Books by Harriet Ziefert

CAN YOU WHOO, TOO? by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"Attractive, unusual, and unexpectedly informative. (Informational picture book. 2-6)"
Ziefert and Fatus explore and interpret familiar animal sounds. Read full book review >
MAX AND SARAH BUILD A SNOWMAN / MAX Y SARAH HACEN UN MUÑECO DE NIEVE by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 14, 2014

"Well-suited for today's bilingual learning environments, if not a particularly rich read. (Easy reader. 6-8)"
Max and Sarah's simple indoor game of hide-and-seek moves to the wintry outdoors where, with help from Mommy, they build a snowgirl and a snowboy. Read full book review >
ARE YOU MY BROWN BEAR?/¿ERES MI OSO PARDO? by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 14, 2014

"A simple story with cute illustrations, but the lack of care given to the Spanish translation results in an unbalanced bilingual book as a whole. (Bilingual early reader. 5-8)"
This title is one of several by Ziefert in the bilingual ¡Hola English! series, intended to appeal both to Spanish-speaking readers learning English and the reverse. Read full book review >
IT'S RAINING CATS AND FROGS / ¡LLUEVE GATOS Y RANAS! by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 14, 2014

"A playful, useful outing. (Early reader. 6-8)"
It is raining so hard "it's raining cats and frogs," prompting choices about what to wear and do in the showery outdoors. Read full book review >
WHAT SHIP IS NOT A SHIP? by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 9, 2014

"The prolific Ziefert has provided a game that everyone can play. (Picture book. 4-9)"
Wordplay forms the basis for an intriguing guessing game as trios of similar things are followed by something different. Read full book review >
WHERE IS THE ROCKET? by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 12, 2014

"An appealing goodnight book, though all those questions might suggest an earlier bedtime in order to accommodate them all. (Picture book. 2-4)"
A mobile inspires a child's dream of flying in a rocket. Read full book review >
IT'S TIME TO SAY GOOD NIGHT by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 13, 2013

"A successful offering from a well-matched pair. (Picture book. 1-4)"
A child greets the day and then says goodnight in this circular picture book. Read full book review >
THE PRINCESS AND...THE PEAS AND CARROTS by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 9, 2012

"Too finicky by half to have its day in court. (Picture book. 4-8)"
"The Princess and the Pea," courtesy of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.Read full book review >
ROBIN, WHERE ARE YOU? by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 25, 2012

"Skip this one. (Informational picture book. 5-8)"
Lucy goes birding with her grandfather, learning to use binoculars and identifying many birds before they finally find a robin. Read full book review >
LUCY RESCUED by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 24, 2012

"A sweet take on the bumps in the road home for one shelter dog. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Lucy may have been rescued from the animal shelter, but this pup takes time to adjust to her new, loving family. Read full book review >
PUPPY IS LOST by Harriet Ziefert
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 2011

"These eye-catching design features should appeal to young readers, though the story is on the underdeveloped side. (Picture book. 3-6) "
Max has lost Puppy; Puppy has lost Max. Read full book review >
MY DOG THINKS I'M A GENIUS by Harriet Ziefert
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2011

Boy and dog share the utter pleasure of creating art. Read full book review >
GRANDMA'S WEDDING ALBUM by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2011

Following a game of make-believe, a grandmother shows her grandchildren her wedding album. Grandma's personal narrative is not much more than a device to introduce a simplified explanation of the ceremony. Given how fascinated children are by weddings, Grandma misses a golden opportunity to share intriguing tales about the roots of some of the most common customs she mentions, such as the flower girl and the bouquet-toss. Nor does she illuminate any family traditions that the next generation may want to embrace. While Grandma recounts the vows she and Poppy took promising to be best friends, thus hinting at what lies at the heart of marriage, the emotional depth of the experience remains unplumbed. The accompanying folk-art illustrations are as cheerful as a greeting card but do not offer additional perspective on the story. Pages are designed to replicate spreads in an album; each features a repeating border and a box of text containing an identical, repeating image of Grandma with the children. Although the narrative is lacking in cultural details, the book includes an appendix of wedding traditions from around the world—this does not, however, extend to new rituals such as commitment ceremonies. Readers desiring a more flavorful depiction of the celebration might prefer Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding, by Lenore Look (2006), or Weddings, by Ann Morris (1995). A disappointingly bland treatment of an always-popular subject. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
TAKE CARE OF ME FROM A TO Z by Harriet Ziefert
ABC BOOKS
Released: April 1, 2011

Setting a new standard for whiny neediness, an unseen narrator presents an alphabetical series of demands, beginning with "Adore me," and continuing on through "Kiss me," "Notice me," "Warm me" and "eXcuse me" to (with a picture of two figures on a bicycle) "Zip with me!" Though the brightly patterned, handmade plush animal dolls that pose in different configurations on each page exert plenty of visual child appeal, much of the urging—"Dine with me," "Get in touch with me"—comes off as being delivered by a fretful spouse or an elderly parent feeling ignored by ungrateful offspring. Still others aim for cute hipness that can only fall flat with the presumed preschooler audience: "Buzz me" (a cell phone vibrates urgently), "Friend me" (ugh). Unsurprisingly, the dolls are available for sale on Oles' web site. Far more fruitful bids for attention abound, from Runaway Bunny to Suzanne Bloom's A Splendid Friend Indeed (2005). No eXcuse. (Picture book. 3-5, adult)Read full book review >
ONE RED APPLE by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 16, 2009

Readers follow an apple from tree to market to mouth; when birds pick the seeds from the nibbled core, a tree sprouts, bursting with blossoms in spring and providing a new crop of apples in summer. Gudeon's folk-art-style paintings depict the apple's life cycle in pleasantly busy illustrations with rich purples, reds and blues against an earthy, sand-colored backdrop. Each phase is introduced with a highlighted imperative verb: "Bloom apple tree and dress yourself in pink and white blossoms." The language rings as both forceful and joyous, in tune with nature's powerful beauty. A young girl navigates the apple's life cycle through the course of the book, and observant readers will see that her own life (friendship, love, children) remains in step with the natural evolution she's observing. Parents might take this cue and discuss how human lives and the lives of trees, plants and all of nature remain interconnected, bound by similar patterns. Growth and change become wondrous things in this well-conceived and -executed nature story. (Picture book. 5-10)Read full book review >
MY FOREVER DRESS by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2009

A girl's cherished party dress receives striking renovations through Murphy's bright mixed-media collage. As each year passes, her grandmother revamps her favorite clothes, enhanced with pink leggings, green belt and knitted cardigan. When she dons each outfit, the child repeatedly asks readers: "How do I look?" As she learns the value of reusing resources, she hands her beloved dress down to her younger cousin. Patterned fabrics and descriptive papers accentuate the colorful surroundings, adding texture and pizzazz to the family home. The bold art lends cheerful flair to the straightforward narrative, and the cartoon characters, with their wispy limbs and rosy cheeks, exude a youthful energy. Unfortunately, the girl's child-centered voice fails to reflect her maturation. When the story's emphasis turns to recycling material, the child's eager musings create an unnatural effect. "I like my old dress. It's comfy and I want to wear it more. And I like helping the environment." Though the creative focus on fashion excels, the narrative's earnest delivery struggles in its authenticity. (Picture book. 3-7) Read full book review >
YOU AND ME: WE’RE OPPOSITES by Harriet Ziefert
ANIMALS
Released: June 1, 2009

Zoo animals explore the ways they are different in this latest from Ziefert. Long's tongue-in-cheek digital illustrations add pizzazz to the simple formula of the animals' declarations of their opposite-ness, entirely rendered in speech balloons. Lion asserts his authority over tiger: "I come. You go." Elephant terrorizes lizard: "I'm big. You're little." Giraffe states the obvious to the penguins: "I'm tall. You're short." And in the end an exhausted zookeeper breathes a sigh of relief: "I'm awake. They're asleep." Clean lines, simple details and bright colors keep the focus on the opposite pairs, which explore such attributes as position, size, location, color, mood and activity. While none of the animals declares, "Buy this book, not that one," this does pack a triple punch—the concept-book format pleases parents, the illustrations and guess-ability of the opposites suit a storytime setting and children will go ape over the animals. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
FURRY FRIENDS by Harriet Ziefert
ANIMALS
Released: March 11, 2009

An oversized book distinguished by SAMi's trademark clean design and use of die-cuts encourages toddlers to examine small differences in facial features and expressions. On the left, a blank white face confronts readers; on the right, a cat looks out. Turn the page, and the die-cut layers a dog's snout and ears over the blank face on the left and reveals the circle that backgrounded the cat's tan-colored face, with only green-dot eyes and a black-dot nose and the text, "How is this face different from the dog's face?" The differences are subtle, but interesting to explore—expressions, colors and number of features change, creating many avenues for conversation between grown-up and toddler as well as providing basic animal-identification opportunities. (18-36 mos.)Read full book review >
MIGHTY MAX! by Harriet Ziefert
ADVENTURE
Released: Dec. 1, 2008

Mighty Max, as he calls himself, is an ordinary young boy who likes to wear a red cape. But Max doesn't think he's ordinary, much to his dad's chagrin. And though Max's father does his best to rein in his spunky, silly, daredevil of a son, Max continues to find ways to be the superhero he believes he was meant to be. He climbs rock piles, rides his bike without hands or feet pretending to be Evel Knievel and selflessly saves threatened sand castles at the beach. Whenever Max's dad tells him to sit down, which is often, Max does—"but not for long," as Ziefert's text repeats over and over, ending with this sing-songy reprise. Kreloff's simple childlike drawings appropriately leap off the page. Thick black lines with shots of big color and collage elements seamlessly communicate Max's wild innocence and ebullience. Though Mighty Max may not actually save the day, and certainly deserves a more heroic ending, he'll put smiles on readers' faces. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
SNOW PARTY by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2008

"[W]hen the first snow of the year falls on the first day of winter, [the snowpeople] have a snow party!" A pedestrian text describes the snowpeople's gathering and preparation for the event; it's a novel enough idea, but what makes this book succeed are newcomer Jones's illustrations, which take the premise and go all-out. Traditional three-ball-high snowpeople, wearing the simplest accessories—a top hat, a babushka scarf, earmuffs, a red riding-hood—are given enormous personality and vigor as they celebrate. Varied perspectives offer long-shots and close-ups, deep purples and blues in the background allowing the coal-eyed, carrot-nosed folk to fairly glow at their gala. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
HANUKKAH HAIKU by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2008

Eight simple poems in Haiku form, one for each night of Hanukkah, tell of family traditions and the joy of lighting the candles together, playing dreidel, eating latkes and applesauce, receiving shiny coins or Hanukkah gelt, singing and dancing and, of course, hearing the story of the Maccabees. Without retelling the biblical story, Ziefert manages to capture the essence of this holiday completely and even includes instructions, in both Hebrew and English, for conducting the candle-lighting ritual. Text and format are seamlessly interwoven. Inspired by Chagall, Gudeon's intensely bright, detailed illustrations float and soar through the pages. As each candle is lit, the shortened, fanned pages open to reveal the activities told in the poems and the menorah as it appears that night, until the eighth and final night when the menorah is fully ablaze. Borders, backgrounds and endpapers bloom with symbols that surround Hebrew and English letters wishing the reader a happy Hanukkah and a celebrating family dancing with joy. An exuberant delight. (Picture book. 4-10)Read full book review >
ABC DENTIST by Harriet Ziefert
ABC BOOKS
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

In alphabetical order, this cheery offering provides a succinct overview of a visit to the dentist. Though the details occasionally read like a dictionary, Ziefert should be praised for her ability to match every letter of the alphabet with parts of the mouth or the elements of a dental examination and cleaning. Beginning with A for Appointment, the picture book moves through the dental experience from B (Bib) and C (Cavity) to Z (a slightly cheating Zillion Times Cleaner). In between, pages reveal that Saliva is watery and tasteless, but helps begin digestion, that Teeth are the hardest part of the body and that a Wad of cotton is what the dentist stuffs in the patient's mouth when working on it. Readers also learn the names of the teeth and their components. Murphy's mixed-media collages add dimension and humor to what may become a classic prep for a visit to the dentist's office and is a neat companion to its predecessor, 2007's ABC Doctor. (Informational picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
A BUNNY IS FUNNY by Harriet Ziefert
ANIMALS
Released: June 1, 2008

"There are birds with big beaks, / but not even a few can / hold as much fruit / as the beak of a toucan." Captioned by this and similarly frisky proto-riddles, McKie's brightly colored menagerie will make fascinating viewing for the diapered set. The big, familiar animals appear against textured, vibrant, mostly monochromatic backgrounds, and two playfully die-cut foldouts—one going up to make room for a tall giraffe, the other opening sideways to reveal a toothy lion—provide additional peek-a-boo drama. As if that's not enough, the typeface occasionally wraps itself around its subject to ratchet up the visual fun. Both the clever rhyming and the broad, simple brushwork in the pictures recall Doug Florian's fauna-themed works. Read it aloud for best effect; young children will name all the creatures with enthusiasm. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
PLAY! by Harriet Ziefert
by Harriet Ziefert, illustrated by SAMi
SIZE, SHAPES & PATTERNS
Released: May 1, 2008

Triangle, circle, square, rectangle, oval: Brightly colored die-cut pages allow toddlers to encounter these basic shapes in a variety of incarnations. A basic red triangle against a yellow background leads to a newspaper hat, a dollhouse roof and the newspaper triangle against a green background; the name of the shape appears at the bottom of each page, framed in a cutout. Fun, age-appropriate ingenuity. Read full book review >
LOTS AND LOTS by Harriet Ziefert
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 2008

The tricky concept of relative number receives a cheery elucidation in this oversized board book. Buzzy the donkey has "one balloon"; his rabbit friend has "some balloons"; together with their hot-air balloon-flying alligator pal, they have "many balloons." Bolam's bright, sharply outlined characters brim with energy; each spread makes its concept manifest, with gentle humor. A winner. Read full book review >
MESSY BESSIE by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2007

Bessie, an untidy mouse, awakens one morning to a mess of monumental proportions. Readers are asked to help Bessie locate the items she requires as she prepares for school. Verses—"Bessie's about to have a fit. / Please help her by finding it"—are arranged in rhyming couplets, and each two-page spread is dedicated to one aspect of Bessie's morning ritual. Readers must seek to find a missing striped sock, a misplaced snack and even a permission slip among the scattered household items. Whether or not Bessie makes it out to the bus on time depends upon the reader's detection skills. Making this particularly challenging is the fact that the things Bessie needs to find are simply named; readers are not given a pictorial clue to help locate them. For example, when Bessie needs her snack, it's up to the readers to search the debris field of the kitchen to discover something snack-like. De Muth's highly detailed illustrations are jammed with minutiae to an almost dizzying effect. Readers will need a discerning eye to discover the secrets hidden within them without feeling the need to go clean their own rooms. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
GRANDMA, IT’S FOR YOU! by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2006

Little Lulu fashions a unique birthday gift for her grandmother. Mommy, busy at her computer, is little help when Lulu asks about a present for grandmother's imminent birthday: "Grandma will like whatever you give her." Red-headed Lulu, herself a big fan of accessories, finds an old straw hat in Mommy's closet and decides to decorate it with all of her grandmother's favorite things. Outside, she collects feathers and leaves and flowers. It's not enough, the hat looks too plain. Out comes ribbon, tulle from a tutu, a necklace and the requisite supplies: scissors and tape and glue. A bird's nest on top completes the creation. "Beautiful!" Lulu declares, a sentiment echoed later by the surprised grandma. Browne's watercolors display nice composition and avoid extraneous elements. A good springboard to a craft project; otherwise, a slight, pleasant tale. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
BIGGER THAN DADDY by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2006

Ziefert enters Charlotte Zolotow territory with an intimate bit of give-and-take between little Edward, who wishes he were bigger, and his father as they walk home from the playground, engage in a bit of playful role reversal (" ‘You've been a bad boy,' said Edward. ‘And you haven't finished your juice.' ") and then get ready for bed. In distinctly childlike crayon-and-cut-paper pictures, Kreloff depicts the pair with light brown skin, frizzy hair and smiles. Young readers and listeners, whether from single-parent households like this or otherwise, will smile too. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
ME! ME! ABC by Harriet Ziefert
ABC BOOKS
Released: May 1, 2006

In a terse alphabet for the self-absorbed, Bergen digitally adds an occasional background or detail to 26 close-up views of the vinyl animal characters she manufactures, which appear with such demanding captions as "Admire me," "Buckle me," "E-mail me," "Gimme!" "Kiss me," and "Pay attention to me." This last sums up the whole message here, which is certainly one that most preschoolers will enthusiastically endorse. But with oversized heads atop tiny bodies and eyes made from big, sewn-on circles, the dolls look grotesque rather than cute, especially when blown up to nearly full-page size, and lines like "Obey me" and "Untie me" add a kinky flavor more suitable for sharing among adults. Use selectively. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
MOMMY, I WANT TO SLEEP IN YOUR BED! by Harriet Ziefert
BEDTIME BOOK
Released: Nov. 1, 2005

A sweet nighttime routine is followed by tears when Charlie can't sleep in his own bed—he doesn't know how. The bedtime ritual begins by covering the birdcage: "Good night, sleepy parakeet." The pet bunny is next, then the baby. Each gets tucked into its own bed and kissed good night. Then Mommy and Daddy go to bed, too. But Charlie winds up crying outside their door with a request familiar to all parents: "I want to sleep in your bed." Both of his parents try to get him to sleep, but ultimately Charlie finds sleep on his own—in helping his bedtime friend get to sleep, he is his own Sandman. Kreloff's crayon drawings are childlike—simple block figures, uneven lines, imperfect shading. But they suit the mood and topic perfectly, capturing the facial expressions of the loving parents and the distraught child. The focus is placed on objects that universally mean bedtime—moon and stars, nightlights, beds, pajamas and stuffed toys. A perfect read before falling asleep. (Picture book. 2-5) Read full book review >
THE BIGGEST JOB OF ALL by Harriet Ziefert
ADVENTURE
Released: Nov. 1, 2005

In this sweetly sentimental tale, a little girl ponders the ultimate in grownup accomplishment. In easy conversational style, the text moves from the child's voice to her mother's as they consider what the best job would be for the little girl. Ziefert infuses just the right amount of silliness in the mother's suggestions to keep readers giggling. The child's pragmatic yet precocious rationale behind why some jobs just are not an option for her—teachers are condemned to eternally wipe runny noses, construction hats would really itch after a while and so forth—will strike a chord with young audiences. While the outcome of the conversation is no surprise, it does provide a gratifying finish for the tale. Browne's cartoon-style watercolor illustrations are filled with the minutiae of details that make up the ordinary flotsam and jetsam of a preschooler's life—and her busy mother's too—cheerios and spilled milk litter the kitchen floor and toys struggle for shelf space in the home office. Ziefert's cozy tale encourages young dreamers to contemplate the possibilities of their own glorious futures. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
CIRCUS PARADE by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

Clowns, bears, monkeys, majorettes, acrobats, bands and strong men are among the many who march when the circus parade comes through town. Rhyming couplets describe the action: "A rat-a-tat-tat, a rum-a-tee-tum . . . Sounds the beat of the first snare drum." But the couplets are not quite rhythmic enough to truly, "Feel that rhythm? Catch the beat!"—especially when several are almost identical. Bold, bright colors on the black background of the street make the marchers jump out at the reader. But the parade is going the wrong way. Had the front of the parade been to the left, readers could have naturally followed it from beginning to end as the text described the illustration on each page. Diligent observers will also notice that the parade spectators are identical on every page, including body position and facial expression. Lois Ehlert's Circus and Dr. Seuss's To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street are better bets. (Picture book. 3-8)Read full book review >
BUZZY HAD A LITTLE LAMB by Harriet Ziefert
ANIMALS
Released: June 1, 2005

How do you cope when the thing you depend on for your security can't come with you to school? Ziefert suggests one way in this simple offering decked out in Bolam's color-as-thick-as-frosting art. Technically, call it compensation: Buzzy can't bring his lamb doll ("Wherever Buzzy went, Little Lamb was sure to go."), so Buzzy turns one of his new friends into a lamb while they're playing and they sing—yeah, you guessed it. However, Ziefert isn't as bald as all that. Before that happens, Buzzy has to learn to adjust and take his lumps, to overcome his sense of estrangement, to engage and make friends and then deploy some creative thought to everyone's enjoyment (not to mention his own great gratification). That's what school is all about, Ziefert suggests in her subdued way: learning to use the old bean in new and constructive ways. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
BEACH PARTY! by Harriet Ziefert
ADVENTURE
Released: April 1, 2005

This play rhyme in board book form invites young listeners to sashay like a menagerie of marine life, each one with its own verb: "Can you walk like a penguin? FLIP-FLAP-FLAP! / Slide like a slithering seal? SLIP-SLAP-SLAP!" Taback depicts the animals in characteristic cartoon style, placing them against a clear blue backdrop and all heading, as it turns out, for a swim. A colorful way to get audiences not quite up to the Method exercises in Jean Marzollo's Pretend You're a Cat, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (1990), off their duffs to "Walk . . . Slither . . . Dash . . . " "Dance . . . Scoot . . . Splash!" (Board book. 1-5)Read full book review >
YOU CAN’T TAKE YOUR BODY TO A REPAIR SHOP by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2004

Working with a medical doctor, the prolific Ziefert embeds basic information on the causes and symptoms of colds, stomach- and headaches, zits, blisters, allergies, and other common maladies in a slurry of heavy-handed humor (the "purpose" of carsickness "is to spread vomit all over the back seat of the car, so that parents can learn a lesson about long, boring car rides!") and lame versified asides: "I have a little plantar wart / That goes everywhere with me. / It's quite happy on my foot / But I think it's UGH-a-lee!" This casual tone, reflected in the page design and Haley's simple cartoon illustrations, may be reassuring—as is the repeated message that most illness runs an "expectable course" and goes away on its own—but even younger readers will find the jocularity forced, and would likely appreciate a glossary for unexplained terms that are dropped into the text, like "plantar" or "dander," rather than the closing list of medical specialties. Make an appointment with Margaret O. Hyde's Disease Book (1997) instead. (Nonfiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
THIS IS THANKSGIVING by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2004

In a sturdy board book, Ziefert and Zemke salute the bounty of Thanksgiving. As gently rolling as a prairie swell, it begins its rhymed celebration with the foodstuffs: "This is potato, mashed and white, / and gravy made exactly right / and the mix of / carrots and peas / and the yams that / are sure to please." There's a fun, faintly corny melodiousness to the verse, heartfelt but with an eye skinned for good cheer. Each new goodie is added to the cumulative listing until there enters the last bounty: all those relatives and friends who elevate this tribute above mere stuffing (both the bird and the belly). The final pages reveal a fold out for "a thankful song / for our blessings all year long." The art is simple but as appealing to the young eye as a tray of bonbons, and is sure to make at least one reader drool. (Board book. 2-5)Read full book review >
ONE SMART SKUNK by Harriet Ziefert
ANIMALS
Released: Nov. 1, 2004

Rebecca, the skunk of the title, lives under a suburban back porch. She sprays Beamer, the family dog, once too often, and Willy and his parents try to catch her in a trap. Rebecca's too smart. When Willy's dad notices Rebecca is about to have a litter of kits, the humans bring out the extreme measures (moth balls, ammonia and rap music). Rebecca leaves them a note and takes off to move in with a friend in the city. Prolific Ziefert scores one of her few misses with this unfocused defense of skunk-kind. The point seems to be imparting naturalistic details about skunks, but the main character is humanized to too great an extent especially in the leaving of the note and the critiquing of the cage. Cohen's digitally manipulated, stylized illustrations are reminiscent of Lauren Child's work especially in That Pesky Rat. The artwork and Ziefert's explanation of the inspiration for the story are the highlights here. Collections in need of easy, bright science-influenced titles could do worse, but this isn't essential. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
SIMMS TABACK’S BIG BOOK OF WORDS by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2004

Caldecott Medal-winner Taback wields a strong black line and vibrating color on each of these pages, where an object sits on a plain white background. The four sections—playthings, clothing, food, and animals—appeal to the deepest interests of the toddler set. Each page has but one word (or, very occasionally, a phrase like "pail and shovel" or "peanut butter and jelly") and its image. There's no forgetting that Taback is an artist. Probably no real teddy bear ever wore such a bow tie with his striped pants and backwards baseball cap, and no real child ever wore a shirt of such delirious black and orange plaid. But no matter, the eye-popping colors only serve to identify the object—hot-pink pockets on the turquoise jeans, yellow, green, and red keys on a blue chain, a positively psychedelic red tomato. The only misstep is the telephone, a black number with a dial and a cord that children may not recognize at all. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
BUZZY’S BOO-BOO by Harriet Ziefert
ANIMALS
Released: July 1, 2004

Ziefert and Bolam team up again in this short but sweet foray into the bumpy landscape of childhood tumbles. The jaunty cadence propels the reader through the minor trauma of Buzzy's boo-boo. This young donkey has a big bump on his head, so each member of the family does their part to make it better. Daddy washes it and uses magic words to cure it. Mommy dries it, and then sister offers a selection of Band-Aids from which Buzzy can choose. True to toddler form, Buzzy then administers the same loving treatment to his teddy and wants to see his own boo-boo in the mirror. Later his sister distracts him from his injury by prompting him to play. The charming illustrations are boldly outlined and illuminated in creamy, rich colors on silky, heavy paper. Erring on the side of brevity, this is more of an incident than a story, leaving the reader wanting more. Then again, this little read may be just what the doctor ordered. (Picture book. 2-4)Read full book review >
33 USES FOR A DAD by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2004

Like moms, dads need credit for all the "jobs" they do in the family. Ziefert presents these as a numbered list of the titles dads can hold. They are the chefs—presiding over the backyard barbecue—the designer of Halloween costumes, the map reader, and so on. They love and support their children by holding their hands, teaching them to swim, and being their biggest cheerleader. They are the taxi drivers, the alarm clocks, and the ATMs that keep families running smoothly. Haley's watercolor illustrations add warmth and humor to the list. The dad whose job is "Horsie" is decked out in a too-small-for-his-head cowboy hat, while the ATM-dad has a long line of kids waiting in front of him for their turn. Dads of all sizes, shapes, and colors are represented, though some are stereotypical: the dad who's a dancing partner looks like he just stepped out of a bad Arthur Murray commercial, while the campfire-builder is a scruffy, plaid-wearing woodsman, but that character is also the "storyteller." Altogether, a fun way to show children that dads do many things in families and to tell dads they're appreciated. (Picture book. 2-8)Read full book review >
ROCKHEADS by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 26, 2004

Rocks with smaller-rock noses and painted-on eyes and mouths are nicely photographed and placed atop simply drawn bodies in this read-aloud for the nursery set. At first, "Here I am. There's only one me. / I'm all alone, as you can see." But the first-rock narrator is quickly joined by friends in a rhyming and numerical sequence that jumps from activity to activity: "Forwards, guards, and the center, Jean, / Five of us make a basketball team. / With Fred, a gymnast, in the group, / We're a six-kid acrobatic troop." Pictures are extremely simple, made from bold, black outlines and flatly solid colors. A few props for each activity provide casual distinction between pages. Not necessarily deep enough to sustain repeated readings, but the photos of rock faces are magnetic. Beware: may cause rock-crafting urges in older siblings. (illustrator note) (Picture book. 2-4)Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Dec. 1, 2003

Ziefert provides a quick scan of the skeleton, organized along the old neck-bones-connected-to-the-shoulder-bone routine, with a lot of names of the bones, a few trivial asides—the topmost neck bone is called the Atlas, because it holds up the head—and not enough solid information. It's hard to say what the intended audience is, as it's too sophisticated for preschoolers, with humor they won't understand, yet too simple for older kids, who need more details than this offers. The cartoon illustrations are offbeat and appealing; they work best when overlaid, as they often are, with real x-ray images of the bone being described. Among the other excellent books available on the topic, this one lacks bones—it doesn't quite stand up. (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-7)Read full book review >
HOME FOR NAVIDAD by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 29, 2003

Cohen's reds, greens, and blues practically glow, and the sharp black outlines that he lays on them, particularly to highlight the human characters, recall both children's drawings and the winning nonchalance of Ludwig Bemelmans. Add Ziefert's tender, deliberately paced tale of a young Mexican girl's longing for her mother, now three years in the US earning money as a housecleaner, and the result is a beautiful new addition to the shelf of multicultural Christmas stories. While Rosa's daily life—picking corn with Tio Pancho, washing clothes in the river with Abuela—is harsher than that of most American children, Ziefert's mood is nostalgic and upbeat, less disturbing to youngsters than Francisco Jimenez's more intense and moving The Christmas Gift / El regalo de Navidad (2000). The accepted sadness of the family separation, the excitement of receiving a letter from her mother, even the math lesson requiring Rosa's class to calculate how many weeks a man will need to save for a plane ticket—again suggesting broken families—combine to make Rosa's longing very real. Children will strongly identify with her dream, at the end of the long day, of her mother wrapping her in her arms on Christmas day. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
YOU CAN’T BUY A DINOSAUR WITH A DIME by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2003

Ziefert offers a tale about saving, spending, and saving again. Pete is a young boy who likes to save his money. An empty jar bank makes him sad. In rhyming verse, Ziefert tells how Pete spends his savings on a toy dinosaur, then must do work around the house to earn more money. Readers are encouraged to participate by counting their own savings and telling how they have earned and spent it. "Money Fun" and "Money Facts" sections add ways to extend learning. Haley's colorful cartoons nicely illustrate the work that Pete must do in order to earn his money, and the fact that items in the store have price tags that show the amount of money needed to purchase them. Children who have learned the value of money and how to add coins will be able to put their skills to use as Pete displays and counts his coins. Not for beginning savers or spenders. (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >
A DOZEN DUCKLINGS LOST AND FOUND by Harriet Ziefert
ANIMALS
Released: March 24, 2003

When Farmer Donald removes 12 broken fence posts from the ground just before Mother Duck marches her 12 ducklings across the pasture, a gentle misadventure occurs. Folk-art-style paintings use warm colors to keep the feeling of peril low, but the ducklings do fall into the fence-post holes and are unable to get out until Farmer Donald rescues them. Subtle geometrical patterns, squiggles, and curlicues, along with a lack of linear perspective, create beautiful two-dimensional backgrounds with a slight element of abstraction. With the exception of the human figure of Farmer Donald, who is drawn stiffly and seems to lack artist intentionality, the illustrations are a wonderful combination of simplicity (the deceptively simple shapes of the animals and the two-dimensional spaces they inhabit) and complexity (paint texture, gorgeous color combinations, and ever-changing composition). Only eight ducklings are actually ever lost and found, but Mother Duck's tendency to count both forwards and backwards is a nice touch; this "counting story," more story than counting, is calm and colorful. An afterword offers interesting information about the Muscovey ducks that are so charmingly pictured. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
LUNCHTIME FOR A PURPLE SNAKE by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 24, 2003

Ziefert and McKie (Egad Alligator!, 2002, etc.) team up again with a story about the creative process. Jessica loves to visit her artist grandpa in his studio. Like all artists, Jessica sometimes gets frustrated with her painting, but grandpa reassuringly points out that even mistakes can turn into something good—a brown blob can become a very convincing meatball. They collaborate on a painting, with grandpa dispensing artistic advice as they go: "Don't start right away. Take time to choose your colors. Try to make the paint sing." McKie's trademark geometrics, his simplified, flat forms and colors that manage to be subtle and bold at the same time, never fail to please. Grandpa's oh-so-arty beret ends up on Jessica's head while she stands beaming beneath their framed composition, "Lunchtime for a Purple Snake." An artist is born. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
31 USES FOR A MOM by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2003

The team that listed 39 Uses for a Friend (not reviewed) finds fewer uses for mothers, but at least as inventive ones. The text consists entirely of one- or two-word numbered descriptors of mom activities, and the waggish pictures illustrate these with verve and humor. The range, which all moms and mom-like products will recognize, include "chauffeur," "hairstylist," "personal shopper," and "answering service." The pictures, created in "Flashe paint and ink on bristol board," feature sturdy figures with spindly arms, round heads, inventively patterned clothing, and squiggly facial features on a white background. This allows the illustrator free reign: when a Mom is #10, "encyclopedia," she lectures to her son with a butterfly alight on her finger and a broad-brimmed hat on her head, a few flowers suggesting the outdoors. Mom as #27, "bank," has a mouth pressed into a straight and long-suffering line; Mom as #29, "hand holder," sports a long braid, a polka-dot hat, and an accomplished air as she and daughter view their snowman. Perhaps a favorite is #12, "beach chair," where Mom under an umbrella reads her magazine while her kid is neatly pillowed, stretched out on her lap and torso. Doughty's minimal art allows for moms and offspring of many colors and hairstyles, including a suggestion of parents who may not always be the same hue as their children: Mom as pitcher, catcher, and retriever, numbers 21 through 23 (even losing her baseball cap in the process) is particularly apt and adept. Funny and oddly tender, moms and kids alike should enjoy continuing the list. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Dec. 1, 2002

Aiming to raise the consciousnesses of newly fledged readers about their sensoria, the prolific Ziefert presents a breezy tally of basic facts about smell, touch, taste, hearing, and sight. She intersperses pages of goofy verse ("When you're tired and think you're sweet, / Pull off your socks and smell your feet") and each chapter includes a page of feedback-inducing questions as, "Have you ever touched anything that you'll never touch again?" To go with the text's informal, hand-printed look, Haley scatters a multicultural, multi-age cast of smiling, freely drawn cartoon children across the pages. The author touches on interrelationships between, for instance, smell and taste, and makes it clear that the brain is a sort of silent partner in perception, but she stays at skin level. Point out the "Let's Read and Find Out" series to children who want to probe a bit deeper. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-8)Read full book review >
CHRISTMAS HAS MERRY! by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2002

The inverted logic of this patterned text by Ziefert (Halloween Has Boo, 2002, etc.) will be amusing to adult readers, but the humor may be lost on most of the traditional audience of the board book set. The patterned text offers 15 examples of the "Cheeks have cherry. Christmas has merry!" construction, which will be puzzling rather than funny to those who are still assimilating grammatical structures. ("Beds have sleeps," for example.) However, extremely verbal two-year-olds and older preschoolers (and their parents) will find some of the text structures quite funny, as in "Stockings have toeses. Moms have dozes," or "Presents have crinkles. Santas have wrinkles." Doughty collaborates again for the third entry in this series with her sophisticated illustrations, using an angular style with the structures outlined in ink and a contemporary palette that incorporates lavender and citrus shades into the holiday spectrum. The text is hand-lettered in the wobbling printing style of a first-grader, and in fact beginning readers should be an additional audience for this volume, as five- and six-year-olds will appreciate the humor and illustration style if they can get beyond the "little kid's" format. The cover features a special-effects Christmas package in shiny holographic silver ornamented with a cutout Christmas tree. For those who like their Christmas sugarplums tart rather than sweet. (Board book. 1-6)Read full book review >
EGAD ALLIGATOR! by Harriet Ziefert
ANIMALS
Released: March 25, 2002

Little Gator doesn't feel tired, so he decides to go exploring instead of taking a nap. But how can he hope to make any friends when the mere sight of him sends people running and shouting, "Egad Alligator!" Little Gator tries to befriend some people by asking them about the fishing conditions, but they quickly run away. Spying a picnic, he decides to try some potato chips, but someone shoots an arrow at him and he is soon running for his life. After several failed attempts at making friends with some herons and some people playing a softball game, he finds that he's lost. Coming to a log, Little Gator decides to take a nap before trying to find his way home, but the round, bumpy thing floating in the water isn't a log—it's a python. "Egad Python!" shouts Little Gator. He swims hard for home and finds his brother just waking from his nap. "Wanna go exploring?" his brother asks. Paintings comprised of simple yet bold strokes of color depict Little Gator and his adventures perfectly. Children will delight in the drawings as they see their own techniques mirrored in the creation of faces and the crooked placement of features. A wonderful addition to any collection. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
MURPHY MEETS THE TREADMILL by Harriet Ziefert
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

Ziefert and Bolam (Clara Ann Cookie, Go to Bed, not reviewed, etc.) have combined their talents again to introduce Murphy, the burly yellow Labrador who loves to eat. Murphy is Cheryl's charge, and he likes nothing better than lying on the porch, rising only to accept any morsel tendered his way. And there have been many morsels, enough to find Murphy tipping the scales at 95 pounds. " ‘You definitely need to diet,' Cheryl scolded." So she gets her pooch a treadmill. Understandably, Murphy is a tad reluctant to start burning the calories, but Cheryl insists. Murphy begins to shed the pounds and catches the eye of the neighborhood dogs: "Look at that build" and "He's no couch potato." Then the newspapers get hold of the story and Murphy gets plastered all over the front page. " ‘Clearly, this was just the beginning. Soon I would be famous. And rich!' " says Murphy. Well, maybe, but there's no denying Murphy's charm, nor Ziefert's infectious, lighthearted spirit, which Bolam snares with her simple, rosy paintings. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
BIRDHOUSE FOR RENT by Harriet Ziefert
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

Told from the unusual first-person point of view of a birdhouse, this picture book begins with the arresting announcement, "I am a birdhouse," over a picture of a birdhouse sporting a For Rent sign. Below, at a discreet distance, sits an intensely interested party: a cat. The stage is set. As the birdhouse waits, the seasons progress, birds fly past without interest, and some unsatisfactory renters move in: wasps and chipmunks. Finally, to the birdhouse's delight, a chickadee moves in and lays eggs, three of which are stolen by the canny cat. When the rest of the chickadees are strong enough, they fly safely away. Bringing the story full circle, the birdhouse is for rent once more, with the farm cat still lurking—but much closer than in the first scene. The expressionistic paintings add much to this simple drama in nature. Using a saturated palette, as rich as melted crayons, the illustrator keeps the golden-yellow birdhouse, its color echoed in the stripe of the tiger cat, at the center of most paintings. Its round door is eye-like as it watches alertly for prospective tenants in the outside world and overlooks the chickadee family once they have settled in and their eggs have hatched. Interior perspectives of the birdhouse fill the page with nest, eggs, and subsequently plump baby birds. The drama is heightened by a view of one large cat's eye peering in at the tempting, unprotected eggs. The only barrier to the story's guaranteed success is presented on the first page when the rental birdhouse declares, "As you can see, I am vacant. I have no tenants." The youngest children, who might enjoy the story, may have little grasp of the concepts of rental, vacancy, and tenants. But the seductive art makes it more than worthwhile to explain. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
NO KISS FOR GRANDPA by Harriet Ziefert
ANIMALS
Released: June 1, 2001

In a wry tale of toddlerhood, young Louie, firmly engrossed in his own world, has a hard time aligning his wants in accordance with other's desires. Like most toddling tots, negation and compromise do not figure largely in his vocabulary. Spending the day with his vastly patient grandfather, Louie staunchly refuses to dole out kisses or play ball. Instead he dictates the how, what, when, and where of their games. With each one of his suggestions brusquely rejected, Louie's imperturbable grandpa serenely continues to play with his cantankerous grandchild. Soon, some quiet time spent sharing stories cures the troublesome tot of his contrariness and, at day's end, Louie bestows a sweet kiss upon his beloved grandparent. Ziefert (What Do Ducks Dream?, p. 510, etc.) unerringly portrays the seemingly incomprehensible twists and turns of the toddler psyche to perfection. Louie's sudden, heartfelt outpouring of affection for his grandpa saves him from curmudgeon status and is a keen reflection of the quicksilver change of emotions that are the hallmark of this tumultuous time. Boon's colorful gouache paintings humorously lighten up Louie's bossiness. Her cuddly-cute renderings of Louie take the sting out of his waspish behavior and Grandpa, a mature feline with graying eyebrows, wins kudos for his benevolent demeanor. A piquant tale that will strike a chord with readers on both sides of the age divide. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
WHAT DO DUCKS DREAM? by Harriet Ziefert
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 2001

With a nod to Freud for her inspiration, Ziefert suggests that animals dream just as people do. Of what? On "Sigmund's farm," "The cows all dream of heaps of hay / And fields of boats for floating away," as "Fluffy ducks in their sleepy hours / Fly their bikes over hills and flowers." Though owl, fox, and snake provide potential trauma by being "quite wide awake," horses, goats, pigs, pets, and children also dream peacefully away. Saaf combines swatches of cloth, grass, wallpaper, and other materials with drowsy-looking painted figures, alternating rural nighttime scenes with equally real-looking dreamscapes. The verses flow with sleep-inducing smoothness, beneath a succession of (mostly) soothing images in this invitation to sweet dreams. Who would have thought a cat might dream of wearing red high heels? (afterword) (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
SOMEDAY WE’LL HAVE VERY GOOD MANNERS by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

An etiquette guide for the very young—with an ironic twist. A brother/sister duo solemnly declares their intent to exhibit exemplary manners as they mature. The siblings' catalogue of social niceties runs the gamut: saying please and thank you; proper table manners; playground rules; and telephone behavior. Ziefert (Hats Off for the Fourth of July, p. 642, etc.) reveals a keen understanding of children's penchant for the unvarnished truth; including in her gentle admonishments the idea of graciously accepting a gift, whether it's wanted or not. However, lest adults think this is a tale of pattern-card perfect conduct for little ones, a quick peek at Demarest's uproarious watercolor illustrations and the attendant captions will rapidly upend that misguided notion. Beneath each dictate is an illustration that portrays a reality far removed from the purported ideal. For example, the demure statement "I'll put a napkin in my lap. And I'll use it!" is accompanied by a picture depicting the young boy vigorously blowing his nose into his napkin at the dinner table. Demarest's celebration of youthful social solecisms is right on target, destined to evoke groans (or guffaws) from adults and sheepish giggles from kids. The framed artwork, with vivid hues and oversized format, is the focal point of each page and terrific for sharing in a group setting. The deadpan delivery of Ziefert's pragmatic text, combined with Demarest's waggish illustrations, makes for a raucously funny tale and a rambunctious read-aloud. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
HATS OFF FOR THE FOURTH OF JULY! by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2000

The business of a parade is to march along with style and zip and knock the socks off those who watch. Add the excitement of the nameless narrator in Ziefert's (First He Made the Sun, see above, etc.) rhythmic, rhymed Fourth of July parade to first-time illustrator Miller's humor, and readers receive a down-home parade that means business. The book captures summer's spirit, from the shorts and T-shirts of the watchers to the sun-blocking card on the balloon-seller's nose and the winding-down, post-parade, nighttime fireworks. Parade units pass by in full-bleed spreads, the last unit leaving off one edge, the next nosing into place on the other, pictures that echo the anticipation expressed in text: "Who will be the next to come?" It's all here, what those lucky enough to experience parades in small towns or active urban neighborhoods know. There's the twirler who drops her baton; the unleashed dog who picks it up; the cowboys who've recruited a kid to clean up after their horses and the stilt-walker (there's always a stilt-walker!). Then there's the big kids' float and the one done up by adults; the little kids' marching band and the one from the high school, not to mention the antique cars; the motorcycles; the Little Leaguers and the kids on bicycles rag-tagging parade's end. Hats off indeed to this splendid parade of a book. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
FIRST HE MADE THE SUN by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2000

Ziefert (Hats Off for the Fourth of July!, see below, etc.) draws from a traditional African-American folktale by the same title to invoke the creation story from Genesis. After the first few lines, Ziefert changes course and with clever, rhyming text, she addresses the familiar creatures of the planet. She conjures the likes of raccoons, fish, snakes, birds, and even a possum. "He made fishes, clams, and oysters, / But they dried out in the breeze, / So He sprinkled them with water / And put them in the seas." McKie's illustrations enliven the text as the lush pastels simply, but boldly, portray the animals in their habitats. Some readers will be wary of the reference to the creator as "He." Also, it is notable that God creates Adam and gives him the honor of naming the animals, while Eve is not mentioned, only illustrated peeking out of a bush. Children will enjoy poring over the illustrations of all the critters in this gentle and unique introduction to the creation story. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD by Harriet Ziefert
Released: Feb. 1, 2000

Ziefert and Bolam have collaborated on more felicitous projects than this clanky reworking of a familiar tale. This Easy-to-Read retelling is supposed to give fledgling readers a boost of confidence, with modest, repetitious vocabulary and short sentences, but the wording is clunky: "I will be careful," says Little Red Riding Hood. "I will not talk to strangers." The story can't survive such an artless distillation, in which the eating of Grandmother and Little Red Riding Hood is disconcertingly antiseptic. The potential pleasure of reading is sacrificed to pure mechanics, making basal readers look like poetry. (Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >
ELEMENOPEO by Harriet Ziefert
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

Meet Elemenopeo, a chubby black-and-white cat who takes pride in being able to come and go as he pleases, but discovers a hidden talent when his cat door is closed for repairs. Forced to roam indoors, he comes upon a box of paints and a blank easel and—voila!—"Portrait of the Artist as a Young Bird." Time for a nap, and a soaring dream. Saaf lays out Elemenopeo's world with thickly brushed gouaches, surrounding his self-satisfied feline with birds to tease and other comforts. Though perhaps not up to Thatcher Hurd's Art Dog (1996), this cat displays a promising imagination, and young readers, whatever their artistic proclivities, will enjoy making his acquaintance. (Picture book. 5-7) Read full book review >
WHEN I FIRST CAME TO THIS LAND by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 18, 1998

In a lighthearted look at the immigrant experience, Ziefert retells a cumulative 19th-century American poem that describes a cheerful man who comes to the US, buys a farm, sets up house, and makes a life. The verses are catchy and fun: With each page, the farmer explains what he has taken on, and what he names it. "I called my horse/I'm-the-boss!/I called my plow/Don't- know-how!/And I called my farm/Muscle-in-my-arm!" Shack, cow, wife, and son also show up, with the son taking over the last verse by naming his duck, mother, and father. Taback's bold, bright illustrations portray the charming farmer in a series of mishaps that add fun and meaning to the verse. Antique ads, photos, ticket stubs, newspaper clipping, and stamps pasted into the art augment the period of history in a grand story about a brave generation who won't soon be forgotten. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
PUSHKIN MEETS THE BUNDLE by Harriet Ziefert
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 1998

Pushkin, a very personable white dog in a red sweater, loves his life, living with his people, Kate and Michael, on a quiet street, sharing their lives and sleeping in their bedroom. Then one night, they don't come home on time; when they finally arrive, they bring a bundle with them—the new baby that might have been inferred from Kate's baggy sweaters. Ignored and cast out of the bedroom, Pushkin does what any red-blooded sibling would do: acts up, considers running away, gets scolded. When only Pushkin's doggy tricks amuse and quiet the baby, the dog admits that he might come to like the baby after all. This take on the new-baby situation is rendered in bright, flat gouache colors; there is a fair amount of humor in the illustrations and Saaf shows a nice command of visual pattern and repetition, full of child appeal. (Picture book. 3-7) Read full book review >
THE MAGIC PORRIDGE POT by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 1, 1997

With beginning readers in mind, Ziefert (The Tweeny-Tiny Woman, 1995, etc.) retells the traditional story of the magic pot that won't stop cooking in this entry in the Easy-to-Read series. This time, it is a little girl who saves her mother and the town from a flood of porridge by remembering the right combination of words to shout at the pot. Simple drawings showing a contemporary setting are only part of the recasting process this folktale has undergone. Repeated words and short lines will encourage new readers, and for that, the book is useful. It's just not much fun; the confines of the form, worked to such advantage by Minarik, Lobel, and Rylant (and Nola Buck—see review, above), make for a flat-footed telling here, and since most children know a version of the tale, there's no suspense to engage them. (Fiction/folklore. 4- 7) Read full book review >
THE TWEENY-TINY WOMAN by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 1995

This retelling of an old English ghost story is designated Level 2 in this publisher's Easy-to-Read series (the books at this level have so few words that they look more like small picture books than easy readers). Less than 300 words long, with plenty of repetition and lots of visual cues, it is accessible to beginning readers. In most versions, the voice that repeatedly demands ``Give me my bone!'' emanates from the bedroom cupboard where the woman has placed a bone that she took from a grave, and ghostly shapes are sometimes pictured lurking there; here, the source of the voice is not pinpointed, and in the end, the frightened woman throws the bone out the window. It's a logical arrangement, but certainly less spooky. The pen-and-ink-and-watercolor illustrations show all the appropriate teeny-tiny accoutrements of the tale. Jane O'Connor's easy version of this story (1986) is a bit longer, has larger type, and slightly less challenging vocabulary. For readers able and willing, try Paul Galdone's charmingly scary edition (1984). (Picture book/folklore. 5-7) Read full book review >
PETE'S CHICKEN by Harriet Ziefert
FICTION
Released: Aug. 1, 1994

Pete knows that he is one-of-a-kind. He doesn't look or act or sound like any of the other kids at school. So when he draws a chicken with an orange head, blue wings, red thighs, purple feet, a yellow body, and a green tail, he is proud of his imaginative rendering. Unfortunately, the other kids don't see it that way and set about teasing him. He gets pretty riled up about the whole affair and goes home to show his creation to his mother. Eventually, he decides that his way is special and unique, and that he will continue to feel proud of it no matter what the others think. Although the spirited, goofy drawings in which all the children are presented as rabbits are partially redeeming, the overplayed message of this book is too didactic. (Picture book. 4+) Read full book review >