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Finding Susie

Finding Susie

4.6 3
by Sandra Day O'Connor, Tom Pohrt (Illustrator)

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A “perfect pet” story from Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Sandra is growing up on a desert ranch surrounded by animals, but she wants one to have her very own pet. A tortoise isn’t really friendly, a little rabbit is too fearful, and a young coyote howls to rejoin his pack. A bobcat almost fits the bill, but soon grows too big and


A “perfect pet” story from Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Sandra is growing up on a desert ranch surrounded by animals, but she wants one to have her very own pet. A tortoise isn’t really friendly, a little rabbit is too fearful, and a young coyote howls to rejoin his pack. A bobcat almost fits the bill, but soon grows too big and fierce to be a housecat. Sandra’s parents let her learn for herself that these animals are best suited to the wild, though it is often hard to let them go. Finally, a smiley little stray dog finds Sandra. Sandra names the dog Susie, and the two become wonderful friends.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Review, The New York Times Book Review, August 16, 2009:
Julie Just
The former Supreme Court justice bases her engaging second book for children on her memories of growing up on a desert ranch where the heat waves sparkled "like ripples on a lake."
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

"I wonder if this will be the year Mother and Dad will let me have a pet," young Sandra thinks wistfully in the opening scene of this warm picture book by the former Supreme Court justice. With her parents' permission, the bright-eyed, curly-haired tomboy brings home several animals foound near their ranch (including a lost baby bobcat and an injured coyote that she names Slim Pickins and nurses back to health), releasing each in turn after acknowledging that it belongs in the wild. The straightforward, relatively lengthy text eloquently conveys the girl's concern for the animals as well as her longing for a pet that will reciprocate her affection. This she finds in a friendly stray dog, Susie, who turns out to be the perfect pet. O'Connor's narrative, based on her own southwestern childhood, incorporates tidbits about the habits and habitats of the species Sandra cares for, which helps bring the story's setting to life, as do Pohrt's (Crow and Weasel) simple yet evocative watercolors. Using a tawny palette, Pohrt offers realistic portrayals of the expansive scrubby terrain and sky, and of the humans and animals alike. Endpapers featuring photographs of a young O'Connor on her ranch (as well as Bob the bobcat, Susie and some of her other pets) lend this already personal story additional depth. Ages 4-8. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
As a child, I read biography after biography of famous leaders. I was particularly engaged by the chapters about their childhoods. I liked to think that they had been children just like me, dealing with some of the same challenges I faced. After all, if they were like me then I could grow to be like them and that seemed pretty great. Many child readers of this book will find that Sandra Day O'Connor was a child very much like their own—keenly wanting a pet of her own and lobbying her parents to make that happen. Growing up on a cattle ranch in the desert, Sandra had little companionship. Her parents were resistant to the idea of a house pet, so the future Supreme Court justice tried to make do with whatever was at hand. Unfortunately, a tortoise, a rabbit, a coyote, and a bobcat do not make very good pets. But what does? It is a shame that the cover of this book gives the end away. Readers are encouraged not to the miss the book's end papers, which reproduce several family photos from Sandra Day O'Connor's childhood. The author's bio on the book jacket explains what is fact and what is fiction in this account. Recommended for school and public libraries. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3

Sandra lives on a ranch and yearns for a pet to keep her company. Her understanding parents allow her to care for various wild creatures of the desert that need her help, including a tortoise, a wild rabbit, an injured coyote, and, finally, an orphaned baby bobcat. As she feeds and cares for each one, Sandra slowly realizes that it will be happier in its natural habitat and reluctantly releases it into the wild. Then the town grocer comes up with a good solution-a small, white, stray dog with a curly tail that needs a home. O'Connor's story is somewhat autobiographical, and the endpapers display actual photos of her, Susie, and the ranch where she lived as a child. Pohrt's realistic-looking watercolor illustrations of the Southwest are well done, although Sandra does not look much older at the end, when at least two years have passed in her search for a pet. However, the theme is a good one, with its emphasis on the fact that wild animals thrive best in the wild, and the story is well told.-Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA

Kirkus Reviews
The retired Supreme Court justice recounts her experiences with childhood pets in this overlong story that will not hold the interest of most children. Young Sandra is an only child living on a Southwestern ranch with her parents and their ranch hands. Though Sandra has her own horse, she wants a smaller pet that she can care for and play with. Over a two-year time frame, she cycles through various wild animals that she tries to keep as pets (a tortoise, a cottontail rabbit, a young coyote and a baby bobcat), reluctantly letting her acquisitions return to the wild as each proves to be an unsuitable pet. A local storeowner finally gives Sandra a stray dog named Susie, who satisfies the child's longing for a cuddly companion. The story is written in a detached, old-fashioned style, with little emotion-or even motion itself-conveyed in either the text or Pohrt's illustrations. Life on a cattle ranch in the Depression must have been adventurous, but this interpretation lacks much excitement or novelty. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

As a child, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor got to know a wide variety of the wild, indigenous animals that surrounded her desert ranch home. Finding Susie is a composite of her own and her siblings’ experiences. She currently lives in Arizona.

Tom Pohrt’s illustrations have appeared on the cover of The New Yorker, as well as in many acclaimed picture books, including the bestselling Crow and Weasel, written by Barry Lopez. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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Finding Susie 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
JSterling More than 1 year ago
A first children's book by our first female Supreme Court Justice: Sandra Day O'Connor. A real pioneer woman and strong, kind cowgirl, Mrs. O'Connor has already written her fascinating autobiography. Now she presents us with her first children's book; "Finding Susie," based on actual episodes in her childhood. She grew up on a desert cattle ranch, situated between the Arizona and New Mexico borders. Surrounded by all sorts of wild animals; a pet turtle named Hercules, a rabbit named Daisy, even a little bobcat named Bob. This story centers, primarily, around a darling, smiling little dog, named Susie, who became Sandra's most cherished animal friend. The magnificent, tender-hearted, watercolor illustrations by famous children's book illustrator/author, Tom Pohrt ("Crow and Weasel"... "Wish You Were Here..." Coyote Goes Walking"..."Genies, Meanies and Magic Rings~Three Tales From The Arabian Nights,) are nothing less than breath taking and truly enhance and brings this story to life. Triple Dawg dare you to read ~ then find yourself re-reading "Finding Susie." Betting you and family will find this endearing short story LONG on true delight. ****** J. Sterling
bp0602 More than 1 year ago
Finding Susie is an enjoyable book about former Supreme Court justice Sandra's days growing up on a desert cattle ranch. She's asked for a pet for a long time. Living out in the ranch she's tried to keep various animals, like a turtle, rabbit, coyote, and bobcat, or nurse injured ones back to health. The animals are always glad to return to their homes though and don't ever seem to really like Sandra that much. Will she ever have a pet of her own? Children in elementary grades will enjoy this book. I enjoyed reading this story and recommend it for the elementary school library. The illustrations are nice as well as the inside cover that has copies of photographs of Sandra's life.
Rufus8792 More than 1 year ago
This is a great book for a lawyer who admires Sandra Day O'Connor and has a young child. It teaches good lessons and lets you know a bit more about a good Justist.