Susan Stockdale writes and illustrates picture books for young children that celebrate nature.
With rhythmic, rhyming text and bright, bold illustrations, Susan playfully explores scientific themes ranging from how animals benefit from their stripes and spots to how the unique shapes of flowers resemble other objects, animals and even people. A former textile designer, she uses pattern in both her text and illustrations to energize her books.
Susan’s book awards include the ALA Notable, NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children, Parents’ Choice Silver Honor, Bank Street Best Book for Children (starred) and the Charlotte Zolotow Award. Her expressive prose and artwork elicit praise. The Washington Post wrote, “If the paintings are the feast, Stockdale’s words are the dessert.”
A dynamic speaker, Susan has presented at hundreds of schools, libraries and conferences. She was selected as a National Book Festival speaker and as the ambassador for Pennsylvania’s “One Book, Every Young Child” statewide literacy program. She lives with her husband in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Learn more at www.susanstockdale.com.
Enjoy seventeen flowers that resemble animals, people, and objects. For example, this book shows flowers in the shapes of wild baboons, ballerinas, trumpets, and spoons. The large color illustrations that fill the pages will delight readers as they read or listen to the rhyming passages. Not only are the flowers diverse, but the people are diverse as well, including a boy and girl of different skin tones watering flowers on the last pages. Readers will be delighted with this book, as it shows ways that flowers can be exciting and wonderful. Fantastic Flowers includes both photographs and illustrations of the flowers for readers to compare. The author does a fine job accurately illustrating the flowers. The photographs include each flower’s common name, scientific name, native range, and pollinators. The book also includes a page about plants and pollination. With the help of an adult to read the informational sections, readers will enjoy the assortment of flowers and will want to learn more about them. 2017, Peachtree Publishers, Ages 3 to 6, $16.95. Reviewer: Tina Chan (Children’s Literature).
Young children will enjoy this nonfiction look at creatures around them that are covered with spots. Some of the creatures are familiar like cows and Dalmatians. Some are exotic, like an anaconda and sea slugs named nudibranchs. The vivid color paintings of each spotted creature are accurate and place each creature in its natural environment, though they do not indicate the actual size of the creature. The text is brief and written in a graceful rhyme. Both the limited text and rhythm make hearing the book or reading it appealing. The book concludes with a collection of short paragraphs that extends the information about each creature and a visual quiz that asks the readers to match the patterns of spots with the animals. Answers to the quiz are upside-down below each pattern swatch. The front and back end pages introduce the pattern of spots on the jaguar’s coat. The back of the dust jacket and the hard cover show the jaguar ready to jump from the tree limb where’s been sleeping or perhaps just sunning himself. The jaguar is ready to pounce on a small, unidentified creature with spots across its back that is running on the edge of the jungle pond. On the final page, the author acknowledges scientists who assisted her with research for the book. The book’s design can serve as example to young students for sharing their own information gathered about animal characteristics. 2015, Peachtree Publishers, Ages 4 to 8, $15.95. Reviewer: Carol Wolfenbarger (Children’s Literature).
Stripes Of All Types
Here is a book seemingly tailored to Common Core curriculum lesson plans. The examples of camouflage as a means of natural protection fits neatly into science lessons, while the verse and alliteration crosses into literature lessons. Additionally, the book’s pictures are stunningly done in bright acrylics. Both the creatures and their habitats pop from the page. The text is brief, but there is real movement in the words. Snakes go “sliding through the weeds.” A tiger and her cub “sprawl in a lair.” Nothing is described without the extra panache of just the right descriptive sound. Animals spring, prowl, and perch instead of jump or walk. Most pages are matted in pastels that complement the colors on the page. While the largest part of the book deals with creatures in the wild, the final two page spread is of children cuddling their striped house cat, bringing the lesson to the children’s own level. Backmatter includes descriptions of the animals shown in the book, where they live, and how camouflage helps them. The final pages take thumbnails of animal stripes and ask children to identify the close-up of stripes without the context of the animal. What a versatile, informative book that has the additional value of being graphically beautiful. Highly recommended. 2013, Peachtree, Ages 4 to 8, $15.95. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross (Children’s Literature).
Susan demonstrates to K-5 students how she researches, writes and illustrates her nonfiction picture books via props and a PowerPoint format. Students learn every step of her bookmaking process, including the importance of meticulous research; how to add sparkle to their writing with strong verbs, vivid adjectives and synonyms, and rich alliteration; and amazing facts about flora and fauna, the theme of Susan’s books. Her programs fully support the Common Core and STEAM curricula, seamlessly integrating language arts, visual arts, science and geography.
Susan’s school programs win praise:
“Her presentation was thoughtfully crafted, engaging, and hit on so many of the points we try to raise with our readers and writers!”
Deborah Hensley, Horace Mann Elementary School, Washington, DC
“Susan’s freshness of approach, honesty and enthusiasm enchanted the children.”
Ann Edmonds, The Galloway School, Atlanta, GA
“Her program was as inspirational as it was informative.”
Donna Jonte, University Park Elementary School, Hyattsville, MD
Fees: Please visit www.susanstockdale.com for fee information.
To learn more about Susan’s books and to read testimonials from teachers and students who have experienced her program, please visit www.susanstockdale.com.