Books by Alexandra Wallner

SUSAN B. ANTHONY by Alexandra Wallner
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2012

"She said, 'Failure is impossible,' and she was right, but unfortunately her steely determination does not come through in this book. (timeline, bibliography, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)"
Susan B. Anthony worked to win women the right to vote her whole long life, but she did not live to see it done. Read full book review >
WRITE ON, MERCY! by Gretchen Woelfle
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2012

"A solid addition to the canon. (author's note, timeline, bibliography, websites) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)"
Move over, Thomas Paine! Revolutionary War writer and activist finds fame! First biography for young readers published! Read full book review >
J.R.R. TOLKIEN by Alexandra Wallner
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2011

"Beguiling art props up a profile that reads like a school report. (timeline, bibliography, notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)"
A quick life of the great fantasist is given wings by allusive painted illustrations. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Sept. 1, 2006

A gracefully written and prettily presented account of the author of one of the most beloved children's books of all time. Montgomery was born on Prince Edward Island and raised by her elderly and strict grandparents. But she found worlds in the books she read and in the water, trees and natural history of the island. She kept a journal, loved local stories and made time to write. She attended Dalhousie University, sending out manuscripts again and again: "Nine out of ten manuscripts came back to me." But she did achieve astonishing success; she married and had children and became the first Canadian female member of the Royal Society of Arts in England. Any young reader will see much of Anne of Green Gables's life in Maud's, and will delight in her comment that what she liked best to read and to write was "a good, jolly [story]." Wallner's telling keeps the biography simple, though her pictures are nicely detailed and full of color, pattern and line. She infuses the story with Montgomery's emotions by quoting from her writing, sourcing the quotes in the backmatter. (list of books, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)Read full book review >
GRANDMA MOSES by Alexandra Wallner
BIOGRAPHY
Released: March 1, 2004

Veteran picture-book biographer Wallner has turned her hand to the life and work of the great 20th-century American Primitive painter Anna Mary Robertson, a.k.a. Grandma Moses. Employing homespun illustrations and straightforward, homey, narrative style, Wallner takes youngsters back to the artist's 19th-century New England roots. She limns the life spent on family farms and as a widow trying to make ends meet. Moses began embroidering "worsted pictures," preferring images and scenes from her childhood in New York and New England. When rheumatism pained, she turned to paints. The thrifty artist used whatever paints and supports on hand—including glitter in her snow scenes. Wallner recreated Moses's art here and appends one page of backmatter to round out the content. Youngsters who want to actually see Moses's own paintings will prefer W. Nikola-Lisa's The Year with Grandma Moses (2000). Nevertheless, young readers will find this a simple introduction to a genuine American character. A fresh-faced addition to young biography shelves and a sturdy choice for Women's History Month. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)Read full book review >
ABIGAIL ADAMS by Alexandra Wallner
BIOGRAPHY
Released: March 15, 2001

Abigail Adams, wife and mother of American presidents, with a remarkable story of her own, gets a rather dull introduction to her life in Wallner's (Sergio and the Hurricane, 2000, etc.) picture-book biography. Wallner's text plods through Abigail's life, noting important dates and events, particularly the birth of all her children. Abigail supports her husband in his fight for independence at home, where she runs the family farm and manages the finances and her growing family. She also joins Adams in England when he is ambassador there. Later, she becomes the first president's wife to live in the White House. Abigail is shown as a strong woman, disappointed in her efforts to win a place for women and blacks in the new Constitution. Readers learn about Abigail's thoughts and personality as she matures from child to adult, from homemaker to public figure, but unfortunately we do not hear more than a few phrases in Abigail's own voice. Abigail, who is known through her many published letters, was a lively and interesting correspondent and little of that liveliness permeates this effort. The author's folkart-style illustrations depict a homely group of colonialists in pleasantly colorful detail. A timeline and bibliography would have been helpful to young researchers. This intelligent, early feminist and civil-rights advocate deserves better. (Biography. 8-10)Read full book review >
SERGIO AND THE HURRICANE by Alexandra Wallner
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

When Sergio of San Juan, Puerto Rico, hears a storm is coming, he hopes it will be a hurricane. This appealing picture book demonstrates that even this wildest of storms can make warm family memories as it combines useful information while presenting a charming story. The artist keeps the gouache illustrations upbeat with clean, white spaces, delicate lines, and cheerful reds and yellows used in almost every painting. The storm is dramatic and stylized with washing green waves frosted with foam, and driving rain shown as diagonal blue lines hatching the entire picture. The author ably captures the voice of Sergio, a child too young to remember the devastation of a past hurricane, who views the coming storm as an exciting adventure. He trails after the grown-ups as they tape up windows, purchase emergency supplies, and cut the coconuts off the palm trees. Later, when rain drums on the roof, waves as tall as hills slam into the seawall across the street, and the hurricane gets wilder, Sergio gets scared and crawls into bed with Mom and Dad, and they tell stories of storms past. When the storm is over, the sun shines and the sea is calm, but there is a lot of damage to clean up: smashed furniture, uprooted trees, flooded streets, downed power lines, and clogged drainage pipes. The family works together without complaint to set things right. They are even cheerful about taking a shower in the rain to conserve water. The whole family is shown, tastefully concealed by palm fronds, singing and shampooing in the rain. This upbeat story about a loving Puerto Rican family will strike a reassuring chord. (author's notes on hurricanes) (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
THE FARMER IN THE DELL by Alexandra Wallner
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 15, 1998

A favorite song of childhood gets Wallner's sprightly folk-art treatment in pen-and-ink and watercolor. The rural landscapes, done in a palette dominated by green, brown, orange, and yellow, have the look of crazy quilts pieced from calico. A field dotted with pumpkins intersects another dotted with haycocks, which butts up against an apple orchard, bordered by a sinuous strip of road. Interiors move the story forward; after the "the wife takes a child," the household falls into disarray, but is restored when "the child takes a nurse." A pouncing cat and the thieving rat propel things along, until the cheese stands alone and the family dances in the background. The music and lyrics are provided on the final page of this charming work. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
LAURA INGALLS WILDER by Alexandra Wallner
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Sept. 15, 1997

A picture-book biography, in the format of Wallner's Beatrix Potter (1995), that includes naive, highly patterned scenes of the pioneer girl many readers will already know from the Little House books, if not the television show. The fairly straightforward recapitulation of the ups and downs of Wilder's life pales next to the charming, decorative illustrations. Softly colored pen-and-ink illustrations, done in a flat primitive style, use repeated designs to create the prairie grasses, wood floors, and fabrics of the times. After this visual overview, readers are certain to turn to the list Wallner thoughtfully includes of Wilder's books, for a more adventure-filled version of her life. (Biography. 6-8) Read full book review >
THE FIRST AIR VOYAGE IN THE UNITED STATES by Alexandra Wallner
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 15, 1996

A charming book biography, subtitled ``The Story of Jean- Pierre Blanchard,'' about an early aeronaut and his 1793 balloon trip across New Jersey, as he might have narrated it. His first- person account parallels events shown in one or more pictures per spread, in which characters in 18th-century dress against 18th- century backdrops cheer Blanchard on, comment on his travails, or provide additional information in speech bubbles. Most of their chatter appears in French (with minor misspellings) and German, but the phrases are simple and there's a glossary in the back. Pale colors predominate, contrasting in many scenes with the bold stripes of the balloon. In few pages and relatively few words, Wallner (Beatrix Potter, 1995, etc.) conveys plenty of information about Blanchard and his preferred means of transport. (notes, glossary) (Picture book/biography. 6-10) Read full book review >
BEATRIX POTTER by Alexandra Wallner
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 15, 1995

Wallner (Betsy Ross, 1994) has written a beginning biography of a woman as familiar to children as Mother Goose, but whose life is much easier to track. An easy-to-read, factual text, a straightforward chronological organization, and colorful, faux-naãf paintings of well-researched settings characterize the approach. She helpfully includes an afterword listing Potter's twenty-three animal tales for children, but no bibliography or source notes. Several children's biographies of Potter are in print; it's good to have one for this audience. (Picture book/biography. 6-9) Read full book review >
SINCE 1920 by Alexandra Wallner
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1992

The story of what's happened to one neighborhood since a first couple moved out from the city 70+ years ago in order to build a new house on a piece of farm land . Wallner's stylized, decorative illustrations are clean and cheery, and include many authentic details relating to the passage of time: the introduction of electricity and modern plumbing; changes in auto design, costumes, and architecture. The focus is on the neighborhood, which becomes a thriving commercial center that deteriorates in the 60's and is reclaimed as a residential area and park in the 80's (at which time dark faces first appear). Unexceptional but attractive and useful—the final events take the story beyond the usual The Little House conclusion. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >