Books by Hudson Talbott

PICTURING AMERICA by Hudson Talbott
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 4, 2018

"This notwithstanding, Talbott has produced a handsome, valuable companion to River of Dreams (2009) and an accessible and inspired introduction to an important, influential promoter of the unspoiled American landscape. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)"
Watercolorist and illustrator Talbott, a Cole admirer and evangelist, has produced a child-friendly paean to the brief (1801-1848) but productive life of an American landscape-painting pioneer. Read full book review >
FROM WOLF TO WOOF by Hudson Talbott
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 12, 2016

"The concise narrative, cohesive design, and well-executed illustrations make this story easy to understand and appreciate. (author's note, websites, bibliography) (Picture book. 3-8)"
Talbott presents an imaginative origin for the early human-wolf bond and explores how that bond changed both species. Read full book review >
IT'S ALL ABOUT ME-OW by Hudson Talbott
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 13, 2012

"Ailurophobes won't be swayed, but feline fanciers will lap this up and look forward to repeat servings. (Informational picture book. 4-8)"
Cat lovers will recognize their favorite feline attributes (as well as those they're less fond of) in this amusing "cat"-alog. Read full book review >
RIVERS OF DREAMS by Hudson Talbott
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 1, 2009

Opening with his childhood fascination with the river that shares his name, Talbott provides a survey of Hudson River history from its glacial origins and times with early Native American and European settlers through its industrial development and environmental degradation to its new hope for reclamation through citizen action. The clearly written, chronological account also touches on the Revolutionary War, the movement from sail to steam, the importance of the Erie Canal and the river's role in literature and art. With watercolors, colored pencil and ink, the environmentally sensitive author/illustrator has created lushly detailed paintings that tell the story both literally and symbolically. Insets including maps and a stream motif winding through the pages add further information. These images will carry readers along through a moderately difficult but well-paced text. The bibliography includes adult reading but also websites accessible to the middle-grade audience. Libraries that already own Robert Baron and Thomas Locker's The Hudson: A Story of a River (2004) will want this one as well, for its lively narrative and admiring affection. (Nonfiction. 8-11)Read full book review >
UNITED TWEETS OF AMERICA by Hudson Talbott
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 2008

This rollicking roll call of state fast facts takes the form of a pageant of birds, each introducing their home state in ways that will delight trivia fans. Page by page, state by state, Talbott provides the capitol, the nickname and a varied assortment of other tidbits: notable residents and products, flowers, trees, songs and more. Illustrations add information. Knowledgeable readers will recognize a variety of iconic scenes and such details as a Denver Broncos helmet on Colorado's page. Clever byplay between birds on adjoining pages adds interest. Sometimes the humor gets in the way of the facts: One chickadee in Massachusetts is misshapen and sports a tongue, and in Maine most have their tell-tale black caps covered with yellow rain gear. Some jokes may go over the heads of intended readers, who may also have trouble distinguishing fact from fancy here. But where U.S. geography is part of the elementary-school curriculum, this lighthearted look at the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) will be welcome. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
SHOW WAY by Jacqueline Woodson
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Oct. 1, 2005

Show Ways are quilts with secret meanings—guides to freedom. In this beautiful volume, quilts are the connecting threads of the generations, from Soonie's great-grandmother, sold away from her Virginia home as a girl of seven, to Soonie's great-great-granddaughter Toshi, Woodson's daughter. It's a celebration of mothers—all of those strong women through the generations who "loved those babies up." Gorgeous multimedia art includes watercolors, chalk and fabric, photographs incorporated into original art and joyous watercolor figures jumping broom. Patchwork and crazy quilts are two common motifs used, the latter, with jagged stitching resembling railroad tracks, representing the harshest of times. Whether quilts were actual maps to freedom or such stories are simply folklore, quilts are a perfect device to portray the generations of a family. Like Deborah Hopkinson's Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt (1993) and Under the Quilt of Night (2001) and Doreen Rappaport's Freedom River (2000), this takes a difficult subject and makes it accessible to young readers. One of the most remarkable books of the year. (Picture book. 5+) Read full book review >
THE LOST COLONY OF ROANOKE by Jean Fritz
HISTORY
Released: May 1, 2004

In 1585, Queen Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh supported an English settlement on Roanoke Island, between Cape Hatteras and Virginia. Every country wanted a piece of America, for the riches it contained. But this settlement vanished, and it has been a 400-year-old mystery as to why it disappeared and what happened to the colonists. It's a "hole right at the very beginning" of American history. Fritz doesn't pretend to solve the mystery, but she ably presents the history behind the failed attempt at establishing an English colony in the New World. The bibliography is small, but the maps are helpful. Lively storytelling, attractive watercolor illustrations, archaeological details, and a survey of theories make this a fascinating volume and an important resource on this period of early colonization. The history-as-mystery format will appeal to young historians. (Nonfiction. 8+)Read full book review >
SAFARI JOURNAL by Hudson Talbott
ADVENTURE
Released: April 1, 2003

Liberally plastered with photos and color sketches, this hand-lettered journal records a 12-year-old vacationer's eventful two weeks in Kenya. Initially, Carey's not thrilled about traveling to Africa with his ditzy Aunt. But after attaching himself to a Maasai game scout and his son, he not only gets to observe lions, wildebeests, leopards, and other big game, but pays an eye-opening visit to a Maasai village, loses his Frisbee to a lurking crocodile, helps nab a group of poachers, and rescues a baby elephant—all while getting an earful from his guide about how and why many of the animals are endangered. As with his Amazon Diary (1996), readers will come away both envying the young narrator for having such exciting experiences, and closer to understanding the importance of wildlife conservation. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-10)Read full book review >
LEONARDO’S HORSE by Jean Fritz
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

A veteran writer of lively biographies has turned her attention to quite an engaging story: the biography of an equine sculpture. She starts with Leonardo da Vinci and his fascination with everything—drawing, sketching, writing, and musing—and with making: sculpture, weapons, even party tricks. He made a 24-foot-high clay model of a horse for the Duke of Milan, but before it could be cast, French archers and rain destroyed it. This haunted Leonardo for the rest of his life. It haunted American Charles Dent in the 1970s, also, and he vowed to produce Leonardo's horse as a gift from the American people to the people of Italy. He died in 1994, but sculptor Nina Akamu and a host of others kept his promise. In typical Fritz (Why Not, Lafayette?, 1999, etc.) fashion, her story is filled with engaging details of Leonardo's personality and his world. Likewise, the contemporary process by which the horse was created and cast is described with enough detail to fascinate but not to bore. Talbott (Forging Freedom, 2000, etc.) uses mixed media and collage to create his illustrations, which range from utterly recognizable scenes of Florence to the ghostly horses at Leonardo's deathbed. The contemporary images are drawn with as much spirit and vitality as the Renaissance ones. An unusual biography for young people, and one well worth poring over, its format is also noteworthy. It has a rounded top, giving the artist ample opportunity for the dome under which the horse was built as well as a chance to explore a unique way of picturing a unique world. Together, Fritz and Talbott have forged an extraordinary tribute to two dreamers 500 years apart. (Biography. 7-12)Read full book review >
O'SULLIVAN STEW by Hudson Talbott
ANIMALS
Released: Feb. 1, 1999

Clever Kate O'Sullivan cooks up a feast of family stories to save her and her kins' lives. When the king's men snatch away a beloved horse from an outcast witch, and the Crookhaven community fails to take action, brave Kate, her father, and two brothers come to the rescue; they are caught trying to steal the horse back, and sentenced to hang. Kate knows their only chance of survival is for her to unleash her secret weapon of storytelling. She spins her enchanting—and hilarious—yarns of giants, monsters, leprechauns, and a pack of tone-deaf cats, and one by one, the king lets each O'Sullivan off the hook. Kate's sense of fairness, the refreshing, feminist ending, and the offbeat humor give the old-fashioned tales a grandly modern flair. Talbott's illustrations are just as fanciful and fun; story and pictures are bound to charm an audience just as they captivate the king. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
AMAZON DIARY by Hudson Talbott
FICTION
Released: Sept. 10, 1996

Subtitled ``The Jungle Adventures of Alex Winters,'' this is a slice of the fictitious life of sixth grader Alex Winters, who details his trip to the Amazon through a handwritten journal that includes his scribblings, snapshots, and drawings. A plane crash provides an unforeseen opportunity for Alex to live among the Yanomami, or ``Fierce People.'' Overcoming great fear and overwhelming obstacles, Alex witnesses wild and unfamiliar religious practices and quickly learns to hunt alligator and tapir, eat roasted grubs, battle electric caterpillars, fire ants, and lice. By no means a complete portrait of the Yanomami, this is an accessible glimpse into the daily life of these isolated rainforest dwellers, a valuable starting place for discussion. Talbott (Excalibur, p. 1057) and Greenberg have created an account of Alex's adventures that makes for an exciting story, albeit a farfetched one. In a book crafted with the goal of teaching respect for other cultures, the blond-hero-who-drops-out-of-the-sky-and- saves-the-day-with-technology ending is patronizing and hard to swallow. (Picture book. 7+) Read full book review >
EXCALIBUR by Hudson Talbott
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

The third entry in the Tales of King Arthur series concerns the boyish and very human ruler, Arthur, retold in an uncluttered, open manner and with far more immediacy than King Arthur and the Round Table (1995). A huge battle scene at the ocean's edge is the first of many colorful, spectacular tableaux. Having conquered the Saxons, King Arthur watches wistfully as all his knight-pals set off for adventures while he mopes around in the castle. He slips out of the castle to fight the evil King Pellinore, despite Merlin's warnings against it. After battling ``for hours,'' Arthur is rescued from death by Merlin and recovers dramatically to claim the sword Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake. She is very fairy-like, sort of a cross between Ophelia and the Good Witch of the North. The point-of-view momentarily shifts to Merlin, who observes ``the innocent lad from Wales had disappeared forever. In his place now sat an earnest young man, ready to serve his people with grace and dignity.'' ClichÇs riddle the paintings, and there are irregularities of proportion. But the use of light and dark as well as the sheer verve of the illustrating style makes the action exciting and the emotional quality of some of the scenes affecting. (Picture book. 6-11) Read full book review >
KING ARTHUR AND THE ROUND TABLE by Hudson Talbott
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

A swift, almost frantic, second volume in the Tales of King Arthur series, covering Arthur's battles with rebellious nobles, the meeting with Guinevere as she tends wounded upon Bedegraine's battlefield, the vanquishing of King Ryence, marriage to Guinevere, and dedication of the Round Table. It's quite a bite for a picture book, and a spirited production at that, with armies riding on horseback, swarming festivities, the wizard Merlin conjuring a fire-breathing dragon from the Round Table, plus an intense romance, all brought alive by Talbott's dramatic, cinematic watercolors. The story is rushed, a saga hitched to a rocket, hurling readers from battle to love story, back to battle, to a pining Arthur, back to battle, and then to Camelot, all without pause or chance to appreciate the lore, themes, and events in their entirety. Younger children will find it too hurried to take in, and older ones may move on, instead, to novel-size retellings. (Picture book/folklore. 8-10) Read full book review >
YOUR PET DINOSAUR by Hudson Talbott
HUMOR
Released: Sept. 21, 1992

Dr. Rex, star of We're Back! (1988), provides an extensive tongue-in-cheek guide to living with a dinosaur, from ``Choosing the Right Dino'' to ``You and Your Dino—the Golden Years.'' The nonstop humor here is sometimes a little forced, but mostly it's genuinely clever; the fact that it depends primarily on juxtaposing the dino's size and violence with a typical modern household will delight kids, who will pick up on the pet manual parody (``Dinos have a simple method of working out questions of seniority—just keep the mop and bandages handy''); adults will also be amused by the touches of political satire and parallels with child-care and self-help books. Visually, these dinos are comical, endearing, and satisfyingly fierce. A book that's sure to sell itself. (Humor. 7+) Read full book review >
KING ARTHUR by Hudson Talbott
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 20, 1991

An ``Afterword'' describes this retelling as more appropriate for younger children than such classics as Sutcliff and White, but it's not so much easier as more contemporary in language, more profusely illustrated, and shorter. Talbott takes Arthur from birth to coronation, centering on his unwittingly pulling the sword from the stone to give to his brother Kay for the tournament. Though not exceptional, the telling is lively and has some amusing homely touches (as well as such jarring anachronisms as ``Okay''). Of most interest are the dramatic illustrations, which have popular appeal—a romantic Arthur under a flowering tree, garbed in white for the coronation, or a double spread of knights on richly caparisoned horses, caught midcharge; they also exhibit considerable skill in their careful designs (especially in the swirling crowd scenes) and in their attention to medieval detail. An acceptable introduction to this heroic figure. (Folklore/Picture book. 7-11)*justify no* Read full book review >