Books by Ellen Jackson

PICKY EATERS by Ellen Jackson
Released: Jan. 3, 2017

"An engaging introduction to the eating habits of a variety of animals that will keep young readers coming back for as long as the flaps last. (Board book. 2-4)"
Think all animals will eat just anything? Think again. Some animals will only eat some very specific foods. Welcome to the world of picky eaters! Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 27, 2016

"An appealing introduction for preschool and storytime. (Informational picture book. 3-7)"
Count the ways that octopuses surprise! Read full book review >
BEASTLY BABIES by Ellen Jackson
Released: July 7, 2015

"Lots of fun. (Picture book. 2-5)"
A simple rhyming text celebrates some shared characteristics of baby animals. Read full book review >
TOOLING AROUND by Ellen Jackson
Released: Sept. 9, 2014

"The layout and concept deserve better material. (author's note, list of animals' habitat ranges, resources for children, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 4-8)"
The use of tools by nonhuman animals is explored via 11 animals, each with its own watercolor portrait, rhymed couplet and explanatory gloss. Read full book review >
THE SEVEN SEAS by Ellen Jackson
Released: Jan. 1, 2011

When a young rabbit daydreams in geography class of visiting the seven seas, the bodies of water he imagines are, well, not water! Speaking in rhyme and first-person voice, the rabbit travels by various means—bus to Marrakesh, taxi to Peru, mule to Istanbul, yak to Timbuktu. As he visits each sea, all named for colors, he's surprised at what they actually are: The Yellow Sea is lemonade; the Red Sea is pizza sauce; the Black Sea is licorice. "The Brown Sea's made of chocolate, / a place to drown your cares. / Its whipped cream foam is home sweet home / to brownish, clownish bears." His seaworthy journey ends with a clever geography lesson about real oceans and seas. In each spread, the cartoonish rabbit, wearing a blue-and-white striped jumper, joins the silliness; in the Green Sea, he scuba dives amid a broccoli reef, and in the Red Sea, he paddles an upside-down mushroom. The exaggeration of the acrylic, textured illustrations and rhymes create an inventive and humorous approach to learning about geography. Backmatter includes further resources and "Fun Facts about Seas and Oceans." (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

There is a wealth of anecdotal and scholarly evidence that Abraham Lincoln abhorred cruelty to animals in a time when that was not a popular sentiment. From saving a nest of birds, to having a photo taken of his long-time pet dog Fido, to the hijinks of his sons and their White House pets, to the pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkey, Jackson selects the most authentic of these stories about Lincoln's love of creatures great and small and incorporates them into a charming biography for young readers. Not meant to be a complete account of Lincoln's life, it includes many of the salient facts and historical events, but others are omitted, most notably the deaths of two of his sons. Ettlinger's meticulous, warmly colored illustrations work seamlessly with the text, emphasizing Lincoln's humanity by focusing on facial expressions and gestures toward the animals. The result is an accessible, documented introduction to a seminal figure in American history from a perspective that will appeal to young readers. Well done. (author's note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: May 5, 2008

"Strange as it may seem, 96 percent of the universe seems to be made of two ingredients that no one understands." This shining addition to the Scientists in the Field series focuses on astronomer Alex Filippenko, part of a team researching dark energy and dark matter in the universe. Jackson's clear, logically organized text provides appropriate background, introducing Filippenko as teacher and researcher and following him as he uses the Keck Observatory in Hawaii to find a supernova. One chapter discusses current thinking about the big bang theory and the composition of the universe, and the book concludes with a description of the scientist's day-to-day work at the Lick Observatory in California. Bishop's photographs and illustrations bring readers into Filippenko's world, while NASA photographs add to their sense of wonder. Special sections explain spectrographs, the electromagnetic spectrum, black holes and the measurement of time and light. Thoughtful design adds to the pleasure of this splendid invitation to explore darker corners of the universe. (bibliography, student and teacher resources, clubs and organizations, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10 & up)Read full book review >
THE WORLD AROUND US by Ellen Jackson
Released: Sept. 1, 2006

An imaginary space voyage is the device used to introduce seven planets and four moons of the solar system to middle-grade readers. Engaging informal diary entries are set on double-page spreads of photo-like illustrations. The spreads depict the traveler outlined as a cartoon character hitting a baseball, turning aerial somersaults, smelling an air sample, jetting among the rocks of Saturn's rings and swooshing in his rocket ship with "space-warp drive" before returning to earth, the only place providing humans with the water, food and air necessary to live. The backmatter includes fast facts (size, gravity, day, year, atmosphere, temperature and spacecraft visitors), a glossary, web sites and books for kids, as well as the author's bibliography and acknowledgments. While the information is up-to-date, the approach is superficial and occasionally misleading. Pair with Ken Crosswell's Ten Worlds (May 2006) or other titles that use actual photos and present their information straight, or save your money. (Nonfiction. 8-10)Read full book review >
EARTH MOTHER  by Ellen Jackson
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

A wry and cosmic look at the interdependence of all things, wonderfully illustrated by the inimitable Dillons. Earth Mother arises, sings a morning song and does her work: hanging green acorns on the trees; putting summer inside a flower seed; sending forth lightning and snow. She meets Man by the river, who thanks her for the delicious frogs that ease his hunger. But why, asks Man, does she torment him with "wretched Mosquito?" When Earth Mother encounters Frog, he thanks her for Mosquito, who fills his belly, and castigates Man, who catches and eats frogs. As she continues to the ocean depths and meadows, she meets Mosquito, who is grateful for Man, "tender and delicious," and wishes there were no more frogs. Each watercolor-and-colored pencil image has its frame broken by a plant that springs from the bottom of the page: thistle, lily, lotus, rose. Mother Earth's garments are a gown the color of rich earth and an ever-changing tunic with patterns of cloud or leaf or starfish or peacock feather or African kente cloth. Curvilinear and geometric patterns shape the illustrations as Earth Mother moves from the savannah to the snows, from falling rain to falling fireflies. Beautiful and satisfying; its own teachable moment. (Picture book. 4-9)Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2001

Faulkner's (Black Belt, not reviewed, etc.) art waxes more riotously exuberant than ever in Jackson's heavily modified Welsh folktale. Though Sam seems happy enough being a total doofus, the town gossip finally wears him down to the point of asking a "widder" conversant with "lotions and potions and whatnot," for some smarts. Brawny, brown-skinned, and distinctly larger than life, she sets to stirring up a huge pot of Glue Stew to stick Sam's brains together, sending him out for ingredients that she describes in impenetrable (to Sam, at least) riddles. Luckily, Sam has a riddle-solving friend in fresh-faced barnstormer Maizie Mae. Faulkner turns even the hills and buildings into interested spectators as Sam, a Hugh Grant lookalike, shuttles back and forth between the Widder's barber-pole-striped lighthouse and enlightening, increasingly romantic rendezvous with Maizie Mae. Finished at last, the Glue Stew spills gooily through town, bringing the young folk to a satisfying clinch in front of the church door. Belly laughs and bravos will punctuate every reading of this fresh, funny recasting. (Picture book/folktale. 7-9)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1998

PLB 0-8027-8469-0 It is hard not to get fussy and a bit sentimental when talking about wedding mores and customs, as is the case here. Jackson (The Book of Slime, 1997, etc.) is full of wonderful bits of wedding lore, from many different times and cultures, illustrated in exquisite detail by Heyer's richly colored portraits. She explains that white wasn't a traditional color for wedding dresses in the west until the 19th century (leaving out that it was because Queen Victoria wore white to her own wedding): Today, Norwegian brides may don green, and Arab brides red. Sharing food between bride and groom is nearly universal: Japanese couples eat from the same plate of rice, while other newlyweds bite into the same piece of candy. Rings, veils, attendants, and flowers are discussed, and the groom makes a mere cameo appearance. Gary Soto's Snapshots From the Wedding (1997) is more fun, but this will fit the bill for those looking for a drier, fact-based approach. (bibliography) (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-9) Read full book review >
THE BOOK OF SLIME by Ellen Jackson
Released: Feb. 1, 1997

``Slime is anything that is oily, greasy, goopy and gross,'' says Jackson (The Precious Gift, 1996, etc.) before she goes on to describe the function of some slime found in nature: egg white, protecting the yolk; frog eggs attached to plants, warming in the sun; human saliva, facilitating a host of processes (this last discussion—one page of the book—may be why the title is catalogued in 611 with human anatomy). Not content with slime in nature, the author continues with a discussion of ancient Aztec algae slime bread; a page of slime jokes; an activity (making slime in a sealed plastic lunch bag); a recipe for slime pie; and a gross story. Jackson loads her text with short, expressive words: mucky, yucky, squirmy, grimy gunk. The scientific information is interesting but superficial; this is not the definitive text on slime, but a complement to such standards as Vicki Cobb's Gobs of Goo (1983). Apt illustrations—phlegmy fingers dripping goo, snails on a knife edge—complete the intentionally odious presentation. Place this book with its green and black slimy cover face-out and it will simply ooze off the shelves. (bibliography) (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-10) Read full book review >
THE PRECIOUS GIFT by Ellen Jackson
Released: April 1, 1996

``When the first people came from the underworld, it is said they came up through a reed in the ocean'' are the words of the strange and beautiful beginning of this strange and beautiful Navaho creation myth. The first people have no water; different animals volunteer to go back to the underworld and fetch some, but all of them fail and all are punished; only the snail succeeds in bringing back one drop of water. From this drop, First Man makes a river. This is truly a new world, and the gouache illustrations live up to all the expectations raised by Jackson (Brown Cow, Green Grass, Yellow Mellow Sun, 1995, etc.) in her fluid, haunting text (for which she provides sources in her author's note). The palette is dominated by the warm orange-yellows of the desert and the cool green-blues of the ocean; what is singular about Hubbard's style is the idiosyncratic shapes into which all the creatures are transformed- -oddly flat and amorphous and then shaded to give the effect of wafer-like thickness. These colorful, swirling compositions and the eloquent text will surely enrapture readers and listeners alike. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: April 17, 1995

Yellow mellow sunlight makes the green grass grow tall. A big brown cow eats the grass and gives white, white milk. The milk goes into Granny's churn and the story comes full circle with yellow mellow butter. This simple lesson from Jackson (Cinder Edna, Lothrop, 1994, etc.) features bold three-dimensional farm scenes by first-time illustrator Raymond; originally sculpted out of a modeling compound, the highly textured pictures were then photographed. Adding to the appeal is the rhythmic text that fairly dances across the pages in a variety of fanciful typefaces. Parents and preschool teachers alike might want to try the recipe for pancakes and directions for homemade butter in the back of the book. It's all quite bright and joyfully brief. (Picture book. 2-6) Read full book review >
CINDER EDNA by Ellen Jackson
Released: April 1, 1994

One of two new takes on a tale that feminists justly find problematic (see also Minters, below). This prose update recounts the parallel stories of a wimpy traditional Cinderella and her assertive, sensible neighbor Edna, who has wicked stepsisters too but enjoys the competence acquired from her work and earns extra cash with outside jobs—so that when the invitation arrives she already has a suitable ball dress on layaway. Wearing her comfortable loafers, she takes the bus to the palace and enjoys dancing and trading jokes with the prince's brother Rupert, a proponent of recycling who's smart enough to get Edna's name, much facilitating his later search for her. Poor Cinderella ends up bored with her handsome but vacuous prince while Edna and Rupert enjoy a modest but productive life, ``happily ever after.'' O'Malley's satirical characterizations and lively compositions are right in the spirit of the entertaining story. (Picture book. 5-10) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 30, 1992

He may be fuzzy and appealing in Chartier's gentle watercolors, but Boris is a quintessential bore: when he isn't talking about himself, he's meandering through the inconsequential (``...they don't make tin cans the way they used to...I remember a tin of sardines I found in '83. Or was it '84?''). Abandoned by his acquaintances, he's captured by a hungry wolf; but while the pot comes to a boil, Boris makes a fortuitous discovery: inquiring about the wolf's teeth and fur (``Do you blow-dry it?''), he gets him talking about himself- -charming the wolf into thinking him fascinating. Whether or not it prompts embarrassed self-appraisal, the comical dialogue here is as much fun as the deft caricatures in the well-crafted art. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >