True tales and tidbits from the writer’s life...


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Beach seasons almost here!

Wishing a warm welcome-to-the-world to Sandy Feet! Whose Feet? Footprints at the Shore, my whimsical ecology-detective picture book in fun rhyming verse! Published by Sleeping Bear Press, and with adorable illustrations by Steliyana Doneva, the book turns a sandy beach into an outdoor classroom as kids find and follow tracks made by all sorts of seaside critters. STEM-based back matter includes information on how clues like footprints can identify the type of wildlife inhabiting any given habitat.

School Library Journal awarded the book its coveted star, deeming it "an engaging read which encourages children to explore the natural world around them, and to fully utilize and embrace their senses."

Happy, happy book birthday, sweet Sandy Feet!

SANDY FEET Earns Starred Review from School Library Journal

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Exciting news! School Library Journal has bestowed its prestigious starred review upon my latest picture book, Sandy Feet! Whose Feet? Footprints at the Shore! Their verdict: An engaging read which encourages children to explore the natural world around them, and to fully utilize and embrace their senses. 

So excited for the book’s super-talented illustrator, Steliyana Doneva, and our ever-supportive publisher, Sleeping Bear Press. The esteemed trade journal also used a spread from the book in its "April 2019 Stars" roundup. Thanks ever so much, SLJ!

Check out the full review!

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Women in Children’s Books a Discussion Topic at Bologna Children’s Book Fair


I was delighted and honored to be part of an important discussion at the 56th annual Bologna Children’s Book Fair about the representation of women in children’s books. Moderated by Maria Russo, children’s books editor at the New York Times, the “Time Is on Their Side: Women in Children’s Books" panel included authors, illustrators, publishers, and journalists from around the world. It was fascinating to hear the history and current climate of women’s representation in children’s literature in other parts of the globe—for better or worse. 

General consensus: positive messages regarding gender equality and women’s rights will only continue to flourish, especially as awareness grows and threats to these issues arise. 

It was wonderful and enlightening to meet and learn from these intriguing women, and I’m so grateful to BCBF and its exhibition manager Elena Pasoli for including me.

Photo: BCBF exhibition manager Elena Pasoli introduces the panel—seated from left, Olga Maëotz, literary critic (Russia); author Susan Wood (USA); Vichi de Marchi, journalist and author (Italy); NYT children’s books editor Maria Russo (USA), Beatrice Masini, author and editorial director of Bompiani (Italy); Gillian Engberg, editorial consultant (USA); Isabel Sánchez Vegara, author (Spain); Ana Albero, illustrator (Spain); Sophie Gallo-Selva, publisher, Les petites mustaches (France). Not pictured: Bodour Al Qasimi, vice president, International Publishers Association and publisher, Kalimat (UAE), and Marta Breen, author (Norway).

Photo: Ada Treves 

Ciao, Bologna Children’s Book Fair!

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Headed to Italy tomorrow and I’m so excited! 

On April 2, I’ll be part of a panel discussion on the evolution/revolution of women in children’s books over the last few years. Will be speaking about Elizabeth Warren: Nevertheless, She Persisted, my picture book biography of the first woman senator from Massachusetts and, now, a candidate for president of the United States in the 2020 election. I’ll be joining women authors, illustrators, reviewers, publishers, and more. 

If you’ll be at the fair, be sure to catch the panel—and say hello!


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Grab the guac! 

It’s happy book birthday to my latest picture book, Holy Squawkamole! Little Red Hen Makes Guacamole, a tasty take on the classic tale with a super spicy twist! Published by Sterling Children’s Books, and with adorable illustrations by Laura González, it’s all sorts of yummy fun—kid-friendly guac recipe included! But don’t take my word for it—here’s what Booklist had to say:

Award-winning picture-book author Wood refreshes a classic folk tale with this Spanish language inflected rendition in which Little Red Hen or gallinita roja craves fresh guacamole and needs help harvesting the ingredients. She asks her friends—an armadillo, a snake, and an iguana—for help, but they all refuse to assist (except in eating the guacamole). Without any assistance, she rightfully gets to choose what goes in her recipe, and she decides to add an unexpected ingredient, jalapeño. When the guacamole is ready, her unhelpful friends happily devour it, but they soon catch on once they realize how spicy gallinita roja's guacamole is. González's soft, bright illustrations feature pleasantly rounded creatures with expressive faces, and throughout Wood seamlessly integrates the unitalicized Spanish terms, which are all clear, thanks to contextual clues as well as a glossary. Other backmatter includes fun facts about the history of guacamole and a variety of recipes, including gallinita roja’s.

You can find more zesty info, plus recipes, activities, and more at

Hmm, I’m thinking Mexican for dinner tonight… :-D

ESQUIVEL! Audiobook Wins Odyssey Honor Award

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Exciting news from Seattle this morning, where the American Library Association held its Youth Media Awards, the Oscars of the children’s literature world: the audiobook of my Esquivel! Space-Age Space Artist won an Odyssey Honor Award

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The Odyssey is bestowed for the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults; the selection committee may also select honor titles. The Odyssey Award is jointly given and administered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), divisions of ALA, and is sponsored by Booklist magazine. This year’s Odyssey Award winner is Sadie, written by Courtney Summers, and my fellow Odyssey Honor winners are Du Iz Tak, by Carson Ellis; The Parker Inheritance, by Varian Johnson; and The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo. Whew—some pretty amazing company!

From the award selection committee: "The work of innovative composer Juan Garcia Esquivel is uniquely portrayed in this picture book biography by Susan Wood. Brian Amador’s narration, combined with tracks of space aged music and sound effects, presents a carefully orchestrated experience, with each element of the illustrations perfectly represented in stereo sound."

It’s funny, seven years ago I was an unagented writer with a quirky manuscript for kids about an obscure Mexican bandleader. In an amazing bit of serendipity that still blows my mind, the editorial director at the first house I sent it to just happened to be a vocalist with the world's only orchestra playing solely Esquivel's music (yes, really!). At the 2017 ALA YMAs, the book won a Pura Belpré Honor Award (thanks to illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh), and today, this (thanks to Live Oak Media, Brian Amador, and Rosi Amador—and they even let me voice my author's note)! It’s my little book that could. Seriously.

And I am so very grateful. 


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Honored and delighted to have Elizabeth Warren: Nevertheless, She Persisted, my picture-book biography of the first woman senator from Massachusetts and 2020 presidential hopeful, featured at author Cheryl Holloway’s terrific blog An Author Writes. Be sure to take a look!

Thanks so much for the great questions, Cheryl!

SKYDIVING BEAVERS Named CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People

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Delightful news! 

Just learned that The Skydiving Beavers: A True Tale, my picture book about the daring 1948 rehoming by airdrop of an Idaho beaver colony, has been honored as a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People

How are such books chosen? According to the National Council for the Social Studies’ website, which creates the annual list of such titles, the books are "evaluated and selected by a Book Review Committee appointed by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and assembled in cooperation with the Children’s Book Council (CBC). NCSS and CBC have cooperated on this annual bibliography since 1972. Books selected for this bibliography were published in 2017 and were written for children in grades K-12. The Book Review Committee looks for books that emphasize human relations, represent a diversity of groups and are sensitive to a broad range of cultural experiences, present an original theme or a fresh slant on a traditional topic, are easily readable and of high literary quality, have a pleasing format, and, where appropriate, include illustrations that enrich the text.”

Such an honor; thank you NCSS and CBC!


Wowza!! Excited and honored that Elizabeth Warren: Nevertheless, She Persisted's in such esteemed company—titles by or about Rep. Barbara Jordan, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton (you know, Alexander H’s wife), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and more—in the New York Times Book Review!! 

Young readers will benefit from seeing little Elizabeth growing up in Oklahoma as her parents struggle financially….The book’s subtitle—“Nevertheless, She Persisted”—is satisfying….I was delighted to see the words on the cover of this biography, underneath Sarah Green’s quirky illustration of Warren, the woman who’d been told essentially to shut up, in a bold blue suit, finger raised to make a point, standing at a lectern.

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AudioFile Thumbs-Up for ELIZABETH WARREN Audiobook

Thrilled to read AudioFile magazine’s lovely review of Dreamscape’s audiobook production of Elizabeth Warren: Nevertheless She Persisted. I agree: Amy Rubinate's voice work is engaging, the sound effects appealing, and the music choices both graceful and uplifting. Thanks to all!

© Susan Wood 2018