Award-winning author Susanna Reich has driven big trucks, designed flowers for the Emperor of Japan, and done graduate work in ancient Hawaiian hula—but she thinks writing for kids is more fun! Susanna writes fiction and nonfiction for all ages. This October, Neal Porter Books will publish her first fictional picture book, Pass the Baby, which Betsy Bird on School Library Journal calls “utterly adorable and inarguably entrancing.” Other recent books include Stand Up and Sing! Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice; Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the Beatles; and Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat. Susanna has received the Rip Van Winkle Award for Outstanding Contributions to Children’s Literature, the Tomás Rivera Award for José! Born to Dance, and the Orbis Pictus Honor for Clara Schumann: Piano Virtuoso. A former Chair of PEN America’s Children’s Book Committee, she lives in Briarcliff Manor, NY, with her husband, children’s book author Gary Golio.
Susanna Reich has driven big trucks, designed flowers in honor of the Emperor of Japan, and done graduate work in Hawaiian hula. But none of these was as much fun as writing books for kids, which she’s been doing since 1994.
Susanna’s first book, Clara Schumann: Piano Virtuoso (Clarion, 1999, ages 8 and up), 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 turned to her first love – dance – to pen José! Born to Dance, a picture book biography of the Mexican American dancer and choreographer José Limón, illustrated by Raúl Colón (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster, 2005, ages 5-9). A Spanish language edition, ¡José! Nacido para bailar, was issued in 2022 and named to Bank Street College’s list of Best Children’s Picture Books of the Year in Spanish, 2023.
In Susanna’s historical novel Penelope Bailey Takes the Stage (Marshall Cavendish, 2006, ages 9-14), 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.
Painting the Wild Frontier: The Art and Adventures of George Catlin (Clarion, 2008, ages 10 and up) is a biography of the 19th century artist-adventurer who painted indigenous peoples throughout the Western U.S. and South America. It 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, ages 4-8), is about the bestselling chef’s first cat, a Parisian who lapped up Child’s leftovers but preferred mice. It 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 had two new books published, Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the Beatles (Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt), a nonfiction 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. 2017 saw the publication of Susanna’s picture book biography Stand Up and Sing! Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice (Bloomsbury), a Junior Library Guild Selection.
In October 2023 Neal Porter Books will publish Susanna’s first fictional picture book, Pass the Baby, illustrated by Raúl Colón, which Betsy Bird on School Library Journal’s “A Fuse #8 Production” calls “utterly adorable and inarguably entrancing.” It’s Susanna and Raúl’s second collaboration, after José! Born to Dance.
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. Susanna 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.
From 2000-2012, Susanna worked as a children’s book publicist and account services manager for Raab Associates, Inc., 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. She has given many presentations on children’s book publicity and promotion for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).
From 2009-15 Susanna was Chair of the Children’s and Young Adult Book Committee of PEN America and a PEN Trustee. A long-time member of SCBWI, she served for many years on the Steering Committee of the Metro NY chapter.
Susanna was born in New York City, grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, and has also lived in the San Francisco Bay area. She now makes her home in Briarcliff Manor, New York, with her husband, the artist and children’s book author Gary Golio. Their daughter Laurel Golio is a photographer and co-founder of the LGBTQ+ documentary project We Are the Youth.
Susanna is represented by Edward Necarsulmer IV at Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency.
Contact Susanna at: susanna [at] susannareich.com