Susan Kathleen Hartung Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Agent—c/o Illustrator Correspondence, Viking Press, 40 W. 23rd St., New York, NY 10010.
Full time illustrator of children's books, 1998—. Has worked in advertising, design, and photography. Managing director, PictureBook Artists.com.
Graphic Artist Guild, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Ezra Jack Keats Award, 1999, for Dear Juno.
Soyung Pak, Dear Juno, Viking (New York, NY), 1999.
Sigmund Brouwer, The Little Spider, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2001.
Lori Morgan, I Went to the Beach, R.C. Owen Publishers (Katonah, NY), 2001.
Hazel J. Hutchins, One Dark Night, Viking (New York, NY), 2001.
Karyn Henley, Rag Baby, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2002.
Celeste Davidson Mannis, One Leaf Rides the Wind: Counting in a Japanese Garden, Viking (New York, NY), 2002.
Susan Kathleen Hartung has been drawing avidly since she was a young child, and she is thrilled that she can make a living as a book illustrator. Hartung established her reputation with the 1999 title Dear Juno, a picture book that won the Ezra Jack Keats Award. Since then the artist has earned praise for such books as One Dark Night and One Leaf Rides the Wind: Counting in a Japanese Garden.
Hartung was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan. On her Web site she said, "I started drawing as soon as I could hold a crayon. I drew all the time, on anything." By the time she went to high school she was sure that she wanted to be an artist. She attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, majoring in illustration and graduating in 1990. After that she worked various part-time jobs while trying to sell herself as an illustrator. Her big break came in 1998 when she contracted with Viking to provide the pictures for Dear Juno.
In Dear Juno by Soyung Pak, a Korean American boy learns to communicate with his far-away grandmother using drawings, photographs, and pressed leaves. Juno can't read, but he is still able to understand his grandmother's letters and to respond to them with pictures and photos that reveal his own feelings. Calling Dear Juno "a simple but moving story about communicating across distances," a Publishers Weekly reviewer described Hartung's illustrations as "well designed and touching."
Jonathan is glad to have shelter in Hazel J. Hutchins's One Dark Night. A violent thunderstorm is on the horizon, and as it approaches Jonathan sees a mother cat carrying a kitten. He lets the pair come inside, but the mother cat dashes outside again after depositing the kitten in the house. By the time the storm hits, two kittens are already inside, and Jonathan helps the mother cat carry her last baby to safety. Some critics particularly liked the way Hartung contrasts the growing menace of the storm with the interior of Jonathan's bright, comfortable home. A Horn Book reviewer, noting the "elemental power and high drama" of the story, observed that "art and text ably capture the atmosphere of a summer storm." In School Library Journal, Shara Alpern wrote: "The heart of this story is its illustrations." Alpern went on to describe One Dark Night as a "wonderful read-aloud."
One Leaf Rides the Wind: Counting in a Japanese Garden, by Celeste Davidon Mannis, uses haiku and images from a Japanese Garden to teach counting concepts. At the book's end, young readers are encouraged to find the items they have counted hiding in a double-page spread. Marilyn Taniguchi in School Library Journal found the book "elegantly and respectfully presented," particularly through Hartung's "pleasing and evocative pen-and-ink and watercolor art."
Some years ago Hartung returned to rural Michigan to live in an old farmhouse. When she takes a break from her illustration work, she often visits schools to talk to children about a career in the arts.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, November 15, 1999, Lauren Peterson, review of Dear Juno, p. 636; May 15, 2001, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of One Dark Night, p. 1758.
Horn Book, July, 2001, review of One Dark Night, p. 440.
Publishers Weekly, October 25, 1999, review of Dear Juno, p. 79.
School Library Journal, June, 2001, Shara Alpern, review of One Dark Night, p. 118; October, 2002, Marilyn Taniguchi, review of One Leaf Rides the Wind: Counting in a Japanese Garden, p. 149.
Susan Kathleen Hartung Home Page, http://www.susanhartung.com/. (June 8, 2004).*