Books by Denys Cazet

WHAT'S FOR BREAKFAST? by Denys Cazet
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 27, 2018

"Pip's parting thought is a lesson for all: 'Pip wondered what else someone as small as a mouse might know.' It's delightfully elastic, too, for readers encouraged to think beyond the animal kingdom. (Picture book. 4-8)"
When an owl stops to consider the words of a mouse, it changes his point of view and improves his swooping skills. Read full book review >
BOB AND TOM by Denys Cazet
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 25, 2017

"Agreeably silly stuff in the classic noodlehead vein. (Picture book. 4-6)"
A couple of turkeys do a whole lot of nothing on the farm. Read full book review >
RUMORS by Denys Cazet
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2017

"Worst. Principal. Ever. And plenty of potty humor, dialed up to 11. (Fiction. 10-13)"
Prankster Russell Sprowt bites off considerably more than he can chew in a bid to get him and his friends off his ultramean principal's "manure list." Read full book review >
SNAIL AND SLUG by Denys Cazet
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 3, 2016

"The beginning of a beautiful gastropod friendship; similar to watching the protagonists in action in real life. (Picture book. 4-7)"
A snail with a Tardis-like shell proves that her heart is just as big. Read full book review >
HOOVES OF FIRE by Denys Cazet
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 23, 2014

"Another romp with nary a dull nor serious moment; welcome back, girls. (Animal fantasy. 9-11)"
In an extremely belated second chapter-book-length outing, Cazet's bovine best buds kick up their heels in Red Tractor Farm's "First Annual Hoot, Holler, and Moo Talent Festival." Read full book review >
MINNIE AND MOO AND THE HAUNTED SWEATER by Denys Cazet
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

Since she's on a diet and only going to chow 11 of the dozen cream puffs in the box, Minnie—Cazet's blond-shocked bovine—is going to give one to the farmer because it's his birthday. To surprise him, she is going to hide it under his pillow. Moo—also bovine, but a tad less crazily impetuous than Minnie—is inspired to knit the farmer a sweater after a collision between a flock of sheep and a detachment of chickens carrying Elvis, the imperious rooster, in a sedan chair. The heap of sheep is stuck atop Elvis, and only knitting their wool away will uncover the fowl muckamuck. Working fast, Moo inadvertently, and unknowingly, knits Elvis into the sweater. The lumpy sweater squawks, sneezes, crawls about and even takes brief flight. Clearly, a haunted sweater. Cazet is up to his old but evergreen tricks in this latest Minnie and Moo debacle, fashioning a story of high entertainment value—dwelling in a world of supreme lunacy, yet with an agreeable dryness running through it—to keep a bunch of young noses stuck in the pleasure of a book, inhaling the words. What becomes of Elvis? Well, a rolling pin is involved. There is, after all, a weird bulge in the sweater. (Easy reader. 4-8)Read full book review >
WILL YOU READ TO ME? by Denys Cazet
ANIMALS
Released: June 26, 2007

Cazet offers a gently droll mood piece in a departure from his wackier offerings. Hamlet, the poetic pig, doesn't fit in. In a clean shirt and tennis shoes ("What kind of pig wears a clean shirt?"), he leans over the fence and asks his mother if she'll read to him from his new book. He also offers to read the poem he's just finished to his wallowing family. They tease him about having a twin named Eggs (he doesn't), and perk up only when the farmer brings dinner. Undaunted, Hamlet walks to the nearby pond, where he watches the rising moon and talks to his reflection—which he decides is Eggs. He reads his newest poem, and a band of grinning frogs appears to listen. As the darkness settles in, he reads more and more, his poems as charming as those of Russell Hoban's Frances the Badger. Eggs doesn't respond, which disturbs Hamlet. But a contented smile comes to his face when dozens of creatures request more reading; Hamlet complies. Watercolor and colored pencils add warmth to Cazet's bittersweet ode to the bibliophilic misfit in every reader. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
ANIMALS
Released: Jan. 1, 2007

Cazet returns with a third reader in the Grandpa Spanielson's Chicken Pox Stories series. Barney's still itchy, and after Grandma drives off to market, Grandpa lets loose with another consummately distracting whopper. Seems once upon a time, he was a famous explorer. As he and Dr. Storkmeyer bicycled deep in the jungle, a horde of Pooches (diminutive canine headhunters) ambushed them, shooting tiny arrows into their tires. The yarn lampoons B-movie plotting, as amorous, extra-large Queen Peekatmyknees, rebuffed by Grandpa, orders Dr. Storkmeyer dipped headfirst in a cauldron of shrink juice. The pastel watercolors of the sickroom give way to bold jungle greens and the browns of a slew of busy Pooches, whose nose bones don't evoke terror so much as chew toys. Dr. Storkmeyer does suffer a temporary noggin reduction (handily amended by Grandpa's bicycle pump), but it all wraps nicely, with Grandpa and Dr. S. trading the tale's best one-liners at the close. Kids will itch for a fourth. (Easy reader. 5-8)Read full book review >
ANIMALS
Released: Jan. 1, 2006

The second of "Grandpa Spanielson's Chicken Pox Stories" matches the first, Octopus (January 2005), for rib-tickling, comfy charm. Young Barney, speckled with chicken pox, rests uncomfortably in bed until Grandpa, sent outside by Grandma to wash windows, climbs a ladder to Barney's room and regales the pup with a distracting tale from his supposed days as Fire Chief. This one's about the time he and the crew rescued broad-beamed Mrs. Piggerman from her freezer after her snout stuck to an icy box of chocolates. Hysterical. Fledgling readers will happily sit down with the floppy-eared patient to hear Grandpa's sly embedded yarn—finished off to cozy perfection with a cup of hot cocoa brought in at the end by Grandma. While no one wishes Barney's chicken pox to last forever, readers will certainly want Grandpa's tales to keep on making them laugh even if they have to become Grandpa's head-cold stories. (Easy reader. 5-7)Read full book review >
THE PERFECT PUMPKIN PIE by Denys Cazet
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2005

A lad and his imperturbable grandma draw the attention of a pie-lovin' ghost in this comical country tale. No sooner does Granny put a pumpkin pie on the windowsill to cool than up rises Old Man Wilkerson from the garden, threatening, "It must be perfect / or a ghost I'll stay, / and haunt this house / and never, ever / go awaaaaaaaay!" Unfortunately, he's picky: The first pie won't do ("It looks like papier-mâché!"), nor the second ("Next time, pleeeeeeease, MORE CINNAMON!"). Third time's the charm—or is it? Cazet takes cues from David Catrow and Stephen Gammell for his art, depicting Wilkerson as a wild, disjointed figure with his good eye in one hand and a fork in the other, surrounded by scribbled lines and sprays of paint. No recipe, but still a mouthwatering crowd-pleaser, at Halloween or any other time. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
ANIMALS
Released: Jan. 1, 2005

The creator of Minnie and Moo opens an equally engaging series featuring a flop-eared young pup and his yarn-spinning grandpa. Grandma draws little Barney a warm bath to soothe his chicken-pox itch, but as soon as she leaves the room, Grandpa supplies a remedy of his own with a rousing tale from his days as a lighthouse keeper, about the time a storm drove a huge octopus up out of the tub's drain. Cazet's soft colors get stronger and wilder, as does the story, one of swordfish-fighting and the like. Then the cozy domestic setting gets a good drenching as Grandpa, growing more and more animated, suddenly spots a spongy "octo" in Barney's bathwater and jumps in, fully clothed, to "rescue" his excited listener. Later, mopping up the mess, he promises Barney a thrilling tale from his days as Fire Chief—a clever link to the as-yet-unscheduled second episode. Fine, splashy fare for developing readers. (Easy reader. 6-8)Read full book review >
ELVIS THE ROOSTER AND THE MAGIC WORDS by Denys Cazet
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 2004

Elvis gets a pointed lesson in manners from coop-mates in his second solo outing. Swaggering beneath an oversized, pompadour-shaped wattle, he raps out commands to his harem, scorning his buddies' "please" and "thank you" when the hens serve breakfast. But his ego gets a double whammy when resplendent (and courteous) peacock Chick Gable passes through, turning all the ladies' heads; suddenly, Elvis is no longer the center of attention, and his brusque demands for breakfast are met with either nothing, or a few kernels of dry corn. Readers will get the message before Elvis does, but with a bit of prodding, even he comes around in the end. The expressively posed poultry in Cazet's cramped but colorful barnyard scenes add even more life and humor to this engaging episode; steer children who need a little more work—especially with table manners—to the Buehners' It's a Spoon, Not a Shovel! (1995) or Cuyler's Please Say Please (below). (Easy reader. 6-8)Read full book review >
MINNIE AND MOO: THE ATTACK OF THE EASTER BUNNIES by Denys Cazet
ANIMALS
Released: Feb. 1, 2004

Minnie and Moo, two cows anyone would like to have in their pasture, are on the prowl for an Easter Bunny proxy in their 11th caper. The farmer is feeling his years and has declined the role of Easter Bunny, so Minnie and Moo embark on a search for a substitute. But the chicken has sore feet and the piglet can't find his mother to get permission; the sheep are too equivocating (" ‘Can't you make up your own minds?' Minnie asked. ‘Well, yes,' said another sheep. ‘And no,' said another. ‘Sometimes,' said one") and the turkeys just plain clueless ("I didn't even know bunnies laid eggs"). The job, of course, falls to Minnie and Moo, but all the other animals soon join them. They rendezvous in the tool shed to costume up, which scares the gee whillikers out of the farmer when he inadvertently enters the shed (hence the title). Cazet's cockeyed good cheer is in fine form here—a simple pleasure of verbal dexterity—as is his art: Elvis the chicken's costume—bedraggled rabbit ears crowning his scrawny head—is worth framing. (Easy reader. 4-8)Read full book review >
MINNIE & MOO AND THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD by Denys Cazet
ANIMALS
Released: Nov. 1, 2003

Having delighted fans in a series of easy readers, these bovine buddies and their barnyard coterie gracefully leap to a longer format. Panicked by a chance-heard comment that makes her think the farm's about to be sold, Moo rejects Minnie's calming wisdom—"Thinking leads to sleepless nights, heartache, and torpid bowels"—sweeping her along into a grand scheme to raise money through tours of the farm's wonders. What wonders are those? Leave that to the enterprising Moo, who is soon leading a gaggle of credulous livestock wealthy zoo volunteers to a nest of baby rocks, a UFO's hubcap, and like "marvels." Meanwhile, something lurks in the nearby woods: could it be Big Hoof, the missing link between dinosaurs and cows? Liberally illustrated with rural scenes of the tubby, but nattily dressed tour guides and their all-too-easily-distracted customers, this cheerfully silly ramble ends with a wild double twist—and strong evidence that we haven't seen the last of Minnie and Moo. Good news indeed. (Fiction. 9-11)Read full book review >
MINNIE AND MOO: THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING BED by Denys Cazet
ANIMALS
Released: Aug. 1, 2003

Cazet releases the breaks in this latest installment of early-reading tomfoolery. It's Halloween and Minnie the cow is having a bad dream: A giant mouse is eating the last piece of chocolate in the world. She tosses and turns and starts hammering on Moo, the bull with whom she shares the bed, a bed that starts rolling down the hill from its perch under a meadow tree, gathering farm animals as it speeds through the barnyard, and coming to rest in town. To soothe Minnie's chocolate angst, the animals go door to door, performing tricks to get treats, until Minnie corners enough chocolate to rest assured. There are good and loopy side events throughout the story and Cazet keeps the language droll and dry. When the sheep accidentally get wet, a woman tries to identify the crew at her Halloween door: "Don't tell me!" she said. "I know! Sponges! Four cows, a pig, and two walking sponges! You children are so clever." Clever and hilarious. (Easy reader. 4-8)Read full book review >
ELVIS THE ROOSTER ALMOST GOES TO HEAVEN by Denys Cazet
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 2003

The tender male ego gets another bruising in this spin-off from Cazet's popular "Minnie and Moo" readers. Elvis the rooster is about to crow the sun up as usual when a bug flies into his mouth, and he sees the sun rise without his help. Much later, dapper Little Willie's beefy (well, goosey, to be precise) sidekick, Rocky, finds him swooning on the barn roof, and hauls him down to a sickbed in the coop, from which he proclaims his imminent demise due to uselessness. "I might as well be a cow." With help from other barnyard residents, Little Willie gets Elvis back up onto the roof for another try, only to see him inhale another bug at just the wrong moment. Happily, Henrietta Hen is standing by to deliver a quick Heimlich maneuver, saving the day (so to speak), and allowing Elvis to regain his "pluck." Small but finely detailed scenes of barnyard fowl, some adorned with cool-looking shades, add an extra layer of daffiness to this droll episode; fans of the series, and younger readers in general, will applaud as Elvis takes center stage. (Easy reader. 6-8)Read full book review >
MINNIE AND MOO: WILL YOU BE MY VALENTINE? by Denys Cazet
ANIMALS
Released: Dec. 1, 2002

Minnie and Moo, those marvelous big-nostrilled cows, continue their side-splitting trip through the holidays (Minnie and Moo: The Night Before Christmas, p. 1617, etc.). It's Valentine's Day and Moo is writing poems. Her first creation, "Ode to the Cream Puff," brings tears to Minnie's eyes, because "poems about food always make me weep." When the bovine heroines see their fellow animals fighting, they decide that everyone needs some of their love poems. They dress up in fetching tutus and wings, grab their bows and rubber arrows, and proceed to send their "love poems" to their farm friends. The poems, which range from very funny to downright wipe-your-eyes hilarious, will tickle even the most resistant funny bone. Imagine young faces when they hear or read "keener" rhymed with "wiener." Then the poems get mixed up; the turkey poem, "Dear Turkey Legs," is sent to the farmer's wife, the goat poem is sent to the farmer, and love threatens to be thwarted. Cazet's comical over-the-top watercolors elevate this joyful, rollicking story of love and friendship and offer wonderful facial expressions to punctuate the humor. The farmer's wife takes her shot: "Cows don't write poems," she tells her husband. Young readers will know better, especially if they have read Click, Clack, Moo. Keep 'em moooving, Minnie and Moo. (Easy reader. 4-8)Read full book review >
MINNIE AND MOO: THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS by Denys Cazet
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

This tenth addition to the Minnie and Moo series follows the bovine best friends in a hilarious Christmas easy reader by Cazet (Minnie and Moo and the Potato from Planet X, p. 331, etc.). His clever plot uses short rhyming sections at the beginning of each short chapter that follow the pattern of "'Twas the Night before Christmas" and help to advance the story. Minnie and Moo decide to be helpful by dressing up as Mr. and Mrs. Claus to deliver some mislaid family presents to the resident farmer's grandchildren. They use a wheelbarrow as a sleigh and, in a laugh-out-loud twist, the chickens and a rooster serve as the reindeer, with plastic forks taped to their heads in lieu of antlers. The plot is funny enough to work as a read-aloud, and both children and adults will enjoy Cazet's droll and sometimes sarcastic sense of humor. His illustrations also add to the fun, especially the body language and the expressions on the cows' faces. The reading level, longer length, and vocabulary are for children reading at upper second-grade level, but both younger and older children (and adults) will also enjoy this comical view of Christmas Eve on the funny farm. (Easy reader. 5-8)Read full book review >
MINNIE AND MOO AND THE POTATO FROM PLANET X by Denys Cazet
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2002

Cazet's cows are back (Minnie and Moo Meet Frankenswine, 2001, etc.), charming as ever, in an easy reader that is as loopy as ever. Minnie and Moo are soaking in the summer sun when a spaceship plows into the adjacent field. At first they think it might be a new type of tractor, but then the pilot, a one-eyed potato with green bristles whose name is Spud, pops out. Spud tells them the alarming news that he is in the process—after stopping for donuts and then getting lost—of delivering some anti-bump cream to prevent the planets from bumping themselves to bits. Now he needs to repair his spaceship and secure some space fuel. Repairing the rocket is no sweat—Minnie and Moo let Spud cannibalize their farm tractor for parts; they know it has the necessaries because they took the tractor to the Moon on a previous adventure. But the space fuel, that's a tickler, until Minnie has a brainstorm: Could Milk be space fuel? Yes, cries Spud, though it must have high-cream content. Minnie's the cow to deliver just such, which she does, demurely, as a barnyard chorus warbles "Home, Home on the Range." Spud blasts off and all is right in a bump-free solar system. Weird in all the right ways, from the strange little verbal asides to Minnie's mop of blond curls. Another mooover from Cazet. (Easy reader. 4-8) Read full book review >
MINNIE AND MOO MEET FRANKENSWINE by Denys Cazet
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

The two funniest, most winsome cows on the early-reading circuit have to be Minnie and Moo, always ready to engage any situation with a mixture of slapstick (Moo), sangfroid (Minnie), and a comical use of language. Here, the two are sleeping out under the stars when a storm blows in, bringing lightning and thunder. A bolt hits a nearby barn: "Lightning flashed. Thunder rumbled. There was a scream in the night." The scream is that of a rooster who is convinced there is a monster in the barn. "Every chicken for himself," the rooster squawks. Olga, a piglet, is missing, and worse still, when the animals flee to the farmhouse, it appears that the farmer's leg has been pulled off by the monster and thrown out the window. At least it appears so to the animals; readers will notice rather quickly that the "leg" is an apple-tree branch. It takes Minnie's sensible head to straighten things out, including the discovery of Olga, shimmering with a halo of electricity after standing too close to the milker when lightning struck. Deceptively sophisticated artwork and lively language—" ‘Poor Olga,' a pig wept. ‘Gone,' cried another. ‘Gone, gone, gone,' said Zeke. ‘Like a turkey through the corn,' said Zack"—make this a joy for new readers to tackle. (Easy reader. 4-8)Read full book review >
NEVER POKE A SQUID by Denys Cazet
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

Another anything-but-tranquil day at school gets a hilarious recap in this sequel to Never Spit on Your Shoes (1990) and Are There Any Questions? (1992). Wearing their squid costume, Arnie and Raymond burst into the kitchen, explaining as they down milk and cookies that it wasn't their fault, that the Principal shouldn't have poked their ink bag. Alerted, mother sits down to extract the story. Cazet expands on the children's realistically jumbled, fragmentary responses to her comments with a series of busy schoolroom scenes, taking Arnie and his kinetic classmates from the Pledge of Allegiance, through Halloween crafts, a dance demonstration by aptly-named, leotard-clad Mrs. Hippowitz (" ‘There was a rip,' said Arnie. ‘It was big,' said Raymond. ‘Really really big.' "), a parade, party, and finally a suddenly-ink-spotted Awards ceremony. "Just another day in first grade," Arnie's mother concludes, as Arnie and Raymond pelt off to go trick-or-treating. Like its companions, this will draw howls of recognition from children and adults alike, and should be required reading for all teachers—and principals—in training. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
MINNIE AND MOO AND THE MUSK OF ZORRO by Denys Cazet
ADVENTURE
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

Cazet has struck a vein of precious ore in his "Minnie and Moo" series for beginning readers. These are simple books, but have a distinct, eccentric narrative that displays gumption, decency, and dreams on the cows' part. The stories are also funny, accompanied by dry, witty artwork and a hint of naughtiness that refuses to swim into focus. Here, Moo sighs wistfully over the lack of heroes in the modern world. "You have been reading again, haven't you?" demands her boon companion Minnie, neatly investing the act of reading with all the subversiveness it deserves. Moo points to Zorro as a role model: "Most days he just hung around. But on some days, he dressed in black and scared away the bad guys with a sword." Moo's enthusiasm is infectious and soon she and Minnie are dressing up as a pair of cow Zorros, complete with a sword tipped with a discarded tube of lipstick and a can of deodorant: The Musk of Zorro. They sally forth to do some good deeds around the farm. They liberate the chickens from the opportunings of the rooster; they neutralize two pair of the farmer's long underwear flapping on the clothesline. This sparks some high farce between the farmer and his wife, who wants to know how the letters P U got written in lipstick on the long johns. She thinks it's a vindictive neighbor. The farmer notes, "I thinks it's those two cows on the hill." A delightful, clean, and spare story brimming with comedy, typeset so that it can be read like free verse, such as this existential item: "Are we all just cows/waiting to get hooked up/to the electric milker?" (Easy reader. 6-8)Read full book review >
MINNIE AND MOO GO DANCING by Denys Cazet
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

paper 0-7894-2536-4 In Cazet's saga of two bovines, Minnie and Moo are enjoying a sunset when sounds of a dance at the farmer's home drift up to them. Minnie, the sharp one, suggests to Moo, the dim one, that they attend. They rifle through an old trunk in the barn for dresses, deodorant, hair coloring, and a girdle for Minnie. They appear at the dance, are mistaken by the farmer's wife for her husband's twin sisters, are introduced to a couple of country boys, and get down to business. The two couples retire to the food table and start eating until Minnie realizes they are snacking on hamburgers—very likely the Holsteins that had gone missing earlier in the evening; "I'm sorry, Madge," Moo said. "I didn't know it was you." They beat a hasty retreat, give the hamburgers a proper burial, and leave readers with much to chew over—for starters, cannibalism and a strip tease—but it's presented in a winning format, with so much humor and dash, that the proper response is to not take it seriously. (Picture book. 7-10) Read full book review >
NIGHT LIGHTS by Denys Cazet
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 1997

Cazet is still working the night shift he began in Mother Night (1988), and continued in ``I'm Not Sleepy'' (1992) and Dancing (1995). This time it's verse, and most of it zany—a nice change from similar collections, which tend toward the lyrical. There's the child who insists he's ``Not Afraid of the Dark'' but only needs that searchlight by the bed to read—and, coincidentally, to keep scary creatures (and his sister) at bay; the child who gives ``Good-night Kisses'' to everyone and everything in the house—and then begins all over again with hugs; the child who is afraid of the ravenous Murphy bed at his grandparents' house; and the siblings who take turns putting horrible things in each other's beds. There's the wolf who learns to count sheep—in his favorite recipes; the cat who hears the siren song of the night and rouses his mistress by crying, ``Me out''; and Gertrude Holstein, who dreams of being an Olympic pole vaulter and jumping over the moon. Bracketing this wild and crazy stuff are a few serious poems, e.g., the title poem, about the security of the presence of a loving parent. Pencil and watercolor illustrations—sometimes soft, sometimes more pointed and full of comic visual asides—are exactly right for the various moods. (Picture book/poetry. 7-11) Read full book review >
DANCING by Denys Cazet
by Denys Cazet, illustrated by Denys Cazet
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

Alex and his father, from Cazet's I'm Not Sleepy (1992), reappear in this bedtime-story song book. When the new baby keeps crying, Alex claps his hands over his ears and goes out on the front porch. His father puts on a record and comes out to talk, but Alex cannot hear the music until he takes his hands away from his ears. His father starts to sing the song, which begins, ``Maybe it's me, maybe it's you, but something is wrong. Is there somebody new?'' and ``Maybe the moon knows just how you feel, sharing the night with the stars . . .'' Alex's frustration softens; he and his father share a dance under the moon. Alex falls asleep and is carried inside. A musical score with the lyrics closes the book, which works both as a lesson about sibling rivalry and as a lullaby. The luminous watercolors depict a small boy, who is momentarily unhappy and insecure, being loved unconditionally by his strong, faithful father. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
BORN IN THE GRAVY by Denys Cazet
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

A Mexican-American child tells her father about her first day in kindergarten—from little Susie, who cried all day (even while she sang ``Good Morning to You''), to stubborn Archie, who climbed a tree and wouldn't come down until the principal climbed up after him (it took the fire department to get the principal down). Margarita's matter-of-fact, child's-eye view of the droll mishaps of an ordinary school-day makes for funny reading. The title comes from a playground taunt: ``Kindergarten babies, born in the gravy!'' Was she really nacida en la salsa? Margarita wants to know. ``No, in Guadalajara!'' her father replies. Charming, but perhaps more for adults than children, who may miss many of the jokes. Sprinkled with Spanish words and phrases that can be figured out from their contexts; illustrated with cartoon-style colored- pencil drawings (with dialogue balloons) that clarify some of the more cryptic portions of Margarita's deadpan account. (Picture book. 7+) Read full book review >
ANNIE, BEA, AND CHI CHI DOLORES by Donna Maurer
ABC BOOKS
Released: March 1, 1993

From the driver's ``all aboard'' as three ``buddies'' (bear, dog, and hippo) climb on the bus to the balky ``zip'' at the end, a day in what might be the hilariously rambunctious school featured in Cazet's ``Never Spit on Your Shoes'' (1990). Though first-time author Maurer contributes just a word or phrase for each letter, her witty choices neatly outline the class's day while providing just the right foil for Cazet's delightfully mischievous art, where ``erasing'' leaves a jagged hole in the arithmetic; a patient, long-suffering cat-teacher tries to keep the ``giggling'' down to a dull roar; the slugs proudly flourished for show-and-tell are declared ``icky''; and character is comically revealed in each and every sub rosa activity during ``quiet'' time. Again, Cazet's appealing animals impersonate irrepressible kids to perfection. A winner. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
'ARE THERE ANY QUESTIONS?' by Denys Cazet
ANIMALS
Released: Aug. 1, 1992

Young Arnie regales his mother with a kitchen-table report on his first-grade trip to the aquarium—``The deadly squid can squeeze a whale juiceless!'' As in his Never Spit On Your Shoes (1990), Cazet's homey illustrations hilariously fill in details Arnie leaves out; held—barely—in check by their teacher and a host of parent helpers, the children (small animals in human dress, one speaking only Spanish) rattle on about the tanks and displays as they pursue their own concerns, their authentic-sounding comments and queries in square balloons. Though those accustomed to Cazet's usually sensitive brand of comedy may wince at the tank of big-nosed ``Gefilte Fish,'' there's plenty of less jarring humor here for readers of all ages. ``I'm glad you had a good day,'' Mom comments, and Arnie replies, ``I think the teacher did, too. She went home early.'' (Picture book. 5-7) Read full book review >
'I'M NOT SLEEPY' by Denys Cazet
BEDTIME BOOK
Released: March 1, 1992

Father shapes a bedtime story to wakeful Alex's comments. He begins with a boy (pictured as Alex) walking in the jungle; but when the boy closes ``his weary eyes,'' Alex pops up: ``The boily, boily jungle made me thirsty.'' So it goes, until Father finally captures Alex's full attention with a trip to the moon, with the boy followed by a mild-looking but many-horned ``thingamajig.'' This time, when the boy makes his way back home to bed, Alex, too, is ready to call it a night. A jacket photo suggests that Father is the author's self-portrait, while Alex also bears a strong family resemblance. The improvised story is authentically haphazard; meanwhile, the book is a model of creative interplay between parent and child, a theme beautifully extended in the illustrations. The more formally bordered bedroom scenes include a toy dog that joins Alex in Father's story; the story-within-the story illustrations are imaginative, dreamlike. Like Angela Johnson's Tell Me a Story, Mama, an unusually perceptive portrayal of healthy interaction. (Picture book. 3-7) Read full book review >
THE GREAT SQUIRREL UPRISING by Dan Elish
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 1992

Tired of the humans' rudeness and their trash, Scruff the squirrel mounts an uprising in N.Y.C.'s Central Park beginning when, to the humans' astonishment, a line of squirrels successfully blocks traffic at one entrance. Nearly captured by the police, Scruff is rescued by ten-year-old Sally March, who is taken with the squirrels' efforts. Believing that Sally could aid their cause, Scruff's comrade, Franklin the pigeon, tries to communicate through her with words torn from a newspaper by his bookish friend Mort, a mouse. An absolute purist, Scruff refuses to have anything to do with humans; still, time and again, Sally comes to the animals' aid. She even comes up with the key to their success: country birds are recruited to line the walls bounding the park, blocking all human access. It's also Sally who mediates the final resolution to the standoff, saving the animals from physical harm as the humans try to reopen the park, and finally gaining Scruff's grudging respect. Populated with endearing, well-developed characters, this light, entertaining story will appeal even to reluctant readers. Particularly engaging are Scruff, who suffers from Napoleonic tendencies, and Franklin, a practical pigeon who loves classical music. Cazet's cartoony illustrations warmly extend the humor. (Fiction. 9+) Read full book review >

Maxine is a school-age cat whose ebullient enthusiasm keeps her, and the animal people around her, whirling. Her every action is writ enormous, from tying her shoelaces to setting out for school following Dad's directions: "As straight as an arrow." Not deviating an inch, Maxine plows through an open taxi. but soon succumbs to several comic diversions—including dancing with an organ-grinder's monkey—leaving dozens of bemused spectators behind her before she slams into her destination. Adults are prone to tell kids who behave like this to calm down; their bafflement here at Maxine's relentless energy is sure to amuse readers. Cazet's lively illustrations, dancing in and out of frames and including the text as ballooned dialogue, have sure appeal. Read full book review >