Books by C. Drew Lamm

PIRATES by C. Drew Lamm
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

An older sister's literary torment of her brother backfires in this spooky tale of pirates. Ellery has chosen a library book that she's sure will frighten young Max, who would rather read about cats than pirates. She maximizes the scare factor by waiting until dark to begin reading aloud with a flashlight. The text alternates between the italicized words of the library book and the action in the den, where the siblings are curled up in their sleeping bags. While Max tries to downplay each thing in the book, Ellery's interpretations are downright evil. Where Max sees the Spanish moss hanging from the trees as green tinsel, Ellery tells him that it's pirate's hair. The pelicans aren't stretching to catch raindrops in their bills—"They scream silent screams of pirate victims." But gradually Ellery's stories catch up with her. Will Max rescue her when the pirates step out of the book with their eye patches and hooks? Heh, heh, heh. Then she can go to the library and get that book about cats. Lamm (Prog Frince: A Mixed-Up Tale, 1999, etc.) has created two very creative children with wonderful imaginations. Schuett's (Fat Chance Thanksgiving, p. 1215, etc.) oil paintings masterfully show the two children (and their black cat) growing more and more frightened. These are interspersed with pirate scenes that, although spooky, also show a kind of dark humor. In a beach scene, crabs watch the pirate ship with eyes that poke out of the sand on stalks, and on the pirates' island, a skeleton keeps watch over the X that marks the spot. This is a tale best told at Halloween, but right any time a good scare is in order. (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
GAUCHADA by C. Drew Lamm
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

The familiar story of an object that is passed from person to person is given an unusual twist in this poetic, Spanish-sprinkled tale set in the pampas of Argentina. "A gaucho, an Argentine man, sits carving" with "hands, dirt-lined and leathery," making a lovely moon necklace of bone, black stone, and silver that he will give to someone when the moment is right. "You would buy this necklace if you could, / but money slides off its silver chain like rain off the pampas grass. / This moon will be given." The necklace is passed from one person to another. It is given freely without expecting anything in return, a custom the Argentines call "to make a gauchada." From a grandmother, to a mother, to a girl who smiles in her sleep, "the moon and the stone travel farther than the gaucho will ever roam," even across the sea. Each time the necklace is given, it is accompanied by the story, and in the end it is given " . . . perhaps to you. And you will tell of an open space / where cows stamp the land and champ the pampas / . . . and a gaucho, an Argentine man, sits carving." Negrin's (The Secret Footprints, 2000, etc.) lush, surrealistic paintings, with their strangely elongated horses, give a mystical, mysterious quality to the story and evoke the Argentina of his childhood. A note explains the meaning of "to make a gauchada" and the Spanish phrases that are used. In making this Gauchada, the author and illustrator have given readers a lovely gift and knowledge of a charming custom that deserves to spread. (Picture book. 6-10)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1999

This urbane take on a classic folktale begins earlier than the standard version. Eager to get her filched muffin money back, surly young Jane agrees to hear a talking frog's tale. It seems that a prince once fell in love with a stablegirl named Jaylee. The witch's potion they both drank affected them in different ways: he became a frog, she lost her memory (her "imagination," but the effect is the same). Delicate of detail but robust with feeling, McClintock's illustrations recall the art of Randolph Caldecott and his school; the laughing frog exudes joy; Jane, in close-fitting cap and peasant dress, glowers theatrically, and each leaf and pastry is drawn with loving attention. After the frog leaps up, leads Jane on a merry chase, then disappears, she discovers that she "misses" him. That turns out to be close enough to "kisses" to break the spell; he springs from hiding, a prince again, and Jane becomes Jaylee, the same young woman made beautiful by an agreeable expression and better hair. Share this somewhat confusing but enjoyably lighthearted episode with fans of William J. Brooke's wry retellings. (Picture book/folklore. 7-10) Read full book review >