Books by Barbara Lavallee

THIS PLACE IS COLD by Vicki Cobb
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 15, 2013

"Alaska may seem like an unforgiving landscape, but set within the safety of these pages, readers can travel far and wide. (author's note) (Informational picture book. 5-8)"
Updated from the 1989 version, this reissue still has enough incredible facts and bitter cold to make readers shiver in excitement. Read full book review >
THE KNITTING OF ELIZABETH AMELIA by Patricia Lee Gauch
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2009

A whimsical original fairy tale about motherhood. When Elizabeth Amelia's mother discovers a ball of yarn in the attic, she knits a woollen baby. With wry ingenuity, Gauch describes the perks of a yarn child: She's bouncy, she washes well and she is warm—both in spirit and person. After her marriage, Elizabeth Amelia longs for a child of her own. Unable to find just the right yarn to use, she unravels just a bit of her own wool to knit a baby girl. Four children later, Elizabeth Amelia has undone herself until she is almost all gone: "Elizabeth Amelia," exclaims her husband. "You're nothing but a pillow!" With her family's encouragement, the irrepressible Elizabeth Amelia re-knits herself into a new creation, complete with crimson shoes so she and her husband can go dancing again. Lavallee's watercolor illustrations, featuring an array of rich hues, are a natural extension of the tale. Her detailed pictures neatly capture the folksy nature of the story. With humor and a dash of wisdom, this allegorical tale examines the transforming nature of parenthood, in both its positive and negative aspects. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
GRANDMA CALLS ME BEAUTIFUL by Barbara M. Joosse
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 26, 2008

The very successful picture-book team of Joosse and Lavallee have previously explored mother love in Mama, Do You Love Me? (1991) and father love in Papa, Do You Love Me? (2005). They now visit grandmother love in this story of a Hawaiian grandmother and her granddaughter, Beautiful. Hawaiian words are sprinkled throughout the text with a glossary appended. (There's also a string game with instructions in the back of the book.) The now-familiar formula makes for a sweet offering that some may find endearing but many will deem cloying and sticky. The similes seem forced: Beautiful has "breath as sweet as breadfruit pudding" and skin as "soft as kappa cloth." And here Lavallee's signature style—splitting her characters' faces, with one-half light-skinned and the other dark—is somehow disturbing. Without the graceful symmetry of previous efforts, it's as if half a face is attached to a profile, with an ultimately confusing result. Die-hard fans of this team may appreciate the offering, but most will find it redundant and/or disconcerting. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
PAPA, DO YOU LOVE ME? by Barbara M. Joosse
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2005

A pendant and companion to this duo's beloved Mama, Do You Love Me? (1991). While the gorgeous and glowing colors of the Maasai in Africa are very different from the Alaskan setting of the first book, the universality and beautiful emotional rhythms of the story remain the same. A boy asks his father the question of the title, and his father replies, "You came from your mama, whom I love, your grandpapas and grandmamas, whom I honor . . . You are my Tender Heart, and I love you." The boy asks, how long, and what would you do if it were hot, and what if I was afraid, and the father responds each time in deep rumbling tenderness: He will love his boy as long as "the Serengeti rolls to the sky," he would stretch out his blanket for shade, he would hold his son. The pictures are rich in tone and hue, expressive line and expansive gesture: Repeated motifs of textile and bead patterns, wild animal groups and a splendid curvilinear tree echo and support the text. Sure to be another bestseller. (glossary) (Picture book. 3-8)Read full book review >
ALL YOU NEED FOR A SNOWMAN by Alice Schertle
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

A rollicking combination of poet (Good Night, Hattie, My Dearie, My Dove, p. 345, etc.) and illustrator (The Gift, not reviewed, etc.) will have exuberant toddlers and their families following along as colorfully clad youngsters build a huge feathery snowman. Watercolor and gouache paintings use white space to the fullest advantage, as the snowman becomes larger and larger. So large that it takes a vertical doublespread for the artist to show off the finished product. Light blue, watercolor snowflakes are a background to the lively activities of the many youngsters. Perspective changes from close-ups to full scenes that work with the pace of the poetry. The placement of the text is a seamless part of the design and oftentimes is as rollicking as the picture. "Three hand-packed, / triple-stacked / balls of snow. / Hat on top, / where a hat should go— / that's all you need / for a snowman. / EXCEPT for . . ." The last two words are at the bottom of the right-hand page and beg for it to be turned. The hatted, scarved, and booted toddlers are dwarfed beside their creation and are an integral part of the design. With the snowman finished, there is another snowstorm and the fun begins to make a snowman's friend. One snowman sports a fanny pack and sneakers, the other wears skis and suspenders. A treat in text and pictures to be read again and again. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
UNO, DOS, TRES: ONE, TWO, THREE by Pat Mora
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 22, 1996

Another bilingual rhyme from Mora (Listen to the Desert/Oye al Desierto, 1994, etc.), this one a simple one-to-ten counting book featuring two little girls in a Mexican market who are buying birthday presents for their mother. Repetition—and a growing sense of excitement—is built in as the numbers advance; the girls take a break to rest with their many purchases while the life of the plaza swirls by, providing opportunities to count folk dancers, park benches, mariachi musicians, and canopied, flower-bedecked balconies. The book concludes with an author's note and a helpful pronunciation guide. The subdued, gray-green cover and endpapers with their Aztec designs give no hint of the blazing red, orange, pink, blue, and purple within. The dark-eyed, round-cheeked visages of Lavallee's Mexicans are indistinguishable from those of her Inuit characters in Barbara M. Joose's Mama, Do You Love Me? (1991), but in art this stylized, it probably doesn't matter. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
THIS PLACE IS LONELY by Vicki Cobb
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 5, 1991

Nearly a third of this addition to the ``Imagine Living Here'' series describes life in the Australian outback, where ``a mid-sized station with eight thousand sheep is two hundred square miles.'' Cobb states that ``If you lived on the outback of Australia, the only people you would see every day would be your own family''; indeed, the illustration shows a man shearing by hand with just his wife and two children assisting. Is it possible for two adults to shear 8000 sheep without assistance? Balance is a problem throughout; e.g., only one page discusses aboriginal people, while Captain Cook rates three. And, though decorative, the landscapes are so stylized as to be useless for identification, while not only sheep but the platypus, emu, and spiny anteater are all sky blue. Visually striking, but this adds little to the understanding of flora, fauna, or people. (Nonfiction. 8-10) Read full book review >