School Programs

Student work


Suse's presentations develop children's observational and problem solving skills by creating situations that encourage them to be inventive. Through hands on projects, Suse relates art and mathematics, art and illusion, art and transformation, and art and the visual world.

In one exercise each student takes letter shapes and turns them into something entirely new. A "V" tucked between the two curved sections of a "B" might become a bird, a striped "C" a cat or an "A" with toenails and a tongue, an anteater. Such explorations provoke children's natural problem solving instincts and encourage them to be creative and go beyond run-of-the-mill thinking.

School Program Basics

  • Suse's programs are best suited to grades K - 8.
  • She can work with small or large groups, from 30 - 200 students.
  • Each presentation is 45 minutes to 1 hour long, 30 minutes for kindergarten.
  • Suse can present three programs in one day with twenty to thirty minutes between each one. In addition she can read a story or conduct an informal question and answer session with several small groups. The latter can also be an opportunity to discuss in detail the process of creating a children's picture book with an art class or interested students in the higher grades.
  • A luncheon is another possibility. The teachers and one student chosen by lottery from each class can meet for lunch with Suse and ask their class's questions. It will help the discourse if the questions have been written down beforehand.
  • An after-school book signing or "meet the author" tea are successful ways to end her programs.
  • Suse suggests there be a facilitator available during the day of her visit to help with last minute details.

School Program Description

The following programs are suitable for presentation to large or small groups. These programs have been customized for a particular age range so it's best to group the students by grade level. It is Suse's preference to talk to the kindergarten separately. The Alphabatics, Nanta's Lion and Elephant On Board programs can be adapted for them.

(click here to see a page from the book)

For Grades K - 2.  In Alphabatics each letter of the alphabet is colorfully transformed into something that begins with that letter. Suse shares with her audience the excitement of publishing this, her first book, and winning a Caldecott Honor. Using slides, she shows the sources of her ideas, the steps involved in creating this book, and the use of the airbrush to paint the illustrations. If the group is small enough, Suse helps the children create their own pictures using the shape of a letter as a basis for the shape of an animal or bird. For large groups the audience participates in this drawing process by guiding Suse as she turns letter shapes into other images. Return to the overview to see an additional example of student work.


Student work

Sea Shapes
(click here to see a page from the book)

For Grades 2 - 3.   In Sea Shapes, basic shapes transform into a variety of sea creatures. Suse shows how she researched this book and developed her illustrations. She also demonstrates the paper collage techniques used for the art work. If she is working with a small group, each student has an opportunity to create his or her own art work by looking at slides of sea life to discover and draw the shapes they contain. For large groups individual projects are impractical. Instead Suse solicits audience participation to collectively direct the creation of a sea life mural.

Book Ideas are Everywhere

For grades 4, 5, & 6. Ideas are everywhere. Feelings, experiences, dreams, something read in a newspaper spark the imagination. And somewhere in all of that is the idea for the next book. In this talk Suse looks at six of her books to see where the ideas for them came from. 

She also touches on how publishing a book works. How one locates a publisher, signs a contract, gets an advance and creates a book with the help and guidance of an editor. 

For Teachers

Suse also offers presentations for teachers. Many of her books take a well known object or abstraction and turn it into something quite different. In these seminars she explores the ideas fundamental to her books and shows how they can be developed into practical classroom activities. When there is interest, Suse includes information about the various ways she colors paper and creates her illustrations.

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Preparing Your Students

  1. Reading: All students should be familiar with Suse's books. She has found that the more prepared the students are, the more they get out of the program. Start reading her books at least two weeks before the visit. Be sure to include the book she will be discussing with your class.
  2. Discussion: Suse will write a letter to each class introducing herself. Read this to the children and discuss what an author/illustrator does.
  3. Questions: Suse welcomes any questions. Students who have been introduced to her books prior to her coming often have many.
  4. Projects: Projects pertaining to Suse's books are not a necessary ingredient for a successful visit, but they do generate student enthusiasm. Activity sheets/teaching ideas are available on Suse's website if you need some suggestions.

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Preparing Teachers

In some schools, the school librarian reads Suse's books to the students. It is helpful if the teachers whose students are attending her program, are also familiar with her books.

Suse recommends that each teacher be given:

  • a copy of her school programs
  • a copy of her brochure
  • Suse's letter to the students
  • the activity sheets for the books Suse will be talking about

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  1. Kodak carousel slide projector and screen. It is important to check that the slide projector is in running order the day before Suse's visit. Have a spare bulb handy.
  2. A large movable blackboard/tackboard (the kind on wheels). Most schools have these. Suse finds it works best when used as an easel on which to tack or tape drawing paper. If you do not have a movable blackboard, a wall or a cafeteria table on end will sometimes work. The point is to find a surface that will hold a 4 or 5 foot piece of paper. Most easels are too small for large groups of students to adequately see.
  3. A roll of white art paper Most school art rooms have these rolls of paper. High quality is not necessary, white or a light color is. Suse will need two sheets for each presentation. Each sheet should be 4 or 5 feet long by 30 inches high (approximate measurement). Suse draws big pictures so that all the students in large groups can see what she's doing!
  4. Tape and scissors To hang and cut art paper.

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$1500 per day plus expenses
$1200 per day for two or more full days plus expenses
Teacher workshops and family programs are also available at negotiable rates

If a visit is more than a three hour drive from San Diego, Suse prefers school visits of two or more days. In both March and April she spends two weeks doing school visits on the east coast. If a visit can be scheduled during those times, the travel expense can be shared. Suse can also schedule blocks of time in other areas of the country.

In communities where Suse has three or more days of school visits, she offers, free of charge, a family evening.

Overnight stays
A list of hotel/motel recommendations in your area would be quite helpful. Suse (a non-smoker) is also willing to stay in private homes as long as she has her own room.

Travel Arrangements
Suse will arrange air travel arrangements through her travel agent.

Letters of Agreement
When it is agreed that Suse will be visiting your school, she would like a letter of agreement, listing dates, fee agreed upon, and what she is to do.

Book Sales and Autographing
An author visit is a wonderful opportunity for each child to have a book. Book sales are most successful when an order form is sent home with the students a few weeks prior to Suse's visit. Books may be ordered through or the publisher at least six to eight weeks in advance. Order the books so you have time to process them and set up a display. This gives your teachers plenty of time to acquaint their classes with Suse's books. All books not sold are returnable to the publisher.

Suse is happy to autograph books and to draw pictures in them. Each student should have a slip of paper with his or her name in the book to be autographed. This saves a lot of time.

Set up a display of Suse's books in the library and post the date she will be visiting your school. She will provide a photograph and promotional materials if you wish them.

Newspaper publicity is also a good idea.

  • It alerts your community to the exposure you're getting in the arts.
  • If PTO money is involved, an article lets them know how their money is being used.
  • It promotes family involvement and interest in the program.

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Schedule an Author Appearance

To make arrangements or if you have questions about Suse's program, please contact Suse.

Ordering Books

You may order books from your local book store using the website Search on Suse MacDonald at Booksense to see a list of all her books, or go to the Suse's Books page of this site and click on the link by the book you want to order to go directly to that page on the Booksense site.

All content copyright © 2013 Suse MacDonald. All rights reserved except where noted.