Susan Stockdale is the author/illustrator of children’s picture books including Stripes of All Types, Bring On the Birds, and Fabulous Fishes. Her books celebrate nature with grace and exuberance and have won awards from the American Library Association, Parents’ Choice, the National Science Teachers Association and Bank Street College of Education. Susan’s expressive prose and artwork elicit praise. The Washington Post exclaimed, “If the paintings are the feast, Stockdale’s words are the dessert.” Her distinctive animal imagery is now featured on puzzles, coloring books, wall calendars and other products sold worldwide.
Susan researches her books extensively. For Bring On the Birds, an ALA Notable Children’s Book, she traveled to the Galapagos Islands to see Blue-footed Boobies perform their lively mating dance and the Great Frigatebird puff out its crimson chest. To research her forthcoming book about spotted animals, she toured the rainforests of Costa Rica.
A cum laude graduate of Occidental College, Susan studied art with illustrator Luis de Horna in Salamanca, Spain and with Ansai Uchima at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. She lives in Maryland and is a popular speaker at schools and conferences. Visit her website at www.susanstockdale.com.
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).
Bring On the Birds
Enter the world of birds via the rhyming text and simple, bold illustrations of each one. Twenty-one different birds are introduced by their unique characteristics or features. Some birds have puffy, red chests, some have fluffy crests, and some have impressive tails. There are birds that seek their food on land and others that find their prey on other animals. At the back of the book, the featured birds are identified and there is brief information that connects the bird to the characteristic mentioned in the poem. For instance, the swimming birds are the Adelie penguin that enjoy the Antarctic waters. The words may be few on a page; however, children may be enticed to seek additional information about these feathered animals. For those children wishing to read more about birds, the author-illustrator included a list of several resources on birds. This book makes a wonderful addition to introduce a study unit on birds. 2011, Peachtree Publishers, Ages 3 to 7, $15.95. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung (Children’s Literature).
Bold illustrations accompany the rhyming text in this stunning new book by author/illustrator Susan Stockdale. Students will delight at the rhythm as, “Sand fish, land fish, fish that light their lights”, come alive with vibrant, stylized drawings of each fish as it fills the pages before them. Even the end pages invite you to join the underwater world of fish as they swim right off the pages before your eyes. Each picture incorporates details from that fish’s environment, such as the coral which surrounds the bouncing seahorses along with the swaying sea grasses to which they are tethered or the murky ocean or riverbed floor that comes up to greet the whiskered catfish. The final double-page spread offers the reader information including the proper name of each fish, an interesting fact and information about the fish’s habitat. This book would be a lovely addition to any library or personal collection. Teachers could use Fabulous Fishes as an introduction to primary non-fiction and it would be a fantastic way to incorporate an art or a language art lesson into science. 2008, Peachtree Publishers, Ages 3 and up, $15.95. Reviewer: Theresa Finch (Children’s Literature).
In her lively presentation, Susan demonstrates to students how she researches, writes and illustrates her nonfiction picture books about animal behavior and habitats. Her program integrates language arts, visual arts, science and geography as she describes her research techniques, manuscript revisions and illustration process using visual props and a PowerPoint presentation.
Students learn that every detail in the text and illustrations of a nonfiction picture book, from the color of the berries that a toucan eats to the kinds of flowers found in a rainforest canopy, must be factually accurate. Susan shows her “bloopers,” manuscripts and sketches that contained inaccurate information before she consulted with scientists and made her corrections. Kids love to see these!
Susan’s school programs win praise. “She is a marvelous guest author/illustrator for any elementary school group of children,” exclaimed Jeffrey Brewster of the International School of Brussels. “Her presentation was as inspirational as it was informative,” remarked Donna Jonte of University Park Elementary School in Maryland.
Requirements: LCD equipment (including a laptop and preferably a hand-held remote) for the PowerPoint presentation; a screen; a microphone (preferably a lapel type); a table for props; and a room that can be darkened.
Fees: $600 for one presentation and $200 for each additional presentation for local school visits with up to three presentations given during one visit; $800 for one presentation and $200 for each additional presentation for school visits one hour or more from her home in Chevy Chase, Maryland: $1400/day plus travel expenses for presentations that are more than two hours from her home. Payment is requested the day of the visit.
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.