Books by Heather Maione

THE CATS IN THE DOLL SHOP by Yona Zeldis McDonough
Released: Nov. 10, 2011

"A quiet treasure. (Historical fiction. 8-12)"
In this companion book to The Doll Shop Downstairs (2009), Anna learns the joys and challenges of adding a same-age cousin to her family. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 3, 2009

Mix one part Rumer Godden's The Story of Holly and Ivy and many parts Sydney Taylor's All-of-a-Kind Family and you create a standout family-and-doll story. It's 1914 New York City, and Anna, the middle daughter of a doll repairman, helps her parents save their business and helps her sisters become better sisters, too. The war makes it impossible to find the German-made supplies needed to repair the dolls in the Breittlemanns' shop, so Anna suggests they create new dolls, resulting in Nurse Nora. When the doll buyer from F.A.O. Schwartz discovers Nurse Nora, a new family business is born. Fascinating historical details of life on the Lower East Side mesh with the day-to-day routines of these Jewish sisters as they learn to get along with each other through work and play. Maione's charming black-and-white illustrations reflect the nostalgic tone and make the book manageable for new readers. A fascinating author's note lets readers in on a little secret—the birth of the Madame Alexander dolls was the inspiration for this story. (Historical fiction. 7-12)Read full book review >
Released: March 23, 2009

Third grader Oliver Olson has a problem that may make many young readers envious: His parents have a compulsion to be deeply involved in his homework, to the extent that when he's assigned a diorama on the solar system, Dad and Mom are planning to do all the work. Oliver's parents are extremely overprotective, and he yearns to find some freedom now that he's getting older. Fortunately, classmate Crystal comes from a less restrictive family, and, when they find common ground on the issue of Pluto's no-longer-a-planet status, she volunteers to partner with Oliver on the diorama. Oliver's concern about his parents' likely disappointment at their exclusion adds a nice level of believability to his character. Each chapter includes a lively illustration from Maione that matches the text neatly, characters' varied facial expressions conveying just the right emotions. Oliver may not change the world by the end of his diorama project, but he will certainly provide a fast-paced, entertaining read to the chapter-book audience. (Fiction. 7-9) Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 10, 2009

A stylish young princess, weary of dressing à la mode, yearns for her favorite outfit. In jaunty rhyming couplets, Cuyler describes Bess's extravagant array of trappings. From the moment she awakens until she retires for the evening, this fashionable young princess has an outfit for every conceivable occasion. Breakfast with the queen requires nothing less than velveteen while lunch with the prince finds Bess resplendent in chintz (pantaloons). The playful rhymes detailing fanciful costumes continue until Bess reveals her attire of choice. Maione's ink-and-watercolor illustrations depict a lavishly outfitted tot with a cascade of red curls. Her imaginative confections will satisfy even the most ardent of princess devotees. Comical details, such as the inclusion of Bess's mischievous pup in every vignette and the princess's recalcitrant expressions as she is bedecked and beribboned, keep the story from becoming cloying. A good choice for budding princesses both starry-eyed and sassy. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2007

Sylvia the "Sleuth for Hire" is up to her gumshoe tricks again in this third Sly mystery. As always, Sly only takes on cases that her cat, Taxi, would approve of, and her friends are her best (and only) customers. In the first case, Sly must discern why there is a cache of junk food in the bushes and uncover the reason behind her pesky neighbor Brian's fish-breath. In the second, Sly is hired by Kate to determine why Princess is sabotaging her cooking club by bringing all the wrong food. Jack hires her, in the third case, to uncover the mystery behind his disappearing oranges. Occasional line sketches embellish the text. Throughout the story, readers learn about some disagreeable health food, the danger of arsenic in seeds and food allergies. Once again, the cases lack tension making it mild reading for the chapter-book set and leaving the reader feeling as though the real mystery is human nature. Not so spicy but, as Sly puts it, these cases serve up some "food for thought." (Fiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2007

Eight-year-old Annie is devastated by the sudden death of her mother. She and her father try to get through the days and weeks and months without her, groping their way through birthdays, vacations and school. Mr. Rossi is perhaps as bewildered as Annie by their loss, but keeps up a brave front and a loving, honest relationship with Annie. Annie treasures a memory book created by Mrs. Rossi's elementary-school students, reading and rereading it as a means of keeping her mother close. Hest handles a delicate subject with compassion and understanding, without descending into maudlin emotion. Annie's reactions are perfectly in keeping with her age, and she is never presented as an example of the proper way to mourn. The "actual" memory book that has brought Annie and her father so much comfort follows the conclusion of the story. It allows the reader an additional glimpse into Mrs. Rossi's character and the grief felt by her family and students. Maione's ink-and-black watercolors delicately illustrate some of the key events in Annie's most difficult year. A tender treatment of loss and recovery. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2006

Sly runs a detective agency called "Sleuth for Hire," but she only takes cases that her cat, Taxi, would care about. She is smart and serious and is kept in business by her friends. In Case #1, she is hired by her pal Jack, known for his sudden appearances, to figure out why there's always a flock of birds hanging out on the soccer field. After collecting a few clues, Sly discovers a custodial mishap. Case #2 deals with her friend's missing ballet slippers, disappearing swim fins and appearing baseball cleats. Sly is given to moments of self-doubt, jealousy and grumpiness, but ultimately her gumshoe skills pay off. In Case #3, the question is why Brian, her lively four-year-old neighbor, suddenly wants to be rolled by a rolling-pin, dangle from trees and take long soaks in the tub. In this trio of trifles there is not a nail-biting moment to be found, but Sly and her friends do deliver a pleasant read and some clues to the mysteries of friendship. (Fiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2005

Clear some shelf space: Young Cam Jansen has a new contemporary. Sylvia, a.k.a. "Sly," solves three local mysteries involving oddly behaved pets. She uses an uncontrived combination of sharp observation, careful reasoning, and the occasional flash of insight. Along with crafting believable "cases" for the youthful detective, the mother-and-son co-authors have some "Sly" fun here. They give their sleuth a cat named Taxi (who always comes when called), one friend named Melody, who plays the piano, and another named Jack, who is always jumping into sight. There's also a pesky four-year-old neighbor, Brian, with a distinctly slanted view of reality and a mysterious pet named "Wilson" that turns out to be a bucket full of . . . well, read and find out. Maione inks plenty of lighthearted illustrations, mostly neighborhood scenes, for this engaging series opener. (Fiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
RUSSELL’S SECRET by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: Nov. 1, 2001

Hurwitz takes a standard theme—"I don't want to go to school"—and develops it in an intriguing and merry fashion: It's not so much that the boy becomes bored, but how he does. Four-year-old Russell, the subject of three earlier Hurwitz books, doesn't choose to go to preschool one morning and he throws a fit to make his point. Distracted by another crying baby, Russell's sister Elisa, his mother relents: "If you want to be a baby, you can stay home and be a baby today." Russell does a little dance of joy, but soon learns the limitations of babyhood. He switches on the tube, then his mother reminds him that babies don't watch television. He plays with his Legos, until his mother points out that they are a choking hazard for babies. The only kind of food he gets is either taken from a bottle or mashed to a pulp, and naps are everywhere. Russell opts for school before it is too late. The pleasure here, in addition to Maione's delicate and effective pen-and-wash illustrations, is how neatly Hurwitz skirts any one-upmanship on the part of Russell's mother. It is simple experience that slips the message to Russell, and it becomes his decision to go to school. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
SUBWAY SONATA by Patricia Lakin
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

An encouraging, if somewhat wooden, look at the creative process as experienced by four people drawing their inspiration from a ride on the same subway train. As Carlos, Rachel, Paul, and Maria head for their respective jobs on the morning subway ride, each finds a little something that expands inside them into a work of art. Carlos witnesses a young immigrant boy getting the devil from his mother and it triggers an idea for a book; the train as a living theater of sound generates a idea for aspiring composer Rachel; Paul thinks he can translate a lovely Spanish song into dance; and Maria wants to capture the spirit of a subway preacher with her paints. Often using four panels per spread, Maione's (Summer with Elisa, not reviewed, etc.) delicate pen-and-wash illustrations depict the creative process of the four artists: They charge ahead, they get discouraged, they grab at insights that help guide them. Then, this being a perfect world, each gets to publish, perform, or display his or her work. In a nice touch, each of the artists gets to enjoy another's work, feeling a definite kinship. Lakin (Fat Chance Thanksgiving, p. 1215, etc.) puts a high gloss on the artistic process, but she certainly gets right the role of attentiveness and a freed imagination. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >