Author Janet Wong Brings a Poetry Suitcase to Briarcliff Manor

Janet Wong at Todd

Janet Wong, author of over 30 children’s books and volumes of poetry, visited Todd School in Briarcliff Manor this spring to talk to students about her love of language and the importance of poetry. Recalling that as a child she missed a chance to learn another language out of fear that others would make fun of her, she encouraged the students to “be brave and embrace being unique!”

She shared several of her poems, then opened her “poetry suitcase” containing an assortment of props including a turtle, a snake, a hat, noodles and other treasures. “A suitcase takes you places—and so does poetry,” said Wong.

She read a poem about her father and advised all: “If you write something that’s about someone, don’t identify them! …Rip it up into little pieces and throw it in three different garbage cans.” The students burst into laughter.

Janet’s journey began 25 years ago when she began to question her career as a lawyer at Universal Studios Hollywood. She’d also worked as a substitute teacher while studying at Yale Law School, yet she knew that teaching wasn’t her path. One day, while searching in a bookstore for gifts, the idea hit her: “Someone wrote these books. Why not ME?” The rest is history.

Todd Librarian Tara Phethean, coordinator of the library’s special events, said, “Author visits are always an exciting time at Todd and each one is a unique opportunity to engage the students.”

To learn more about Janet, visit

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About the Author: Evelyn Mertens