Books by Anna Vojtech

SURPRISE IN THE MEADOW by Anna Vojtech
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 15, 2016

"Sweet but also nourishing. (Informational picture book. 2-7)"
A chipmunk watches a sunflower grow, from seed to seed dispersal. Read full book review >
LOOK WHAT I CAN DO! by Nancy Viau
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 12, 2013

"This title was clearly produced with the best of intentions, but regrettably, it does not quite coalesce into a successful reading experience. (Picture book. 3-5)"
Baby animals strive to "stand up strong," leap high and "spin a trap." But learning is full of challenges, distractions and fun. In this message-driven tale, children see how various creatures struggle to develop and gain confidence. Read full book review >
THE FRIENDLY BEASTS by Anna Vojtech
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2012

"As the only large-format edition of this carol currently in print, it will be a useful purchase for use with children at Christmas sing-alongs or church programs as well as at home. (Picture book/religion. 3-7)"
The familiar, old English carol using the voices of the animals approaching the Nativity scene serves as the text in this attractively illustrated, large-format version. Read full book review >
THE STORY OF THE EASTER ROBIN by Dandi Daley Mackall
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 2010

Mackall offers a trite, heavy-handed story of a little girl named Tressa and her grandmother, who are preparing decorations for Easter as they observe a robin's nest on their windowsill. Tressa worries about the safety of the robin's eggs, and her grandmother reassures her that God watches over robins as well as sparrows. The grandmother recounts a Pennsylvania Dutch legend about a robin that sees Jesus with his crown of thorns as he is carrying his cross. The robin tries to remove a thorn stuck in Jesus's forehead, and a drop of Christ's blood turns the robin's breast a rosy red. Robins with their red breasts are thus explained as an Easter symbol of Christ's suffering. Vojtech provides attractive full-page paintings with an appealing little girl and bright-eyed robins, but the story preaches rather than entertains. (author's note) (Religion/picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL by Cecil Frances Alexander
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2004

Bright and beautiful watercolor illustrations and a large format with a thoughtful design combine to bring new life to the old words of this familiar hymn written in 1848. The rhyming text attributes everything under the sun to God's creation, from "all creatures great and small" to the tallest mountain, and from the general (the wind, the seasons) to the specific (each little bird and each ripe fruit). The cheerful illustrations on double-page spreads contain a central panel that specifically illustrates the relevant text surrounded by a large border that includes related flowers, trees, and wildlife. A sister and brother pair and their spotted dog are shown in each central panel, while a pair of mice provides a continuous thread in the borders throughout. The large, luminous illustrations make this an ideal choice for reading aloud to a group, and the short, simple text could also be sung, though the music for the hymn is not included. (Picture book/nonfiction. 3-7)Read full book review >
TOUGH BEGINNINGS by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2001

All sorts of baby animals have tough beginnings, whether they are tiny sea turtles scrambling to reach the ocean before they are eaten, cicadas emerging from a 17-year sleep, or penguin chicks surviving in the minus-70-degree temperatures of Antarctica. Singer (Fred's Bed, p. 593, etc.) gives interesting details about a dozen diverse animals from around the world, including opossums, whales, wood ducks, fruit bats, desert spadefoot toads, and kangaroos. The newly hatched Komodo dragon lizard may face the biggest challenge. Papa is a large lizard that eats anything that moves, including his own young. Says Singer in one of her opening captions: "It's not easy when Dad wants to eat you . . ." Each animal is presented in a double-paged spread with a full-color painting capturing both the habitat and the animal described. Especially successful are the plates showing the desert spadefoot toad from egg to adult and the cicada nymph buried under the roots of a tree and also emerging as an adult. Last to be introduced is the human baby. Though Singer writes: "Compared with many other babies, we humans have it easy." She gives brief facts about more animal babies, a note urging conservation, and, on the back cover, connects all the animals introduced with a poem which begins: "It's tough to begin on the beaches, / It's tough to begin in the seas. / It's tough to hang on to your mother, / It's hard to jump out of trees." The picture-book format, handsome paintings, and fascinating choice of facts presented make this an engaging and useful science nature title for younger children. (Nonfiction. 5-8)Read full book review >
OVER IN THE MEADOW by Olive A. Wadsworth
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2001

The animal cast of this 19th-century counting rhyme has been subject to many variations; here, Vojtech (Tough Beginnings: How Baby Animals Survive, 2001, etc.) chooses a set and arranges them on oversized pages in intimate gatherings of smiling, smoothly painted single-parent families. She places them into an idyllic meadow scattered with appropriate numbers of bugs, flowers, and other items for enthusiastic young counters to enumerate. There's no musical arrangement for the odd parent who doesn't already know the tune, and despite mother beaver's order to "beave," her ten offspring are shown asleep—but children will find this rendition easier on the eye than the frantic Langstaff/Rojankovsky edition (1957, 1985), or Ezra Jack Keats's self-consciously arty version (1971). (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
OTTER PLAY by Nancy Luenn
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 1998

In a brief text, Luenn (Mother Earth, 1992, etc.) explores the parallels between a family of humans and a family of otters a few yards away who mimic each other through a peaceful day on the river, fishing, enjoying a meal, swimming, horsing around, settling down for the night. In framed, slightly misty watercolors, Vojtech artfully poses the two groups on facing pages: child and otter stretch identically, splash with the same verve, wrestle with a parent, then snuggle, one in a sleeping bag, the other in a burrow, to dream. The otters' play of expressions may be anthropomorphic—especially on the book jacket, where they look as if they are laughing—but their gestures and postures, like the lightly detailed setting, are natural and accurately depicted. A playful, inventive way of connecting young viewers to the natural world. (Picture book. 5-7) Read full book review >
SONG OF THE CAMELS by Elizabeth Coatsworth
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

The point of view of Coatsworth's 1935 poem—narrated by the wise men's camels—is still a fresh one. The spare text contains enough concrete details to bring the desert world to life. As the wise men arrive at the manger, ``The olives were windy and white,/Dust swirled through the town,/As all in their royal robes/Our masters knelt down.'' Tall, narrow pages lend themselves well to distant vistas with the star shimmering far ahead in the east; Vojtech's duskily glowing oil paintings capture all the sweep of sand and sky. Sometimes the picture moves in close—a camel's legs are all knobby knees and splayed feet—filling the entire spread. On the very next page the perspective pulls back to an almost aerial view, with the camels a tiny presence in the wide expanse of desert. A lovely and original holiday entry. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
MARUSHKA AND THE MONTH BROTHERS by Anna Vojtech
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 31, 1996

This Slavic folktale features Marushka, a Cinderella-like figure whose smile is said to bring a thaw in January. Not only does she wait upon her lazy stepmother and loathsome stepsister, Holena, she must also cater to their demands: It may be January, but Holena wants violets. ``And don't come back without them,'' Holena's mother bellows into a blizzard. Marushka struggles through the snow, up a mountainside, where she happens upon the Month Brothers, 12 odd fellows who minister over the seasons. Brother March conjures spring just long enough for Marushka to pick a posy. Next Holena wants strawberries; Brother June helps out. Then apples—Brother September bails Marushka out one last time. Greed does in the hideous Holena and her mother, and their comeuppance is deeply gratifying. So are Vojtech's illustrations, shot through with folkloric touches and redolent of the seasons. (Picture book/folklore. 5-8) Read full book review >
TEN FLASHING FIREFLIES by Philemon Sturges
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 1995

Don't use the ``e'' word (ecology) on this nighttime reverie. Into the gloaming go two children, intent on gathering an ensemble of fireflies. One, two, three, four . . . their quarry mounts to ten, flashing bright in their glass cage. When the children retire for the night, they find that the fireflies are ``Blinking so slowly in our jar.'' Off comes the lid and the fireflies escape into the night, dazzling again. Sturges's text counts up and back, a liturgical melodiousness in its pleasant, repetitive fashioning. The story is entirely at home in Vojtech's dreamy, nocturnal watercolors, the fireflies radiating just the right amount of magical incandescence. There is a summer's insouciance to the illustrations, which show warm, rich colors coaxed from the darkling landscape: The bright windows add a secure note, the shadowy silhouettes of the pine woods a touch of menace. If the message regarding freedom and caring is well trod, it's all for the best; a message like this bears repeating. A book quietly luminous as its subject. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
THE FIRST STRAWBERRIES by Joseph Bruchac
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

A gentle story of the Sun's healing of marital discord by a gift of ripe strawberries that magically grow at the feet of an angry woman as she flees her husband's harsh words, thus halting her departure long enough for him to catch up and make amends. Thereafter, the story concludes, whenever the Cherokee eat strawberries, they are reminded to be kind to one another. Quietly luminous watercolors capture details of dress, dwelling, implements, flora, and fauna against an open landscape of rolling hills. Small touches dramatize the story's moods: a bouquet of brown-eyed Susans flung to the ground in anger; an empty nest in a pine tree as the woman disappears behind the western hills; the glimmer of a single firefly as man and wife are reconciled. Complete harmony of text and pictures: altogether lovely. (Folklore/Picture book. 5-10)Read full book review >