Books by Alix Berenzy

SAMMY by Alix Berenzy
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2005

Though somewhat didactic, Berenzy's latest is an engaging and informative primer for kids with classroom pets. Berenzy puts the focus on Sammy, and begins by describing his home: "He had hay to chew on, water to drink, and a round block of salt to lick." Later she mentions one of Sammy's favorite treats, "freshly cut grass," which students are careful not to collect from the roadside "where it could be polluted by cars and other animals." Setting them against a cream-colored background, Berenzy suffuses her pastel-and-pencil illustrations with a hazy light. Each vignette is a snapshot of Sammy and the classroom in which he lives. They're realistic, yet cute, especially when Sammy curls up in a ball, then tilts his head back and lets out a "WHEEP!" What Sammy really wants is love and attention, the students soon see, and that's the best lesson of all. (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

The 25 poems in this beautifully illustrated and designed anthology are evenly divided between real and imaginary horses and between rhyming and nonrhyming poetic forms. Schwartz has thoughtfully selected poems that show us horses at work (a police officer's mount, a young racehorse, a circus horse) and at play (merry-go-round horses, a child's toy pony). Many of the elements of poetry could be taught using this volume: several of the poems effectively use a galloping meter or successfully show the power of poetic metaphor through charging steeds glimpsed in crashing ocean waves or in racing clouds. Well-known poets are represented here with selections by Shakespeare, Frost, Whitman, and Christina Rossetti, with more contemporary poems by Aileen Fisher, Tony Johnston, and Jack Prelutsky. Two selections are by Native American poets, but no other minority cultures are represented (and the exclusion of a haiku along with all the other poetic forms seems an obvious oversight). The evocative illustrations by Berenzy (Home at Last, 1998, etc.) alternate between pastels and soft, moody graphite pencils that capture magical moments, such as the birth of a foal by moonlight. She has a genuine talent for depicting both realistic horses in motion and more ephemeral images such as the elusive unicorn, and her delicate, understated illustrations propel this collection into the winner's circle. As there is no other collection of equine-themed poems for children in print, this offering will be welcomed in larger poetry collection and by legions of horse-lovers young and old. (Poetry. 6-12)Read full book review >
RAPUNZEL by Alix Berenzy
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 1995

Everything is romanticized in this version, told in a slightly archaic and elevated manner—a fairy tale with all the yearnings of a love story. The illustrations, whether they are isolated figures next to the text or full-blown spreads, glow with light-filled strokes; Berenzy (The Frog Prince, 1989) uses paint and colored pencils on black paper with distinguished results that appear in the folds in the characters' clothes and in the quality of light at different times of day. Rapunzel and the prince gaze at each other expressively, but there's more than eye contact in this tale; she bears twins. For the first time, the use of Rapunzel's hair as a ladder seems utterly viable; her tresses fill her tower room and one long braid trails down the spine of the book. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8) Read full book review >
THE LAST SLICE OF RAINBOW AND OTHER STORIES by Joan Aiken
Released: April 1, 1988

Nine offbeat adventures occur in a fey but perfectly logical world, where very human children cope sensibly with magical events. An ill-tempered princess concentrates on her one skill: moving objects without touching them; but it's her kindhearted maid who, while carrying out an unreasonable order (dealing with a bathtub full of giant spiders), attracts a passing prince. A five-year-old queen is punished for teasing the cat: her hair screams, for years, till she first learns that she can bear it because she must, and then finds a creative use for it. Several of the stories deal symbolically (and sometimes enigmatically) with creativity; there's a boy in the habit of using short, rude words (they end in T: Dit, Fot, Sut) who learns in solitary silence the power of language, and a painter who has an ironic pair of encounters with a kelpie. On their primary level, these simple-seeming stories might have been written by talented children; Aiken's wildly original ideas are childlike in their inventiveness; but their skillful, thought-provoking combination is inimitably hers. A handsomely produced book; Berenzy's 11 white-on-black illustrations are delicately detailed, shining with the stories' bizarre humor. Read full book review >