Books by Brad Sneed

Released: May 15, 2015

"Intriguing, easily informative and even inspiring. (Informational picture book. 5-8)"
A poetic composition celebrates the power of the wind as a renewable-energy resource. Read full book review >
WASHDAY by Eve Bunting
by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Brad Sneed
Released: April 1, 2014

"An appealing snapshot of rough-hewn life that might well make kids appreciate washing machines. (Picture book. 5-8)"
It's washday. That doesn't mean putting clothes in the washing machine and turning the knob or driving to the laundromat; it's 1889, when it's the old-fashioned way of getting clothes clean. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2012

"A snapshot of country life full of sounds and sentiment. (Picture book. 2-5)"
What can you hear on a farm? Read full book review >
Released: June 26, 2007

A lupine black sheep if ever there was one, Rufus blows off all of his classwork at Big Bad Wolf Academy to lounge in the meadows, howl at the moon and generally fool around. However, he earns a special award at graduation by driving off a crew of hunters, then gets all of his classmates to "put away their lessons" in sheep language, dressing as grannies and the like to be wild wolves again—except at Halloween, when a little skill at disguises comes in handy for trick-or-treating. Sneed illustrates this unabashedly subversive episode with scenes of sinuous, feral-looking wolves comically attired in human dress or, in Rufus's case, jumping rope with small woodland buddies and sticking pencils up his nose. His unshakeable self-confidence echoes that of the budding florist in Marie-Odile Judes's Max, the Stubborn Little Wolf (2001), and makes for an amusing contrast to the wimpy wallflower in Delphine Perret's The Big Bad Wolf and Me (2006). (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2007

A curious boy discovers the library is the best place to be and librarians are the best people to know in this lighthearted homage. At an early age, Melvin becomes a regular at the Livingston Public Library. He especially likes the reference librarians, Marge, Betty and Leeola, who are interested in everything he is interested in and always able to find answers to his endless questions. They help Melvin with his school projects and he admires their natural talent for creating order out of chaos. A library groupie, Melvin attends every library program and even gets a part-time library job when he's in high school. But as Melvin eventually heads off to college, how will he manage without his library family? Morris clearly gets what makes librarians tick, and Sneed's humorous watercolor illustrations capture the soul of "how librarians are" in his perfect renditions of the mission-driven Marge, Betty and Leeola in action. Kids should get a kick out of the geeky Melvin, his supportive clan of nurturing bibliophiles and his so-very-logical career choice. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 10, 2007

The gophers-rights group demands rodent access to the Rose Garden. The VEEP has donated the ping-pong table to a bunch of Boy Scouts (the scoreboard on the wall hints at the reason for this). Bulrovia and Snortburg are on the brink of war. What's a commander-in-chief to do? He dons Groucho glasses and a trenchcoat and walks "exactly seven and a half blocks... to a place where the world [is] a little simpler"—Mrs. Appletree's kindergarten. Fortified by finger-painting, storytime, a snack and a nap and, of course, the hokey pokey, he is able to return to the affairs of state, bringing some of Mrs. Appletree's wisdom with him. Sneed presents a gangly, big-nosed white president, allowing perspective and gentle caricature to bring out the humor in Walton's premise. A funny, wholly non-didactic take on the all-I-needed-to-know-I-learned-in-kindergarten trope. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2005

Think the Old West is gone? Just check beneath the nearest juicy leaf, where you well might find ants herding aphids (aka "ant cows") and "milking" them for a sweet excretion called honeydew. From there, it's only a whoop and a holler to this britches-bustin' tale of a canny, six-legged Deputy Sheriff on the trail of a gang of rustlers. Set in the bustling, buggy burg of Ant Hill and featuring an all-insect cast decked out in fancy cowboy boots, Stetsons and other western finery, this arthropod oater takes more twists than a bee-stung bronc on its way to a climactic faceoff. As it turns out, the thieves, disguised as ladybugs, include even Deputy Harvey's own boss—but Harvey triumphs thanks to some unexpected help from a decidedly tough-looking crew of real ladybugs, led by queen beetle Maybelle. There'll be no problem corralling little dogies for this caper. (author's note) (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
THUMBELINA by Brad Sneed
adapted by Brad Sneed, illustrated by Brad Sneed
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

In a new retelling of Anderson's tale of a tiny girl traded from frog to bug to rodent, adaptor and illustrator Sneed creates a lush, Lilliputian world of jewel-eyed insects and gargantuan flowers. The attentive creatures, all in love with the frail Thumbelina, are only slightly personified à la Wind in the Willows. Alternating between one- and two-page, full-bleed illustrations, Sneed uses perspective to great advantage, casting each creature as considerably larger than Thumbelina. As she sleeps alone in the forest, for instance, the leaves above her are huge and even a nearby caterpillar is twice her size. The spot illustrations that accompany the text also help to move the story forward, a tiny one of Thumbelina standing by the near-dead bird, emphasizing the moment of loss. Sneed's luminous watercolors make this a nice package. The text, however, does sometimes outpace the illustrations, which might cause confusion or questions. Not perfect, but collections in need of more Anderson will welcome this. (Picture book. 4-9)Read full book review >
AESOP’S FABLES by Brad Sneed
adapted by Brad Sneed, illustrated by Brad Sneed
Released: Sept. 1, 2003

A wordless rendition of "The Tortoise and the Hare" on covers, endpapers, and title spread surrounds 15 more retold fables, with morals appended. Sneed mixes such usual suspects as "Town Mouse and the Country Mouse," "Ant and the Grasshopper," and "Belling the Cat" with less-familiar tales of creatures canny or otherwise, such as "The Tortoise and the Eagle" and "The Caged Bird and the Bat." He renders each in a breezy vernacular—"Listen up, everyone, this is Jupiter, Supreme Being, Head Honcho, Ruler of All Things. I have an important announcement for my fine feathered citizens"—that just suits his spread-filling close-ups of dismayed or triumphant-looking crows, foxes, mice, insects, and roosters. Aesops abound, but few present the Lessons with such pervasive lightheartedness—and Sneed keeps any violence in the tales far-offstage. (Folktales. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 30, 2002

"If wishes were horses, beggars would ride": what might happen if this familiar saying were true? Zeb wishes for many things: that it wasn't so hot, that it wasn't so dry, that he had a horse to help him carry a heavy sack of flour. Just as he wishes this last, a stranger rides by and tips his white Stetson hat; all of a sudden, Zeb has a horse! His mother doesn't believe him, he wishes she might react differently, and a second horse appears in her kitchen. One look at Ma's face sends boy and horse outside, where the palomino nearly tramples townswoman Mrs. Vander Snooty. Zeb promptly apologizes, but old habits die hard and he starts to say that he wished it hadn't happened, only to find another horse appearing out of nowhere. Each horse causes more trouble; each time Zeb wishes it hadn't, hilariously compounding his problems. After trying to wear out the wishing and ending up with a herd, he thinks of a solution: "I wish my wishes could just be wishes." The horses disappear, and he's happier for it. Sneed's (Picture a Letter, p. 741, etc.) watercolor illustrations recall the early American west; exaggerated facial expressions and horses running amok perfectly convey the chaos. He has a knack for perspective; when the first horse appears and Zeb is "Eye to eye with a buckskin cow pony," an enraptured Zeb's face is shown up close, next to a large, brown, equine eye. This cautionary tale, humorously told and illustrated, gets its message across gently and without didacticism. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2001

An entrancingly designed alphabet book that will keep young (and old) peering at and poring over it for a long time. There are no words (except at the end), just the letters of the alphabet. Some get one page, some two, some share. For each, a detailed montage in grisaille is full of objects and activities that begin with the featured letter. Each page also has superimposed on it a full-color figure in the shape of its namesake: G, for example, is a golfer, with his swinging club and the green grass forming a clearly defined letter. Along the bottom of each page, two mice scamper. One has a cart of letters, which he places along the bottom so the alphabet grows as the pages proceed. The mouse's antics reflect the letter: he juggles the letter J, kicks the letter K, and for N, he takes a nap. His companion mouse is usually within the picture somewhere: lodged in the hat of the quartet for Q, driving the toy train with an engineer's cap on his head for T. The style is exaggerated and obsessively detailed, and it is hard not to be amused by one or another of the mice (that's one turning a cartwheel on C). The last page lists all the words illustrated on each page that begin with its letter—and they aren't just nouns, which is an added plus. O for original and offbeat. (Alphabet picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
SORRY by Jean Van Leeuwen
by Jean Van Leeuwen, illustrated by Brad Sneed
Released: May 1, 2001

Feuding over a trifle earns two brothers the lifelong sorrow of a severed relationship, a pathetic circumstance that Van Leeuwen manages to invest with a degree of censorious humor. Ebenezer and Obadiah live in the north country, where the winters are long and their farm is rocky. But they toil together, close as siblings can be, each assuming appropriate tasks: one cooks, the other milks the cow, one plays the fiddle, the other the mouth organ. Then one day Obadiah criticizes Ebenezer's oatmeal. "Lumps," he says. Ebenezer objects, whether because of "too much winter or too much pride" is not clear—but the bowl of oatmeal he dumps on Obadiah's head is plain as day. Obadiah objects, and stops talking to Ebenezer. Same goes for Ebenezer. They go so far as to cut their home in half and tow their sides to opposing hilltops. And so it goes, for generation after generation, despite the many moments they dearly wish they could commune with one another—when they get married and when they have children and grandchildren. Alas, neither can ever summon the simple word that would do the trick. That is left to the great-grandchildren, one of whom—on Ebenezer's side—wrongly gets accused of stealing apples by one from Obadiah's side. Near to blows, Nathaniel thinks to utter "Sorry," and a familial relationship is reborn. Van Leeuwen's story has enough melancholy to make her point clear, while Sneed's demonstrative, hammy watercolors maintain a steady pulse of wry comedy. His hillbillies are all bulgy noses and gawky limbs; the household details, countryside, and livestock as picturesque as they are parody. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
THE PUMPKIN RUNNER by Marsha Diane Arnold
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

Noting her story's origins in the true tale of a 61-year-old Australian farmer who beat much younger runners in a 542-mile race from Sydney to Melbourne in 1983, Arnold (The Chicken Salad Club, p. 808, etc.) pens a folksy, aw-shucks piece. Joshua Summerhayes, unlike other ranchers, relies on his feet instead of a vehicle to check on his flocks. He attributes his endurance to the home-grown pumpkins he consumes. When a flier about a $10,000 racing prize blows across his porch, Joshua borrows a friend's jeep and loads it up with pumpkins, his dog, and Aunt Millie, and heads for the starting line. At first onlookers laugh at Joshua's overalls and boots, but as he gradually overtakes all the other runners, their laughs turn to cheers. Sneed's drawings are done in a midwestern vernacular style, with the undulating rhythm of Thomas Hart Benton. They place this legend of a long-distance, Down Under runner somewhere between a tall tale and a picture-perfect front-porch anecdote. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

A meaty tale of the quest for an uncatchable fish named Oscar is told in folksy, irresistible language. Simon Henry's outstanding features are his ability to catch any fish and brag about it, his unsociable temperament, and his tight boots. In pursuit of his passion, he ignores even the ``Friday-Night-Potluck-Everybody-Come-and-Fling'' party in town. One day, Potato Kelly, female proprietor of the bait and chowder shop, tells him of the ``crafty, bait-grasping catfish'' in local waters, and the chase is on. The two odd-looking middle-aged characters wager with each other in colorful phrases about Simon Henry's ability to succeed. Since his socks ``were beginning to smell worse that sour milk, worse than secret-recipe stinkbait,'' he uses them as a lure. The catfish clamps on and tows the fishing boat like the shark in Jaws, finally leaving only half a sock behind. Simon Henry must do all the humiliating things he promised, and Oscar lives on, singing in the deep hole by Higgins Bend. The watercolor illustrations exaggerate as much as the text: Figures and landscapes sway with the artist's lyrical lines; perspectives as if from odd camera lenses distort and amuse. Some of the townspeople look quite goofy, but they also look familiar, in a tale clearly fished from American waters. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1997

Schroeder's version of this tale is based directly on the familiar 17th-century Perrault tale, but written in an Appalachian dialect and placed ``smack in the heart o' the Smoky Mountains.'' Cinderella—Rose in this tale—is the gentle daughter of a father who dies not long after he remarries. Her stepsisters and stepmother are cut from the usual bitter cloth, but there are some twists: The role of the fairy godmother is played by a huge hog, and the last image is of Rose (still wearing the slippers) and her handsome feller in old age, rocking on their porch swing. The watercolor illustrations owe much to the powerful, elongated figures and skewed perspective of American painter Thomas Hart Benton. The action is often seen up from ground level: an ant's-eye view of the hog, and Rose's glass pumps as a frame for her horse-drawn wagon, are strong and unusual images. A particularly nice touch is that pretty Rose has ordinary brown hair, while her stepsisters, homely though they are, are the more traditionally glamorous blonde and brunette. (Picture book/folklore. 5-8) Read full book review >
THE UNBEATABLE BREAD by Lyn Littlefield Hoopes
Released: April 1, 1996

Hoopes wrings every drop of poetry from each line, turning an outwardly dull idea into a celebration of life. Rotund Uncle Jon wakes up one morning with a deep, impractical need to bake an unbeatable bread, a bread that will summon animals from hibernation and wrest springtime from the wintry hills. The insistent rhymes and hard-hitting cadence ring like bells whose peals cannot be ignored, carrying readers along on flights of fancy as the smell of bread permeates the house and neighborhood, even entering the dreams of sleeping children: ``The sea sang silver,/and the skinny moon smiled/as they sailed away the morning miles,/and the gray sky ran to gold and red/with the perfect browning of the bread.'' Such vivid wordsmithing hardly needs illustration, but Sneed pitches in with memorable oil paintings, puffed, rounded, and sculpted as if from dough. A soul-warming treat to leave readers salivating. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
I HEARD SAID THE BIRD by Polly Berrien Berends
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

A bird zips into the barnyard, a feathered Paul Revere, with a late-breaking flash: A ``NEW ONE'' is coming. But among all the barnyard inhabitants, just who is expecting? A small boy solves the problema human baby has arrived, whom he proudly shows off through a window. Berends (The Case of the Elevator Duck, 1989, not reviewed, etc.) provides a spare text that is playful and rhyming: `` `My word!' said the bird. `And how!' said the cow. `Of course,' said the horse.'' Sneed's watercolors are terrific. In these, he captures distinctive animal gesturesthe way a cow might turn its head or a bird apply the breaks. The perspective is often from ground level, endowing the farm creatures with an enormous, amiable presence. Each animal possesses a distinct personality, sometimes aided by an idiosyncratic characteristic: the put-upon air of the bird, the scrawny neck of the hare, the long sculptured snout of the mare. When the boy communes directly and naturally with the animals, it's simply another low-keyed, artful touch, not at all out of the ordinary. Pleasingly subtle, cheerful, and big-hearted. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
WHEN THE FLY FLEW IN... by Lisa Westberg Peters
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

The child has a unique reason to postpone tidying his room- -four animals are asleep there, and he's loathe to disturb them. A fly that zooms in has no such compunctions. The huge dog leaps to catch it, his plumey tail inadvertently sweeping toy dinosaurs from floor to toy box and dirty clothes from bureau-top to laundry basket. The cat, taking up the chase, acts as a dust-mop, while the hamster nibbles up the crumbs and stray raisins that entice the buzzing insect. Last, the parrot leaves her perch, failing to catch the fly (which sails back out the window) but dislodging several cobwebs. Then, in the now immaculate room, the animals go back to sleep. Peters's (Water's Way, 1991, etc.) narration is brisk, and the premise is sure to tickle young imaginations, but best are Sneed's dynamic watercolor illustrations. Using close-ups, dramatic three-point perspectives, and a creative variety of full-bleed art and frames from which his animated characters escape at every turn, he alternates pell-mell action with peaceful interludes to bring out the story's full comic potential. Good, solid slapstick. (Fiction/Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 15, 1993

Greene's excellent concluding note links archeological finds—suggesting that Stone Age hunters actually did trap mastodons—with this Delaware Indian legend: ``Yah-qua-whee'' (mastodons) were created to help the People; they supplied meat, hides, and bones that could be used for tent frames, and served as beasts of burden. Later they began to indulge in destructive rampages, troubling the People and also the smaller animals, who asked the Great Spirit for help. Following the Great Spirit's instructions, the People dug pits to trap the huge beasts; in the ensuing battle, the trampled ground becomes a bog where the remaining mastodons perish. After a hungry winter, the bogs were filled with pink blossoms that become blood-red, bitter cranberries—an important new resource for medicine, dye, and food. The early world has a pristine simplicity in Sneed's dynamic watercolors, while the mastodons are seen from dramatic angles that exaggerate their awesome bulk, and the People have an innocent nobility. A handsome book; a fascinating echo of the past. (Folklore/Picture book. 4-10) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 21, 1992

In his first solo book, the illustrator of Grandpa's Song (1991) tells a familiar story: a kitten, longing for an important job, volunteers for one farm task after another (``You're too cute,'' barks the dog. ``You gotta have a mean look and a low growl to protect the farm'') until the farmer points out what a fine playmate he makes for a little girl. What's special here is the individuality of Sneed's animals—as revealed in their brisk conversations and in energetic watercolors notable for their intimate close-ups and angled perspectives; a creatively posed take of little Russell peering into the huge, gently bent face of a horse from between his enormous hooves is worth the price of the book. An unusual and original barnyard tour. (Picture book. 3-7) Read full book review >
GRANDPA'S SONG by Tony Johnston
Released: May 1, 1991

An increasingly forgetful grandparent from a child's point of view: Big, hearty Grandpa amuses the kids with his songs, especially a silly one he's made up that pokes fun at his own performances. When it turns out that his own song is one of the things he no longer remembers, the family's response is cheery and understanding. Johnston's poignantly understated text is creatively counterpointed, in Sneed's fine debut, with ebullient watercolors where Grandpa's outsize girth is echoed in funhouse- mirror perspectives. Warmly evocative. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >