Suzanne Williams doesn’t remember ever wanting to be a writer when she grew up. She just liked to read! But her favorite elementary school teacher must have seen some early potential. Here’s what she wrote on Suzanne’s report cards in the fifth and sixth grades: “Suzy has a good command of the English language and a flair for creative writing…I hope she will continue to do creative writing as I and the students have especially enjoyed her talent in this area.”
The award-winning author of almost thirty books for children, Suzanne’s titles include picture books such as Library Lil, Mommy Doesn’t Know My Name, and Ten Naughty Little Monkeys, and several series including Princess Power and Fairy Blossoms. Her fifth series, written with co-author Joan Holub, debuts April 2010. Goddess Girls follows the myth-based adventures of young Athena, Persephone, Aphrodite, and Artemis at Mount Olympus Academy.
Suzanne grew up in Eugene, Oregon, and graduated from the University of Oregon with a B.S. and M.L.S degrees. She moved to Renton, Washington (near Seattle) right after college, and worked as an elementary school librarian for over twenty years before becoming a full-time writer. Her husband is principal trombonist for the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orechestra. She has two grown children, and a toy fox terrier named Toby.
Lil is not a little old lady librarian. She’s an exuberant, vivacious, exceptionally strong young woman who’s been in love with books since birth. And she has a mission: to wean the good people of Chesterville from their TV sets (“an evil that ranked right up there with poison ivy and mosquitoes.”) A fortuitous storm and electricity blackout gives Lil her chance. Soon everyone is reading, until a motorcycle gang rides into town. How Lil wins over Bust-’em-up Bill and his cohorts is amusing, and wonderfully and humorously illustrated in Steven Kellogg’s inimitable style. This love story about books is enough to make anyone wish for a permanent TV blackout! 1997, Dial, $14.99 and $14.89. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr (Children’s Literature).
Ten Naughty Little Monkeys
In this cute story families of energetic monkeys do a lot of activities but every time one little monkey gets injured. Then Mama calls the doctor and he responds by saying, “No more monkeys…” It seems that one particular monkey is quite mischievous and causes her siblings to have the accidents until she experiences her own problem near the end of the story. Younger children will love this suspenseful, rhyming book. It’s a fast moving and entertaining story with the monkeys performing different activities. The paintings are bright and colorful. They are extremely funny especially the monkey’s crazy hairdos. Possible curricular uses would be to compare and contrast it to the original rhyme, “10 Little Monkeys.” Category: Picture Book. 2007, Harper Collins, $16.99. Ages 3 to 8. Reviewer: Sheila Fox (Kutztown Book Review, Fall 2007).
Mommy Doesn’t Know My Name
Throughout the day, Hannah’s mother refers to her affectionately as “little chickadee, pumpkin and alligator.” Hannah is distressed because “I’m not a pumpkin, I’m Hannah.” Off to school she goes. Back home and helping to make dinner, again Hannah’s mother calls her “a little devil” for not being able to wait to eat. “But, I’m not a devil, I’m Hannah.” But all ends well as Mommy hugs and kisses her at bedtime and asserts, “Yes, you’re Hannah.” Few books deal so well with preschoolers’ concerns about their identity. The artwork is very imaginative and sure to fascinate young children. 1990, Houghton Mifflin Co., $14.95 and $5.95. Ages 2 to 5. Reviewer: Kristin Harris (Children’s Literature).
- Grade K – 2 (45 min.) Suzanne will read aloud from her published books, talk about where some of her story ideas have come from, and use masks to engage children in acting out one of her stories. She also play a game in which children identify characters from her various books.
- Grade 3 – 4 (50 min.) Suzanne will talk about where some of her story ideas have come from, read aloud from two of her books, tell a bit about her series chapter books, and share examples of the revision process.
- Grade 5 – 6 or 4 – 5 (55 min.) Suzanne will talk about how she became a writer and explain a bit about her writing process and the ideas that gave rise to her books. She will also use props to help students learn about the publishing process.
Grade 3 – 6 Writing Workshops (45 – 55 min. each)
Choices: 1. How to Plot a Story or 2. How to “Show,” not “Tell.” (Two to three classes of students of similar age work best for workshops.)
Teachers and Librarians:
- Library Lil and Me. Grade Level: K-6 (60 – 75 minutes) The award-winning author of more than two dozen books for children, including Library Lil, My Dog Never Says Please, Mommy Doesn’t Know My Name, Ten Naughty Little Monkeys, and the “Princess Power” and “Fairy Blossoms” series, reveals the “stories behind the stories” in her many picture and chapter books.
- You Too Can Write For Children: Tips From a Former Elementary School Librarian Turned Children’s Book Writer. Grade Level: all (60 – 75 minutes) Interested in writing? Learn what to expect along the path to publication and what you can do to improve your chances of getting published.
- What Every Writer Needs. Grade Level: all (60 minutes) Children’s author and former elementary school librarian/writing teacher, Suzanne Williams, shares quotations about writing, excerpts from editorial letters and book revisions, and student writing samples, to show how teachers can meet their student writers’ needs in the same way that editors and writing groups meet adult writers’ needs-all with the goal of helping writers to improve.
- Writing Series Fiction for ages 7 – 12. Level: Intermediate – Advanced writers (60 minutes – 75 minutes) Learn the ins and outs of writing and publishing series fiction for children by the author of four series (published by HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Scholastic). Tips range from approaching an editor with a series idea to developing storylines to dealing with revisions, deadlines, and more.
- Navigating the Bumps in the Road to Publication. Level: Beginning writers (60 – 75 minutes) The road to publication is an emotional journey as well as a logistical one, and there are many bumps in that road. It’s hard not to doubt your abilities when everything you’ve written and sent out has been rejected multiple times. Though now the author of more than two dozen books for children, Suzanne Williams remembers what it was like before her first book was published. Excerpts from the journals she kept during that time illustrate the ups and downs and challenges any writer can expect along the bumpy path to that first book contract.
To learn more about Suzanne Williams and her publications please visit www.suzanne-williams.com.