Books by Devin Asch

Released: Sept. 1, 2010

"Go to Work with a Parent" Day proves an eye-opening experience for a journalist's fact-loving son in this distinctively illustrated venture from the creators of Mrs. Marlowe's Mice (2007). Hayward's contemptuous conviction that his Dad works for a total rag takes increasingly hard hits after his parent is pulled off a Flying Spaghetti Monster assignment to cover a hatching dinosaur egg at the museum, then a report of a ten-foot-tall chicken dashing across Times Square and finally a giant cup-and-saucer that lands in Central Park to disgorge a huge robot octopus. Thanks to a found bottle of super solvent that dissolves the monster into a puddle of "nutritious green liquid," Hayward saves New York and earns a screaming headline (see title). Sepia-toned with highlights in pale green and yellow, Asch fils's full-spread multilayered collages of heavily reworked photos and photorealistic elements hark back to the better-budgeted monster flicks of yestercentury and feature a cab-driving werewolf and a photographer who looks like Elvis, among other cameos. A pleaser for fans of Adam Rex's Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich (2006) and like cineastic fare. (Picture book. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

Following on the tail of Mr. Maxwell's Mouse (2004), this father-son team spins another cat-and-mouse gambit set in Edwardian times. When Mrs. Eleanor Marlowe (a quite refined cat) returns home from her job at the Purrington Street Library one day, her busybody neighbor invites her to tea and tuna tarts but complains that her invitation is never returned. Mrs. Marlowe's protest that she's a dreadful housekeeper is just an excuse as her apartment is fastidiously clean and neat—due to the large family of mice that lives with her. When Lieutenant Manx and Sergeant Baxter from the Department of Catland Security show up at her door to investigate a neighbor's complaint that she's a mouse-keeper, Mrs. Marlowe has to think quickly to cover up any telltale tracks and foil the law. The ending, though a bit abrupt with Mrs. Marlowe reading a story to the mice, leaves the door open for more tales. The captivating, vintage-looking artwork, rendered in Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter, assimilates unusual perspectives to add to the intrigue with details that enhance the narrative puns with visual ones. Not quite as charmingly macabre as their first book but entertaining nonetheless. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

This father/son team has concocted a delicious cat-and-mouse tale in which small outsmarts large. Every day, Mr. Howard Maxwell, a proper and pompous cat, orders baked mouse at the Paw and Claw Restaurant until the day of his promotion to Vice Manager of Efficiency Control, when he chooses a raw mouse for his entrée. When the dish arrives, the white mouse, reclining on rye toast, engages Mr. Maxwell in conversation (despite his mother's admonitions not to fraternize with his food), employing one ruse after another to delay his demise: sprinkling salt, ordering a glass of wine, and requesting a prayer. The mouse deviously creates a catastrophe that enables him to escape and free all the other mice. The computer-generated art is stylishly elegant, dramatically colored in dark hues of slate and black, and handsomely designed with the text printed in white on black sidebars. Effective telescopic perspectives zoom closer as the mouse gets nearer to being eaten. Visually stunning, the period setting (1930s England?), captivating illustrations, and tongue-in-cheek dialogue create a delectable tail, er, tale of one-upmouseship to be savored. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
LIKE A WINDY DAY by Frank Asch
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

Using just a few words per page, this father-and-son team creates an autumnal ode in which a girl imagines herself one with the wind. "I want to play like a windy day," reads the opening; a framed panel shows the child gazing at the breeze above. "I want to zoom down hillsides." With flowing hair and arms outstretched to touch a floating leaf, the wind looks just like her. Throughout, mural-like panels appear on double-page spreads; as the girl and her wind twin travel from city to countryside to seashore and back the leaf remains just out of reach. As in their first collaboration, Baby Duck's New Friend (2001) the Asch duo's pen-and-ink illustrations are digitally enhanced allowing for a softening of lines and a diaphanous overlay of color. In the first spread, for example, undulating layers of lavender, robin's egg, and cornflower blue create a colorful horizon against which the ghostlike wind glides. As the girl takes flight ("I want to scatter seeds"), the dandelion she's holding loosens its delicate spores that flow like tiny white birds above the verdant glade. The dreamlike imagery enchants and the simple text is sure to inspire interpretive movement from the preschool set. A good bet for sharing on a blustery day. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2001

Hard as it may be to imagine, a rubber ducky becomes a dangerous companion in this father-son collaboration. Mama Duck has forbidden Baby Duck to pass the stone bridge unless he's with a friend who can fly. Imagine his excitement when a yellow stranger plummets out of the sky (actually, it fell off a passing truck) and without a word proceeds to float downstream. Baby Duck follows, past a waterfall (" 'Oh my! The river is broken!' "), an inquisitive fox, and at last, scariest of all, out to a storm-tossed sea. Though the illustrations' software-applied colors have an artificially uniform, glossy look, almost like animation cels, the figures are formed with Frank Asch's familiar, seemingly artless simplicity. In the end, the ducks are both washed up onto a beach; the rubber one is collected by a passing boy, the feathered one discovers that he can fly and wings back to Mama. Like all better "leaving the nest" tales for very young readers, this carries the reassuring message that, yes, the wide world can be dangerous as well as exciting, but you can go home again. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >