Susan Middleton Elya

Susan Middleton Elya grew up in Iowa, started writing stories at age seven, traveled to Mexico City in high school, earned a dual degree in Spanish and elementary education at Iowa State University, student-taught in Venezuela, saw Machu Picchu when she was twenty-one years old, studied in Spain, taught ten years of public school, started the Spanish program and wrote the curriculum at Lewis Central Middle School in Council Bluffs, Iowa, earned a master’s degree in Linguistics from the University at Nebraska at Omaha, got married, and moved to California. 

When Ms. Elya’s oldest child said, “Teach me Spanish, Mom,” that request sparked a book called Say Hola to Spanish. Twenty-four years later, Susan is still writing rhyming picture books in Spanish and English.

Some of Susan’s best known titles are Home at Last; Oh No, Gotta Go; Bebé Goes Shopping; Fire, Fuego, Brave Bomberos; Rubia and the Three Osos, Little Roja Riding Hood; La Madre Goose; and La Princesa and the Pea.

The mother of three grown children, Ms. Elya lives in Northern California with her dog, Pepper, and other family members.

Book Reviews by Susan Middleton Elya

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“Sometimes the simplest stories are the best.”

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“This book could’ve easily run twice as many pages in length. It is a Famous Person reporter’s dream and should be in every classroom.”

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Who doesn’t know Dr. Seuss and his most famous children’s book titles, Green Eggs and Ham, and The Cat in the Hat?

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“Even with (or because of) the poop jokes, Tony T-Rex’s Family Album: A History of Dinosaurs is a keeper.”

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Andrea Antinori has written a complete book about every kind of whale out there. Did you know that dolphins belong to the whale family?

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“Stay, Benson! might be the perfect picture book.”

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Coco Chanel was an orphan who grew up in a convent in the French countryside. The nuns taught her how to sew. She didn’t like having to brush her hair with one hundred strokes a day.

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“This book can be read over and over, because there is always something new to see in the art, and the puns are so punny. . . .

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“Dress Like a Girl is an empowerment book.”

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The Little Green Hen is a twist on a classic story, The Little Red Hen. In Murray’s version, the hen is good at caring for an apple tree.

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The picture book Pencil: A Story with a Point, is a book about a pencil with feelings, and a tablet with a mouth, and junk drawer filled with inanimate things with good ideas and silly pun

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At first glance, Why Can’t I Feel the Earth Spinning? seems to be a book of random and interesting STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) facts.

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“Duck and Hippo: The Secret Valentine is a happy story of friendship, perfect for circle time at preschool or one-on-one time in a parent’s or grandparent’s lap.”

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Woke Baby is a book of for the times. “Woke Baby, up before the sun smiles, eyes open./” The illustrated baby of color has two clenched fists and on eye open, one closed.

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Ocean: A Visual Miscellany is a large book, surprisingly done in black and blue ink only, not what one thinks of when thinking of a book about some of the most colorful scenery on Earth.

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Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World, is a book about 37 (plus 18) women and their contributions to art, science, and math.

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P is for Pterodactyl is an alphabet book about words with silent first letters.

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This spooky book by Kate Coombs has 17 poems. It is creepy from beginning to end. The art is dark with lots of black, brown, olive green, orange, and pops of red and white.

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Mr. Snore checks into the Sharemore Hotel, and the bellhop shows him to room 104. When he gets ready to go to sleep, he hears a squeaking mouse on his pillow. Mr.

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This tiny book is packed with fun facts about Charles Darwin, one of the most famous scientists of all times.

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The Book that Jake Borrowed, written and illustrated by a children’s librarian, starts out as a spin on The House that Jack Built.  “/This is Jake./”

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This beautiful book has a simple message about the animals of the earth, sky, and sea: that they be happy, safe, well fed, and have companionship.

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A chaos of color is what you will find in The Great Grammar Book.

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“Walls is a book for our time as a divided nation. . . . Sometimes the simplest books have the most to say.”

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This colorful book, The Crocodile and the Dentist, has only 128 words in it, and many of them are repeated. First the crocodile says he is afraid. Then the dentist repeats it.

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Gary Bogue was a household name in the Bay Area for many years with his daily column about wildlife in the Contra Costa Times.

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This gorgeous book has two owls on the cover and six sections in the table of contents. The book is made up of pairs that are similar but not the same.

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The London author Michael Rosen has been the poet laureate of the UK. He knows poetry. What is Poetry?

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The intriguing title got this reviewer’s attention. The protagonist is a T. rex named Penelope, and it’s her first day of school. Penelope is nervous about going.

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“Seven Bad Cats will become a bedtime favorite for its short jaunty story and its charming art.”

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Pink Is for Boys by Robb Pearlman is a delight.

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An online dictionary says that a poem is a piece of writing that partakes of the nature of both speech and song that is nearly always rhythmical, usually metaphorical, and often exhibits such Susan

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Along the lines of the musicals Jersey Boys (Franky Valli and the Four Seasons) and Beautiful (Carol King), the dual biography When Paul Met Artie tells the story of the

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I Am Enough starts out with beautiful art and rhyming poetic stanzas.

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How can a book with only 112 words be so satisfying?

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Margot Lee Shetterly uses the repeating phrase, “really good” throughout this true story of four women working for NASA in the 1940s and beyond.

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Chronicle likes to push the envelope, and in this case, it is covered with hearts—or maybe not. The point of the book is that a stereotypical Valentine is not what the author wants to deliver.

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“Clever . . . a nice addition in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade classrooms or on a child’s bedroom bookshelf.”

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Kudos to Candlewick for doing a sick-kid book. There can’t be too many out there, and what sick child wouldn’t want to go to an alien world to forget about how badly he or she feels?

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“William’s Winter Nap is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers learning to share.”