Books by Diane de Groat

ANNA ON THE FARM by Mary Downing Hahn
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 19, 2001

During an incredibly hot summer in Baltimore early in the 20th century, nine-year-old Anna—from Anna All Year Round (1999)—is invited by her aunt and uncle to spend a week on their farm. She is especially delighted by the idea of escaping the city because it will give her equal bragging rights with friends who are going to the mountains or the seaside. In addition, although there is a deep, loving relationship between Anna and her parents, it is apparent that she is uncomfortable with some of the restrictions placed on her feisty and adventurous nature. After all, girls are expected to wear dresses, never get dirty, and stay home until they marry. During the eventful week on the farm Anna is exposed to more freedom than she has ever known. A challenging friendship with her uncle's orphaned nephew involves her in the world of boys' play. She wears overalls, catches fireflies, wades in a stream, rides a horse, and gets very dirty, all without serious repercussions. Hahn uses the direct present tense, a usually difficult style, deftly and with grace. The reader is drawn into Anna's world as she experiences it, allowing both a glimpse of a bygone era and a point of comparison to modern life. De Groat's expressive pencil illustrations depict several of the key moments in the story just as one would imagine them. Anna is a character filled with life and energy whose further adventures would be most welcome.(Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
BUG IN A RUG by Jamie Gilson
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 20, 1998

When Richard has to go to school wearing the oversized bright purple pants his eccentric Aunt Nannie made for him, he is mortified, and has to hold on to them so they won't fall down. Worse, it's his turn to be the class assistant, which means he has to, for example, hand out mealworms while holding on to his pants, with predictable results. When equally eccentric Uncle Ken shows up at school with a pair of bright red suspenders for Richard, the man's good humor charms the class and even inspires them to think about wearing their own silly clothes to school. The wonderful message, that being different can be fun, is brought home, but never obviously or didactically. All of the characters are likable, especially Richard, who is appropriately worried without being whiny. De Groat's warm black-and-white drawings perfectly match the lighthearted mood of the text. (Fiction. 6-10) Read full book review >
SEE YOU AROUND, SAM! by Lois Lowry
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 1996

Sam Krupnik is almost five, and he's running away to Sleetmute, Alaska. Yes, Anastasia's brother has sadly decided to leave because his mother won't let him wear his plastic fangs in the house (she has fangphobia). He plans to lie around in piles with the walruses, who don't mind fangs. Before he can go, he wants to visit each of his neighbors to say goodbye. Lowry (Attaboy, Sam!, 1992, etc.) gives readers a good look at the workings of the mind of an endearing, ordinary child. Sam's small problems are not in any way important, but Sam believes they are—and, as conveyed through such powerfully sympathetic writing, that is enough. The result is foregone, but readers will inhale every word, through the simple force of Sam's personality. With de Groat's capable black- and-white illustrations in every chapter, this is a delight. (Fiction. 7-12) Read full book review >
FRUIT FLIES, FISH AND FORTUNE COOKIES by Anne LeMieux
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

Finally, some 11-year-olds you'd really want to hang with. Mary Ellen Bobowick and her best friend, Justine Kelly, are smart and sophisticated preteens. Eating Chinese food one night—with chopsticks, of course—Mary Ellen gets a fortune cookie that warns of bad luck to come. The youngster, who wants to be a biologist like her mother, has a scientific mind and scoffs at the dire prediction. But when a stream of misfortune comes her way, she begins to wonder if the cookie hadn't had a point. First she breaks the mirror in Dr. Bobowick's great-grandmother's antique silver mirror-and-brush set. Then she discovers that Justine is moving to France for a year, fights with Justine, drops a jar of Career Day fruit flies in her classroom, and gets sprayed by a skunk! And that's only part of it. But eventually things look up for Mary Ellen—in the form of her handsome classmate Ben, as she confides in best pen pal, Justine—and she discovers that all the bad luck was simple, scientific cause-and-effect, nothing more. Classic characters for Generation Y from LeMieux (The TV Guidance Counsellor, 1993). (Illustrations not seen) (Fiction. 8+) Read full book review >
ANNE PITTS, SWAMP MONSTER by Diane de Groat
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 1994

A slapstick account of Annie's experiences as star of a high school student's horror video. Hoping for a leg up into show biz, the third-grader throws herself wholeheartedly into the role of a swamp monster, even though it means working with her nemesis, classmate Matthew. During the filming she and Matthew manage to cover themselves with mud, traumatize an innocent toddler at the playground, and engage in a physical fight during which Annie bites Matthew's ear. All this and more is captured on the video, which Annie and Matthew inexplicably decide to show to their class to fulfill an assignment of presenting a biography. None of this makes much sense, but perhaps it's not meant to. Determinedly zany; not quite up to its predecessor (Annie Pitts, Artichoke [1992]). (Fiction 8-10) Read full book review >
IT GOES Eeeeeeeeeeeee! by Jamie Gilson
ANIMALS
Released: April 18, 1994

Best friends Richard and Ben are supposed to be nice to new kid Patrick, but it's hard—he's a know-it-all in a suit, bow tie, and shiny shoes; and a pest, the kind of kid who gleefully turns earthworms to mush with his squirt gun. All three are in Mrs. Zookey's second grade (scene of Itchy Richard, 1991), where the daily high point is ``Yummies and Yuckies'' (Show and Tell). After the boys find a stranded bat and share all kinds of scary misconceptions about it, Patrick gets in trouble, spends recess inside reading about bats, and pairs up with Dawn Marie, who has real bats at home in a shed, for a report for Endangered Animal Month. Patrick's research gains him acceptance (sort of), while readers learn some bat facts and everyone has a good time. A handful of realistic b&w illustrations depict lively kids and meek-looking bats. Address to write for information on bat houses. (Fiction. 6-10) Read full book review >
SUNSHINE HOME by Eve Bunting
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 21, 1994

Timmie and his parents make their first visit to Gram at a nursing home; she's had to move there since "the doctors said she needed full-time nursing care." Until now, Gram has lived with Timmie's family, and it's so hard for Mom to see her here that she talks in an unnaturally bright voice, only to weep once she's outside. Rushing back to deliver a picture he forgot to leave and discovering Gram in tears too, Timmie pulls Mom back inside, where the honesty of shared grief provides at least some comfort. Bunting catches the nursing home ambience with empathy and precision—the sharp smell "like mouthwash, or the green bar that Mom hangs in the toilet bowl"; the elderly dozing in wheelchairs, intruding on one another's visitors, or joshing; their families filling time with small talk. In perceptive, realistic watercolors, de Groat characterizes Timmie's family with loving care and depicts the residents of the home in enough realistic variety to give young readers a good idea of what to expect on such a visit. A poignant slice of life in the 90's; Timmie's successful intervention sends the message that even a child can offer real consolation. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
AMY DUNN QUITS SCHOOL by Susan Shreve
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 1993

An overscheduled sixth-grader impulsively plays hooky on Halloween and is found out when her hyperconscientious single mother unexpectedly arrives at school for the Halloween parade. Mother and daughter share some truths they've hidden for fear of hurting each other: Amy doesn't really want all the ``advantages'' her mother's been laboring to provide, and her mother has a gentleman friend. This doesn't have the humor or tight structure of Shreve's earlier ``problem'' novels (The Bad Dreams of a Good Girl, 1982; The Flunking of Joshua T. Bates, 1984); alternating the point of view between Amy and her mother dilutes the focus a bit. Still: a sympathetic view of a child overburdened by a parent's ambitions. The Manhattan setting is particularly well realized. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 9-12) Read full book review >
ANNIE PITTS, ARTICHOKE by Diane de Groat
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 6, 1992

Stagestruck Annie sees an opportunity for breaking into show biz almost everywhere she looks—even in the dairy section of the supermarket that her third-grade class visits on a field trip- -which is why she ends up dropping yogurt on the floor. Still, from her point of view, slapping her tormentor, Matthew, with a dead fish is an involuntary act. But her teacher, who doesn't see it that way, abruptly ends the class trip and gives Annie a good talking-to on the way back. Since she's in disgrace, Annie gets the part no one wants in the class play on nutrition—an artichoke. In the event, she's a pretty good one, and also levelheaded enough to save the show when Matthew forgets his lines. Then, true to form, she topples into her classmates, causing an avalanche of ``foods.'' Annie's narration has an engagingly light, deadpan humor. Good fun. (Fiction. 8-10) Read full book review >
OUR TEACHER'S HAVING A BABY by Eve Bunting
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 21, 1992

A warm—but unsentimental—story about the excitement, anticipation, and anxieties experienced by a first-grade class whose teacher has a baby during the school year. The children's questions and comments, the teacher's good-humored responses, and the way this event becomes a focus for activities make not only a good story but an excellent set of lesson plans for pregnant teachers! The watercolor illustrations perfectly capture the postures, moods, and expressions of the children and the liveliness of their classroom. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
WAIT FOR ME by Susan Shreve
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 21, 1992

Youngest of four, fifth-grader Molly has suddenly reached the point when it's time to be something more than the family baby. Her sibs are all in teen transitions: reliable confidante Sarah is preoccupied with a boyfriend, and seventh-grader Ellie won't even speak to Molly anymore. Even Mom, now practicing law like Dad, advises that ``You'll have to begin to make your very own life.'' And so Molly does, though at first reluctantly. Being put in a different class from her two best friends ultimately helps the process; perceptively, Shreve shows Molly feeling hurt when they add a new girl to the group but eventually realizing that the others have no wish to slight her. In a satisfying conclusion, Molly's family turns up to watch as she wins the 100- yard dash she's been training for. Warm and believable, an appealing story about a nice kid emerging from predictable growing pains with energy and style. Illustration not seen. (Fiction. 8-11) Read full book review >
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 1992

Eighteen animal adaptations are contrasted with human inventions: people have slickers, while ducks have not only oiled feathers but a down lining; chipmunks lug their groceries in their cheeks (and then sleep in the larder, sinking ``lower and lower into their edible beds''); ants have strong jaws that rival a forklift, and keep aphid ``cows''; etc. Evans presents her concept in an inviting introduction and goes beyond the obvious in a succinct but mind-expanding paragraph or two about each comparison; De Groat contributes some humor in her pictures of the humans, while depicting the animals in crisp, realistic detail. Genuine science; attractive and fun. (Nonfiction. 6-10) Read full book review >
ATTABOY, SAM! by Lois Lowry
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 1992

Anastasia's little brother, whose infant point of view was explored in All About Sam (1988), is now a preschooler whose wit and persistence mark him as precocious, but who is still winningly typical in such details as the messy results of mixing mustard and ketchup on his hotdog. Mom's birthday is coming up; she's outspokenly devastated by being 38 and wants only homemade presents. No problem: hearing that her favorite perfume is no longer available, Sam manufactures a substitute in a not-quite- empty grape-juice bottle from the recycling bin. Ever-alert to what Mom says smells good, he keeps Ziplock bags at the ready and manages to add to his brew a bit of sea water, one of Dad's old pipes, chicken soup, tissues that have been used for cleaning up a baby (both ends), and some yeast—his concern over the increasingly noxious odor competing with his truly childlike hope that somehow it will all come right. It doesn't—but the concoction's explosion is only the most spectacular of three resounding failures: Dad has clumsily touched up a portrait photo, and Anastasia has written a notably tactless poem (Sam's offhand help with this proves that he's inherited a lot more of poet Dad's talent than his sister; unfortunately, she tinkers with her effort after Sam's last suggestions). Still, in the end, Sam saves the day, in a tidy but thoroughly satisfying conclusion. Warm, lively, true to children's real inner lives, and laugh-aloud funny all the way. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 7-12) Read full book review >
ITCHY RICHARD by Jamie Gilson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 28, 1991

Second-graders meet an infestation of lice head-on: someone in Mrs. Zookey's class has them, and the nurse must check each student's scalp to see if they've spread. With the banning of pesticides, head lice have been enjoying a resurgence that afflicts affluent and impoverished alike. Gilson's light touch enables readers to laugh at what might otherwise be embarrassing- -as well as to learn a lot about lice and enjoying the relaxed, mutually supportive atmosphere of a classroom where even the teacher might harbor the pesky intruders. (Fiction. 6-9) Read full book review >
THE GREAT EGGSPECTATIONS OF LILA FENWICK by Kate McMullan
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 23, 1991

In a third book about Lila, the girl sees all her Great Ideas go unexpectedly wrong during the first month of school. The likable Price School kids are excited about sixth grade. Lila is hoping to be student council president, but when best friend Gayle is nominated, Lila becomes her campaign manager— with unfortunate results. Meanwhile, the class is taking care of egg-babies and Lila's day-care center fails after one of the eggs is kidnapped. With her mother distracted by a new job, and with friends Gayle and Michael excluding her, Lila pauses briefly to wallow in self-pity before taking charge of improving her situation. Some of her Great Ideas do work out after all: Gayle is elected, while Lila becomes editor of the school paper. De Groat's appealing b&w illustrations reveal a diversity in the class that's not evident from the text. Though light, this touches on serious issues of responsibility; McMullan deserves praise for creating its well-rounded, individualized characters. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >