The Authors and Illustrators - Profiles

Susan Jeffers

  Susan Jeffers says: "I realize now that I have always done the same things. When I was small my best moments were spent drawing pictures, reading stories with my parents, playing with friends, and experiencing nature's perfection. This has not changed.
  "For the most part, I work in pen, ink, and wash. I make thousands of little lines to describe form. This looks hard, but it's actually the easiest and most relaxing part. The most difficult part for me is telling the story with the right relationships of composition and character. This requires many, many little drawings and combinations until the drawing says what you want it to. Some drawings never do.
  "I enjoy researching books like Hiawatha and Brother Eagle, Sister Sky so much that I have difficulty extricating myself from old photos and diaries - which are simply more stories. I also take pounds of photos of animals, people, flowers, and houses for reference. The most important part of my work is choosing the story, or poem, or song. Everything comes from this. I am like a dancer dependent on music. It must touch a powerful chord in me. I can always trace my response back to my earliest memories which are never intellectual but profoundly emotional, and largely beyond my ability to express in words.
  "I attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn for four years. When I read my syllabus for my first year I was astounded. It was eight hours a day of drawing, painting, and sculpture interspersed with English and Psychology. This was heaven. For the first time since I had learned to read, I felt I was being educated. After Pratt I worked in three publishing houses and gained a practical education in book making. It was there that I noticed that children's books were a fine art and that they combine two of my favorite things, drawings and stories.
  "Aside from books, I am a mother, wife, and foster grandmother. I will always be unendingly grateful to my friends and family who are a constant source of strength and inspiration that has grown steadily over the years. We also share space with a retired horse, an ancient cat and a Westie pup."
  Susan Jeffers and her husband Steve Cook, a conservation officer, live with their daughter Ali in Westchester County, New York, surrounded by the wildlife and nature that inspire her work.
Copyright Penguin USA

Susan Jeffers


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