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

Books in the Wild: BookCrossing in Chicago

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Was signing bookstore stock in Chicago this week and did a few “wild releases” too! 

Do you know about BookCrossing? It’s this totally fun thing where you assign a book its own ID number, let it go—literally anywhere in the world—and track its travels from reader to reader. Cool idea, right? Sort of reminds of a message in a bottle or tied to a balloon—a totally random journey.

From the BookCrossing website:

 BookCrossing is the act of releasing your books "into the wild" for a stranger to find, or via "controlled release" to another BookCrossing member, and tracking where they go via journal entries from around the world. Our community of 1,952,228 passionate, generous book-lovers is changing the world and touching lives, one traveling book at a time.

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So I released two sets of my latest books that included Sandy Feet! Whose Feet? Footprints at the Shore, Holy Squawkamole! Little Red Hen Makes Guacamole, and Elizabeth Warren: Nevertheless, She Persisted—one set in the Navy Pier/Polk Brothers Park/Children’s Museum area, and the other set in the northern part of the city, at a lovely little green space tucked into the Bowmanville subsection of Lincoln Square. 

I was excited when just a few hours after my releases, the first “finder” logged their entry on the BookCrossing website. They’d picked up the Warren bio, noting it was “found at a dog park.” Hope the finder reads and enjoys it, shares it with the children in their life, then releases it for someone else to discover. Where will it wind up next, I wonder? Fun!

Miami Times Gives Thumbs-Up to SANDY FEET! WHOSE FEET?

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From folks who really, really know their beach reads—a lovely, lengthy review recommending Sandy Feet! Whose Feet? as the perfect pre- or post-beach-trip bedtime story... Many thanks, Miami Times (and the Marco Eagle, serving Marco Island and southwest FL, which also ran this review)!

Make Your Own Skydiving Beaver!


Received the sweetest note from an Illinois librarian who incorporated an extra-clever craft into her The Skydiving Beavers: A True Tale story time.

"I really enjoyed reading about the skydiving beavers," Karin Thogersen of the Huntley Area Public Library wrote. "I shared it with a special needs class in our monthly storytime this May and the kids (and their teachers and aides) also thought it was a hoot. After I read the book to them, I helped everyone make their own skydiving beavers.... Then we launched them into the air—that was the best part for them."

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Karin graciously allowed me to share her instructions/template for a make-your-own skydiving beaver, complete with functional coffee-filter parachute! Check it out at the book's website:

It’s so much fun, and so gratifying, for kidlit authors to see how the books we create are used out in the wild.

Thanks, Karin! And what a beautiful library!

#kidlit #NFforKids #EcologyEd #natureforkids #picturebook #kidcrafts #skydivingbeavers #SleepingBearPress

ELIZABETH WARREN Makes ILA/CBC Children’s Choices 2019 Reading List

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Delighted to learn that Elizabeth Warren: Nevertheless She Persisted—my picture-book biography of the first woman senator from Massachusetts and a 2020 presidential candidate—has made the ILA/CBC Children's Choices 2019 Reading List!! Since this is a best-of list chosen by students, not industry pros, it's an extra-special honor!! 

From the ILA/CBC:

What Is the Children’s Choices Reading List?
Each year, 12,500 school children from different regions of the United States read newly published children’s and young adults’ trade books and vote for the ones they like best. These Children’s Choices, selected from more than 900 titles, can be counted on as books children truly enjoy reading. This list, a project cosponsored by the International Literacy Association (ILA) and the Children’s Book Council (CBC), is designed for use not only by educators, librarians and media specialists, administrators, and booksellers but also by families and caregivers—and everyone who wishes to encourage young people to read for pleasure.

So grateful!!

#kidlit #NFforKids #PBbio #neverthelessshepersisted #persist #SenatorWarren #ILA #CBC


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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. 

© Susan Wood 2019