Books by Harriet Peck Taylor

SECRETS OF THE STONE by Harriet Peck Taylor
Released: Oct. 5, 2000

Readers who enjoyed Peck's Ulaq and the Northern Lights (1998) will also enjoy this tale in which animals of the desert southwest discover Native American petroglyphs on the walls of a cave and recognize pictures of their own ancestors in the rock art. Coyote, who futilely chases Jackrabbit, falls asleep and dreams about animals, hunters, and a mysterious flute player of long ago. The southwestern-inspired border designs, the animals, and the red rock landscapes are colorfully executed in batik. Although the story is slight, and the notion of animals building a fire and gathering around it to keep warm seems a bit odd, anyone who has ever encountered rock art and wondered what it means, or who has sensed spirits of the past in special places, will identify with the animals' experience. There may be some concern that the spiritual significance of the petroglyphs, which are sacred to many of today's pueblo people, has been treated too lightly, but overall this is a pleasant, if somewhat facile, introduction for young readers to southwestern animals, landscapes, and rock art. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
TWO DAYS IN MAY by Harriet Peck Taylor
Released: April 13, 1999

Taylor's story of a deer family's unexpected appearance in an urban garden is hampered by its monotone delivery, but there is an easy imparting of information that ought to be in every child's environmental-awareness kit. Early one morning, young Sonia discovers five deer tucking into the greens growing in her city garden. While the neighbors come to gape, Sonia's dad and the building super decide to call the animal control officers to have the deer safely removed. Unfortunately, the animal control officer's policy is to exterminate the deer. The neighbors decide to peacefully protest this policy by gathering around the deer to protect them, while in the meantime alerting a wildlife rescue group. Most of the neighbors spend the night alongside the deer; the next morning, Carl, from the rescue group, arrives to sedate and cart away the deer (much to the relief of the animal control officer) to a safe haven. Sprinkled throughout the tale are such concepts as habitat loss, seasonal food needs, overpopulation, and other staples of eco-consciousness. Delicate watercolors emphasize the adorable over the wild, while also heightening the incongruity of the situation. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

Ulaq, a winsome white arctic fox, wonders about the northern lights in this original tale woven of a variety of Eskimo and Native American motifs. Various animals give Ulaq answers about the northern lights, each reflecting a particular world view, e.g., Seal says that the lights look like the sun shining on the backs of huge schools of fish, and "They are the sign to us that this year there will be plenty of fish to eat." In the end, Ulaq is left wondering. Striking, dreamlike illustrations in white, blues, purple, and black convey the look of this phenomenon in backgrounds that shimmer and swirl, while in the foreground, stylized and outlined animals provide dramatic contrast with white-on-white designs. Taylor concludes with a scientific explanation of the northern lights and the sources she used. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

As this Siksika (formerly known as Blackfoot) tale has it, when news that Bear has stolen the long-awaited chinook to keep warm, an orphan boy sets out with several animal friends to free it. Taylor (Brother Wolf, 1996) illustrates her brief, easy-reading retelling with accomplished pictorial batiks that, in their stylized forms and carefully detailed tepees, patterns, and articles of dress, recall Paul Goble's art. Aside from some gaps in logic (pipe smoke makes Bear sleepy for some unexplained reason, and, as if bears can't swim, the boy and his helpers make their escape over a stream's thinning ice), this makes a well-knit, handsomely turned out adventure. Explanatory note and source list appended. (Picture book/folklore. 6-8) Read full book review >
BROTHER WOLF by Harriet Peck Taylor
Released: Sept. 19, 1996

The rippling hues of batik lend color and clarity to a child-friendly adaptation from Seneca folklore. The conflict between Wolf and Raccoon is playful, but sometimes their teasing goes too far. On this occasion, Raccoon plasters mud over the sleeping wolf's eyes, and Wolf wakes thinking he is blind. After having the plaster pecked off by his bird friends, he gets his revenge by rolling Raccoon down a hill in an empty tree trunk. Wolf rewards the birds by painting them beautiful colors. Any retelling, in a glutted field, must have something to distinguish itself from the pack. Taylor exhibits the necessary originality and winsomeness to do just that, without deviating too far from traditional folk art styles. Anyone who has camped in raccoon country knows the accuracy of the critter's depiction as a prankster; details in the text, such as Raccoon's rolling on his back, show Taylor's knowledge of the animal kingdom and bring honesty to the tale. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8) Read full book review >