Books by David Elliott

VOICES by David Elliott
Released: March 26, 2019

"An innovative, entrancing account of a popular figure that will appeal to fans of verse, history, and biography. (preface, map, author's note, list of poetic forms) (Historical verse novel. 13-adult)"
A multivoiced verse retelling of the last day of Joan of Arc's life. Read full book review >
IN THE PAST by David Elliott
Released: March 20, 2018

"Highlights from life's last 544 million years infused with humor and wonder. (Picture book/poetry. 5-10)"
A dramatic portrait gallery of some of our planet's former residents down through the eras, with pithy odes in rhymed or free verse. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 12, 2017

"Great for knitters, for readers, for fun-seeking adventurers. (Picture book. 4-7)"
A wolf and two sheep in a funny-ever-after tale? Yes! Read full book review >
BULL by David Elliott
Released: March 28, 2017

" Irresistible, slick, and sharp (no bull!)—with plenty of bull to dissect. (cast of characters, author's notes) (Verse fiction. 14-adult)"
A saucy, brash retelling of the Greek myth of the Minotaur. Read full book review >
THIS ORQ. (HE #1) by David Elliott
Released: Sept. 13, 2016

"Formulaic but funny. (Picture book. 3-5)"
No. 1 cave boy loses his mojo and his reputation when a flashy new kid comes along. Read full book review >
THE TWO TIMS by David Elliott
Released: May 24, 2016

"An oft-told learning journey that all friend groups must navigate; this simple telling may resonate in ways others do not. (Picture book. 2-5)"
Two kids, each named Tim, are best friends. Read full book review >
THIS ORQ. (HE SAY "UGH!") by David Elliott
Released: Sept. 8, 2015

"Wacky and well-tuned to the preschool sense of humor. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Even in prehistoric times, a pet is a boy's best friend and a bully, his worst enemy. Read full book review >
NOBODY'S PERFECT by David Elliott
Released: Feb. 10, 2015

"Not the most fascinating or consistent storyline, but snazzy artwork spruces it up. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Nobody's perfect, and that's actually fine. Read full book review >
THIS ORQ. (HE CAVE BOY.) by David Elliott
Released: Sept. 1, 2014

"Offbeat and winning. (Picture book. 3-6)"
A boy-and-his-mammoth story.

Modern boys have faithful dogs, and cave boy Orq, in a furry-looking, one-shoulder green tunic, has a woolly mammoth named Woma. But unlike a dog, Woma grows and grows and keeps on growing, until he becomes a big hairy problem for Orq's mother and the family's cave home. He stinks and sheds, and he isn't house trained. She orders Woma out! The heartbroken Orq, whose other pet pals are a family of weird-looking birds (striped blue and gray, and with a red crest on the adult), comes up with a plan: Teach Woma tricks, and Mother will love him. Orq attempts to teach Woma to fetch, speak and roll over; all have comically disastrous results. One day, while Orq is out pretending to be a big-game hunter, a saber-toothed tiger creeps near. Sabertooth loves Orq but like a glutton loves his lunch. When Woma leaps to the rescue, he earns Mother's undying affection. Elliott's text, written with the awkward simplicity of movie "Indians" and cavemen, is hilariously effective and also apt to tickle and be understood by very young readers: "This Orq. He live in cave. He carry club. He cave boy." Nichols' digitally colored pencil illustrations are simple and slyly humorous. Read full book review >
ON THE WING by David Elliott
Released: Sept. 1, 2014

"From the graceful cranes flying across its wraparound cover to the single feather on the title page to the soaring eagle at the end, this book astounds. (Picture book/poetry. 4-10)"
In this carefully planned book, readers simultaneously learn key facts about a variety of birds, absorb different forms of poetry and revel in beautiful artwork. Read full book review >
IN THE SEA by David Elliott
Released: Feb. 14, 2012

"This mix of clever poems, handsome art and well-chosen typography, despite a few minor flaws, will function equally well for bedtime sharing and early-learning settings. (Picture book/poetry. 3-6)"
This third pairing of Elliott's reductive poems and Meade's bold woodcut-and-watercolor illustrations dives deep to explore sea creatures, from tiny shrimp to the mighty blue whale. Read full book review >
IN THE WILD by David Elliott
Released: Aug. 1, 2010

A stunning combination of poems and illustrations celebrating some of Earth's wildest and most beautiful creatures. Meade's woodcut-print-and-watercolor illustrations fill page after page with striking images of each featured animal in its habitat. Every page spread is saturated with vivid colors and shapes, simultaneously drawing attention to the boldly rendered animal at its heart and making space for a poem, printed in large, clear type, that pays further tribute to the creature pictured. Elliott's poems, with their spot-on rhythm, playful rhyme and precise use of language, capture something essential about each animal. The jaguar, for example, grows on her back delicate rosettes "and yet / there's danger in the jaguar's gait, / a soundless step that warns: / Beware of jungle-raised bouquets. / Beware these hidden thorns." The poems, though they employ some sophisticated vocabulary, are short and direct, a feature that will demonstrate to verse-averse young readers that poetry can be powerful and pleasurable without being too complicated or threatening. (Picture book/poetry. 4-10) Read full book review >
FINN THROWS A FIT! by David Elliott
Released: Aug. 1, 2009

To say that Finn, a blue-shirted, yellow-booted tot with more than a passing resemblance to Humpty-Dumpty, is out of sorts is to severely understate the case. When his mother offers him his usual plate of peach slices—the very idea!—he throws the mother of all fits: There's "Thunder in the nursery! / Lightning in the kitchen!" and so on. Elliott spins out the climatic metaphors for Finn's tantrum up to and including a blizzard, the emotional weather so severe that the family's little white dog flees the house entirely. Ering, always atmospheric, goes happily nuts with the premise, his mixed-media—charcoal, oils and grease pencil—illustrations almost palpably three-dimensional in their wind-blown vigor. If Finn's fit is impressive, its aftermath is equally effective: The little boy sits, collapsed, on the floor, exhaling his last puff of anger before he decides that he'd "like those peaches now. / Please." While likening a child's tantrums to a severe storm is apt enough from an adult perspective, it may be too conceptually remote for little ones, for whom When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry may still ring the most emotionally true. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2008

In this lyrical nighttime adventure aimed at the pre-K set, a boy holding his teddy bear falls asleep and begins to dream. What begins as a cuddly bedtime story, however, changes into a fantastical journey when the boy's ted turns into a real grizzly, morphing, almost Incredible Hulk-style, into a huge animal with white claws the size of fingers: "Teddy growls as Teddy grows; / Teddy pops his button nose..." Strangely, all this growling and popping does not terrify the boy (though readers might find it a bit scary), and he quickly finds himself transformed as well. The two bears leave the bedroom and enter a mysterious woodland where they feast on bushes, fish in icy streams and explore the night wilderness in all their bear glory. Elliott's spare, poetic writing creates a believably childlike dream world, and Grafe's inky browns, blues and greens match the moody text perfectly. It's so effective that it may well frighten some sensitive kids rather than lulling them to sleep; buy it for the more adventurous types. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
KNITTY KITTY by David Elliott
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

In a cottage nestled in the wintry countryside, "Clickety-click. / Tickety-tick. / Knitty Kitty sits and knits." She makes a hat for one kitten to keep it cozy. She makes mittens for a second kitten to keep it toasty. She makes a scarf for the third to keep it comfy. When the kittens play in the snow and make a snowman, they think he wants to be cozy too, and soon it's the snowman who sports the hat, mittens and scarf. Soon it's bedtime for the kittens, and they all climb into their big basket. They can't sleep, though; they aren't cozy, comfy or toasty. Knitty Kitty has just what they need: herself! "Night-night, little kittens." / "Night-night, Knitty Kitty." Elliott's simple, onomatopoeic text with a twist at the end will satisfy storytime and bedtime audiences alike. Redwall picture-book illustrator Denise could not have packed more charm into his acrylic-and-ink kittens. Reminiscent of Galdone's Three Little Kittens, though without its folk simplicity, this is a winner for all collections of kitty lit. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2008

When evil, oversized alien rabbits land at Dingdale Elementary chool (the "S" has fallen off the sign so often that custodian Fuzzy Dustin refuses to fix it any more), it's up to young Hercules Smith and his slobbery pooch Sheldon to save the Earth—or at least the student body—from being transformed into carrots. Luckily (or maybe not), a pair of the titular Wuv Bunnies, heavily armed with kisses and truly toxic jokes, arrive from the Outers Pace Galaxy to help out. Elliott and Long milk this premise for all it's worth, dishing up a Captain Underpants-style mix of text and wild cartoons—the former well-stocked with authorial asides, the latter filled with big-toothed bunnies sporting antennae and high-fiving each other after each gag. Capped by a gratuitous barrage of extra jokes ("What did the duck say when she bought some lipstick? Just put it on my bill. HA! HA! HA! HA!"), this is all perfectly pitched to its audience and guaranteed to garner groans from the grown-ups. (Fantasy. 7-9) Read full book review >
Released: March 11, 2008

Take a liberal base of Dickens, throw in a healthy helping of Dahl and spice with a bit of Margo Lanagan, and you might approximate the recipe that yielded this fey little fantasy. Jeremy Cabbage was rescued as an infant by Polly, who raised him among a band of orphans with lots of love but little else in a shuttered library. The reader meets him, however, as he is being sold by Helga Harpwitch, into whose clutches he fell after one of his erstwhile chums betrayed them. Metropolis is ruled by the Baron, a bombastic buffoon whose shrewish wife urges him to eradicate cloons—people whose genes turn them into clowns at puberty. After a series of failed adoptions, Jeremy ends up with Bo and Ba of the Living Museum, a loving family of cloons and a collision course between Jeremy and the Baron's minions begins. Parallel narratives follow Jeremy and the Baron's family (could his daughter's nose be turning red?) until the inevitable confrontation and equally inevitable resolution. As an inquiry into fascism, it's pretty unsubtle, but entertaining and thought-provoking for all that. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
ON THE FARM by David Elliott
Released: March 1, 2008

Energetic woodcuts accompany playfully simple poems as they give young readers an engaging tour of the barnyard. From the usual suspects—rooster, cow, sheep—to some of the less celebrated denizens of the farm—snake, bees, turtle—each poem varies to suit its subject. The barn cat's verse is succinct: "Mice / had better / think twice." The snake's winds its way down the page in sinuous shape. At their best, Elliott's images are unexpected and all the more lovely: The turtle "Lifts her fossil head / and blinks / one, two, three / times in the awful light." Others are not so successful, but Meade's illustrations give them credence: The rooster "Crows and struts. / He's got feathers! / He's got guts!" This rhythmic but rather opaque assertion is accompanied by an oversized rooster who dominates the foreground; eyes shut in concentration, he levitates himself with the force of his crow—the very embodiment of "guts." Farmyard books are a dime a dozen, but this one is a worthwhile addition, for those poems that reach beyond the ordinary and for the good-natured illustrations that complement them. (Picture book/poetry. 2-5)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

This counting book shows different chickens doing diverse dances until they reach the number ten. Things come to a halt, however, when the author addresses the reader by pointing out that one chicken is not cooperating: the reader. Encouraged to make music with a comb kazoo, the author suggests the reader start dancing the night away. Though the dances shown are varied and fun, they may not all be familiar to children. Long's pictures are surprisingly washed-out-looking even though he uses a wide palette of colors. However, the backgrounds are painted in such drab colors that the more vibrantly colored pictures of the chickens dancing are somehow lost on the page. The author's rhymes will probably succeed better as a read-aloud, allowing for an active story time. Not one of the more necessary counting books available, it's a bit of a disappointment. (Picture book. 2-4)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2006

Bored with her quiet life waiting for the birth of her new brother or sister, Evangeline yearns for a new adventure. It arrives in the form of a lavender envelope marked "URGENT!!!" To make good on a promise, she must travel back to Mudd Manor, an ugly home owned by Melvin, a distant relative, and his wife India, a semi-famous ballerina. While attempting to thwart Melvin's latest scheme involving turning minks into clothing, Evangeline meets Alexy Alexy, a ballerina able to jump 30 feet, and his evil trainer, Ratsputin. Never one to shrink from an adventure or a promise, Evangeline manages to free the minks, save a baby elephant, steer her odd relatives into happier lives and free Alexy Alexy from his bondage. Readers will not be able to resist smart, quirky Evangeline as she unicycles her way through yet another wild tale. Original and fun. (Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

Hazel Nutt returns for another adventure. This time, she's an alien hunter zooming through the cosmos in her spaceship, BoobyPrize. Caught in a "meateor" shower (meatballs, you understand), she makes an emergency landing on the planet Wutt. Following an Abbott-and-Costello exchange as she tries to uncover the name of the planet, Hazel discovers she has landed on the Wutties's leader. She feels awful and makes amends by giving them her ladder before blasting off—unknowingly freeing their little lady leader. Elliott's story is nonsensical goofiness. No explanations are given for the meatball meteors or Hazel's "alien hunter" status, and there's no reason given why the ladder has a palliative effect on the Wutties. Everything exists for visual and verbal puns. Kelley's wiggly watercolors are a good match and the main strength here. Readers with sophisticated enough senses of humor might enjoy hunting for the visual puns. Not for everyone, but fans of the first will likely be pleased. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
AND HERE’S TO YOU! by David Elliott
Released: April 1, 2004

Elliott's cup runneth over with good cheer in this rhymed toast to people—and not just the two-legged variety, either: "Here's to the birds! / The Feather People! / Birds! / Here's to the who-o-o ones, / The cock-a-doodle-doo ones, / Their breasts as red as fire ones, / The sitting on a wire ones. / Oh, I love the birds!" Each verse follows the same pattern, as he goes on to salute fish ("The Bubble People"), bears ("The Hungry People"), bugs, cats, dogs, cows, and frogs in turn, coming around at last to "The People People," and closing with "The You Person! / You!" Cecil's full-bleed illustrations reflect all this unfettered exuberance, with bright cartoon scenes of grinning young folk surrounded by animals and placed in outdoorsy settings. Reminiscent of Flora McDonnell's I Love Animals (1994) for its intensity of feeling, but more articulate in its expression, this will have young readers and listeners calling for another round. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2004

Evangeline Mudd is a lucky little girl: raised by primatologist parents in the fashion of the gentle and remarkable golden-haired apes, she grows up swinging from chandeliers, utterly and completely secure. Until her parents are given research opportunity in Ikkinasti, that is—then Evangeline is sent to stay with her awful cousin Melvin Mudd for a two-week sojourn that turns into months, until she is sprung by Dr. Aphrodite Pikkaflee, who takes her to Ikkinasti to rescue her parents. Elliot has consciously set about crafting a Quirky Tale that aspires to the Dahl-esque—but, lacking the biting edge of the master, falls far short and must settle for Cute. This cuteness quickly becomes tiresome, the initial contrived names and situations leading to more contrived names and situations that leave the reader in no doubt of Evangeline's ultimate happy reunion with her parents and the defeat of Dr. Pikkaflee's renegade developer brother. As the avuncular-beyond-belief narrator might say, "Have you ever eaten an entire cone of cotton candy in one sitting? That's what reading this is like." (Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2001

Flatly opposed to the idea of paying dues, clubmates Leo, Phoebe, Miranda, and Marcus find other ways to raise money, then opt to spend it worthily in this followup to Cool Crazy Crickets (2000). With 14 hard-earned dollars to show for watching Marcus's horribly active little brother, pet-sitting a neighbor's nervous Irish wolfhound, and selling lemonade, the four friends argue about whether it should go for snacks or other frills. But when the one-eyed stray cat that has been strolling through Elliott's easy-reading chapters turns up in the Cricket clubhouse looking decidedly unwell, they quickly agree that a trip to the vet is in order. In freely sketched watercolors, Meisel (How to Talk to Your Cat, 2000, etc.) sets his multicultural quartet into a summery suburban neighborhood, and gives the cat, both before and after being nursed back to health with a week of TLC, an appealingly raffish look. Elliott partly devalues the Crickets' sacrifice by rewarding them with free treats from the local snack shop, but thoughtful younger readers will still get the story's point. (Fiction. 8-9)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2001

The moral of this surreal episode would run something like this: never patronize a fast-food restaurant built where giant mutant bugs can crawl into the meat grinder. Young Roscoe learns this disgusting lesson almost too late when, after six months of nightly Gussy's "Jungle Drum" burgers, he suddenly discovers that he's beginning to resemble a praying mantis. Luckily, and despite the best efforts of Gussy's CEO and cohorts to hush the whole thing up, Roscoe's genius best friend Kinshasa Rosa Parks Boomer winkles out the cause. Also luckily, once Roscoe modifies his diet, the changes reverse. Elliott (Cool Crazy Crickets, 2000, etc.) is far from the first to take on a "boy-into-bug" premise, and though he introduces a memorably quirky cast, he doesn't give it much to do besides solve the mystery of why this is happening to Roscoe and others. The high gross-out factor will draw some readers, but they'll only find characters in search of a story. (Fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2000

In four short chapters, Elliott (An Alphabet of Rotten Kids, 1991) has created a breezy summertime read in which a group of friends form a club. It's a hot summer day when Leo and Marcus decide to create a club with Miranda and Phoebe. The four youngsters debate amongst themselves, playfully bandying about names for the club such as "Doodles" and "Piñatas" until finally settling on "The Cool Crazy Crickets." But now the question arises of where the club will reside. What's a club without a clubhouse? After some searching they tape together two refrigerator boxes, each youngster contributing to the overall aesthetics of the hideout. As the blithesome tale proceeds, the group decides on their mascot—Noodles, the pet dog that scampers through the story—and, lastly, just what kind of club they are. This quandary proves to be the most irksome, but finally, as three of them are just about to abandon the clubhouse, Leo has a brilliant solution dubbing them the "F.F.L." club: Friends For Life. Meisel's (The Tortoise and the Hare, 1998, etc.) artwork is active and rollicking, depicting a multicultural cast of characters in flushed watercolors outlined in ink. Bringing to light carefree summer days and the intimacy of hideouts with good friends, Elliott highlights the benefits of working as a group and the rewards of compromise. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: May 24, 1991

In the funniest of these not very funny misdemeanors, ``Jacob,/also known as Jake,/wondered how long it would take/his mom to find the rubber snake/he hid inside her chocolate cake./Oh, Jacob!'' Ranging from naughty to mean or destructive, these young rogues are more likely to amuse kids than adults, though de Mejo's expressive, odd-sized figures and sly humor will appeal to those with a taste for his acclaimed surreal illustrations. For a wittier and better-natured treatment of the subject, see X. J. Kennedy's Brats (1986) or Cole's perennial favorite, Beastly Boys and Ghastly Girls (1964). (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >