Books by Charlotte Pomerantz

THUNDERBOOM! by Charlotte Pomerantz
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 31, 2006

The subtitle implies the essential weakness of this poetry collection. The varied verses within may well offer one or two poems that please individual readers, but are unlikely as a group to find an appreciative audience. As in many earlier works, Pomerantz's writing reveals a global outlook. In the title poem, for example, readers learn the word for thunder in 10 different languages. Literary connections ground several works: A brief limerick alludes to the work of James Joyce; a longer poem honors Margaret Wise Brown. Other poems focus on the joys of going barefoot, celebrating Passover and a dialogue between Jonah and the whale. Shepperson's pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations add humor, charm and a sense of coherence to the collection (for example, the "drowsy bumbling bumblebee" pictured snoozing in a pink flower shows up again pages later in the portrait of a just-engaged mole and vole). Despite their appeal and the undeniable quality of the writing, however, the publisher's description of this as a "ragtag, boodlebag of poems" remains unfortunately apt. (Poetry. 8-12)Read full book review >
THE MOUSERY by Charlotte Pomerantz
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

Beautifully crafted artwork lifts a pedestrian rhymed text in this tale of two grumpy old bachelors who change their ways. Beneath the empty hood of a rusty abandoned car, Slice and Sliver have created a comfortable, cavernous nest, warmed by a quart-size oil-can stove and lined with hanging strips of newspaper. Through falling snowflakes, each different and looking like cut paper, come four shivering "mousekins" in ragged, patched sweaters. Reluctantly admitted through the headlight entrance, their delight and astonishment, as well as their industry in building up the fire, melt the codgers' hearts, leading to an open-door policy that soon sees dozens of scurrying new residents. Making every whisker, ear, berry, twig, torn bit of playing card, and fragment of newspaper distinct, Cyrus creates a set of sharply focused, increasingly busy scenes as the residents of the mousery huddle down cozily or leap exuberantly out into the snow. Children who pass up the cutesy verses—"How darling they were, / with their soft downy fur, / curled up in an untidy row"—to linger over the illustrations will be well-rewarded. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
THE BIRTHDAY LETTERS by Charlotte Pomerantz
ANIMALS
Released: March 31, 2000

Despite some funny touches, Pomerantz's story of the tedious bickering between two kids gets hoist on its own petard. Tom wants to have a birthday party for his dog Louie. He sends out invitations to his friends Lily and Pedro, and to Pedro's sister Emilia. Emilia writes back that she and her gerbils would love to attend. (Actually, Pedro writes, and reads, everything for Emilia, though only after Emilia likes to pretend she is doing him a favor.) Tom says no gerbils; he evidently wants Louie to have the limelight. The two set to quibbling via the mail—Emilia calls Tom the world's meanest potato head (comically rendered by Adinolfi, who draws Tom as a lumpy head full of eyes) and he refuses to relent. Emilia appeals to Tom's better half, but Louie, since Tom is doing the writing, says no to the gerbils. Finally comes the day of the party when Emilia just shows up, with a big steak bone hidden in her dress. This drives Louie crazy. It looks to Tom like Louie can't live without Emilia, so she gets to stay. But since she doesn't have the gerbils in tow, the victory has a hollow ring. And really, who needs more frivolous arguments in their lives? Adinolfi's artwork, though hip and darting and with an eye for any humor that can be wrung from the text, ultimately can't keep the dreary story afloat. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
YOU'RE NOT MY BEST FRIEND ANYMORE by Charlotte Pomerantz
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 1998

Molly and Ben live in the same two family house, wear identical shirts to school, sit together in the lunch room, and, since their birthdays are only five days apart, share a single party every year. It's a beautiful friendship that hits the rocks when they can't agree on the kind of tent to buy with their collective savings. After nearly a week of not speaking, they reluctantly agree to have their party "for the sake of the grown-ups," and discover that they've both spent all their money buying each other sleeping bags. Rift mended, they camp out together that night in the yard. In realistic, golden-toned watercolors, Soman artfully captures his young characters (one of whom is African-American) passing through annoyance, anger, regret, and loneliness before moving back to contentment. Conflict resolution is a common theme, but it's rare and refreshing to see children work out their differences on their own, without adult advice. (Picture book. 6-7) Read full book review >
MANGABOOM by Charlotte Pomerantz
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: April 1, 1997

Although this tale is somewhat disjointed, its tender bonhomie compensates. A boy, Daniel, happens across an enormous pink slipper at the foot of a huge mango tree. He clambers in and is hoisted aloft, where he meets Mangaboom—all 19 feet and 682 pounds of her—who tells him of her favorite pastimes: skinny-dipping and turning cartwheels. Two pieces of mail arrive with Daniel: an invitation to her aunt's for tea with three bachelor giants, and a love letter from someone named Grizwaldo. He begs Mangaboom to write, but before she can retrieve his address on the envelope, her goat eats it up. Crestfallen, Mangaboom heads off with Daniel to tea, where her suitors turn out to be dreadful rubes. Happily for Mangaboom, but unhappily for any potential drama surrounding the lost address, Grizwaldo writes the next day, saying he'll drop by that evening. Daniel takes his leave, though not without getting a glimpse of Grizwaldo (who looks a great deal like a giant Daniel). On the saucily suggestive last page, it looks as though they'll go skinny-dipping that night. Snippets of Spanish give this story an exotic air, and the affection the storyteller has for her characters is evident, even though a plot is not. Lobel's gouaches give a heroic touch to the proceedings, with Mangaboom's colossalness often bleeding right off the page. (Picture book. 5+) Read full book review >
HERE COMES HENNY by Charlotte Pomerantz
ANIMALS
Released: Aug. 1, 1994

``Here comes Henny/with her sacky,/which she carries/pickabacky/back and forth/and forth and backy./See her pick pick pick/a snicky./See her pack pack pack/a snacky./See her put/a snicky-snacky/in her backpack/picnic sacky.'' So begins the tale of a hen whose three chicks, far from pleased with her provisions, prefer—in fact, ``DEMAND''—``A snacky-snicky/for the chickies'/picnic-nicky.'' No problem. Henny eats the whole snicky-snacky herself and settles down for a nap. Then, agreeing that they've been ``too picky,'' the hungry chicks pack a snacky- snicky (remarkable in its similarity to the snicky-snacky) for their own picnic. Children will delight in the intricate interplay of sounds, the rhythms playfully mimicking the movements of chickens, and the occasional dramatic ``Cluck!'' or ``No!'' that punctuates them. Parker's mixed-media illustrations have a wide-eyed simplicity, adding greatly to the fun. Try this with a toddler who enjoys chanting Mother Goose, or give it to new readers as an unusually diverting way to polish their phonics. (Picture book. 2-7) Read full book review >
THE OUTSIDE DOG by Charlotte Pomerantz
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 30, 1993

Her grandpa is adamant—Marisol may not have a dog, even though there are numerous strays on their Puerto Rican hillside; dogs have ``fleas and ticks and who knows what.'' Marisol doesn't complain, but bit by ingenuous bit she negotiates. This particularly appealing pooch, she alleges, has no fleas, so he can be petted. Soon the dog has a name, while permission to give him scraps leads inevitably to the purchase of dog food. When ``Pancho'' goes missing, Grandpa's concern equals Marisol's; and in the end, when Grandpa makes one last decree—Pancho, now firmly established, is to be an outside dog, he says—readers will guess it will endure no longer than his others. The naturally cadenced story includes a few Spanish words, nicely defined in context and in a pronouncing glossary. Plecas's expressive, simply rendered illustrations are in the same amiable spirit as the text. Pancho's insinuation into this affectionate family of two is charming. (Easy reader. 4-8) Read full book review >
SERENA KATZ by Charlotte Pomerantz
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 31, 1992

All of Elmsville is excited to hear that Mr. Duncan and his family are off to N.Y.C. to visit the great Serena Katz—but is she who they think she is? The postmistress remembers her as ``the Katz Meow,'' the West Side's best pool-player; a neighbor as a show-stopping magician; another as the creator of fabulous wedding cakes; and yet another as ``Krazy Katz,'' motorcycle racer. Mr. Duncan knows only that she runs a hardware store and buys his paint. Alley, whose watercolors are, as usual, lively and well-crafted, does a wonderful job of building anticipation, depicting everyone's memories but showing only a glimpse of Serena Katz's hand or foot in each scene. When at last the Duncans reach her door, they find a pleasant little old lady in sneakers who briskly sends them on a whirlwind tour of the city. Are the stories about her true? Oh, yes, and more besides. Has she left all that behind? Not likely: the spirit of adventure is ageless. A treat for readers who find Miss Rumphius a bit too genteel. (Picture book. 7-9) Read full book review >

As in Angela Johnson's Tell Me a Story, Mama (p. 49/C-5), a young black child asks her mother questions about her childhood—a time of fewer possessions but just as much love. Here, in Rose's own bedroom—large and well equipped with books and toys—Rose's mother tells about events during her childhood in Jamaica, where her mother was a seamstress who was sometimes too busy to finish her own child's dress. Once, Rose's mother made herself a rag doll; she also yearned for a "chalk doll" like the ones in store windows, and treasured a damaged, discarded one that had been given her aunt at the place where she worked. Condensed milk was a special treat; there were no birthday parties; shoes were for Sunday only; but Mother tells about it all with such warmth that Rose wonders whether she has as much fun as Mother did—and suggests that although she has plenty of "chalk dolls," she too would like to make a rag doll, with Mother's help. Bright, child-like illustrations capture the glow of the Caribbean colors and the story's affection. A lovely book to share and to use as a springboard for discussion. Read full book review >