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VIRTUAL AUTHOR VISITS What a year it's been and how I miss visiting actual schools! However, I am available for both full-day and single-presentation virtual author visits this fall and winter. I'll be booking in-person visits for spring 2021, with contingency plans in place as needed. Go to my School Visits Page for more details and stay safe! 


Super honored that LIFEBOAT 12 is the winner of the 2019 Connecticut Book Award AND the 2020 Oklahoma Children's Sequoyah Award. Now in its sixth printing, it is also nominated for state awards in Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Vermont. These awards mean the world to me because librarians nominate the books and then kids vote! LIFEBOAT 12 has been named an 2019 ALSC Notable Book, a 2019 Bank Street Best Book of the Year and the winner of the 2019 SCBWI Golden Kite Award for middle grade fiction. (See the NYC awards ceremony below!) And now you can get it in paperback and as an audiobook!

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Feeling excited and challenged as I work on my first nonfiction picture book. Immersed in research and busy setting up interviews right now. More news to come!


In the meantime, I'm thrilled to provide a sneak peek of my new baby board book called TICKLY TOES (see cover above), available August 1 from Kids Can Press. With pictures by French illustrator Barroux, this book is a celebration of baby's first playthings—her toes—and her first success—getting those toes into her mouth! 

Kirkus says, the "rhymes beg to be read aloud as they speak directly to the baby in the story and to little listeners snuggled up for a bedtime story and perhaps a toe-tickling of their own. A lovely addition to the bedtime storybook shelf." For the full review, click here.


In 2012, The New York Times was kind enough to review my book THE TOOTH MOUSE online and it was such a thrill! It was a big, beautiful article for which I am so grateful.

So why is it that a tiny blurb in the print version of the Sunday Book Review is so exciting? I think it was this quote: "ROOTING FOR YOU is a cheerful alternative to Dr. Seuss's OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!" And if that wasn't enough, I get to share the page with my old friend Sarah Albee from Sesame Street.


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!


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.


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!


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



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