Books by Demi

Released: June 7, 2018

"The artistic condescension and incongruities make this a marginal offering at best. (further information) (Informational picture book. 4-7)"
On Dec. 12, 1531, in newly colonized Mexico City, the Virgin Mary appeared to an Aztec farmer, Juan Diego, and spoke to him in Nahuatl, his native language, telling him to ask the bishop to build her church. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 2018

"An appealing biography done in classic Demi tradition, suitable for readers interested in Confucianism and its impact on Chinese culture and values. (sources, notes) (Picture book/biography. 8-12)"
This deftly illustrated picture book introduces Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher and teacher, to young readers. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2017

"A visually pleasing collection with appeal for those families who wish to introduce a universal approach to religious education, suitable for the religion section in larger libraries. (Picture book/religion. 5-9) "
This collection of short prayers from different religions around the world is presented with intricate illustrations showing related settings and people. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 16, 2012

"Soaring in some aspects, but limited in appeal. (Religious poetry. 8-12)"
This laudable attempt to retell the gist of a 12th-century poem of over 4,000 verses may be of interest to religious educators and parents who want to expose young people to varied spiritual values. Read full book review >
by Demi, illustrated by Demi
Released: Sept. 1, 2011

Joan of Arc's story told in the ravishing line and color of Demi's art. Read full book review >
by Demi, illustrated by Demi
Released: Nov. 1, 2009

Hidden for 32 centuries, the tomb of Egypt's boy king, Tutankhamun, is an endless source of wonder and supposition. Many question how the king died. Demi, instead, chooses to focus on how he lived. Set amid the religious conflicts of Tutankhamun's ancestors and inspired by artifacts found in the king's tomb, the narrative traces the young king's rise to power. After a childhood filled with hunting, music and studies, Tutankhamun takes the throne when he is about nine. He later restores Egypt's old religion and gives people the freedom of worship. In a tale rife with names, dates and voyages from here and back, the author manages to keep a simple, straightforward flow. An ancient Egyptian verse sets the tone on the very first page: "O, Egypt—how beautiful indeed is the sight; / How pleasant indeed is the view!" Using rich jewel tones, bursting yellows and, of course, opulent gold ink, the exquisite art does not fall short. A beautiful sight indeed. (author's note, resources, family tree, map) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)Read full book review >
RUMI by Demi
Released: April 1, 2009

Neither the name nor the term will mean anything to kids, but Demi's signature luminous artwork elegantly evokes the life of one of the most revered mystical poets, who lived in Turkey in the 13th century. First taught by his father, Rumi became a preacher in a small mosque, but it was the teachings of a spiritual man who enlightened him and awakened his creative spirit. Rumi began circling and circling in a state of prayer. Never had he felt so close to God. He taught others, who became known as whirling dervishes who danced to his poetry. He believed that love is the root of all religions and he wanted children to find God in everything. Whirling dervishes continue to worship today by circle dancing, demonstrating that the love of God turns forever. The gilded, detailed illustrations suggest motion, while the concise text, which includes some of his poems, respectfully, almost reverently, treats the subject. The dedication states: "For children of all ages—whirling together in the sphere—let's dance!" (Picture book/biography. 9-12)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 16, 2008

A girl finds a phoenix feather and wonders if she can attain its special powers by drawing the magical bird. Feng Huang has never seen a real phoenix, and when she tries to draw one, her friends laugh at her. The Queen Phoenix takes pity on Feng Huang and visits, telling her "she must know the powers of the phoenix to truly draw them." Queen Phoenix gives Feng Huang a list of the phoenix qualities: wisdom, clear sight, equality, generosity and right judgment. As Feng Huang tackles each, she is visited by a different phoenix who offers a clue for her to draw her way to understanding. When Feng Huang finally masters each power, she has changed completely and is ready to draw a "glorious phoenix" that amazes and teaches her friends. Exquisitely rendered in paint, ink and Chinese silk brocade, multicolored phoenixes literally swirl across double and foldout pages with magnificent curvilinear plumage, contrasting sharply with Feng Huang's diminutive figure and offering visual proof of this mythic creature's powers. Splendid. (Picture book. 7-10) Read full book review >
by Demi, illustrated by Demi
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

Marco Polo was just 17 when he left his home in Italy to travel to China with his merchant father—a man who had traveled so long and far that Marco had met him only two years before. It was another 24 years before Marco would return to Italy with a treasure of precious jewels sewn into his clothing and a lifetime's worth of discoveries and adventures. Marco Polo and his merchant family bridged Europe and Asia long before Christopher Columbus set sail for the West. The anecdotal narrative is just right for an introduction to this remarkable voyager. Small paintings in Chinese inks brightened with gold overlays make each page a treasure—delicately, meticulously assembled, each scene identifies Marco with a red feather, and each miniature emerges from a richly detailed border. It's disappointing that a sense of the strangeness of the world to Marco's European eyes never quite emerges; the text and the illustrations remain somewhat detached from each other as a result. Still, there's plenty of charm for the eyes and imagination. (author's note, map) (Picture book/biography. 8-12) Read full book review >
by Demi, illustrated by Demi
Released: June 3, 2008

Demi's gilt-encircled, jewel-toned illustrations are beautiful as always, and her version of a 1,400-year-old Tang Dynasty story will resonate with children and adults alike. Taking refuge from a snowstorm in a mountain inn, poor young Ping meets a magician whose magnificent tricks leave the boy fretting that he will never achieve greatness. The magician lends Ping a pillow, upon which the lad dreams that he is rich and powerful, suffers a fall, regains his power, then sees his descendants do likewise over and over. Awakening with the insight that money "was like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, power was like a flickering lamp, and fame lasted no longer than a bubble in a stream," Ping announces that he is now content with his lot, and makes his way home, singing. Some might have hoped to see a little more ambition in the boy, but many will appreciate the conclusion that "He who finds peace in his heart has found his palace of gold." (author's note) (Picture book. 7-9, adult) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 11, 2007

Demi's original story line, which is driven more by an air of ritual than by character or incident, features a young painter named Ping who gathers Pearls of Heavenly Wisdom (depicted as physical pearls sporting such pithy sayings as "Seek Your Truth" and "Dare To Be True") in order to transform his stubbornly denied terror of dragons into love. Though the language (particularly the author's repeated comparison of dragon teeth to steak knives) doesn't always soar, the illustrations more than compensate, filled with long, sinuous, Asian-style dragons—some tiny, others big enough to fill the two double foldouts, all rendered in elaborately marbled patterns and great swathes of solid gold. The powerful, magnificent creatures make a mesmerizing spectacle, and Ping's joyful liberation from fear at the end closes the tale on a high note. (Picture book. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: May 8, 2007

Taking on a perfect subject for her ethereal style of illustration, Demi presents episodes from the life of the possibly mythical philosopher, then adds passages from the world-changing book with which he is associated. The art, all painted within large circles, features a smiling, tubby old man—Lao Tzu is said to have been 81 years old at birth, "with snow-white hair and large ears"—gesturing gracefully at various Taoist figures and symbols, which are interpreted in a key at the end. Demi also offers substantial portions of the Tao Te Ching itself—evidently her own translations, as they're unsourced—as short passages on topics from "Silence" and "Balance" to "Just Be Ordinary" and even "Governing": "Governing a large country / is like cooking a small fish. / It can be spoiled with too much poking." Children too young to absorb the more abstract statements here will enjoy the colorful legends, but Lao Tzu's teachings about "the virtues of softness and yielding, of innocence and peace" are "great lessons for everyone, anytime, anywhere." (Biography/Philosophy. 8+)Read full book review >
MARY by Demi
by Demi, illustrated by Demi
Released: Oct. 1, 2006

Demi continues her highly regarded series of biographies of spiritual leaders with this reverential, exquisitely illustrated depiction of the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The format is similar to others in the series, with highly detailed paintings in jewel tones set off by patterned borders against ivory backgrounds that suggest ancient parchment. The use of intricately designed fabrics in costumes and touches of bright gold for haloes, emanating rays and additional borders are used as unifying elements throughout, adding to the volume's elegant style with the composite effect of an illuminated manuscript. The accompanying text focuses on chronological milestones of Mary's life from her own conception to her assumption and coronation in Heaven. The lengthy text includes familiar passages from the King James Version of the Bible as well as passages from several additional sources (which are not accepted by all Christian denominations). An Apostolic Blessing from Pope John Paul II reproduced on the back cover emphasizes the volume's Roman Catholic orientation, though Demi's superb paintings and the exemplary design elevate the work above these potential concerns. (Nonfiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2006

In reverent tribute to a "statesman, philosopher, poet, painter, engineer, architect, and humanitarian" born nearly ten centuries ago, Demi offers a text in which quoted passages of poetry and references to "mystical painting skills" mingle with biographical detail. She pairs this with her trademark scenes of dignified, finely detailed figures floating through luminescent clouds in traditional dress. Though she sounds a false note near the end with a dismissive description of Hainan Island as "a place inhabited only by natives," this portrait of a "knight-errant," who shone brightly in both the literary and political arenas while surviving several severe reversals of fortune, presents an exemplary role model. In the author's view, he still stands at the "heart and soul of Chinese culture." (Biography. 8-10)Read full book review >
JESUS by Demi
by Demi, illustrated by Demi
Released: Oct. 1, 2005

Demi continues her series of biographies of world religious figures with this exquisitely illustrated life of Jesus, using selections from the King James Bible as her text. Major events and stories unfold in chronological order, using short excerpts from all the Gospels. The text is set on soft golden-yellow backgrounds with the words of Christ highlighted in red type. Demi paints her small-scale illustrations in glowing jewel tones, with gold highlights and patterned borders surrounding each vignette from Christ's life. The slightly flattened perspective, stylized arrangement of figures and limited backgrounds impart an ancient feeling, echoed by the traditional wording of the text. Her approach to symbolic representation of Christian figures is also traditional: God is shown in one illustration as an elderly man with a white beard at the top of one panel, and the devil is shown with wings, horns and a tail in another. The striking illustrations and thoughtful design add up to another winning addition to this series. (Nonfiction. 5-10)Read full book review >
by Demi, illustrated by Demi
Released: Feb. 1, 2005

From the kneeling supplicant on the front cover, surrounded by apostolic figures within an ornate cross, to the author's Papal blessing on the back, this is the most pious yet of Demi's profiles of our greatest spiritual touchstones. In a text that mixes specific biographical details with poems, prayers, and biblical passages, she follows Mother Teresa from childhood in what was then Yugoslavia to the inner call that sent her into a religious order in India. (She took her name from St. Teresa of Lisieux, "about whom it was said she did no great things—only small things with great love.") Then the "call within a call" turned her from teaching to working with and for the poorest for the rest of her life. Demi caps her work with a long list of Mother Teresa's international honors and a précis of current efforts to secure her sainthood that are likely to lose younger readers. And she illustrates with golden-framed art that, for all its characteristic grandeur and delicacy, fails to capture the squalor of the slums in which she worked, or to give immediacy to her day to day contact with the diseased and desperate. But her faith, her message, and the force of her personality come through with superb clarity. (bibliography, map) (Picture book/biography. 9-12)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2004

Demi sprinkles droll humor and liberal doses of common sense throughout a traditional tale of Nasrettin Hoca, Turkey's most famous folk hero. On his way to a banquet given by a rich friend, Nasrettin stops to catch a goat. Now late for his dinner, he doesn't have time to change from his dirty, smelly clothes. Ignored by his friends, Nasrettin leaves and then returns after bathing and dressing in his most elegant clothing. Now greeted as a welcomed guest, Nasrettin feeds the finest banquet food to his coat—since it must have been his fine coat that his friends had wanted at the banquet, right? With the lesson learned, his friends cheer and toast his wisdom. The moral? "He who wears heaven in his heart is always well dressed." Characteristic of Demi's earlier work, the elegant illustrations are touched with golden accents, surrounded by ornate borders of tiny details, and filled with the rich colors and patterns of traditional Turkish paintings. Exquisite retelling; exquisite illustrations; exquisite choice. (afterword) (Picture book/folktale. 6-10)Read full book review >
by Demi, illustrated by Demi
Released: March 1, 2004

In this portentous sequel to The Empty Pot (1991), Demi spins a thinly plotted original tale into a panoramic view of Chinese contributions to science and culture, capped by a confusingly presented—not to mention arguable—philosophical proposition. Inspired by the Heavens' harmony, boy-emperor Ping decides to bring harmony to his kingdom by choosing as Prime Minister, the child who can discover the greatest power in the world. Within circular compositions, Demi strews dozens of tiny, precisely rendered children who, depending on their convictions, proceed to make weapons or beautiful clothing, create an array of inventions and technological achievements, or build a statue of Guan Yu, god of money. Only young Sing does not make something; instead, bringing up the rear of the colorful climactic parade, she shows Ping a lotus seed, breaks it open (no mean feat, that), and explains that the life which grows from the "nothing" within is the greatest power. Of course, she gets the job—but even readers inclined to accept Sing's rather narrow view at face value will be left scratching their heads over the obscure way she presents it. Pretty, but not up to the author's standard. (Picture book. 8-10)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2003

Once again Demi has created an exquisitely illustrated introduction to the life of a famous historical figure, this time the saint from the third century who's connected to the modern-day Santa Claus. The text recounts stories from the life of the saint, including miracles attributed to him, and how he became a saint after his death. Demi gracefully explains the celebration of the feast day of St. Nicholas in the Middle Ages, when St. Nicholas became Sinter Klaas, and how that character was transformed into our more modern Santa Claus. She includes information on St. Nicholas as the patron saint for many groups and concludes her text with the prayer of St. Nicholas. Demi's paintings on each page are set off by thin gold borders, with each illustration including her signature use of metallic gold as well as brilliant jewel tones and delicate patterns of mosaics or patterned fabric. The handsome design includes ivory paper, deep red initial capitals and page borders, and striking endpapers that show St. Nicholas and Santa Claus in different costumes. Includes a map of the Middle East in the time of St. Nicholas. (Nonfiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
Kirkus Star
by Demi, illustrated by Demi
Released: July 1, 2003

Aside from a scattering of devotional and limited-distribution titles, this lusciously illustrated, deeply respectful account is the first full life of Muhammad in English for younger readers. Tracing her subject's ascent from brilliant youth to venerated religious and political leader, Demi follows Muslim tradition by never depicting him directly; instead, she notes his location with a golden silhouette, placed with growing groups of followers and multi-winged angels in Persian-miniature-style gardens and cityscapes. Along with his historical career, meeting with the angel Gabriel and journey to Heaven, she also summarizes his teachings, tucks in passages from the Koran, and closes with a homily on the Muslim view of God as All-Compassionate and All-Merciful. Despite occasional awkward turns of phrase, this powerful portrait, as timely as it is essential, brilliantly illuminates the origins and spiritual foundations of one of the world's most widely-held religions. (map, source list) (Picture book/biography. 8-10)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2002

"Golden touch" indeed: considering this illustrator's fondness for incorporating gold into her art, both in great solid swaths and as a major element in her famously intricate borders and finely detailed clothing, it's a wonder that she's taken so long to get to this tale. Here, she casts Midas as an empty-headed sort, who not only suffers from a carelessly phrased wish that "everything" he touches turns to gold, but also chooses poorly between Apollo's heavenly music and Pan's blatting, and so ends up with a pair of big, gray ass's ears. Crowned by a magnificent fold-out spread, the pictures are simply dazzling, with the richly dressed king, delicately drawn flora, fauna, and other figures both human and divine floating against deep, richly hued color fields. Repentant, Midas is able to wash off the golden touch at last—but, rather unkindly, Demi (Gandhi, 2001, etc.) leaves him his hairy ears. Sophisticated readers may prefer John W. Stewig's sardonic rendition (1999), but this version captures the tale's humor along with its point, and the illustrations really light up the room. (Folktale. 7-10)Read full book review >
GANDHI by Demi
by Demi, illustrated by Demi
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

Demi (The Emperor's New Clothes, 2000, etc.) emphasizes the self-transforming powers that enabled Gandhi to change from frightened child to English gentleman to tongue-tied lawyer to ultimate servant of mankind with unshakable faith in the force of nonviolence and love. Perhaps because this is an overview, Demi gets the chronology of events right, but is less successful at bringing to life the man who's widely regarded as one of the most influential of the 20th century and translating his philosophy into a compelling story. There are big themes to tackle: civil rights, the caste system, Satyagraha, Jainism, not to mention the socio-political milieu of turn-of-the century South Africa and colonial India. Though not without dramatic incident, this is of necessity, weighted with philosophy and brief definitions. And Gandhi, as one of the grand electrifying figures on the human stage, might have benefited from more expressive storytelling. In the delicate balancing act necessitated by presenting a "saint," this veers perilously close to hagiography. Fortunately, the illustrations, though formal in presentation, present Gandhi more dramatically. Executed in Demi's signature style, many are based on actual photographs. Some, like the Yeravada Jail, in which Gandhi began an important fast, would benefit from captions, and the action presented in others is not always made clear in the text. Lavish and rich in color, detail, and design, though, Demi's style is both appropriate to the setting and particularly successful in depicting the diminutive Gandhi in his simple white garb symbolically isolated or in a throng. A note expands on Gandhi's significance, but does little to document the authority of the work. Nevertheless, a heartfelt, handsome, and uplifting treatment for those who already have prior background and interest. (Biography. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2000

Demi sets her brief version of the Hans Christian Andersen chestnut in provincial Old China, suspending stout officials, gracefully gesturing onlookers, livestock, wild animals, and drifts of flowers, all drawn in ultra-fine detail, against backgrounds that seem limitlessly deep. The costumes are gorgeous, all vivid red, blue, and gold—even the Imperial undershorts, decorated with a sinuous dragon, are magnificent (children hoping for a naked emperor will be disappointed; steer them toward Anne Rockwell's rendition of the tale). Though neither the verbal nor visual narrative is much enhanced by most of the five foldouts, they do make the book all the more grandly sumptuous. Demi scatters traditional Chinese symbols of purity, keyed in an afterword, throughout, and if the Emperor is left looking more annoyed than chastened by that pesky child's eye-opening observation, it will still be plain to all readers that he understands who in his province is the biggest fool. (Picture book. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

This wise old tale from China speaks of the ill winds that may accompany great wealth. Pang, a rich man, is always worried about his fortune, counting it, tormented by how to spend it, scheming to get more. He has no time for his children or wife, who counsels her young ones: "With money you are a dragon, without it you are a worm." Li, a poor and happy farmer who lives nearby, plays his flute for the enjoyment and merriment of his children and wife. Their happy noises cause Pang to lose count while tallying his coins; to gain a little peace, he shrewdly gives Li a bag of coins, and it works. Li is so busy counting and hiding the coins that he abandons his flute and family. Li soon sees the folly of his behavior, and makes flutes for Pang and his family, delivering them with a reminder: "Gold and silver have their price, but peace and happiness are priceless." The message has immediacy, even if Demi's retelling lacks flair; the stylized artwork, too, is static even at the tale's triumphant end. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1997

In artwork inspired by Indian miniatures (though lacking their exquisiteness), Demi (The Stonecutter, 1995, etc.) fashions a folktale with far-reaching effects. The raja of a rice-growing village orders his subjects to deliver to him the bulk of their harvest; he will keep it safe should a famine occur. A few years later the harvest fails, and so does the raja: ``Promise or no promise, a raja must not go hungry,'' he intones. When a young village girl, Rani, returns to the raja some rice that had fallen from baskets laden for his consumption, he offers her a reward. Her request is seemingly modest: a grain of rice on the first day, two grains the next, four grains on the third; each day double the rice of the day before, for 30 days. The raja, though, doesn't grasp the power of doubling. Day 21 garners 1,048,576 grains of rice; on the last day it takes fold-out flaps to show the herd of elephants necessary to convey the rice to Rani, who feeds the masses and extracts from the raja a promise to be more generous. This gratifying story of the disarming of greed provides an amazing look at the doubling process, and a calendar at the end shows how the reward simply grew and grew. (Picture book/folklore. 5-8) Read full book review >
Released: May 15, 1995

In a Chinese folktale about a malcontent stonecutter are echoes of Mordecai Gerstein's The Mountains of Tibet (1987). A stonecutter experiences the angel-abetted metamorphoses into the people or objects he admires: Thus, he passes from stonecutter to rich man, governor, farmer, sun, cloud, wind, rock, and back to stonecutter. This philosophical tale is told in very simple language to which the stylized pictures are the perfect complement; Demi (The Firebird, 1994, etc.) has created an extremely beautiful, stylized book. Bronzed pages and intricate but sparse illustrations of buildings, miniature costumed characters, and stone statues—all familiar from traditional Chinese art—are done with a combination of ink drawings and backgrounds of silk. A stunningly elegant book. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

Ivan the Terrible has a handsome young archer named Dimitri. Against his magic horse's advice, Dimitri brings the Czar a feather from the Firebird, but the ungrateful Ivan demands that Dimitri fetch him the entire bird. With the help of his horse, Dimitri does so. The Czar then orders him to go to the Land of Never and bring him the fairy princess Vassilissa for him to marry. The horse is pessimistic, but Dimitri obeys. Vassilissa falls for the young archer and stalls. She asks that Dimitri go again to the Land of Never to retrieve her wedding gown. When Dimitri returns with the dress, Vassilissa stalls again. She says she will not be married until Dimitri jumps into a pot of boiling water. Dimitri's horse advises him to do it, and Vassilissa sprinkles magic dust into the pot so that when Dimitri leaps in he is turned into a handsome prince. The ugly old Czar tries the same thing, but he just dies. Everyone else lives happily ever after, which makes the horse's dire warnings a mystery. Demi's (Demi's Dragons and Fantastic Creatures, 1993, etc.) adaptation of this folktale lacks luster, despite all its gilding. (Folklore/Picture book. 6-10) Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1994

Interestingly, this Chinese folk tale parallels Blanco's Mexican story (above). Despite complaints by her older sons, a woman works for years on a magnificent tapestry of animals and flowers while her youngest son supports them all. But when the tapestry is completed, the wind whisks it away. The older sons, sent to seek it, are diverted by wealth and disappear from the story; but the youngest perseveres, travels to the land where fairies are copying the beautiful pattern, and brings it home. There the tapestry comes to life as a paradise in which he and his mother live together with a fairy who wove herself into the fabric and now becomes the young man's wife. Demi's lavish art appears in beautifully proportioned panels on large, square pages; her delicate calligraphic lines and diminutive figures are exquisitely set off by grounds of glowing purple, blue, and metallic gold. A pleasing classic tale in sumptuous format. (Folklore/Picture book. 4-10) Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1993

Opulent with gold, expansive with foldout double spreads, and lush with decorative collages of Demi's signature marbled- paper designs, creatures bedecked with multiple mini-images of themselves and other creatures, and oriental imagery: an affectionate celebration of Chinese dragons in all their rich multiplicity. Each dragon (water, heavenly, wind, etc.) or other creature (phoenix, elephant, tortoise) is accompanied by a rather uninspired couplet summarizing the creature's symbolic significance (``The lioness fights for wisdom and truth;/she scares away demons with claw and tooth''); the explication of the same ideas, at the end, is more prosaic, but more satisfactory. A handsome, idiosyncratic presentation; some of the dragons—the thunder dragon in swirling black and white, or the dramatic red- and-black fire dragon—are magnificent. (Picture book. 5-11) Read full book review >
Released: April 30, 1992

Arranged by season, 75 brief poems (many haiku) about animals. The small (6'' x 8'') size is perfectly suited to Demi's delicate style; paging through these jewel-toned spreads with their subtle color transitions and lovingly rendered creatures is a real pleasure. There are many imaginative touches (a dragonfly's eyes reflecting distant hills), some unabashedly pretty scenes (a white kitten with dandelions going to seed); and well-observed animals, especially frogs (but how did Issa's ``foal'' become the pictured fawn?). Only occasionally does Demi slip into sentimental illustrative conventions here. The translations are crisp and clean. A lovely collection, especially for browsing; there's no pagination or index, but the author's name and dates are included with each poem. (Poetry/Picture book. 7+) Read full book review >
by Demi, illustrated by Demi
Released: Oct. 15, 1991

Demi describes this handsome but problematic life of the Mongol leader generally known as Genghis Khan as her own ``interpretation...based upon both historical resources and folklore.'' Emphasizing his heroic deeds, genius as a leader, and the sheer magnitude of his empire, she conjures up a warlord to inspire pride, as Diane Stanley did with Shaka, King of the Zulus (1988); like Stanley, she focuses more on the glory than on the gore—the tyrant's horrendous other side. Demi's illustrations are rich with shining gold; they have an elegant simplicity of design and subdued colors suitable to the subject's gravity. The small, simply represented figures, though derived from oriental art, at times seem inappropriately childlike, while the playful camels and horses (especially on the endpapers) are downright coy. Though the book as a whole is beautiful, the style tends to trivialize the subject. Perhaps it's curmudgeonly to complain of the heroic treatment of a national hero; after all, The White Stag (1937) celebrated Attila the Hun, yet won the Newbery. What Demi includes here is fascinating, well-researched, and contains a good many harsh truths. Still, much is omitted, and it's worrisome to present children with such a positive picture of a military leader whose wars were typified by one source as ``ruthless carnage.'' (Biography/Picture book. 7-12) Read full book review >
Released: March 15, 1989

These "Soft and Furry Board Books" are a novelty sure to give a lot of pleasure to their intended audience. Each is die-cut in the shape of its naturally-round subject, with ears and paws making smooth bumps that will help little fingers to hold on to these seven-inch tall beasts; but the big tactile attraction is the guaranteed nontoxic furry coat each wears, an engaging printed face adding interest. Inside are a few simple facts about the animals, nicely illustrated with Demi's characteristic fine-line detail and bright color. Since there's nowhere for a pocket and this is sure to be nuzzled and chewed as well as loved, it's probably best for home collections; but libraries may find uses too, e.g., sharing with parent-attended toddler groups. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 21, 1981

Sixteen simple unrhymed verses, small in size (four-to-ten lines) and sensibility, cast as lullabies or night songs sung by animal mothers or others (a giant, a troll, a mermaid, a shepherd). The opening "Whale's Lullaby" shows us we can't expect anything fresh and new: "Asleep in the deep,/ Lullabied by the ocean,/ Rest, calf, on my back./ I am your crib and your cradle./ I am both rocker and rock." Boldest perhaps is "Mother Owl's Song," not the stuff of conventional lullabies: ". . . Dream, child, of the blood,/ The sudden warmth,/ And the faltering heartbeat/ Beneath your claws." Like the owl's, all the lullabies are matched to their subjects—the bear's deals with hibernation, the wolf's with a midnight hunt, the caterpillar's with metamorphosis (". . . Sleeping Ugly,/ Waking Beauty")—which might help focus a small child's interest where the generally mild imagery does not. With a few snappy exceptions, the pictures are limp. Read full book review >

Again, Demi presents a wise Chinese tale in an elegant setting. Chang is rewarded for a good deed with a toy boat that expands, at need, to save him and his mother from a flood. He also rescues a number of subsequently helpful beasts—and a rogue who absconds with the boat and uses it to become Prime Minister. The animals help Chang outwit the miscreant and the greedy Emperor, thus regaining his treasure. The pattern is familiar, but the story is well told, and the particular incidents are nicely amusing here, while Demi's exquisite illustrations (delicate line, vibrant color, touches of gold, and the magical dragon-boat topped with a fantastic pagoda) extend the Chinese flavor. A good addition to story collections. Read full book review >