Hill, Susanna Leonard 1965–
Hill, Susanna Leonard 1965–
Born April 14, 1965, in New York, NY; daughter of Edwin Deane (a lawyer) and Judith (a lawyer) Leonard; married Eric J. Hill (a teacher and musician), April 21, 1990; children: three. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Middlebury College, B.A., 1987; Columbia University, M.A., M.Ed., 1991. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, running, horseback riding, hiking, piano, puzzles and games of all kinds.
Self-employed educational therapist, 1990-97; freelance writer, 1997—.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Southwest Writers.
First Place, Southwest Writers Children's Picture Book Contest, 2005, for Not Yet, Rose; first place, Seven Hills Contest for Writers, 2005, for collection of three stories; Children's Picks listee, Book Sense, 2005, and Feminist Books for Youth List, Amelia Bloomer Project, 2006, both for Punxsutawney Phyllis; first place, CNW/FFWA Florida State Writing Competition, 2006, for "The One-Hour Bicycle"; first place, CNW/FFWA Florida State Writing Competition, 2007, for "The Sisters Club"; first place, Seven Hills Contest for Writers, 2007, for "Gone Fishin'."
The House That Mack Built, illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max, Little Simon (New York, NY), 2002.
Taxi!, Little Simon (New York, NY), 2005.
Punxsutawney Phyllis, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2005.
No Sword Fighting in the House, illustrated by True Kelley, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2007.
Not Yet, Rose, illustrated by Nicole Rutten, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2008.
Susanna Leonard Hill, a former educational therapist who worked with dyslexic students, is the author of a number of picture books for children. Hill's first published book, The House That Mack Built, appeared in 2002. "The House That Mack Built was inspired by my son, who loved construction vehicles when he was two or three years old," the author once told SATA. "We had books that showed pictures of construction vehicles and
told about what jobs they did, but nothing with parts that moved or that showed how a bunch of equipment could work together to complete a project. So I wrote one."
Hill later wrote Punxsutawney Phyllis, a feminist take on Groundhog Day. The work follows the efforts of young Phyllis, the niece of celebrated forecaster Punxsutawney Phil, to follow in her uncle's footsteps. After Phil stubbornly predicts another six weeks of winter, Phyllis tries unsuccessfully to convince him that the signs of an early spring are all around. "Punxsutawney Phyllis was inspired by two things," Hill explained to SATA. "There is much talk on the radio where I live on Groundhog Day about Punxsutawney Phil making his prediction. One Groundhog Day I was driving my children to nursery school, listening to Phil's prediction, and I thought—why should Phil always by a boy? A girl could do the job just as well! Also, where I live, winter seems very long. I thought, it's my story, I can make anything I want happen, so how about an early spring for once?"
In No Sword Fighting in the House, two brothers take their horseplay outdoors, and in the process they trample their mother's daffodils, jeopardizing her chance to win a gardening competition. According to Hill, "No Sword Fighting in the House was inspired by my children's play and by a situation that I think is common in all families: the intentional or unintentional miscommunication between grownups and kids." Reviewing the tale in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Deborah Stevenson commented that "readers will revel at the sardonic and absurd wit mustered in the spare prose," and a Kirkus Reviews contributor described No Sword Fighting in the House as "a quick and amusing read."
Hill once told SATA: "I write because I love to write. I can't not write. There is something so exciting about a blank page, full of possibilities, waiting for whatever story you dream up. I like to write stories that will entertain children or touch them in some meaningful way, that will encourage in them the same love of reading that I have always enjoyed.
"My work is particularly influenced by my own childhood and by my children. Everything is new to children. The world is full of wonder, full of things to learn and do and experience for the first time, and hence full of ideas for stories.
"Sometimes an idea comes full-blown to my mind, and I just write it. More often I get a piece of an idea—a character, a setting, a problem—and I have to let it sit in the back corner of my mind for a while to simmer until I get the rest of the story together and it becomes something that works. Once I have written a story, I try to put it aside for a while and forget about it, so I can come back to it later with a fresh perspective and see if it still works or whether it needs tweaking. A lot of the writing process is about the working in your mind that takes place before you ever set pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard)."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, May 1, 2007, Todd Morning, review of No Sword Fighting in the House, p. 98.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March, 2007, Deborah Stevenson, review of No Sword Fighting in the House.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2007, review of No Sword Fighting in the House.
School Library Journal, October, 2005, Linda Staskus, review of Punxsutawney Phyllis, p. 116; August, 2007, Danielle Nicole Du Puis, review of No Sword Fighting in the House, p. 81.
Susanna Leonard Hill Home Page,http://www.susannahill.com (August 10, 2008).