Thank you! Thank you for making my books come alive.
When I finish a new book, I type the final copy of the text and pack up the pile of paintings. I am happy to send it on its way, but I am also a little sad because the studio feels empty, as though a good friend has left. My bundle of pictures and words often travels all the way to China to be printed. Then the books sail back on a ship to the U.S. to be sold to schools and bookstores and libraries. This can take a year.
Meanwhile, I miss that book: the smell of the sheets of watercolor paper, the art I developed from rough sketches with carefully floated paint and gently stroked lines, the costumes, houses, and plants I imagined and researched. I miss seeing the animals and people I've drawn in many poses and moods, and I miss hearing in my head the characters' voices and the rhythm of the story lines.
Then it happens. My printed and bound book reaches its first readers. A review by a librarian or teacher or critic appears in a magazine. She liked the colors in the art! She thought the punch line was funny! My book has made a friend. Soon, young readers share the book. I go to their school and they tell me what they think. "Why was the leprechaun grumpy?" they ask, and "Where did Momotaro's animal friends get their clothes?" "We have a principal just like the one in Jeremy Bean." Others write me letters. That story and those people and animals who used to exist only in my head are now part of my readers' world, too. I no longer miss my book. It has found its own life. Thank you, readers.
I was an only child. My mother worked in an office when I was a kid. As you might guess, I loved to read and draw when I was home alone, just like all writers and illustrators, who work long hours by themselves. When I was nine years old, I read Kate Seredy's book, The Chestry Oak, and studied her soft, mysterious black and white drawings. They fit perfectly and expanded what I'd visualized as I'd read her story. It seemed like magic - a magic I wanted to learn to perform.
Other illustrators' work still fascinates me. I look at many picture books and visit art galleries and museums to study what other artists are thinking and seeing. Recently I taught children's book illustration at Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. It was exciting to be surrounded by people who love to draw and imagine.
Through the window of my studio at home, I can see a mangrove island. A large white egret I call Petunia often stalks the insects in the hibiscus bushes outside and a great blue heron sometimes stares in at me. Once I saw a fat manatee in the shallow water near the mangrove! Inside, my two cats, skinny Lily and fat Mollie, keep me company while I draw and paint and listen to the characters in new book projects which I hope new readers will someday help bring to life.
Linda Shute grew up in Miami, and has lived several places in Florida, as well as in California, Alabama, and the Washington, D.C. area. She and her husband now reside on Florida's Gulf coast. She received her degree in art from Florida State University.
Please look for out-of-print titles in libraries.
Rabbit Wishes, A Cuban Folktale
"'In the beginning, according to this bit of African-Cuban folklore ...Uncle Rabbit had 'short shapely ears.' How they grew to their current length makes for a merry tale, with Shute's humorous recounting liberally spiced with Spanish words and phrases...To create her droll illustrations (featuring a particularly personable animal cast), Shute dips her brush into the hot tropical palette of her native Miami. Notes on the story's background and a Spanish vocabulary list are included." Publishers Weekly
"Neighborhood ghouls and goblins get down at the 'spooky, scary once-a-year' Halloween party in Shute's toe-tapping picture book...Shute's zippy rhyming verse spurs young revelers on...and the comical finale adds extra zest to the proceedings." Publishers Weekly.
How I Named the Baby
"A new gambit in the waiting-for-baby game: After James volunteers to help think of the perfect name, he and his family discuss and negotiate a typical - and amusing - array of suggestions... 'fine old family names'. Biblical names, ...names suggested by the passing seasons - all get due consideration in Shute's comfortably believable dialogue...The amiably realistic illustrations make this a book about the seasons as well. Lists of "favorite" names, and their meanings, from seven countries." Kirkus
"...Catching a leprechaun who tells him where to dig for gold in return for his freedom, Tom leaves a marker while he goes for a shovel; but the leprechaun tricks him....Shute's retelling is lively and accessible, while staying commendably close to the rather difficult original; her illustrations, full of vigor and humor, are bold enough to be suitable for use with a group. Source notes are interesting and unusually complete. An excellent choice for reading aloud." Kirkus
Momotaro, the Peach Boy, A Traditional Japanese Tale
"...a boy child mysteriously born from a giant peach is lovingly raised by a childless couple...Setting out to fight the wicked oni...he encounters three helpers - a dog, a monkey, and a pheasant... In this attractive retelling Linda Shute has combined a smoothly flowing text with bright, humorous illustrations. She uses figures based on Japanese scrolls of the medieval period and authentic details of costume and armor. Japanese terms and background information are explained in interesting source notes at the end of the appealing book " Horn Book
The Magic Fort
Kevin faces remorse when little brother, in his charge, breaks his arm.
Patty Jean envies her older sister who seems to rule their world from her wheelchair.
We Adopted You, Benjamin Koo
Ben tells us his story of foreign adoption and family love.
Jeremy Bean's St. Patrick's Day
When Jeremy forgets to wear green on St. Patrick's Day, the principal he feared helps him out.
A Smooth Move
Gus keeps a journal of his family's not-so-smooth move from Oregon to Washington, D.C.
Katy's First Haircut
Katy is proud of her long hair, but decides it is too much trouble. She acts - then faces the change.
The Other Emily
When Emily starts school, she discovers another Emily!
At This Very Minute
Out of print. Order paperback through Shute, $3.00. At bedtime, a small girl imagines what's happening all over the world "at this very minute."