Books by Emma Chichester Clark

Released: Nov. 7, 2017

"Children may not recognize themselves herein, but their caregivers will see their little monkeys. (Picture book. 3-7)"
Hilda Snibbs cares for Tim, Sam, and Lulu, three lively monkeys. Read full book review >
PLENTY OF LOVE TO GO AROUND by Emma Chichester Clark
Released: Nov. 22, 2016

"A pleasant but not particularly fresh story that fails to capture the irresistible personality of Plum as established in her first outing. (Picture book. 3-6)"
A female mutt named Plum makes friends with a neighbor cat in this sequel to Love Is My Favorite Thing (2015). Read full book review >
LOVE IS MY FAVORITE THING by Emma Chichester Clark
Released: Nov. 24, 2015

"Dog lovers will especially 'LOVE' this, and readers who can't get enough can follow the real-life Plum in the author's blog. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Clark captures a dog's exuberance and love of the simple things. Read full book review >
BEARS DON'T READ! by Emma Chichester Clark
Released: March 1, 2015

"A combination of farce and fun, this will tickle pre-readers. (Picture book. 4-8)"
George the bear is bored. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2014

"Alas, this one isn't a swan after all. (author's note) (Fairy tales. 7-10)
There are good reasons some of Andersen's tales have gone out of vogue. Read full book review >
WHAT WILL YOU BE, GRANDMA? by Nanette Newman
Released: Aug. 28, 2012

"Ideal as a beginning exploration of fantasy or as a discussion starter about future careers. (Picture book.3-5)"
Little Lily asks her beloved grandma, "What do you think you'll be when you grow up?" Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2011

"An evocative and effective retelling of an old classic. (Picture book. 6-9)"
The rich may ignore the poor, but the Piper must be paid. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2010

Three pretty maids all in a row—well, make one of them spunky, as Chichester Clark adds her rendition of the classic character to those by Sanderson (Goldilocks, 2009) and Spirin (Goldilocks and the Three Bears, 2009). Hers is no coy and sweet lass; she's more naughty than nice. The illustrator's signature style with delicately drawn, bug-eyed characters matches her jaunty retelling: "Bulls-eye!" Goldilocks cries, "Now that's my kind of bed!" Daddy Bear later growls, "That someone is a hooligan and a thief." As Goldilocks makes her escape, Mommy Bear says, "I'll never know how a little girl like that could be so naughty!" The large format provides ample space for the watercolor-and-colored pencil illustrations to fill the scenes with details in china and fabric patterns and wry touches: Goldilocks reads Little Red Riding Hood while lolling in Baby Bear's bed. The bears' house is quite lush—no cabin in the woods here. Saucy and more playful than the other two, this version proves good things DO come in threes. Buy them all. (Picture book/folktale. 4-7)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2009

The old jump-rope rhyme about 24 robbers knocking on the door is revised using fairy-tale characters instead of robbers as the visitors. The first-person narrator is a little boy who answers the Dutch door at his house to admit the characters, with each group carrying a wrapped present. The visitors include well-known fairy-tale friends such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Jack and Jill, along with three mysterious, black cats and the Man in the Moon. This book was first published in England, so the traditional characters of Punch, Judy, their baby and Crocodile also appear, which will require some explanation for American readers. A slapstick, "he's a jolly good fellow" atmosphere prevails, with the whole cast of characters singing a birthday greeting to the boy as a surprise conclusion. Chichester Clark's comical watercolor illustrations are filled with patterned costumes, flowers, balloons and amusing action as the fairy-tale characters trip over themselves to get to the party on time. The little boy may be repeatedly knocked down by the guests, but that doesn't get in the way of his fun. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
HANSEL AND GRETEL by Michael Morpurgo
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

Morpurgo casts a particularly repugnant witch in this lengthy, expanded version of the classic folktale. Tragedy strikes a happy family when the loathsome Belladonna comes out of the forest and, impelled by a desire to be young, beautiful and loved, transforms Hansel and Gretel's mother Lisette into a weeping willow and then in disguise turns the head of their grieving father. From there the plot mostly follows its traditional course. Hiding her rage when the children refuse to love her, Belladonna causes a famine and, cruelty being her "special specialty," badgers her husband into agreeing to dispose of his own children. After that fails, she takes matters into her own hands, making gleefully sure that both children understand just what fate she has in store for them. All of her spells are broken after Gretel shoves her into the oven, though, and the stage is set for a happily-ever-after ending. This psychologically freighted rendition isn't nearly as innocuous as the sparkly cover suggests, but Chichester Clark's slightly distant, brightly patterned cartoon illustrations ameliorate some of the tale's more unsettling aspects. (Picture book/folktale. 10-12) Read full book review >
ELIZA AND THE MOONCHILD by Emma Chichester Clark
Released: July 1, 2008

A fanciful tale about color and friendship. The Moonchild complains to his mother that he wants colors instead of the "bright white" of the moon. So he zips down to Earth, which he sees through his telescope, and finds Eliza. But it's dark, and there are no colors. As the sun comes up, the Moonchild sees the sun, and flowers, and butterflies, and trees. Each color delights him, and Eliza paints them all into a picture for him. "Do you like that?" Eliza asks at each step; "I love that!" he responds, in a sweet refrain. Finally the Moonchild must go home, taking the picture and the paint box Eliza gives him so he can have color on the moon. The palette modulates from the pale moonscape to the shadowed night garden to brilliant purples and reds and greens. The narrative is significantly longer than most color concept books, but the blooming friendship between Eliza and the Moonchild and his delighted wonder lend sufficient substance to carry readers along. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2008

A sudden storm brings danger to Melrose and Croc on their idyllic vacation. Melrose, a mustard-yellow dog, sits behind the wheel of a bright red roadster as he and pal Croc(odile) pull up to the entrance of a French seaside villa. Melrose plans a birthday full of surprises for his best friend, beginning with a freshly caught fish. But once he's out in a rented rowboat, the sky turns black and a heavy rain begins. While Croc prepares a beautiful table for their dinner, Melrose is caught up in a dangerous storm. Intuition clues Croc into the danger; he and a boatload of lifeguards brave the choppy waters and effect a daring rescue, leading to Croc's concluding declaration that this was his most exciting birthday ever. With her heroes on two legs, Chichester Clark's whimsy borders on camp. Both the text and the soft-focus illustrations are substantial, however, and her message is unequivocally heartwarming. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2006

The creator of the Blue Kangaroo series here offers a pair of anthropomorphic animals who have the star power to carry a series of their own. A little green crocodile has arrived in a big city at Christmastime, hoping to see Santa Claus at the big department store. Croc is all alone and vulnerable, carrying his small suitcase through the snow and waiting for morning on a park bench. At the same time in the same city, Melrose the golden retriever, a dog of considerable means, is trying to get settled in his new apartment, but he can't get into the holiday spirit by himself. Both Melrose and Croc grow more depressed as Christmas approaches, but in a fortuitous coincidence, they crash into each other at a skating rink and quickly become friends just in time for a happy Christmas celebration together. The spare but satisfying text is a fine complement to the cheery, oversized illustrations with a retro, '50s look. Melrose seems like a fine fellow, but little Croc is such a dear that you want to wipe away his tears and give him a hug. (Picture book. 3-8)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2006

A British import offers ten mostly familiar tales from the Brothers Grimm, retold in clear if uninspired language. Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Rose Red, Rapunzel and the Frog Prince share the stage with the Little Mouse and the Lazy Cat and the Six Swans. Pirotta softens some of the tales slightly: Rapunzel doesn't give birth to twins she must raise alone, and the wicked step-queen in Snow White dies of anger rather than from dancing in red-hot iron shoes. Nice design features include large, attractive type and an open layout with full- and half-page images and flowers by the page numbers to track each story. Clark's pictures are clean-lined and richly colored with slightly exaggerated figures who have sharp features and pointed chins. They are set in an almost contemporary world: Snow White wears a cardigan and a flowered skirt in the dwarves' vaguely 19th-century front hall, and the 12 dancing princesses wear party dresses that could have been from the 1960s. A lovely new collection to add to the already stuffed shelves of fairy tales. (Fairy tales. 7-11)Read full book review >
WILL AND SQUILL by Emma Chichester Clark
Released: Feb. 1, 2006

An unlikely friendship holds fast despite challenges in this boy-meets-squirrel tale. From the moment little Squill leaps into Will's bassinet, the two remain inseparable, despite the best efforts of two sets of parents to separate or distract them. Singing to each other—"Squill will if Will will!" "Will will if Squill will!"—the two enjoy years of wild romps. Until, that is, Will's parents bring home a kitten. Though a small, spiky figure in the author's Marc Simont-style watercolors, Squill exhibits very visible irritation at being left out. Eventually, a tail-pulling incident sends the unrepentant rodent off in disgrace. The fence is mended, though, after Will discovers that his kitten is more interested in naps than rowdy play. Squill has fallen in with a girl interested only in pushing a stroller around, and so they engineer a trade. The tongue-twisting text further animates this take on a well-worn theme. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2005

Morpurgo offers 21 old fables, plus a trenchant new one of his own by way of introduction, all written in an informal tone—" ‘There you are, said Mouse.' ‘I told you I'd pay you back, didn't I?' ‘A tiddly thing like you helping out a king of the beasts like me,' Lion replied. ‘Who'd have thought it possible?' "—and capped by traditional morals in capital letters. That tone, along with Chichester Clark's lightly humorous cartoons of wide-eyed, smiling or only faintly distressed-looking animals and people in, usually, rural settings, put this collection somewhere between Brad Sneed's broadly colloquial Aesop's Fables (2003) and Doris Orgel's weighty renditions of The Lion and the Mouse, and Other Aesop Fables (2000), majestically illustrated by Bert Kitchen. Try it one on one, or with small groups of listeners. (Folk tales. 6-8)Read full book review >
NO MORE TEASING! by Emma Chichester Clark
Released: Feb. 15, 2005

He might just be monkeying around—he is a monkey after all—but little Mimi's cousin Momo is a relentless teaser. He pulls mean jokes on her, calls her names, and accuses her of being a scaredy pants when he tells her that Grizzly Grilla is stalking the jungle for her. Finally, Mimi has had enough, saying over her shoulder, "I'll show you, Big poo!" as she takes her leave. Mimi's grandma helps her deliver to Momo a lesson he will not soon forget. Decked out in a scary mask and a cloak of leaves, Grandma gives Momo a taste of his own medicine. (Clark's artwork, with its happy colors and exotic locale, is not so terrifying as to curdle young readers' blood, since they know who is behind the primitive mask.) Momo agrees to chill, and Mimi says she may well laugh the next time she gets teased. If there is a next time. When there is a next time. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: March 15, 2004

Three cat folktales are simplified and typographically designed to encourage reading aloud, as the introduction explains, by concentrating on direct speech rather than description. "Puss in Boots," "The White Cat," and "Sir Pussycat," an Italian variation of "Diamonds and Toads," incorporate different type styles and bold-faced phrases to suggest sound effects and dramatic moments and to allow for multiple voices and listener participation: "Stop complaining!" snorted Puss. "Find me a bag <\b>and a fine pair of boots." <\b>Chichester Clark's familiar sprightly art illustrates the tales; set against white backgrounds, the brightly colored scenes, often no more than spots, enrich each story's vignettes. The book succeeds in its purpose with the device encouraging expressive reading aloud while bringing two lesser-known tales to young readers and their families. As the introduction says, "All reading starts as reading aloud." Bravo. (Folktales. 5-8)Read full book review >
UP IN HEAVEN by Emma Chichester Clark
Released: March 9, 2004

Daisy is an old, old dog, and she can't keep up with her boy Arthur, though she loves him. One morning she awakens in heaven, which is quite pleasant. She feels young again and has playmates, but Arthur is sad. Her new friends tell her to send him dreams. She first lets him know where she is and that she likes it. He cheers up a little, but it takes her sending him a dream of a puppy for him to assent to his parents' wish that he accept a new canine friend. Daisy can now relax, but she never stops looking out for Arthur and his new dog. Clark takes a break from Blue Kangaroo to lend her bright, pleasant watercolors to this reassuring story. Arthur is allowed his sadness, and his eventual happiness obviously doesn't lessen his love for Daisy or hers for him. A non-denominational look at heaven and the afterlife that will be a comfort to many youngsters: the best dead pet story yet. (Picture book. 2-7)Read full book review >
IT WAS YOU, BLUE KANGAROO! by Emma Chichester Clark
Released: Aug. 13, 2002

Lily and her beloved kangaroo (Where Are You, Blue Kangaroo, 2001, etc.) return in a tale of naughtiness and redemption. A recent spate of mischievousness has Lily in hot water with her mother until she hatches a sly plan to place the blame on her stuffed animal. Lily summarily lays each disaster—flooding the kitchen, driving the cat mad, launching her clothing out the window—at the stuffed feet of Blue Kangaroo. However, when she is sent to bed with out her best buddy, Lily has time for reflection. A remorseful note "written" by the kangaroo finds its way to Lily's mother, and the pair is happily reunited. Clark convincingly portrays Lily's relationship with Blue as interactive. Lily's misadventures are observed by the patient Kangaroo, with commentary provided by the beast that is both humorous and a foreshadowing of Lily's imminent mishaps. Clark exhibits a keen appreciation of how seemingly great ideas can turn into mini-disasters in the hands of small fry. Lily's trials and tribulations are bound to resonate with young readers, while the loving resolution is gently reassuring and affirming. The colorful, detailed illustrations reflect the beguiling impishness of Lily and contain a subtle thread of wry humor—plus smaller, comically expressive inserts that depict Blue Kangaroo's musings. An engaging cautionary tale about the importance of being truthful. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2001

The four ballets retold in this series are the most beloved and enduring of the classical and romantic repertory. Their music, choreography, and mime continue to transfix audiences and envelope them in a world of fairy dust, love, and heartbreak, and the mercurial achievements of the human body as it performs classical ballet steps unchanged for hundreds of years. Capturing this in mere words is difficult, and Geras is too absorbed in the artificiality and stilted quality of her telling to succeed. There is no attempt to convey the emotional intensity of gesture, mime, and the beautiful musical scores. In Giselle, Prince Albrecht remembers his brief love affair with the doomed Giselle. Unfortunately, the text omits the fact that Giselle is fragile and warned by her mother not to exert herself. The sequence of events in the first act is disjointed, and the description of Albrecht being forced to dance to his death by the Wilis (avenging spirits of those who die betrayed by love) in the second act is inaccurate. These are essential elements of the ballet. Sleeping Beauty (1-86233-246-0) is retold by its principal characters (dancers), but omits mention of the quintessential Rose Adagio. The Nutcracker (1-86233-226-6) is Clara's story and is a pedestrian version of the annual Christmas favorite. Swan Lake (1-86233-231-2) resembles a Halloween tale: good battling evil, with nothing of the stirring visions of the second- and fourth-act choreography. Each title contains the same introduction, different afterwords, flowery border decorations, and pretty little color illustrations. Fans of the ballet will not be served by the poor writing and the odd choice of making the stories into memoirs or first-person narratives. In addition, only Petipa is credited as a choreographer for Swan Lake, with no mention of Lev Ivanov. Listen to recordings or find a copy of Violette Verdy's Of Swans, Sugarplums, and Satin Slippers, illustrated by Marcia Brown. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
ROMAN MYTHS by Geraldine McCaughrean
Released: June 1, 2001

In this companion to Greek Myths (1993), McCaughrean and Clark present 15 tales, some expropriated from the ancient Greeks, others, such as the origin of the Lares, and the rivalry of Romulus and Remus, distinctively Roman. With her usual flair, McCaughrean writes of happy, doomed—or, in the case of Diana and Endymion, eerily dysfunctional—romances between gods and mortals. She relates the gruesome story of heedless woodcutter Erisychthon, cursed by Ceres with such an insatiable appetite that he ends up eating himself, and brings high drama to the devastating confrontation between arrogant King Tarquin and the Cumaean Sibyl. Sex and violence are toned down not only in the retellings (e.g., "The Theft of the Sabine Women") but also the illustrations, for which Clark draws inspiration from sources as diverse as ancient mosaics and Botticelli's Birth of Venus to depict a set of distinctly un-Olympian immortals. A cast list of those immortals, and notes on the stories' origins, close this eye-opening introduction to a mythology less politicized and derivative than generally billed. (introduction, notes) (Mythology. 9-13)Read full book review >
WHERE ARE YOU, BLUE KANGAROO? by Emma Chichester Clark
Released: Jan. 1, 2001

Clark's blue kangaroo (I Love You, Blue Kangaroo, 1999) returns in a tale of forgetfulness that makes one of the two friends a little anxious. Blue Kangaroo, a stuffed toy, is Lily's best chum. They go everywhere together—to the park, on the bus, to the zoo—and since these places are so exciting, Lily's attention is sometimes, well, distracted. But Blue Kangaroo waits patiently for Lily to find him. Until the evening comes that Lily mentions their trip to the seashore the next day. This gives Blue Kangaroo a case of the jimjams—"He thought about the seaside and he worried and worried," as you might too if Lily, sweet as she is, was your protector. After Lily falls asleep, Blue Kangaroo takes action. Come the morning and Blue Kangaroo is nowhere to be found. The house is torn apart, the yard is combed, and Lily is in tears, when finally Blue Kangaroo is found in her bathrobe pocket. A light clicks on in Lily's noggin and she fashions her own pouch, to ferry Blue Kangaroo around securely in a most appropriate conveyance. Lily learns the hard way to pay attention to those near and dear to her, but readers will experience the moral of the story very gently, set as it is to comforting words. Clark's crisp artwork is softened by pastel shades and filled with the details of a little girl's life, giving children a chance to search for Blue Kangaroo, too. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
NO MORE KISSING! by Emma Chichester Clark
Released: Jan. 1, 2001

Momo's sick of smooches. "It goes on everywhere, all over the place," he observes. "Especially mommies kissing babies." Disgusted, the little monkey mounts an anti-kissing campaign. But it doesn't make much difference; as he parades through the jungle holding a sign that says "No More Kissing!," an anteater, wild boar, and rhino all try to lay one on him. His family is even worse, greeting one another, saying goodnight, and bidding goodbye with one kiss after another. So when his baby brother arrives, Momo knows what to expect. What takes him by surprise is what happens when he tries to soothe baby's cry. As Momo explains, " . . . a weird thing happened, by mistake I think. I kissed him." Rendered in a lush, tropical palette, Clark's (Roman Myths, p. 644, etc.) illustrations are redolent with detail. The opening spread depicts a mystified Momo sitting in a tree as the toucans and snakes, ducks and lions, butterflies and flamingos below show their affection. Later, Momo stands on a stool and declares his edict to his extended family. On the next page, humorous vignettes show him recoiling and running away from their persistent embrace. A series of smaller sketches show him producing toys, making faces, and juggling bananas as the baby kicks and cries. But the final illustration shows Momo holding his baby brother while the mother monkeys behind him quietly cheer. Says Momo of the kiss: "It was lucky no one was looking." A sweet story sure to resonate with preschooler's and parents everywhere. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
I LOVE YOU, BLUE KANGAROO! by Emma Chichester Clark
Released: Jan. 12, 1999

Blue Kangaroo is Lily's favorite stuffed animal. They play all day and sleep entwined at night. Then a gathering swarm of stuffed animal gifts invades their perfect world and cuts into Blue Kangaroo's quality time. Indeed, in bed the young marsupial is shuttled further and further from Lily as new beasts—a tiny teddy, a green crocodile, a yellow rabbit, and more—are added, until he finds himself on the floor, having been squeezed right out. Blue Kangaroo wanders off and discovers the baby's room, and his two waiting arms. When Lily finds Blue Kangaroo with the baby the next day, she snatches him back. The baby wails. Lily hands over all the other stuff animals: "He can have these, but nobody can have Blue Kangaroo!" Such a sudden case of protectiveness looks suspect; it's nice to think that Lily's rekindled desire for Blue Kangaroo is the product of undying love, but less noble motivations are more obviously applicable. Young readers will enjoy debating the source of Lily's actions—to outdo the baby, or to remind them all that she loves Blue Kangaroo first, and best. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

When little Miss Muffet plunks down on her tuffet, the spider she sees is actually the first guest to arrive for her surprise birthday party. As the guests filter in bearing presents, food, and party favors, the poem expands ingeniously into a counting rhyme: ``When along came two Lemurs/With trumpets and streamers'' and ``When along came eight puffins/With blueberry muffins''; these animal guests and their gifts are both satisfyingly out-of-the-ordinary and fun on the tongue. The pictures are done in Clark's familiar style, with scenes becoming more crowded as guests accumulate, until ten crocodiles carrying a suspicious-looking box arrive and temporarily scare off the revelers. Turns out they've brought the cake in this wonderful variation on the nursery rhyme that for once will frighten no one away. (Picture book. 2-6) Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 15, 1994

It's late, and Stella can't fall asleep. Her mind is filled with fearful horrors from ``vampire bites'' on her neck to ``falling out'' eyeballs. Her father, employing a little reverse psychology, says he's tired and has decided not to wait up for his wife to return home. He asks Stella if she will wait up instead, since she can't sleep anyway. Stella readily agrees. She passes the time by dressing up for a ball, getting her dolls ready for the movies, and telling scary stories to her teddy bears. But the hour is late, and not one of her dolls is willing to play. The only sound in the silent house is that of Cheeko the hamster zooming around in his cage. Finally, out of sheer exhaustion, Stella falls asleep. The father's patience in the face of Stella's insomnia is admirable, but he never offers answers to all the ``what if'' questions that hinder Stella's sleep. What is to stop Stella or the young reader from carrying on like this every night? McMullan's (Nutcracker Noel, 1993, etc.) shallow story and Clark's almost affectless artwork will ensure that readers don't share Stella's insomnia. (Fiction/Picture book. 4+) Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1994

Dickinson brings to this lighthearted, intricately crafted book several of his themes in such books for older readers as A Bone from a Dry Sea (1993): the relative meaning of time, the hazards of equating ability with virtue, and the joy of innovation. Branton's 99-year-old Town Hall clock, an elaborate tourist attraction featuring moving seasonal figures for each quarter-hour, has stopped. Summoned to repair it, its maker's grandson discovers living in it a community of tidy, intelligent mice. In 20 ``essays'' (e.g., ``Second Essay on Mice''), with rotating series on clocks, people, cats, bells, and even science, the old man describes in pungent detail precisely what ails the clock, his acquaintance with the friendly mice (they communicate telepathically, with pictures), and some curious interactions with his own cousins. In the end, after he foolishly betrays the existence of the mice, he works out a complicated scheme to save them from captivity. It works, but not before he learns that their moral generosity exceeds his own. Meanwhile, illustrator ``Emma'' (as the narrator refers to her) visualizes everything- -including pictorial mouse communication and clockworks—in her usual witty style. Unique, charming, and thoughtful, too—this could become a classic. (Fiction. 8+) Read full book review >
TOO TIRED by Ann Turnbull
Released: April 1, 1994

The sloths are on Noah's list but can't be bothered to come: ``Tomorrow,'' they mumble, going back to sleep. The cats say ``Who cares? Let them drown,'' but Noah and the other animals are determined; as the waters rise, Ham steers the Ark to the lazy sloths' tree, and though at first the elephants can't reach them, when everyone (except the cats) crowds to one side the Ark tips enough so that they can pull the sloths aboard. Clark's watercolors add to the humor of this amusing story with their whimsical caricatures; in spectacles and broad-brimmed hat, Noah is the picture of an earnest 19th-century naturalist, while the self-absorbed, still-curious cats are a sly comment on the 20th century's lack of concern for the several rainforest creatures depicted here. An entertaining tale with an unobtrusive subtext and delectable art. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
ACROSS THE BLUE MOUNTAINS by Emma Chichester Clark
Released: Oct. 1, 1993

Miss Bilberry feels compelled to move from her tranquil home to the other side of the mountains—all in order to see whether she can be ``even happier.'' Accompanied by four pets and pushing her belongings in a heavy cart, she loses her way. Youngsters will see what Miss Bilberry fails to recognize: in the end, she has returned home, only to wonder again.... Clark's brightly patterned watercolors are attractive and varied (though the ``pale'' yellow house appears sun golden), but their appealing verve isn't enough to rescue the derivative, predictable story. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
GREEK MYTHS by Geraldine McCaughrean
Released: April 30, 1993

The much-honored McCaughrean (A Pack of Lies, 1989, Carnegie Medal) slyly telegraphs the philosophy behind these grand renditions in describing how Athene turns Arachne into a spider to punish the matchless weaver for her arrogance—yet Arachne's gloriously beautiful fabric depicts the gods doing ``silly things...squabbling, lazing about, and bragging. In fact she made them look just as foolish as ordinary folk.'' McCaughrean is as irreverent, and as delightfully artful, in these 17 stories and epics retold in a contemporary style enlivened with snappy dialogue, whimsical descriptions, dramatic vignettes, and ingenious embroideries and explanations (Heracles gets Atlas to take the sky back because ``These stars do prickle''; Polyphemus gobbled two of Odysseus's men, then ``spat out their belts and sandals''). Beginning with Prometheus's creation of man and concluding with his release, McCaughrean provides enough links to give a sense of complicated community. Important particulars are intact and given in some detail (King Midas's problem with donkey's ears as well as his tactile troubles), though without the more horrendous aftermaths (Jason and Medea simply ``lived together as man and wife''). A deliciously witty reminder that, as McCaughrean says, these myths ``are just too good to forget.'' Clark's lovely, lighthearted watercolors, depicting most of the characters as foolish but appealing innocents, are generously supplied on every page. A splendid offering. (Mythology. 8+) Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1993

Beginning with the great historical novelist's charmingly logical introduction—where she explains how a dragon's egg happens to be hatching on the beach—her "first picture book" is a poignant reminder of how much she'll be missed. The kitten- sized dragon—with "two little flapping things rather like small damp kid gloves that were the promise of wings...and a round pink stomach"—has no mother to teach him to be fierce, so he's perfectly happy to be adopted by the minstrel. He grows neither fast nor large, has a temper "as sweet as an apple," and deserves the name of "Lucky." When he's kidnapped by a greedy showman, the grieving minstrel tracks him down, finding him caged among other mythical creatures in the king's collection; and since the minstrel is able to earn a reward by curing the king's ill son with a song, all ends well. The love story is touching, but it's the telling that's most marvelous here—the wryly affectionate characterizations, lucid, imaginative descriptions, and graceful cadence. Complementing the story without upstaging it, Clark matches Sutcliff's delicately elegiac tone with mannered paintings in dusky shades of mauve, rose, and turquoise, elegantly bordered in marbled black—at once tender (the dragon pup is dear) and sumptuous. A generously long tale that will be treasured by anyone who warms to grand storytelling. (Fiction/Picture book. 5+)Read full book review >
Released: March 22, 1993

In the manner of Cecil and Clark's three other thematic anthologies (e.g., Boo!, 1990), seven poems and six stories, virtually all from well-known sources, though the selections (e.g., Thackeray's verging-on-gruesome ``Little Billee'') are often less familiar than the authors (including Lear, Mahy, Farjeon, and Kipling). Adäle Geras's title story—a mermaid barters for freedom with a commodity that, on shore, becomes the silky stuff now called taffeta—is typical of the light, fantastical spirit, as well as the high quality of the humor and imagination. A couple of unusual stories are especially welcome: a whimsical Czech tale about the boy Jonah, who has a comical encounter with a whale, and the editor's retelling of a Venetian story about an enchanted crab. Clark's beautifully painted, charmingly witty watercolors add to the humor on almost every well-designed page. (Anthology. 4-10) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1992

Tertius, a toy Scottie, and Pliny, a one-eyed monkey, have lived on an antique store shelf together for a long time when two children happily whisk Tertius away. In his new home, Tertius meets another toy, Baron Hendrik von Krug; the two set off for the store in the Baron's red biplane, and after an exciting, dangerous rescue, the companions are reunited. Frankel treats all her characters—flesh or fabric—alike; so does Clark, who gives both people and toys subtly changing expressions, freedom of movement, and fixed, buttonlike eyes Ö la Victoria Chess. Though the plot is childlike in its simplicity, Frankel's voice is refreshingly sophisticated, without offering any real difficulty. A brief, witty tale, told without condescension. (Picture book. 6-8) Read full book review >
Released: March 31, 1992

The middle-child narrator has an ordinary enough family until it comes to aunts, of whom there are simply too many, each with some disconcerting trait: one kisses too much, another eats huge amounts; Aunt Zara makes not only her own odd garments but things for her reluctant nieces; there's even one aunt with all the appearance of being a witch. Thomson's wry, succinct text combines nicely with Clark's ebulliently expressive pictures for an amusing survey of idiosyncracies that children find inconvenient or embarrassing. Only the ingenuous greed of the conclusion seems a touch unimaginative: ``You can't have too many aunts at Christmas!'' Still, there's enough lighthearted merriment here (along with the social satire) to make this a worthwhile purchase. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
LUNCH WITH AUNT AUGUSTA by Emma Chichester Clark
Released: March 1, 1992

Poor Jemima! As the youngest ring-tailed lemur, she trails her two brothers on their way through the jungle canopy to visit their aunt; worse, after gorging on the delicious fruits at Aunt Augusta's splendid table, she falls even farther behind on the way home, slips, and tumbles to the jungle floor. There, she is discovered by terrifying-looking bats. ``Please don't eat me,'' Jemima begs, but these are friendly fruit bats; rigging a leaf sling, they carry her safely home, where she is justly scolded for overeating and her brothers get into trouble for abandoning their little sister. Jungle lore, sibling universals, and some nice whimsical details (e.g., the lemurs' chief rule of etiquette—they must hold their tails straight aloft while eating)—all make for a charming story, much enhanced by the author's outstanding watercolors, which bring the treetop world beguilingly to life. The lemurs' striped tails make an intriguing visual accent, while the sequence with the bats is pleasantly dark and dramatic. Well wrought, with a satisfying story. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
THE QUEEN'S GOAT by Margaret Mahy
Released: Oct. 1, 1991

The Queen is a child who has no pets because the butler and housekeeper have ruled out dogs and cats ("hair on the cushions...mud all over the palace"). There is, however, a friendly "working goat," Carmen, who trims the orchard grass. When word comes of a pet show, the Queen's natural determination reigns; unhooking Carmen's chain, she also unleashes the goat's yearning for the distant mountains, and the two go careening over the countryside, inadvertently collecting enough comical laundry, flags, tambourines, and the like on Carmen's person to win a prize at the pet show when they arrive, by "remarkable coincidence," exhausted enough to slow down and just in time. A more predictable scenario than usual for Mahy, but the contrast between her no-nonsense narrative style and droll details will entertain, while Clark's wide-eyed, insouciant characters and pell-mell action in a serene landscape add to the fun. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1991

In generous, Mother-Goose-style format, more than 100 verses, mostly traditional but including a few by the likes of Lear and Belloc. Animals are featured here, creatively grouped by species or bizarre behavior. Clark's witty illustrations are just right—her round-eyed characters are amazed observers of their own antics, the serene watercolor backgrounds make an ironic contrast to the lively action. A delightful compilation, handsomely presented. Index. (Poetry/Picture book. 3-8) Read full book review >