Books by Alexander Stadler

Released: March 1, 2005

Beverly meets her match in a caramel-candy castle cake, a generous present she's making for a friend's birthday. It nearly undoes her until her mother lends a hand in Stadler's fourth outing with the engaging young bear. Beverly decides to make her classmate a birthday cake to remember, one she swoons simply thinking about. It will be majestic, but also a piece of work, her mother warns her. When her mother leaves the kitchen for a second, Beverly puts the batter in the pans and slips them in the oven, Clever Beverly, except she forgot to grease the pans. Disaster is averted when her mother has an idea and Beverly brings it to life. It's a nice touch to have Mom coming to the rescue; Beverly doesn't have to have all the answers and moms are supposed to be there in times of need. Stadler's party-colored artwork, with its thick, raw, black outlining manages to convey a tender vulnerability in all its guilelessness. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

Stadler's jagged, thick-lined art may resemble William Steig's, but his young narrator is pure Jules Feiffer: "Why share? If a toy is fun, why let go of it? Who knows when you'll get it back?" But after bringing his birthday party to a tearful end by jealously hoarding his gifts and spending a punitive hour alone in his room playing with his new rude-noise-making device, Duncan begins to wonder: "If you make a rude noise and no one hears it, is it still gross?" A contrite phone call brings his friend Flora back over, and helps him work out the right answer. The Message hangs heavy over this, but Duncan's distinctive voice, plus a light touch with the moral, makes it a persuasive exercise in the benefits of socialization. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
LILA BLOOM by Alexander Stadler
Released: May 5, 2004

After a bad day at school a little girl named Lila announces to her caretaker aunt and her ballet teacher, Madame Vera, that she wants to quit her strictly run ballet class. Both adults wisely handle the situation in a low-key manner, and in fact, Madame Vera agrees with Lila and then ignores her during class. This approach makes Lila try much harder, and her increased efforts cause both her self-confidence and her performance to bloom. By the time class is over, Lila's fit of negativity has passed, and she has actually requested (and received) permission to take two ballet classes per week. Stadler, creator of the Beverly Billingsly series, continues to artfully employ his droll, understated humor and quirky, loose style of watercolors outlined in thick strokes of black. Though he takes some liberties with proper ballet class attire, he skillfully integrates traditional ballet steps and class structure into his story, along with correct ballet terms and a few French phrases from the fearsome Madame Vera. (Pronunciations are included in a separate list.) (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2004

Tired of being the last picked to play softball, Beverly and her friend Oliver—who might know how to crack the books, but never hear that sound when they swing the bat—decide to study up on the game to get better. Their friendly librarian—looking like an inspired, demented pileated woodpecker as depicted by Stadler, with his trademark chunky black outlining—suggests they also try some practice. So happens, the librarian is a softball coach, and she gives Beverly and Oliver some valuable advice: "Mrs. Del Rubio drew a face on the ball. ‘This is Wallace . . . and he can't stand to touch the ground.' " There are also the classics, like "keep you eye on the ball," but the point that sweetly seeps home is that unless you're willing to put in the hours, you'll be stuck in softball Siberia: "Beverly was stranded out in right field. Oliver was standing somewhere that didn't even have a name." No more. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2003

Beverly Billingsly is back (Beverly Billingsly Borrows a Book, 2002), this time with a new venue for her worries: auditions for the school musical called Stormy Weather. Stadler again employs his distinctive illustration style of pastel watercolors with thick black outlines applied with a charmingly wobbly effect. His heavily outlined illustrations, animal characters, and confident use of sophisticated vocabulary recall the work of William Steig, with a similar success in conveying an amusing, original story with an unobtrusive theme tucked inside. Because Beverly freezes during her audition, she's cast in two very small roles (as The Wall and The Shrub) with just one line, but she finds plenty to do in preparation for the production: learning all the lines of the play, building sets, making costumes and a banner, and baking 200 cupcakes. Busy beaver Beverly also saves the play with some judicious prompting when The Thunder Queen forgets her lines, and the final page shows Beverly in her shrub costume savoring the sweet sound of applause. Stadler succeeds in both his amusing illustrations and his well-paced, polished story, and surely Beverly will be back for an encore, perhaps baking brownies, buying a bicycle, or building a bridge as she conquers new fears. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2001

Beverly (a little hippo) is sky-high when she gets her first library card. She's soon deliberating on the possibilities, finally choosing Dinosaurs of the Cretaceous Period. She is so smitten by the scholarly tome—"Beverly woke up early to finish the final chapter, ‘Eating Habits of the Triceratops'. "—that she misses the return date by a day. When she asks a friend what might be the consequences for an overdue library book, the friend offers the opinion that a $1,000 fine may be forthcoming. Another friend notes that he thinks prison time is a common punishment for late books. This information, understandably, puts Beverly off her feed, which runs up a flag for her parents, who calm her fears and go with her on the dreaded return of the book. Troubles shared are troubles halved, or in this case, troubles sent packing, once they are shared with the right people. The librarian (a pointy-beaked bird lady) understands, and she points out another child (a rhinoceros) who is waiting for the return of the book. Beverly is as unpretentious as sensible shoes, as is newcomer Stadler, whose drawings are gently colored gouache, outlined in heavy, squiggly, black ink, giving them the heft of granite but the warmth of old brick. A refreshingly welcome new library story. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >