Books by James Mayhew

MRS. NOAH'S POCKETS by Jackie Morris
Released: March 1, 2018

"With themes relevant to today's international struggles over exclusion, scarcity, and prejudice, this reinvention is a beautiful and necessary parable for our time. (Picture book/religion. 4-8)"
In an adaptation of the popular Bible story, readers meet Mrs. Noah, who has sewn deep pockets into her coat as Mr. Noah prepares the ark. Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2011

"Curtain calls for Ella Bella and the whole troupe. (author's note) (Picture book. 3-7)"
Lovely little ballerina Ella Bella returns to the stage after charming audiences in performances of Cinderella and The Sleeping Beauty.Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 2009

Mayhew's pint-sized ballerina returns to explore another famous ballet (Ella Bella Ballerina and The Sleeping Beauty, 2008). When Ella misplaces a ballet slipper prior to class, she borrows a pair from Madame Rosa. Inspired by a combination of Madame's retelling of Cinderella's tale and the mesmerizing melodies of Madame's unique music box, Ella lingers after class concludes to continue dancing. With the arrival of Cinderella's fairy godmother, Ella soon finds herself instrumental in achieving Cinderella's happy ending. The author's rendition includes elements from Prokofiev's ballet that fans of the animated cinematic version may not know, such as The Fairies of the Four Seasons and a pair of magic shoes rather than the iconic glass slippers. His elegant line drawings coupled with abundant application of colors ranging from delicate pastels to deeper, more vibrant hues deftly convey the ethereal quality of the tale. Readers will enjoy spotting the parallels between Ella's and Cinderella's tales. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
WHERE’S MY HUG? by James Mayhew
Released: Feb. 1, 2008

When mom wants a hug from her primary-schooler son, Jake, he rolls his eyes. "Everyone will think I'm a baby." Later, when it's HE who needs a hug, mom explains that since he didn't want hers, she gave it to Dad, who gave it to the cat, who gave it to a witch, etc., until the coveted hug was given to a gigantic red dragon, from whom Jake must retrieve it. At bedtime, mom asks for a hug once again, but after having gone to such lengths to recover one, Jake is reluctant to let it go. Mom solves this quandary by giving Jake an extra hug, which he returns with sweet affection. Hellard's watercolor-and-pen pictures spread to fill pages with expanding make-believe action, and children will enjoy spotting the playthings—Jake's storybook wizard and toy knight, for example—that become part of the larger story. With its opportunity to chant the refrain "Where's my hug?," Mayhew's text will work equally well in group settings or up close for one-on-one reading. Pair this with Else Holmelund Minarik's A Kiss for Little Bear for a hugs-and-kisses storytime. (Picture book. 2-7)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2005

Mayhew's irresistibly cheery pictures and puckish font play live up to the promise of this delicious title. A knight longs to impress the princess with his magnificence, but she's uninterested. He searches long and hard for a dragon to fight, but when one finally turns up, he spends his time sending his squire up and down the 101 steps to the armory for just the right stuff ("I need my SHINING armor, with the CURLY flourishes!"). By the time he's ready, he discovers the princess has tamed the dragon with a crown of flowers and the local children are riding on its back. Appropriately medieval royalty, peasants and animals dash about in these pages, all rosily painted. In the end, the princess marries the squire and they go off with the dragon as their steed to see the world "and lived happily ever after!" (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2005

Mayhew's Katie continues her exploration of the world of painting when she and her grandmother visit the art gallery on a hot Sunday afternoon. Seurat's Bathers at Asnières looks so inviting that she climbs into the picture, as is her wont. Splashing about with the boy in the red hat, however, tilts the frame so that the river begins pouring into the gallery. Katie can't resist inviting a little girl in white from Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte ("no one is allowed to swim in this painting," she sighs) to join her and the boy in the gallery, and soon all the ladies and gentlemen of Grand Jatte are hitching up their skirts and trousers to wade, too. When a gallery guard threatens to appear, other paintings provide boats and drying clothes to get everyone back where they should be. Mayhew as always transmutes his light and fresh style to what Katie is looking at—Pointillism in this case. No single museum owns all these paintings, of course, but in an afterword, Mayhew tells youngsters where they are and how to see them as well as a little bit about the artists. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
BOY by James Mayhew
Kirkus Star
by James Mayhew, illustrated by James Mayhew
Released: Oct. 1, 2004

A prehistoric boy leaves his cave in search of warmth and discovers there's no cave like his own. When Boy awakes in the cold morning of his home cave, his parents invite him to share their blankets. Boy doesn't want to share and heads into the Stone Age landscape to find his own warm place. His search leads to a tree branch in a warm forest, but the resident saber-toothed tiger refuses to share. Boy moves on to warm grass, but the local woolly mammoth chases him away. Next, Boy finds warm red rocks, but the inhabiting dinosaur ejects him. Then Boy locates a warm mountain that turns into a hot volcano that sends him racing home, happy to share his parent's blankets. Simple text and marvelous illustrations reminiscent of prehistoric cave paintings showcase Boy's diminutive, solitary figure against a vast, empty world. Perfect for young adventurers about to enter their own brave new worlds. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
WHO WANTS A DRAGON? by James Mayhew
Released: Oct. 1, 2004

A sweet polka-dotted dragon just wants to cuddle—"Who wants a dragon? A lost baby dragon, alone in the night?"—but everyone he meets runs away in fear. Even though he's pink and very cute, he still manages to knock a witch from her broom, frighten a knight, muddy a princess's gown, and give a king and queen reason to hide behind their thrones. When even a fairy refuses his pleas, he begins to despair. But flying in from high in the sky is the one who can love him the best: his mother. Cuddled in her arms, the little dragon falls asleep contented. Whimsical, brightly colored pastel drawings accompany the rhythmic verses, lending an easy read-aloud feature to a story that is sure to inspire a bedtime cuddle. Endearing. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2003

A sudden gust of wind sends young Miranda and the balloon she's aboard on a quick trip around the world. Some gust: making artful use of sandbags and vents to land and take off again, she comes down for visits with young folk in Moscow, Agra, Japan, Australia, New York, Egypt, Pisa, and Barcelona, before returning to London. Framed in cartoon panels of various sizes, each stop features recognizable landmarks, plus the occasional dialogue balloon or identifying caption. Though the people she meets sometimes greet her or bid farewell in a native language, everyone along the rather Eurocentric itinerary speaks English. Younger children may get some feeling for the human world's diversity from this tour, but along with being disappointed to see more destinations marked on the endpaper maps than Miranda actually reaches, they may find it rather perfunctory next to Barnabas Kindersley's Children Just Like Me (1995) or even Manya Stojic's Hello World (2002). (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2003

A sumptuously illustrated tale pays homage to Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic. While Mayhew (To Sleep, Perchance to Dream, 2001, etc.) loosely refers to the original work, his subtle alterations and embellishments make this a unique extension of Burnett's story rather than an exact replica. Basking in the warmth of a summer day, Sophie, whose favorite book just happens to contain a secret garden, wishes for a companion. This desire spurs a dream-like sequence where fey woodland creatures lead Sophie on a merry game of seek-and-find, drawing her deeper through the woods. She follows a robin carrying a key to a walled garden, which contains a squirrel frolicking with a hat. Further explorations reveal a lamb carrying a jump rope and a fox playing with a doll. Gathering the playthings, Sophie admonishes the animals, somewhat hopefully, with the refrain "Somebody will be looking for this!" Eventually, she discovers a young girl—and new playmate—named Mary. Mayhew's exquisitely detailed, full-page illustrations lend an ethereal quality to the outing. Delicate cut-outs in the pages allow readers to glimpse the next clues in Sophie's sleuthing game, while the soft watercolors capture the lush beauty of a summer garden filled with variegated hues. Waiting for discovery in the intricate paintings are an abundance of whimsical details to delight readers. A lovely seduction to tempt readers to the longer story. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

In a lovely conceit, well presented, Mayhew respins a gentle tale in pictures that tie together a bit of Shakespeare for the very young. The smallest snippets of verse from the plays—the longest at eight lines—range from Hamlet to Cymbeline to The Tempest. But each really does stand as its own small poem, and most, read aloud well, will be quite comprehensible even to the youngest of children. The double-paged, full-bleed illustrations tell the story of a family in an idyllic, rustic setting of some time past: the mother holding a small child near a picnic hamper, two boys and a girl gamboling, flying a kite, chasing paper boats, and accompanied by a loose-limbed dog. The river becomes the sea, a storm comes up, they glimpse a mermaid on a dolphin, and then it is evening. The sheep gather to the sound of the boy's pipe, the stars come out, and mother tucks baby and daughter into bed. And it is all from "methinks I scent / the morning air" of Hamlet to "our little life is / rounded with a sleep" of The Tempest. The images, rich in blues and tender golds, have the misty outlines of imagination and serve the poetry well. (Poetry. 4-10)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

Seven folktales are presented to the reader as having influenced Shakespeare in the writing of The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, Hamlet, King Lear, and The Winter's Tale. In a continuation of the ancient practice of storytelling, the bard adapted the tales he had heard as a child for the audiences of Britain's new public theaters. A marvelous introduction to the collection describes the transformation of storytelling from oral tradition to written word, as well as the background of theater in the 1500s. An introduction to each tale gives a brief summary of the play and the variations on the folktale that may have influenced his writing. At times, it is rather difficult to follow this confusing literary trail, but the introduction is saved by the look into the social and political atmosphere of Shakespeare's day that it affords the reader. While Ryan (George W. Bush, not reviewed, etc.) gives a brief one-paragraph synopsis of each play, the subtle connections of each folktale will be better understood by those who have some level of familiarity with Shakespeare's works. But of course, the folktales are enjoyable in and of themselves. Especially fun is "The Devil's Bet," in which a lazy and contrary girl must tame her harsh ways and mean tricks so as not to be eaten by a monster who lives in the spring—and so that she can be a proper wife for her husband. On every story's introductory pages, Shakespearean quotes frame the text, and one or more main characters are drawn and labeled to aid the reader in following the plot. Mayhew's (To Sleep, Perchance to Dream, p. 947, etc.) detailed watercolors fill the margins of the pages, and each tale features a full-page illustration. A lovely supplement to the Shakespeare oeuvre. (Nonfiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2001

Sunflower-patterned end papers, sunflower fleuron on the verso, characteristic vignettes in the post-Impressionist notes at the back: Mayhew (Katie and the Mona Lisa, 1999, etc.) accomplishes the remarkable feat of keeping his own style, with its vivacious line and cheery colors, while echoing the manner of others. The "others" in this case mean Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Cézanne, and Katie once again travels inside the paintings when a rainy day sends her and her grandmother to the museum. There is no single real museum that holds all these treasures, but in Katie's magical museum she knocks over the vase of Van Gogh sunflowers she's so entranced by. Getting them back leads to a merry chase. The little dog of Gauguin's Breton Girls snatches the sunflowers, and they chase him to the brightly lit Van Gogh Café Terrace at Night. Spilling Cézanne's apples distracts the café waiter, the dog and the girls leap into Gauguin's Tahitian Pastorals, but in the end it all works out, and Katie pockets a few of the dropped sunflower seeds for her and grandma's garden. The desire to be in a painting is played with a winsome freshness: not only are these famous art works made accessible to young readers, but Mayhew captures post-Impressionist impasto and rich color effortlessly. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1999

Katie's back (Katie Meets the Impressionists, p. 148) this time to trip through the world of Renaissance paintings with her new friend, Mona Lisa. When Katie appears inside her painting, Mona Lisa admits she's lonely and starts to cry. Plucky Katie decides to give her a walking tour through the other paintings to cheer her friend up. The chivalrous hero of St. George and the Dragon is charmed by Mona Lisa's beauty, but a visit to Botticelli's Primavera angers the dancing muses, who chase the two new friends away. Eventually, the main character in The Lion of St. Mark and St. George's dragon lock claws in a fight on the museum floor, which involves the muses, St. George, an angel with a lute, and museum patrons. The fight tickles Mona Lisa's funny bone. Mayhew's drawings artfully combine classical reproductions with lively illustrations, in this more sobering trek through art than found in Bjorn Sortland's Anna's Art Adventure (p. 889) (Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1999

Not for the first time, the heroine of a picture book steps into some museum paintings and learns a little about the artists and their eras. In search of flowers for her grandmother, Katie first steps into a Monet, "The Luncheon," and romps with the painter's son, Jean. Next Katie drops in on Renoir's "Girl with a Watering Can," revisits Jean in Monet's "Field of Poppies," and eventually ends up on stage with Degas's ballerinas. The dissolving boundaries of these paintings communicate to children how art provides a window into the past, while Mayhew's illustrations are light-filled and playful, complementing the styles of the inset reproductions. (Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 1994

A lyrical, dreamlike tale with more truth than many a realistic story. When the boy was born, his grandmother made him a cloth of dreams to ``keep the dark night things away...until he is big enough to forge his own courage.'' Now, going to visit his grandmother, he accidentally tears the precious cloth. His mother is sure that his grandmother will mend it, but the boy forgets to ask her. That night, nightmares—his first ever—send him scurrying across the dark hall to find her; and mend it she does, after he fetches ``threads from the sun and threads from the moon,'' which (with some trepidation) he reaches from the rooftop as the moon sets and, in dramatic simultaneity, the sun rises. And so he forges his own courage. The potent imagery is strengthened by the simplicity of the graceful telling, while Mayhew deepens the meaning with glowing night scenes in stained- glass colors and gentle, Ardizzone-like characterizations. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1992

Leaving Grandma, who scorns dinosaurs, drowsing on a museum bench, Katie slips through a forbidden door for a prehistoric adventure: she helps lost baby Hadrosaurus find his parents. Meanwhile, the two see a lot of other dinosaurs, all properly identified, and Katie escapes from a Tyrannosaur by tossing it her lunch. The plot's predictable if ever-popular, while Mayhew's creatures are appealingly anthropomorphized and set in a lush landscape, skillfully rendered in sepia line and glowing watercolors. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >