Books by Bruce Koscielniak

Released: April 17, 2006

Koscielniak opens with the appearance of faience beads in Egypt about 4,500 years ago, closes with the development of optical fiber and, in between, charts milestones in the use and manufacture of glass, from the various chemical additions that have given it strength and color—and clarity, which turns out to be a late and tricky accomplishment—to the invention of glassblowing. Though his ink-and-watercolor illustrations are less engagingly detailed than in earlier outings, they do depict historical techniques of manufacture while artfully capturing glass's gemlike, rainbow glitter in tiny beads and telescope mirrors, a neon sign, a great cathedral window and other objects. Young readers will come away with enough facts for a simple report, as well as a greater appreciation for what the author twice dubs an "extraordinary material." (endpaper maps) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
ABOUT TIME by Bruce Koscielniak
Released: Oct. 25, 2004

Mechanically minded children willing to follow Koscielniak through this quick history of calendars and clocks will find the time well spent. Though he begins with the sun, seasons, and solar and lunar calendars (not ancient American ones, however), he focuses most closely on how clocks have used shadows and sand, water, weights, springs, electricity, and, finally, atomic vibrations, to measure out increasingly finer gradations. Of what, he declines to discuss, aside from passing references to Ancient Greeks, St. Augustine, Einstein, and unspecified modern ideas. His watercolor depictions of various clockworks are unusually lucid, though, and well-explained, making this an adequate alternative to Anita Ganeri's Story of Time and Clocks (1997) or Trent Duffy's The Clock (2000). (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 22, 2003

Koscielniak wowed with The Story of the Incredible Orchestra (2000); he is much less successful here. He opens with a scene at the library (the person at the desk has a bun and glasses, but at least she is using a computer). "Soooo <\b>many books," he writes. He explains the origins of paper and of movable type in China and in Korea before Gutenberg's invention of the printing press and movable type in Mainz, Germany, around 1450. Koscielniak's watercolors are bright and engaging, but they, and the text, raise more questions than they answer. The Chinese and Korean figures are clearly Western; scribes in monasteries are those who did the copying of books, but there is no mention that they were monks or of the Church. There is also the moronic comment that "most people didn't bother to learn to read because they had no access to books"—tossing aside the social history of literacy in a single line. The accompanying illustration is pretty feebleminded, too. Marginalia adds to the information, and the technical descriptions are good. Definitely not for the younger picture book crowd, however. (Nonfiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
HEAR, HEAR, MR. SHAKESPEARE by Bruce Koscielniak
Released: April 1, 1998

This scattershot introduction to the Bard's language and times superimposes topically related sound bites from the plays over a brief picture-book encounter between Shakespeare, gardening behind his Stratford home, and a wandering troupe whose only script has been ruined by a summer shower. He quickly pens them another piece. Done in a typeface that imitates rough hand- lettering, the lines—asides delivered by bugs, farm animals, and field creatures—are placed in dialogue balloons that come close to obscuring the watercolor scenery. Koscielniak (Euclid Bunny Delivers the Mail, 1991, etc.) supplies citations, plus occasional historical notes and glosses, but few of the quotations are complete songs or speeches, the lines and turns of phrase that have become part of common speech are thinly represented, and many selections were evidently chosen less for content than for key words: e.g., "Make haste, I say" and "Hie, make haste, make haste!" (both, Romeo and Juliet), and "Bid the players make haste" and "Let us haste to hear it" (both, Hamlet). Younger readers will get a truer taste of Shakespeare from Bruce Coville's William Shakespeare's Macbeth (1997) and William Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream (1996); here they will find just indifferently connected "words, words, words." (Picture book. 6-8) Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1996

Stinky, Smelly, Reeky, and Stenchy form a rock band and, to their delight, land a gig at the local teen center. The audience flees in disgust, but soon returns, sporting clothespins and chanting, ``Blay somb more songs . . . We lub you.'' The fetid foursome look more like badgers than skunks in the vigorously inked and brushed watercolors, and the plot seems rudimentary next to, say, Elise Primavera's The Three Dots (1993) or Graham Oakley's undeservedly scarce Frog Band stories. Still, Fair's debut shows promise and has obvious appeal to fans of The Stinky Cheese Man (1992) and other books of that odor. (Picture book. 5-7) Read full book review >