Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Award Winning Picture Author Illustrator, Suzanne Bloom shares about her process

Dear Friends,

What a special treat to have Award-Winning author-illustrator Suzanne Bloom give us an inside view of her writing and illustrating process for her newest book just out in August, I JUST LIKE YOU. Suzanne is generously donating an autographed book to one lucky winner who leaves a comment. Spread the word via twitter, FB, Google+ for more chances to win! ENJOY!

First, this GREAT REVIEW about the book. Then keep scrolling for Suzanne’s fabulous show and tell!

Author: Suzanne Bloom
Illustrator: Suzanne Bloom

Review Issue Date: August 1, 2018
Online Publish Date: July 16, 2018
Boyds Mills
Price ( Hardcover ):
Publication Date: November 6, 2018
ISBN ( Hardcover ):
Category: Fiction
A sweet celebration of differences. There's not a cardigan in sight, but the spirit of Fred Rogers is all over this rhymed chorus of "likes." "You don't look just like me. / You don't see the things I see. / You don't walk just like me," but still and all, "You just like me! You just like me!" Bloom suspends pairs and larger groups of anthropomorphic young animals on plain, unmarked white backgrounds for these amicable declarations, and she goes to town on highlighting her figures' diversity—dressing a gray elephant in a colorfully striped shirt, wrapping a looong scarf around a woolly llama's looong neck, outfitting an ostrich with pink ruffles and a parasol a-dangle with pompoms, placing a wombat in a wheelchair and a little squirrel atop a tall unicycle. Nor are behavioral differences neglected, as a methodical porcupine ("I like to take my time") leans over a blank sheet of writing paper while the tiger cub in the next seat ("I'm speedy") is awash in notes and drawings. Scenes gradually fill up as the author gathers all and sundry together to dance (or shyly watch), to eat, and climactically to read (books printed and handwritten; in English, Danish, and Braille; a map; a sheet of music; a sewing pattern; a blueprint). The mood then calms for a concluding scene of two friends sharing an easy chair with a final: "I just like you! / Yes, I do." A manifesto to bridge the deepest chasms of otherness and to melt the stoniest of hearts. (Picture book. 4-8) 

Now read on and savor this feast of pictures and words!

 I JUST LIKE YOU  by Suzanne Bloom                  

It’s not easy to sit silently waiting for a story to begin, waiting for more listeners to come in and settle.
So I took this time to start a sketch and invited the early arrivals to suggest ideas for how to make a friend.  Their answers are in several languages and include questions and compliments. Simple really.

This story lodged in my brain at least five years ago, and by that I probably mean 20.  It was populated with people of all varieties.  As it evolved I turned to animals because I was sure I would inadvertently leave someone out.  To be fair…even with animals, there are no fish or insects.  Sorry.  


Often it’s good to wait for a story because the other inspirations occurred much later. At a summer camp where I worked, Art Amy started “Love Letter” Day.  The art barn was awash with construction paper scraps and a thousand or so cut-out hearts. The love letters were mostly like letters and it was an opportunity to express appreciation and affection.  

So, bits and pieces of ideas drifted, floated and popped in over time. Some people call this procrastination.  I prefer to call it “Productive Procrastination”.  And in this realm, I am the queen.  Except, I confess, I do spend too much time on Facebook.


Dragon Fruit from China

Clara’s chair reimagined

The auditions result in some disappointment for many characters who must wait for another 
book.  Can you tell who made it into this book?

HINT: Some may have different costumes in the book.

At the beginning of each project, I’m sure it’s a brilliant idea. Then I’m sure I’ve forgotten how to draw.

Yes, every time. So I scribble and doodle for a couple of weeks until characters decide to make an appearance. 

The story comes first, except for when a character emerges first. Occasionally the title comes first but not usually. (Linear thinking doesn’t work for me.)  When it’s time to do the final art, I’ll pick the easiest one and it sets the tone. In this book, it was the last page. The story itself determines the medium; dry pastel or watercolor and colored pencils.  

For reference I have old copies of Ranger Rick. After sketching, finals are pinned to the line so I can see it all.

I love this last page.  It might be my favorite in the book, except for the lion getting a spa treatment.

As I thought and wrote and drew, I imagined the adult reader looking into one face or many and having the chance to say over and over to one child or a classful, “I just like you. Yes. I do.”  And one child or many will have heard that they are liked, likeable, valued.  Simple, really.

Text and drawings © Suzanne Bloom 2018

Be sure to stop by Suzanne’s website to learn more about her and her wonderful books.

 Suzanne will be available for school and conference visits in Fall ‘19 and spring ’20. 

Thank you, Suzanne, for sharing and showing your fascinating and informative journey from idea to finished book. By the way, this book is another perfect pick for October’s National Anti-bullying month, but a truly excellent pick for year round sharing. 

Thank you, Dear Readers! I JUST LIKE YOU for your ongoing support of authors/illustrators and wonderful Children’s books. Please leave a comment for our Splendid Friend Indeed, Suzanne Bloom. I’ll be back next week to announce the winner of I Just Like You.



  1. "Linear thinking doesn't work for me." LOL! Me either.
    I love the vintage armchairs and the antimaccassars. It was lovely to get a view into how you work, Suzanne. The finished product always seems as if it had been effortless! But of course, it's not. Thank you and please keep sharing truth and beauty with us!
    Thank you, Clara!

  2. Thank you, Joyce! I love antimacassars, too, and vintage armchairs. And, of course, I JUST LIKE YOU!

    Thank YOU for leaving such a thoughtful comment. Your name is entered to win the autographed book!

  3. Oh, my goodness! What a wonderful theme and I love that you discussed your process of inviting characters to audition for the story. Great idea! As ususal, your illustrations are brilliant. Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Thank you, Gayle, for stopping by! So glad you were inspired by Suzanne’s post.

      Your name is entered for a chance to win the autographed copy of, I JUST LIKE YOU, which we do!

  4. I love Suzanne Bloom! I love her characters and marvel at the way she can show a feeling or mood in the face of an animal! Friendship always seems to be part of her stories, but this one sounds so perfect for a time when we need to be inclusive and aware that we are alike, even in our differences.

  5. Oh, Kathy, I could not agree more. Suzanne’s books have such good heart and show children how to be a good friend. Yes, we need to be 'inclusive and aware that we are alike, even in our differences.’

    Thanks so much for your loyal support, too! Your name is entered for a chance to win the autographed copy of, I JUST LIKE YOU, which I do!

  6. Thank you for taking us through the process of bringing your story to life, Suzanne! I can't wait to read it! I am definitely of the productive procrastination mindset as well. :)

    1. Hey, Martin! great to hear from you. I’m not at all surprised that Suzanne’s post resonated with you--a creative kindred spirit.

      I haven’t checked, but I bet you’ve retweeted the post, so your name goes in twice for a chance to win, I JUST LIKE YOU, which I do!

  7. I love getting a glimpse of how author/illustrators work. AND I just watched the movie about Mr. Rogers. I miss him so. Such kindness and empathy. We really need that right now. And it's clear we really need this book, too. Thank you for bringing it into the world Suzanne! P.S. I also love your Bear stories.

    1. Thank you, Jil, for your thoughtful comment. I love Suzanne’s Bear books too. Love the good heart in all her books.

      Your name is entered for a chance to win, I JUST LIKE YOU, which I do!

  8. I love Suzanne's books. My grandkids have quite a few. I'll share this on twitter and FB!

    1. Thanks for stopping by today, Carol, and thank you for spreading the word! That gives you 3 entries for a chance to win, I JUST LIKE YOU, which I do! :)

  9. Replies
    1. Way cool, Carol! Btw--did you notice the chair was mine?

  10. Suzanne's illustrations are always so endearing! A wonderful book with an important message. I love how she said that after hearing it every child will know that they are liked, likable, and valued.

    1. I love that too, Rose. Thank you for putting that line in your comment.

      Your name is entered for a chance to win, I JUST LIKE YOU, which I do!

  11. The illustrations are so pretty. I liked seeing all the stages.

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Jana. It is always inspiring and informative to see how others create.

      Your name is entered for a chance to win, I JUST LIKE YOU. (I see you’re on google+ and appear to love ghosts and spooky things, which I do as well--Cool!)