Books by Doug Cushman

PUMPKIN TIME! by Erzsi Deàk
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2014

"Other, stronger picture books on this theme abound. (recipes, pumpkin facts) (Picture book. 2-4)"
A celebration of gardening and the harvest doesn't quite deliver a full-grown story. Read full book review >
PIGMARES by Doug Cushman
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2012

"Likely to inspire more giggles than gasps; these hammy horrors are sure to please. (Poetry. 8-12)"
Mummy Pigs, Frankenswine and Werehogs…oh my! Read full book review >
THE SNOW BLEW INN by Dian Curtis Regan
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2011

A joyous look at generosity and hospitality as a snowstorm packs the Snow Blew Inn. Read full book review >
DOUBLE PLAY by Betsy Franco
ANIMALS
Released: July 12, 2011

"The frolicsome verse and efficacious design combine to highlight a precise exercise, making this concept picture book a twofold success. (Picture book. 6-8)"
This jaunty rhyme set in a school playground serves as a playful introduction to the mathematical concept of doubling. Read full book review >
TYRANNOSAURUS MATH by Michelle Markel
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2009

T-Math's enthusiasm for numbers and solutions to real-world problems makes this a title that math teachers can sink their teeth into. From the moment he bursts out of his shell, T-Math thinks mathematically, making number sentences to express how many digits he has and the number of kids in his family. He counts footprints by twos and uses fives and tens to group and count a herd of triceratops. He checks his subtraction with addition, draws pictures to solve word problems, creates pictographs and thinks in pie graphs. And it is his estimation skills that save his sister, who gets stranded on the wrong side of a canyon after an earthquake. From that day on the entire family appreciated his love for math and learned all they could from him. Backmatter provides an index of the different skills T-Math uses. Cushman's brightly colored acrylic illustrations nicely show readers the math involved without diminishing in any way the personalities of the dinosaurs. The ultimate melding of a topic kids love with knowledge they need. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
MONSTER BABY by Dian Curtis Regan
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 15, 2009

Bundled in a blue blanket on the Olivers' doorstep, orphaned baby Olly resembles any other newborn, "except for the fur, the tail, the pointy teeth, and the purple horns." His foster parents bypass his makeshift lemon-crate cradle for a wheelbarrow to suit his rapidly growing hulky frame. Olly's skills progress accordingly; within one month, he learns to walk and to read and graduates from the local university. Comparable to a tame Bigfoot, this towering tyke meets an unusual friend of elephantine proportions with fortuitous results. With his lavender horns, gap-fanged smile and fluffy golden mane, Olly's more lovable than formidable; he blows the wind for children's kites and serves as a living waterslide for afternoons of play. Cushman's varying perspectives provide effortless amusement as the pint-sized Olivers relate to their monstrous toddler. Soft watercolor spreads suit this small town, though the abundant white space occasionally provides a stark effect. While there is little conflict in this slight story, lively images provide a sizable read-aloud, starring one huggable critter, extra-large. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
DIRK BONES AND THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING BONES by Doug Cushman
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2009

In this follow-up to Dirk Bones and the Mystery of the Haunted House (2006), the skeleton reporter/detective is on the trail of a missing book by Frankenstein monster-esque writer Edgar Bleek. While searching for clues, Dirk finds a blue, polka-dot leaf; he finds another in the library, only to have Miss Elsa the librarian tell him that Bleek's books are also missing from her collection. Dirk's next stop is the bookstore, but when he crosses the Green Lagoon to get there, a swamp monster named Darlene confirms that she has seen the strange leaves before; she then leaps into the water when their owner, a creature reminiscent of the carnivorous plant from Little Shop of Horrors, appears. Instead of longing for blood, Lenore, the Creepus Crawler Talkus vine, longs to read to her babies—aptly called "budding readers." Dirk's solution of a library card saves the day while also sending a message to beginning readers about the importance of libraries. Although informed by horror movies, the illustrations play down potential scariness in favor of humor, making this monster mystery a satisfying, accessible title for new readers. (Early reader. 5-7)Read full book review >
THE AMAZING TRAIL OF SEYMOUR SNAIL by Lynn E. Hazen
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 2009

Budding artist Seymour the Snail gains experience by working at a local gallery. Employed by the demanding Mr. Stink Bug, shy Seymour struggles with mundane tasks and hears rumors that there is an inspiring artist in town. When the artist's identity is revealed, Seymour's world changes dramatically. The brief chapters assist readers transitioning from beginning fiction to longer selections. Detailed, shaded drawings fill each page and provide emotional depth. Seymour Snail is an endearing artist; with his tilted beret and paintbrush in mouth, he paints with passion. Cushman's anthropomorphized bugs from the art gallery are a hoot; their sunglasses, beaded necklaces and high heels portray their fast-paced lifestyle. Creative wordplay abounds: Slow Seymour works as the Speedy Art Gallery, and jokes often serve the older reader. The spider with the business card shares, "I'm onto something big. It's called the World Wide Web." Engaging characters and winning art create a solid addition to the field of transitional literature. (Fantasy. 5-8) Read full book review >
BIRTHDAY AT THE PANDA PALACE by Stephanie Calmenson
ANIMALS
Released: July 1, 2007

Mouse's birthday party is at The Panda Palace, and all her friends are attending, each bringing a special gift. Under Mr. Panda's direction, one hot elephant, two roaring lions, three pigs, three jumping monkeys, two tall giraffes, two laughing hyenas, a couple of honey-bear baseball all-stars and some singing chicks present Mouse with a rhyming guessing game for each gift. "For monkeys like us, / Bananas will please. / But for you, birthday mouse, / Here's a big chunk of . . . Cheese!" Rhyming clues and answers appear on alternating pages, allowing children to listen carefully and solve the riddle before turning the page to confirm their response with a full colorful cartoon drawing in signature Cushman style. Some riddles will be more obvious than others, as rhyming words are not as apparent. (Compare "own with xylophone" or "flight with kite.") Still, clues are evident enough and the combination of a popular theme and winning ending emphasizing a friendship's reunion in a jovial zoo-like setting will encourage repeated readings with gleeful shouts at the appropriate time. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
ELLA, OF COURSE! by Sarah Weeks
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2007

Clever problem-solver Ella, the piglet, "love-love-loved" the new umbrella given by grammy for her fourth birthday. Ella takes it everywhere and opens it everywhere so she can hear the "whoosh . . . click!" sound it makes. But Ella neglects to see the havoc she causes behind her opened umbrella—upsetting tables and lamps, banging into classmates and friends, knocking over grocery items and more. In ballet class, Mrs. LaTouche, the ostrich dancing teacher, is not amused and announces that umbrellas are unwelcome at the recital. Who will solve this situation? Ella, of course, in a most creative and appropriate way. Cushman's comical, colorfully bright acrylic paintings of a diverse menagerie of supporting characters make this very human theme of a child's need to carry a much loved item come alive in a mellifluous mélange of text and illustrations. Weeks has created a delightful role model that will inspire youngsters to confidently and resourcefully find solutions to their own circumstances. A talented new porcine character from a practiced author and artist must take a bow. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
¡MARIMBA! by Pat Mora
ANIMALS
Released: Nov. 13, 2006

Animals frolic through the whole alphabet in Spanish as well as English. While two zoo keepers snooze in front of the ticket window, all the animals inside kick up their hooves. Twenty-six short verses introduce them, from A (animales) to Z (zebues). Most of the animal names are close enough to their English counterparts to be guessed by young listeners: elefantes, gorilas, manaties, for example. In the back is a brief "translation and pronunciation guide." The verses are simple, and built around the activities the animals are undertaking in the pictures: " ‘Let's conga,' say cougars to coyotes, to marimbas ting-tong beat!' " Cushman's happy illustrations, in pen-and-ink and watercolor with gouache and colored pencil, resemble stills from an old Saturday morning cartoon. An inviting introduction to both Spanish and the animal kingdom. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
DIRK BONES AND THE MYSTERY OF THE HAUNTED HOUSE by Doug Cushman
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2006

The creator of Aunt Eater and Inspector Hopper opens a new easy-reader series featuring an even less conventional sleuth. Two specters haunting a house in the aptly named town of Ghostly are frightened by mysterious, un-ghostly clackings and clickings. Enter Dirk Bones, skeletal investigative journalist for the Ghostly Tombs. Properly outfitted in trench coat and green fedora, Bones sets out into a stormy night on a successful investigation that takes him from creepy basement to spooky graveyard, and includes encounters with a terrified werewolf, a vampire Emeril wannabe and other typical town residents—all easily recognizable but decidedly non-menacing figures in the cartoon illustrations. A burbling cauldron of "bat foot stew with crispy worm brains" is but one of the shivery delights that await emergent readers in this not-too-creepy caper. Stay tuned for sequels. (Easy reader. 6-8)Read full book review >
WHAT A DAY IT WAS AT SCHOOL! by Jack Prelutsky
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2006

One would expect that Prelutsky's poems about school would be rambunctious, warm, silly and laugh-out-loud funny, and this new collection does not disappoint. Brimming with gleeful humor, the poems hit on topics that will be familiar to all students, from the heft of heavy backpacks, the ups and downs of being a teacher's pet and the excitement of field trips, to the frustration of homework, the perils of not studying and the joy of accomplishment and success. Descriptions of various subjects—math, science, spelling, writing, history, art, music, library and gym—are all here too, full of wit, observation and hilarious commentary. Cushman's lively watercolor depictions of various felines, rodents and other small mammals, all with appropriately droll, pensive and jovial expressions, perfectly complement the text and add to the fun. Reluctant readers and poetry lovers alike will find plenty to laugh at and identify with here, and there is never an awkward line or a sour note—although in one poem, there is a rather unfortunate smell. (Picture book. 6-10)Read full book review >
THE BEAR UPSTAIRS by Shirley Mozelle
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

Like the members of your family, you don't get to choose the upstairs neighbor in your apartment house. Mozelle's downstairs bear gets an especially cacophonous upstairs bear for a neighbor. She (downstairs) is the retiring type, a writer who needs peace and quiet; he (upstairs) is a symphony—a deeply atonal symphony—of crashes, booms and bad singing in the shower. He is also just moving in, so his galumphing is especially full of galumph. But despite the looks of exasperation she shoots at the ceiling when he commits another bit of racket, Cushman draws the upstairs bear as a jolly old soul, suffused with a warmth equal to his aural mayhem. Doing the right thing—that is, not poking the ceiling with a broom handle—she heads up to meet him. Common decency finds common ground, and when the two start to tango, there's no one downstairs to hear it. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
MYSTERY AT THE CLUB SANDWICH by Doug Cushman
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 20, 2004

With illustrations in a noir-ish gray and a merciless hand with the double entendres, Cushman sets elephant-in-a-trench-coat Nick Trunk, Private Eye ("I work for peanuts") on the track of diva Lola Gale's missing marbles—her lucky marbles, that is. Nosing out numerous ostrich feathers, jars of peanut butter, and other clues, the stumpy sleuth collars the culprit at last ("The case was a tough nut to crack, but sticky crimes can be solved"), then shuffles off, leaving a trail of split shells behind. Some of the jokes may go over the heads of less cinematically experienced children, but the caper's still a bagful of laughs for fans of Scott Nash's Tuff Fluff: The Case of Duckie's Missing Brain (p. 334), Margie Palatini's Web Files, illustrated by Richard Egielski (2001), and similar hardboiled send-ups. (Picture book. 7-9)Read full book review >
WHAT TIME IS IT, MR. CROCODILE? by Judy Sierra
ANIMALS
Released: Aug. 1, 2004

A zingy original tale for children needing a brush-up on clock-reading, schedule-keeping—or the perils of hanging out with five frisky monkeys. Crocodile stubbornly tries to adhere to his neatly typed schedule: "2:00. Shop for food. 3:00. Bath and snack. 4:00. Catch those pesky monkeys. 5:00. Cook those pesky monkeys . . . "—but to a chorus of the title question, his simian tormenters continually distract him by fooling around, and ultimately throw a spanner into the works of his tractor-like monkey-catching machine. In the wake of the ensuing wreck, Crocodile suffers a change of heart, and amends his schedule: "Play catch with those pesky nice monkeys." Giving his art a rougher, less-finished look than usual, Cushman puts a clock-face in each scene, captures the monkeys' energy without leaving the pages looking over-busy, and pairs with Sierra's lively text—"What TIME is it, Mr. Crocodile? Time to shop where it's smart at the Crocodile Mart. / How did all these BANANAS get into my cart?!?"—to make any time the right time for this irresistible rhyme. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
SPACE CAT by Doug Cushman
ANIMALS
Released: June 1, 2004

Working up an idea he claims he had when he was ten, Cushman introduces a resourceful feline space explorer, with a feckless sidekick robot named Earl. Forced by a leaky fuel tank to land on an unknown planet, Space Cat begs for fuel from the local king, Zorp, but gets the brush-off as Zorp claims to need it all for machines to clean up the environment. Disdain turns to gratitude, however, when one of those machines starts to fall apart, and Space Cat finds a good use for Earl's latest culinary experiment, gluey fish and jelly noodles. Fans of Commander Toad will sign on happily to this promising start, which features lots of aliens in oogy shapes and colors, a Fritz Lang-ish robot who really needs to be kept out of the kitchen, and an intrepid tiger-striped Lead clad in a nifty spacesuit. (Easy reader. 6-8)Read full book review >
NEVER, EVER SHOUT IN A ZOO by Karma Wilson
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 2004

Oddly misguided work from a usually reliable illustrator sinks this cautionary monologue, written in animated rhymed prose, about the perils of startling wild animals. "Never, EVER shout in a zoo . . . because if you do . . . anything might happen. And don't say I didn't warn you," Wilson starts out—but the small wail a child emits after dropping her ice cream cone excites disproportionately wild flight from a grizzly bear and a moose, both of whom are described, but not depicted, as having bad attitudes. Then gorillas join in by hopping over the conveniently low wall that is their only restraint, freeing all the other animals, and locking up the zoo's four human visitors in a cage that proceeds as if by magic to melt away to set the stage for a contrived final joke. Young viewers might enjoy seeing zoo animals running about and laughing in triumph, but the art and text are too insecurely connected to make any sort of whole. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
LET’S TRY IT OUT WITH TOWERS AND BRIDGES by Seymour Simon
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2003

For the future engineer, architect, or construction work, this latest in the Let's Try It Out series may fuel her interest, or spark a new one. Various building, tower, and bridge designs familiar to children are introduced as readers explore the way they are constructed to withstand wind, snow, and rain. Activities emphasize the use of the scientific method and include making a wooden-block pyramid, a tower with clay foundation, and experimenting with arched or folded paper bridges. Beginning and end notes for parents, teachers, and caregivers provide creative suggestions in using the activities with young children. Cushman's artwork is delightful, seamlessly illustrating both the building examples used in the text, and the children who are modeling the activities. The children are reminiscent of the Fisher-Price Little People, with their expressive, pudgy faces and their brightly colored clothing. They are also representative of several different cultures. A wonderful resource for encouraging imaginative and educational play in children. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
INSPECTOR HOPPER’S MYSTERY YEAR by Doug Cushman
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2003

Cushman offers a second helping of good, just-this-side-of-goofy stories for beginning readers, featuring Inspector Hopper and McBugg, introduced in Inspector Hopper (2000). Hauntings and disappearances figure in this four-story collection, one for each of the seasons. In autumn, suitably enough, a ghost appears to have taken up residence in a pumpkin. In winter the doctor can't be found; in spring a young bug has wandered off; in summer some sheet music has mysteriously gone missing. Cushman drops visual clues to let readers participate in the solutions to the mysteries, sight gags to keep the stories lively, as well as other clues to help them solve any mysteries among the words they are reading. The text is challenging enough, with good pacing and drama: "A cold wind rustled the trees. Dry leaves crackled and crunched. ‘It is very spooky here,' said McBugg. ‘I wonder if ghosts really do live here.' " Cushman also makes the bug world a pretty appealing place, with its fine colors, merry gesticulations, everyday happenings, and doubtless the only mealy bug in existence that sports luxurious mustachios and a dapper bowler hat. (Easy reader. 4-8)Read full book review >
BIRTHDAY MICE! by Bethany Roberts
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 21, 2002

Roberts and Cushman's (Christmas Mice, not reviewed, etc.) holiday mice return with a bauble for young listeners in celebration of little mouse's birthday. Little mouse is turning two and his party has a cowboy theme. The festivities are taking place in a forest clearing, spiced up with Cushman's party-colored artwork, complete with streamers and jumbo balloons and big cupcakes with candles. The action frequently gets out of hand—"Howdy, cowboy! / Whoa! Watch out! / Oh, no! / POP! POP! POP!"—but, all and all, things are very merry. Presents are unwrapped—"Cowboy boots that stomp, stomp, stomp! / The chipmunks bring a rope lasso. / Skunk gives spurs that jingle, jangle. / Perfect for a buckaroo!"—and some rousing square dancing ends with a chipmunk swung into the cake. But the friends make do, even to the point of assigning a squirrel to be the little mouse's horse. Occasional rhymes and a musical cadence to the text—with its oompah repetition of words—make this a lively performance piece, and the illustrations keep the visual stimulation on par with the words. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
BUT MOM, EVERYBODY ELSE DOES by Kay Winters
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

In order to convince her mother that her acts and desires are not only legitimate but also universal, a young girl paints humorous and exaggerated pictures to prove her point. When her mother comes into her bedroom and eyes the disaster area, the young girl says, "But Mom, everybody has a messy room," picturing in her mind (and a large bubble on the page) the various toxic waste sites that are her friends' rooms and much more lethal than her small clutter. And everyone gets a bigger allowance as images dance in her head of armored cars dropping off great sacks of moola to her friends. And absolutely everyone failed that test at school. She fancies a news reporter delivering the sound bite, "The world was stunned by the news that every child in the universe failed the test . . . " So it goes through nobody walking to school and everybody sleeping with the dog, nobody has to practice, and everybody can paint better than she can. Cushman's (What Teachers Can't Do, p. 814, etc.) illustrations never push too hard for effect and so give credence to the girl's outrageous conjectures, which serve as bright hailings to a vivid imagination. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
WHAT TEACHERS CAN’T DO by Douglas Wood
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2002

Following in the tradition of What Fathers Can't Do (2001) and What Mothers Can't Do (2000), Wood moves on to present a tongue-in-cheek look at the shortcomings of teachers. It is well-known that teachers are not allowed to be tardy and that they cannot ride skateboards to school, but readers might be surprised to discover that teachers cannot buy their own apples or that they "can't teach best without flowers on their desk." It's amazing that with all their knowledge they can't seem to spell the word "cat" or remember the solution to two plus two. Perhaps they are distracted by the fact that "they can't use that hall pass to go to the bathroom;" maybe it's that "teachers can't go down the tube slide at recess. . . ." But whatever their shortcomings, it's the things they can do that seem to matter. Hilarious and brightly colored drawings of the dinosaur teachers with pearls and glasses and dinosaurs preschoolers with backpacks and pigtails accompany the text. It seems that even after having paint on their clothes and chalk dust in their hair and lungs, teachers "can't wait to come back to school tomorrow." Somewhat saccharine, but worthy praise for an under-appreciated profession. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
CROCODILE AND HEN by Joan M. Lexau
ANIMALS
Released: April 30, 2001

Crocodile thinks Hen would make a mighty tasty chicken dinner, until Hen stops him with his jaws agape with a simple, powerful statement: "My brother, don't eat me." Hen confidently turns her back on danger and walks away, leaving Crocodile mystified as to how he can be her brother since they are so different. The patterned story continues with Crocodile longing to devour Hen, and Hen repeating her calm mantra. Crocodile enumerates the differences between the two species, questions other animals about the supposed familial connection, and finally receives an answer from his friend Lizard, who points out that all animals who lay eggs are related, and thus brothers and sisters in a way. Lexau based this skillfully told, mid-level easy reader on a Bakongo folktale from the Republic of the Congo, and this version is a newly illustrated and revised version of her story, originally published in 1969. Cushman (What Moms Can't Do, 2000, etc.) adds to the humor of the tale with his expressive animal characters in pen and ink with a watercolor wash. Beginning readers will eat up this simple but satisfying story with a clever moral, a bit of science, and one hilarious slip from the hungry crocodile: "How good to eat you. Oops, I mean meet you again, Sister." Thoughtful teachers and parents might use this book to spark a discussion of tolerance and harmony among diverse groups or even to introduce the principles of nonviolent resistance and worldwide brother- and sisterhood. (author's note) (Easy reader/folktale. 5-8)Read full book review >
WHAT MOMS CAN’T DO by Douglas Wood
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2001

Wood's companion title to What Dads Can't Do (p. 725) is a droll salute to motherhood. A young child considers the many "limitations" his mother stoically endures; from her apparent inability to make tasty brown-bag lunches to her difficulties with saying good-bye. Young children will get a kick out of the comical text—"Sometimes moms can't hear themselves think (whatever that means)"—and the topsy-turvy perspective of a world according to preschoolers. As expected, this whimsical enumeration of a mom's short-comings is more of a reflection of the child's outlook than the reality of the situation. What is an unexpected treasure is how such brief and utterly comical statements can convincingly convey the deep bonds between mother and child. This is in part due to the interplay between the text and art. Each pithy statement is accompanied by brightly colored pen-and-ink drawings that deftly capture the boundless energy of small fry and the steadfast patience that is a job requirement of motherhood. Cushman's wryly humorous drawings provide the "subtext" to the tale and tell the real story; e.g., "Moms can never pick out just the right clothes" is accompanied by the comical illustration of a pint-sized despot, clad only in his undies, staunchly refusing a myriad of outfits proffered by his long-suffering parent. The dynamic interaction between prose and pictures makes this sweetly funny and winsome tale a delight for adults to read and children to hear. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
WHAT DADS CAN’T DO by Douglas Wood
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2000

Cushman (The Mystery of the Monkey's Maze, 1999, etc.) gives this sugary recitation of paternal imperatives an unusual slant by portraying child and dad as a single-parent family, but that's about all it has going for it. With breezy assurance the young narrator lists all of Dad's faults: he "can't cross the street without holding hands," can push a swing but not sit in one; loses at checkers and cards; needs "help" shaving, cooking, and reading; likes to give baths but can't help getting splashed, and so forth. The child, who, like his ingenuous-looking father, is portrayed as a green, iguana-like creature with hair and human clothing, finishes on a heavily reassuring note: Dad "never quits" (children of divorced or separated parents will certainly buy that) and "never ever stops loving you." Compared to the more natural give and take of Virginia Miller's George and Bartholomew stories (Be Gentle!, 1997, etc.), the father/son relationship here leaves no room for individuality, and comes across more as wishful thinking than any sort of achievable model. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
INSPECTOR HOPPER by Doug Cushman
ANIMALS
Released: April 30, 2000

The accent in Cushman's beginning reader is decidedly on the act of reading, as the story itself, broken into three fleeting chapters, has little momentum or interest of its own, let alone the brio or dash any detective story should. Inspector Hopper, all legs and slouch hat, along with his sidekick, the mustachioed, ever-hungry McBugg, solve three benign capers. The first of these is the disappearance of Mrs. Ladybug, who is found in a berry patch where McBugg has stopped for a snack; the second is the disappearance of Skeet the mailman's boat, a leaf that has been inadvertently eaten by a caterpillar. Last is the uncovering of the stalker in the alley, who turns out to be the Moon and not a bad detective in his own right when it comes to uncovering the dastardly rat. The sentences are clipped as tight as a buzz cut, which makes for easy reading, but if the stories had been just a bit more challenging they would also have been a bit more satisfying. With each sentence being a paragraph unto itself, it is difficult to get any sense of the text's timing, or the inflection of the words. What does charm in these pages is the artwork, with its warm colors, landscapes as seen from insect level, and its atmosphere of adventure, even if it materializes only in the slightest of measures. (Easy reader. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: May 31, 1999

PLB 0-06-027720-3 A broadly comic, slapstick mystery. Seymour Sleuth is called to Borneo where Dr. Irene A. Tann (an orangutan) is searching for the Black Flower of Sumatra, which will cure hiccups. But her quest is being sabotaged'sand in the sugar bowl, knots in the underwear—and threatening notes are arriving. The intrepid Seymour and his faithful assistant and photographer Abbott Muggs search for clues and interview the other members of the camp: a reporter, a local guide, and Dr. Tann's assistant. Among the clues: chocolate smudges on the notes, and a pin with someone's initials. Seymour solves the mystery, accompanies the band through the monkey's maze where they find the Black Flower and another surprise. All the characters are animals and the text is in Sleuth's notebook printing, with photographs by Muggs attached along with realia like the map of Borneo and their plane tickets. It's very lightweight, doesn't take itself too seriously, and gives readers a funny first taste of some of the well-loved elements of mysteries. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
VALENTINE MICE! by Bethany Roberts
ANIMALS
Released: Jan. 2, 1998

The stars of Halloween Mice! are back, but this time they're celebrating a different holiday. Four lively mice scamper through a snowy landscape, delivering valentines to all the woodland creatures, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, badgers, beavers, and more. In their exuberance, the three older mice don't notice right off (although observant readers will) that they've left their young companion behind. They track him down and rejoice in a Valentine's reunion. Simple rhythmic text and action-packed line and watercolor illustrations will draw young readers in; Cushman includes welcome details—such as a tag-along chickadee- -that enhance the story, and mixes full-bleed and framed illustrations to emphasize high points in the text. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
TRASH AND TREASURE by Patricia Lakin
CHILDREN'S
Released: Dec. 15, 1994

The new My School series introduces young readers to the people in their school neighborhood: the principal, the nurse, the busdriver, etc. In this story, children get to see what the custodian, Mr. Mason, is up to. He makes sure the building is clean and at the right temperature; he sets up for any special assemblies; he finds things that are lost. Mr. Mason also knows all the kids in his school by name and is good and kind all the day long. When cute little Lucy loses her grandmother's heirloom locket, Mr. Mason arranges a search party in Lucy's classroom. (Her teacher doesn't mind interrupting class for this, of course.) When they have all but given up, wheelchair-bound Caroline announces that she's found it. The little heroine could see it in the aquarium because in her chair she's eye-level with it. Although custodians deserve a book in their honor, this saccharine PC effort is far from the ideal tribute. (Fiction/Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
MOUSE & MOLE AND THE CHRISTMAS WALK by Doug Cushman
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 17, 1994

Mouse and Mole's walk is an environmentally safe hunt for a Christmas tree. They find the perfect tree, but rather than cutting it down and bringing it back to Mole's to decorate, they dress the tree without removing it from the ground and make ornaments that serve as bird feeders. They visit it on Christmas morning and watch the birds happily pecking at their birdseed-covered pine cones and popcorn strings. The rest of their celebration is traditional, with hot cocoa, spice cookies, and gift-giving. In addition to the story, at the bottom of every page are scientific facts about winter that are surprisingly informative given the small format. Readers will learn why winter nights are longer and how icicles are formed, about animal camouflage, and how fish survive when lakes freeze over. Cushman's (Mouse and Mole and the Year-Round Garden, p. 301, etc.) tale is cheerful and enlightening. (Fiction/Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
MOUSE AND MOLE AND THE YEAR-ROUND GARDEN by Doug Cushman
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 1994

The Scientific American imprimatur on this Children's BOMC selection is misleading: the two animal friends' gardening between one spring and the next—planting vegetables, watching them grow, putting things by, enjoying the beach or making a snow mouse as they await the next garden task—makes an effective overview of seasonal activities, but it's marred by inattention to detail. E.g., Mole shows Mouse ``how to plant pea seeds,'' but no specifics are offered; four corn seedlings (in a single row under an apple tree) simply don't resemble corn in the cartoon- style illustrations; and while a substantial number of related facts are offered in boxes at page bottoms (e.g., ``under the garden'' are worms, ants, grubs, and aphids) they tend to be superficial (what is the significance of these underground creatures?). A book that promises more than it delivers; still, the sprightly tone and cheery illustrations may arouse interest, and a knowledgeable adult could build on what's outlined here. (Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >