Books by Carl Norac

SWING CAFÉ by Carl Norac
by Carl Norac, illustrated by Rebecca Dautremer, translated by Jacob Homel
Released: Sept. 1, 2010

This French import incorporates classic jazz tunes from the 1920s through '50s with the determined aspirations of an angel-voiced Brazilian cricket. Zaz stows away to New York in a lady's fancy hat, encountering poverty and stormy weather once there. A blue fly named Buster shows her the secret entrance (via a downward tunnel in the 26th lamppost on East 54th Street) to the Swing Café. Norac's metaphor-strewn narrative creates interludes for specific musical compositions (heard along with the text on the accompanying CD). For example, Vess L. Ossman's banjo tune "A Bunch of Rags" cues up when Zaz gets stuck in some banjo strings during her fall down to the café. Dautremer's sophisticated illustrations combine surreal elements (wheeled boats and fire hydrants, for example), archival jazz posters and insects depicted as people, with merest species suggestions. Ellington dominates (no quibble there), but Fats, Cab and Ella get nods, too. The CD is narrated by David Frances and Brazilian-American singer Bebel Gilberto. The text's a bit long on gratuitous adventure, but the package is unusual and fresh. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: April 16, 2007

At the end of this enchanting story, the child-narrator declares that when she grows up, "I'm going to be magic too," like her mom. Norac and Gordon celebrate the most magical person in a young child's life and the wonderful things she can do even without "a magic hat or a wand." The simple text evokes poetic, lovely images such as mommy's cloud-bedecked favorite blue dress making the sky always clear and the child's and mommy's ability to outrace dolphins when swimming together. Did you know that "When my mommy sings, butterflies come to listen?" The team responsible for My Daddy Is a Giant (2005) has created another winner, and the pairing of these volumes makes a wonderful paean to loving parents and the lucky children who unabashedly adore them. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: May 23, 2005

The pride of a young boy who is growing up just like his daddy is evident in this look at their closeness. Clouds nap on this father's shoulders, birds nest in his hair and his hurricane sneezes blow the water in the sea away. The boy perfectly captures the perspective of young readers, to whom most adults are giants. This particular giant may make the earth tremble with his running, but children need not fear—how many true giants would stoop to playing marbles, knowing they will lose each time? The son sums it up nicely when he says, "I'm not scared of anything when I'm in my daddy's arms." Muted colors, blurred details and few distractions in the background bring the reader's focus to facial expressions, which, although subtle, do make the bond between father and son that much more apparent. The matching cowlicks in their red hair help, too. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2000

In a third in the series of picture books about Lola the hamster that began with I Love You So Much (1998), Lola's friend Lulu asks her, on the first day of class, what her parents call her. When Lola replies that they call her baby cake, sweetie pie, fairy princess, Lulu and the other children laugh and tease her. On her way home, however, Lola asks the baker and the police officer what their parents called them when they were little, and gets some charming responses. Still, once home she announces to her parents that she's not a baby but a giant, not a fairy but a witch! But she succumbs when her parents call her sweetie pie (her favorite). At school the next day, Lola finds to her initial dismay that a jealous Lulu has adopted all of Lola's nicknames for her own, but then Lola realizes that silly endearments are for everyone. The brown-and-gold palette and energetic line of the illustrations are a fine foil for the sweet story line, and Lola has the most expressive face any hamster could possess. She is hard to resist. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
I LOVE YOU SO MUCH by Carl Norac
Released: Feb. 1, 1998

"Hugs abound among the puffy-cheeked rodents in this mushy, overstated tale and its greeting-card message. (Book-of-the- Month-Club selection) (Picture book. 2-5)"
Resembling in spirit and content such books as Sam McBratney's Guess How Much I Love You? (1995, not reviewed), this book stars Lola, a nut-brown hamster who could be an adopted cousin of Nutbrown Hare. Read full book review >