KAREN RECZUCH Illustration

2012 Winner of the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award!

I could hardly believe it - we won! I finally met my wonderful author, Susan Vande Griek, who flew all the way from Halifax for the presentation. We met at Parkdale Public School in Toronto, where there were cupcakes and drummers and some very enthusiastic jurors. A lovely afternoon, celebrated further with cake and champagne at Anansi/Groundwood. 

More about the award here.


Loon Makes the Shortlist!

Wow! Loon has been shortlisted for the Ruth Schwartz award! This is a very cool prize, because it's actually the kids who get to choose the winner. I'm in competition with some great company, too. For more information, check out this link to the Ontario Arts Council announcement:




This review by the University of Toronto Bookstore almost made me blush! I was lucky enough to meet the writer at The Word on the Street in Toronto.



Written by Susan Vande Griek

Pictures by Karen Reczuch

A Groundwood Book



When I first moved to Canada from California I remember a lot of people being surprised that I had seen snow before or that I already knew how to ski. But one of the most amazing things I had never seen before was the Loon. Going to my very first Canadian cottage and seeing a still lake with a single loon in the middle of the water was an experience I will never forget.

Equally unforgettable is this book. Loon written by Susan Vande Griek with beautiful pictures by Karen Reczuch is a book that both kids and parents will enjoy. The pictures are just unbelievably gorgeous and lush. Each page resembles expensive fine art that is probably found in most Canadian dignitary’s homes. The story is equally impressive and chronicles the life of a loon from chick to adult.

The text flows nicely from page to page with a melodic tempo that resembles poetry. And at the end of the story the more mature reader can read up on their favorite bird with A Note on the Common Loon. Another detailed feature in this book, are the other animals featured throughout the book like the Moose, Raccoon, and various other birds. This book celebrates the Canadian outdoors and without being too preachy proposes ways for the reader to help maintain a healthy habitat for these creatures.

Karen Reczuch who is known for her work in numerous children’s books showcases her talents in this book. Karen is part of the Williams Mill, a not-for-profit corporation with a mandate to promote the visual arts in and around Halton Hills, Ontario.


Yet another great review of the book in the Globe and Mail, Saturday August 27th:




By Susan Vande Griek, illustrated by Karen Reczuch, Groundwood, 48 pages, $18.95, ages 4 to 7


The common loon, ruby-red-eyed and "checkered, striped, spotted/ white and black," is an inhabitant of Canadian lakes, as iconic as the canoe and white pine in the collective northern imagination. Its haunting calls are a quintessential summer sound in these parts.


By early fall, though, these gorgeous creatures morph, like Cinderella, into dowdy, grey winter plumage and head for saltwater wherever they can find it. They leave behind the chicks they've hatched and reared over the summer months. The chicks will master the fine art of flying on their own for the next month or so before they too head to the ocean to spend the first three years of their lives.


These are but a few of the intriguing facts of loon life that are enfolded into Susan Vande Griek's and Karen Reczuch's tale of two chicks. In poetic prose that might belie the science here the author begins at the chicks' beginning - as eggs hatching in "the spoon of the waterweed-and-mud nest" - and on through their early life, much of it spent hitching rides on their parents' backs, evading their predators, the large-mouth bass and turtle whose shadowy shapes lurk just beneath them in the water.


Loons learning how to dive for food and their first clumsy attempts at flight are rites of passage captured in prose and, as well, in Reczuch's stunning double-page paintings. The paintings of the birds in their habitat - as well as moose, beaver, raccoon and other birds that share that habitat - are executed in acrylics on canvas. The rough texture of the canvas, visible through the paint, seems to supply the grit that ensures that these beauteous creatures are seen by us as quite real, and not mere clichéd figments of our imagination.




Fantastic review of the latest book, Loon in the Toronto Star, Sunday, August 14.

A powerful, so-Canadian beauty suffuses Karen Reczuch’s illustrations of Susan Vande Griek’s Loon (Groundwood, 32 pages, $18.95, ages 4 to 7) — a poetic description of two baby loons hatching, growing and finally maturing to adults ready to start their own families.

The downy chicks hatch in June and after only one day take to the water — or to their parents’ backs, where they are snug for their first days on the lake. The chicks learn by mimicking their parents — their mama as she dives for fish, their papa as he preens and oils his feathers. Their down gives way to adolescent feathers, and those to the distinctive black and white plumage of the mature loon. Parents migrate and the young stay behind, only later finding their way over the scarlet trees and low hills of Ontario onward to the sea and a winter resting place.

This is a bird book and an art book, its wealth of facts offered up in the musical, almost rhyming, quietly repeating rhythms of Vande Griek’s text. It works by accumulating statements rather than suspense, each sentence drawing us deeper into the loons’ world. Like Jane Yolen’s classic Owl Moon, it presents the mysterious, wild, natural world as a place to observe and wonder.

Reczuch’s full-page acrylic paintings heighten and deepen that sense of the wild, with their scenic, bird’s-eye vistas — whether over blue-misted lakes or underwater, where bass and snapping turtle drift by with predatory menace, almost lost in the green depths. For those who have observed loons on the northern lakes or heard their night-time arias from the starry darkness of the wilderness, Vande Griek’s and Reczuch’s work offers an intimate portrait.

See the whole article here: http://www.thestar.com/news/books/article/1038700--small-print-animal-friends