Kate Garchinsky illustrates books and performs bird calls in the woodlands surrounding her studio in Edgmont, Pennsylvania. She draws inspiration from the natural world, and master painters of wildlife and landscapes, past and present. Her debut picture book, The Secret Life of the Red Fox, written by celebrated author Laurence Pringle, released in spring 2017 to critical acclaim. Future titles with Mr. Pringle include The Secret Life of the Little Brown Bat and The Secret Life of the Skunk (Boyds Mills Press). Her upcoming non-fiction chapter book, Belle’s Journey (May 2018, Charlesbridge), was the result of a collaboration with ornithologist and fellow DVOC member, Dr. Rob Bierregaard. Kate recently co-lead a workshop with naturalist and author/illustrator, Julie Zickefoose.
Kate was awarded the Don & Virgina Eckelberry Fellowship for nature artists at the Academy of Natural Sciences in 2015, where she has spent time researching and sketching specimens of extinct North American birds. Her studies of the passenger pigeon were published in Birding Magazine in 2014, marking the centenary of Martha’s death in the Cincinnati Zoo. Audubon Magazine will feature her illustrations of the Carolina parakeet in Winter 2017. Through crowdfunding Kate will complete illustrated biographies of these now extinct birds.
Earlier in her career, Kate Garchinsky created trail maps for mountain bikers, baths for birds, toys for kids, and perfect milkshakes, but she’s always wanted to create books. She has been an active member of SCBWI since 1999. Kate now makes public appearances at schools, libraries, bookstores, and nature centers. She can still make the perfect milkshake.
Kate lives with her husband, indoor two kitties, and her loyal beagle, Maggie May. Follow Kate and her family on dog walks, paint outs, and birding adventures @katesnowbird on Instagram and twitter.
Do you know what your first word was? My mom swears that mine was “bird.” When I was a kid I wanted nothing more than to be friends with the birds, squirrels, and bunnies in my neighborhood. To get as close to them as possible, I’d climb “my” tree—a red Japanese maple tree planted in the center of our tiny front lawn. I’d pretend no one could see me, staying very quite and still, hoping that just one little bird would perch on my shoulder and become my friend.
Back then, I drew a lot of pictures of trees, birds, and squirrels. Sometimes I drew the weather, too—tornadoes, snow, and dark clouds heavy with rain. Snow was my favorite though. I’m not sure, but I think it has something to do with being born in January, and leaving Fitzgerald Mercy Hospital with my parents on an blustery, snowy day. My Dad nicknamed me his “Snowbird.” Few things make me as giddy as a blizzard in the forecast. Oh, the smell of the first flurry of the season! If only I could I’d capture it in a bottle and save it for hot, humid days…
As the oldest of six kids, I learned how to make the littler ones laugh, and change diapers before I could rollerskate or ride a bike. My youngest brother was born when I was 16, so when I was a teenager, I was still singing silly songs, making arts and crafts, watching Sesame Street and Disney movies on VHS over and over and over. I took my youngest siblings on walks to the playground, and read them lots of bedtime stories. Sometimes I wrote and illustrated my own. I never outgrew the best parts of being a kid. I never felt like I had to.
Now my sisters and brothers and I are all grown up, some with kids of their own, but we’re all still very young at heart. When we get together we act out our favorite scenes from those old Sesame Street episodes and sing those Disney songs. We hike through the woods with our many dogs, make angels and forts in the snow, and talk to animals, just as always. Our childhood joy connects us to one another, no matter what else happens in our lives. It’s pretty special.
Professional Activities & Awards
Member SCBWI since 1999
2017 Starred review, School Library Journal, The Secret Life of the Red Fox
2014-2015 Legacy Lost & Saved: Extinct and Endangered Birds of North America exhibit invitation, Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, Wisconsin
2014 The Plight of the Passenger Pigeon exhibit invitation at the John James Audubon Center, Audubon, Pennsylvania
2014 Completed Oiled Wildlife Responder training, Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, Newark, DE
2013 Author and illustrator, San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker Interactive Storybook App
2013-2017 Scholarship recipient, The Highlights Foundation
2012 Scholarship recipient, Pocono Mountain Retreat, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Eastern Pennsylvania
2010 Gold Medal for Sing Me to Sleep: Indie Lullabies, National Parenting Publication Awards
2010 Nominee, Best Children’s Music Compilation, Sing Me to Sleep: Indie Lullabies, Independent Music Awards
2010 Seal of Excellence for Sing Me to Sleep: Indie Lullabies, Creative Child Magazine
2009 Honorable Mention, Barbara Karlin Grant Competition, Time To Fly dummy
University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA
–BFA in Illustration, 1997
–Thornton Oakley Medal for Excellence in Illustration, 1997
–Barbara Merton Morrison Scholarship for Fine Art, 1992