Journal, called the book an "easy-to-read story with real child appeal," while a contributor for Publishers Weekly cited The Tortilla Cat as yet another example of Willard's "fertile imagination" while predicting that young readers will be sure "to enjoy the magical element."
In her rhyming text for The Tale I Told Sasha, Willard creates a "paean to a child's imagination," according to Wilton. The book's "verse seems hewn out of the very rock of imagination," observed Booklist critic GraceAnne A. DeCandido. Featuring thirteen poems by Willard, The Moon and Riddles Diner and the Sunnyside Café introduces Shoofly Sally and the other customers of the titular eateries, establishments opened by the moon and sun. In the book, "rich metaphors combine with the delicious nonsense of Mother Goose and the frank words and infectious rhythms of folk music and blues," wrote Gillian Engberg in a Booklist review.
Written in what Rochman described as "folklore style," Sweep Dreams tells the story of a man who loves a beautiful dancing red broom, but ultimately frees it so that it can sweep away the clouds and tidy the stars in the night sky. In School Library Journal, Jane Barrer wrote that "Willard's lyrical tale is a delightful love story" that is brought to life in "vivid" and "expressive" paintings by Mary GrandPré. Another imaginative tale, The Flying Bed draws readers to Italy, where a greedy young baker named Guido alienates his customers until a magic bed transports him and his wife Maria to the kitchen of a master baker. There Guido is given the secret ingredient necessary for success, although he proves to be careless with this gift. Featuring detailed paintings by John Thompson, The Flying Bed is "well constructed and gracefully told," in the opinion of Booklist critic Carolyn Phelan. "Willard is a master storyteller, never more so than in this many-layered fable," pronounced a Kirkus Reviews writer, the critic noting that in The Flying Bed the author "plays with rhythm and repetition" throughout her "understated" text.
In addition to her works for children, Willard has also published two adult novels. Things Invisible to See is set in the late 1930s and early 1940s and tells the story of a pair of twin brothers, Ben and Willie—one gregarious, intuitive, and sentimental, the other shy, reserved, and methodical. The story is also about a girl named Clare, who becomes accidentally paralyzed when Ben hits her on the head with a baseball. Clare later falls in love with Ben. "The point of this luminous first novel," wrote Ann Tyler in the Detroit News, "is that the miraculous and the everyday often co-exist, or overlap, or even that they're one and the same." While the novel is filled with out-of-the-ordinary events, "what makes this book so moving," according to Tyler, "is not the presence of the magical in the ordinary, but the presence of the ordinary in the magical." Michiko Kakutani commented in the New York Times that Willard "writes of small-town life during World War II with a genuine nostalgia—neither sentimental nor contrived—for the innocence Americans once possessed; and she makes a teen-age love story … reverberate, gently, with larger, darker questions about the human condition." The reviewer praised Willard's "pictures of daily life so precisely observed that they leave after-images in the reader's mind," and noted that "in the end, the novel probably most resembles an old-fashioned crazy quilt—eclectic and a little over-embroidered, but all in all a charming work of improvisation, held together by the radiance of its creator's sensibility."
In Sister Water, Willard's second novel, the author explores the challenge to a family's love and cohesion that is posed by death. As seventy-something Jesse, now suffering from progressive memory loss and troubling encounters with the angel of death, awaits her en- try into the next world, her daughter copes with the loss of her husband in a tragic automobile accident and the haunting dreams that follow. While praising Willard's characterizations, Gregory Blake Smith noted in his review for the New York Times Book Review that "the reader is teased with the idea that the quirky allure of image and character [in Sister Water] will ultimately coalesce into a vision" uniting the literal and metaphoric lands Willard had created. "We wait for revelation, but … the novel keeps its secrets to itself."
In Telling Time: Angels, Ancestors, and Stories, a collection of thirteen essays, Willard offers personal reflections on the process of creative writing. Through the use of poetry, parable, and fiction, she conveys the maxim, "Show don't tell; and write from what you know." This remains sound advice for aspiring writers, and one that has informed Willard's career in her adult poetry and novels as well as in her prolific writing for children. In her essay for Writer, Willard also reaffirmed another major principle that has shaped the entirety of her work—magic: "Most of us grow up and put magic away with other childish things. But I think we can all remember a time when magic was as real to us as science, and the things we couldn't see were as important as the things we could…. I believe that all small children and some adults hold this view together with the scientific ones. I also believe that the great books for children come from those writers who hold both."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Children's Literature Review, Volume 5, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1983.
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 7, 1977, Volume 37, 1986.
Contemporary Women Poets, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1997.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 5: American Poets since World War II, 1980, Volume 52: American Writers for Children since 1960: Fiction, 1986.
Rubin, Stan Sanvel, The Post-Confessionals: Conversations with American Poets of the Eighties, Farleigh Dickinson Press (Rutherford, NJ), 1989.
St. James Guide to Children's Writers, fifth edition, St. James (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Silvey, Anita, editor, Children's Books and Their Creators, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995.
Willard, Nancy, The Left-handed Story: Writing and the Writing Life, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 2008.
Booklist, October 1, 1993, Hazel Rochman, review of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, p. 245; November 1, 1993, Hazel Rochman, review of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, p. 529; September 15, 1994, Ilene Cooper, review of An Alphabet of Angels, p. 141; October 1, 1996, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of The Good-Night Blessing Book, p. 339; November 1, 1997, Carolyn Phelan, review of Cracked Corn and Snow Ice Cream: A Family Almanac, p. 469; March 1, 1998, Hazel Rochman, review of The Tortilla Cat, p. 1136; June 1, 1999, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of The Tale I Told Sasha, p. 1826; March 15, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of The Moon and Riddles Diner and the Sunnyside Café, p. 1395; September 15, 2003, Karin Snelson, review of Cinderella's Dress, p. 249; July, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Sweep Dreams, p. 1931; January 1, 2007, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Flying Bed, p. 118.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 1994, review of An Alphabet of Angels, p. 69; June, 1997, review of The Magic Cornfield, p. 378; May, 1998, review of The Tortilla Cat, p. 344; July, 1999, review of The Tale I Told Sasha, p. 405; June, 2003, review of The Mouse, the Cat, and Grandmother's Hat, p. 428; December, 2003, Janice Del Negro, review of Cinderella's Dress, p. 168.
Detroit News, January 20, 1985, Ann Tyler, review of Things Invisible to See.
Horn Book, April, 1983, Nancy C. Hammond, review of Uncle Terrible: More Adventures of Anatole, p. 169; November-December, 1992, Nancy Vasilakis, review of Beauty and the Beast, p. 734; March-April, 1994, Nancy Vasilakis, review of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, p. 193; July-August, 2001, review of The Moon and Riddles Diner and the Sunnyside Café, p. 469; January-February, 2004, Joanna Rudge Long, review of Cinderella's Dress, p. 74; July-August, 2005, Joanna Rudge Long, review of Sweep Dreams, p. 461.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 1992, review of Beauty and the Beast, p. 1318; February 15, 1997, review of The Magic Cornfield, p. 308; October 1, 2003, review of Cinderella's Dress, p. 1233; June 1, 2005, review of Sweep Dreams, p. 645; January 15, 2007, review of The Flying Bed, p. 82.
Locus, February, 1994, Gary Wolfe, review of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, p. 62.
Los Angeles Times, November 29, 1981, Barbara Karlin, review of A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers.
New York Times, January 12, 1985, Michiko Kakutani, "The Real and the Fantastic," p. 13.
New York Times Book Review, July 12, 1981, Donald Hall, review of A Visit to William Blake's Inn; July 18, 1993, Gregory Blake Smith, review of Sister Water, p. 13; February 8, 2004, review of Cinderella's Dress, p. 22; November 14, 2006, James Hynes, "The Devil and the Details," review of The Tale of Paradise Lost, p. 26.
Publishers Weekly, December 14, 1984, Sybil Steinberg, interview with Willard, pp. 58-59; October 12, 1992, review of Beauty and the Beast, p. 76; July 5, 1993, review of A Starlit Somersault Downhill, p. 71; August 1, 1994, review of An Alphabet of Angels, p. 77; November 27, 1995, review of Gutenberg's Gift, p. 68; August 5, 1996, review of The Good-night Blessing Book, p. 440; February 17, 1997, review of The Magic Cornfield, p. 219; July 28, 1997, review of Cracked Corn and Snow Ice-Cream, p. 73; March 2, 1998, review of The Tortilla Cat, pp. 68-69; April 26, 1999, review of The Tale I Told Sasha, p. 82; April 16, 2001, review of The Moon and Riddles Diner and the Sunnyside Café, p. 65; November 17, 2003, review of Cinderella's Dress, p. 64; January 15, 2007, review of The Flying Bed, p. 51.
School Library Journal, December, 1981, Peter Neumeyer, review of A Visit to William Blake's Inn, p. 69; October, 1992, Linda Boyles, review of Beauty and the Beast, p. 123; September, 1993, Shirley Wilton, review of A Starlit Somersault Downhill, p. 221; January, 1994, Patricia Dooley, review of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, pp. 116-117; October, 1996, Wendy Lukehart, review of The Good-Night Blessing Book, p. 119; March, 1998, Ann Welton, review of The Tortilla Cat, p. 190; June, 1999, Shirley Wilton, review of The Tale I Told Sasha, p. 108; May, 2003, Laurie Edwards, review of The Mouse, the Cat, and Grandmother's Hat, p. 132; November, 2003, Rita Soltan, review of Cinderella's Dress, p. 118; July, 2005, Jane Barrer, review of Sweep Dreams, p. 84; April, 2007, Catherine Threadgill, review of The Flying Bed, p. 118.
Washington Post Book World, November 8, 1981, Michael Patrick Hearn, review of A Visit to William Blake's Inn; November 14, 1993, Michael Dirda, review of The Sorcerer's Apprentice.
Writer, April, 1981, Nancy Willard, "Magic, Craft, and the Making of Children's Books," pp. 17-19.
Uncommon Sense: The Art and Imagination of Nancy Willard (video recording), Direct Cinema, 2003.