What's New?

SHAKING THINGS UP: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World hits stores 1/23/18 and is available for pre-order now. Inside you'll find inspiring stories of Ruby Bridges, Mary Anning, Malala, Maya Lin, Nellie Bly, Mae Jemison, Frida Kahlo and more illustrated by picture book superstars Selina Alko, Sophie Blackall, Lisa Brown, Hadley Hooper, Emily Winfield Martin, Oge Mora, Julie Morstad, Sara Palacios, LeUyen Pham, Erin K. Robinson, Isabel Roxas, Shadra Strickland and Melissa Sweet. How lucky can one author get?

 

Wow! ADA'S VIOLIN was named an E.B. White Honor Book! Quite the honor indeed to be in the company of some of my favorite picture books from 2016. See photos below. 

 

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ON THE ROAD

April was a blur of author visits and I have to thank each and every school, bookstore and book festival for inviting me. A highlight was a two-day gig at Miller Driscoll in Wilton, CT: 2 days, 8 presentations, 900+ kids!

NEW BOOK DEBUT!

On March 11, my newest picture book called ROOTING FOR YOU (see cover above) sprouts from Hyperion. It's about a tiny seed intent upon staying put in the cozy soil—"I am NOT coming out!" But with the encouragement of a friendly worm, the seeds plucks up the courage to bust out and bloom. Featuring fold-out pages that mimic putting down roots and sending up shoots, the book culminates in a three-page-tall burst as the seed breaks ground and blossoms in the sun.

 

Why did I write this one? I must have been working in our big vegetable garden. I had just switched fields, going from editor to author and was thinking about all the thrills and challenges of the unknown. Kids face new experiences every day—starting a new school, welcoming a new baby, moving to a new town. And these transitions can be scary! So this book is about new growth and the friends and family who are there rooting for you!

 

Here's what Booklist had to say:

"It’s an overall wonderful lesson in moving out of fear and inertia and into exploration and growth, with big Mo Willems–style art that makes simple shapes into highly emotive characters and backgrounds." For the full review, click here.

SHOW 'EM THOSE PEARLY WHITES! 

The Tooth Mouse is celebrating National Children's Dental Health Month with a Tooth Pillow Pouch kids can make! Children just cut it out, glue up the sides, place a lost tooth inside, tuck under their pillows and see what's inside the next day. They can also keep a record of each tooth lost by coloring in the appropriate number of teeth on The Tooth Mouse's Baby Tooth Tracker

 

Below, five-month-old Molina gets an early start learning about the Tooth Mouse, thanks to her grand-mére from Paris!

WELCOME TO MY FIRST AUTHOR BLOG HOP

Tag! I’m it! Fellow author Sarah Albee tagged me recently to participate in a children’s author blog hop. And what better way to celebrate the new year than to crow about some of my author/illustrator friends?

 

Here’s how it works. Sarah asks me a few questions and then I tag three other authors.  But first, a bit about Sarah. She and I first met when we worked together at Children’s Television Workshop, now Sesame Workshop. Sarah was fresh out of Harvard and as fellow editors we immersed ourselves in the words, wit and wisdom of Grover, Cookie Monster, Ernie, Bert and Elmo. Some of the very first books I wrote were Sesame Street books and that was true for Sarah, too. Since then, we’ve gone down similar career paths, writing oodles of books for Sesame Street, Nick Jr., Fisher Price and more, before branching out to our own original work. While I focus on picture books, Sarah channeled her passion for history into what she calls “Horribly Humorous History for Kids.” Here’s one of my favorite Facebook posts from Sarah: “Productive morning of fact checking at the library. Wondered why I got a look from a guy sorting through stuff at the printer, and then realized my printouts were about 1) Haydn's head being stolen by phrenologists, 2) Verrazzano being eaten by cannibals, and 3) Plutarch's account of Roman dictator Sulla's intestinal hemorrhage, where the corrupted flesh teemed with swarms of mites. #bestjobever#

 

Check out Sarah’s latest book coming in April:

BUGGED: How Insects Changed History

 

Get to know Sarah for yourself by visiting her website or her blog, by following her on Twitter, or by friending her on Facebook.

 

 

 

Now on with the interview! 

Sarah: What are you working on now?

Susan: I’m working on several picture books all in different stages of production. ROOTING FOR YOU (left) debuts in March 2014, followed by TICKLY TOES, a baby board book coming this fall. Meanwhile, I’m looking at sketches for a book with Random House, revising a manuscript for Candlewick and writing a brand-new picture book manuscript that I’ll submit to my agent later this month.

 

 

 

 

Sarah: How do your books differ from other works in the genre?

Susan: Many of my picture books have a multicultural bent. SPIKE, THE MIXED-UP MONSTER is set in Mexico and includes a little Spanish. THE TOOTH MOUSE is set in Paris and includes a little French. Showing diversity, encouraging inclusion and giving kids a global perspective are all important

to me. 

 

Sarah: Why do you write what you do?

Susan: A lot of people say to write what you know, but I find it more interesting to write about what surprises me. I was dumbfounded when I first saw a photo of an axolotl (left) or when I first found out that most children around the world have a Tooth Mouse, not a Tooth Fairy. I also like to combine science with poetry. 

 

 

 

Sarah: What’s the hardest part about writing? 

Susan: I agree with you, Sarah. It’s the waiting. And waiting and waiting. I sold my first three books in 2009, but they didn’t appear until 2012! 

 

Now it’s time to tap three more children’s book talents! I first met Anna Raff through a mutual friend at the New York SCBWI conference. One peek at her portfolio and I knew she was going to be big! Sure enough, just a few years later she has a book by the Children’s Poet Laureate published by Candlewick and a spread featured in the prestigious Society of Illustrators Original Art show.

 

Matthew Cordell and I have yet to meet in person, but we’ve had the great good fortune to collaborate on two picture books. ROOTING FOR YOU debuts in March 2014 and LEAPS AND BOUNCE is slotted for 2016. When my editor first pitched his work to me, he described Matt as “the young Bill Steig.” Yes, as in William Steig, one of my favorite illustrators on the planet! How lucky could I get? And while I certainly see the reference to Steig, Matt has his own unique brand of humor and whimsy that makes him none other than “the young Matt Cordell.”  

 

Michaela MacColl is a friend and neighbor who lives in the next town over. She writes intriguing historical fiction for middle graders based on the lives of famous women such as Emily Dickinson. We met through SCBWI and she’s been incredibly kind in sharing her expertise about websites, school brochures and more. She even booked me into my first school visit! 

 

Okay, you three, over to you! 

 

ANNA RAFF has illustrated several books for children, including WORLD RAT DAY by Children's Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis, SYLVIA'S SPINACH by Katherine Pryor and THINGS THAT FLOAT AND THINGS THAT DON'T by David A. Adler. She is currently at work on a picture book for G.P. Putnam's Sons by Lisa M. Bakos, to be released in 2015, followed by another non-fiction book by David A. Adler. Her illustrations have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Kiwi Magazine, among others; on TV on ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and MTV's "Woodie Awards." In 2010, she created Ornithoblogical, a blog of bird-related imagery. Anna has an MFA from the School of Visual Arts and a BA from Connecticut College. She lives in New York City, where there are reportedly four rats per human resident.

 

Visit Anna at Annaraff.com

 

MATTHEW CORDELL is the illustrator and author of many acclaimed books for young readers. Though he spent most of his life in small town South Carolina, at the turn of the century he migrated midwest to set up shop in Chicago. It was there that he met his soon-to-be bride, his passion for children’s books, and deep dish pizza. Matthew is the illustrator of many books including the Justin Case series by Rachel Vail, If You Were a Chocolate Mustache by J. Patrick Lewis and Toby and the Snowflakes by Julie Halpern. He is the illustrator and author of hello! hello!, Another Brother and Trouble Gum. Matthew now lives in the suburbs of Chicago with his talented wife, author Julie Halpern, and their two children.

 

Visit Matt at matthewcordell.com

 

MICHAELA MACCOLL attended Vassar College and Yale University. She earned degrees in multi-disciplinary history. Unfortunately, it took her 20 years before she realized she was learning how to write historical fiction. Her favorite stories are the ones she finds about the childhood experiences of famous people. What happened that helped them to be great? Michaela has two daughters so she's hoping to identify those moments firsthand.

 

Visit Michaela at michaelamaccoll.com

 

SIGNING WITH SANTA

...and one of his "reindeer" (aka Lucas, the Fairfield University mascot), along with illustrator Bruce Degen of the Magic School Bus fame and illustrator Paul Meisel at the Fairfield University Downtown Bookstore's Holiday Open House

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BACK TO BOSTON

Thrilled to be part of the ReadBoston Authors' Evening on December 9, signing THE TOOTH MOUSE which was named the "Gold Winner" of ReadBoston's Best Read Aloud Award. Thanks to Mayor Tom Menino and congrats to all the Silver Winners.

 

 

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 Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino with Theresa Lynn, Russell Holmes and the panel of judges reviewing the books

 

John Lee, from the Harvard Kennedy School, and Theresa Lynn, announcing THE TOOTH MOUSE

as the winner of BostonRead's Best Read Aloud Award

WHEW! WHAT A MONTH! 

November was a whirlwind of book conferences and festivals!


BOSTON BOUND

I was delighted when Kids Can Press invited me to sign THE TOOTH MOUSE at my very first NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Convention in Boston. I hope to go back every year. I signed about 75 copies of the book, met some lovely teachers and attended the kinds of discussions that make me so thankful to be in this business. Add in scads of fellow authors / friends and free loot! I'm a fan.

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Top right photo: the lovely ladies of Kids Can Press, Editorial Director

Yvette Ghione (left) and Marketing Manager Naseem Hrab (right).

 

Superstar authors were around every corner. Happy to visit with some of the talented folks

I worked with at Nick Jr. Magazine. And dinner was courtesy of Simon & Schuster where I got

to dine with the very first person I ever interviewed—Judy Blume!

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Photos clockwise from upper left: Walter Dean Myers, Jon Scieszka

and Chris Raschka.

 

SPEED-DATING WITH LIBRARIANS

Never did I ever think I'd agree to speed-dating, but it's hard to say no to librarians who want to get to know you and your books. Held at the American Association of School Librarians Conference in Hartford, it was actually kinda fun. Authors sit at a table with 10 librarians, rattle on about their books for five minutes and then switch tables! As one author put it, it's like talking with the fast forward button on! 

 

R.L. STINE WAS IN THE HOUSE

...along with a slew of other big talents at the second (we hope biennial)

Pequot Library Children's Book Festival in my hometown of Southport, CT.

 

Authors and illustrators in attendance (front row, l to r): Laura Toffler-Corrie, Barbara Mariconda,

Jennifer Berne, Ann Haywood Leal, Deborah Freedman, me; (middle row, l to r): Marc Tyler Nobleman,

Dan Yaccarino, Brian Collier, Michael Rex; (back row, l to r): Tony Abbott, Bruce Degan and R.L. Stine.

Missing from this photo was Patricia Reilly Giff.

 

Okay, pop quiz: Can you pick out who in this group is one of two United States nominees

for the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international recognition

given to an author and an illustrator of children's books? It's illustrator Brian Collier!

 

Here are some of my other favorite shots from the day!

Thanks to the library staff and extra special thanks to MaryJo Scott (center in red scarf)

for all her time and energy organizing this festival. Photo credits: Adair Heitmann, Pequot Library

 

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Author Visits

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