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

Happy Book Birthday, AMERICAN GOTHIC

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Release the balloons and pop the cork—the time is finally here when I can officially say… happy book birthday, American Gothic: The Life of Grant Wood!!!

My picture-book bio of the Iowa artist responsible for probably the best-known painting in American art history—pitchfork, anyone?—has already earned enthusiastic thumbs-up from Kirkus, Booklist, School Library Journal, and Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. It’s a Junior Library Guild Selection. And then there’s the ✮STARRED✮ (yippee!) review from Publishers Weekly, which calls it "an inspiring study of an artist who learned to find beauty, truth, and inspiration in the people and landscape of his home.”

I’m so excited to share this mini-introduction to Impressionism, Cubism, Abstract art, and Regionalism with young readers everywhere! Ross MacDonald’s warm, sunny illustrations invite us all to dive right in to the rolling hillsides, wide skies, and rugged farm folks of Grant Wood’s beloved heartland, the subject of his most famous works.

The book is brought to you by the fine “art of books” people at Abrams; find fun activities, lesson plans, and more at!

Publishers Weekly Gives American Gothic Starred Review

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Exciting news!! The coveted STARRED review in Publishers Weekly for American Gothic: The Life of Grant Wood, coming in September!! PW sums up: 

“Crisp, direct narration…[with] illustrations [that are] a celebration of America’s yesteryears.[A]n inspiring study of an artist who learned to find beauty, truth, and inspiration in the people and landscape of his home.

Yes! Thanks so much, PW!

American Gothic Gets Kirkus Thumbs-Up

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And the first review of American Gothic: The Life of Grant Wood (coming in September) is in—a thumbs-up from Kirkus! Here’s a snippet:

Young readers are treated to a crash course in modern art while witnessing Wood’s evolution as an artist. A sunny palette of yellows, greens, and browns is perfect for Wood’s regionalist art and the inspirational tone of the volume. A fine, accessible introduction to Wood’s art. 

Nice! So grateful!

Publishers Weekly Digs Skydiving Beavers



The Skydiving Beavers gets the thumbs-up from Publishers Weekly. Here’s a taste: 

Striking a down-home tone, Wood (Esquivel!) unspools a real-life story of animal conservation….Van Frankenhuyzen (The Legend of the Beaver’s Tail) captures the historical setting in details like a woodie station wagon and copies of Life on Heter’s desk, while his lush, light-infused paintings reveal the region’s natural beauty. Wood’s story underscores the value in bringing innovative thinking to a problem—even a beaver invasion. 

 Thanks so much, PW!

American Gothic a Junior Library Guild Selection

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Wowza! Just learned that my forthcoming picture book American Gothic: The Life of Grant Wood, about the artist behind one of the world’s most iconic paintings, is a Fall 2017 Junior Library Guild Selection

That means young readers across the country will have access to the book at hundreds of wonderful school and public libraries. Illustrator Ross MacDonald and I are absolutely thrilled! American Gothic will be published by Abrams in September 2017.

Thanks so much, JLG!

Through the Looking Glass on Skydiving Beavers: “True Tale” with a “Wonderful Ending”

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So grateful for the lovely take on The Skydiving Beavers from Through the Looking Glass—here’s a snippet:

Though some people might find this hard to believe, this story is a true one. In 1948 Elmo Heter and his colleagues really did transport seventy-six beavers to the Idaho wilderness by using boxes strapped to parachutes. Young readers and grown-ups alike are going to enjoy this true tale, which has a wonderful ending. 

Many thanks, TTLG!

Five Questions with Susan Wood, Author of Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist

Many, many thanks to fellow kidlit author James Preller (the Jigsaw Jones and Scary Tales series, The Courage Test, The Fall, Bystander, Six Innings, and more) for the fun “5 Questions” interview—great queries about Esquivel! and other stuff that had me digging deep for answers! 

Esquivel! a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year


Awesome news! 

Just learned that Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist, with illustrations by Duncan Tonatiuh, is a Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year (Biography and Memoir, ages 9-12), joining a list of outstanding titles from authors and illustrators I so admire! Honored and thankful to be in their company.

Touching Down for International Beaver Day: The Skydiving Beavers

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Who knew? Today’s International Beaver Day! Suggestion for adding to your celebration—my new picture book, The Skydiving Beavers: A True Tale

It’s the amazing story of a daring experiment just after World War II, when an Idaho wildlife conservation team relocated via airdrop—yep, parachutes!—seventy-six live beavers. One beaver, playfully named Geronimo, endured countless practice drops, seeming to enjoy the skydives, and led the way as all the rodents parachuted into their new home. Readers and wildlife enthusiasts of all ages will enjoy Geronimo’s true tale, as well as the luminous illustrations of the Idaho wilderness by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen.

You can learn more about the book and holiday, plus find kid-friendly directions to make an adorable beaver craft from a thread spool, at Celebrate Picture Books. Be sure to check it out! 

And happy, happy #BeaverDay!

Esquivel! One of SLJ’s Top Ten Latinx Books

Not sure how I missed it, but just learned that Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist was named one of School Library Journal’s Top Ten Latinx Books for children! The list includes amazing titles by the likes of Meg Medina, Yuyi Morales, Javaka Steptoe, and Francisco Stork—wow!!

From SLJ:

[Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist] features musician, composer, and bandleader Juan García Esquivel (1918–2002), who removed the paper roll in his family’s player piano when he was a child so that he could make his own music. At 14, he worked as a paid pianist for radio shows, and at 17, he was an orchestra leader in Mexico City. Later, he created music from his New York City studio, experimenting with tempos, dynamics, and chords. Tonatiuh’s distinctive drawings, with collage textures and photographic elements, aptly capture Esquivel’s jazzy style, as do an appended author’s note, resource listing, and photograph.

So honored and grateful!

© Susan Wood 2016