Books by Florence Parry Heide

Released: March 7, 2017

"While it's fun to imagine this as a manual that will pass clandestinely from child to child, the truth is that most kids know these techniques already. No harm, no foul—and no carrots. (Fiction. 5-8)"
Impeccable instructions for triumphing over grown-ups. Read full book review >
HOW TO BE A HERO by Florence Parry Heide
Released: Oct. 4, 2016

"Heroism with a wink. (Picture book. 3-6)"
What does it take to become a hero? Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2013

"White bread. Consider Jane O'Connor's Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth (2012) instead. (Mystery. 7-10)"
After a long hiatus, the Spotlight Club Mysteries return with a new posthumous entry and a paperback reprint of another. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2010

Well-deserved woe unto adults who do Dillweed wrong! His parents are off voyaging, and he's poetically jealous: "Dillweed liked to go places. He liked to have adventures. He liked to have a good time. His parents went places. His parents had adventures. His parents had a good time. The parents. Not Dillweed." Using ink and gouache, Ellis paints the minimalist gothic mansion in low-intensity rust, brown and gray; adorable pet reptile Skorped is a refreshing pale blue. Garishly distorted bodies and faces reveal the odiousness in nasty servants Umblud and Perfidia and their guests. Heide and her family's text is elegantly understated: "Dillweed did something"—the illustrations show that Dillweed conjures gray ghouls; "Umblud made a foolish mistake"—Umblud drinks lethal poison that Perfidia meant for Skorped; "Perfidia made a foolish mistake"—Perfidia gets crushed under a wardrobe by a gray ghoul. Even subtler is Dillweed's revenge against Skorped's next attackers. Dillweed and Skorped "wished the parents would go away," and lickety-split, a black wreath adorns the manor's door while boy and pet depart for their long-denied adventures. Good, macabre fun. (Picture book. 9 & up)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 3, 2010

Ernest is a nice little boy, and he always listens to his mother—"Nice children always listen to their mothers"—even though it means he never, ever has a good time but rather spends his time helping his mother with all the household chores. When new neighbors move in, he goes to visit them (after asking permission, of course) and discovers that little Vlapid, though he always listens to his mother, too, has considerably more fun with chores than Ernest does. Stone's illustrations provide the subtext: Vlapid and his mother are monsters, if genteel ones, and they keep their house in a decidedly monstrous state of repair, which requires tearing draperies, breaking crockery and generally making mayhem. Ernest is pink and chinless, Vlapid green and all forehead; their matching black button eyes make them siblings under the skin. Gleefully subversive. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 22, 2009

No shrinking violet (nor Treehorn), Princess Hyacinth yearns to play outside—but she'll float away! There's no particular reason, but indoors she wafts upwards until the ceiling blocks her, and outdoors, the sky's the limit. A wonderfully expressive illustration of Hyacinth dragging through the castle halls in her gravity-ensuring extra-heavy crown shows her pouting mouth (no eyes—they're buried under the crown) and her huge, downtrodden shadow on the wall. Smith's elegantly cartoonish brush-and-ink character survives an exhilarating scare involving a kite, a rescue and a newly formed friendship. Heide's prose takes off just when Hyacinth does: "She whirled and she twirled, she swooshed and she swirled…." When Hyacinth soars free in a vast pink sky, her figure is tiny and three balloons follow behind, creating a scene of breezy adventure that also feels delicate. Oil-paint backgrounds (shafts of light; antique-hued balloons; soft animal topiary) glow behind the pointy-nosed, active characters. Molly Leach's clever design shows the word "up" repeatedly rising, and one sentence levitates partially off the page—naturally. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
THE ONE AND ONLY MARIGOLD by Florence Parry Heide
Released: Jan. 13, 2009

Marigold loves her ratty old purple coat more than just about anything, so she even wears it in the shower. She refuses to replace it, pronouncing, "I'm a very loyal person" (though she's in fact a monkey). Her mother makes her go coat shopping anyway, and nothing is acceptable…until she finds a purple coat exactly like her old one. "Marigold's Purple Coat" is the first of four connected vignettes in this charming picture book whose snappy, funny stories of monkey-hippo friendship are as appealing as the folk art-style gouache illustrations and lively-but-clean design. Confident Marigold and the more thin-skinned Maxine are true childhood friends; that is to say, they deliberately bug each other, play tricks, fall out and eventually make up with no awkward explanations or hard feelings. McElmurry outdoes herself with gorgeous landscapes, and with Marigold's goofy hair and stubborn stances infuses even more humor into the already laugh-out-loud stories. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
A PROMISE IS A PROMISE by Florence Parry Heide
Released: May 1, 2007

In this uninspired take on a tired premise, young George wangles permission from his parents for a pet, then brings home a series of unsuitable ones. Ordered to take back the huge dog, the breeding pair of mice and the shark, George extracts a promise that he can have a bird—and so he gets a big, bright red, loudly abusive parrot. Spoiled and sullen, George makes an unappealing protagonist, his clueless dad and wimpy, hand-wringing mother show not a speck of intelligence and the sketchy, rumpled figures in Auth's illustrations supply neither character nor much humor. There is no reason to prefer this over (to name a few examples) Dan Yaccarino's An Octopus Followed Me Home (1997), Lauren Child's I Want a Pet (1999) or Karen Kaufman Orloff's I Wanna Iguana (2004), illustrated by David Catrow. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR by Florence Parry Heide
Released: May 1, 2003

Poor Theodore Elephant is hobbled—an injured leg means he can't meet his cousin at the edge of the forest. He considers asking his friends for advice. "Nonsense," declares practical opossum, "Friends are to help." If Theodore can't go to his cousin, the friends will bring his cousin to Theodore. First published in 1968 with illustrations by Caldecott Honor-winner Brinton Turkle, this cumulative tale of caring is here animated by another Caldecott-winner's collages of carefully prepared and painted papers. Artful scratches and swirls give elephantine texture to wrinkly Theodore and make a lion's mane luxurious, and rainforest-ripe colors cause even the smallest creature to pop from the pages. Contact shadows and a variety of edges and background treatments add depth and movement, while pin-point touches of black convey an extraordinary range of expressions. Particularly effective is a sun-seared sienna silhouette of the animals' trek, leading to a memorable denouement: "To give advice is very nice, but friends can do much more. Friends should always help a friend. That's what friends are for!" (Picture book. 3-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1999

Heide and Gilliland (Sami and the Time of the Troubles, 1992, etc.) bring to readers Baghdad of the ninth century, a time and a place that sought wisdom and encouraged learning to the point of incandescence. The story concerns Ishaq, the son of Hunayn, one of the scholars of Caliph al-Ma'mun's grand House of Wisdom; it harbored both learned men and the great books of history, brought there by caravans that ranged throughout the known world. Ishaq is fascinated by his father's passion for the ancient books, but he doesn't share the fire for learning. He dreams of leading a caravan and when he gets his opportunity, travels for three years, returning to Baghdad with a great collection of books, including a lost manuscript of Aristotle's. This last excites Ishaq in a way he had never experienced, and he, too, decides to become a scholar in the House of Wisdom. Heide and Gilliland become almost mystical about the pleasures of learning, while GrandPrÇ's fanciful, exotic artwork, with high domed ceilings and ornately patterned walls and floors, give books a sacred residence. That the three main characters were real gives the story its weight; it's an idyllic moment in history, with the architectural splendors of old Baghdad providing just the right setting. (Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >
TIO ARMANDO by Florence Parry Heide
Released: March 1, 1998

A graceful chronicle of the last year in a beloved great-uncle's life, relayed month by month in the first-person narration of a Mexican-American girl. Tio Armando moves in with Lucitita's family after the death of his wife, Amalia. A connection is drawn between the elderly man and Lucitita and the year is filled with thoughtful exchanges between the two as she puzzles out his serene reaction to losing his wife. Readers begin to sense that Tio Armando is preparing Lucitita for his own passing. "I will never leave you," he promises, and she realizes, after his death, that she understands. The lengthy prose is unusually well-crafted, quiet and subdued yet filled with authentic details of life in this household. Tio Armando is a unique person, visiting strangers in the hospital and spreading kindness wherever he goes. Grifalconi's gentle watercolors group people together in intimate moments and in larger groups that convey familial bonds. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
OH, GROW UP! by Florence Parry Heide
Released: March 1, 1996

Twenty-nine funny poems about the everyday indignities of childhood, from braces and hand-me-downs to the rigors of family and school life: ``Could anything be drearier/than the food in the school cafeteria?'' Westcott's bright, zany ink-and-watercolor illustrations and hand-lettered titles get right into the poems, sometimes encasing lines in dialogue balloons, sometimes adding an extra element to the drama, as in ``Danger: Overload,'' in which a busy mother fires a list of chores at her daughter, who then gets them hopelessly mixed up. The illustration of this debacle shows that the daughter has been wearing headphones and listening to music the whole time: ``No wonder that I got confused—/my mother, though, is not amused.'' Fans of Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky will find plenty to like in these mother/daughter collaborations. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8) Read full book review >
THE BIGNESS CONTEST by Florence Parry Heide
Released: April 1, 1994

Beasley, a huge hippopotamus, would like to be best at something, but with his ungainly bulk he's a loser at gymnastics and running. When Aunt Emerald encourages him to find something at which he can excel, he decides to become the biggest hippo— not by exercising but by gorging on cake and ice cream. He wins, only to realize that his cousin Borofil is both bigger and lazier. So now Beasley ``works'' at becoming the laziest hippo, lying in the river for hours on end; and when he does win the laziness contest that his aunt accommodatingly sets up, he's too lazy even to smile. Heide's brisk narration is certainly meant to be tongue-in-cheek, and Chess's illustrations of fat, pink, loosely clothed hippos are comic caricatures of their human counterparts. Even so, the parody falls flat. It's a shame to spend so much talent on such an unfortunate premise. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
GRIM AND GHOSTLY GOINGS-ON by Florence Parry Heide
Released: Aug. 17, 1992

Typical, fairly gross juvenile-style humor—rival monster mothers boasting (``Mine smells like/an old sardine.''/''Mine's the weirdest/thing you've seen''), the nasty habits of rubber bands (``They creep and ooze and slither...They crawl up on your blanket/and swarm all over you./Then they suck your blood out...''), and the like. None of it is nearly as imaginative or funny as Heide's classic The Shrinking of Treehorn (1971), or, for that matter, the children's own inventions as reported by Alvin Schwartz or the Opies. Still, the topic is an enduring favorite; the versifying is skillful; and Chess provides amusingly wicked, not too gruesome visualizations in her usual pungent style. (Poetry/Picture book. 5-9) Read full book review >
Released: April 20, 1992

``It is a time of guns and bombs. It is a time that has lasted all my life, and I am ten years old.'' So Sami begins his picture of life in contemporary Beirut, where he lives with his widowed mother, his grandfather, and his little sister in a basement lined with glowing carpets that are a poignant reminder of how beautiful life once was. Sami remembers picnicking at the beach once; he listens to his grandfather's stories and to the bombs; finally, on a rare, quiet day when the radio says it's safe, the family ventures out. The fort Sami built with friend Amir is gone, but, miraculously, there is fresh food to buy, even a wedding to observe. Sami and Amir play a war game, but also remember ``the day of the children,'' a long-ago demonstration against the fighting; now Sami understands his grandfather's unspoken hope that the next generation will be wiser. Vividly evoking Sami's strife-torn world, the gracefully understated text is stunningly illustrated in broad double-spread watercolors. Lewin's characterizations are sensitive and compelling; his lovely, dark interiors bespeak the characters' continuing courage and grief, while outdoor scenes dramatize life persisting amid the destruction. An outstanding book that, fortunately, is already somewhat out of date; an explanatory note would have been useful to young readers trying to put this in context. (Picture book. 6+) Read full book review >