Middle Grade Author Joy Jones Interview

Marti Johnson, Writers Rumpus, October 19, 2021

Jayla Jumps InJayla Jumps In, written by Joy Jones, is an entertaining Middle Grade novel which invites kids to get outside and play!

Jayla is a bit lost. Her best friend moved away, and now she doesn’t know where she belongs even when her large extended family gets together over the holidays. Jayla feels trapped between bratty younger cousins and an older cousin who won’t stop bragging about her new cell phone.

One good thing about that cell phone, though, is that Jayla sees a Double Dutch video and learns her mother was a champion of the sport in her day. It takes some persistence, but once Jayla learns to jump, her world changes. And Jones allows us to experience the fun right along with her.

An author, community activist, and the founder of DC Retro Jumpers, please welcome Joy Jones to Writers’ Rumpus.

Read the entire interview at: https://writersrumpus.com/2021/10/19/middle-grade-author-joy-jones-interview/




Top 10 Sports Books for Youth: 2021

by Ronny Khuri, Booklist

Jayla Jumps was chosen as one of the Top 10 Sports Books for Youth by ALA’s Booklist: https://www.booklistonline.com/Top-10-Sports-Books-for-Youth-2021-Khuri-Ronny/pid=9753026?_zs=4Bl4X1&_zl=L5Cr7.

The diversity within sports is on full display in this year’s top 10 sports books for youth—reviewed in Booklist between September 1, 2020, and August 2021—including fiction and nonfiction accounts of sports such as double Dutch, Muay Thai, skateboarding, and even one fantastical competition involving dragons.


Another Interview with Joy Jones

by Katy K., A Library Mama, posted on October 8, 2021

I have a treat for you today, my friends – an interview with author Joy Jones, in honor of the paperback release of her book, Jayla Jumps In.

Fifth-grade Jayla is worried about her mother’s health when she overhears her talking to her other relatives about her blood pressure. But when her mother and aunts and even older Cousin Julia take a break from Thanksgiving dinner to demonstrate Double Dutch jumping right outside, Jayla is intrigued. Not only would she never have guessed that her mother could do tricks like that, but Jayla hopes that starting a team at school will bring her athletic success and some new friends. At the same time, though, her beloved uncle Alonzo is no longer willing to spend hours playing video games and watching movies with her – he’s got a new girlfriend, one that seems to be sticking around more than Jayla likes. Could Double Dutch be the solution to more than one of her problems?

KK: Family plays such an important role in your book, including Jayla’s worry for her mother, her rivalry with her cousin Shontessa, and of course her evolving relationship with her uncle Alonzo. Can you tell me more about how your process creating Jayla’s family?

JJ: I wanted Jayla to be the driving force, not an adult. I knew from the start that she would form a multi-generational double Dutch club. And to do that, she had to have both adults and children active in her life. That meant she had to have good connections with grownups and most of the adults children interact with are family members. Therefore, I had to make sure she had interesting characters in her family to interact with. Coming up with distinctive family characters was a lot of fun! (The adult in the story I like best is Cousin Julia, because she’s the one most like me!)

Read the complete interview at: http://alibrarymama.com/ (scroll down about three fourths of page).


I Revived a Childhood Skill and Won a Surprise Trip Abroad

Author Joy Jones created a masters team of Double Dutch jump ropers

as told to Sharon McDonnell

AARP THE MAGAZINE, August-September 2021

Double Dutch FunIT LOOKS TRICKY, but Double Dutch is easy to learn, even if you’re older. Jumping two ropes that are swinging in opposite directions is more rhythmic than single rope jumping. And you rarely fall down, because your feet stay pretty close to the ground. You can pick up the basics in under 10 minutes—you just have to be willing to look foolish and have fun.

I learned how to double Dutch as a child—it’s seen primarily among Black girls in cities in the Northeast. Then I grew up and put my jump ropes away. But I got back into it about 17 years ago, when I formed the performance group DC Retro Jumpers. The founding members are women over 50, but we’ve got all ages in the group now.  Our motto is, “Not everyone likes to exercise, but everyone likes to play.”

A few years ago, a reporter saw my group performing at a street festival and wrote about us. The next thing I knew, we were on a plane to Russia to tour, as part of a cultural exchange sponsored by the U.S. embassy in Moscow! Our first day, we Double Dutched in Moscow’s Red Square. We also performed in St. Petersburg and Belgorod. We were well received everywhere.

Our handlers on the tour were all Russian men, and they were huge fans of hip-hop music. One of them came to see us in the U.S. He even entered a hip-hop dance competition in Baltimore and placed in the semifinals. So I guess you could say that the cultural exchange was a success.

I’d encourage anyone to return to something they loved as a child, or try a kids’ skill you’ve always wanted to learn. If people think you’re immature, who cares? For me, double Dutch is like a combination of confetti and champagne: It releases a happy feeling and makes everyone around you feel good, too.

Download PDF:  I Revived a Childhood Skill and Won a Surprise Trip Abroad, AARP THE MAGAZINE, August-September 2021.


Author Guest Post: “Tech Timeout, a Playwriting Lesson” by Joy Jones, Author of Jayla Jumps In

by Kellee on September 12, 2021, Unleashing Readers

An irritated parent accosted me in the parking lot. “Don’t make my son do that assignment,” she pleaded.

Some years ago I taught playwriting to middle schoolers. The class was an elective so all of them had chosen to be there. Yet when it came time to start writing, all I heard was “I can’t think of anything.” or “I don’t have any ideas.”

That’s when I came up with an idea to help them come up with ideas. Prior to beginning the playwriting process, their homework was to ‘Just say no.’ to electronic entertainment. No broadcast or cable television viewing. No computer games or internet browsing. However, using the computer for responding to email, using the internet for teacher-assigned projects and attending movies or plays at a theater were permitted. (This was before cell phones became so pervasive.) And that’s why this mother grabbed me in the parking lot. “You’re punishing the whole family,” she said. “To prevent him from doing it, we have to not do it, too.”

This mother was a lady I liked. She knew I was an author and had aspirations for writing fiction herself but hadn’t gotten around to it. Life in the big city keeps you pretty busy, after all. I would try to encourage her to sit down and write but somehow her schedule would never allow for it.

Read all at: href=”http://www.unleashingreaders.com/?p=23412.


SANKOFA KONVERSATIONS Podcast: “A lively discussion about how jumping rope and putting your ideas on paper can inspire you.”

Janice Ferebee with Joy Jones and Myra Morgan-Martin, October 7 at 6:00 PM

As reported on Joy Jones’ Facebook page

Janice Ferebee: “Join me today, October 8, for the 4th episode — DOUBLE DUTCH & WRITING: Two Empowerment Tools for Black Girls & Other Girls of Color. My very first guests Joy Jones and Myra Morgan-Martin. We had a lively conversation about jumping rope and putting our ideas on paper.

Please listen & share here. Check it out, anywhere you get your podcasts. Thanks for your continued support.”


Author Spotlight: Joy Jones

Interview of Joy Jones, author of the debut middle-grade novel, Jayla Jumps In (Albert Whitman, 2020)

From the Mixed-up Files…of Middle-Grade Authors, September 2021

About the Book:

When 11-year-old Jayla finds out that her mother used to be a Double Dutch champion, she’s stunned. Who knew her mom, who’s on doctor’s orders to lower her blood pressure, could move like that? Jayla decides to follow in her mom’s footsteps, thinking that maybe Double Dutch can make her stand out in her big, quirky family. As she puts together a team at school and prepares to compete, Jayla finds that Double Dutch is about a lot more than jumping rope—and it just might change her life, in ways she never imagined. Full of hilarious family dynamics and plenty of jump-rope action, Jayla Jumps In follows one girl’s quest to get her mom healthy and find her place in her community.

Read the interview at: https://fromthemixedupfiles.com/author-spotlight-joy-jones


Finding Joy in Jump Rope … And Russia

How the sport of double dutch took Joy Jones to unexpected places.

Brad Waters, MSW, Psychology Today, September 22, 2020

Five years ago, I briefly interviewed Joy Jones for my post “23 Mental Health Professionals Interviewed About Their Jobs.” At that time, she was a project director for a hospital’s creative expression program. The creative writing group she hosted for patients has been suspended due to the pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped Joy from accomplishing her own dreams. This month, her book Jayla Jumps In was released by Albert Whitman & Co.

The book, about an 11-year old African American girl discovering the challenging sport of Double Dutch, was inspired by Joy’s own adventures with jumping rope. In fact, at age 63, the sport found her hopping a flight to one of the most unlikely places during these strange political times.

I caught up with Joy to find out where she went, how it came to be, and how maintaining a spirit of “openness” made it all possible.

Where did you travel and how did that transpire?

Back in 2004, I founded DC Retro Jumpers, a double Dutch team for adults. After 11 years of leading the group, my enthusiasm had begun to wane. Then in 2017, a man happened to attend one of our events and amazed himself (and his wife, kids and friends) at being able to jump Double Dutch without any prior experience. It turned out he was a Washington Post reporter. He was so excited, he wrote a feature story about us. An arts impresario read the article and contacted me. “How would you like to be hired as cultural ambassadors to Russia?” she asked. Magically, my enthusiasm came back! And that’s how four black women, all over the age of 50, ended up in Russia teaching Double Dutch.

You told me you never would have imagined traveling to Russia. What was it like?

I imagined myself traveling, just not to Russia. By the time I had graduated from high school, I had already been to about seven or eight states and three countries. And I had plans of going to more places. Just not to Russia. Boris & Natasha. Trump & Putin. War & Peace. These were my primary reference points for Russia. But that’s the wonderful thing about travel it exposes you to real people, not to the stereotypes.

When I think of Russia and music, I think of the Nutcracker Suite. To be sure, ballet and classical music are big in Russia, but the handlers who arranged our tour were men in their twenties and thirties who were huge fans of hip-hop music and culture. I would not have predicted that Jay-Z would be as popular as Tchaikovsky.

Russians appreciate art. In Moscow and St. Petersburg, of course, but even in the small city of Belgorod, where the performance venues were elegant. Even the modest places showed that someone was mindful of aesthetics. The subway system in Washington, DC where I live is a sleek iron horse. The subway system in Moscow is utilitarian, too, but attention is given to artistic design. Some stations feature impressive columns or statues of cultural heroes; there’s a deliberate effort to make the system decorative as well as efficient.

And the people were welcoming. We got a warm reception wherever we went. They were unshrinking and up for adventure. Whenever we invited the audience to jump rope, they were game. We typically had long lines of people—old, young and in-between—eager to try this sport that most have never seen before and most certainly had never attempted.

How did the book come about?

I started Jayla Jumps In about a year before the trip to Russia and it took me about two years to write it. The idea for a book about Double Dutch wasn’t my idea. My agent would hear me talking about my various activities with the team and she suggested that I write a book for children. I dismissed the idea. As a writer, people are always approaching me and telling me what I should be writing about. Normally, for a book length manuscript, the concept is something I’ve been contemplating for a long time, sometimes years. However, when she suggested it a second time, I decided to play with the idea to see if it had legs. To my surprise, the writing wasn’t slow or labored, as it sometimes is for me. To my greater surprise, the first editor I approached liked it and bought it. Let me tell you, that’s seldom the way it happens.

Q: Describe Jayla Jumps In.

When you were a kid, did you ever find out something about a parent’s pre-you life that left you astounded? Then you know Jayla, who discovers that her mother once jumped Double Dutch, a sport Jayla had never heard of. It appears all the other grownups know how to do it but nobody wants to clue her in on this activity. In addition, she overhears talk that suggests her mother has a medical condition and nobody wants to come clean about that either. Combine that with other people in the family and at school who are good at getting on her nerves, Jayla has a few knots to untangle and Double Dutch proves to be the key to helping her figure things out and find her place in the family and the community.

Q: Looking back on discovering Double Dutch, traveling to Russia, and trailblazing an unconventional career path—adventures you said would have been hard to imagine when you were Jayla’s age—to what do you attribute all these accomplishments?.

If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Normally, that proverb is interpreted in a negative way—as a warning of how God will upset your good intentions. But God is capable of pleasant surprises, too.

Staying open to the way things want to work out as opposed to the way you want them to work out can lead to very unpredictable but gratifying outcomes. If I had been asked to list 100 places I’d like to see, Russia would not have made the cut. Now, I would eagerly go back for a second visit.

If I had been asked at age 10 if I expected to be jumping Double Dutch as a senior, I would have laughed in your face. If that same 10-year-old had been asked if she expected to become an author, I would have said, “But, of course.” At an early age I knew I wanted to be a writer, but in my mind that meant being a novelist. I figured I’d meet that goal by age 30. Although I have written other things, it’s taken until this advanced age to see the novel reach fruition.

For a good while, I also wanted to be a social worker. Once I decided on a degree in journalism, I assumed that I had closed the door on social work. However, the interest in mental health never went away. Continuing to read in the profession, volunteering in the field, and making friends in the business allowed me to stay in touch with that part of me.

As a result, my two career desires have complemented each other. My writing skills have landed me grants to do creative expression groups at St. Elizabeths Hospital, and my contacts with people in the mental health field led me to a previous job as the director of community relations at Psychiatric Institute of Washington.

My desire to spend a long, leisurely vacation on a Hawaiian isle hasn’t manifested and being on the bestseller list as a twenty-something will never happen. Nonetheless, the gifts that I have been given have been satisfying even if they’ve been unconventional or arrived in a circuitous way. While I’ve had focus, I’ve had to wear that focus like a loose garment to allow room for life to do its thing. Following the straight and narrow is not necessarily the path. The strange and twisted road is the journey most of us end of traveling. It’s a good journey.


Debut You: A 2020 Debut Author Series: Joy Jones

Published by BCBA, September 1, 2020

“Debut You is an interview feature on Our Stories Matter blog. Debut authors, who have released or have upcoming releases in 2020, are given five questions to answer about themselves and their book. Currently, the questions are the same for all authors. We hope you enjoy getting to know Joy Jones and can offer her your support.

Describe yourself in five words, then expound on one of them.

Lively, laid-back, creative, book-loving, and introvert.

Introvert. A lot of people think that’s another word for shy, but not so. An introvert is someone who gets energy from solitude rather than from interaction with other people. I’m far from shy; I love to perform and speak in front of a group. And sometimes I do get energy from others – I can sense waves of energy emanating from the audience. It feels like love cascading over me. It motivates me to give more in performance. But my most satisfying stimulation comes from the serenity of silence. Which makes it easy to see why I’m an avid reader and writer.

Read all at: “https://bcbooksandauthors.com/debut-you-a-2020-debut-author-series-joy-jones/.


Learn Double Dutch With DC Retro Jumpers

by The Jet Set (jetset.tv)

Double Dutch is the magnetic force that entices children, teens, adults and seniors alike to jump for joy whether it’s a pastime they know and remember from the past or it’s their very first time. Double Dutch is a vigorous style of jumping rope that uses two ropes turning simultaneously.

The DC Retro Jumpers (DCRetroJumpers.com)is the exhibition team of adult jumpers that is available for high-energy demonstrations and lessons. [Click below to view the video interview…]

Learn Double Dutch With DC Retro Jumpers, The Jet Set, March 2020



Volunteer Spotlight: Joy Jumps for the Heart

American Heart Association, March 5, 2020

As a playwright and author, the fantasy worlds that Joy Jones creates have always intersected with her real one. When she first wrote a play where the main character organizes team of adult double- dutch jumpers, the response was clear- people wanted to see Joy bring her idea to life. In 2004, DC Retro Jumpers was founded. Since then, the team has grown and evolved, participating in countless community demonstrations and clinics. Most importantly, though, DC Retro Jumpers gives adults the chance to be reminded that being active can be fun!

In fact, that is one of Joy’s favorite parts about DC Retro Jumpers- seeing adults briefly transform into care-free children. “Not everyone likes to exercise, but everyone likes to play,” she says. And she’s right. The positive reinforcement and camaraderie seen in the double-dutch team is unique, and what has kept it going for all these years. [Click below to read more…]

Volunteer Spotlight:  Joy Jumps for the Heart, American Heart Association (Eastern States), March 5, 2020.


Finding Joy in Jump Rope … And Russia

How the sport of double dutch took Joy Jones to unexpected places.

Brad Waters MSW, Psychology Today, September 22, 2020

Joy JonesBrad Waters says, “Five years ago, I briefly interviewed Joy Jones for my post “23 Mental Health Professionals Interviewed About Their Jobs.” At that time, she was a project director for a hospital’s creative expression program. The creative writing group she hosted for patients has been suspended due to the pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped Joy from accomplishing her own dreams. This month, her book Jayla Jumps In was released by Albert Whitman & Co.

The book, about an 11-year old African American girl discovering the challenging sport of Double Dutch, was inspired by Joy’s own adventures with jumping rope. In fact, at age 63, the sport found her hopping a flight to one of the most unlikely places during these strange political times.

I caught up with Joy to find out where she went, how it came to be, and how maintaining a spirit of “openness” made it all possible.”

Read more at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/design-your-path/202009/finding-joy-in-jump-rope-and-russia.

Fearless Pubic Speaking  Included with 23 Important Books by Influential Women

Eve O’Rouke Improve Her Health (improveherhealth.com)


Fearless Public SpeakingEvery woman needs to find her voice and if she begins while she’s still young – so much the better! Outlining, ad-libbing, composing, performing, writing and reciting – everything you need is found in this fun yet practical guide. In addition to easy-to-read text, the book features easy-to-implement exercises that reinforce the concepts. [Click below to read more…]

Eve O’Rourke, “Inspire Your Teen With 23 Important Books By Influential Women: #15 Fearless Public Speaking by Joy Jones,” Improve Her Health (improveherhealth.com).



Earn $$ helping others get fit!

Joy JonesJoy Jones writes: “Years ago a group of my friends were talking about losing weight, and I suggested we get together to play the jump rope game Double Dutch.”

“I’m a writer, and from that experience, I wrote a play called Outdoor Recess, about older women who play Double Dutch, a game in which you jump in between two long jump ropes that go in opposite directions. When I was promoting the play, my friends suggested I offer Double Dutch events in the community and inspire other women to have fun with fitness. Since it was easy to learn, a great workout and appealed to women who didn’t like the gym, I thought it was a great idea. So in 2004, I founded DC Retro Jumpers (DCRetroJumpers.com [Click below to read more…]

Earn $$ helping others get fit! First for Women, January 20, 2020.



D.C. Retro Jumpers Remind D.C. How to Double Dutch

Before smartphones and Snapchat, the click-click of double Dutch jump-ropes could be heard in the streets and alleys of Washington and other urban areas. Robin Ebb is the force behind D.C. Retro Jumpers, a group operated by women working to bring double Dutch back to D.C. streets. Joy Jones, founder of D.C. Retro Jumpers and author of a play about double Dutch, said she was inspired to create the group to feed an “intra-generational exercise obsession.”

Justin Wm. Moyer, “‘Black girl magic’: D.C. Retro Jumpers remind D.C. how to double Dutch,” The Washington Post, October 18, 2017.