Susan Campbell Bartoletti is the author of picture books, novels, and nonfiction for children, including the Newbery Honor book Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow, the Sibert Medal-winning Black Potatoes, and Dear America: A Coal Miner's Bride. Her work has received dozens of awards and honors, including the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Nonfiction, the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for Nonfiction, and the Jane Addams Children's Book Award.
With her most recent novel, The Boy Who Dared, Susan has taken one episode from Hitler Youth, and fleshed it out into thought-provoking novel. It is based on the true story of Helmuth Hübener, a heroic German youth who dared to stand up against the Nazis.
While conducting research for Hitler Youth, she interviewed Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, the only survivor of the Helmuth Hübener Resistance group. "I interviewed him in Germany over the course of several days," Susan explained in a 2006 Booklist interview. "He vividly recalled the details of the Nazi's rise to power, his school days, his brief interlude in the Hitler Youth, his friendship with Helmuth Hübener, their arrest, and Karl's years in a German concentration camp and in a Russian prisoner-of-war camp. Karl became emotional several times during our interview, when he spoke of his parents and the pain he caused them, when he spoke about Helmuth's trial, and when he kept the promise not to pass on blame - a promise that in all likelihood saved Karl's life"
Before becoming a writer, Susan taught eighth grade for eighteen years. "It seems funny now," says Susan. "I never intended to teach, but kids are easy to get hooked on—even junior high kids." Her students were writers. "They wrote poems, stories, and essays. They researched, wrote, and illustrated their own nonfiction picture books," states Susan. "I felt immense satisfaction in watching my students grow as writers. I wanted to practice what I preached, so I joined a writers group and got serious about my own writing."
She sold her first short story in 1989 and her first picture book in 1992. For the next several years, she got up at 4 a.m., in order to have time to work on her novels and nonfiction books before she left for school. "By 1997 I knew the time had come for a difficult decision: either teach full-time or write full-time," says Susan. "I already had one career that I loved - teaching. Was it time for another? Could I make it as a full-time writer?"
Susan Campbell Bartoletti lives with her family in Moscow, Pennsylvania. For more information, please visit www.scbartoletti.com.