Susanna talks about her writing, and about Minette's Feast:
Susanna Reich has driven big trucks, designed flowers in honor of the Emperor and Empress of Japan, and done graduate work in ancient Hawaiian hula. She has also written articles on dance and floral design for national magazines and scholarly journals. But none of these was as much fun as writing books for children, which she has been doing since 1994.
Susanna's first book, Clara Schumann: Piano Virtuoso (Clarion, 1999), won an Orbis Pictus Honor from the National Council of Teachers of English, and was an ALA Notable and Best Book for Young Adults, and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, among other honors.
After Clara, Susanna returned to her first love - dance - to pen Jose! Born to Dance: The Story of José Limón, a picture book biography for kids ages 5-9, illustrated by Raúl Colón (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster, 2005).
She has since turned her hand to fiction. In the historical novel Penelope Bailey Takes the Stage (Marshall Cavendish, 2006), a girl who longs to be an actress is thwarted by her family's rigid Victorian ideas about appropriate behavior for young ladies. Penelope is inspired to follow her dream by Isabelle Grey, a character based on the famous dancer Isadora Duncan. The book was named one of the Best Books of the Year by Scripps-Howard News Service and nominated for YALSA's Teens Top Ten.
In 2008, Susanna returned to writing for older kids with Painting the Wild Frontier: The Art and Adventures of George Catlin (Clarion, 2008). This biography of the 19th century artist-adventurer received three starred reviews and was named a Booklist Top Ten Arts Book for Youth and a Kirkus Reviews' Best Book for Young Adults.
Susanna's picture book, Minette's Feast: A Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat (Abrams, 2012), is about the bestselling chef's first cat, a Parisian who lapped up Child's leftovers but preferred mice. The book received starred reviews in School Library Journal, Kirkus, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness and was on the best-books-of-the-year list, CCBC Choices.
In 2015 Susanna will have two new books published, Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the Beatles (Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt), a picture book about the early years of the bestselling band in history; and Grace and Sylvie: A Recipe for Family (American Girl), an e-book novella in the Girl of the Year series, told from the point of view of Grace Thomas' French cousin, Sylvie.
A former professional dancer, Susanna studied at the Royal Academy of Dancing in London and the American Ballet Theatre School in New York. She holds a B.F.A. in dance from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and a Certificate in Movement Analysis from the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies. She worked for ten years as a floral designer and owner of Flowers by Susanna. During that time she designed flowers for Julia Child's 80th birthday party, a dinner in honor of five Prime Ministers, and many other exciting events.
Isadora Duncan at the Portal of the Parthenon, Athens, 1920. Photo by Edward Steichen
Susanna Reich at the Portal of the Parthenon, Athens, 1971. Photo by Haskell Reich
From 2000-2012, Susanna worked as a children's book publicist for Raab Associates, representing such clients as National Geographic, Kids Can Press, Kane/Miller, and Frances Lincoln, as well as authors Avi, Robie Harris, Jane Yolen, and Ed Young. From 2009-15 she was Chair of the Children's and Young Adult Book Committee of PEN American Center and a PEN Trustee. A long-time member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, she served for many years on the Steering Committee of the Metro NY chapter. Susanna enjoys visiting schools, and offers workshops and lectures for adults, as well.
A native New Yorker, Susanna grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, and has also lived in the San Francisco Bay area. She now makes her home in New York's Hudson Valley with her husband, the artist and children's book author Gary Golio. Their daughter Laurel Golio is a photographer and co-founder of the LGBT documentary project We Are the Youth.