Books by Abby Carter

THE BEST SEAT IN KINDERGARTEN by Katharine Kenah
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 18, 2019

"Young readers may well be spurred to use Sam's methodology on their own first days. (Early reader. 3-7)"
A beginning reader introduces readers to one little boy and his method for making new friends. Read full book review >
OLLIE'S CLASS TRIP by Stephanie Calmenson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"Not as strong as Ollie's first outing but still a good choice to share with classes before a field trip. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Since Ollie already knows what to expect on the first day of school (Ollie's School Day, 2012), this time he tackles another school staple: field trips. Read full book review >
DADDY'S BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING ADVENTURE by Alan Lawrence Sitomer
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 16, 2015

"Sure to induce giggles and maybe even defuse some tension surrounding kids' own back-to-school shopping. (Picture book. 4-7)"
Even the best-laid plans pale in the face of nostalgia…. Read full book review >
OLLIE'S SCHOOL DAY  by Stephanie Calmenson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 15, 2012

"Will this be a popular and raucous first-day-of-school favorite? YES! (Picture book. 3-6)"
An interactive look at a young boy's school day teaches those new to school about routines and manners. Read full book review >
DADDIES DO IT DIFFERENT by Alan Lawrence Sitomer
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 17, 2012

"Unfortunately, this does not salvage the tale. Better choices abound, such as Marjorie Blain Parker and R.W. Alley's When Dads Don't Grow Up (2012) and Stephen Cook's Day Out with Daddy (2006). (Picture book. 3-6)"
Readers are in for a predictable, stereotypical comparison of how this particular mother and father differ in how they interact with their winsome daughter. Read full book review >
SCOOTER IN THE OUTSIDE by Anne Bowen
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2012

"Scooter will win over any fans of big, friendly dogs, especially when his woofs, arfs and barks are rendered by a suitably enthusiastic reader. (Picture book. 3-6)"
A bouncy golden retriever named Scooter escapes his suburban home for a solo adventure in this amusing tale full of comical canine conversations. Read full book review >
MAGGIE’S MONKEYS by Linda Sanders-Wells
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2009

A family of pink polar monkeys has moved into the refrigerator, and Maggie's older brother cannot fathom why the entire family is catering to the imagination of his still-thumb-sucking younger sister. But no one will listen to his protests, and Mom simply says, "Sometimes it's hard to know what's real." When he can't beat them, he joins them, but his imagination is just not up to Maggie's standards. However sick of monkey business he is, though, when his friends threaten his sister's peace-of-mind, he become Horton-like and protects both the pink monkeys and his sister. In her children's debut, Sanders-Wells wonderfully encapsulates the difficulties of being a middle child—simultaneously too old and too young. Carter's masterful facial expressions reflects this inner battle. Her gouache artwork is done in a bright, tropical palette that emphasizes the imaginative theme. While pink polar monkeys may not exist, what is very real is the love and loyalty of a big brother. A humorous tale sure to make siblings smile, even as they inwardly groan. (Picture book. 3-8)Read full book review >
THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE by Katharine Kenah
CHILDREN'S
Released: Dec. 1, 2007

An impending school visit by a celebrity chef sends budding cook Ollie into a tailspin. He and his classmates are supposed to bring a favorite family food for show and tell, but his family doesn't have a clear choice—besides, his little sister Rosy doesn't like much of anything. What to do? As in their previous two visits to Room 75, Kenah builds suspense while keeping the tone light, and Carter adds both bright notes of color and familiar home and school settings in her cartoon illustrations. Eventually, Ollie winkles favorite ingredients out of his clan, which he combines into a mac-and-cheese casserole with a face on top that draws delighted praise from the class's renowned guest. As Ollie seems to do his kitchen work without parental assistance, a cautionary tip or two (and maybe a recipe) might not have gone amiss here, but the episode's mouthwatering climax and resolution will guarantee smiles of contentment all around. (Easy reader. 6-7)Read full book review >
FULL HOUSE by Dayle Ann Dodds
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2007

The Strawberry Inn has vacancies for children who'd like to learn about fractions—as long as they don't mind the wacky array of other guests in the inn. Miss Bloom is the innkeeper and welcomes each new arrival with aplomb, from the fishy-smelling sea captain to the Duchess and her pampered pooch. All enjoy her wonderful dinner. All also notice that she forgot to serve dessert, something quickly remedied by the bath-robed characters in the middle of the night. Repetitious phrasing and rollicking rhymes make this a good choice for younger readers, as do the visuals used to portray fractional amounts. Carter uses the inn itself and lights the six windows according to the number of rooms occupied, while also giving the fractional equivalent. The same is done with the cake, which, luckily for Miss Bloom, has one-sixth left for her. The brightly colored watercolor illustrations are quirky and delightfully detailed, and the cast of characters brimming with personality. Teachers should reserve a space on their bookshelves for this one. (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >
HOLBROOK by Bonny Becker
ANIMALS
Released: Nov. 13, 2006

An earnest message is weighed down by a predictable plot and flat characterization. Holbrook, a lizard with a passion for painting, leaves his desert home to enter an art contest. The trip to Golden City opens his eyes to a new world. But what seems like a stroke of luck leads to disaster. Befriended by Count Rumolde, a weasel with artistic ambitions, Holbrook finds himself confined and forced to create paintings for the tourist trade. He manages to free himself and comes up with a plan to rescue his fellow prisoners. Betrayed again, Holbrook plays on the creative desires of their intended executioner to save the day. Several characters are based on famous artists, including ballerina Margot Frogtayne and opera singer Enrico Escargot. The author's note offers brief information about these and other inspirations, but it's unlikely that they will have much resonance for children. The message that creativity should be valued and nourished is a worthy one, but given the utter lack of child appeal, it's unlikely many readers will get that message here. (Fiction. 8-10)Read full book review >
ANDY SHANE AND THE PUMPKIN TRICK by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2006

Andy Shane and his sometimes enemy/sometimes best friend Dolores Starbuckle are back and ready to celebrate Halloween. Dolores's birthday falls on the holiday and, of course, she's having a party. Being the bossy girl that she is, she ropes Andy into helping plan it, taking a full two days of clipboard clutching, decorating and making everything perfect. Unfortunately, neighborhood hoodlums mar the plans by twice smashing Dolores's porch pumpkins. Andy and Dolores put their heads together for something more than party planning and execute a little counterattack of their own, making this Halloween the start of a great friendship. With hilarious yet familiar situations, frequent pen-and-ink illustrations, accessible vocabulary and two characters filled with the feisty spirit of a very young Ramona Quimby, Jacobson's offering is the perfect treat for newest readers. (Fiction. 5-8)Read full book review >
THE BEST TEACHER IN SECOND GRADE by Katharine Kenah
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2006

This Level 2 reader in the I Can Read series reinvigorates the theme of travail and triumph for the new kid in class. Luna loves stars and planets, but her initial elation with the like-minded Mr. Hopper turns to despondence: Her new classmates find her passion for astronomy odd. During class planning for Family Night, Luna suggests a show about the night sky, since (with shooting comets and animal-shaped constellations) it's "like a midnight circus." The kids are enthusiastic instead about a circus theme: Luna's "good idea had come and gone, just like a shooting star." A lunch-line conversation reveals—horrors!—that Mrs. Mudlark's class is also busy planning a circus. Luna's notion is revived, and after the successful show, she "beamed like the sun." Kenah makes a sparkling array of similes and metaphors accessible to primary students, a nifty feat within the constraints of the reader format. Carter's cheery watercolors extend the apt school details, depicting a multicultural classroom with several biracial children, including Luna herself. A school story that shines. (Easy reader. 5-8)Read full book review >
THE BEST SEAT IN SECOND GRADE by Katharine Kenah
ANIMALS
Released: July 1, 2005

In an unusual twist on the school field trip theme, a second-grade boy named Sam manages to take the class hamster along on a visit to the science museum. The hamster, George Washington by name, has the distinguishing trait of frequent sneezing, which proves critically important when George Washington is dropped into the museum's hamster display and must be retrieved. Lots of humorous details add to this mid-level easy reader's appeal, and the story will be enjoyed by newly independent readers as well as serving as a read-aloud in any classroom (or home) with a hamster as a pet. Carter's expressive watercolor illustrations help bring the kids in room 75 and their furry pet to life. (Easy reader. 5-8)Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2005

Andy Shane doesn't want to be at school. He doesn't want to sit straight at the rug or share at morning meeting. How much more fun would it be to be home with Granny Webb where they could catch and name various bugs—using Latin, no less. It's bad enough that Andy Shane has to be in school, but spending his day with a show-off tattletale like Dolores Starbuckle makes his day seem endless. As the self-appointed assistant teacher, she is a little spy among kindergartners, pointing out the slouchy sitter, math materials messer-upper and anyone who visits a learning center on the wrong day. But Granny Webb is not having any of Andy's school ennui; her patented Granny Webb Stare moves him right onto the bus and into school. However, Granny Webb would never abandon her little boy. A surprise school visit teaches Andy something about sticking up for himself and using every resource—even the Stare—to solve a problem. Open, humorous sketches are just the right touch for this hilarious, pitch-perfect school story. Readers will want to follow Andy all the way through school. (Fiction. 5-8)Read full book review >
SLITHERY JAKE by Rose-Marie Provencher
ANIMALS
Released: Jan. 1, 2004

When Sid finds a snake and brings it home, he names him Jake, but family hysteria ensues when Jake escapes from his box. Each family member mistakenly sees the snake: Pa sits on a hot dog and thinks it's Jake; Grandma faints when a stew noodle looks like you-know-who; the dog yelps at the twitching cat's tale. When assorted food goodies don't coax Jake out of hiding, Pa decides they'll camp outside until he's found. But where would an escaped snake go? Outside, of course; there they find Jake stretched out in the hammock. The quirky watercolor illustrations match the frenzy and capture the chaos of the rhyming story related by Sid with exaggerated expressions adding to the fun. An enticing cover, good title, and funny family will slither the tale into popularity. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
MY HIPPIE GRANDMOTHER by Reeve Lindbergh
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 1, 2003

Famed author Lindbergh, in a much lighter poetic vein than On Morning Wings (2002), limns a bouncy and exuberant rhyme wherein a girl extols her hippie grandma: "She hasn't cut her hair at all / Since nineteen sixty-nine." Not only that, but she drives a purple bus, has a mustachioed, guitar-playing boyfriend named Jim, and a cat named Woodstock. The girl helps her grandmother in the garden, and helps her sell goods at the Farmers Market as well as to picket City Hall when necessary. "My mother is a lawyer. / My dad works on TV," says the girl, and grandma tells her she will find her own perfect job, perhaps "find the cure for cancer / And save the human race." But she knows that she wants to be a Hippie Grandmother herself, some day, "JUST LIKE YOU!" The pictures are a wonder, in electric kool-aid acid colors, full of sunshine and love beads and tie-dye. Carter (The Invisible Enemy, not reviewed, etc.) has an energetic line; her watercolor and gouache figures fairly dance off the page. Grandma's home, with its colorful pottery, array of plants, and occasional '60s artifact (don't miss the lava lamp), is utterly engaging. For children who may have such a grandma, or know such a grandma, and for more than a few adults who may recognize themselves in the words and pictures: a sheer delight. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
ANNIE BANANIE MOVES TO BARRY AVENUE by Leah Komaiko
ANIMALS
Released: Nov. 1, 1996

The stage is set when young Libby declares herself bored senseless, fed up with her piano-playing brother, and longing for a dog. Soon arrives Annie, star of her own picture book (Annie Bananie, 1987), new to the block and accompanied by her giant dog, Boris. They form a club with several other girls, and the book's big moment comes from the meeting of Libby's dog-despising grandmother and Boris. What's at stake? Unless her grandmother kisses the dog, Libby can't be club president. Slight and silly, the book lacks enough characterization to distinguish any of the girls from one another, and the language doesn't reach the standard of a TV sitcom, let alone the heights Komaiko (Sally Perry's Farm, p. 690, etc.) has reached in her picture books. Packed with funny black-and-white illustrations, this is easy to read, but not necessarily worth the effort. (Fiction. 8-11) Read full book review >
EMILY AT SCHOOL by Suzanne Williams
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

Emily at School ($13.95; paper $3.95; Sept. 1996; 48 pp.; 0- 7868-0149-2; paper 0-7868-1133-1): In this entry in the Chapters series, Emily is starting second grade and facing some typical problems, each handled in one of three chapters: one about a disagreeable new boy, another about a bad mark on a paper instead of the star she expected, and the third, in which her friends don't go along with what she wants to play. This book has a reading level only slightly more difficult than most I-Can-Read books, without any of their flash or spark. The mild stories, inadequately plotted and blandly resolved, don't command the attention of readers, and won't satisfy those making their first forays into novel-length books. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 6-8) Read full book review >
NEVER RIDE YOUR ELEPHANT TO SCHOOL by Doug Johnson
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

With straight faces and high spirits, Johnson and Carter (Never Babysit the Hippopotamuses!, 1993) offer reasons for the command of the title, e.g., ``Elephants are good at math and love to give answers. While waiting to be called on, your elephant might get excited and wiggle around in his chair. Elephants can really wiggle!'' The understated wit of the text is comically complemented by the zany watercolors of wreaked havoc. Both the words and art make use of every opportunity to mock teachers, but it's all in good fun. (Picture book. 4-6) Read full book review >
NEVER BABYSIT THE HIPPOPOTAMUSES! by Doug Johnson
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 15, 1993

What if you were a small boy—say, a rather slender-looking eight-year-old—babysitting a couple of hippos who behaved like rambunctious children? That's the slight idea here, but it's developed into a book that will amuse kids with its exaggerations of their own behavior, plus some incongruities special to hippos (``Don't play leapfrog with them, they can be hard to jump over. Don't play horsey either. They always want you to be the horsey''). From a game of hide-and-seek to bath-splashing, book- reading, and tucking in (more than once), the proceedings are considerably enhanced by Carter's free-form watercolors, where the hippos—who are a luscious shade of green—cavort in a house in which every normally straight line (door-frame, banister, drawer) is as energetically warped as a twanging rubber band. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

Teachers who know it all, mealtimes with Chicken Surprise, recess, ``propper'' English—all are trotted out, spoofed, or pummeled in this worthy anthology. Judith Viorst has a thing or two to say about awards; Russell Hoban is one of three rhyming scribblers to scrutinize homework. Also appearing are Farjeon, Prelutsky, McCord, Aileen Fisher, Colin McNaughton, Gary Soto, and more. X. J. Kennedy, who shares copyright with the selector, ties Myra Cohn Livingston with four pieces each, as subject after subject is treated with comic ferocity. Ebullient b&w drawings of cranky hot-lunch cooks and leaning schoolhouses reflect and celebrate the gleefully rebellious tone. Index. (Poetry. 7-10) Read full book review >
SHACK AND BACK by Michael Crowley
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 1993

The crew that made friends with The New Kid on Spurwink Ave. (1992) is back with another story exploring the gap between supposition and reality. This time, after Crater makes a tactless remark about ``sissy-girls,'' the gang splits up. But when the Broad Cove Bullies accost the three boys, tease them about their association with the four girls, and challenge them to a race (``your gang's fastest rider against ours...Losers wash winners' bikes''), truth strikes: only T-Ball has a chance of winning, and she's still miffed. Still, her own loyalty and the boys' belated diplomacy help her come around in time to win. The kids are amusingly characterized in Carter's energetic, freely rendered watercolors; their lively dialogue is the book's strongest suit. Fine for reading aloud or alone, a story that's entertaining enough to carry its rather obvious message. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
NEW KID ON SPURWINK AVE. by Michael Crowley
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 1992

Mom insists, so the kids try to welcome Leonard to their neighborhood, but he has no use for their imaginative games: ``Naw, man, it's just the dumb dog,'' he points out when they urge him to ``Lasso that ol' steer.'' Meanwhile, Carter's lively illustrations show Leonard engrossed with rope, gears, and other paraphernalia of the young engineer. Sure enough, he turns out to have a garage full of his inventions, including a working vehicle that moves the story into fantasy. It's presented without subtlety, but first-time author Crowley gives his kids lively, believable dialogue; and while more plausible technology (especially in the illustrations) might have intrigued more, the book will entertain. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
TWIN SURPRISES by Susan Beth Pfeffer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

At her mother's suggestion, Betsy plans a surprise eighth- birthday party for her twin sister, Crista. She quickly finds that it's easier said than done: the sisters are in the same class, share the same room, and even have the same best friends. Meanwhile, she keeps finding Crista and Mom having their own private conversations and everyone giggling about something she's not in on. This is a one-gag story with a weak main character. Betsy seems younger than eight: the concept of a surprise party has to be spelled out for her in detail, and she lacks clever ideas about how to issue her secret invitations. Silly and slight. (Fiction. 7-10)*justify no* Read full book review >