Books by Brock Cole

GULLY’S TRAVELS by Tor Seidler
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

"The Real Pooches of NYC." Privileged professor's pup Gulliver (who sometimes endures the attentions of well-meaning riffraff who address him as "Gully") enjoys opera, Prime Premium dog food and his salmon-pink, turquoise-and-silver-studded collar. But when his owner shows a preference for a relationship of the human variety, Gully is sent to live in "shabby" Astoria, Queens, where he is treated like—well—a dog! The supercilious, lap-of-luxury Lhasa apso is devastated, but determined to escape. An unlikely and exhausting series of twists and turns doesn't end with Gulliver's dogicidal leap from the 59th Street Bridge, but with even more wild coincidence and a canine-interest story in the (sniff!) Daily News. Seidler's tale is rife with the risk his characters often undertake in search of honest affection and their rightful places in life. The dog, the professor and Gulliver's rescuer all come away with altered appreciations and aspirations. Cole's remarkable pen-and-ink sketches evoke the work of French impressionists and add dimension, wit and wry humor to this far-fetched doggy tail—uh—tale. (Fantasy. 8-11)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 16, 2007

Like Larky Mavis (2001) but sans the metaphysics, this folklorish original tale gives a poor, scorned orphan a chance to show her inner stuff, and to make a fresh start. When an ogre—"Oh, he was a foul creature! His breath smelled of graves, and he had rats in his hair instead of lice"—appears at the town gates demanding a bride, the townsfolk dress the nameless beggar, sometimes dubbed "Scraps-and-Smells" or "Skin-and-Bones," in a fine gown and a paper crown, and push her out. She turns out to be quicker of wit than anyone supposes, however, and by the time the ogre finally swallows her down, she's acquired a sharp sword and a purse of gold—using the one to kill the monster and triumphantly carrying the other away as her reward, head held high. Cole writes in a beguiling mix of rhythmic prose and snatches of verse, paired to equally beguiling watercolor scenes of rumpled-looking figures in a medieval setting. Viewers who linger over the pictures will be rewarded with plenty of comical side details, but also come to appreciate the artist's genius for conveying character through subtleties of posture and expression. Fine fare for reading alone or aloud. (Picture book. 7-9)Read full book review >
FAIR MONACO by Brock Cole
Kirkus Star
by Brock Cole, illustrated by Brock Cole
Released: Oct. 1, 2004

Cole's words and pictures deliver his tale as effortlessly as a song, but one that pricks with intelligence, sorrow, and hope. Granny opens her door to abandoned cars, kids hanging out, graffiti, and garbage. Maggie, Kate, and little Nora come to stay with her "When Momma was sick and Poppa away." Granny won't let them walk outside where the bad boys play, and shows them the locks to keep out burglars. The girls eat their supper and go to bed, but Maggie wakes up to proclaim that there are too many feet in her bed ("WITCH'S FEET!"). A hilarious pillow fight ensues, and the sisters climb into granny-witch's bed and float out the window. The burglars, bad boys, gas-and-electric men with "their terrible bills" fill their dreams, but Maggie decides to change that. The sisters dream of sun, wind, pancakes, and syrup, and when they wake the next morning in Granny's bed, she smiles and offers pancakes for breakfast. The same urban street now glows with life, opposing the dingy earlier view. A vivid and satisfying testimony to the transforming power of hope and dreams. (Picture book. 4-9)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 3, 2003

Now It Can Be Told: that severe, square-jawed look that the Father of Our Country flashes in his portraits reveals not only strength of character, but also his struggle to hide the fact that he was nearly (entirely, later in life) toothless by keeping a succession of spring-loaded false teeth in place. Drawing information from Washington's own writings, the authors deliver a double account of his dental tribulations: first in sprightly rhyme—Martha "fed him mush and pickled tripe, / But when guests came to dine, / He sneaked one of his favorite nuts. / Then he had only nine"—followed by a detailed, annotated timeline. Cole's (Larky Mavis, 2001, etc.) freely drawn, rumpled-looking watercolors document the countdown as well, with scenes of the unhappy statesman at war and at home, surrounded by family, attendants (including dark-skinned ones), and would-be dentists, all in authentic 18th-century dress. Contrary to popular belief, Washington's false teeth were made not of wood, but of real teeth and hippo ivory; a photo of his last set closes this breezy, sympathetic, carefully-researched vignette on a note that will have readers feeling the great man's pain—and never looking at his painted visage the same way again. (source notes) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
LARKY MAVIS by Brock Cole
by Brock Cole, illustrated by Brock Cole
Released: Aug. 3, 2001

From the author of Buttons (2000) comes a simply told tale with deep emotional and metaphorical resonance. Town fool Larky Mavis, "mooning about, mooning about," trips over peanuts in the road, one of which contains—well, what is it? A worm, opines the schoolmaster. A mouse, says the parson. Maybe a bat, sniffs the doctor. Calling it "Heart's Delight," and keeping it swaddled out of sight in ragged blankets until the end, Larky Mavis feeds it and carries it about, even as it grows to baby size and larger. With curling wisps of line and color, Cole depicts Mavis as an unkempt redhead living outdoors, caring for a trio of disheveled children as well as her Heart's Delight as townsfolk in country dress look on with increasing unease. At last, when they try to relieve Larky Mavis of her burden, Heart's Delight sprouts wings and carries her away. The story's musical language and the whimsical, freely drawn art combine to keep the general tone light, but the characters, settings and events here, strongly reminiscent of Maurice Sendak's We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy (1993) though not so portentous, will leave sensitive readers moved and thoughtful. (Picture book. 8-10)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 31, 1997

A brilliantly crafted, shocking account, narrated by a teenager, of her mother's chronic incompetence and her own sexual abuse; it will slice readers to the bone less for its tragic details than for the casual, ingenuous tone in which they are revealed. In an indignant response to a social worker's unflattering report, Linda, 13, describes how, after the death of her father, she cared for first one, and then two, brothers as her mother took up with a succession of men, abandoned her for months to a senile widower, and found a job at last, working for a married businessman, Jack Green, who ultimately seduced Linda. Rejecting the social worker's contention that she was raped, Linda claims to have felt only mild impatience with Green the first time, and her childish pleasure at his gifts and toys is clear. She admits to no strong feelings even after Green is murdered, although her sometimes violent actions contradict her reasonable tone; hints that some of her ``facts'' may be imaginary only deepen the contrast. Readers may admire Linda for maintaining even an illusion of control, but will also see that she has inherited her mother's bad judgment, and that neither her story nor her promises can be trusted—a recipe for a troubled future. A raw, powerful character study of someone trying to construct a particular version of reality, and failing, because the ``facts'' tell a different story. Cole shows real literary chops in a book whose aesthetic merits outrun, by far, the ethics police. (Fiction. 13-16) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 6, 1991

Alpha's parents' childish quarrel (``You forgot to wash my nightshirt!'' ``Wash it yourself, lazybones''... ``I've got a good mind to go off and join the navy'') is overheard by a devil's imp who takes the opportunity of turning Papa into a lump of coal and taking his place while his wife, bringing along their baby, replaces cross Mama. Alpha isn't fooled for a minute, but she bides her time, following the imps' orders to ``unmake the beds and bring the garbage in.'' Then, as soon as they go to bed (without brushing their teeth, of course), she gets to work, cleaning up for all she's worth. When the imps find her washing their baby, they're horrified. They bring back Mama and Papa and hop off, leaving the little family peaceable at last. Transforming the parents' frightening behavior into a fantasy in which the child seizes the initiative, cleverly ousting the intruders, Cole tells a lively, preposterous tale full of role reversals that are sure to delight young readers. His language is spare, energetic, and laced with humor; his pencil and watercolor art swirls with the imps' disorder (they're not evil, just rowdy), their flailing figures and raucous faces countered by Alpha's resolute serenity. A thoroughly entertaining story with a serious (but unobtrusive) theme. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >