All We Know

Written by Linda Ashman. Illustrated by Jane Dyer.
HarperCollins. March 2016. ISBN 978-0061689581.

Honors & Reviews

•  Bank Street College of Education Best Books of the Year List

“Simply beautiful.” ★ Starred review, —Kirkus

“A gentle, heartwarming celebration of the continuity of life and of a parent’s love.” —Publishers Weekly

“The simple yet artful rhymes are made to be read aloud.” —ALA Booklist

“A must-have for every newborn nursery and every toddler’s bookshelf.” — Bookpage

Illustrations copyright 2016 by Jane Dyer. HarperCollins Children’s Books.

About this Story
We lived in Denver for ten years, and—as much as I loved the city—I did not love the winters. So I was always on the lookout for signs that spring was just around the corner.  One of the earliest indicators were the crocuses that sent thin green shoots up through the hard, often snow-covered, ground in late January.  They were so reliable, those bulbs. How did they know it was time?

This got me thinking about other natural phenomena: How do trees know when to drop their leaves, then unfurl new ones come spring? How do vines know how to climb?  How do moles know how to dig, bears know when to hibernate, or migrating birds know where to fly?

Well, sure, there’s a scientific explanation for all these things. But I wasn’t interested in the science. I was interested in the wonder. Isn’t it amazing that animals and plants and clouds and stars just “know” what they’re here to do? The book is a recitation of such phenomena through the seasons, concluding with a parent who just “knows” how to love her baby.

The manuscript had a long evolution. Originally the list of phenomena was fairly random, something noted in several of the rejections the manuscript received when it was first submitted. A particularly encouraging rejection (I know; it seems like a contradiction in terms) from Lee Wade of Schwartz & Wade suggested I order the phenomena in a way that tells a “bigger” story. After mulling this over for a while, it occurred to me that I could tell it over the course of a pregnancy, ending with baby’s arrival.

When I sent the revised manuscript to my agent, Jennifer Mattson, she shared that she was pregnant herself!  I’m not sure what sort of telepathic communication was going on, but I’m grateful for it: In the next round of submissions, the story wound up getting offers from editors at two houses (neither was from Lee Wade, however, who nicely passed on it a second time). Ultimately, the story was acquired by Maria Modugno at HarperCollins (now at Random House). Although HarperCollins decided not to follow the pregnancy, but to show a toddler through the seasons instead, the pregnancy inspiration made all the difference in the revision.

I was thrilled when Maria signed up Jane Dyer to illustrate (some 15 years after she agreed to illustrate the first manuscript I sold, Babies on the Go). As with all of Jane’s books, the landscape is gorgeous, and the animals and children adorable—the chubby cheeks on the main character are especially irresistible!

Extras—For Writers:
As noted in the section below, this manuscript went through some fairly dramatic revisions, including a title change. Feel free to compare an early permutation of the first version—All I Know—with the (mostly) final version below.

Ashman.All I Know early version

Ashman.All We Know September 2011