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Emily Jenkins

Acclaimed author of the popular Toys Go Out and Upside Down Magic series

  • About Emily Jenkins

    A two-time Boston Globe Horn Book Award Honor winner and recipient of the Sydney Taylor Book Award, Emily Jenkins is a favorite with children for her humor and sensitivity. Toys Go Out and Upside-Down Magic are frequent all-school or “One Book, One Community” reads in elementary schools.

    Jenkins’ latest middle grade book, Harry Versus the First One Hundred Days of School ties in to “one hundred days of school” curriculum and classroom celebrations. Her other middle-grade books include the fairy tale collection Brave Red, Smart Frog, the Toys series and the New York Times bestselling Upside-Down Magic series (co-written with Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski).  Picture books include All-of-a-Kind Family HanukkahA Greyhound, A GroundhogLemonade in WinterToys Meet Snow and Water in the Park.

    Jenkins loves empowering kids’ creativity, sharing storytelling techniques, talking about the history of fairy tales, and of course, celebrating one hundred days of school. With the very youngest readers, she talks about being active observers of the world around them. She also speaks to middle-school and high-school students about her novels for young adults, published as E. Lockhart.

    She has a doctorate in English literature from Columbia University and taught for several years at Hamline University’s MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Jenkins is based in New York City, where she frequently visits colleges, schools and libraries to share her love of literature and insights into the creative process.

  • Speaking Topics

    Storytelling (Elementary Presentation)

    In her most popular elementary presentation, Jenkins talks to 2nd-5th graders about storytelling techniques. She encourages kids to self-identify as writers, empowering them to create.

    One Hundred Days!

    Gear up for your school’s one hundredth day celebration with Harry Versus the First One Hundred Days of School, illustrated by Pete Oswald. Jenkins celebrates the number one hundred and shares her journey as a writer while sharing the inspiration for her book.

    Upside-Down Magic

    The story behind the books now also a movie on the Disney Channel.

    Fairy Tales, Telling, and Retelling (Elementary Presentation)

    Jenkins gives a lively explanation of the oral tradition in Western fairy tales, zeroing in on Snow White as told by the Brothers Grimm and then as she retells it in Brave Red, Smart Frog. She shares lots of wonderful old illustrations and empowers students to find their own ways of telling and retelling famous tales.

    Sydney Taylor and New York's Lower East Side (Elementary Presentation)

    Jenkins authored All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah, a picture book based on characters from Sydney Taylor’s classic All-of-a-Kind Family chapter book series, tales about Jewish family life in New York City’s Lower East Side at the start of the twentieth century. This presentation tells about Taylor and her work, the history of that neighborhood, and the fascinating research that went into creating this picture book.

    Be a Noticer! (Elementary Presentation)

    For the youngest students, Jenkins focuses on picture books and the way writers notice the world around them. She encourages students to notice details in art from her books and to move from that to seeing themselves as unique creative people.

    Home and the Creative Imagination (Presentation for Teachers and Librarians)

    Based on an essay she wrote for The Horn Book, Jenkins talks about the way home is portrayed in stories from board books to young adult novels. It’s worthwhile rethinking how we talk about home with kids, and to think about ways in which our understanding of home as educators and authors can best empower the children we reach.

    Telling Stories with Science, History and Math (Presentation for Teachers and Librarians)

    Jenkins chronicles her career as a writer of picture books for young elementary readers on science, history and math-related topics. The lecture includes slides with art by Sophie Blackall, Tomek Bogacki, G. Brian Karas, Paul O. Zelinsky and more.

    Sparking Creativity in Students (Presentation for Teachers and Librarians)

    Jenkins discusses the storytelling techniques she shares with students in her school visits, and the reasons she believes in them. She elaborates on her approach to teaching creative writing—emphasizing plot and emotion.

  • Video

  • Praise for Emily Jenkins


    A third grade boy told me today that your visit was ‘the best day yet in the entire school year!’ And this is from a boy who is not easily pleased…Not a book of yours is on our shelf—they are all checked out, with waiting lists.

    Librarian, Park Road Elementary School

    Today, I met with several classes you spoke to yesterday. They all talked about your “seed” imagery, “strong feeling” and “throwing the stick” requirements for a good story. You do a fabulous presentation that stays with the kids.

    Librarian, Hunter College Elementary School

    Praise for Harry Versus the First 100 Days of School

    Funny, original, and completely captivating.

    R. J. Palacio, bestselling author of Wonder

    A first-grader goes from bundle of nerves on the first day of school to, by the hundredth, a confident young learner with a fund of well-earned knowledge and social skills… Suitable for sessions of reading aloud or for solo readers ready for chapter books… infused with the author’s characteristic, multileveled tongue-in-cheek humor.

    Booklist, starred review

    Endearing from the get-go, this warm, funny early chapter book …spotlights Harry’s adjustment to school, insightfully and entertainingly revealing his burgeoning self-reliance, tightening grasp on the meaning of friendship and family, and appreciation of the value of empathy and acceptance.

    Publishers Weekly, starred review

    This appealing chapter book is a terrific addition to any 100-day narrative collection. It is perfectly tailored for a read-aloud and is bound to be a favorite.

    School Library Journal

    Praise for All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah

    A picture book that lovingly and dutifully brings to life the family’s cozy Lower East Side apartment, with Zelinsky’s warm, close-up illustrations — and occasional dazzling cutaways — which evoke both the cramped quarters and the strong emotional bonds of the family.

    The New York Times

    This touching celebration of food and family (based on Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-King Family series from the 1950s) is flavored with dashes of history and love – a lovely recipe for any holiday.”

    USA Today

    a beautiful picture-book adaptation of events taken from Sydney Taylor’s classic stories, published in the 1950s, about an all-daughters family of Jewish immigrants.

    Wall Street Journal

    This will be a snug holiday readaloud both for those celebrating and those who are just yearning for latkes, and it could elicit tales of audience family traditions as well.”


    Jenkins’s cozy present-tense text and Zelinsky’s thick-lined, expressive, color-saturated illustrations capture the happy bustle of a loving family amid lots of well-researched period details.”

    Horn Book, starred review

    While readers need not be familiar with the classic series, generations of parents who grew up with this unforgettable immigrant family will certainly welcome this new picture book as the perfect way to introduce these memorable characters to the next generation of readers.

    School Library Journal, starred review

    When two top picture book talents (the team behind the Toys Go Out series) introduce a new generation to Sydney Taylor’s classic stories of Jewish family life on the Lower East Side, it’s what’s known in Yiddish as a mechaye—something that gives great joy.”

    Publishers Weekly, starred review

    Here’s hoping for more adventures of these exceptional sisters.

    Booklist, starred review

    Writing with the support of the Sydney Taylor Foundation, Jenkins expertly captures the warm family spirit of the classic books and their time for a new generation of readers. Zelinsky’s digital artwork brilliantly evokes the crowded but cozy tenement world of the early 20th century, while his use of perspective lovingly draws readers into the drama. Share this joyous holiday tale of a Jewish immigrant family all year long.

    Kirkus Review, starred review

    While readers need not be familiar with the classic series, generations of parents who grew up with this unforgettable immigrant family will certainly welcome this new picture book as the perfect way to introduce these memorable characters to the next generation of readers

    School Library Journal, starred review

    Praise for Toys Meet Snow

    Jenkins’s masterful text is deceptively simple.


    Once again Ms. Jenkins and illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky have created a funny and tender adventure for Lumphy the stuffed buffalo, StingRay the dry-clean-only plush stingray, and Plastic, the red rubber ball… Mr. Zelinsky’s digitally rendered pictures have a lovely, happy feeling and perfectly capture the rosy beauty of snow on a late winter afternoon.

    The Wall Street Journal
  • Books by Emily Jenkins

  • Media About Emily Jenkins

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  • Emily Jenkins travels from New York, NY

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