Books by Helena Clare Pittman

THE SNOWMAN’S PATH by Helena Clare Pittman
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

An air of magical realism hangs about this childhood fantasy strongly echoed in Colón's combed, golden-toned winter scenes. The footprints that young Nathan leaves in newly poured concrete behind his house look in frosty moonlight as if they might have been left by a snowman. A snowman such as the one Nathan spies from his bedroom window, moving from roof to fence top, wandering down the alleys between houses, gazing wistfully at the moon, singing quiet duets with the wind. Soon Nathan is down in the alley too, in bathrobe and slippers, sharing cookies and dreams with his new friend, dubbed "Sky." Seeing Sky's loneliness, Nathan builds a snowwoman, then watches as the two share dances and laughter, and finally fly off together northward, following the cold weather. Glowing greenly beneath the winter moon, Nathan's carrot-nosed companion, clad in boots, fedora, and long, trailing scarf, seems at once mysterious, and as solidly real as the briefly animated visitor in Raymond Briggs's Snowman (1978). Pittman (Angel Tree, 1998) gives her young narrator a matter-of-fact tone that enhances the episode's poignancy. Readers will wish they too lived along that alley. (Picture book. 8-10)Read full book review >
UNCLE PHIL'S DINER by Helena Clare Pittman
Released: Nov. 3, 1998

On a wintry Sunday morning, Ruthie and her papa set out to walk nine blocks through a snow storm to have breakfast at Uncle Phil's diner. As they trudge through quiet streets, and mountainous snow drifts, they speculate on the feast Uncle Phil is preparing for his customers: piles of pancakes with blueberries preserved from the summer cottage in the mountains, rugelach, apple strudel, turnovers, sugar buns. To make the journey shorter and keep warm, Ruthie and her father chant lists of the delights awaiting them, and when they arrive, the diner is just as wonderful as they imagined. The illustrations set this in the late 1940s, with gentlemen wearing homburgs and bulky overcoats, and ladies decked out in their Sunday hats. All the watercolor illustrations are laid out as mounted snapshots in an old-fashioned photo album, with the text appearing as captions. A charming reminiscence. (Picture book. 5-7) Read full book review >
SUNRISE by Helena Clare Pittman
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

Effectively joining text and art, this book provides an abundance of repetition to reinforce the concept of numbers. Simple two-word phrases, all rhyming with sunrise, create a gentle poem that captures the hustle and bustle of the morning routine of a country family, "Sunrise./Cat lies./Baby cries." In addition, each facing page has an illustration of the featured object being counted (one cat, two tears, four birds, nine eggs, up to ten cats when the mother has nine kittens), the numeral, and its name. Rex's illustrations use warm earth tones of oranges and dusky blues to evoke the dawning day; the scenes contain an abundance of familiar items found in a busy household, from pictures taped to the refrigerator to dishes drying on the rack. The icons of the objects being counted offer an opportunity for children to indulge in a search-and-find game while strengthening their counting skills. Enticing on many levels, this book offers an edifying blend of entertainment and instruction. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
STILL-LIFE STEW by Helena Clare Pittman
Released: May 1, 1998

A book that begins and ends with vegetables, with an art lesson in between. There's a lot of fun in these pages, full of luscious textures and bright colors, fully rounded forms, and a mouthwatering premise. Rosa's big, shining, but empty white paper propels her to her garden for painting inspiration, where she picks vegetables for her still life: tomatoes in all their variegated shapes, peppers galore, potatoes from big and brown to small and russet, spinach, green beans, three kinds of zucchini, leeks, and more. She paints them into a lovely scene, then chops and slices them up for stew for supper. The bouncy text leaps into an occasional rhyme: The typeface becomes bold or bends along the curve of a zucchini, adding to the rhythm. Rosa herself, in her overalls, long squiggly curls, and rosebud mouth, is created from the same Sculpey clay as the vegetables, with the same comfortable three-dimensionality. The author's and illustrator's notes are set up like recipes, which is somewhat precious, but still intriguing, and a real recipe for the stew is included. Of course, this ought to be paired with Lois Ehlert's Growing Vegetable Soup (1987) or her Eating the Alphabet (1989) for a story-hour vegetable course. (Picture book. 3-9) Read full book review >