Books by Candice F. Ransom

Released: June 9, 2009

This quaint, sweet offering presents the simple story of a father and daughter running errands together in their blue pickup truck. The daughter describes their visits to such places as the nursery, the hardware store and a farm where they pick up plants, building supplies and a pig. In the daughter's mind, these purchases transform the old blue pickup into, among other things, a garden, a toolshed and a farm. As father and daughter make their way home, it begins to rain. They cover the bed with a plastic tablecloth, and by the time they get home the sun has come back out. The tireless pair decides to do some planting, build a house for the pig and, finally, polish up their trusty truck. Mattheson's oil-on-primed paper illustrations—characterized by clean lines, bright colors, plenty of open space and somewhat stylized figures—add to the old-fashioned feel of the text. A positive portrayal of a father/daughter relationship sure to be popular where demand for truck books is high—and where is it not? (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
PONY ISLAND by Candice F. Ransom
Released: April 1, 2009

Misty of Chincoteague in rhyme. By now everyone knows the story of the wild Chincoteague ponies—the probably apocryphal shipwreck, the round-up each year, the auction. If not, certainly there are plenty of other available books about it (titles of which are helpfully supplied in a bibliography at the end). Ransom tells the story in staccato stanzas ("Empty island. / Room to roam. / Birds and beaches. / Brand-new home") that scan well, but the clipped phrases don't fully engage the audience. Likewise, Zahares's wild, broad-stroked, bold-colored pastels are visually interesting but don't allow either the ponies or the people to emerge as distinct characters. The shifting perspectives and striking compositions make each full-bleed, double-page spread an adventure in abstraction, the ponies and landscape figuring more as shapes and colors than as parts of a narrative. It's arresting, but somehow ultimately fails to connect. Fine as an addition to large collections, but not as the sole book about Chincoteague. (author's note, resources) (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
TRACTOR DAY by Candice F. Ransom
Released: Feb. 1, 2007

More than the sum of its parts, this gentle rhyme hums the cadence of a rural family's day on the farm. Father and daughter ride the aged red tractor through the fields: "Leather seat. / Noisy gears. / Up we go! / Daddy steers." As the tractor tows the plow, it also excavates talismans of life such as a cracked teacup. The title suggests a very specific book geared toward the vehicle-obsessed reader, but adding dimension to the story is the woven tapestry of farm activity as Mother and the new baby feed the pigs and spread a picnic lunch for the family. Or as the dog stands on his hind legs reaching up toward the muzzle of the mule and yanks the tail of a bewildered cow. Cawing, strutting, flapping crows and ravens are constant companions throughout. With the plowing done, the family spreads seeds over the earth and plants a little garden patch especially for the daughter. This beautiful and stirring celebration has jubilantly detailed illustrations depicting a bucolic farm life that is lingering—and perhaps fading—from our landscape. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

For one of two new releases in the On My Own History series (The Daring Escape of Ellen Craft, above), Ransom (Mother Teresa, not reviewed, etc.) details a little-known chapter of American history, the first all-African-American life-saving station on the Outer Banks of the North Carolina coast. The time is 1896 and young Sam Deal admires the bravery and strength of the lighthouse keepers and the surfmen who patrol these dangerous shores. The men let Sam take part in some of the drills but tease him about his horse, Ginger, and his young age. The surfmen prefer mules to aid them in their dangerous work. But there comes a time when Ginger and Sam are invaluable to Keeper Etheridge and his crew. Selfless heroism, personal sacrifice, and courage come together during a rescue. This exciting and fast-paced tale will inspire its young readers and the large typeface and illustrations make the story easy to follow. The watercolors are detailed enough to show the characters' emotions and reflect the tale's drama perfectly. The rescue is resolved with the grateful passengers surrounded by their modest crew. It will be hard to forget the sepia-toned photograph of the brave surfmen that accompanies Ransom's informative afterword. (Web sites) (Historical fiction. 6-10)Read full book review >
MORE THAN A NAME by Candice F. Ransom
Released: July 1, 1995

A third grader's bumpy road is full of small setbacks and troubles that only seem burdensome, and that she soon overcomes. Cammie wants her new stepfather, Mike, to adopt her so she will have the same last name as he and her mother. She decides she must be a perfect daughter, but being perfect is hard, especially with a new extended family to get used to (including obnoxious cousin William), a new school, and all the other adjustments that follow the wedding. Mike doesn't seem to notice her mild efforts, anyway, which is why winning the school essay contest suddenly seems so important. Cammie is completely wrapped up in her own trials; it will be a little frustrating to readers who will wish she would just speak up instead of trying to manipulate. Ransom (Jimmy Crack Corn, 1994, etc.) makes Cammie's dilemma mildly amusing in places, slightly touching in others. A pleasant tale with appeal for children in similar situations. (Fiction. 7-10) Read full book review >
JIMMY CRACK CORN by Candice F. Ransom
Released: April 5, 1994

A 1932 Washington, D.C., demonstration by WW I vets hoping to collect a promised bonus is the basis for a novel about how nine-year-old Jimmy Watkins joins his unemployed father in the effort. At first, it's an adventure and escape from growing responsibilities; but as Jimmy settles into the hobo camp where the marchers await President Hoover's decision, he becomes aware of the hunger and hopelessness around him and is moved to acts of kindness. When Congress votes to defer the bonus until 1945 (why isn't explained), the squatters are routed and Camp Marks is burned by troops. In a dramatic but unrealistic scene, Jimmy calms the panicky crowd and leads it, Pied Piper-style, out of the camp by playing his harmonica. Though pedantically written, the story is packed with authentic details extended in an afterword describing Roosevelt's different response to the next bonus march. Ethereal watercolors elevate the text but reinforce the romanticized presentation rather than depicting the time's true squalor. Nevertheless, a serviceable addition. (Fiction. 8- 10) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 30, 1993

A little girl describes the year or so after her mother's remarriage, in incidents that signify her growing relationship with her stepfather. At first, Howard isn't used to children; he puts too much food on her plate, and she gets a stomach ache when he doesn't think to ration the cashews. But as time passes and things are shared—their birthday party, a walk to gather acorns for the pigs, a difficult task like shelling limas, choosing and planting seeds—a bond forms, and strengthens, until the child is happy that Howard will be her daddy ``forever.'' Ransom has skillfully selected events that dramatize the unforced evolution of an uneasy new relationship into a comfortable, affectionate one; Wright-Frierson's realistic paintings aren't especially subtle, but they're cheerful, bright, and nicely expressive. Likable and useful. (Picture book. 3-7) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 12, 1992

A realistic story about two unlike cousins during a vacation visit. Shannon once won a baby contest, starred in her kindergarten play, and now arrives at the narrator's farm with a suitcase full of dresses; it takes her tomboy cousin a while to warm to her, but after some shared activities, the two become friends. All predictable but wholesome; and Ransom's comfortably accessible narration reads smoothly, with details that make the changed relationship believable. In Milone's nicely composed art, the girls are lively and appealingly pretty without being oversweet. A good choice for an early read-alone. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 30, 1991

An experienced author of paperback fiction for older girls tries her hand at a realistic story for younger children, setting it in the 50's of her own childhood. Wendy Fletcher's pleasures and tribulations are similar to the ones in Cleary's books: though drawing is her forte, she's hesitant about tackling cursive; with Dad in a new job (it includes driving a truck in the neighborhood), her family is having ``a tight year,'' and Wendy's trying not to wear out her shoes. More novel to today's children, the Cold War has resulted in frequent air-raid drills at school; when the frightened Wendy asks why we should quarrel with the Russians, she's told only that they are ``different.'' In the end, she realizes that differences can be good—the imaginative ``Birdland'' that is her favorite subject in her own art is interesting because she draws each bird differently, all living happily together. This doesn't have the humor or the insights of Hurwitz or Janice Smith, and the period details don't quite add up to a late-50's flavor. Still, family and classroom interplay rings true, while the rather obvious moral has merit. For this level, illustrations would have been a plus. An acceptable additional choice. (Fiction. 7-10) Read full book review >
MY SISTER THE TRAITOR by Candice F. Ransom
Released: April 1, 1989

In a sequel to My Sister the Meanie, more perils of being a younger sister. Jackie, 13, and her sister Sharon, 16, face a boring summer until an amusement park springs up nearby; there, Sharon finds a job, and Jackie finds a cute cowboy named Russell. But when Russell goes on a picnic with the sisters, he falls for Sharon instead—who already has a boyfriend (he's away at camp). Jackie suffers such indignities as watching her sister go out with two boys at once when her boyfriend unexpectedly returns, and getting teamed up with William, Russell's obnoxious little brother. When Jackie tells William that his brother is being strung along, a breakup ensues; but after the subsequent peace-making, Sharon has new respect for her younger sister. Although the story is supposedly set in the present, the girls always wear dresses, never watch TV, and live in a pre-suburban northern Virginia where teens go to the firehouse ice-cream social on a date. Clumsily linked events and unrealistic dialogue further detract from any sense of authenticity. Read full book review >