Books by Howard Knotts

GOOSE DINNER by Howard Knotts
Released: Sept. 8, 1981

A string of anecdotes about Goose—"the terror of our backyard"—that does ultimately turn into a story of sorts. . . but never does sound as if it were written as an easy-reader: the overall structure is too loose, the sentence-structure is too idiosyncratic, the words are too out-of-the-way ("farrier," "demented")—and there are quite a few contractions. But the situation, if hardly original, is rather nicely handled: after we've heard about all the ways Goose terrorizes everyone but Mother (and heard Dad's threats to turn him into "goose dinner"), raccoon gets' into the hen coop and Goose, no friend of Hen's ordinarily, gallantly fights the raccoon off—assisted, soon, by Dad. Goose is wounded and submissive ("I didn't think that was a good sign"); but by next morning he's out again chasing Hen. "It sure was nice to know everything was back to normal." A little too offhand altogether for the ostensible purpose, unfortunately. Read full book review >
THE BIG RED BARN by Howard Knotts
Released: April 23, 1979

A tenuous construct, barely a story, with none of the usual aids or lures for a beginning reader. The first-person narrator sets up the situation in disconnected offhand remarks about the family's beloved big red barn; sister Susie's pet goat, a rooster, a barn owl, and a nest of kangaroo rats (denizens of the barn); his new, resented stepmother and "the hayloft where I went when Mom died." Then, without warning, the barn burns down—and the question becomes whether its shiny aluminum replacement can actually take the old barn's place. The narrator resists; but, says wise Grandpa, "The new barn has to make its own place. It will if we give it a chance." That's a sidelong reference to stepmother Emma, seen in affectionate consort with Susie on the page before (and in the picture opposite); but the inference is both too fragile and too facile to make this diffuse mood-piece into a satisfactory story—even if it weren't an easy reader. Read full book review >
WINTER'S COMING by Howard Knotts
Released: April 7, 1977

An even-toned catalog of the preparations for winter observed by a small boy and girl around their farm. Cows are growing thick coats, the corn husks are thicker too, ducks and swans fly South, and the daddy-longlegs are coming indoors. The people, too, are getting ready—Dad chopping wood, Grandpa making sleds, Grandma knitting mittens, and Mother putting up preserves—and everyone is citing omens of a long hard winter. "Good," says the little boy. "I hope winter comes soon." Not resonant enough to be memorable, this does strike a quiet, expectant note, and though Knotts' scratchy, cross-hatched, winter-gray drawings lack the poetry of his illustrations for Barnstone's A Day in the Country (1971), they do their share to maintain the tone. Read full book review >