Books by David Frampton

Released: Sept. 1, 2006

On a long-ago, hot summer's day in Brooklyn, the firemen turn on their hoses in the middle of the street. The neighborhood kids run through the water, and, for a brief time, they are transported to a fresh cool place. But were there a couple of dozen kids, or six kids, or only Molly and the boy? Is Mr. Ferlinghetti's memory faulty, or is the whole incident a case of poetic license? Frampton's charming narration perfectly sets the stage for Lawrence Ferlinghetti's poem, "just the way he wrote it." Bold, strongly outlined woodcuts in shades of brown, gold and green are filled with joyful movement as the hoses carry the delighted children higher and higher until they nearly sail off the page. An artist's note provides a brief introduction and homage to Ferlinghetti. A work to savor again and again, finding new delights with each perusal. (Picture book. 5-10)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

Strikingly beautiful woodcuts and an oversized format create a first-rate visual accompaniment to this imaginative story about St. Francis of Assisi. The cover illustration shows a parade of animals following St. Francis, with just his sandal and the bottom of his robe in view, as he seems to stride off the cover's right edge, leading the reader into the story. The lyrical text focuses on St. Francis's affinity with animals and describes him simply as a man who preached and sang with "people and dogs and flowers and fish and frogs." His powerful connection to animals is shown through several encounters: saving a worm, taming a wolf, and sheltering and singing with birds. Though there is no author's note to explain the life of the saint in more detail, this treatment serves well as an introduction to the saint who lived in a down-to-earth fashion. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 4-9)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2005

"A handsome, well-designed offering for middle readers and families. (Poetry. 10+)"
Through beautiful, lucid free verse, Nikki Grimes explores some of the ambiguous, enigmatic events and circumstances leading up to the central theme behind the annual Easter observance. Read full book review >
RHYOLITE by Diane Siebert
Released: April 21, 2003

An unusual treatment of an unusual subject breathes new life into narrative poetry in picture book form. Eschewing the cute, the sentimental, and the trite, rhymed couplets tell, in extended narrative that recalls Robert Service, the extraordinary story of the Nevada boomtown Rhyolite, which was founded in 1904 and utterly abandoned by 1919. The desert's coyotes watch as prospectors strike gold, people flock to mine the vein, and a bustling community rises up to support the activity. "Each week more people lined the streets: / An ice cream parlor served up sweets, / The opera house rang out with song, / And townsfolk, now ten thousand strong, / Enjoyed their socials and their sports, . . . / While in the hills, where coyotes go, / The coyotes knew what coyotes know." Frampton's (My Beastie Book of ABC, 2002, etc.) heavy woodcuts, colored mostly with browns and terra-cottas, perfectly capture the roughness and the elegance of this desert town, both in imagined former glory and in today's ruins. Siebert (Motorcycle Song, 2002, etc.) captures the excitement and the melancholy of Rhyolite's story with driving iambic tetrameter that pushes the narrative on to its inevitable conclusion. As nonfiction in a poetic form, this is almost perfect. (author's note) (Picture book/poetry/nonfiction. 6-10)Read full book review >
MY BEASTIE BOOK OF ABC by David Frampton
Released: April 1, 2002

The one-page-per-letter format is not new, but here each letter is accompanied by a distinct and unusual piece of verse. Above and below each large, colored woodcut, a rhyme—not always exact—describes that page's animal. The descriptions are both funny and surprising: "K is for kangaroo. If I'm not mistaken, she has a small pouch, just right to keep cake in." The child reader is included in the narrative by hypothetical possibilities: "H is for hippo with mouth open wide. You could easily fit a tricycle inside. But then, it might be too yucky to ride." Adult humor, too, is given a place: "Q is for quail, found in woods dark and tall. But not for too long, they're building a mall." The number of lines per rhyme varies a bit, as does the rhythm of each verse; a few are slightly awkward and seem to have the wrong number of syllables. However, their humor overshadows that issue. The illustrations are colored with low intensity, creating an organic feeling that matches the woodcut medium. Animals range from newts to sea urchins to "xog, an unusual pup. I don't think you'll see one. I just made him up." Although an audience over four years will be too old for this genre, new readers of five or six may relish the chance to read these silly rhymes out loud to younger siblings. (Picture book. 2-4)Read full book review >
Released: June 30, 2001

A bouncy little leopard cub machetes his way through a crowded jungle of ho-hum going-to-bed books and dances into our hearts. "(E)veryone's asleep but me!" crows this fresh faced cutie. Guarded by a smiling, sometimes sleepy, silvery, sickle moon, this toddler in spotted pajamas takes readers on tour of his jungle neighborhood through a rhymed litany of animals—all of whom have already surrendered to sleep. Soothing repetition contrasts with intermittent bursts of energy as he tries eagerly to recruit readers for his corps of sleep-resisters: "The snake is sleeping peacefully / like ribbon candy in a tree / lazy lions side by side . . . / Are your peepers open wide?" On page after page, the broad, black-outlined colors and shapes bounce and weave like the adamantly not-sleepy cub. Tired but unbowed, he chortles: "(B)ut am I sleeping? Nope!" Finally, as with even the most oppositional, irrepressible little ones, the press of exhaustion wins out. Cub and child alike are ready at last for security and rest: "Now I know what we should do / Let's sleep and dream / the whole night through." A woodcut master, Frampton's (Riding the Tiger, p. 327, etc.) bold images feature an offbeat palette of grape purple, flat red, glowing turquoise, fertile green, and an irresistibly golden orange and black-spotted little leopard. Images push the page edges and vibrate with active and potential energy. One particularly winsome page shows the cub perched triumphantly atop a lion family literally and figuratively stacking zzz's. Through ever-present tongue-in-cheek humor and appealingly curvilinear grace, this little gem exudes child-centric appeal and is wonderfully reminiscent of early Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey collaborations. Frampton, with abundant warmth and canny simplicity, celebrates the anarchic spirit and small, blissful triumphs of early childhood. (Picture Book. 2-5)Read full book review >
Released: March 19, 2001

After a long string of career hits from Bunting (The Wall, 1990, Smoky Night, 1994, etc.), we have a miss: a bald, ham-handed allegory cautioning kids against gang membership and peer conformity. Danny, a ten-year-old, new-kid-on-the-block, is immediately greeted by a savvy tiger that invites him to come along for a ride. In a series of exchanges over multiple pages, they prowl the mean streets of an urban neighborhood. As the ride proceeds, the fun fades and it becomes clear that shopkeepers, cops, girls gathered on a street corner, and even a group shooting baskets are firmly under this tiger's paw. Ominously, gang colors and "tags" (here depicted as the tiger's black paw-print) are everywhere. Happily, the scales fall from Danny's eyes by the short ride's end. When Danny dismounts to help a terrified "bum, rooting through garbage," the tiger turns and snarls his threat: "You've had your chance. You'll never be one of us . . ." The message is pounded home: "Once you get up on the tiger's back, it's hard to get off. . . . But if you get off fast enough it's still possible." Frampton's handsome woodcuts capture the sinister slink of the tiger and the potent mix of attraction and danger he projects. Those who work in therapeutic settings with at-risk kids may want to add it to their treatment arsenal. However, libraries—especially urban libraries—may find this a far too simple answer to a complex question. Most general readers—kids and their parents, grandparents, and older siblings—will find this simplistic and preachy. (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
Released: March 23, 1998

With energy and verve, Chaikin (Children's Bible Stories, 1993, etc.) retells stories about God, angels, and the creation of the world, taken from the Midrashim and other Jewish lore, from Genesis up to the sacrifice of Abraham. God is the very anthropomorphic one of the Old Testament, with feelings, regrets, and, occasionally, anger; the tales are peopled with angels who act as messengers to humankind. Chaikin names the angels Michael and Raziel as female, and tells readers about the female voice of God, the Shekinah. In the creation story, Adam and Eve are made from the dust of earth—not Eve from Adam—and other original touches abound: Satan cannot cry, for tears are a gift from God; the phoenix rises from its own ashes as a gift for its kindness on Noah's ark. Frampton's woodcut illustrations recall amber and stained glass, making memorable stories that, with their rhythm and sense of mystery, have universal appeal. (notes, further reading) (Folklore. 9-12) Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1996

An Incan folktale about Miro, a spirited young girl who rescues her foolish brothers from the royal dungeon by saving a prince from death. The High Priest has said that the only thing that can heal the dying young prince is water from a mysterious lake in one of the corners of the world. When Miro's brothers try to pass off ordinary water as the cure, they are imprisoned. Miro, with a talent for communicating with birds, sets out to find the lake and help her brothers. Frampton's strikingly bold woodcuts, filled with color and given geometric patterns and borders, are the perfect complement to this tale, evoking the magic and mystery of a vanished ancient culture. Stylized and mostly gentle, they become fierce in Miro's encounters with giant creatures that attempt to keep her from the lake. Kurtz (I'm Calling Molly, 1989, etc.) combines formal language and a contemporary style to make the story at once accessible and otherworldly. (Picture book/folklore. 4-7) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 30, 1995

Three profiles of epidemics—the bubonic plague, smallpox, and AIDS—each one a cohesive cross section of history, medicine, and biology. In the first part, Giblin (Be Seated, 1993, etc.) describes the origins and history of the plague, contemporary ideas about medicine, attempted cures, society's responses to the epidemic, and its long-term effects on European history. In the second section, he first focuses on the spread of smallpox in the Americas and then gives a blow-by-blow account of the discovery of vaccination. In comparison with the first part of the book, covering centuries, the section on AIDS is—inevitably—empty; history on this level is the stuff of newspapers. But Giblin's prose remains easy and engaging throughout the book; he proves himself a seasoned narrator with an eye for fascinating details. Frampton's graceful black-and-white woodcuts resemble something out of a 16th-century chapbook. A highly informative, engrossing work. (notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10+) Read full book review >
Released: April 30, 1993

Based on manuscripts of the late storyteller Cecile Cox Offill, this condensed rehearsal of the Matter of Britain quickly takes readers from the dragon fight over Snowden to the death of Lancelot. With the exception of Percival's tale (``When he seated himself and began to move the white chessmen, the red men moved of themselves. Three times they checkmated him. It came to him then that only magic could defeat him in this way''), the tone is one of high seriousness, a record of cloven heads and other knightly deeds in the service of destiny and, occasionally, good. A few personal details aside (Mordred's ``foxy smile and gimlet eyes''), characters are stylized and remote, and the story is much simplified; Lancelot never touches Guinevere, and everyone goes after the Holy Grail without the authors explaining what it is. Still, this does preserve the flavor and major themes of the Arthurian Legend, with some modern additions—``Take comfort,'' says the dying king. ``Fear nothing. Trust in yourselves and do the best that you may.'' An accessible introduction for readers intimidated by Howard Pyle's collections, and a fresh inspiration for storytellers. Illustrations not seen. (Folklore. 10-12) Read full book review >
WHALING DAYS by Carol Carrick
Released: March 22, 1993

A brief but admirably lucid survey of whaling's rise and decline, from 11th-century Basque fishermen to the present. Carrick details the industry's expansion as technology grew more sophisticated and species were depleted, describing different whale characteristics that affected whaling practices and marketable commodities, as well as the work and hardships aboard a ship. The cruelty attending a whale's death is evident but not emphasized; Carrick ends with a quiet plea for preservation. Frampton's powerful woodcuts, dramatic black touched with soft earth colors, make a splendid complement. Their vigor and traditional manner are especially appropriate to the subject; handsomely stylized, they're also strongly evocative of the whales, the sea, and the time. A beautiful, richly informative book. Glossary; index. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 7+) Read full book review >
JUST SO STORIES by Rudyard Kipling
Released: Oct. 30, 1991

An unusually handsome presentation of these classic stories, with sophisticated woodcuts that will commend it especially (but not exclusively) to older children. Frampton provides one full- page color illustration for each story, with a broad border of a reiterated motif from the story framing a closely structured composition—boldly stylized yet reflecting the story's lively action and wit; additional vignettes enliven the generously spaced text. An excellent edition for home or library. (Fiction. 4+) Read full book review >