Books by Douglas Rees

Released: May 8, 2018

"An engaging choice for fans of realistic fiction, simultaneously tugging at the heartstrings and uplifting the spirit. (Fiction. 12-adult)"
After Elektra Kamenides' mother packs her and her younger sister, Thalia, into the car and announces that they are leaving her father in Mississippi and moving to California, Elektra invokes her mantra: What Would Odysseus Do? Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 26, 2017

"Readers will join the chorus of grateful herbivores in proclaiming that Edna is 'awesome.' (Picture book. 6-8)"
T. rex meets his match. Actually, he never has a chance. Read full book review >
Released: July 13, 2010

Irrepressible Cody Elliot is back at Vlad Dracul High (Vampire High, 2003), accompanied by his brilliant but truculent artist cousin, Turk (short for Turquoise), who helps ramp up the mayhem—by a quantum leap—to total pandemonium. Their decision to set up an arts center in an abandoned factory in nearby Crossfields generates a war in the vampire (or jenti; non-vampires are gadje) community, alienates Cody's jenti friends and ends in a full-blown disaster. Princess Ileana and Justin Warrener are back, but the greatest fun is generated by the focus on Cody's nemesis, Gregor Dimitru, whose musical talent and prowess at flying (as a bat with a 20-foot wingspan) are only exceeded by his arrogance. The exciting, nonstop plot and electrifying climax lead to an over-the-top resolution guaranteed to produce satisfied readers. This page-turner, with its smart-aleck narrator, plentiful laughs, innocent romance and consistent jenti-gadje culture clash will suck in both keen and reluctant readers of a broad range of ages. Buy this for enthusiasts of Brian Meehl's Suck It Up (2008) and Heather Brewer's Chronicles of Vladimir Tod. (Funny paranormal. 12 & up)Read full book review >
Released: April 6, 2010

Wilson's life is ship-shape now that his Uncle Pirate is the commander of Jolly Roger Elementary. But in this sequel to Uncle Pirate (2009), when a note arrives in a bottle for "Captin Desprit Evel Wiked Bob" from his former mutinous and now marooned crew, away he goes to help. Worried when the postcards stop arriving, Wilson, sneaky Principal Purvis, Uncle's talking penguin and a few others set out in an old blimp, the Hyena of the Skies. Several weeks later they find Uncle Pirate and his crew on a tropical island. The pirates have been imprisoned and are forced to work in a sneaker factory by, coincidentally, Purvis's no-good older brother. Wilson devises "a most terrible plan," and what follows is a ruckus after which justice prevails, booty is divided and the pirates grudgingly accept that it was mainly ignorance that held them captive. Short paragraphs, snappy dialogue and Auth's abundant comic illustrations move the story along briskly. Adventure, villains and overall mollymockery make this great armchair traveling for the pirate-loving middle-grade reader. (Ship's Articles, glossary) (Adventure. 6-10)Read full book review >
UNCLE PIRATE by Douglas Rees
Released: June 3, 2008

In this silly, off-kilter tale, fourth-grader Wilson discovers a long-lost uncle who happens to be a real-life pirate. He comes complete with pistols, a peg leg and a talking penguin. Uncle Pirate sets out to find a job, one day accompanying Wilson to his bizarrely topsy-turvy school. The teachers are more than inept, the principal hides under his desk, the classrooms are chaos and recess evokes images of Lord of the Flies. To get the school ship-shape, Uncle Pirate deploys a combination of pirate-speak—"mollymockery" and "arh"—and good-hearted intimidation—"Which of you scurvy mop buckets knows that word?" When all is said and done, Uncle Pirate has a job: He transforms teachers and students into happy sub-pirates and the school into a place of learning. Auth's comical illustrations add to the witty tone. A great middle-reader for any young landlubber who likes a good yarn and believes everyone deserves a chance. (glossary, song) (Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2005

French post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin's arrival in the lush, colorful world of Tahiti in 1891 is the focus of this second entry in the Art Encounters historical-fiction series. Fifteen-year-old Mexican-American, Joe Sloan and his French sailor friend Robert arrive in Papeete to find Tehane, Robert's Tahitian fiancée. When Robert is murdered, a stunned Joe feels haunted by Smoking Mirror, the Aztec god of loss and change. Consumed with revenge, Joe encounters the eccentric Gauguin with his naïve visions of "an exotic paradise full of unspoiled primitive people." After a shaky start, Joe gradually assimilates and forgets about revenge as he falls in love with Tehane and supports the penniless, temperamental Gauguin in his search for "savage" beauty. Ultimately Joe helps Gauguin "paint the world new, as it was at the creation," and Gauguin helps Joe confront Smoking Mirror. An intimate peek at Gauguin's creative process and the story behind the cover painting Matamoe with just enough action and native color to entice. (notes, biographical timeline, and suggested reading) (Historical fiction. 12+)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

In this variation of the folk theme in which mortals cheat death, Grandy Thaxter is a sturdy old New Englander in a solid clapboard house and Mister Death is a tall, lanky old fellow dressed in black tails and top hat. Grandy quickly sets him to work cleaning the house, scrubbing the laundry, spinning flax into linen, and cooking dinner for the many children she minds. With aching muscles and burning blisters, Mister Death is always too tired to carry off the very sturdy Grandy and finally just gives up. The pen-and-ink drawings expressively convey the smug self-assuredness of the old lady and the increasing weariness of Death, but ultimately the conflict is so one-sided as to remove any suspense for the reader. There's humor, for sure, as Grandy carefully spells out every single step required to complete the many household chores correctly. Those wanting a more gentle take on the tale will enjoy the read. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
VAMPIRE HIGH by Douglas Rees
Released: Sept. 9, 2003

Cody Elliot's plan to get his parents to return to California (Objective #1: fail all subjects in his new Massachusetts public high school) backfires when his not-so-doting dad transfers him to Vlad Dracula Magnet School. His new school is populated by persons of Romanian descent known among themselves as the Jenti—and guess who their honored ancestor was. Cody's fresh mouth keeps him in trouble in his new school, while his two Jenti friends, Justin and Ileana, labor to incorporate him into the school culture. Rees presents amusing twists on the fantasy tropes about vampires, with funny and convincing details about their daily lives and living preferences. Although predictable, the ending will not bother teen readers one bit. The humor, engaging characters and need to find out what Cody is up to will carry them through a fast, satisfying read. Could Vlad Dracula still rule? Readers will love to find out. (Fiction. 12-14)Read full book review >
LIGHTNING TIME by Douglas Rees
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

Theodore Worth first encounters John Brown, the charismatic leader who will change his life, when his family reluctantly agrees to hide the man in their Boston home overnight. Driven by strong beliefs and the unjust death of a black acquaintance at the hands of slave catchers, Theodore later runs away from home to help Brown in his ill-fated attack on Harper's Ferry. Theodore's role is that of survivor, the one who tells the tale. And like other chroniclers of tragedy—Ishmael or Tom of Warwick- -he is confronted by and makes use of passion and poetry to discharge his duty. Rees lights his story with flashes of lyricism that make plain the moral ambiguities of Brown's case: Did he intend all along to become the martyr whose death would light the fuse of the Civil War? Were his actions justified by the evil he fought? In much of historical fiction, the answers have to be fabricated; here, Rees trusts readers to ponder the excitement of the questions themselves. (Fiction. 10-14) Read full book review >