George Ella Lyon

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George Ella Lyon (born April 25, 1949) is an American author from Kentucky, who has published in many genres, including picture books, poetry, juvenile novels, and articles.


George Ella Lyon was born in Harlan, a coal mining town in southeastern Kentucky. Her books frequently take place in Appalachia. She married Stephen c. Lyon, a musician, in 1972, and had two children with him. She earned a B.A. at Centre College in Kentucky in 1971, her M.A. at the University of Arkansas in 1972, and her Ph.D. at Indiana University--Bloomington in 1978.

She first published in 1983, a poetry collection called Mountain. Aside from publishing, she also taught writing at a number of colleges, including the University of Kentucky, Centre College, Transylvania University, and Radford University. She has also acted as an executive committee member for the Women Writers Conference. She currently teaches writing through workshops, conferences, and author visits.

Lyon served as Kentucky Poet Laureate for 2015-16.


In an article in The Reading Teacher, Sylvia Pantaleo notes that Lyon's A Day at Damp Camp bears characteristics of Dresang's Radical Change theory by having a nonlinear story, which artist Peter Catalanotto loops back to the beginning through the illustrations and images, and text within boxes that resembles "hypertext Web links".[1]


Children/Young Adult[edit]

  • Father Time and the Day Boxes, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker, 1985.
  • A Regular Rolling Noah, illustrated by Stephen Gammell, 1986.
  • One Lucky Girl, illustrated by Irene Trivas, 2000.
  • Mother to Tigers, illustrated by Peter Catalanotto, 2002.
  • Gina.Jamie.Father.Bear., 2002.
  • Sonny's House of Spies, 2004.
  • Holding on to Zoe, 2012.

Picture Books[edit]

  • A B Cedar: An Alphabet of Trees, illustrated by Tom Parker, 1989.
  • Together, illustrated by Vera Rosenberry, 1989.
  • Come a Tide, illustrated by Stephen Gammell, 1990.
  • Basket, illustrated by Mary Szilagyi, 1990.
  • Cecil's Story, illustrated by Peter Catalanotto, 1991.
  • The Outside Inn, illustrated by Vera Rosenberry, 1991.
  • Who Came Down that Road?, illustrated by Peter Catalanotto, 1992.
  • Dreamplace, illustrated by Peter Catalanotto, 1993.
  • Five Live Bongos, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers, 1994.
  • Mama Is a Miner, illustrated by Peter Catalanotto, 1994.
  • Ada's Pal, illustrated by Marguerite Casparian, 1996.
  • A Wordful Child, photographs by Ann W. Olson, 1996.
  • A Day at Damp Camp, illustrated by Peter Catalanotto, 1996.
  • A Sign, illustrated by Chris K. Soentpiet, 1998.
  • A Traveling Cat, illustrated by Paul Brett Johnson, 1998.
  • Book, illustrated by Peter Catalanotto, 1999.
  • Weaving the Rainbow, illustrated by Stephanie Anderson, 2004.
  • When You Get Little and I Get Big, illustrated by Peter Catalanotto, 2006.
  • No Dessert Forever!, 2006.
  • Trucks Roll!, 2007
  • You and Me and Home Sweet Home, 2009.
  • The Pirate of Kindergarten, 2010.
  • All the Water in the World, illustrated by Katherine Tillotson, 2011.
  • Planes Fly!, 2013


  • Borrowed Children, 1988.
  • Red Rover, 1989 (published as The Stranger I Left behind Me, 1997)
  • Here and Then, 1994.
  • With a Hammer for My Heart, 1996.


  • Mountain, 1983.
  • Growing Light, 1987.
  • Catalpa, 1993.
  • Counting on the Woods, photographs by Ann W. Olson, 1998.
  • She Let Herself Go, 2012.
  • Many-Storied House, 2013.

Miscellaneous Works[edit]

  • Braids (two-act play), first produced in Lexington, KY, at Transylvania University, 1985.
  • Choices: Stories for Adult New Readers, 1989.
  • (Editor, with Jim Wayne Miller and Gurney Norman) A Gathering at the Forks: Fifteen Years of the Hindman Settlement School Appalachian Writers Workshop, 1993.
  • Where I'm From: Where Poems Come From, photographs by Robert Hoskins, 1999.
  • (Editor) E Kentucky Christmas, 2003.


  • Kentucky poet laureate, 2015–17
  • Lamont Hall Award, Andrew Mountain Press, 1983, for Mountain
  • Golden Kite Award, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, 1989, for Borrowed Children
  • Kentucky Bluegrass Award, for Basket
  • Andrew Mountain Press Award, for Mountain
  • Book of the Year Award, Appalachian Writers Association, for Catalpa
  • Best Books of the Year citation, Publishers Weekly, for Who Came Down that Road?
  • Jesse Stuart Media Award, Kentucky School Media Association, for body of work.


Unless otherwise noted, all information is taken from: Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2008. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008.


  1. ^ Pantaleo, Sylvia (October 2004). "Young children and Radical Change characteristics in picture books". The Reading Teacher. Newark, DE: International Reading Association. 58 (2): 178–187. doi:10.1598/RT.58.2.6. ISSN 0034-0561.

External links[edit]