Books by David Soman

AGENT LION by Jacky Davis
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 4, 2020

"Readers will enjoy watching this clueless detective get the 'mane' job done in spite of himself. (Picture book. 4-8)"
An inept lion detective searches for a missing cat. Read full book review >
HOW TO TWO by David Soman
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 19, 2019

"No two ways about it—this one is a delight. (Picture book. 3-8)"
From the co-creator and illustrator of the Ladybug Girl books comes a joyful exploration of a day at the playground, where a young child finds new playmates and shares new activities in almost every spread until one has become 10 and it's clear that all are welcome to play. Read full book review >
LADYBUG GIRL AND THE RESCUE DOGS by Jacky Davis
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 6, 2018

"Another satisfying adventure for Ladybug Girl's many fans. (Picture book. 4-7)"
Ladybug Girl Lulu and her dog, Bingo, help with a dog adoption event in this latest entry in the long-running series about a spunky girl who wears a ladybug costume wherever she goes. Read full book review >
BUMBLEBEE BOY LOVES... by David Soman
CHILDREN'S
Released: Dec. 26, 2017

"A sweet addition to this growing series about would-be superheroes. (Board book. 2-4)"
A list of all the people and activities Bumblebee Boy loves. Read full book review >
LADYBUG GIRL'S DAY OUT WITH GRANDPA by Jacky Davis
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 16, 2017

"A gentle reminder to stop and smell the roses. (Picture book. 4-7)"
Ladybug Girl learns the importance of slowing down on a visit to the natural history museum. Read full book review >
LADYBUG GIRL AND HER PAPA by Jacky Davis
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 9, 2017

"Adult readers may wonder how long Ladybug Girl can keep up the cosplay, but older toddlers will, nonetheless, be pleased to see the beloved character in cozy scenes. (Board book. 2-4)"
The polka-dot-winged and red-clad heroine of the Ladybug Girl picture-book and board-book series enjoys exploring a variety of activities with her father throughout the day. Read full book review >
THE MONSTER NEXT DOOR by David Soman
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 6, 2016

"Listeners should absorb the book's elegantly executed common sense like a sponge. (Picture book. 3-7)"
An attack of peevishness is defused with a change in perspective. Read full book review >
LADYBUG GIRL AND THE BEST EVER PLAYDATE by Jacky Davis
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 25, 2015

"Ladybug Girl fans will find this offering satisfying, and its gentle didacticism goes down easy. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Ladybug Girl—aka Lulu—is so excited about her best friend's new toy that she temporarily forgets the joys of friendship. Read full book review >
LADYBUG GIRL READY FOR SNOW by David Soman
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 16, 2014

"A short, sweet tale introducing the concept of snow while celebrating the small joys of life in imaginative and joyful Ladybug Girl style. (Board book. 2-5)"
A Ladybug Girl adventure for her littlest fans, this one features a romp in the snow. Read full book review >
LADYBUG GIRL AND THE DRESS-UP DILEMMA by Jacky Davis
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 19, 2014

"Readers and their parents will appreciate how Lulu works through her dilemma on her own. Not only is this an entertaining story, but it's also a good conversation starter about being true to oneself. (Picture book. 4-7)"
Ladybug Girl Lulu is sure what she'll wear for Halloween until a comment from her brother makes her question her decision. Read full book review >
THREE BEARS IN A BOAT by David Soman
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 20, 2014

"Humorous and intelligent—and with watercolor seascapes so luminous that readers will want to jump in—this is a book to be treasured for years to come. (Picture book. 2-8)"
Taking a break from Ladybug Girl, Soman uses his watercolors to paint a playful tale of responsibility. Read full book review >
LADYBUG GIRL AND THE BIG SNOW by David Soman
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 17, 2013

"A fine choice for young readers on a cold winter night, especially when enjoyed with a cup of hot chocolate in front of a fire like the one Ladybug Girl, Bingo and her brother curl up in front of. (Picture book. 3-8)"
In the latest adventure in the popular Ladybug Girl series, Lulu and her basset hound, Bingo, enjoy a day of play outside in freshly fallen snow. Read full book review >
THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF BUMBLEBEE BOY by Jacky Davis
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2011

"Super on so many levels. (Picture book. 3-7)"
Bumblebee Boy is back in his own adventure in this imaginative romp through the sometimes complex world of big-brotherhood. Read full book review >
LADYBUG GIRL by Jacky Davis
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2008

Dressed as Ladybug Girl in her red-and-black tutu, spotted wings, antenna and boots, Lulu is ready for action, but is disappointed when her mother announces at breakfast that Lulu will have to organize her own fun time. When Lulu appeals to her brother, he dismisses her as too little to play baseball. So she retreats to her room where, surrounded by toys, games, puzzles and art supplies, she immediately concludes, "there's nothing to do." She tries amusing herself by counting the letter "L" in her parents' books and even resorts to measuring her avocado plant. Everything changes when Lulu goes outside and becomes Ladybug Girl. She rescues struggling ants, boldly traverses a huge puddle, repairs a stone wall and balances precariously along a fallen tree trunk. Buoyed by her imagination, Lulu confidently concludes she's not so little after all. Amusing watercolor and line illustrations capture Lulu at her most bored and Ladybug Girl at her most adventurous. Ideal inspiration for little ones seeking empowerment. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
ONLY ONE COWRY by Phillis Gershator
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

The wealthy, yet stingy, king of Dahomey (now Benin) is ready to marry, but he is only willing to offer one meager cowry shell as dowry in a retelling "freely based on African folklore." A clever young subject named Yo volunteers to find a bride for the king and sets off with the one cowry, bartering along the way until he has accumulated enough goods to offer a respectable number of gifts to a village chief. At each stop, Yo lists his growing stash in a refrain children will enjoy that ends "Well, well, I'm doing well, / thanks to Dada Segbo's shell." The chief's clever daughter in turn uses her guile to obtain food and drink for her village and clothing (including jewelry made of hundreds of cowry shells) for herself from the king before consenting to the marriage. Soman's collage illustrations flow across double-page spreads in a pleasing combination of colors, textures, and patterns, with black lines providing detail, especially of faces. They aptly convey the rural village and tropical setting of this West African tale. A humorous touch is Soman's depiction of the increasingly exhausted messenger. A concluding author's note provides background and cites the sources of this amusing, cumulative-type tale. (Picture book/folktale. 4-7)Read full book review >
GREAT-GRANDMOTHER'S TREASURE by Ruth Hickcox
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

A book that does a pretty good job of limning what to a child is a leap of faith not easily accomplished—picturing a great-grandmother as young, with a child's feelings, and involved in kid stuff. Tracing the life of a great-grandmother (and always referring to her as such, which contextualizes her), Hickcox makes readers witnesses to her growing up, raising a family, then tending to an ever-increasing brood. The child gathers treasures first as experiences and then, as an adult, keeps them as memories. Hickcox humanizes the girl—the only thing she ever sewed was an apron, into which she places (invisibly) her memory-treasures—and the woman: "Sure as God's in his heaven, she thought to herself, isn't this a hoot! Here I am, looking old as Philadelphia, but inside I am still exactly me." The connections are clear; readers may love the character, but they'll reflect on their own ancient relatives as well. Soman's illustrations work beautifully with the story, capturing with equal skill the great-grandmother's decades of zest, and the melancholy moments that befall the old and young alike. (Picture book. 4-7) 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 >
THIS IS THE BIRD by George Shannon
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 1997

As a handmade wooden bird is passed down through several generations, each female relative endows it with a memory that adds to the family history. The bird was carved by a great-great-great-great-great-grandmother while waiting for her baby to be born. Her daughter hid the bird in her butter churn during a robbery. Her deaf granddaughter hid the bird in her skirt hem when she went away to school to learn sign language. As each generation's tale is added, Shannon (Tomorrow's Alphabet, 1996, etc.) achieves a cumulative effect—``The bird her mother sewed in her hem. The bird her mother hid from the thieves''— that gives the story the rhythm of oral tradition. The person narrating is a young girl who is girding herself to once again attempt a high dive, after falling. In the end, she concludes, ``This is the bird I'll always keep till the right time comes to pass it along. The bird I got to celebrate my high dive,'' adding her tale to the legend. Soman's sensitive illustrations reflect the intimacy created by the memory of ancestral struggles and accomplishments; this is a moving tribute to familial bonds. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
THE AUNT IN OUR HOUSE by Angela Johnson
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 1996

A restrained, somewhat sorrowful work from two frequent collaborators (The Leaving Morning, 1992, etc.). A brother narrates the changes he and his younger sister observe in their biracial household when their aunt—their father's sister—comes to stay. The text is spare: ``She brought a fish in a bowl/and a chair that she sat under a tree./ She said that we were hers now./The Aunt was ours too./So we watched the Aunt in our house.'' There is an undertone of abiding sadness here: ``But sometimes/The Aunt in our house/is quiet/and looks out the window all day.'' In some ways, the art outshines the text. The paintings, a happy marriage of pastel and watercolor, are immediate and exquisitely rendered. They provide the first clues that all is not well with the aunt; the two children are always engaging, anchoring all that is left unsaid to real people. Readers never know why the aunt has come to stay, but they will certainly understand that the family's life is enhanced by her presence in this subtle and affecting work. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
SOMEBODY'S NEW PAJAMAS by Isaac Jackson
BEDTIME BOOK
Released: Feb. 1, 1996

On his first sleepover, Jerome is nonplussed when his friend Robert asks where his pajamas are and then casually offers him a pair. Accustomed to sleeping in his underwear, Jerome quietly accepts the offering. Back home, Jerome thinks about how different families have different customs, and when Robert comes for a return visit, offers him clean underwear to sleep in. Jackson's first book presents the problem and resolution in a low-key, relatively nondidactic way; although Robert's family is well-off and the pajamas become something of a symbol, when Jerome does receive some, he decides to wear them only half the time, because ``this family does things its own way.'' Soman places his African-American characters in a tidy urban setting, with Jerome's five-room apartment looking as spacious as Robert's brownstone. A salutary lesson in values, gently delivered. (Picture book. 5-7) Read full book review >
POLE DOG by Tres Seymour
by Tres Seymour, illustrated by David Soman
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 1993

``Old dog, old dog,/ Left by the telephone pole dog/ They're coming back for their old dog''—but, as is often the case, they're not. Seymour's brief text has an urgent cadence connoting the dog's anxiety and hope; his repetitive phrases, varied with the dog's experiences of hunger, fear (he's shot at), and cold, reflect ``Pole Dog's'' increasing dejection. Point made, there's a happy ending suitable for a young audience: a new family adopts this dog—but an appended note on what's more likely to happen to such animals urges children to call an animal shelter if they see an abandoned pet. Soman (Tell Me a Story, Mama, 1989) provides lovely double-spread art, rendered in pastels, evoking the scenic but desolate site at different times of day and the abandoned animal with equal skill. Poignantly telling. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
THE LEAVING MORNING by Angela Johnson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 1992

As in Tell Me a Story, Mama (1989) and other books this team has created, the importance of family gets thematic pride of place here. Preparing to move from an urban apartment, a black family spends more time saying good-bye to friends, neighbors, and relatives (``We said good-bye to the cousins all day long'') than packing. In Soman's large, golden-brown watercolors, readers can follow the play of emotions in the faces of parents and children as they hug, kiss, shake hands, or just speak quietly to one another, until the narrator and his father, pregnant mother, and older sister sit smiling together in a room the movers have emptied, then wave one last good-bye from the street. A gently reassuring view of a common, and often traumatic, experience. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
ONE OF THREE by Angela Johnson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 1991

``I'm one of the three that looks just like our mama, smiles just like our daddy, and holds hands with my sisters....'' In another warm evocation of a loving black family, the author of Tell Me a Story, Mama (1989) depicts a little girl whose older sisters often include her—but not always; then it can be ``just Mama, Daddy, and me, it's a different kind of three, and that's fine too....'' Soman's watercolors glow with good humor and affection. (Picture book. 3-8) Read full book review >