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Sue deGennaro

Author, Illustrator, Online - Virtual Visits

Sue deGennaro is an author and an illustrator. She has illustrated 20 picture books, and is the author and illustrator of The Pros and Cons of Being A Frog (shortlist for the CBCA 2013 Early Childhood Prize), Eddie Frogbert and her newest picture book Missing Marvin released May 2018. Sue’s illustrations are quirky and infectiously funny. Sue has worked in many careers (including confectionery, circuses and home renovations!), and now (between making books) she often teaches writing & illustration.

To watch the book trailer for Sue’s charming picture book, Missing Marvin, please click here.

What other jobs have you had?

I spent 10 years in the circus as an aerialist. I worked in an all women’s flying trapeze troupe and lived in the back of my car for a year. I have worked in a zillion cafes, been an artist model, a rigger, a removalist, a street performer and a lolly girl in a lolly shop. I have helped renovate a house, I have washed windows and my first job was filling peoples cars with petrol. The dullest job I ever had was demonstrating and trying to sell an ‘automatic needle threader’, as you can probably tell it wasn’t a great success. But right now I am teaching workshops at Artplay for children and teaching book illustration at NMIT in the evenings for adults.

What have been the highlights of your career?

Getting the chance to work with Jackie French. Now that I have her email address I ask her dumb gardening questions all the time. Oh and a flash morning tea with Harper Collins where they had the most magnificent scones I have ever seen, huge with jam and cream, but I was so nervous before my presentation that I couldn’t eat one, clearly I still regret it.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about ethics, about talking the truth and demystifying the constructs that suck us into our culture. I’m passionate about women and their power, their education and autonomy.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

The only award I have received to date was in grade 5. I got a trophy for ‘best and fairest’ for netball.


What a fabulous session Sue provided for our students! Our school was buzzing afterwards, as students thought about all the possibilities Sue opened for them. She was engaging and had the students totally captivated, even in virtual mode. Seeing her studio, hearing her talk about the process she uses to produce a book was great. The session was well paced and the instructions were simple and clear. Every student produced amazing drawings. One student commented to me as he left the session that he never thought he could draw but now he felt he could. What a wonderful gift to a child – to suddenly think that you can. Thank you, Sue.

—M. Tindall, Holy Name Primary School, 2022

I would highly recommend to any school looking to have a visit from an author/illustrator to have the wonderful Sue DeGennaro come out to work with the students. We had the privilege of having Sue come out to celebrate our Book Week Day with us where she worked with students from Prep to Year 6 throughout the day. Teachers were amazing at how Sue kept close to 100 students engaged and in awe for the whole 60 minutes during her session. Students thoroughly enjoyed learning from Sue and being able to draw like a real illustrator. The feedback from teachers and students was amazing and we would love to have Sue work with us again.

—M. Warby, St Oliver Plunkett Primary School, 2022

Sue DeGennaro was one of the best author/illustrator visits I have ever had the privilege of seeing. Keeping students engaged while presenting online is no easy task but Sue had all the classes engrossed for the full 60 minutes. I really appreciated how Sue read the students one of her books and then took them on a journey of how the book grew and developed. Sue especially noted the visual literacy links between the text and illustrations, explaining how the pictures are just as important as the words when telling a story. The students and staff were delighted to see Sue’s studio, they loved her collection of pencils and notebooks and were mesmerised as she guided them through several drawings. The students were thrilled about the end products. I highly recommend an author/illustrator visit by Sue for any age level.

—M. Heuschele, Step into Stories Festival, 2022

We had a wonderful time hosting Sue at our school. She drew characters with our students from Kinder to Year 2 and gave them tips for improving their visual literacy skills. Students were able to make connections between how the text and illustrations complement each other in creating story. We were all engaged and interested in hearing the backstories to Sue’s writing and illustrating, and I would definitely host her again in the future.

—S. Roulston, Carey Baptist Grammar, 2022

We loved Sue! The students thoroughly enjoyed drawing the characters from her book, “We’re Stuck” and were really engaged. The teachers were amazed when Sue talked about the need to “tie up loose ends” in a story, as it was the very thing they had been discussing with the Year One girls just that morning! Sue was great with the girls and during question time gave them thoughtful answers. One of our sessions ran over because so many girls brought in books for signing, but Sue kindly spent some of her break time with the next group to make up for lost time. I hope we can welcome Sue back to Lowther Hall in the future.

—J. Barry, Lowther Hall, 2022

Students and staff were buzzing as they departed classrooms as the bell sounded. Several parents let me know this morning that their children were drawing and sketching all afternoon. I thoroughly enjoyed your session. Thank you for making a clear reading / writing connection for our students. You paced the session exceptionally well and did a fabulous job in what must be a tricky presentation mode.

—D. Leathart, Our Lady of Lourdes, 2022

Sue was fantastic! Both students and teachers thoroughly enjoyed her session.
She was engaging, informative, and inspiring. She took the time to answer the children’s questions and provided them with insightful knowledge into her writing and illustration techniques and processes.
We would definitely recommend her to other teachers/schools and would welcome her back again for another session.
It was great and the children loved it.

—Jacqui Cleary, Librarian, Christ Church Grammar School 2019

The children were totally engaged and couldn’t stop talking about her.

I would recommend Sue to any school. She was highly engaging and worked really well with our pupils from Prep to Year 6. The children loved that they were able to create their own drawings following her simple instructions. I was really impressed with what they were able to do !

—-Deborah Wright, St Peter Apostle Primary School, August 2018

Our P-2 students had a wonderful experience seeing her draw and learning about the life of an author and illustrator. They were tickled pink when Sue took away a library ‘date due’ slip that she may include in the illustrations for a future book!

—L. Saward, Oxley Christian College, August 2017

The children loved Sue deGennaro, especially when they found they could draw just like Sue! They all proudly went home with 4 or 5 drawings. Sue was very good at drawing out their responses, as well as showing them how to draw characters! Sue was a terrific speaker & a delight to work with.

—A. Johnson-Clarke, Montrose Primary School, August 2017

We all loved Sue! She has a beautiful and calm way of connecting and engaging with her audience ensuring that the students felt both safe and secure and completely engaged in what she had to share.

—L. Seymour, Sacre Coeur, August 2017

Sue was very well spoken and friendly. I love how she captivated all the children with all her life experiences of being an Author/Illustrator. The students loved all the drawing skills she taught them and were amazed they could draw pictures from her books by the end of the session. I would definitely recommend Sue to others as she played a big part of Book Week and will definitely be remembered by the students and staff of our school.

—M. Caruana, Teacher, St Thomas the Apostle 2016

Sue’s workshops were excellent. The sessions were well balanced and appropriate to all year levels catering for different age, ability and attention span. Sue’s calm demeanor, clear explanations and gentle approach helped the students to connect and create with confidence. A rewarding learning experience for all.

—K. Hand, Wesley College, August 2015

I just wanted to say that we have just had the most fantastic two days with Sue deGennaro.  She developed an immediate rapport with the students at all levels and they worked with rapt attention drawing their own versions of wombats, reindeer and maids.  She was funny and engaging as she showed the students how to develop their own repertoire of objects that they could draw quickly and easily.  All of the students left the library having been successful in drawing something.  The teachers were also taken with her presentation and really enjoyed the sessions.  Sue was generous with her time and easily fitted into our timetable.

—S.O'Malley, St Paul's Anglican Grammar School, October 2014

Students were very engaged and interested in everything Sue shared with them. The way in which Sue spoke to the kids and pitched activities was very age appropriate. Students loved exploring how Sue’s illustrations change from when she first begins to work on a picture storybook to the final product.

Through the session with Sue, Students were able to build on their understanding of the creative process. The session highlighted to students the importance of persistence in the creative process, and that creativity begins with an idea that may evolve into something quite different. Students loved the hands on element of the session.

—C. Brennan, Boroondara Park Primary School, August 2013

The girls loved Sue! She is an amazing presenter to children and a fantastic asset for Booked Out. Her manner with the girls was professional but also relaxed and all of the girls were engaged. A great way to round off our Book Week celebrations.

—C. Williams, Sacre Coeur, August 2013

The Prep to Three students at my school simply loved Sues visit. She engaged the students immediately and every student left feeling like a real ‘illustrator’ just like Sue. She had a wonderful manner with the students and was able to explain step by step how to create one of her characters. The teachers were raving about the session and they are all displaying the students works of art in the classrooms. One of our special needs students really struggled with the idea of following the illustrator that visited last year – this year he completed a picture that resembled Sues work and he was so proud of himself. The children at my school are already asking me to order Sue’s new book!

—F. Witts, St Patrick’s Primary School, September 2012

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