Books by Donna Jo Napoli

HANDS & HEARTS by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: May 13, 2014

"A memorable excursion. (Picture book. 3-6)"
This mother-daughter beach outing features an added layer: Throughout the day, they use American Sign Language to communicate. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 22, 2013

"Sumptuous of format, magisterial of content, stimulating for heart and mind both. (map, timeline, gallery of deities, postscript discussion of sources, bibliography, index) (Mythology. 11-14)"
Napoli (Treasury of Greek Mythology, 2011) again challenges readers to regard the old gods in new ways. Read full book review >
SKIN by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: Aug. 6, 2013

"Like Sep's decisions, this story feels rushed. (Fiction. 14-17)"
Sixteen-year-old Sep (short for Giuseppina) wakes up on the first day of school to find that her lips are completely white. Read full book review >
A SINGLE PEARL by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: June 18, 2013

" A well-meaning tale is overwhelmed by an over-the-top attempt at inspiration. (Picture book. 4-7)"
A potentially charming tale about a perfect pearl that takes form from a simple grain of sand is laden with heavy-handed life lessons. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 11, 2011

"Superb versions for reading alone or for sharing with audiences large or small. (Mythology. 10-14)"
Oft-told tales retold with uncommon verve and outfitted with resplendent Art Deco–style portraits. Read full book review >
LIGHTS ON THE NILE by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: Sept. 20, 2011

"Nevertheless, the story offers rich fare for those precocious younger readers who can't get enough; with luck they will accommodate any confusion and may move onto some of Napoli's more polished works, a little later on. (Historical fantasy. 8-11)"
Kepi's name means "tempest," and it suits, in this tale that purports to reveal the origins of fairies. Read full book review >
THE CROSSING by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: June 14, 2011

"Experience the wonder of Lewis and Clark's journey with the youngest expedition member. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Riding in a cradle board on his mother's back, Sacagawea's baby son Jean Baptiste provides a fresh perspective on Lewis and Clark's monumental westward journey from Fort Mandan, N.D., across the northwestern United States to the Pacific and back between 1805 and 1806. Read full book review >
THE WAGER by Donna Jo Napoli
FICTION
Released: May 1, 2010

"No hero ever deserved a happy ending or a bath more. (Fantasy. 13 & up)"
After suffering a reversal of fortune, a handsome young nobleman enters into a dangerous wager with the Devil, surrendering his beauty and possibly his very soul to win a magical purse in this retelling of an old Sicilian fairy tale. Read full book review >
MAMA MITI by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: Jan. 5, 2010

"Deserving of a special place with Claire Nivola's Planting the Trees of Kenya (2008), this is, in a word, stunning. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Napoli adopts a folkloric narrative technique to showcase the life work of Wangari Maathai, whose seminal role in Kenya's reforestation earned her the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. Read full book review >
THE EARTH SHOOK by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: Aug. 18, 2009

"A gorgeous, discussion-provoking read-aloud. (Picture book. 5-8)"
Human beings are so often vilified—justifiably—that it's refreshing to find a story that juxtaposes our species' finer qualities with its more monstrous ones. Read full book review >
ALLIGATOR BAYOU by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: March 10, 2009

"Napoli brings social issues into sharp focus but balances them with details about Calo's everyday life, creating an engaging story with many avenues to deep reflection on our country's treatment, past and present, of its immigrants. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)"
A haunting story based on a tragic historical event—the lynching of a group of Italian men in Tallulah, La., in 1899. Read full book review >
READY TO DREAM by Donna Jo Napoli
ANIMALS
Released: Jan. 6, 2009

"Highly recommended for young painters who will be encouraged, like Ally, to test their artistic wings. (Picture book. 5-8)"
When Ally visits Australia, she takes her art supplies and draws. Read full book review >
THE SMILE by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: Oct. 1, 2008

"Through this deeply personal story, Napoli paints a magnificent and mournful portrait of the Italian Renaissance, both tragic and triumphant. (Historical fiction. YA)"
The lushly detailed life of a girl who grows up to pose for the Mona Lisa. Read full book review >
CORKSCREW COUNTS by Donna Jo Napoli
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

"A disappointing follow-up to The Wishing Club (2007). (Picture book. 6-10)"
This rather lackluster tale of a pig's birthday party fails to emphasize multiplication as the subtitle would have readers believe. Read full book review >
MOGO THE THIRD WARTHOG by Donna Jo Napoli
ANIMALS
Released: July 1, 2008

"Judge's simple black-and-white drawings sprinkled throughout enhance the text. (Fantasy. 7-10)"
Napoli, known for her fairy-tale retellings, has reworked "The Three Little Pigs" into a tale of life on the African savanna. Read full book review >
HUSH by Donna Jo Napoli
FICTION
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

"From the texture of embroidery to the odor of sheep dung, her language is vivid, precise, cinematic. (Historical fiction. 12-15)"
Napoli takes the bare bones of a legend—Icelandic, tenth century this time—and clothes it in fire, flesh and blood. Read full book review >
THE WISHING CLUB by Donna Jo Napoli
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: July 1, 2007

"A clever concept done well. (Picture book. 5-9)"
Four children learn about fractions when they wish on a star and only get partial wish fulfillments. Read full book review >
SLY THE SLEUTH AND THE FOOD MYSTERIES by Donna Jo Napoli
FICTION
Released: April 1, 2007

"Not so spicy but, as Sly puts it, these cases serve up some "food for thought." (Fiction. 7-9)"
Sylvia the "Sleuth for Hire" is up to her gumshoe tricks again in this third Sly mystery. Read full book review >
FIRE IN THE HILLS by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: Aug. 1, 2006

"A good match with Barbara Harrison's Theo (1999). (Historical fiction. 12-15)"
A powerful sequel to the superb Stones in Water (1997), this continues the story of Roberto, trying to get back home to Venice after wretched experiences at the hands of the Nazis. Read full book review >
BOBBY THE BOLD by Donna Jo Napoli
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 2006

"Readers will have to comb library shelves to find a spirit as bold and irrepressible as this bonobo's—and the bow he takes on the back cover is well-deserved. (Picture book. 6-8)"
An ostracized ape earns acceptance by becoming—what else?—a hairdresser in this cheery mother-daughter collaboration. Read full book review >
SLY THE SLEUTH AND THE SPORTS MYSTERIES by Donna Jo Napoli
FICTION
Released: April 1, 2006

"In this trio of trifles there is not a nail-biting moment to be found, but Sly and her friends do deliver a pleasant read and some clues to the mysteries of friendship. (Fiction. 7-9)"
Sly runs a detective agency called "Sleuth for Hire," but she only takes cases that her cat, Taxi, would care about. Read full book review >
UGLY by Donna Jo Napoli
Kirkus Star
by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Lita Judge
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: Jan. 1, 2006

"Tucked into this wondrously spun tale so deftly that one might scarcely notice are beautiful lessons about finding oneself, about fitting in (or not), about the implacability of nature and weather and the importance of maternal advice. (Fiction. 7-10)"
Trust Napoli to work her usual alchemy and make a fabulous coming-of-age story from the bare outline of the reassuring ugly-duckling trope. Read full book review >
THE KING OF MULBERRY STREET by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: Oct. 11, 2005

"History come to vibrant life for middle-grade readers and almost anyone whose ancestors came from foreign lands. (Historical fiction. 9-14)"
This powerfully vivid story has the immediacy of Napoli's always-immaculate prose, coupled with a basis in family lore and urban history that make it irresistible. Read full book review >
PINK MAGIC by Donna Jo Napoli
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Sept. 12, 2005

"Receiving mail is a very big deal for this age group and versatile Napoli delivers an amusing story stamped with her whimsy that integrates a favorite toy, brother-sister bond and imaginative play—and it works like a charm. (Picture book. 4-7)"
Nick and his toy rabbit, Pinky, are dejected because his sister Eva is getting a lot of mail for her birthday. Read full book review >
SLY THE SLEUTH by Donna Jo Napoli
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 2005

"Maione inks plenty of lighthearted illustrations, mostly neighborhood scenes, for this engaging series opener. (Fiction. 7-9)"
Clear some shelf space: Young Cam Jansen has a new contemporary. Read full book review >
BOUND by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: Nov. 1, 2004

"Deliberate and satisfying. (Fiction. YA)"
A strong, finely crafted version of Cinderella based mostly on old Chinese tales but with a sprinkling of details from Grimm. Read full book review >
GRACIE by Donna Jo Napoli
ANIMALS
Released: June 1, 2004

In her second sequel to Prince of the Pond (1992), Napoli remixes themes and characters from the first sequel, Jimmy, the Pickpocket of the Palace (1995). Read full book review >
NORTH by Donna Jo Napoli
FICTION
Released: May 1, 2004

"It's an unlikely journey, but Napoli makes it a fascinating one, organically incorporating a wealth of detail about the Arctic and its human and non-human inhabitants. (Fiction. 9+)"
Driven by a yearning he can't articulate but knows is essential to his very being, Alvin, a soft and unsophisticated 12-year-old African-American boy living in Washington, D.C., runs away from his caring but smothering mother and physically declining great grandmother. Read full book review >
HOTEL JUNGLE by Donna Jo Napoli
ANIMALS
Released: Feb. 1, 2004

"Painfully absurd. (Picture book. 3-7)"
A vacationing family ends up in the middle of an improbable adventure in a hotel run entirely by baboons. Read full book review >
BREATH by Donna Jo Napoli
FANTASY
Released: Nov. 1, 2003

"Move over, Browning. (Fiction. 12+)"
This fascinating Pied Piper bypasses the villain rehabilitation or feminist perspective common to most modern retellings; instead, it solidly grounds the tale in the 13th-century town of Hameln. Read full book review >
THE GREAT GOD PAN by Donna Jo Napoli
FICTION
Released: May 13, 2003

"As the tale moves on to Iphigenia's sacrifice at Aulis, the tension ratchets up almost unbearably, and Pan's newly gained understanding provides an elegant and tragic solution. (Fiction. YA)"
When readers first meet Pan, the nature god, he is perfectly happy with his half-god, half-goat nature, enjoying bodily pleasures but unhampered by the complications of love. Read full book review >
THREE DAYS by Donna Jo Napoli
FICTION
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

"Still, if readers are sufficiently grabbed by Jackie's ingenuous voice and her remarkable predicament, they may be willing to forgive the contrivance for the experience. (Fiction. 9-12)"
Eleven-year-old Jackie is enjoying mightily her father-daughter trip to Italy—until her father suffers a heart attack while driving back to their hotel one evening. Read full book review >
HOW HUNGRY ARE YOU? by Donna Jo Napoli
FICTION
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

"A miscalculation through and through. (Picture book. 5-7)"
Animals plan to go on a picnic in this math concept book that just misses. Read full book review >
ALBERT by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: April 1, 2001

"This fits nicely with Tohby Riddle's The Singing Hat (p. 187). (Picture book. 5-8)"
A young recluse makes an unusual connection to the outside world in Napoli's (Beast, 2000, etc.) first picture book. Read full book review >
DAUGHTER OF VENICE by Donna Jo Napoli
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: March 1, 2001

"While readers will be rightly skeptical at Donata's speedy mastery of not only written Venetian but Latin as well, they will nevertheless find themselves absorbed in her story and the snapshot of her city that it provides. (Fiction. 10-15)"
Compelling historical fiction explores the Byzantine rules governing the social order of 16th-century Venice. Read full book review >
ROCKY, THE CAT WHO BARKS by Donna Jo Napoli
ANIMALS
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

"The five cats (mean mother Misha, curly-haired Cappuccino, longhaired Crystal Kitty, tiny Cally, and blue-eyed, blue-haired Latte) possess a variety of colors, shapes, and personalities, and shy little Rocky has a rascally charm of his own. (Picture books. 3-7)"
The prolific Napoli (Daughter of Venice, above, etc.) teams up with newcomer Kane for a humorous pet story about a small black-and-white dog, Rocky, trying to fit into a new family with two "little monsters" (very spoiled children) and five confident cats. Read full book review >
BEAST by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: Nov. 1, 2000

"Compelling, relentless, erotic. (Fiction. YA)"
The writer who so intensely re-imagined Rapunzel in Zel (1996) and the Sirens in Sirena (1998) provides a sensual and brilliant imagining of the backstory of the Beast in this exotic tale. Read full book review >
CRAZY JACK by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: Oct. 1, 1999

"Her locale is one where magic works, but not too well, and where dark and psychologically truthful lives give meaning to the events of a childhood tale. (Fiction. 12-14)"
Napoli (with Richard Tchen, Spinners, p. 887, etc.) continues to retell familiar tales in this gripping novel about Jack and the events surrounding the beanstalk. Read full book review >
SIRENA by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

"Fans of Greek mythology will enjoy several tales of gods, warriors, and nymphs woven throughout, but it's the timeless, entrancing love story—the heartache, the triumph, and the bittersweet ending—that grabs the heartstrings. (Fiction. 12-15)"
Sirena and her sisters are hybrids (half-human, half-fish), or mermaids, yearning for the touch and love of men, who will thereby bring them immortality. Read full book review >
CHANGING TUNES by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: June 1, 1998

"Although the structure of the novel, shifting between piano practice and the rest of Eileen's life, seems a bit inelegant and contrived, Napoli succeeds in creating a reassuringly bewildered character in Eileen. (Fiction. 10- 12)"
A ten-year-old girl confronts the reality of her parents' divorce in this bittersweet novel from Napoli (For the Love of Venice, p. 584, etc.). Read full book review >
FOR THE LOVE OF VENICE by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: May 1, 1998

"All the while, Napoli never lets the message about the city's fragile existence overwhelm the story or the delicacy of the romance. (Fiction. 12-15)"
Percy, 17, is spending the summer in Venice with his engineer father, his artist mother, and his endearing brother, Christopher, 6. Read full book review >
STONES IN WATER by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

"Riveting. (Fiction. 12-14)"
From Napoli (Trouble on the Tracks, p. 144, etc.), a powerful novel set in a vividly realized wartime milieu. Read full book review >
TROUBLE ON THE TRACKS by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: April 1, 1997

Zach is constantly embarrassed by the antics of his younger sister, Eve, a child whom most adults find charming. Read full book review >
ON GUARD by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: Jan. 1, 1997

"The author writes authoritatively of this unusual martial art, and lays on lessons with a light hand. (Fiction. 9-11)"
Having overcome his fear of drowning in When the Water Closes Over My Head (1994), Mikey advances further down the road of self-discovery when he witnesses a fencing demonstration and catches the fever. Read full book review >
SONG OF THE MAGDALENE by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: Oct. 1, 1996

"Napoli develops her themes and characters. (Fiction. 12+)"
Napoli (Zel, p. 691, etc.) turns from folklore to the Bible for inspiration, and crafts a brutal, challenging tale. Read full book review >
ZEL by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

"This rich, complex reading may require an adult's sensibility and level of experience to absorb fully, but it powerfully renders the tale's inherent terror and tragedy. (Folklore. 12+)"
A passionate, painful elaboration of the story of Rapunzel, from the author who did the same for Hansel and Gretel in The Magic Circle (1993). Read full book review >
JIMMY, THE PICKPOCKET OF THE PALACE by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: May 1, 1995

"With enough action, suspense, and humor for younger readers, this successful successor is certain to satisfy old fans and win new friends for the frog prince and his brood. (Fiction. 7-10)"
In this sequel to the charming Prince of the Pond (1992), Jimmy, frog-son of the frog prince, must save the pond from the evil Hag, who is working on a spell to dry it up so she can find her lost magic ring. Read full book review >
SHARK SHOCK by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

"A weird, meandering tale. (Fiction. 8-12)"
Adam is back with a new fear and a different band of talking freckles. Read full book review >
WHEN THE WATER CLOSES OVER MY HEAD by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: March 1, 1994

"Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 7-10)"
By a gifted author (whose first three children's books range from Soccer Shock, 1991, to a hilarious frog-prince takeoff— Prince of the Pond, 1992—to the splendidly dark, intricately structured The Magic Circle, 1993), a genial family story that, in its forthright good humor and succinct handling of real issues, recalls Betsy Byars. Read full book review >
THE MAGIC CIRCLE by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: June 1, 1993

"Splendid jacket by the Dillons. (Fiction. 11+)"
The author of The Prince in the Pond (1992) leaps from that comic take on "The Frog Prince" to a dark, deeply thoughtful novel whose gifted, driven, and wholly sympathetic protagonist is Hansel and Gretel's witch. Read full book review >
THE PRINCE OF THE POND by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: Oct. 1, 1992

"Nicely complemented by Schachner's charmingly whimsical (and anatomically informed) drawings, a book with an astonishing amount of in-depth natural history cleverly enmeshed in its endearing, screwball charm. (Fiction. 8-12)"
Poor Jade (or Jade-to-be, since "de fawg pin" has yet to name her): she's faced with a big, beautiful frog—such legs!—and he doesn't seem to have the foggiest notion about what to do with his tongue, or how to leap or avoid danger. Read full book review >
SOCCER SHOCK by Donna Jo Napoli
Released: Oct. 1, 1991

"Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 10-13)"
Brainy Adam wants desperately to make the fifth-grade soccer team but doesn't have much chance until star player Grayson offers lessons in exchange for math tutoring—and, more importantly, Adam discovers that a lightning bolt's near miss has left him with the ability to hear the freckles on his knees talking, so that he has an efficient early-warning system on the playing field. Read full book review >