Books by Jan Brett

Released: Sept. 17, 2019

"It's pretty, but it falls far short of authenticity. (Picture book. 3-5)"
A retelling of a Persian folktale substituting tigers for people. Read full book review >
THE SNOWY NAP by Jan Brett
by Jan Brett, illustrated by Jan Brett
Released: Oct. 16, 2018

"Amiable. (Picture book. 4-7)"
A hedgehog tries to stay awake for winter. Read full book review >
THE MERMAID by Jan Brett
by Jan Brett, illustrated by Jan Brett
Released: Aug. 22, 2017

"Not quite just right but sure to please Brett's fans. (Picture book. 3-5)"
More "The Three Bears" than "The Little Mermaid," Brett's latest picture book was inspired by her visits to Okinawa and the New England Aquarium, where she encountered the Pacific octopus. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 18, 2016

"Fans of Brett's intricately detailed illustration style will find this a sweet treat. (Picture book. 4-7)"
Brett's Gingerbread Baby skips in for his third story, this time celebrating Christmas in a Swiss Alpine village setting with a band of anthropomorphic gingerbread instruments. Read full book review >
THE TURNIP by Jan Brett
by Jan Brett, illustrated by Jan Brett
Released: Nov. 3, 2015

"Another Brett winner to add to the shelf. (Picture book. 3-7)"
A classic Russian tale gets Brett's signature artwork and a twist ending. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 21, 2014

"Brett excels at snowy settings, and her legions of fans will enjoy this well-told tale accompanied by her usual highly detailed watercolor illustrations and skillfully integrated secondary story. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Brett's latest holiday offering is set in northern Canada, featuring a cast of forest animals who celebrate Christmas together with handmade gifts left by their own special Santa. Read full book review >
CINDERS by Jan Brett
Released: Nov. 5, 2013

"A captivating addition to the 'Cinderella' canon. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Brett adds to the wide variety of interpretations of the beloved fairy tale with this charming retelling featuring a flock of elegantly attired fowl in an 18th-century Russian setting. Read full book review >
MOSSY by Jan Brett
by Jan Brett, illustrated by Jan Brett
Released: Sept. 18, 2012

"A quirky and very satisfying tale of nature and home. (Picture book. 5-9)"
A turtle with a garden on her shell? Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2010

Mashing up the ever-popular English story of "The Three Little Pigs" with her Namibian experiences, Brett uses her magical watercolor-and-gouache paintings to create a distinctive visual world. Dassies (rock hyraxes) live among the reddish stones of this desert-like country. Soft and cuddly, they have a predator in the black eagles that live above, and they come together in an original version of the story, complete with a grass house, a stick house and a stone house built by each of three dassie sisters. The first two are taken (fear not, it's only temporary) by a white eagle, but when he tries to "flap and clap and blow" the stone house in, he fails. When he tries the chimney route, the fire burns his feathers, turning him into the black eagle seen today. The animal characters sport adaptations of Western clothing that are seen in Namibia today, down to the turbans worn by the Herero women since Victorian times. The dress prints from the clothing also appear in the illustrator's trademark borders around each two-page spread. Beguiling. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2010

Brett is in rare visual form in this tale of a bunny who hopes to win a prized opportunity to help the Easter Rabbit. Little Hoppi goes through his community seeking ideas for the winning decorated egg. The other bunnies, each of a different breed and elaborately costumed, are hard at work, but they give Hoppi some items that might help him. As he ponders the task, an egg tumbles out of Mother Robin's nest—so, Horton-like, he decides to protect it until it hatches, with completely predictable results. But if the story is a little lackluster, the sumptuous illustrations more than make up for it. Bordered in pussy-willow twigs (which sport their own surprise), each spread offers the illustrator's patented triptych construction, with panels detailing other bunnies' activities flanking an elaborate tableau. Luscious. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

Brett sets the familiar story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears in the Arctic, replacing Goldilocks with Aloo-ki, an Inuit girl who stumbles upon the snow bears' igloo while hunting for her lost dog team. After Aloo-ki samples three bowls of soup, three pairs of boots and three sleeping places, she falls asleep in Baby Bear's cozy bed. When the igloo's occupants return, a surprised Aloo-ki scrambles out of bed and past the bears to discover that they have found and rescued her dogs. Brett presents the Goldilocks story in simple prose, altering it only slightly to accommodate the Arctic setting. The stunning watercolor-and-gouache illustrations, however, provide the sense of place that the words do not. Brett creates a strikingly beautiful blue-and-gray-toned world of ice populated with thickly furred creatures and accented with Inuit motifs. The intricately detailed, multi-paneled spreads depict the snow bears rescuing Aloo-ki's dogs while Aloo-ki explores their igloo. Children and adults alike will pore over each page, relishing the richness of Brett's artwork. (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2006

Fans of Brett's Hedgie will enjoy his predictable triumph in this lighthearted space adventure. Despite Brett's artistic ability, those unfamiliar with the small, spiky hero are likely to be less enthralled. This time around, Hedgie works as a janitor at a space lab populated by anthropomorphized dogs. When a volcano on a small planet named Mikkop ceases to function properly, the canine scientists create a "Rescue Robot," coincidentally shaped just like Hedgie. The robot's malfunction clears the way for Hedgie to achieve his heart's desire: a flight into space. He solves the problem of the volcano (visitors had been tossing coins into it for luck, plugging up the hole from which the magical flower-feeding "sparkles" erupted) and returns to earth. Although Brett includes a wealth of visual detail, much of it humorous, the slight story is unlikely to hold up to repeated readings. The use of a foldout page depicting a glittery eruption gives the book a gimmicky feel. Despite his obvious enthusiasm for space travel, this is not one of Hedgie's most successful outings. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
HONEY...HONEY...LION! by Jan Brett
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

African animals and landscapes take center stage in this lively retelling of a traditional folktale from Botswana. Honeyguide (a small bird) leads Badger to a honeycomb, which he breaks open with his strong claws for both of them to share. One day, for unknown reasons, Badger does not share, and Honeyguide angrily plots revenge. Shield-shaped vignettes (decorated in feathers and beads) within Brett's signature borders show other animals (including elephants, hippos, warthogs and bishop birds) responding to this news as Honeyguide leads Badger ("pitter patter," "splish splash," etc.) to—surprise!—a lion hiding behind a lift-the-flap acacia bush. Lion chases Badger back to his burrow with sound effects repeating at an accelerated pace. The tale concludes with the animals passing the moral of the story to one another via "bush telegraph": "If Honeyguide leads you to a beehive, be sure and reward her, or next time, she will lead you to a lion." The cumulative patterns, sound effects and suspense, together with the dramatically depicted animals, will make this a popular choice for reading aloud. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
by Jan Brett, illustrated by Jan Brett
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

Carlos makes an umbrella from shiny, green fronds to go into the cloud forest, hoping to see many animals. When the only sounds he hears are the drips from the tall trees, he climbs up a giant fig tree to see better, dropping his umbrella upside down on the ground. As the drips collect inside it, a series of animals tumbles in: Froggy, Toucan, Kinkajou, Baby Tapir, Quetzal, and—finally—Monkey, who tosses the umbrella into the river, where it starts to sink. Jaguar pounces on it as it floats by, but when Hummingbird lands on the handle, it's this tiny creature that makes everyone fall out—and the umbrella drifts back to shore. Up in the fig tree, Carlos wonders disappointedly where all the animals are. Insets of leaf shapes telescope the clever contrapuntal action of Carlos's climb and the next creature, while lush watercolor-and-gouache illustrations in vivid greens and bright colors create a diorama effect. The blurb cites the story as a complement to The Mitten (1989) and its snowy setting. Indeed, Brett surpasses herself in this handsomely designed and beautifully executed appreciation of so different a setting. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
ON NOAH’S ARK by Jan Brett
Released: Sept. 1, 2003

Bushels of interpretations of this Bible story exist, from humorous spins to wooden stylized images to an endangered animals slant, but Brett applies her familiar, appealing style and creates a child-friendly, beautifully crafted version. Told by the granddaughter of Noah, the girl brings her pet dove and keeps peace on the ark among the animals. Brett's signature framed and bordered scenes depict the multitude of creatures with sidebars of animal-shaped insets depicting close-ups of assorted animal behavior. Overflowing pages convey the sense of crowding as inventive perspectives capture animal traits. A trip to Africa inspired Brett to create the borders of papyrus paper. Only the flap copy identifies the gender of the child, who could be either boy or girl in the pictures. That aside, the voice of the granddaughter humanizes the story. Striking in its simplicity of telling, the watercolor and gouache artwork of birds, insects, and mammals breathes life into this apocryphal tale. (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

The solemn (and not too scary) polar bear gazing out from the cover of this latest offering from Brett (Daisy Comes Home, 2002, etc.) sets the tone for a tall tale of troll trouble based on a Norwegian folk tale. An older boy and his pet polar bear take shelter in the cozy mountain hut of a little girl named Kyri, who is worried that trolls will come to steal the Christmas Eve dinner as they have in years past. The naughty trolls do in fact tunnel in through the cellar and eat up the goodies before being chased away by the polar bear, awakened from his snooze under the stove. Brett makes good use of her signature touches: authentic cultural details in setting, costumes, and food; borders representing intricate handcrafted elements; and glimpses into actions happening on several fronts simultaneously through smaller side panels. The trolls and polar bears are incorporated into the midnight-blue sky at the top of each spread, as flickering images within the northern lights or as constellations, and the endpapers show an entire night sky with constellations made up of images from the story. Brett's many fans will enjoy sharing this on Christmas Eve, perhaps with a plate of Scandinavian heart-shaped cookies like those that Kyri baked. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

This popular author visits Asia for a charming tale of a plucky hen. Daisy knows she is loved—young Mei Mei has the six happiest hens in China—but she is tired of being pecked at by the other hens and driven from their cozy perch at night. One wet evening she curls up in one of Mei Mei's market baskets, with its red Chinese characters reading "happy hens." But the river takes the basket, and Daisy awakens to find herself far from Mei Mei. She fends off a dog, a water buffalo, and a pack of monkeys in a banyan tree, but is captured by a fisherman who sees his dinner in her plumpness. Mei Mei, after searching all over for Daisy, finally takes her eggs to market where she finds the fisherman who cries "Finders keepers!" Calling her chicken, Mei Mei whisks her away from the fisherman, taking her back to her perch where she uses what she's learned to secure her place. Brett's (Hedgie's Surprise, 2000, etc.) brilliantly colored gouache and watercolor illustrations are pleasingly complex. Each double-page spread is framed by corner pieces edged in bamboo, with vignettes that reflect other action happening in the story at the same time as the main picture. Borders, backgrounds, and basketry patterns reflect many kinds of Asian decorative arts. Even the mountains and trees are often shaped like animals familiar to Brett fans. The hens are attractive and dignified, not anthropomorphized at all, yet individually drawn. The lesson of standing up for oneself is very gently etched in a read-aloud that will reward lots of poring over pictures. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1999

In a snowbound Swiss village, Matti figures it's a good day to make a gingerbread man. He and his mother mix a batch of gingerbread and tuck it in the oven, but Matti is too impatient to wait ten minutes without peeking. When he opens the door, out pops a gingerbread baby, taunting the familiar refrain, "Catch me if you can." The brash imp races all over the village, teasing animals and tweaking the noses of the citizenry, until there is a fair crowd on his heels intent on giving him a drubbing. Always he remains just out of reach as he races over the winterscape, beautifully rendered with elegant countryside and architectural details by Brett. All the while, Matti is busy back home, building a gingerbread house to entice the nervy cookie to safe harbor. It works, too, and Matti is able to spirit the gingerbread baby away from the mob. The mischief-maker may be a brat, but the gingerbread cookie is also the agent of good cheer, and Brett allows that spirit to run free on these pages. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

Brett (The Hat, 1997, etc.) glorifies an old-fashioned Christmas in her lavish and detailed edition of the classic poem. Elves under animal furs nestle in the back of Santa's sleigh while the reindeer labor under their own finery. The family they visit lives in an ornate Victorian mansion. Snow perches picturesquely on tree branches, and elaborate borders throughout the book highlight beloved tree ornaments as well as secondary actions: the reaction of the house's dog and cat; the alerting of the parents to the clatter of reindeer on the roof the rousing of the children and their approach to the loot Santa has left behind. This eye- filling volume offer a wealth of detail, perfect for sharing in the days counting down to Christmas. (Picture book. 3-8) Read full book review >
THE HAT by Jan Brett
by Jan Brett, illustrated by Jan Brett
Released: Sept. 29, 1997

In a companion book to Brett's The Mitten (1989), a little girl decides to unpack her winter woolens from their decorated chest and hang them out on a line to air before winter comes. The format is the same as that of the first book, with a large main illustration on each page and window frames showing other action occurring at the same time. A curious hedgehog puts his head into a fallen stocking, and—because of his prickles—can't get unstuck. Hedgie encounters other animals, each of whom wants to know about the stuck sock; the hedgehog gives several reasons for its presence: It's a beautiful hat, it will keep him dry, it will keep his ears warm, etc. Each animal runs off with a mission—culling clothes from the line to wear. Throughout, the girl reads, watches out the window, spies the entangled hedgehog, frees him, and tells him that animals don't wear clothes. The satisfying story celebrates the cozy hearth, home, and barnyard of picturesque Scandinavian country life, frozen in time. Brett's somber tones of pre-winter are enlivened by the intricate, colorful clothing; her fine, independent heroine is in charge of the story, and the inventive little hedgehog triumphs as well. (Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 15, 1994

Brett's (Christmas Trolls, 1993, etc.) embellishment of the familiar tale is clever: Each mouse here has a wife, and, like many contemporary couples, these two decide to exchange homes for a while. What follows, in alternating country and city scenes, is the result of their naãvetÇ concerning their new environments, including both humorous misconceptions (`` `Is the bathtub leaking?' `No, we're in the country now,' he said. `Those are raindrops' '') and narrow escapes (a cat lurks in side panels in the town scenes, an owl in the country). Brett's narrative is amusing, but best here are her meticulous illustrations of the appealing creatures and their exquisitely imagined world, with the town's delicately patterned crockery and lavish larder rivaling the country's elegantly limned wildlife for interest. A strong entry from a popular artist. (Folklore/Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 30, 1993

Blond, blue-eyed Treva (The Trouble with Trolls, 1992) teaches a pair of greedy little trolls how to celebrate Christmas: following them in order to find the gifts and ornaments they've snitched from her house, she helps them decorate their home, shows them how to share, and offers them a gift—a gesture they make in return on Christmas morning. The story is predictable but related with appealing directness; and fans will be enchanted, once again, with the lovingly detailed folk/Scandinavian details in Brett's bright, crisply delineated art, especially in the intriguing borders—where the trolls' charming pet hedgehogs are busy with their own related pursuits. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 21, 1992

Treva and her dog Tuffi are setting out over the mountain when a small, engaging troll tries to kidnap Tuffi. Quick-witted Treva gets him to take her mittens instead, only to confront another dog-loving troll—who is satisfied with Treva's hat. So it goes until, on the mountaintop, Treva tricks the trolls into giving back her things, and—dog in arms—``flies'' on her skis, down the mountain and out of reach. It's a beguiling variant of the lost clothes theme that made Little Black Sambo so popular (without, of course, its less fortunate qualities); as an added attraction, the troll's underground mÇnage provides a charmingly detailed border and an amiable subplot suggesting that the trolls will soon find a more suitable pet. Nicely plotted, with unusually imaginative and appealing illustrations featuring Norwegian folk art motifs, rendered with verve and exquisite care. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 11, 1991

On the way to a village ball with his orchestra (six bears), Berlioz forgets his concern about the mysterious buzz in his double bass when his bandwagon's wheel falls into a pothole—and when the mule goes on a sitdown strike from which a long series of helpful animals fails to dislodge him. At last, a bee emerges from the bass and stings the mule; the orchestra gets to the ball just in time. The rather slight story here is well contrived to serve the charming illustrations. Brett's appealing beasts are realistically portrayed but also wonderfully expressive of the comical side of human emotions; the setting, judging from the quaint village architecture and the folk-art-inspired detail, is Alpine. In addition to the drama of the main events, readers are treated to intriguing glimpses of animals assembling for the ball in border-like friezes. A book to pore over for its wealth of visual pleasures. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 23, 1991

Subtitled A Book to Benefit the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, an eclectic group of 19 songs—nursery, folk, popular—with music included for just five, and illustrations (mostly new) contributed by 24 well-known children's illustrators. Most useful as an adjunct to the recently issued musical album of the same title, featuring popular rock and pop performers, and as a sampling of the artists' work. (Nonfiction. 2-10)*justify no* Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 20, 1986

Strong, clear pictures in vivid autumnal colors provide the setting for a troupe of traditional creatures—skeleton, ghost, vampire, werewolf, witches, goblins, gremlins, devil, and even a creature in a winding sheet—cavorting about for Halloween. Spookily evocative three-line rhymes describe each one. The creatures are observed by four pairs of green eyes that never stir from their hiding place until the parade has passed; then, out from under the porch come three kittens and their mother who do their own cavorting every night. From the delightfully decorative endpapers to the road lined with jack-o'-lanterns on every post, younger listeners will get a foretaste of trick or treating. A good book to read aloud between visitors on that special scary night. Read full book review >
Released: March 17, 1986

A part of the Bunting/Brett holiday picture book series, the painless, if obvious, story of what three mice give their mother on her day. Biggest Little Mouse and his two brothers, Middle and Little, go on a hunt for presents. Biggest finds a fluffball; Middle, a strawberry. Little's plans, however, are ruined when a cat prevents him from gathering honeysuckles. Although his brothers offer to share their presents with him, Little comes up with his own solution: a Mother's Day song sung to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Sharp dialogue distinguishes one mouse from the other and adds an edge to an otherwise saccharine plot. Brett's illustrations crowd frames with detail, some of it eccentric (mice dressed like Russian peasants?), most of it effective. In all, a warmly utilitarian holiday book Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1983

For just one moment, lightning almost strikes: Mrs. Bear, settling in for the winter, set the alarm early—for February 14—so she and Mr. Bear could, for once, celebrate Valentine's Day. But when she rises, goes out in the unaccustomed cold, and prepares a Valentine breakfast for Mr. Bear, he won't be awakened and he won't get up. So what does this loving, Valentine-proferring spouse do? She goes for a can of ice water—whereupon Mr. Bear springs up and hugs her and says it was all a joke, he even had a present (chocolate-covered ants) tucked away and waiting. Now if she had let him go back to sleep, that would have been true love. A banal conceit, and unappealing pictures. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1980

Somewhere in Ireland, on Saint Patrick's day in the morning, Jamie wakes up early, resenting that he's too small to walk in the parade. So he dons his mother's raincoat, his father's hat, and his brother's green sash, takes another brother's flute, and with his dog Nell marches about in his own parade. Along the way Hobble the Hen Man gives him an egg, Mrs. Simms at the sweet shop (open early, it seems) gives him some ginger ale and a wee flag, he enjoys his drink on the parade's-end platform set up for the day's festivities, and then heads home with proud thoughts of the music he's played. Other small children might enjoy sharing underdog Jamie's secret, while sharing at the same time the author's pointed skepticism as to the beauty of his music. But they are unlikely to see the outing as much of a lark. Bunting tries too hard for color and imagery without supplying any narrative structure or incidents; and Brett's green and black drawings are just drab. Read full book review >