About Susan Jeffers

I realize now that I have always done the same things. When I was little, my best moments were spent drawing pictures, reading stories with my parents, playing with friends and sitting by the Ramapo River dreaming of horses. This has not changed. Being a childrens book illustrator has combined all of these things.

Literature has been a great support in my life. The story of Black Beauty kept me company growing up. I longed to be gentle and steadfast as he was. I was inspired by Velvet's courage and wanted to win the Grand National on my beloved piebald horse like she did. I remember sitting in the choir loft deciding on how I would illustrate the Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen that my parents had read to me. Retelling that story to myself got me through many tedious moments. I wished I were as brave as Gerta but I was pretty sure that I was the wayward Kai and my older sister, Judy, was going to have to come rescue me from the frosty Queen. I loved these stories, they always asked me to be the best I could be.

Picture of my sister Judy and me. I am the one on the right.

The first part of my work is to find a story that inspires pictures in me. It is like being a dancer and having to wait for the music to move your feet. Everything comes from this.

I enjoy researching books like Hiawatha so much that I have trouble extricating myself from old photos and first person diaries of being captured by Indians, which are of course more stories.

For the most part I work in pen and ink and guache, an opaque watercolor. I make thousands of little lines with a fine pen to describe the forms. Tnis looks hard, but it is actually the easiest part and is very relaxing. The most difficultpart for me is telling the story with the right relationship of composition and characters to convey the emotion of the story. This requires making many little drawings, called thumbnail sketches, until the drawing says what you want it to say, hopefully. Sometimes this does not happen.

My favorite things to do these days are riding and studying dressage with a beautiful horse named Hans, (Hans is much the better student) and painting landscapes and portraits. Happily this is a lot like my work.

Picture of me and Hans 17h Swedish Warmblood.


Graduate of Pratt Institute 1964
Worked in the publishing field for three years
Began freelance career in 1968
Published first childrens book in 1970


Caldecott Honor
Golden Apple Biennial Brataslava
The ABBY American Booksellers Best Book award
Society of Illustrators Awards of Merit
Golden Kite Society of Childrens Books Author Illustrators

Group Shows:

Metropolitan Museum of Art
National Women's Museum of Art
Brooklyn Museum
Norman Rockwell Museum
Montclair Museum New Jersey
Society of Illustrators Best Book Shows


New York Times Best Seller Brother Eagle Sister Sky