Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Books of our youth: from trees to bees

Today's focus is on writing for the younger set. If you're in the Philadelphia area, consider this workshop by Jessica Dimuzio, who self-published a picture book: "Would I Do It Again?" Self Publishing Workshop: June 21 (for details, see link).

My guest post today is also by a picture-book writer, Alison Ashley Formento. This is the latest installment of my "Books of our youth" series, in which writers talk about the books that have stuck with them:

"Miss Suzy was a little gray squirrel who lived all by herself at the tip, tip, top of a tall oak tree." This is the first line of MISS SUZY, written by Miriam Young and illustrated by Arnold Lobel, originally published in 1964 and re-released in a special 40th anniversary edition in 2004. MISS SUZY is one of my favorite picture books from my childhood, and my very-battered-much-loved copy holds a special place of honor on my desk propped next to my own books.


A tall oak tree is illustrated on the opening and ending pages, just like in my first picture book THIS TREE COUNTS! Gray squirrels live in my tree story, too, along with several other forest creatures. At author appearances, I show children a photo of the local tree that I love to climb that inspired my first picture book, but I have no doubt that the glorious oak tree in MISS SUZY was a subconscious inspiration, too.

MISS SUZY has to face loss, hunger, and danger to keep her tree home, and along the way she makes friends with some kind toy soldiers, who help her return to her beloved oak. Who doesn't want to feel safe and live in a home that they love?

Miss Suzy is courageous. She appreciates and cares for her home the way we all must care for our planet. I only wish that I could have met Miriam Young and Arnold Lobel to tell them how much this story and its illustrations continue to inspire me and my writing.


Alison Formento is the author of the award-winning picture book THIS TREE COUNTS!, THIS TREE, 1, 2, 3, and newly released THESE BEES COUNT! (And if you go to her website, you can see her in full beekeeper garb--which you yourself can try on when you see her live at bookstores and book fairs.)


  1. I think this book would have been a favorite of mine, too. ^_^

    1. It got some fond-memory love over on my LJ blog. :-)