Books by Barbara Joosse

Released: Dec. 1, 2018

"While it won't find much of an audience beyond already interested tourists, this guide to Milwaukee is a cut above its ilk, and it bodes well for the rest of the series. (Picture book. 4-7)"
An unexpectedly attractive addition to the standard picture-book travel guide. Read full book review >
SAIL AWAY DRAGON by Barbara Joosse
Released: Oct. 24, 2017

"Fans of the series will delight in seeing these favorites again, and Girl and Dragon should win some new ones. (Picture book. 3-6)"
A young girl and a dragon take their sweet friendship on an adventure. Read full book review >
BETTER TOGETHER by Barbara Joosse
Released: Aug. 1, 2017

"A pleasant introduction to the power in sticking together. (Board book. 1-3)"
Animals discover they are not alone. Read full book review >
EVERMORE DRAGON by Barbara Joosse
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"A beguiling read-aloud for more than princess-and-dragon lovers. (Picture book. 3-6)"
The comforting friendship between a young girl and an enormous dragon deepens. Read full book review >
HOORAY PARADE by Barbara Joosse
Released: June 13, 2013

"Recommended only for those in desperate need of more interactive books for preschool children or for avid fans of the author. (Picture book. 2-5)"
Awkward verse rains on this homemade parade. Read full book review >
LOVABYE DRAGON by Barbara Joosse
Released: Sept. 11, 2012

"A strong and hopeful tale. (Picture book. 3-6)"
When the tears of a young princess trickle onto a dragon, a sweet friendship is born. Read full book review >
DOG PARADE by Barbara Joosse
Released: Sept. 5, 2011

Dogs of diverse descriptions are coerced by their owners into participating in a costume parade in this less-than-engaging story that tries too hard to be funny. Read full book review >
FRIENDS (MOSTLY) by Barbara Joosse
Released: Oct. 1, 2010

Bestselling picture-book author Joosse teams up with a novice illustrator for this depiction of friendship between a little boy and girl. Less a story than an episodic presentation of the ups and downs of Henry and Ruby's days together, successive pages show them first enjoying each other's company and then squabbling when their differing personalities clash or when they feel insecure in their bond. "Usually we're friends, but sometimes we're unfriends. It all depends," read the opening pages. Throughout the book, Milian captures the children's exuberant play in watercolors embellished with line that at times include background detail and at other times use white space to highlight action in the scenes. The lack of a full story arc might leave some kids unsatisfied—readers meet the characters and can believe in their affection for one another, but the text doesn't really achieve much more than this. Perhaps other children will recognize themselves in Henry and Ruby and feel this is enough. A (mostly) good picture book. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2010

A young elephant child says goodbye to all that is familiar and "in the regular place" and sets off to Gramma's. The text's refrain, "Oh. We love each other so," is punctuated by the rollicking activities that she and her "Gramma silly / silly millie silly millie" do together—a tea party, painting, a bath, dancing, watching a storm from the porch swing and falling "asleep / …inside a hug." Joosse may have captured the breathless excitement and stream-of-consciousness thinking that carry the young narrator a little too well, as the tale does not flow so much as bounce along, willy-nilly. Jutte's illustrations are jam-packed full of details. Readers get a clear sense of the child's excitement and activity level, but they will never lose sight of the relationship being celebrated. The colors in the ink, watercolor and acrylic illustrations lend the artwork a retro feel, and the elephants may remind many readers of Babar. A sweet theme, but the gentle rhymes and less-frenetic pace of Mary Ann Hoberman's I'm Going to Grandma's, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke (2007), may be more suitable for younger listeners. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2010

Banty Hen feels broody and lays seven beautiful eggs for the Aunties to bucka-buk over. She keeps them safe and warm, and "[s]oon tiny beaks pip the shells. / Pip. / Rip! / Peek. / PEEP!" Seven fluffy, curious, energetic chicks race around the barnyard. They don't know what's dangerous and what isn't, so Banty Hen has to keep them safe. Is a cat dangerous? A snake? A raccoon? Good thing Banty Hen has the help of the Aunties, Rooster and Duck. With its onomatopoeic kaks, kuks and bucka-buks, Joosse's latest straddles the line between cartoon and natural-history narrative. There are several opportunities for short counting lessons of eggs or blue-eyed chicks as they race across the pages. Chrustowski's full-bleed collage illustrations, a departure from his usual highly saturated colored-pencil artwork, are the real standout here. The author's "How Little Chicks Grow" note at the back leaves out Rooster's part in the process but is otherwise complete; the illustrator's note discusses both his models and his methods. For larger collections or where the author's books are a draw. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
ROAWR!  by Barbara Joosse
by Barbara Joosse, illustrated by Jan Jutte
Released: April 1, 2009

"One dark and snarly night" Liam, whose father is away, attempts to fend off the bear he imagines is threatening his sleeping mother. After she falls "snore asleep," he hears a "ROAWR!" Liam calls for his mom, but she continues snoring, so naturally he packs up a bag containing his shovel, sticks and string and double-cake and heads off on the lookout. As a forest grows around his room, Wild Things-style, Liam manages to trap the bear in a hole and feed it until it falls asleep. It seems Liam enjoys a good bear hunt, and this big grizzly bears a remarkable resemblance to Liam's eyepatch-wearing teddy. As lively and quirky—and crackingly good as a read-aloud—as Liam's adventure is, however, Joosse and Jutte do not navigate the boundary between reality and imagination as masterfully as Sendak did. The ink, watercolor and acrylic illustrations, boldly outlined in cartoon fashion, are full of humor but do not assist enough in visually delineating what's real from what's not. Liam's unconscious is a distinctly more fearful place than Max's, marking this as not for the easily frightened. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 2008

A little girl and her toy rabbit riff on love in a sort of free-association celebration. Standard stuff—"You can love someone... / and also be angry"—gives way to more esoteric topics—"Usually / every single person / and every single animal has a heart... / except for sponges / who don't have any / and worms / who have five"—all with the same winsome narration. Plecas's wry ink-and-watercolor vignettes are rendered in a controlled palette against a creamy background; speech balloons in red add flair (five separate balloons declare "thump!" next to the worm). It's hard to argue with this one. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
IN THE NIGHT GARDEN by Barbara Joosse
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

Three girls use the power of their imaginations to transform themselves. Just before bedtime, a trio of friends frolics in the garden, each pretending to be her favorite animal. Joosse's adroit wordcraft uses visceral imagery, conveyed in sparse yet evocative language, to conjure up the creature each child has envisioned, whether it be a foraging bear with snapping teeth, a singing whale or a lonesome, howling sled dog. The ingenious play extends through the nightly rituals, as "bear," "whale" and "sled dog" prepare for slumber. The magical tale unfolds with little verbal fanfare, the author's tidy prose conveying maximum effect and encouraging readers to unfurl their own imaginations. Sayles's acrylic-and-pastel illustrations seamlessly complement the story. With ethereal images rendered in a soothing blend of evening hues, her artful merging of each child's actual and imagined self is simply stunning. This lovely tale is bound to be a favorite request at bedtime. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2007

Chatty and knowledgeable about today's etiquette, a little girl named Harriet with red "curly burly" locks demonstrates good words and phrases for all kinds of situations. But it's not just the words, as she points out, that are important. It's how, why and when you say them that matter just as much. "Please. . . puts a smile on your words" and "thank you" is "twice as nice." "I'm sorry" and "excuse me" are trouble words, while "may I help you" can help "make the world nice." Complimenting someone is important, as is knowing when to speak or not. Joosse presents concepts with just the right child-like appeal and humor to make kids giggle, yet appreciate her advice. Small ink-and-watercolor cartoon drawings of Harriet dressed in purple and pink against an off-white empty background lead the reader through some amusing scenarios and the dos and don'ts of each. Purple hand-lettered style-font for the representative dialogue enclosed in talking bubbles completes the design. Good words of wisdom for the right kind of manners. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
WIND-WILD DOG by Barbara Joosse
Released: Oct. 1, 2006

An Alaskan sled dog with a yen to run wild finds her true calling in this northern tale of man and dog. Puppy Ziva is born with one brown eye, one blue eye and her nose to the wind. Superstitious sled-dog owners shy away from Ziva, believing two-color eyes equal wildness. But one Man takes a shine to Ziva, wooing her with patience and kindness and training her with steadiness and praise. On nights when the wolf's cry carries on the wind, the Man knows Ziva longs to be free. At the winter solstice, the Man tests Ziva by hitching her with his team of dogs and racing them across the frozen landscape. That night, as the wind howls and the wolf calls, he unchains Ziva and she races into the night to find the wolf. Will Ziva run with the wolves or return to the Man? Realistic oil illustrations in winter blues, tans, whites and greens showcase the growing bond between man and dog. A heartwarming call of the wild for the small set. (author's notes) (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
NIKOLAI, THE ONLY BEAR by Barbara Joosse
Released: March 1, 2005

A sensitive adoption story loosely based on fact, but given an imaginative twist that makes it uncommonly moving. All of the residents of Novosibirsk Orphanage Number One are human except for Nikolai. Being a bear, his play is too rough for the children, his roars and growls not understood by his adult caregivers. But that all changes when a man with a "furry face" and a woman with "moonlight hair and lake water eyes" arrive from America to hold his paw, growl and roughhouse with him, and at last, ask him to be part of their family. Liwska debuts with quietly composed scenes in muted colors; Nikolai, a small, smudged, dark brown cub with a red kerchief, stands out among the other ragdoll-like figures, his feelings expressed in relatively subtle but clear shifts of head and posture. Economically told, deeply felt, this will leave readers feeling, like Nikolai near the end, "soft bearish." (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
HOT CITY by Barbara Joosse
Released: June 1, 2004

On a smoldering summer day, an African-American girl and her little brother sit on porch steps, "hot as a fry pan," trying to figure out how to cool off. When the icy pleasure of snow cones proves all too temporary, the two head for the local library, where they know it will be cool all day long. Once inside, Mimi transports herself to faraway lands through the magic of reading; the next four double-page spreads wordlessly showcase Princess Mimi's royal adventures in the enchanted forest, complete with fancy gown and the requisite ride on a pink unicorn. Joe, absorbed in his book of dinosaurs, is never far away, nor are the hot city streets that sneak back into the picture. Christie's vivacious, artfully distorted, stylized paintings are drenched in vibrant pinks, reds, and orange acrylics that sizzle along with the rhythmic, smooth-as-melted-butter voices. More slice of life than plot-driven story, this unusual urban portrait celebrates libraries and the delicious escape that books—and air-conditioning—offer. A vivid, if somewhat meandering summer-in-the-city vignette. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

A blizzard makes it impossible for anyone to leave, turning an evening of caroling, food, and presents into a sleepover at Granny's house for the whole family. Granny spends weeks baking, decorating, and wrapping in preparation for the arrival of her large family. Her dog Edgar eagerly awaits the patting hands of the lively group while Fat Cat can be found scowling under a chair or behind a sofa. When they all finally arrive, they troop in to sit down for a huge dinner and an evening of Christmas fun. At some point during the evening, the soft fall of snowflakes becomes a blowing storm making it impossible to go home. Some blankets and a few pillows make wonderful nests for the family as they find room on the living-room floor. An inventory of the various family members finds each making the best of things, even Fat Cat, who finds a warm tummy to curl up on. "Whhhhh went the wind . . . Shhhhh went the snow . . . Tick tick tick went the grandfather clock but everyone was fast asleep." Lewin's (Dumpy La Rue, p. 510, etc.) charming line and watercolor illustrations of the holiday season fill these pages with bustling detail, adding a whimsical touch to the tale of one family's Christmas. A wonderful addition to a seasonal collection. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2001

Joosse (A Houseful of Christmas, 2001, etc.) tells the story of a boy's sadness over his older brother's growing gang involvement and of his idea to speak out against it. The young narrator talks about the night outside his house: "Sometimes, Mama and me look down at the street and pretend it's not the city. We shut our eyes so only a crack is open, lookin' through our eyelashes, and pretend we live on the moon. . . . If there's shots fired, we say it's the light of the stars crackin' the darkness." He is "afraid of what's out there," and depends on his brother Richard sleeping by his side (the window side) to protect him. Despite the narrators protestations that "We got each other. . . . We sure don't need no bangers," Richard starts staying out nights and wearing colors, and so the narrator and his mother get the idea to organize neighborhood peace walks, bringing families out into the streets at night. Christie's deep and vivid palate frames the story, playing perspectives and shapes against the joy and tension-filled faces of the characters. His naïve style of painting may not appeal to all kids, who will also be aware that this is a "teaching" story, in the vein of Eve Bunting's Smoky Night (1994). Nevertheless, it is well executed in word and picture, and shows an aspect of urban life that is rare in picture books, but sadly common in many kids' lives. An annotated list of resources on gang prevention is included. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >