Books by Gary Blythe

THE MOON DRAGONS by Dyan Sheldon
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2015

"This original fairy tale succeeds as a fable, if not quite so well as a story. (Picture book. 5-8)"
When a selfish, self-important king hears a story from a traveler about ancient, singing dragons and is told they may not all be gone, the king announces that he must have one. Read full book review >
THE TOYMAKER by Jeremy de Quidt
FICTION
Released: Aug. 10, 2010

A disturbing dark fantasy dredges the uncanny valley to masterful effect. When his conjuror grandfather dies, young circus dogsbody Mathias stumbles upon a hidden scrap of paper that makes him the target of implacable villains. Pursued by the sinister Dr. Leitner and his not-quite-human servants, Mathias and his few allies (with their own tragic pasts and unsavory agendae) are drawn into the hunt for a horrific secret implicating the most powerful in the land. Despite the arch tone of the opening chapters, the tale is relentlessly grim; goodhearted but hapless Mathias is buffeted across an exquisitely bleak landscape, at the mercy of characters either cruelly indifferent or casually vicious. Even the holocaustic climax offers little relief from the continual abuse, despair and grisly violence, leaving many questions (most particularly the fate of the eponymous mastermind) unanswered. Nonetheless, the taut pace, elegant craftsmanship and shattering originality offer their own undeniable pleasures. Seductive nightmare fuel. (Horror. 10 & up)Read full book review >
THE PERFECT BEAR by Gillian Shields
ANIMALS
Released: March 25, 2008

Shields's affecting tale chronicles an arrogant toy's transition from revered object to beloved companion. Upon his arrival at the home of a young girl, the stuffed bear—very conscious and proud of his immaculate finery—is appalled when his new owner wants to actually play with him. With sly humor Shields details the bear's disgruntled indignation as he endures being splashed with paint, given an impromptu bath and the like. However, when the now shabby bear becomes separated from his girl in a store, he experiences an epiphany, discovering that a person's—or stuffed bear's—worth cannot be measured by such superficial merits as their appearance. Blythe's full-color oil paintings are brimming with rich detail and texture. His expressive illustrations of bear employ subtle nuances, which perfectly illuminate the bear's persona and his emotional transformation. At the center of this whimsical tale is a gently reassuring message regarding the nature of love and acceptance that young readers will embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS by Michael Morpurgo
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2006

In a fictional episode inspired by several true ones, people band together to save their library after a sudden attack leaves their small town in flames. At first, young Tomas, who narrates, has no interest in going to the village library, but that attitude changes completely after he hears the new librarian tell stories from a wooden seat shaped like a unicorn. Eventually, she invites Tomas himself to read from a battered copy of "The Little Match Girl" that, she explains, had been rescued from a book-burning in her youth. Then an attack by air and land shatters the mountain valley's peace, and when Tomas hurries into town afterwards, he joins his father and other survivors in braving the fire to carry the library's books—and, finally, its unicorn—to safety. "Buildings they can destroy. Dreams they cannot," the librarian proclaims. Modeling forms with scribbly lines, Blythe alternates black-and-white vignettes with wordless full-spread scenes in color; like Morpurgo, he suggests a European setting but no specific locale for the story. And like Jeanette Winter's The Librarian of Basra (2005), the idea that saving literature is as heroic as saving lives comes through loud and clear. (Fiction. 9-11) Read full book review >
ICE BEAR by Nicola Davies
ANIMALS
Released: Dec. 1, 2005

Impressionistic, dramatically lit Arctic scenes form an apt backdrop for this brief, strongly worded tribute to the world's largest non-marine predator. Taking an Inuit voice and point of view, Davies explains how polar bears keep warm, hunt, play, raise young and survive in different seasons in their native habitats. Despite some over-design—distracting curvy lines of side commentary in a smaller typeface—and a rather startling close-up of a bear's bloody muzzle after a successful seal hunt, this offers younger fans not yet up to the likes of Dorothy Hinshaw Patent's Great Ice Bear (1999), illustrated by Anne Wertheim, both basic bear facts and compelling atmosphere. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-8)Read full book review >
THIS IS THE STAR by Joyce Dunbar
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 1996

This Is The Star ($16.00; Oct. 1996; 36 pp.; 0-15-200851-9): A cumulative rhyme that simply and gracefully tells the Nativity story, with intensely dramatic full-bleed oil paintings to illustrate each element—star, shepherds, angel, stable, Christ child, wise men, and all the rest. Blythe's effects are riveting, from the pointillist shimmer of starlight to the rough textures of the shepherds' cloaks to the gigantic phosphorescent apparitions of angels. He and Dunbar (Seven Sillies, 1994, etc.) do full justice both to the glory and to the simple humanity of the Christmas story. (Picture book. 4-10) Read full book review >
UNDER THE MOON by Dyan Sheldon
BEDTIME BOOK
Released: May 1, 1994

The team that collaborated on the widely praised The Whales' Song (1991) essays a theme explored most notably in George Ella Lyons's Dreamplace (1993) and Who Came Down That Road (1992). Here, finding an arrowhead sets little Jenny to dreaming of the Plains Indians who once occupied the site; after a day imagining their presence, she sleeps out and, in a vivid dream, returns the arrowhead to them. Both the straightforward text and the British artist's oil paintings capture the child's sense of wonder, while Blythe's expansive, romantically luminous art is sure to attract admirers even though Jenny's yard resembles an English garden more than it does a suburban midwestern setting. Pretty, but not essential. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
THE WHALES' SONG by Dyan Sheldon
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 1991

Lilly's grandmother tells her about whales: ``...big as the hills...peaceful as the moon...wondrous...'' When they were more numerous, she used go to the pier to hear them sing—perhaps in response to her gifts: a perfect shell or stone. Curmudgeonly Great-uncle Frederick counters such fantasies: ``Whales were important for their meat, and for their...blubber.'' Still, Lilly dreams of whales, then throws them a single blossom from the pier. After a long day's wait, she is rewarded by seeing whales jump against the moon while ``their singing filled the night.'' In a spare, poetic narrative, Sheldon captures a child's wonder at these magnificent creatures, echoed, in a splendid debut, in Blythe's generously broad oil paintings. His whales- -viewed from near, unusual vantage points—are benignly heroic while, from dawn to moonlight, his sea and sky are beautifully observed; best are his lovely, perceptive portraits of the old woman's wise, lined face and Lilly's tousled curls and expressive eyes. Outstanding. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >