Books by Flora McDonnell

SPARKY by Flora McDonnell
ANIMALS
Released: Feb. 1, 2004

Sparky is an engaging, brown-and-black puppy experiencing his first day in his new home with a little girl named Mary. The oversized format includes gouache paintings on double-page spreads with an extra-large type size and simple sentences. Though Sparky is spunky, the text is not, plodding along through a day of play and activities in Dick-and-Jane fashion with a surfeit of exclamation points that fail to stir up much excitement. The illustrations of Mary have an oddly unsettling aspect as she sometimes looks rather robotic, and her large, pale-green eyes are often staring blankly in a different direction than her dog. The volume's well-designed cover seems promising, with a smiling Sparky showing off his puppy-dog charms against a bright orange background, but the story itself lacks sparkle. (Picture book. 2-4)Read full book review >
THE CAT AND THE CUCKOO by Ted Hughes
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2003

Quirky, clever, mysterious, and lyrical poems about 28 wild and domestic farm animals comprise this collection, originally published (by Sunstone Press, with different illustrations) in England in 1997. A lonely ram bleats at the moon, a hedgehog hatches fleas. A dog sleeps: "He hogs the fire, he bakes his head / As if it were a loaf of bread. / He's just a sack of snoring dog. / You can lug him like a log. / You can roll him with your foot. / He'll stay snoring where he's put. / Take him out for exercise / He'll roll in cowclap up to his eyes." The pigeons are more elegant: "Up on the roof the Fantail Pigeons dream / Of dollops of curled cream. / At every morning window their soft voices / Comfort all the bedrooms with caresses." Hughes's slightly mismatched rhyme and meter lend an awkward charm to his subjects. McDonnell's (Giddy Up! Let's Ride, 2002, etc.) whimsical and folksy duotone paintings portray each animal in a countryside setting, sometimes with a human child or two observing; combined with the small-cut size of the volume, they give a comforting feel to these poems that sometimes veer wonderfully into dark animal thoughts. Similar in intrigue to the animal poems of Richard Michelson or Douglas Florian, similar in insight to the "small" poems of Valerie Worth, Hughes's poems are rich and musical, and will appeal to young readers. The few Briticisms may be as foreign to some American readers as the setting—yet neither detracts, as each poem encourages readers to observe something in a new way. (Poetry. 7-11)Read full book review >
GIDDY-UP! LET’S RIDE! by Flora McDonnell
ANIMALS
Released: June 1, 2001

An elaboration of a favorite children's rhyme makes this a familiar, yet inspired treat. "This is the way the drummer rides. Bang! Bang! Boom! Boom!" "This is the way the clown rides. Bump bump bumpety-bump." "This is the way the cowgirl rides. Yee-ha! Yee-ha!" Jockeys, rajahs, princesses, fairies, nomads, and more, all riding in their own way. Following the processional, children riding broomsticks, a rocking horse and a toy elephant use their imagination. "Giddy-up! Giddy-up! Let's ride!" Brightly colored illustrations rendered in acrylic and gouache stretch across each oversized, double-page spread as the animals carry their riders along. Large text makes this a good choice for group reading and the obvious play-along activity will make this a favorite again and again. Get ready to find a welcoming lap and holler, "Giddy-up!" (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
SPLASH! by Flora McDonnell
Released: June 1, 1999

Handsome wildlife paintings distinguish this book from McDonnell (I Love Animals, 1994, etc.). The setting is India in the summer, and, predictably, it's "hot, hot, hot!" A mother elephant and her baby, a tiger, and a rhinoceros are all feeling the heat. Tongues loll, movement is limited; they barely shuffle to the wallow. Once there, they stand around until the baby elephant has an idea. He loads up and squirts a snootful at his mother; soon, all the animals are engaged in a splash fight that delights as much as it refreshes. McDonnell's animals have a mythopoetic radiance, painted in colors that will have readers reaching for a cool drink. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
I LOVE ANIMALS by Flora McDonnell
ANIMALS
Released: Aug. 15, 1994

Huge, spread-covering portraits of smiling farm animals greet viewers in this fervent tribute from a new picture-book artist. ``I love Jock, my dog,'' McDonnell declares. ``I love the ducks waddling to the water. I love...the turkey strutting around the yard...I hope they love me.'' The minimal text, printed in big type, sounds a single note that verges on monotony, but the animals' colors and frisky postures create plenty of visual exuberance. (Picture book. 2-6) Read full book review >