Leda Schubert * Writer and Teacher

Actual current photo (editor's note: not any more. I am sparing you a newer one). Notice portrait of Winnie (partial view) behind me. (My hair is grayer, longer, slightly weird, and some other things. Plus I have lost one of those earrings.)

Here is teeny me signing in Texas in April for the Bluebonnet list. I flew there! On a plane! I had fun! (It is possible that I hate to fly.)

Older photo. Better.

The anti-author photo: Mary Azarian, illustrator of HERE COMES DARRELL, and I pose with excavator. Try using a magnifying glass. Photo by Bob Rosenfeld.

Darrell Farnham, the inspiration for HERE COMES DARRELL, digs a pond with his excavator.

Welcome to my web site, where recently I seem to be overdoing the exclamation points. A temporary aberration, I'm sure.

NEWS! Coming sometime soon: a picture book biography of Pete Seeger. From Neal Porter Books, to be illustrated by the amazing Raul Colon. VERY EXCITED!!!!

How nice that you have managed to find the virtual me. Please hit a lot of buttons and explore, look at dog photos and other assorted photographs, and CHECK OUT MY BOOKS by clicking on the right-hand side of the page. I update the pages fairly often.

It is not easy to put up all these pages that are full of information about me and my books for children when I'd rather talk about you, but I do it anyway.

I live in Plainfield, Vermont, the center of the universe, where 1200 other souls and I enjoy our used bookstore, the cafe at Plainfield Hardware, a gas station-convenience store, the original Positive Pie, our beloved food coop, the Cutler Memorial Library, and the glorious Green Mountains. I've been here a long time and the traffic is getting much worse, the winters are long, and the blackflies are terrible. I tell you this to discourage you from moving here. (Underneath my hostile exterior, however, I am a very nice person.)

I write books for children and do a lot of other stuff. A good bit has to do with letting dogs in and out, but I also play music (traditional, country blues, etc.) and attempt to learn watercolor.

"A stunning achievement." *in Kirkus. *in SLJ!

To read reviews and see more about MONSIEUR MARCEAU, click on the title on the right-hand side.

"A stunning achievement." Kirkus, starred; also a Best Book of the Year
Starred in Booklist Magazine.
"Superb picture book biography." SLJ, starred
" Schubert knows just how to write for this audience." Horn Book
"Schubert gives depth and compassion to a performer..." PW
A Tablet Magazine Best Picture Book

And also there is an article published by my home-town paper, The Times-Argus, which seems to be about me. Since it's not available to nonsubscribers, I will paste it in at the very bottom of this page and hope I don't annoy too many people.


From The New York Times Book Review, Sunday, November 13:

"When most girls contemplate princesshood, borscht probably isn’t their realm of choice. But when ­Ruthie’s grandmother, hospitalized with pneumonia, asks Ruthie to make her a batch from her “secret recipe,” mastering a soup made out of beets suddenly feels somewhat desirable. Schubert (“Ballet of the Elephants”) turns the story of a sick relative, not a particularly cheery topic, into a sweet and salty tale, warmed by Christensen’s lively sketches, about bickering Jewish neighbors and intergenerational caregiving."


Holiday House. Image c. Amanda Haley. August, 2011


"The joy of learning to read and write is the exciting story in this lively
picture book with large, sweet, colorful, cartoon-style illustrations that show preschooler Lucy having fun with her parents and her mischievous dog, Peanut...

Young children will enjoy returning to this warm, humorous offering again and again."


"Learning to read can be an adventure, as this determined little girl and her pup demonstrate...

The appealing character, lively pictures and mild suspense make for a warm family story that shows the fun of having a pet and provides a strategy for learning to read that youngsters will eagerly embrace. A strong choice for school or home reading."

Feeding the Sheep: FSG, March, 2010.

From KIRKUS REVIEWS"... U’Ren’s action-filled, brightly colored double-page spreads convey physical exertion and concentration as well as joy and satisfaction.There is a strong sense of depth and detail, and, in a subtle touch, the little girl’s play mirrors her mother’s work.The collaboration of text and illustration is seamless and presents a complex operation in a manner completely accessible and understandable to young readers. Lovely." 1/​15/​2010

From SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: "...Its approach is unique, showing the loving relationship between a mother and her daughter through the seasons as the animals are fed and sheared; the wool is cleaned, carded, spun, and dyed; and a sweater is knitted. Schubert’s musical text has a predictable, soothing structure: “‘What are you doing?’ the little girl asked. ‘Feeding the sheep,’ her mother said. Snowy day, corn and hay. ‘What are you doing?’ the little girl asked. ‘Shearing the wool,’ her mother said. Soft and deep, sheepy heap.” ...Feeding the Sheep will teach and entertain the very young, and they’ll be examining their sweaters with greater appreciation." 3/​1/​2010

From BOOKLIST: "The physicality of the words, the fascinating facts, and the action-filled, brightly colored illustrations will capture kids' attention, as will the cozy bond between parent and child, working together and caring for their free-range animals."

I practice arabesques at about age four or five. I always wanted to be a ballet dancer. Don't I look exactly like the dancers below? By the way, I still love striped t-shirts.

Roaring Brook Press, 2006. The amazing true story of a ballet choreographed by George Balanchine for fifty elephants.

Houghton Mifflin, Fall, 2005. Cover image c. Mary Azarian. Throughout the seasons in northern Vermont, Darrell helps his neighbors, never finding time to fix his own barn. When a windstorm passes through town, he finds his kindness to his neighbors returned. Caldecott Medal winner Mary Azarian knows Darrell's Vermont world well, but this is the first time she's put a backhoe in a book.

Article published Feb 14, 2013; Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus
Plainfield author’s book honored
By Kathryn Eddy
PLAINFIELD — Ushering children into the world of reading has been a lifelong passion for Leda Schubert. Her new book “Monsieur Marceau: Actor Without Words” has just received the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children.

“They called me up and said, ‘You just won the award.’ I was flabbergasted. I never thought it was a possibility. I knew about it, but it just wasn’t on my radar,” she says.

Though Schubert, 67, didn’t expect to write the book, she became fascinated by Marceau’s story after her agent asked her if she might consider writing about the mime. Not knowing much about Marceau, Schubert dove into researching; she bought playbills off eBay, read innumerable books, went through the New York Times archives to read reviews of his performances and read every interview with Marceau that she could get her hands on.

“I just went on and on and on, because I wanted to distill all this information into a very simple framework,” she says.

Schubert has not always been a children’s book author, despite the dream of wanting to do just that, but books have been central to her life and work. She spent 17 years at the Vermont Department of Education as a school and public library consultant, reviewing and recommending books to the librarians, which she says is a service no other state can provide. She was also the children’s librarian at Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier.

“I was reading everything, and seeing everything and just thinking, ‘I don’t know if I will ever be able to do this, but this is really still what I want to do,’” says Schubert.

After a lot of rejection, her first book was published in 2000, a beginning reader series that featured her beloved dog, Winnie.

“They’re still my favorites,” she says.

Shortly after, she enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts in children’s writing program at Vermont College, originally just to check it out for one semester, as she already had a master’s degree in teaching from Harvard.

“I was there for five minutes and decided to go for the degree. I was immersed in that for two years, during which time my second book was published,” she says.

Upon her graduation from the program, the college asked her to join the faculty, but she says there was a period of time before she started teaching when the true test of what she had to offer the world of children’s literature occurred.

“You’re on your own, and it’s very frightening. You’re used to sending in packets and getting a lot of feedback and having a support team and all of a sudden it’s gone. You have to have a lot of discipline,” she says.

She did. Along with the discipline, inspiration struck while flossing her teeth in front of the television.

“I owe this all to my periodontist, who insisted that I floss. There was a documentary on George Balanchine and it said he choreographed a ballet for elephants, and I said, ‘What?’ It turned out to be a dream project.”

Her first nonfiction book, “Ballet of the Elephants,” came out in 2006 and tells the story of Balanchine and the circus and how it happened that a ballet for elephants was created. Three more books followed, but the process for “Monsieur Marceau” echoed the serendipity of “Ballet of the Elephants.”

“About halfway through writing, I remembered that when I went to college I took mime. I had almost forgotten it, and then I started thinking that there’s definitely a connection, just as there was with ‘Elephants,’” she says. Schubert had dedicated that book to her parents, among others, who had first taken her to the ballet and the circus.

“I read the dedication at a school reading and started to cry in front of all of these kids, because I realized that this book was an homage to my parents and their interest in the arts. You just don’t know — you don’t know where this stuff is coming from, it’s all so inaccessible. It’s fascinating,” she adds.

The Orbis Pictus Award is named for Johannes Amos Comenius, who wrote “Orbis Pictus (The World in Pictures)” in 1657; it is considered to be the first book expressly for children. Each year the National Council of Teachers of English singles out one book and up to five honor books for excellence in children’s nonfiction. Schubert’s “Monsieur Marceau” is this year’s distinguished title.

“It’s quite an honor, and I am thrilled,” says Schubert. She will attend the award luncheon in Boston in November.

As for what’s next for Schubert, she says she hasn’t decided yet. On leave from Vermont College of Fine Arts this semester, she is working on several projects but hasn’t lined anything up for publication.

“Life is getting shorter all the time,” she says. “But I do love writing. When I see a child respond to a book it’s just the best thing in the world.”

“Monsieur Marceau: Actor Without Words” is available at local bookstores and online. For more information on Schubert visit her website, www.ledaschubert.com.

All website material copyright Leda Schubert, the publishers, or the artists.

Now Available or Coming Soon
(Click on each title for complete information.)

Coming at some point from Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press.
New: Click for a pdf discussion and activities guide. (Look on left of page after clicking.)
Illustrated by Bonnie Christensen and published by Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press. Fall, 2011.
Holiday House, Fall 2011. Illustrated by Amanda Haley
Illustrated by Andrea U'Ren and published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. March, 2010.
A nonfiction picture book illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker. Roaring Brook Press, 2006
Illustrated by Mary Azarian, published by Houghton Mifflin 2005
Illustrated by William Benedict. Candlewick, 2000.
Serial Novel for the Boston Globe's Newspapers in Education