Books by Anita Lobel

PLAYFUL PIGS FROM A TO Z by Anita Lobel
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 14, 2015

"Delightfully playful indeed. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Twenty-six pigs spend a glorious day playing with the alphabet. Read full book review >
TAKING CARE OF MAMA RABBIT by Anita Lobel
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 11, 2014

"A sweet little family tale. (Picture book. 2-5)"
Who can make Mama Rabbit feel better? Read full book review >
LENA'S SLEEP SHEEP by Anita Lobel
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 6, 2013

"A lovely 'Going-to-Bed Book' indeed. (Picture book. 2-5)"
When Lena's parents tuck her into bed, she inadvertently unleashes a bit of ovine chaos by asking them to leave the curtains open so she can see the full moon. Read full book review >
10 HUNGRY RABBITS by Anita Lobel
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 24, 2012

"Good, basic food to feed the youngest of minds. (Picture book. 2-5)"
Lobel, no stranger to gardening—or concept books—serves up a feast once again. Read full book review >
NINI LOST AND FOUND by Anita Lobel
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 14, 2010

Temptation leads Nini the tabby cat out an open door, away from her cozy house, through a vibrant garden and beyond, into dark woods. Nini's comfortable, compartmentalized indoor life appears in appropriately rigid, rectangular panels at the beginning of her story; she sits by the fire, curls in a tangle of yarn, snuggles in a quilt, all within safe little boxes. As she meanders through the garden's long grasses and bright zinnias, however, straight, structured boundaries give way to floating, sunny scenes on white space. Nini thinks, "Oh, this is really, really, really nice." Upon her entrance into the wild woods, whiteness completely disappears; branches, brambles and animals consume double-page spreads, running right off the borders. Night falls, and the watercolor-and-gouache paintings turn dark and dizzying; their once-charming intricacy sours into sickening confusion. Poor Nini! Lobel captures a cat's clear, opinionated and lovably hedonistic thinking in her simple storytelling. She also introduces the joys of home, the thrill of freedom and the scariness of the unknown to young readers, who will strain to hear the calls of Nini's owners in the night. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
HELLO, DAY! by Anita Lobel
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 2008

Lobel once again demonstrates that in the hands of a skilled creator, simple is best. Ten farm creatures greet the sunrise with their characteristic voices, e.g., "The Cat said, ‘Meow.' The Mouse said, ‘Eeeek.' / The Rabbit said, ‘Pr-pr-pr.' " One side of each spread depicts the animal with the apposed, large-type text set against white with the sound in a correlating color. Last is the owl "whoo" welcomes the night. Other picture books have illustrated a similar theme and approach, but few have the panache of Lobel's palette, flow, composition and brushwork. Her style is a luxurious blend of folk paintings, Monet-like imagery and irradiated color. The toddler set will squeal with delight, point to the animal, echo the sound and then say, "Read it again!" One hopes there's a companion book for evening just around the corner. (Picture book. 1-4)Read full book review >
NINI HERE AND THERE by Anita Lobel
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 2007

Nini, the cat from One Lighthouse, One Moon (2000), is dismayed when she sees piles of suitcases: Her family is going away—without her! She tries her usual ploys: lying on a suitcase; stretching across a mound of shoes; sitting on the guitar. Then, she spots the "big black thing." Hiding doesn't work—she's zipped into the carrying bag. Her meows of protest get smaller and smaller until she falls asleep. In her dreams, she flies in a hot-air balloon, bounces on the back of an elephant and rides a rocking horse. When her traveling bag is unzipped, Nini sees beautiful countryside, birds, butterflies and a white dog. From her new windowsill, Nina watches the sun set and moon rise; contented, she sighs, "They did not go away without me." Lobel's hallmark art and design paint a charming tale told by the striped tabby, one that will be quite familiar to cat owners who've experienced the trauma of transporting same. Nini's expressions tell it all. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
ANIMAL ANTICS by Anita Lobel
ABC BOOKS
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

This bright, bold alphabet concept book offers a circus tent of animal favorites dressed in a variety of hats and accessories below a series of agile acrobats contorting their bodies into the shapes of all 26 letters. Lobel uses deep hues in watercolors and white gouache to illustrate her menagerie of "adoring alligators," "elated elephants," "kooky koalas," "romping rabbits," "tender tigers," "eXuberant Xenopus" or "zany zebras." Her acrobats display an equal feeling of playfulness portraying clowns, pilgrims, Eastern European folk and even a likeness of the author herself. A final page of "Animal Answers" briefly gives a two to three sentence summary of the creature's actual characteristics and traits. A charming and literary frolic through a carnival of letters, descriptive adjectives and critters. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
SO HAPPY! by Kevin Henkes
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 2005

In a rich landscape that could be Mexico or the Southwest, a woman plants a seed; her son can't think of anything to do; and a little rabbit crosses a tiny bit of water "narrow as a ribbon." When the rains come, the seed starts growing, the boy is excited, and the rabbit gets "wet and scared." When the rain stops, the boy starts to build a bridge across the creek, now "wide as a door" and green shoots make a flower. There's a rainbow, the rabbit gets home crossing the bridge, and the boy brings the flower to his mother. Everyone was "so happy!" Using very few words, Henkes makes this marvelous, evocative tale sing. Lobel's brilliantly colored watercolor-and-gouache paintings capture both the shadows and the golden light, the hills and the scrub. The mother's dark braids and brightly embroidered clothing contrast nicely with the white muslin of her son's; when the father comes home at the end of the story (after galloping off in the morning), he wears a striped serape and brings his son a book about bridges. Reassuring and beautiful. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE by Rebecca Piatt Davidson
BIOGRAPHY
Released: April 1, 2003

A creative introduction to Shakespeare combines rhyming descriptions of some of the Bard's well-known characters with painterly illustrations in watercolor and white gouache. The text, in the style of "This Is the House that Jack Built," begins with young William and the Muse, who inspires him, then cumulatively introduces readers to Hamlet, Kate from The Taming of the Shrew, the feuding daughters of King Lear, and others. The names of the characters aren't revealed in the rhymes; they're for readers to figure out, and are unveiled in a key at the end that also provides brief information about the plays and other characters pictured. The marvelously integrated spreads include increasingly complex tableaux featuring all the characters as they appear in the text on the verso and a scene from the play in which the character appears on the recto, accompanied by a quote from the character in question. It's too bad that those of picture book age are too young to read or understand Shakespeare's plays once their interest has been piqued by these clever rhymes and richly-colored paintings. Nevertheless, this inventive approach, so well put together, will appeal to theater buffs and those teachers bound on introducing Shakespeare to those in elementary school. (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >
THE STABLE RAT  by Julia Cunningham
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

The author of Dorp Dead (1965) and other distinctive short novels in the '60s and '70s flies into radar range again with nine poems, all but the last sharing an "animals at the manger" theme. Their language is formal, their tone reverent and joyful: "Crows On A Certain Evening" break into "a choir of caws," while a lowly rat, "a fill of skin so small among their legs," is spurned by the other livestock but transformed at a touch from the newborn baby. A puzzled sheep goes along with the flock, hoping for answers; wild animals, Wise Men, and even the wind join in praise. In the matching art, Lobel (The Black Bull of Norroway, p. 410, etc.) is at her most radiant and spiritual, depicting gently smiling creatures, people, and an occasional angel clustering around the manger or frolicking in flower-strewn landscapes. In her final scene, paired to a mystical rhyme ("Be my flower, / Be my star. / Lend me a breath / Of what you are . . . "), a comet and a great rose hover over a child dancing among flowers. Lyrical, deeply felt work from author and artist both. (Picture book/poetry. 8-10)Read full book review >
THE BLACK BULL OF NORROWAY by Charlotte Huck
ADVENTURE
Released: April 30, 2001

Huck's and Lobel collaborate again (Toads and Diamonds, 1996, etc.) in a retelling of a very old Scottish tale. Huck's text is powerful and sweet, well-matched by Lobel's theatrically imagined pictures. Three sisters plan their marriages, and the youngest, Peggy Ann, wishes only for a husband who is kind and good—even if he's the Black Bull of Norroway. Naturally the Black Bull appears and takes her away, but he feeds her and chooses the easiest paths as he carries her on his back. They stop at three castles, owned by the Black Bull's three brothers, and each gives Peggy Ann a gift to use when "your heart is like to break and then to break again." When she takes a thorn from the bull's foot, he's restored to his true self as the Duke of Norroway, but only at night until he vanquishes the Guardian of the Glen. Peggy Ann is instructed to sit and wait for him without moving, but when she knows that he's won, her excitement moves her to stand and this makes it impossible for him to locate her. Setting out to find him herself, Peggy Ann is faced with a glass mountain, seven years of apprenticeship, the witch who first placed the Duke under a spell, and the witch's conniving daughter. In the end, she frees her beloved by perseverance and pluck—as well as the three treasures. The story's provenance is carefully traced in an author's note: though set in Norway, Peggy Ann's black braids and references to food and certain physical features clearly set it in the Scots tradition. Lobel's watercolor and ink illustrations are gorgeously rich in patterns: plaids and florals, watery swirls, and jagged peaks. Huck's effort to find "traditional tales that show plucky girls" pays off here. (Picture book/folktale. 7-10)Read full book review >
ONE LIGHTHOUSE, ONE MOON by Anita Lobel
ANIMALS
Released: April 30, 2000

In three short chapters of just a few words each, Lobel demonstrates her artistry for choosing the right ingredients to create a perfect concept book around the life of a small gray-striped cat. "All Week Long," the first story or chapter, presents not only the days of the week, but also colors, and in the process, accomplishes a fine assessment of one little girl's activities by focusing, cat's-eye view, on her footwear. Tuesday's flashy red cowboy boots take her bike-riding, and Saturday's demure pink toe shoes inspire Nini, the cat, to lift an elegant paw and so on. The second segment, "Nini's Year," evokes much more about months than simply their names, even during March, when the howling winds Nini listens to wouldn't seem to give an ordinary artist much to go on visually. The surprise here is the Nini of December, who "waited for good things," and proudly accepts her holiday gifts—three gray-striped kittens. The titular third story may seem a book-bulking appendage or a pretext for including number concepts, but it is also the necessary expansion of Nini's world, for she is a cat of the outdoors. Here her presence is diminished so that sometimes only a head peeps from the edges of white-framed illustrations depicting life around her home near a lighthouse. The book's culminating spread shows one moon smiling at a 100-starred cat constellation above a very tiny cat. There's neither a missing elementary concept nor a jarring fly in the ointment of this bewitching cat's charmed life. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
NO PRETTY PICTURES by Anita Lobel
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Sept. 17, 1998

A haunting look back by Lobel, a Polish Jew who "was born far, far away, on a bloody continent at a terrible time." Lobel writes of her life as a young girl, who "was barely five years old when the war began." She and her three-year-old brother did not understand when her father disappeared in 1939 (to Russia, she later learned), but very soon they understood the words "transported, deported, concentration camp and liquidation." Taken from a Benedictine convent that sheltered Jewish children, Lobel and her brother (by then, ten and eight) were first in Montelupi Prison, then in RavensbrÅck, where they were sick with lice, diarrhea, and tuberculosis. They were rescued and sent to Sweden to regain their health and eventually to be united with their parents. This is an inexpressibly sad book about a young girl who missed her childhood, yet survived to say that her life "has been good. I want more." (b&w photos, not seen) (Memoir. 10-14) Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Dec. 1, 1997

In this poem, a near-abstract thing is given, the aurora borealis, to the writer's love, ``stretching high into the sky, that fine big stack of shimmering swimmering lights, that good old reliable aurora borealis.'' Lobel's interpretation owes something to Cooper Edens's If You're Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow, portraying the poetic lines literally so that the light show is depicted as a pile of bladders of color delivered to a woman's doorstep. The earnest soul who delivers the aurora borealis becomes entangled in the lights; for those who must postpone knowing what happens to him, a ribbon has been affixed to mark the spot. It's an odd production; Sandburg's sentiments and Lobel's heart and color sense are certainly all in the right place, but the result (with the book's title appearing on the back of the jacket) is fussy and bewildering. (Picture book/poetry. 3-6) Read full book review >
MANGABOOM by Charlotte Pomerantz
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: April 1, 1997

Although this tale is somewhat disjointed, its tender bonhomie compensates. A boy, Daniel, happens across an enormous pink slipper at the foot of a huge mango tree. He clambers in and is hoisted aloft, where he meets Mangaboom—all 19 feet and 682 pounds of her—who tells him of her favorite pastimes: skinny-dipping and turning cartwheels. Two pieces of mail arrive with Daniel: an invitation to her aunt's for tea with three bachelor giants, and a love letter from someone named Grizwaldo. He begs Mangaboom to write, but before she can retrieve his address on the envelope, her goat eats it up. Crestfallen, Mangaboom heads off with Daniel to tea, where her suitors turn out to be dreadful rubes. Happily for Mangaboom, but unhappily for any potential drama surrounding the lost address, Grizwaldo writes the next day, saying he'll drop by that evening. Daniel takes his leave, though not without getting a glimpse of Grizwaldo (who looks a great deal like a giant Daniel). On the saucily suggestive last page, it looks as though they'll go skinny-dipping that night. Snippets of Spanish give this story an exotic air, and the affection the storyteller has for her characters is evident, even though a plot is not. Lobel's gouaches give a heroic touch to the proceedings, with Mangaboom's colossalness often bleeding right off the page. (Picture book. 5+) Read full book review >
TOADS AND DIAMONDS by Charlotte Huck
adapted by Charlotte Huck, illustrated by Anita Lobel
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

Deft storytelling combines with workmanlike pictures, making this picture book a useful, if not crucial, selection. Huck describes the many sources of this folktale, drawing particularly from Perrault's ``The Fairies.'' In this version, a widow and her natural daughter, Francine, make life miserable for the kind and charitable RenÇe, the woman's stepdaughter. RenÇe's disposition elicits the magical gift of having flowers and jewels cascade from her mouth as she speaks. When the horrid Francine tries for the same, she ends up displaying the results preceded by the quite wonderful line, ``You are not going to like it, Mother,'' as snakes and toads pour from her rude mouth. The language and rhythms are lovely to read aloud; Huck (as she explains in an author's note) attempts to make RenÇe resourceful instead of a stereotypically helpless female, although RenÇe's career goals are confined to a dream, and her destiny is a wedding. The drawings are uneven; the compositions are ordinary; and the people loom largely and then shrink out of proportion. The features of the faces shift from scene to scene, although the glorious stylized vegetation is sure to elicit admiration. (Picture book/folklore. 5+) Read full book review >
THE CAT AND THE COOK by Ethel Heins
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: April 1, 1995

Heins has taken 12 fables of Ivan Krylov, the Russian Aesop, and unfolded them into short texts full of crunchy poetic incrustations (``they tugged and shoved, sweated and strained, but the cart stubbornly refused to budge''). Krylov had a grim imagination, more didactic than facetious. A mighty eagle builds a nest in a tree; a tiny mole warns him that the tree's roots are rotted, making it unsafe; the eagle ignores the warning, and the tree falls and kills his family. A hunted wolf runs into a village and asks a cat if there is a place to hide; the cat suggests different houses, but the wolf rejects every suggestion since he has stolen animals from each place. ``You have no one to blame but yourself,'' the cat concludes. While Heins's prose retellings work from a stylistic point of view, they don't always hang together as stories without their jumpy rhymes and rhythms. The results are a little bizarre—many endings lack punch and simply peter out. Lobel's illustrations, which are crammed with the details of the fables and with images of peasant life, are exactly the kind of pictures that might appear in a Russian edition of the same book; the look is glorious, and nothing says pictures have to be fancy to be fun. (bibliography) (Picture book/folklore. 5+) Read full book review >
AWAY FROM HOME by Anita Lobel
ABC BOOKS
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

A name, an action, a city—that's all it takes for this gifted artist to devise an intriguing mini-drama for each letter; e.g., ``Edward escaped in Edinburgh'' or ``Henry hoped in Hollywood.'' Twenty-six children take their turns on a stage while six more respond with gusto from the front row. Stage hands peer from behind each new backdrop, delicate white pillars flank the action, and a cheery red curtain across the top completes a frame that, while creatively varied in its details, unifies the book. A last page identifies features of the sites—the clay soldiers at Xian, the Mayan temple at Uxmal. There's great variety among them—cathedrals, domestic architecture, ancient pyramids, a modern museum—and also in the actions: ``Isaac idled in Innsbruck'' (with skis but no snow); ``John juggled in Jerusalem.'' Lobel slips in subtler play with words (``William waited in Washington'') and art (as Zachary zigzags, so do passive lines in the art depicting him). A lovely book, wrought with exquisite care, with much to discover and ponder. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
PIERROT'S ABC GARDEN by Anita Lobel
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

Another enchanting alphabet from the illustrator of On Market Street (1981, Caldecott Honor). A diminutive Pierrot packs a gigantic basket with produce for his friend Pierrette— ``Asparagus,'' ``Beets,'' ``Flowers,'' exotics like ``Indian figs'' and ``a Pineapple,'' and finally a ``Ukelele'' and a ``Xylophone'' so that they can share music at their picnic, plus a ``Zebra'' to carry it all to Pierrette. Lobel's bright-colored illustrations are merry and decorative, with Pierrot's traditional costume ballooning around him as he gathers lettuces and mushrooms as large as he is. Charming. (Picture book. 3-7) Read full book review >
THIS QUIET LADY by Charlotte Zolotow
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 26, 1992

A little girl, pictured looking at family albums and portraits in the small illustrations in subdued colors on the text pages here, describes the vibrant full-page paintings opposite: "This baby smiling in her bassinette...is my mother"; "This young lady laughing with those boys is my mother"; "This quiet lady, lovely and large...is my mother...And here is where I begin." The simple descriptions make a good example of concrete language, but the real message is in Lobel's glowing, beautifully composed illustrations, in which every curve and form and carefully chosen detail breathes nurturing warmth and security. A familiar theme; a lovely book, powerful in its simplicity. (Picture book. 3-8)Read full book review >
THE DWARF GIANT by Anita Lobel
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: April 15, 1991

Set in Japan, a deeply felt variant on a classic theme that more often ends in tragedy. Prince Mainichi and his beautiful princess, Ichinichi, are perfectly happy until the prince is mesmerized by a dwarf they have welcomed into their palace. The flute the dwarf plays becomes a drum, turning their dance into rampant destruction that extends from palace to garden while the princess begs her husband to ``Stop these evil games!'' The dwarf's enticements become more nightmarish; growing to giant size, he resembles a leering cabaret clown from 1930's Berlin. Ichinichi is chased away, but just as Mainichi is about to be overwhelmed by the now-terrifying dwarf's malice she returns, in disguise, to save him. Peace again reigns but—in an enigmatic conclusion—other visitors await outside the palace. Rich in color and complex designs reflecting the story's cycle from happiness to disorder and back to serenity, these illustrations mark a new departure for this fine illustrator, their allusive power reinforcing the Faustian subtext—which will be of most interest to adults. Meanwhile, for children, a beautifully illustrated tale about a man bewitched, brought back to himself by his wife's courage and ingenuity. (Picture book. 5+) Read full book review >
THE ROSE IN MY GARDEN by Arnold Lobel
Released: April 18, 1984

A horticultural House That Jack Built—with the infectiousness of a nursery rhyme, an abundance of child-wise visual detail, a rousing return-to-square-one climax. The first stanza is picture-book genius: "This is the rose in my garden/ This is the bee/ That sleeps on the rose in my garden." There is the garden, flora and fauna; there, in abeyance, is "the plot"—for what sleeps must awaken. Successively, other flowers join the rose: "Hollyhocks high above ground," "marigolds orange and round," "zinnias straight in a row," "daisies white as the snow"—and, lastly, "tulips sturdy and tall," "sunflowers tallest of all." (Gardeners will regret—but mostly forgive—seeing spring tulips alongside summer's-end sunflowers.) Meanwhile one or another garden denizen—snail, butterfly, beetle, hummingbird, ladybug, ant—makes its way (often, from literally outside the picture) into the scene, to go about its customary business unnoted except by any and every child. Then, a disruption: "This is the fieldmouse shaking in fear"—who'll be chased by "the cat with the tattered ear," tearing through the flower-border, waking the bee. . . who (wordlessly) stings the cat, leaving "the rose in my garden." An old English floral design, in effect, come to exuberant life. Read full book review >
ON MARKET STREET by Arnold Lobel
Released: April 6, 1981

An almost wordless alphabet book that is simple, original, gimmick-free, and bursting with the surprise and delight to be found on a stroll along Market Street. Bracketed by a modestly old-fashioned, prim rhyme ("Such wonders there on Market Street!/ So much to catch my eye!") is a series of full-page human figures, based (we are told) on 17th-century French trade engravings, each composed (except for face and hands) of whatever commodity it represents—from a luscious, spanking fresh opener of red and green apples, tree branches, baskets, leaves, and blossoms, to a comical, floppy two-dimensional zipper man devoid of a supporting frame. In the cleverest, most notably musical instruments and umbrellas, the objects are an integral part of the structure—but then the noodles and vegetables figures are marvels of ingenuity, as is the figure made of eggs: whole eggs in baskets, hard-boiled egg halves, jagged shell halves, egg cups with painted chicken feet for feet, and a prominent red comb and beaked mask. There are elaborate women made of glittering clocks and jewels, a profusion of pretty spring flowers, and people composed of sedate gloves dove-tailed intriguingly, dashing hats, splendid kites, jaunty flyaway ribbons, and more. . . all in fresh, clear, pleasing colors, altogether an inexhaustible visual feast. Read full book review >
A TREEFUL OF PIGS by Arnold Lobel
Released: April 2, 1979

The lazy farmer thinks he's safe when he promises to help his wife with the farm work "on the day that pigs grow in trees like apples," but she outwits him at this and every turn—and Anita Lobel makes the treeful of happy, apple-chomping, rope-harnessed pigs a properly silly sight. As it was the farmer who wanted the pigs in the first place and the wife who expressed qualms about the work involved, it's all the more satisfying to witness her ultimate victory—she hides the pigs, then refuses to help him look for them until "the day that you jump out of bed, put on your clothes, and promise never to be lazy again." And as Arnold Lobel lets the pictures tell much of the story, it's all the more delightful to see, each time, how the clever wife deploys the pigs. Charmingly foolish but far from frivolous, this has the roots and home truth of a sturdy folk tale (say "The Little Red Hen")—plus the blooming, bright good humor of Anita Lobel's flowery farm, where at the finally industrious day's end "the farmer, the farmer's wife and the pigs sat down [together] to a delicious dinner of corn pudding and hot corn muffins." (Just one question: considering who does most of the work throughout, wouldn't "the farmer" and "the farmer's husband" be a likelier designation?) Read full book review >
Released: March 28, 1977

Lobel is in direct touch with the preschool funnybone in this folklike tale of a robber who creeps at night into a barn, aiming to make off with the rooster. But the rooster throws him off guard by claiming deafness due to having quacked too much. . . no, barked. . . sorry, oinked. . . or was it mooed? With each new claim the robber scoffs and corrects the rooster ("It is dogs who are the barking ones," etc.) and at last, loud enough for the purportedly deaf rooster to hear, he demonstrates what roosters should say—thereby crowing up the sun, which causes him to flee for fear of being seen. Anita Lobel puts this low-comic robber/rooster encounter on a stage framed with elaborate, fantastic curtains, and she depicts each of the rooster's claimed, unroosterlike activities (i.e., swimming and quacking with the ducks) with rich, mock-serious fullness. It's not the look most would envision for the story's simple humor, but it makes a splendid show, and this wily rooster, in all his golden glory, is a natural performer. Read full book review >