Books by Frances Minters

PRINCESS FISHTAIL by Frances Minters
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

Familiar folktale elements are given a modern twist by the creators of Cinder-Elly (1994) and Sleepless Beauty (1996) in this original tale of a mermaid captivated by a handsome surfer. Told in slangy, rhyming vernacular, the storyline is traditional in its basic elements: when a human man falls into the sea attempting to get a glimpse of a beautiful mermaid, she helps him to shore, falls in love with him, agrees to trade her tail for legs, then wishes to be able to return to her family under the sea. But this Mer-Princess is more resourceful than the greedy troll with whom she's made the trade anticipates; when the troll demands her voice in return for giving her back her tail, she takes swimming lessons at the Y and learns how to scuba-dive in order to visit her family. The colorful, splashy illustrations are outlined in scratchy, thin black lines, and the spreads are full of humorous asides and details in addition to the text: clams, jellyfish, seabirds, and even some aliens contribute remarks as they seem to watch the story unfold from the sides of the pages. This fish tale with well-known antecedents is refreshingly contemporary in its tone and look. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
TOO BIG, TOO SMALL, JUST RIGHT by Frances Minters
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 2001

A jaunty pair of bunnies embarks on an adventure exploring opposites. Like Goldilocks, the curious duo samples things that are at each extreme before discovering a happy medium. Minters's (Sleepless Beauty, 1996, etc.) spare text is composed of contrasting word pairs that cover familiar concepts for the very young: high/low, fast/slow, etc. The brief statements are woven together into simple rhymes, creating a singsong rhythm that is eminently suitable for read-aloud sessions. "Too dark / Too bright / Just right / Too heavy / Too light / Just right." Bynum's sparkling watercolors clearly convey the concepts expressed, featuring scenarios that toddler's can readily recognize; e.g., a trio of slides—one towering, one squat, and one bunny-height—illuminate the difference between high and low. The antonym pairs are accompanied by an individual illustration for each word and followed by a full-bleed, two-page spread depicting the duo engaged in activity that is "just right." The comical drawings of the nattily attired rabbit couple—he in a snazzy bow tie and she in pearls—and the addition of a small, purple mouse companion add to the whimsical charm of the illustrations. Not too long and not too complicated, this cheerful little picture book is just right. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
SLEEPLESS BEAUTY by Frances Minters
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 1996

The team behind Cinder-Elly (1994) lands another fairy tale in New York City, with a majestic old apartment building standing in for the castle. When Little Beauty's parents give a bash to celebrate her birth, they forget to invite the witch. For that indiscretion, the witch lays a curse on Little Beauty: On her 14th birthday she'll prick her finger and fall into a deep sleep, along with her nearest and dearest, for 100 years. Little Beauty's years on earth without sharp objects have not blunted her intellect, however: Aware of her fate, she changes it by setting the alarm. The verse has a bounce that's right for reading aloud: ``Just to prove I'm not so mean/And that I'm not so snooty,/When time is up, a great rock star/Will wake the Sleeping Beauty,'' declares the witch, while a jazzy bit player pipes in ``Rooty-toot-toot/And tutti-frutti,/How does that grab you,/Dear Little Beauty?'' Karas's illustrations are diverting, featuring a shadowy cast of characters who appear to have caught the last train out of fin-de-siäcle Prague. (Picture book. 3-8) Read full book review >
CINDER-ELLY by Frances Minters
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 1994

Minters makes her picture-book debut with a verse update of ``Cinderella'' (see also Jackson, above) set in present-day New York City (``I'm never allowed/To speak to strangers'' Elly informs her godmother; still, her trust is easily won: ``Last time I saw you/You were two or three,'' explains ``Godma''). Riding a bike Godma makes from a trash can, Elly goes to the school basketball game where Prince Charming is the star; he asks her out for pizza but she has to get home.... Though Minters's doggerel limps a bit, her contemporary substitutions are fun. And although she's no match for Jackson's independent-minded Cinder Edna, Elly is a bit more self-reliant than the classic heroine. The book is much enhanced by Karas's sophisticated montages of the city's textures and rather muted colors enlivened with perky stylized characters plus informal doodles and graffiti that invade the text. Both books are of interest, and kids will enjoy comparing them. (Picture book. 4-10) Read full book review >