Friday, March 21, 2008

Allyn Johnston Leaving Harcourt...

I've known since last week that Editor-in-Chief Allyn Johnston was leaving Harcourt after 22 years there. The news just broke in PW Children's Bookshelf yesterday. Today is Allyn's last day at Harcourt. Over the years she's worked with authors and illustrators the likes of Jane Dyer, Lois Ehlert, Mem Fox, Cynthia Rylant, Debra Frasier and Marla Frazee.

Allyn wrote a wonderful piece for me focusing on picture books for the 2009 CWIM, finishing it up soon after she was let go. Reading her piece, feeling her love of picture books, getting a glimpse of what an insightful editor she is, made me sad to think that someone who it seems was put on this earth to edit books for young readers could be let go as a result of a corporate merger (Houghton with Harcourt).

Here's a excerpt of her CWIM piece:

“Authors and illustrators are our most important resource. Without them none of us would be here. Our primary job in the editorial department is to maintain—and build—strong, trusting, collaborative relationships with them so they keep bringing their projects to us. And when those projects are wonderful, great. The editorial development process is relatively smooth. But when talented folks bring us weaker ideas—or ideas that don’t quite make sense yet—we must try our best to help them figure out how to make the project work and to coax it out of them without being discouraging.

I think our biggest role, then, is to believe in our authors and illustrators, to believe great things can happen.”

I wish great things for Allyn as she moves on to the next phase of her career. As soon as I have news about what she'll be doing next, I'll let you know in this space. In the meantime, you can contact her here.


Kimbra Kasch said...

So sorry to hear about this. I heard Ms. Johnston speak at a SCBWI conference in Portland, Oregon. She brought a warmth to the room and the industry. Hopefully, she will land on her feet.

Lambert Davis said...

Hi Alice, My name is Lambert Davis. I'm an illustrator living in Australia. I'm trying to reach Allyn Johnston. Do you have her updated contact details. I spoke to her when I was in San Diego in January but have been unable to reach her since the takeover at Harcourt. Here's my website if you would like to take a look at some of my work. All the best, Lambert

Brent Beck said...

Hello Alice.
I live in Dayton and work in Cincy. I wish I could have run into you at the conference in LA this summer. I was hoping to find contact details for Allyn Johnston as well. You seem to have the latest information on her move to Beach Lane. My website is You can reach me from there. Thanks in advance.