Books by Emily Arnold McCully

DREAMING IN CODE by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: March 12, 2019

"A sophisticated yet accessible piece that humanizes a tragic, brilliant dreamer. (source notes, glossary, bibliography, index [not seen]) (Biography. 10-14)"
A biography of Ada Lovelace, widely celebrated as the first computer programmer. Read full book review >
SHE DID IT! by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: Nov. 6, 2018

"Despite its not insignificant flaws, this book provides insights into the lives of important women, many of whom have otherwise yet to be featured in nonfiction for young readers. (sources) (Collective biography. 10-14)"
Caldecott Medalist McCully delves into the lives of extraordinary American women. Read full book review >
MIN MAKES A MACHINE by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: July 17, 2018

"STEAM-y early-reader fun. (Early reader. 5-7)"
This early reader has a resourceful elephant girl at its center. Read full book review >
A PROMISING LIFE by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: July 25, 2017

"A slow read with an emphasis placed on the 'benefits' of Jean's Christianized education and a focus that glosses over the genocide that occurred among Native American people. (Historical fiction. 12-16)"
Jean Baptiste Charbonneau was born to a Frenchman, Toussaint, and a Shoshone woman, Sakakawea, who assisted Lewis and Clark on their legendary expedition. Read full book review >
CAROLINE'S COMETS by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: March 1, 2017

"An inspiring tale of scientific discovery despite obstacles, with a feminist point of view. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)"
Look up at the stars…. Read full book review >
PETE LIKES BUNNY by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: Oct. 1, 2016

"This solid beginning reader in picture-book format offers a sympathetic take on a seldom-discussed situation. (Picture book/early reader. 5-8)"
McCully's newest addition to the I Like to Read series is a fresh take on a common school experience: a first crush. Read full book review >
Released: June 7, 2016

"For all its problematic nature, a sweetly portrayed relationship. (author's note, resources) (Picture book. 5-8)"
An orphaned rhinoceros, acquired by a Dutch sea captain in India, captivates 18th-century Europe during her 17-year continental tour. Read full book review >
PETE MAKES A MISTAKE by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"A mistake to celebrate. (Early reader. 5-7)"
Pete's invitation mishap nearly ruins Rose Pig's party, but he corrects his mistake just in time. Read full book review >
3, 2, 1, GO! by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: May 1, 2015

"A sure hit. (Early reader. 3-8)"
In the newest of her early readers, McCully (Little Ducks Go, 2014) nails a common childhood scenario: a twosome is playing school and won't let a third play. Read full book review >
QUEEN OF THE DIAMOND by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: Feb. 17, 2015

"Readers will root for Lizzie all the way. (author's note, sources) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)"
A very determined girl in turn-of-the-20th-century Rhode Island decides that she will play baseball. Read full book review >
STRONGHEART by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: Nov. 11, 2014

"While it's laudable that McCully has ensured this story isn't lost to the annals of history, it's not her strongest visual or written work. (Picture book. 6-10)"
Caldecott medalist McCully sheds light on a forgotten pioneer. Read full book review >
IDA M. TARBELL by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: July 8, 2014

"Though Tarbell rejected the term, this will appeal primarily to those interested in the history of muckraking journalism. (source notes, bibliography, photo credits, index not seen) (Nonfiction. 12-16)"
A female journalist takes on the behemoth Standard Oil and its powerful founder, John D. Rockefeller, changing both reporting and business regulation. Read full book review >
LITTLE DUCKS GO by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: March 15, 2014

"Very few readers will remain unmoved as that mother duck runs from grating to grating, trying to catch a glimpse of her children; everyone loves a duck. (Early reader. 3-8)"
This tale of duckling rescue has a surprisingly large cast for a 32-page picture book. Read full book review >
DARE THE WIND by Tracey Fern
Released: Feb. 18, 2014

"As stimulating as sea air itself, this story will surely send the salt water coursing through the veins of its readers. (author's note, glossary) (Picture book. 5-10)"
A lively, true story about a 19th-century woman and the 15,000-mile sailing journey she navigated. Read full book review >
PETE WON'T EAT  by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: Sept. 1, 2013

"New readers will eat this up. (Early reader. 5-7)"
This charmer of an early reader presents an ironic twist on the tried-and-true picky-eater character by casting him as a pig. Read full book review >
SAM AND THE BIG KIDS by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: April 1, 2013

"While this may open the door for discussion, the lack of a real conclusion may leave readers unsatisfied. (Easy reader. 4-7)"
Can there be a positive side to a pesky little brother who won't leave his big sister and her friend to their play? Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 15, 2012

"The earnest puppy doesn't chart any new territory, but cute little ones who want to be helpful like the big guys have a natural and enduring appeal to the preschool set. (Picture book. 3-7)"
A simple, old-fashioned story about a puppy adjusting to life on a family farm is complemented by sweetly nostalgic watercolor illustrations from Caldecott Medalist McCully. Read full book review >
BALLERINA SWAN by Allegra Kent
Released: April 15, 2012

"An enchanting tale for all, especially for lovers of ballet. Read the story, play the music and applaud. (Picture book. 3-8)"
A beautiful swan realizes her dream of dancing when cast in Swan Lake. Read full book review >
Released: March 6, 2012

"To balance this perspective, pair this with Mummies, Bones, and Body Parts, by Charlotte Wilcox (2000). (Picture book. 6-10)"
Maeve and her grandpa find an Irish bog mummy when they are out cutting peat. Read full book review >
LATE NATE IN A RACE by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: March 1, 2012

"Once readers have tackled the words, this story deflates with alarming celerity. (Picture book/early reader. 4-8)"
McCully's beginning reader demonstrates that it takes more than words to make a story. Read full book review >
THE SECRET CAVE by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: Sept. 14, 2010

Part Hardy Boys, part archeology, this mesmerizing look at the discovery of the prehistoric cave paintings of Lascaux invites today's readers to experience the wonder of the event. McCully has written and drawn a stunning fictionalized account based on historical records and interviews. The endpapers entice with the rendering of the maps of the caves, and soft, wide watercolor strokes capture the essence of the prehistoric art. When the action is aboveground, the realistic illustrations are her characteristic ink-and-watercolor style, but below the ground the edges soften and the images become shadowy and mysterious. The Caldecott winner gets the emotions of the secret descent for buried treasure just right, drawing readers' eyes down the tight shaft to the light of the first boy's lantern in the large art-filled chamber. In one glorious wordless spread, the boys (and readers) are filled with awe at the revelation of the pristine art. What to do with this knowledge? The boys know just whom to trust. Budding historians will be amazed by this story of curiosity and serendipity. (author's note, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
Released: June 22, 2010

A fictionalized account of the story of Doc Key and his famous horse Jim Key. Born a slave, Doc became known as a doctor to humans even before Emancipation. After the Civil War, he developed a bestselling liniment for both humans and animals. In an era when animals, especially horses, were often treated cruelly, Doc campaigned for kindness and understanding. He raised Jim Key, an orphan foal, from birth; recognizing Jim's intelligence and desire to please, he began to teach him the alphabet. Over several years the horse learned letters, numbers and colors and even to add and subtract. Doc and Jim traveled around the country on exhibition, including at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, always emphasizing the importance of kindness to animals. McCully's liquid illustrations make this book a delight to look at and invest Jim with considerable personality. However, she makes one misleading claim: The text says plainly that Harvard professors examined Jim in Doc's absence, but the endnote says that they probably only watched his usual performance. Jim's talents were marvelous enough that they don't need this embellishment, which, sadly, detracts. (bibliography) (Picture book. 6-10) Read full book review >
GUTTERSNIPE by Jane Cutler
Released: May 8, 2009

Ben's mother works overtime at the factory and takes in boarders. His older brother and sister work at several jobs. So Ben resolves to help too and takes an after-school job delivering hat linings on his boss's bicycle. But an encounter with a streetcar causes a near disaster, only averted by a magical moment that leads to hope and new beginnings. Both the text and McCully's lovely illustrations depict a nostalgic, glowing recollection of an early-20th-century Canadian city. Everything is bright and clean, and Ben and his family seem cheerful and positive. Or is that only how Ben sees things until he hears the pejorative title word directed at him? But readers don't see the harsh realities either, defusing the magic of Ben's small miracle. The drama is actually in the tone of author's note, in which Cutler indicates that Ben's tale is based on the severe hardship and poverty her father experienced in his childhood and his determination to make a better life. Would she had developed that into a story instead of writing this fable. (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 6, 2008

In this incredible true story, a poor Japanese boy, through fate and enterprise, bridges the cultural gap between Japan and America at a time when Japan was isolated from the world. In 1841, 14-year-old Manjiro and four other fishermen became castaways on a desert island for six months until rescued by an American whaling ship. The resourceful, adaptable Manjiro soon became Captain Whitfield's favorite, eventually returning to Fairhaven, Mass., where Whitfield educated and mentored him. Initially regarded as a foreigner, the enterprising Manjiro became a popular, respected member of the community, but never forgot his family in Japan. He subsequently worked on a whaling ship and in the California gold rush to save enough money to return to his native land, where he was instrumental in teaching Japan about America. The historically rich text and the realistic watercolor illustrations capture Manjiro's life and times—both in Japan and New England—making this a first-rate introduction to a relatively unknown young figure in Japanese-American relations. (author's note, map, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-11) Read full book review >
Released: July 15, 2008

In 1814, young Alice Cogswell captivated her next-door neighbor, Thomas Gallaudet, with her intelligence and spirit, although the child could neither hear nor speak. He taught her letters, words and reading and then traveled to Europe to study other ways of teaching deaf children. Gallaudet brought Laurent Clerc, a deaf teacher from France, to Connecticut, and together they founded what is now known as the American School for the Deaf, where Alice was the first pupil. McCully's supple ink-and-watercolor illustrations render interiors, landscape and human emotion with deft precision. She is, as well, both graceful and informative in the text, shaping complicated information into clear and resonant language. Excerpts from Alice's letters to Gallaudet are not only charming but heartbreaking, as she navigates both the language and the distance between them. Unfortunately, too much dialogue is unsourced, particularly that directed at Alice, leaving important questions unanswered; the text does not address the difficulty of communicating complex concepts in writing or pantomime to a deaf child in the absence of a signed language. (author's note, biblography) (Informational picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
CAT JUMPED IN! by Tess Weaver
Released: Nov. 19, 2007

Weaver and McCully offer an amusing twist on the saying "curiosity killed the cat," with few words, but lots of animated artwork that details the funny feline frenzy. When "someone" leaves the kitchen window open, a black-and-white cat jumps inside and dives into the garbage bin after a fishy smell. But "someone" orders him OUT! Instead, the cat dashes into a closet and leaps up to swat a hat with feathers, causing the shelf to crash. "Cat? OUT!" Upstairs he races, sniffing fancy bottles on the dresser, pokes back at another cat (seeing himself in the mirror), and everything falls down. "Cat? OUT!" But the studio door is open and when the cat's paint-daubed paws accidentally create a painting on the floor, it's the last straw. "Someone" opens her arms and the cat jumps in. Each incident is backlit with white space as McCully's signature watercolors vigorously create the cat chaos. Human and feline foibles are spot-on with a purring finish: That "someone" isn't seen until the last page. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

The adorable little white cat with green eyes is back. In the second of a projected series, Violet (Cynthia Coppersmith's Violet Comes to Stay, 2006) has an exciting experience when her owner takes her to the country to visit her aunt and uncle at their farm. Violet's curiosity leads to encounters with a mother hen, a spilled milk bucket and a big white dog that end up with her getting in non-cat person Uncle Leo's way and annoying him. When Violet gets stranded up a tree, it's Uncle Leo who rescues her. To thank him, she nudges his leg and jumps on his lap, and Uncle Leo announces, "Never was much of a cat person, but I could make an exception for you." Violet responds by purring—loudly. McCully's watercolor illustrations depict realistic and charming rural scenes that lend substance to the story line. Less pious than the first, Violet will appeal to cat fanciers. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2007

Just in time for Washington's Birthday comes this tale of young Oney Judge, personal slave to Martha Washington, and her quest for freedom. Although Martha treats her well, saying she's "become like another of our children," Oney knows better and longs to control her own destiny. When the Presidential household moves to Philadelphia and Oney sees free blacks for the first time, she begins to imagine that this might be a possibility—and eventually steals her freedom, escaping north. McCully doesn't pull many punches, explaining that Oney's favored position in the Washington household is because of her light skin, and revealing a vain, self-satisfied Mrs. Washington. The story is rendered in the Caldecott Medalist's signature delicate watercolors, which revel in the swags and flounces of period detail. Oney herself is a slight, be-freckled figure who gazes out from under her mobcap with determination and pride. Straightforward and unapologetic in delivery, this offering stands as a noteworthy effort to add complexity to the mythology surrounding the country's first president—a mythology rarely leavened with unpleasant truth for readers this young. Gutsy—and very nicely done. (author's note, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-10)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2006

Three adorable kittens are born in a kitchen pantry. Their mother explains that their game playing is really training to kill mice, which is their job. Violet is the last kitten chosen, first by the plant nurseryman, then the bakery woman. But each time, Violet remembers Mom's mousing rules too late: prowl quietly, plan your leap carefully and pounce boldly. Both times when she's brought back, her mother tells her, "God has a plan for each of us." In her third home, a bookstore with a nice lady named Alice, Violet finally catches a mouse but lets it escape. "Mice are nuisances," comforts Alice, "but they're God's creatures, too. We'll find other ways of keeping them out." McCully's style of quick-sketch lines and realistic scenes are charming and convey the affectionate tone of the text. The title will be puzzling for people unfamiliar with Jan Karon's Mitford Years series: "Cynthia Coppersmith" is a main character in those novels, who writes and illustrates books about her cat, Violet. First of an intended series about Violet that will, no doubt, continue the pious messages. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
Released: March 6, 2006

A fictionalized biography introduces children to an enterprising 19th-century mill girl who invented, among other things, a machine to make square-bottomed brown-paper bags. McCully presents in Mattie Knight the very quintessence of Yankee ingenuity, a mechanical girl who makes an improved sled and sells them to the local children. At 12, in Manchester, N.H., she invents a device to prevent shuttles from flying dangerously off the looms, and she never looks back. Mattie's stick-to-itiveness carries her through years of painstaking work and a threat to her patent rights as she makes her way as a woman inventor and entrepreneur. From the lovingly painted redbrick mills to the panels at the bottom of the pages that show Mattie's sketches as she moves through life (including a facsimile of her actual patent drawings), it's a beautiful looking book. The storytelling, however, falls short of the illustrations, clumsily rendered invented dialogue dragging the text down. As a portrait of a little-known independent woman, however, it deserves attention, though it is a pity that the bibliography doesn't point readers to such child-oriented works as Girls Think of Everything by Catherine Thimmesh (2000). (Picture book. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 16, 2006

The skies over the Irish countryside are clouding up: A rainbow is on the way. Leprechauns Ari, Boo and Col have a job to do. Despite the fact that no one ever finds their pot of gold, they must hide it at the end of the rainbow when it appears, because that's what leprechauns do. As they scurry down the country road, Ari, Boo and Col try to resist the temptation to do mischief (something everyone knows leprechauns do too). They just can't pass Mrs. Ballybunion's cow without painting her hooves red. They can't pass a stray tennis ball that, if found under a chicken, would confound Miss Maude Murphy. They complete their appointed task, and make it back in time to have a laugh at Miss Murphy's expense. This nice, if unnecessary, addition to St. Patrick's Day literature is a good introduction to the holiday's wee fairy symbols. Caldecott-winner McCully's sprightly watercolors bring prolific Bunting's cut-and-dried story to life. (Picture book. 4-9)Read full book review >
NORA’S ARK by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
Released: July 1, 2005

Grandma didn't want a new house: "That new house is just gravy." When Wren asks her what she means, Grandma says that though potatoes with gravy tastes good, you don't need the gravy: " . . . and I don't need that new house. I like living here." Nevertheless, Grandpa keeps on building. Good thing, too, because along comes the Vermont flood of 1927 and the new house is on high ground. Neighbors with their animals—chickens, horses, pigs—all fit in, but Grandpa is nowhere to be found. Wren and her grandma take the boat and struggle through water filled with everything from furniture to dead animals. They find him in a tree along with a cow wedged in the crook of it, the floating cow having saved him. Three days later, the water goes down, but the hoofprints from all the animals stay on the floor of the new house, which Grandpa dubs an ark. Watercolors enliven a well-told adventure with a sense of the period and terrific characterizations of the people and animals. An author's note describes the historical flood. (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
SQUIRREL AND JOHN MUIR by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: Sept. 10, 2004

Caldecott Medalist McCully again successfully creates a narrative that pairs a rambunctious girl character with a fascinating historical figure. This inventive tale brings the personage of naturalist John Muir to life. In 1868, James Hutchings began a tourist business in the beautiful Yosemite Valley in 1868, and his daughter Floy was the first white child born in the valley. At six, her wild behavior of tearing around the valley, balancing on the woodpile plank, and capturing frogs earned her the nickname Squirrel. When John Muir arrived at Hutchings's hotel seeking both work and knowledge about the natural world, Floy became his shadow, entranced by the wonders of nature that he showed her. The ending has Muir moving on but sharing his special place in the mountains, with her. McCully's familiar watercolors beautifully capture the scenery while the simple text conveys the bond between the unlikely pair. A two-page author's note provides historical background (Floy died tragically). A lovely tribute to the gentle genius of the Sierras that gives dimension to the man and respect to his name. (bibliography) (Picture book/historical fiction. 5-8)Read full book review >
WHAT DO ANGELS WEAR? by Eileen Spinelli
Released: Oct. 1, 2003

Spinelli takes a hoary cliché—the rhymed picture book—and turns it into a lovely, lilting paean to childhood and play. Mama tucks a child into bed who asks, "Tell me this, can angels fly?" Mama responds to each of the child's questions: angels sing "like birds in spring" and in answer to the title question, "Flowing flower-printed smocks, / And in winter, woolen socks." And what angels these are: sturdy angels that are really a gaggle of multi-ethnic children with wings, dancing, playing ("They play wave-to-every-car"), baking. Are angels real? "Real as love and wind and light, / Real as Mama's kiss good night." Caldecott-winner McCully's angels tumble on clouds, in starry night skies, through the rain and into pear orchards: blond, brunette, redhead; brown, pink, and caramel; wearing glasses, playing instruments, each with their own pair of small white wings. Dulcet and delicious—a charming bedtime story. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
PICNIC by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: April 1, 2003

In what promises to be the first of a series of do-overs, McCully offers repainted, but by-and-large identical, illustrations and a brief text for an originally wordless offering from 1984. Once again a multitudinous mouse clan piles into the pickup and jounces off down a country road for a pond-side picnic. But "no one sees Little Bitty fall off the truck," or notices the missing sib until considerably later. Switching back and forth between the family and its stranded member, McCully shows the latter becoming more self-confident as the former grows more frantic. But the hue and cry ends in a happy reunion, and it's "picnic time at last!" The added words, which are mostly snatches of dialogue or song, are more distraction than enhancement (the original was perfect in its wordlessness), but it's good to have this sprightly family adventure available again, and in a larger format, too. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 23, 2002

A celebration of the seasons by a veteran author and a Caldecott Medalist (Mirette on the High Wire, 1992). Two piglets romp and rollick throughout the months, from skiing in January to feasting in November (of course) and giving presents in December. The rhyme is simple and unvaried throughout, just right for a very young child to join in the fun. April's verse: "Sing a song of gardening, / digging with a hoe. / Pull the weeds / and plant the seeds / and watch the flowers grow." Lazy August suggests, "Sing a song of reading, / lying in the shade, / Chapter Three, / you read to me! / And pass the lemonade." McCully's fine line and pastel illustrations are energetic with an excellent eye at setting the scene. The month's title and verse are seamlessly incorporated within each double spread. Charming, buoyant, and year-round fun. (Picture book/poetry. 2-5)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

The War of 1812 is the period setting for this transitional chapter book from Caldecott Medalist McCully (The Orphan Singer, 2001, etc.). The story is based on a wartime incident that occurred in the Maryland coastal town of St. Michaels. McCully utilizes the facts about an invasion of British troops along with a legend of the townspeople hanging lanterns from roofs and treetops to trick the British into missing their targets. She uses several real military men as characters and invents an independent girl named Caroline and her friend Robert as her main characters. Caroline can run "faster than anyone else in town under fifteen," putting her talent and fearless nature to good effect several times by running messages between commanders and running the flag back to town during a battle. McCully does a fine job of making the battle scene exciting without glorifying war or violence, and the devices of running messages and hanging the lanterns give Caroline and Robert a real part in the military maneuvers. McCully's watercolor illustrations are full of interesting uniforms and period details, and she deftly handles the challenge of illustrating many scenes that occur at night. One rather jarring aspect of her art is Caroline's unexplained short-cropped hair, which perhaps is intended to reflect her unconventional nature, but which is out of place with the time period. (author's note) (Easy reader. 6-9)Read full book review >
KATIE’S WISH by Barbara Shook Hazen
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

The Irish potato famine of the 1840s, as seen through a little girl's eyes. Young Katie misses her Da, who left Ireland to go to Boston more than two Christmases ago. Most of what she eats at Grand Da's is potatoes, not with milk and onion and butter, as Mam used to make, but plain boiled. Katie wishes the potatoes away, and is horrified when they begin to turn black and mushy. Katie believes it is her fault, and guilt gnaws at her like the hunger, especially when Grannie takes sick and they have to sell Pig. But Da sends money for Katie to come to America, and she and her cousin Brian take that cramped and tumultuous voyage. When she arrives and Da takes her to her aunt's home, her fear and guilt come tumbling out at the sight of Aunt Meg's potatoes, made like Mam's. Her father soothes her and assures her it isn't her fault; words cannot make bad things happen. While the resolution is a bit pat, the famine is put in terms that small children can understand, and they will recognize Katie's fear. Her grandparents' cottage, the verdant and stricken land, the miserable trip to Galway and then across the ocean, and finally her reunion with her Da are rendered by Caldecott-winner McCully (Mirette on the High Wire, 1991) in fine soft pictures, a misty-moisty, gray-and-green palette, brightened by Katie's—and her father's—red hair. (author's note) (Picture book/historical fiction. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2002

The author and illustrator of this groundbreaking 1973 portrait of an interracial family (Adoff and his wife, the late Virginia Hamilton, were the models) reunite for this updated overhaul. "Black is brown is tan / is girl is boy / is nose is / face / is all / the / colors / of the race . . ." Two children reflect on brown and white as they cover a daily domestic round, from jumping into the parental bed in the morning to "singing songs / in / singing night" on a moonlit porch, conveying in each verse a consciousness of color, but a far stronger sense of family closeness. The illustrations follow suit, showing the children with parents, grandparents, and relatives, working, playing, being together. And just as Adoff has reshaped the lines without changing the words, so McCully has plainly worked from her originals in placing and posing her figures, though the pictures are redone in a larger size, the family lives in a different house with modern details, and the father is now blond. As the number of interracial families goes up but their representation in picture books remains vanishingly slight, this fresh rendition still makes a cogent statement. (Picture book/poetry. 4-7)Read full book review >
THE ORPHAN SINGER by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: Nov. 1, 2001

Vivaldi's Venice is the scene for this somewhat melodramatic story of sacrifice for the greater good. Young Antonio Dolci has great talent as a singer, but the Dolcis have so little money they cannot afford lessons. When his sister Nina is born, Antonio's parents are determined to give her a better life. With breaking hearts they drop her into the infant drawer at the orphanage, where foundling girls with talent receive the best musical training in Europe. Now known as Caterina, Nina is not allowed outside its walls. Her voice is one of the best in the orphanage and she joins the chorus at a young age. On visiting day the Dolci family is always there pretending to be strangers. When the family does not appear one day, Caterina is worried. At last, Papa Dolci arrives to tell her that Antonio is seriously ill and may die. Desperate to see him, and knowing he will become well if he hears her sing, she slips out of the orphanage late at night, manages to tell a sleepy gondolier the address she remembered, and appears at the Dolci home to sing to Antonio. He gets well and the family is there to hear her debut with the choir. Caterina becomes a famous opera star and never forgets the Dolcis, for she has "long ago guessed the truth." Full-color watercolor-and-tempura paintings are framed in pastel colors with a marbleized effect reminiscent of the elegant papers for which Italy is famous. The two double-paged spreads, however, are not framed, creating a jarring effect to the design. Venetian scenes and costumes are magical both by day and night, but the figures are somewhat indistinct, at times giving a muddled look to the pictures. A sweet tale that will appeal to readers who enjoy fairy tales. (author's note) (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

Caldecott winner McCully (Mirette on the Highwire, 1992, etc.) adds another to her stories and pictures of Pip's grandmas in I Can Read format. This one, in three chapters, can easily be handled by a new reader. Pip's Grandma Nan swoops in on Halloween to whisk Pip into an angel costume, but that isn't what Pip had chosen—a pencil costume is her own design. Then Grandma Sal scares them all, coming to the door completely wrapped in bandages. So both grandmas take Pip (penciled in this time) and her buddies out trick-or-treating, Grandma Nan insisting that the children be polite and not play tricks, Grandma Sal opting for being scary. The kids try ditching the grandmas, but are threatened by pirate Bertha, who tries to steal their treats. Bertha is shooed away by two monsters who look much like grandmas, and all ends well. The illustrations are full of autumn-leaf colors, deepening shadows, and lots of orange and black. The two grandmas could scarcely be more of a contrast: grayed and angular Grandma Nan wears pumpkin earrings, a miniskirt, tights, and boots; Grandma Sal, who never gets out of her bandages, is rounder, cheerier, and has white curly hair. As usual, there's room for both. A real treat. (Easy reader. 5-8)Read full book review >
THE FIELD OF THE DOGS by Katherine Paterson
Released: March 31, 2001

Talking dogs and nasty bullies make odd yet compatible bedfellows in Paterson's intriguing and eccentric new novel. Josh, who was forced to move from Virginia to Vermont when his mother remarried, hates the cold, snowy climate and is ill at ease with his new stepfather and baby brother. But his major problem is that he's being bullied by his neighbor Wes, a big kid who "grabbed him and stuffed snow down his jacket." While searching for his dog Manch in the woods, Josh hears "wild, not quite human laughter." He stops to investigate and what he discovers amazes him. Manch is having a real conversation with several doggy buddies. Hiding behind a tree, Josh eavesdrops and learns that these pooches are being tormented by a pack of larger dogs who call themselves the River Gang. Meanwhile, in the human world, Wes continues to persecute Josh. The story of Josh and Manch intersect when Wes tells Josh that he must bring him the collar from a huge Weimaraner, who happens to be none other than the biggest, meanest dog in the River Gang. Paterson smoothly and proficiently cranks up the pressure for both boy and dog as Josh struggles to solve their interconnected problem. The ending, despite some credibility problems, is satisfying and rather touching, though this book lacks the emotional fire and complexity of Paterson's best work. Still, an imaginative blend of a what-if (dogs could talk) and a problem novel (on how to tame a bully). (Fiction. 8-10)Read full book review >
FOUR HUNGRY KITTENS by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: March 1, 2001

Caldecott winner McCully's latest effort is a wordless book in which a family of barnyard kittens explores its surroundings while they wait for Mama to feed them. The caring family dog looks after them when their explorations lead to trouble. Hungry, two of them fall into the milk can and a predatory bird threatens all of them when they venture outdoors. But the watchful dog's barking scares the bird, alerts the farmer, and brings attention to the fact that mother cat cannot reach her babies because she is locked in a storeroom. The dog even offers the kittens a bone when he realizes they are hungry. The happy ending sees Mama's release from the storeroom with a mouse for kitties' meal and then a cozy snuggle for all, including the dog. This pleasant story about caring relationships lacks a strong illustrative narrative. The cat-family relationship is not clearly established before the action takes place. Mother cat appears in the frontispiece with the kittens, but when the story begins after the title page, there is no indication that she is out hunting food for them. McCully's watercolors, particularly those depicting the barn are dark, making it difficult to discern the details. The movement back and forth from the adventures of the kittens to the actions of the mother cat could be confusing. A nice story, but one that may need lots of prompting from adults for the young child to "read" by herself. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2000

Feisty Mirette and Bellini have another high-wire adventure, this time at Niagara Falls, where they face dastardly treachery, but come through with skill and courage. Mirette and Bellini cross the ocean first class, as befits their fame and talent, but Mirette befriends Jakob, a boy in steerage who admires the tightrope walkers as they practice on deck. Jakob, an orphan, is traveling to New York City to live with an uncle. When the uncle does not arrive at Ellis Island, Bellini and Mirette vouch for him and take him to Niagara Falls so that he is not returned to his native land. There, Jakob is instrumental in uncovering the plot of the wicked Mr. Patch, a rival wirewalker, who sabotages Bellini's tight rope and almost causes the death of both performers. The happy ending includes triumph for Bellini, disgrace for Patch, the reunion of Jakob and his uncle, and the hint that Jakob will return in future adventures. McCully's watercolor and pastel illustrations are better than the plot. Depictions of life on the ship, at Niagara Falls, and on Ellis Island give the historical context and an interesting background to the plot. Balloon insertions give detail in the larger scenes and effectively extend the story. A weak addition to the series. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
TEN GO TANGO by Arthur Dorros
Released: April 30, 2000

From waltzing walruses to rhinos doing the rumba, an eclectic collection of light-footed animals shake and shimmy their way through the numbers one to ten in this counting book and primer of basic dances. Feet will be tapping to the lively tempo of rhyming verses as various creatures take to the floor. One osprey attired in a tutu begins the tale, dancing ballet. Next come a pair of two-stepping toucans. On it goes, right through to ten flamingos doing the tango. The story concludes with a gate-fold illustration opening up to reveal a spectacular scene of the entire group cutting a rug together on the overflowing dance floor. Each featured number stands out, brightly colored and filling nearly three-quarters the height of the page. Readers have plenty of opportunities to practice their counting as Dorros (The Fungus that Ate My School, 2000) cleverly incorporates the numbers into the dance steps, "3 bears begin to cha-cha. / 1,2,3, cha, cha, cha." McCully's (Monk Camps Out, 2000) vividly hued watercolors are uproariously funny. The juxtaposition of elegantly attired creatures, earnestly whirling about with an occasional hoof, tusk, or antennae showing will keep readers in stitches. Get ready to polish those dancing shoes because it is virtually impossible to sit still through a reading of this exuberant tale. One tremendously fun introduction to numbers. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
MONK CAMPS OUT by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: April 1, 2000

Monk's first camping experience is difficult, especially for his parents. When Monk decides that tonight is perfect for his first camp out in the back yard, his doting parents agree, but need his reassurance that he'll be OK. When he has trouble pitching his tent, they help "only a little." Monk isn't home for dinner, so they bring him some camp grub in a lunch box. Dinner is lonely, and the evening is long. They just have to give him a good night hug and kiss and stay up until he decides to come in. Meanwhile, Monk is having a fine time and rejects his parents' suggestion that he come inside. During the night, Monk wakes up and needs his mitt. His parents who have been sleeping in their living room wake up and need to make sure he's all right. In a delightful two-page spread, McCully (Outlaw Thanksgiving, 1998) shows Monk coming into the front door, as his parents are going out the side door. They all trade places. Monk sleeps in his mother's chair. His parents sleep outside the tent and when they meet in the morning Monk proudly announces that he camped out all night by himself. Parents will enjoy reading this affectionate view of their concerns about the growing independence of their offspring. Younger children will like the story and the older ones will get the inside joke. McCully's pen and ink and watercolor illustrations tell the story with humor and charm and round out the spare text. (Picture book. 46)Read full book review >
HURRY! by Harry Hartwick
Released: April 1, 2000

There's an elegiac quality to this gentle tale that takes place in a small town in Iowa on a Thursday afternoon in August of 1916. Tom Elson looks into the eyes of a mysterious animal, the farivox, and decides that he wants this animal more than he's ever wanted anything. The farivox is said to be a rare animal, possibly extinct, that can talk in a human like voice. "Hurry!" Tom is sure he hears the farivox say, as he runs off to get the money to buy him. But Tom never sees the farivox again, for it is gone, just as if it had "dried up and been blown away by the hot August wind, like dust on one of Iowa's long dirt roads." Framed by stories of the demise of the passenger pigeon and other vanished species, the story holds out the hope that in some remote corner animals thought to be lost may linger on, and that someone, someday, may hear one of them whisper "Hurry." McCully's (Monk Camps Out, p. 480) luminous watercolors provide a perfect complement to this well-told tale that despite, or perhaps partly because of, its old-fashioned ambience and carefully paced telling, conveys the irrevocability of loss and gives added urgency to the meaning of "hurry." (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

Into a true account of an unusual 1896 Thanksgiving McCully (Beautiful Warrior, 1998, etc.) inserts Clara Maher and her mother, traveling from New York to Utah to join Clara's father before they go on to California. Early in the adventure, Clara spots a wanted poster for Butch Cassidy_a man who never kills anyone, and who gives to the needy, according to a newsboy. When the train is snowbound, the passengers have to take shelter in hotels until the tracks are cleared. Clara and her mother travel by sleigh to Brown's Hole, Utah, where a group of friendly ranchers serves a splendid Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, oyster dressing, olives, fresh tomatoes, and crispy lettuce are on the menu, and the presence of fresh produce (to readers) in such a frozen landscape is more surprising than the presence of Butch Cassidy, one of the hosts, recognized only by Clara. He gives Clara a wink and a silver dollar, which she says she will treasure. Several days later, when the snow is cleared from the tracks, the outlaws take Clara and her mother back to the train and they continue westward. McCully concludes with a note on the historical basis for the tale. The snowy watercolor illustrations are charming as are the many illustrations of warm and friendly outlaws; the story may be predictable, but it includes moments of exhilarating adventure. (map) (Fiction. 8-10) Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1998

From McCully (Popcorn at the Palace, p. 1225, etc.), a well- wrought story of two 17th-century Chinese women that opens with the birth of a baby girl whose steady gaze inspires her father to name her Jingyong, ``Quiet Courage.'' She is taught as a son would be, developing her qi, or vital energy, to such an extent that she wins a place as a Buddhist nun in the Shaolin Monastery, as well as a new name, Wu Mei, or ``beautiful warrior.'' The embodiment of the notion that inner strength defeats brute force, she helps Mingyi Wang, a village bean-curd seller, avoid marriage to the leader of a gang of thugs through the teaching of kung fu. Into regular emissions of wisdom McCully blends plenty of humor, some of which is calculated to speak to youngsters (Wu Mei is happy to teach kung fu to the young men who come to the monastery, provided they ``didn't just want to beat somebody up''), while some is more appealing to an adult sensibility: ``Kung fu takes a lifetime to learn,'' Wu Mei tells Mingyi, ``but this is an emergency. So I will give you a crash course. It will take a year. Postpone the wedding.'' Look for long and loud applause from those searching for competent heroines in unusual, yet credible, situations. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
THE DIVIDE by Michael Bedard
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

A picture book about what Willa Cather may have experienced as a child when her family moved west. Winter on the plains, on the Divide in Nebraska, was a mean season: ``There were no farms, no hills, no trees, only the flat, silent land beneath the vast, unbroken sky. She felt they had come to the end of things.'' But then came spring, ``like a shy child bringing gifts of flowers to the door,'' and Willa melts. As Bedard (Painted Devil, 1994, etc.) tells it, Cather delighted in the china sky, the fresh-plowed earth, and the few scattered neighbors: Swedes and Danes, Bohemians and Norwegians. ``Their speech was slow, their words were spare.'' The child comes to love the place: Spring slips into a hot, sunflowered summer, which gives way to a copper-colored autumn, the land ``strong and still and free,'' and brought to life in McCully's watercolors, which can be pensive, expansive, or joy-filled, as required. The metaphors are overtaxed (Willa marvels over the shells she brought with her from the East, ``so plain without, so pearled within''—just like her neighbors, just like the Divide), but a sense emerges of what it is like to be young and scared in a new landscape. The afterword makes reference to Cather's writings, but does not list specific sources for Bedard's text. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
POPCORN AT THE PALACE by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

McCully (Starring Mirette and Bellini, p. 559) bases this tale on a piece of history from her own hometown, Galesburg, Illinois, and one of its innovative founders, Olmsted Ferris, who experimented with unusual crops. When Olmsted learned that popcorn was unknown in Europe, he took a shipment of it to London and obtained an audience with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to demonstrate this wonder. Victoria gave Olmsted a doll for his young daughter, which was passed down through the family for generations. McCully fleshes out this historical account and tells it from the perspective of Olmsted's daughter (here called Maisie), imagining that the idea of exporting popcorn originated with her and having her accompany her father to London and to Victoria's court. The Ferrises are portrayed as energetic non-conformists, looked at askance by their staid neighbors before their trip to England, and lionized upon their return. What readers will remember is the pioneer spirit behind this appealing tale and a spunky girlreal or notat its center. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
Released: April 14, 1997

Alas for sequelitis, which so often produces watered-down offspring from even the most venerable parentage! When the great aerialist and his carrot-topped young partner cap off their European tour with a performance in St. Petersburg, Mirette comments on all the impoverished peasants; Bellini, with the encouragement of some friends, assures the crowd that they will one day be free. The czar's soldiers arrest him. The next night, having conveniently located Bellini's cell window, Mirette walks a wire (shot by a handy crossbow) in darkness and hands him a hacksaw. A page later they're in Paris. While McCully informs her figures and turn-of-the-century locales with the same grace and vigor that earned Mirette on the High Wire (1991) its Caldecott Medal, small vignette illustrations on two spreads seem, confusingly, suspended in midair; in the arrest scene, Mirette's costume is slightly different in scenes on the wire, platform, and ground. Combined with the agenda-laden, drastically abbreviated plotline, such bobbles, though minor, ground this follow-up. (Picture book. 6-9) Read full book review >
OLD HOME DAY by Donald Hall
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

Hall (When Willard Met Babe Ruth, p. 374, etc.) traces the history of Blackwater Pond, a small New England settlement, from its geological formation to a vision of its bicentennial celebration in August 1999. The town swells with farmers in the 18th and 19th centuries; by the beginning of the 20th century, people are moving out. In 1899, New Hampshire's governor creates Old Home Day (or Old Home Week, as explained in the afterword), a holiday meant to bring people back for a visit. Hall's lyrical book is a thorough history of the waxing, waning, and potential rebirth of America's small towns, and while adults may treasure it for nostalgic reasons, children may find it slow and, in some places, confusing. Family names are mentioned without enough details to make the lineages stick; what should be poetry reads more like genealogical records. Some events need factual moorings, e.g., the Civil War is never named, only referred to poetically: ``When Johnny Reb fired on Fort Sumter . . . '' is a clue not all readers will grasp. The ten thousand years between the ``first people'' and trappers sending pelts to London and Paris are simply noted as ``later.'' McCully's watercolors make time's passing more tangible. In the end, however, this book and all its many charms are better suited to older readers. (Picture book. 9+) Read full book review >
THE BALLOT BOX BATTLE by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: July 1, 1996

The author of The Bobbin Girl (p. 230) offers another strong, admirable character in this encounter between Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a young neighbor. Every afternoon Cordelia comes over to care for Mrs. Stanton's horse in exchange for a riding lesson—plus a series of reminiscences to which she listens politely, if not always attentively. One day, after explaining how her strenuous but futile childhood efforts to win her father's respect taught her to keep on fighting, Mrs. Stanton invites Cordelia to come along to the polls as she quixotically tries yet again to vote. Her example before a jeering (as well as, in one or two cases, admiring) throng of men and boys inspires an act of courage in Cordelia. An author's note at the end separates facts and fictions. Like Michael Bedard's Emily (1992), this book gives readers a tantalizing, child's-eye view of an American original, a challenger of social norms and expectations. McCully's dark, vigorously brushed watercolors successfully evoke both period (1880) and personalities: Stanton is a glowering, formidable presence, while Cordelia, with her straight back, pinafore, and large hair ribbon is a poised, blonde soulmate to Mirette. (Picture book/biography. 6-8) Read full book review >
THE BOBBIN GIRL by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: May 1, 1996

Rebecca Putney, ``Bobbin Girl,'' gazes out from the cover of this exceptional work and draws readers into the fascinating lives of the young women who were part of the unique social and industrial milieu of the mills in 19th-century Lowell, Massachusetts. Rebecca, ten, works at the mill to help her mother's finances. The excitement of employment—of young, independent women living, working, and learning together—is effectively contrasted with the need, ultimately, to strike. Judith, an older girl whom Rebecca admires, inspires the work stoppage; Rebecca decides for herself whether she, too, will struggle for better working conditions. Exquisite watercolors are perfectly integrated into the text, extending it and amplifying it. Many marvelous spreads—workers filing into the imposing factory, girls gathered in a boardinghouse parlor, an outdoor rally, and, especially, a tumble of girls rushing down stairs and out of the factory into the light—beckon readers into another era. A careful author's note offers background; this is a perfect classroom companion to Katherine Paterson's Lyddie (1991). Some will say McCully (The Pirate Queen, 1995, etc.) has surpassed herself. (Picture book. 6-9) Read full book review >
THE PIRATE QUEEN by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: Oct. 17, 1995

Many male pirates have fared less well in stories than Grania O'Malley, 16th-century female swashbuckler, who is presented in a consistently glamorous, if not outright admiring, light. Although she is depicted as robber and murderer, these aren't shown to be negative traits; McCully (Little Kit, p. 228, etc.) merely concedes that O'Malley ``sided with the power of the moment, English or Irish, as long as it furthered her own purpose.'' Ireland's travails at the hands of England are downplayed; without this background, readers may not comprehend O'Malley's political motives, only her marauding ones. The sweeping, entertaining narrative is accompanied by McCully's characteristically bold, beautiful paintings. In other words, readers old enough to grapple with the moral issues will love it. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1995

Little Kit is at first delighted to be mistaken for a boy and given work with a flea circus. An orphan in 19th-century London, her prospects have never been brighter. But she soon discovers that the delightful performing fleas are prisoners, just as she is, to the evil Professor Malefetta. She exists on gruel and crusts until they travel to the country, where she becomes friends with Nell Derry. While Kit is bathing one night, a pickpocket discovers her secret; she runs to the Derry home where she is taken in as one of their own. This is an atmospheric tale that suffers from a sweeping effort to comment on several aspects of Victorian London at once. Child labor, fleas' rights, city squalor vs. country hygiene—all are enmeshed in a plot resolved simplistically and fast. (Picture book. 6-8) Read full book review >
MY REAL FAMILY by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: May 1, 1994

After the bear family's latest theatrical triumph, little Sarah's nose is out of joint. Her work on props and costumes is ignored while the rest of the family reaps accolades for more conspicuous contributions. Worse, visitor Blanche, the orphan sheep (Speak Up, Blanche!) is praised to the sky for her sets; still worse, though it's Sarah's turn to plan a family outing, a hike in the woods is vetoed because it won't suit Blanche; worst of all, Blanche is allotted Sarah's room. It's enough to make a little bear imagine that she was adopted and set out into the woods, fantasies whirling, to find her ``real'' parents, leaving a trail of cold ravioli just in case. Nightfall brings a change of heart and direction and a happy outcome when Sarah finds her whole worried family camped out to look for her. Predictable but satisfying; the Caldecott winner's endearing bears continue to express human feelings with amiable wit. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
THE AMAZING FELIX by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: Sept. 15, 1993

An old-fashioned tale of kids making their not-so-ordinary way among the rich and famous. En route to Europe in the 20's, Felix—enjoined by his concert-pianist Papa to ``Practice, practice''—despairs of ever playing as well as sister Fanny; but he does learn some prestidigitation from a magician aboard ship. In England, while Papa plays a command performance, Fanny and three other children (``cousins of a duchess'') get trapped in a castle tower. Following the sound of music, Felix runs for help; then, while Papa interrupts his playing to rescue the frightened children, Felix mollifies and amuses his audience, finally making the delightful discovery that Papa wants to learn to palm a coin, too (``With your fingers, it ought to be a cinch,'' Felix allows). It's an unlikely but satisfying fantasy, with handsome pictures of the elegant ocean liner and country house, and lush impressionistic settings accented with the dramatic black of pianos and tuxedos—while Felix's chance to advise Papa to ``practice, practice'' makes the perfect denouement. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1993

A fine novelist passes along three stories told by Floriano Vecchi, born near Bologna (who heard them from his grandfather, b. 1850, who got them from his), explaining that these tales survive—with changes and additions in each generation—though Florian's village was destroyed in WW II. The stories—rich with folkloric themes, uncompromisingly unsentimental, and imbued with the kind of humor that makes the ironies of the human condition more endurable—are much enriched by Fox's wry, graceful retelling. In the title story, two angry men try to defraud their cheerful younger brother of the stony hilltop that's his meager patrimony; twice, Amzat tricks them harmlessly, but the third time his retribution is startlingly severe: he hoodwinks them into killing their wives and then themselves; an innocent bystander also perishes. ``Mezgalten'' is an intriguing variant of ``The Bremen Town Musicians,'' lively with dialogue and incident. In the third tale, two village outcasts (neither too bright: ``to Cucol a thought was...a beautiful cloud of meaning that he liked to study for a long time before he tried to make sense of it'') end up with their persecutors' wealth largely because of Cucol's amusing stupidity. McCully's frequent sepia drawings seem to have lost some delicacy in enlargement, but her caricatures complement Fox's wonderfully incisive depictions of human foibles. Not to be missed. (Folklore. 8-12) Read full book review >
Released: March 31, 1993

Small girl yearns for and gets bike, takes a few days to find her balance (with the help of a neighbor boy, apparently hired by her dad), six days after her birthday has done ``nearly six feet'' on her own—but after four more days is off on an independent outing. She takes a tumble going downhill (kindly old Mr. Volk, who sees her fall, bandages her bleeding knee), but the pain doesn't matter: Annie can ride now. The author relates the familiar scenario in irregularly rhyming free-form verse whose cadence artfully reflects Annie's shaky start and her exhilaration when she finally soars free. On broad, colorful spreads that nicely accommodate the biking action, McCully depicts a comfortable neighborhood with large, well-spaced houses (and virtually no cars); more important, she conveys emotions, even the subtler ones like apprehension, encouragement, or quiet pride, with a deftly unassuming economy of line. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
GRANDMAS AT BAT by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: March 30, 1993

From the new Caldecott medalist, a third ``I Can Read'' book about Pip and her squabbling grandmas. The Stings' coach has chickenpox—and unless Pip and her team come up with a substitute, they won't be allowed to play. Both grandmas volunteer; their constant bickering and mutual competing almost prevents the Stings from practicing, until one kid complains, ``Your Grandmas are driving us bananas!'' and another points out that ``The coaches are hogging the field!'' Finally leaving the team in peace, the grandmas find another way to help: at the big game, it's their cheerleading that spurs the Stings to victory. Baseball action and the amusingly caricatured grandmas are deftly drawn; best, the funny, true-to-life dialogue is sure to entertain beginning readers. (Easy reader. 5-8) Read full book review >
MIRETTE ON THE HIGH WIRE by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: Oct. 21, 1992

Inspired by the exploits of the daredevil Blondin, an exotic, suspenseful story about the affection and loyalty between teacher and protÇgÇe: Mirette learns tightrope-walking from Monsieur Bellini, a famous wirewalker who has lost his nerve and is staying in her mother's Parisian boardinghouse because he can no longer perform. For Mirette's sake, Bellini plans a comeback—a walk across a square from one high rooftop to another—but he freezes on the wire until Mirette dashes up to the opposite roof and walks out to meet him. Intense colors, strong contrasts of light and shadow, and artistes and dandies straight out of Toulouse-Lautrec convey the atmosphere of Paris in la belle Çpoque—a real departure in style and subject matter from McCully's mouse-family adventures. (Picture book. 5-9) Read full book review >
IN MY TENT by Marilyn Singer
Released: Sept. 30, 1992

A cycle of poetic vignettes centering on the young narrator's tent (``what I like best is the color/suddenly orange/like an oriole landing/in the emerald woods/quietly saying, I'm here''), promised her during a snowfall ``On the day the twins were born.'' Most of the episodes occur during a summer camping trip: Dad's affectionately teasing wake-up call; getting a little lost in the woods; finding out that even baked beans are delicious here; regretfully taking down a spider's web with the tent. In the last scene, the narrator and her friend are building a tent-like igloo on the twins' first birthday. Subtly, in economical, gracefully phrased descriptions, Singer conveys a great deal about this unique, not-quite-perfect family. McCully's impressionistic watercolors nicely reflect the quiet mood and warm interaction. (Poetry/Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
BEAVERS BEWARE! by Barbara Brenner
Released: Feb. 1, 1992

In the ``Bank Street Ready-to-Read'' series, Level 2, a ``fact-based'' confrontation with nature, dedicated ``To Fred, who shared the experience,'' that cries out for a bit more information about the events that inspired the intriguing story. A girl and her parents notice peeled, pointed sticks on the dock near their wilderness home. The mystery is soon solved: beavers are building a lodge on this unusual foundation, undeterred by the nearby humans. Mom protests about the many trees that the beavers are cutting; no one likes their strong smell; and there's talk of calling the game warden to move the unwelcome tenants. But then a storm looses the dock and it floats down the river- -lodge, beavers, and all. In McCully's appealing pen-and- watercolor illustrations, readers will enjoy spotting the beavers even before the young narrator does. Competently written for the intended level, as well as informative and thought-provoking, but these values are somewhat undermined by the absence of an explanatory note. (Easy reader. 5-8) Read full book review >
SPEAK UP, BLANCHE! by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

The little sheep who joins the theatrical troup of bears introduced in Zaza's Big Break (1989) seems like a hopeless case: shy and retiring, she never speaks above a whisper; she's even a flop at collecting props. But when the bears try, tactfully, to send her home, Blanche asserts herself vociferously: she's an artist and can produce sets far superior to their clumsy efforts. Amusing dialogue and theatrical details plus McCully's appealing pictorial characterizations make this a sequel that's sure to please. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
GO AND HUSH THE BABY by Emily Arnold McCully
Released: Jan. 1, 1971

A mother who wants to paint, a baby that persists in crying, and a boy set to play baseball who's detained to "Go and hush the baby, Will./ It won't take long./ Go and hush the baby,/ Sing him a little song." Artfully synchronized for the reader who can take in at once the mother's pleading rhymes, Will's words to the baby, and the pictures-only interplay between baby and boy. Read full book review >
Released: April 30, 1970

Funny-punny or just a silly sally, depending on your sense of humor, or at least on how verbally precocious you are—and if you respond to a walking talking toad as gangbuster. The Inway Investigators (1969, 508, J-202) did what this does less anomalously since the people in question there were people; yet no less entertainingly, H.T. brings outlaws to justice, all beginning with his pickup while hitchhiking by Mac, 'Tennyson of Truckers.' After a companionable poetic ride during which H.T. clears up the wart mystique, they stop at Great Kate's pie place (27 flavors) and run into the Professor, who specializes in crime. Together with the Devil's Dozen, he appropriates the truck and imprisons the friends within it: then he barrels it down toward the First National Bank of Secundo, intending that its INFLAMMABLE contents start a fire from which all the money can be salvaged. Little does he know that INFLAMMABLE is just a hold-over, that Mac is really driving a cargo of marbles—"If you lose your marbles we will replace them"—speaking of which. . . Read full book review >