Books by Alice McLerran

DRAGONFLY by Alice McLerran
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

In this lightweight tale of three children who bring home a dragon's egg, the grownups are, for once, co-conspirators rather than obstacles. The dragonling that hatches on Jason's little sister Rose's bed doesn't stay a secret for long—but, amazingly, not only are Mom and Dad enchanted with Drac, so are local handyman "Flash" Martin and nosy librarian Amelia Binns. Everyone willingly puts heads together to figure out how to feed and care for Drac, and, most important, to keep her out of the public eye; tasks complicated considerably by Drac's ability to fly, spit flames, and, shedding skins as she goes, grow like a weed. Among other satellite plot lines, McLerran (Year of the Ranch, 1996, etc.) gives Jason a severe case of middle-siblingitis to get over and his father a midlife career change; meanwhile, Drac reaches maturity, repays her extended family both with untold wealth—the scales on all those shed skins turn out to be pure gold—and a deserted island to live on so they can all stay together, then lays an egg of her own. The various subplots are wrapped up neatly, and Drac, outwardly as fearsome as can be but actually gentle and sociable, will appeal strongly to young dragon fans. (Fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1996

Set in 1919 on a homestead on a desert mesa outside Yuma, Arizona, this is a charming re-creation of a year in the life of McLerran's grandparents. Emily's father believes that the ``desert shall blossom as the rose'' and he wants his family (Mama, Carol, Emily, Sarah, and Jane) to be part of it. With home a makeshift shack, they cook on a kerosene stove with water from a well and get used to an outhouse; in the meantime, Papa keeps his office job until they establish a homestead. The family drinks tea from a silver pot, builds and outlines a tennis court with white lime, and creates Christmas wreaths from greasewood. Mama is ready with a syringe of medicine in case anyone is bitten by a snake, and they devise a special fate for scorpions. The experiment comes to a close before the year is out, when the family moves back to town. This affectionate vignette is peppered with the sort of small details that make it believable and absorbing. Root's paintings superbly extend the understated story. Well-placed watercolors evoke the colors of the changing desert as well as the mood of the family as they face their many travails. (Picture book. 3-8) Read full book review >
THE GHOST DANCE by Alice McLerran
Released: Oct. 23, 1995

In somber, repetitive verse, McLerran (Hugs, 1993, etc.) describes the life of bounty that once belonged to native people, how that was changed by the settlers with their plows and guns, and how the prophet Tavibo had a dream about a Ghost Dance that would bring back the past: ``Dance, said the dream. . . ./Dance, and the white men all will disappear,/their horses and their goods remain.'' The magic failed. The book ends with a somewhat sentimental battle cry: ``Maybe if we all dream./Maybe if we all sing./Maybe if we all dance.'' The mystical illustrations convey these images more effectively than the text; in his first book, Morin combines found objects with highly textured oil paintings, creating an atmosphere that is appropriately dark and unsettled. (Picture book. 6-10) Read full book review >
HUGS by Alice McLerran
by Alice McLerran, illustrated by Mary Morgan
Released: Jan. 1, 1993

An appealing pocket-sized book explores a concept that every loving parent enjoys teaching. In succinct, deftly phrased quatrains, McLerran sums up the uses and messages of hugs (``A hug can mean `Hello there!'/A hug can mean `Good-bye'''), some touchy situations (``At times you want to hug them back./At times you'd rather not''; ``A kitten sometimes likes a hug,/But just a very light one''). Morgan's cheery, skillfully limned toddlers and their caregivers are a heartwarming, multicultural bunch. A companion book, Kisses (what else?), gets into metaphorical kissing as well as the regular kind: ``The weather gives you kisses, too...Sun on your cheek,/snow on your tongue....'' A disarming valentine of a book, for a small friend or a larger one. (Picture book. 1-5) Read full book review >
DREAMSONG by Alice McLerran
Released: Oct. 21, 1992

With his parents' blessing, little Pavel sets off to search for the lovely song that he hears each night in his dreams but can never remember when he wakes. Following a river, he hears snatches of the song as it ripples against its banks, in a shepherd boy's flute in a mountain meadow, and in the cottage of an old harpmaker at the river's source. Home again as bidden, by sunset, the weary child falls asleep so fast that, once again, when his mother sings the familiar lullaby he hears it only in his dreams. A charming bedtime story, sweetly told and set in the long ago and far away. Green and gold tones predominate in luxuriant pictures, brimming with birds, butterflies, and flowers, by a gifted Russian illustrator in a fine US debut. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
I WANT TO GO HOME by Alice McLerran
Released: May 22, 1992

Marta has been wanting a cat, but Sammy—whose old owners couldn't keep him—doesn't like their new home any better than she does: While Marta objects to the ugly wallpaper, Sammy hides and doesn't even come out to eat. Eventually, the two begin a tentative friendship that warms until both have accepted the new house. McLerran paces her story expertly, capturing the drama of the homely accommodation; Kastner's drab palette epitomizes the unfamiliar feeling of new surroundings, while her characters (especially the frightened cat) reveal their feelings in sensitively observed expressions. Large format makes this pleasant story particularly appropriate for groups. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
ROXABOXEN by Alice McLerran
Released: April 22, 1991

The author recalls a rocky Arizona hilltop where her mother and the neighborhood friends of her childhood fashioned a town from old crates, rocks, and an endless supply of imagination. Streets and houses were added, offices held ("Marian was mayor of course; that was just the way she was. Nobody minded"), businesses thrived, and found objects were put to artful use. There were sticks as swift horses to ride, a jail with cactus on the floor, wars (the fort was always safe), a cemetery (just one dead lizard, and flowers)—a microcosmic world of happy improvisation. Turning her palette to dusty blues and the other rich hues of the desert, Cooney captures the setting and the joy with her usual lucid design, gentle wit, and grasp of what is beguiling and significant. Many books memorialize imaginative play in the hope of inspiring a new generation, but rarely with so much creative and evocative power. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >