Susan Stockdale is the author/illustrator of children’s picture books including Fantastic Flowers, Spectacular Spots, 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.
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).
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.