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

California Young Reader Medal's Arrived—and It’s Gorgeous

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Wow! This lovely item arrived today. So pretty—so heavy!

Grateful to the CYRM Committee and, especially, the half million Cali students who read all the nominated books and so thoughtfully and carefully made their choice. Go, Skydiving Beavers!

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SKYDIVING BEAVERS Wins California Young Reader Medal

Exciting news!! The Skydiving Beavers, my children’s book about a daring 1940s wildlife relocation effort, has won the 2021-22 California Young Reader Medal in the Picture Books for Older Readers category!! Half a million California students read and voted on the nominees this year—that’s a whole lot of wonderful young readers! 

This honor is especially meaningful because 1.) it was decided by kids—hooray!—and 2.) I’m a product of the California public school and library systems. My formative years, from 3rd through 10th grade, were spent in the Golden State, and I’m forever grateful to the many supportive, nurturing teachers, librarians, and media specialists who inspired, fostered, and encouraged my deep and voracious love of reading and writing (most especially Mr. Fred Story [yes, really!] and Mr. Ed Carmo, my 4th- and 5th-grade teachers at Twin Creeks Elementary in San Ramon). In the California public schools of the 1970s, creative thinking, creative expression, and creative play were a huge focus, and I have absolutely no doubt that the seeds of this award were planted in the classrooms and libraries of my Golden State youth.

Such an honor! 

Latinxs in Kid Lit’s ESQUIVEL! Book Talk

Check out the terrific book talk video about Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist—my Pura Belpré Honor Award–winning picture book bio of Mexican bandleader and stereo sound pioneer Juan Garcia Esquivel, illustrated by the fabulous Duncan Tonatiuh—at Latinxs in Kid Lit

So insightful, Dr. Sonia Rodriguez and Emily R. Aguiló-Pérez; I’m so grateful! 

SANDY FEET! WHOSE FEET? Goodreads Giveaway

Summer’s here—hooray! Time to celebrate with a book giveaway! Head on over to Goodreads where I’ll be giving away five copies of Sandy Feet! Whose Feet? Footprints at the Shore, my super-fun seaside-adventure picture book fully of hopping sandpipers, scuttling crabs, burrowing turtles, and more! School Library Journal gave Sandy Feet its coveted starred review, calling it “an engaging read which encourages children to explore the natural world around them, and to fully utilize and embrace their senses.” 

Giveaway ends July 16, 2021! Happy, happy summer!

ESQUIVEL! SPACE-AGE SOUND ARTIST Featured in DC Public Broadcasting Summer Reading Project

How cool is this? 

Just learned that WETA, Washington DC's public broadcasting station, has included Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist in its children's summer reading project, Start with a Book, featuring trailblazing people of color who've shaped the world. All kinds of super-fun activities, reading lists, and resources at the site, and, boy, is Esquivel! in some pretty amazing company! 

Be sure to check it out!

SANDY FEET! WHOSE FEET? Beach Fun Giveaway on Twitter

Summer's almost here—woohoo!!

To celebrate, I'm giving away a kids' beach-fun prize package that includes a copy of my picture book Sandy Feet! Whose Feet? Footprints at the Shore—an ecology-detectives exploration of footprints and the creatures that make them—plus an adorable shore-life beach towel and a 20-piece sand play set.

Head on over to my Twitter, Like and retweet/quote tweet, and you'll be entered to WIN!!

Ends noon eastern time, Friday, May 21! Good luck, and hooray, summer—we love ya!

SKYDIVING BEAVERS a California Young Reader Medal Nominee

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Delighted to learn that The Skydiving Beavers: A True Tale, about a daring 1948 wildlife relocation/conservation effort, has been nominated for a California Young Reader Medal in the Picture Books for Older Readers category! 

From the nominating committee: "The CYRM program encourages recreational reading of popular literature among the young people of our state. Since its inception in 1974, millions of California children have nominated, read, and voted for the winners of the California Young Reader Medal. Last year, over half a million students voted for their favorite books." 

Winners will be announced in May 2022. Honored and grateful to have The Skydiving Beavers included!

Read Across America: SKYDIVING BEAVERS Represents Idaho

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So how fun is this?! 

The Book Wrangler’s put together a dazzling road trip of picture books for Read Across America, each set in one of the fifty states or the nation’s capital. As the Wrangler puts it, “These stories celebrate the diverse cultures and landscapes of our great nation.” 

What an honor that my book The Skydiving Beavers, the true tale of a daring wildlife relocation via parachute, was chosen to represent the state of Idaho! 

The Book Wrangler’s even assembled an intriguing interactive map: click on a state and you’ll find a book trailer, readaloud, news clip, or other video related to that state’s book. What an amazing resource!

Thank you so much, Book Wrangler—can’t wait to read my way from sea to shining sea!

UNDER THE FREEDOM TREE for Black History Month


Calling all teachers, librarians, and booksellers: For Black History Month, remember the award-winning Under the Freedom Tree, as seen in and recommended by USA Today. In taut free verse, this compelling picture book tells the daring story of the contraband slaves of the Civil War, who launch the beginning of slavery’s end near and under the sheltering tree known today as Emancipation Oak. Now available in paperback!

Photos, video, educators’ resources—including a readers theater script and Common Core-aligned teacher’s guide—at


Delighted that Elizabeth Warren: Nevertheless, She Persisted, my picture book biography of the first woman senator from Massachusetts and 2020 presidential hopeful, is included in this pre-debate roundup from the San Francisco Chronicle

It’s time for young people, especially girls, to discover the power of their own voice, stand up, and speak out—because, as the senator often pinky-swears, “That’s what girls do!"

© Susan Wood 2022