Books by Jan Peck

Released: April 1, 2011

For this collection of 30 poems, not only nursery rhymes but also familiar children's songs ("Yankee Doodle," "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush," etc.) have been given new lyrics promoting energy conservation activities and healthy living. The author of Texas Mother Goose (2006) here teams up with the "green-minded" author of The Giant Carrot (1998) to produce a lively combination of parody and sound earth-saving suggestions. "Little Jack Horner / Changed bulbs in the corner" and "Hickety, Pickety, free-range hen" combine with a Mother Hubbard who "went to the market / To buy only local." Their strong message is leavened by Berger's whimsical, inventive illustrations, which lighten the tone. On varied backgrounds, including lined paper, surreal bird-people with skinny legs and round heads litter and recycle, plant gardens, tend bees, hang laundry on the line and ride bicycles. Five little pig-people "re-re-recycle!" all the way home. Indeed, recycled materials, found papers and ephemera were used for these collages. Bits of text on the papers bear intriguing messages, use unusual fonts and languages and may be reversed. Some of the materials make connections: Mother Hubbard does, indeed, have a cloth shopping bag, and the gardener in "This is the Seed that Jack Sowed" is wearing denim overalls. These illustrations invite close inspection, while the poems will be welcomed in schools where going green is a value. (Poetry. 5-9)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2006

A round-eyed inquisitive little boy bravely takes a safari trip in search of a wild lion. Along the way he spies a spraying elephant, tall giraffe, slushing hippopotamus, zigzagging zebra, charging rhinoceros, spying gorilla, snorting wildebeest, laughing hyena and dancing ostrich, all with similar round eyes and friendly faces. When an amicable, yet roaring lion, appears on his final encounter, it is time to say good-bye to his previous sightings and return to the safety of grandma's kitchen and her freshly baked animal cookies. Digitally rendered large cartoon-style paintings in bold, bright colors against dark green and mustard yellow backgrounds reflect the playful imaginative scenario described in the repetitive patterned text. Preschoolers and emerging readers will enjoy picking up their binoculars for a far away wild safari search. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2005

In this sequel to Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea (2004), a little girl with a huge head and bulgy eyes climbs up a tree at night, greeting various rain forest animals. In this imaginative bedtime story, the author describes the unnamed girl's adventure through a short, patterned text of six lines, with the titular phrase as the introductory line. After meeting nine animals, she says good night, first to the moon and all the rainforest creatures, and then to her father as she returns to reality. The final page shows the little girl asleep in her bunk bed with all her stuffed animals around her, each one corresponding to the rainforest creatures. Petrone uses a bold touch in her digitally produced illustrations, placing bright animals and splashes of jungle-green leaves against a starry sky. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2004

A familiar premise feels unexpectedly fresh in this engaging underwater adventure. The unnamed narrator, a carrot-topped boy, dives repeatedly, meeting and greeting a different animal each time as he searches for treasure. Pleasingly rhythmic verses and a repeating refrain move the story along smoothly. Digitally rendered double-page illustrations resemble oil paintings, with big broad brushstrokes and bold, brightly colored images. The font is well chosen, enhancing the playful tone yet still clear and easy to read, a particularly impressive achievement given that the text most often appears on a blue background. Few readers will be surprised to discover that the seahorse, starfish, shark, and other animals found in this "sea" are actually tub toys. But because this revelation is not the point of the story, young listeners will likely enjoy tagging along on this imaginary journey more than once. Dive on in, the water's fine. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1998

``It grew and it grew and it grew'' is a familiar chant among readers who know the classic Russian folktale of the giant turnip. Picture, instead, one heck of a carrot, along with a rollicking ensemble of barefooted folks just itching to drink a tall glass of carrot juice, or, as Mama Bess puts it, ``park my lips on a wide bowl of carrot stew.'' She, Papa Joe, and Brother Abel, plant the teeny-tiny seed and water it, but it is sweet Little Isabelle who sings and dances that carrot sprout right up out of the ground. In fact, her singing and dancing seem to be the reasons that carrot become enormous, which no one realizes until it pops out of the ground on Little Isabelle's high note. In scenes that exhibit Root's characteristically zany, uninhibited style, Little Isabelle somersaults outside a tumbledown shack stacked five deep with jars of carrot juice and relish; a pink Chevy perches atop cinderblocks, and Mama Bess soars through the air and lands on a pig. The watercolor and gouache illustrations, lit by orange sunsets, are perfectly paired with a countrified dialect—their ``mouths fell halfway to their toes''—that adds to the down-on-the-farm flavor. A recipe for carrot pudding tops off this frolicsome adaptation of an old tale. (Picture book. 3-8) Read full book review >