Books by Bill Grossman

MY LITTLE SISTER HUGGED AN APE by Bill Grossman
ABC BOOKS
Released: Sept. 28, 2004

The adventurous younger sibling who Ate One Hare—and so much more—back in 1996 returns, no older, to hug her way exuberantly through an alphabet of flamboozled creatures, from Ape to Zebra. Like its predecessor, the gross-out factor is high, but not off the charts—"My little sister hugged a BUG / A mighty tiny thing to hug. / It slipped from her arms and flew up her nose. / Bugs prefer noses to arms, I suppose"—and Hawkes's scenes of underlit figures with oversize heads and popping eyes will also have children rolling in the aisles, but not losing their lunches. The hugging spree ends with a final, aw-shucks embrace of big brother, who's been following along with a camera—a perfect end to the best touchy-feely read-aloud since Grossman's like-themed Donna O'Neeshuck Was Chased By Some Cows (1988), illustrated by Sue Truesdell. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
TIMOTHY TUNNY SWALLOWED A BUNNY by Bill Grossman
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 31, 2001

Eighteen slaphappy poems play nimbly with words, names, and crazy situations. Grossman goes for the yucks with these loopy rhymes, but there's a hint of sophistication: "Timothy Tunny / Swallowed a bunny. / The bunny got lodged in his throat. / ‘That bunny looks funny,' / His mom said, ‘but Honey, / Be thankful it isn't a goat.' " And there are a number that have the mischief of a Shel Silverstein poem—"A witch mean and bad / Imprisoned poor Dad /In a bottle of pop in the closet. / We couldn't free Dad / And were sad when we had / To return him for the nickel deposit." For all the nonsense and whimsy, young readers will come away from the verse with a good sense of the suppleness of language and how it can be an agent of abiding humor. "Harold B. Bound / Turned his eyeballs around / To see all the thoughts in his head. / What do you see / In your head. Harold B.? / ‘Nothing but cobwebs,' he said." Hawkes is the perfect zany artist to interpret these silly poems with images that would draw laughs even without the words. His deep-dish colors mind the music and the footwork of Grossman's highly visual wordplay. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
THE BEAR WHOSE BONES WERE JEZEBEL JONES by Bill Grossman
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

As Grossman (The Banging Book, 1995, etc.) would have it, when a bear hops out of his skin to go snorkeling, Jezebel jumps in, and creates mayhem when people take her for a real grizzly. She scares her class and her mom, and then is dismayed to find that only the bear can unzip the suit. Luckily, the zoo animals see her own eyes peering from inside the bear's throat, and know she's an impostor. An elephant and a little dog help retrieve the bear's bones and free Jezebel. The rhyme starts out catchy, but sags in the middle, along with the plot. What works best here is the eccentric idea of a bear's bones taking a dip; Allen doesn't really explore this in the illustrations, which show a jumble of bones that looks like something the dog dug up, rather than a skinless bear who has been snorkeling. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
THE BANGING BOOK by Bill Grossman
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 30, 1995

Grossman (Cowboy Ed, 1993, etc.) employs a series of relentless, repetitive, and noisy rhymes to pound home the message that banging and building trumps banging and breaking every time. Heavy on alliteration and almost excessively onomatopoeic, the text is full of ``banging, bopping, smashing, clanging'' and ``pounding, . . . wacking, rapping, tapping.'' The rhyming text is eerily reminiscent of the simple moralistic purity of the Dick and Jane readers. The art is bold, cartoony in a bright 1950s palette with thick outlines, and evokes the toy-heaped interiors of suburban tract houses. The story features a community of four rowdy kids (a brown boy baby, a blond in a red skirt, a red head in purple capri pants, and a boy who looks like he'll grow up to become a painted wooden soldier); they happily destroy and then responsibly repair half the inventory of a good-sized Toys `R' Us. Who is the audience for this book? Children will like it, but the one who may enjoy it most may be the parent reading it aloud, tongue planted in cheek. (Picture book. 3-7) Read full book review >
COWBOY ED by Bill Grossman
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 30, 1993

The author of the ebullient Tommy at the Grocery Store (1989) brings his clever versifying to another nonsense saga. In little Ed's dreamlike adventure, everything goes by opposites: horses ride cowboys, children teach teachers, etc., ``...because/That's the way/We've always done it/In the past.'' When it rains animals until they crowd every space, the past offers no solutions; so hero Ed, proclaiming ``I always use my head./And I seldom give a hoot/About the past,'' suggests ``when in a pickle,/It is often wise to tickle...''—a lame conclusion to a narrative that's sometimes deliciously silly, but whose bantering tone sits uneasily with its dark subtext. The worst mismatch, however, is with the illustrations. Wint debuts with elegant faux-naãf figures on a black ground—handsomely decorative and with real ``stage presence''—but simply not very funny. There's plenty of talent here, but it's oddly misdirected. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >