Books by Jane Manning

Released: Sept. 8, 2015

"The final stanza of Cynthia S. Cotten's 'My Card' says it all: 'My library card / unlocks the world / and more / with a single / scan.' Amen. (Picture book/poetry5-12)"
The title of this book of 15 poems will immediately grab the attention of teachers and librarians. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"This special story will be read or sung over in the library, over in the classroom, and over in the family room, next to the Christmas tree. (Picture book. 3-7)"
The classic children's song "Over in the Meadow" moves to the North Pole in this Christmas-themed interpretation. Read full book review >
Released: May 29, 2014

"Readers already know what Millie learns: To everything there is a time and purpose, including fierceness; they will welcome this validation. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Manning's Millie returns with fierceness in check until an unwelcome visitor finds her chasing him "like bad luck." Read full book review >
SNORING BEAUTY by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Released: March 5, 2014

"Snore. (Picture book. 4-7)"
A mouse in his house—which is also Sleeping Beauty's castle—attempts to get a full night's sleep before his wedding but is stymied by the great wracking snores of the princess herself. Read full book review >
MILLIE FIERCE by Jane Manning
Released: Aug. 16, 2012

"The spiky, colorful art is more interesting than the plot, but Millie's fierceness in the middle will speak both to tots who've tried it and those who haven't. (Picture book. 4-7)"
Alluring, edgy watercolors with sharp angles show a tyke's transformation from mild to monstrous and back again. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2012

"Please, let there be more adventures of Mac and Cheese, the Felix and Oscar of the early-reader world. (Early reader. 4-8)"
In this offering for emerging readers, Mac and Cheese, two cat friends, prove that opposites attract, even in the feline world. Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2010

A collection of 18 poems seeks to encapsulate the school experience. With dry humor, David L. Harrison's "Show-and-Tell" describes what happens when Billy brings his snake to school; Kenn Nesbitt's soggy child sees wicked opportunity in a malfunctioning "Drinking Fountain"; Carol Diggory Shields captures, in clipped, breathless verse, the excitement of a "B-Ball" game. Other topics run the gamut from test anxiety to gross lunch food to recess to the challenge of cursive writing. Manning's spiky, slyly subversive watercolors give this collection a welcome edge, for, despite the overall solid quality of the selections, this is hardly a new concept—look at any back-to-school display to see its predecessors. Moreover, the final poem—a plaint about homework—which may excite sympathy, ends this volume on an oddly negative note. One to miss. (Picture book/poetry. 5-9)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2010

An unnamed little girl describes her very pleasant life, which is full of nice activities yet still empty due to her unfulfilled longing for a dog. The girl cycles through her hobbies and outdoor play in different locations and seasons, with illustrations in full color, before she shifts into imaginary mode with a dog of her own. These pages show what she would do with her longed-for pet, with the illustrations in moody shades of blue to indicate her day-dreaming state. The last two spreads revert to full-color and reality as the girl is presented with the dog of her dreams by her doting parents. Why the girl receives the dog is not clear, so the conclusion falls a little flat while being completely predictable. The girl comes across as spoiled with her dog-mania, and her failure to solve the central plot issue on her own does nothing to develop her character. Manning's watercolor illustrations provide a distinct personality and genuine emotions for the girl as well as a perky canine companion, but they cannot save the narrative as a whole. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
MY MOM IS A FIREFIGHTER by Lois G. Grambling
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

Finally, a picture book about a young boy who wants to grow up to be just like his mom who is a firefighter. Billy is lucky enough to have two families: his mom and dad, and his four uncles at the firehouse. Clearly very proud of his mom, Billy revels in her speaking to his class about the details of her job. In a picture book with a relatively normal amount of text, Grambling succeeds in providing detailed descriptions of fighting fires, taking care of the equipment and the importance of teamwork in making this highly dangerous job as safe as possible. The placement of text and illustrations constantly changes, serving to keep things moving. Judicious use of oranges, red and yellows remind the viewer how serious the work of firefighting truly is. The combination of interesting, informative text with Manning's clear, colorful illustrations will surely make this a favorite. It is especially notable for the fact that no fuss is made about Billy's mom's "non-traditional" career choice. Billy does indeed have an excellent role model. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
PIP SQUEAK by Sarah Weeks
Released: July 1, 2007

Weeks and Manning team up for a second successful easy reader starring Pip Squeak the mouse, this time joined by his friend Max, a messy and nmisbehaving fox. In short, rhyming text, Weeks follows Pip Squeak as he cleans his entire house in preparation for a tea-time visit, with added humor from lots of repeating cleaning sounds. When the boisterous fox arrives, he tracks in mud, bounces on the bed, knocks over furniture and literally swings from the chandelier, making Pip Squeak both sad and mad. Max finally does clean up his own messes and sits still for a cup of tea, setting up the concluding line that Pip Squeak would prefer to visit Max at his house next time. Busy, action-filled illustrations in bright hues incorporate the text into softly shaded sections of the art for a pleasing design that seamlessly integrates words and pictures. Children who are just beginning to read on their own will enjoy this easy and humorous story, which could also serve as a read-aloud for younger preschoolers. (Easy reader. 4-6)Read full book review >
THE JUST-SO WOMAN by Gary Blackwood
Released: Nov. 1, 2006

This level-three title in the I Can Read series introduces new readers to a fastidious female homesteader and her "devil-may-care" male neighbor. When she finds no butter for her breakfast bread, the Just-So Woman sets about making more. One complicated thing leads to another: Her milking stool breaks, her hatchet needs sharpening and she must make soap to wash the cream spoon, which the cat licked. Exhausting herself with many self-imposed tasks, the woman borrows salt and a butter mold from the Any-Way Man, only to find that her hungry cat has eaten every bit of the fresh butter. Blackwood deftly integrates a sense of the rigors of homesteading life into the easy-reader format. He hints at a possible romance—or at least, a blossoming friendship—between the Any-Way Man and the Just-So Woman, intimating that each will benefit from understanding the other's modus operandi. Manning's illustrations nimbly incorporate the story's rustic, old-timey elements while rendering the characters in child-appealing, cartoonish forms. (author's note) (Easy reader. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2005

The title says it all: Wannabe explorer Beetle McGrady, whose heroes are Amelia Earhart and Marco Polo, gets herself into trouble during Fun with Food Week by adding ants to her group's food pyramid. However, when push comes to shove, Beetle isn't quite as eager to engage gastronomically with insects as she'd like. With classmates Roger, Lacey and Mona forming a Greek chorus as Beetle wrestles with her squeamishness, McDonald walks both Beetle and reader companionably through the week until Chef Suzanne shows up on Friday with a selection of wriggly delicacies that allows Beetle to find her inner bug-eater. Manning's watercolor illustrations feature a parka-clad ant (from Ant-arctica, presumably) who watches the freckle-faced, Pippi Longstocking-pigtailed Beetle's struggle from corner vignettes. The images of Chef Suzanne's creepy-crawlies are amiably disgusting; Beetle's grossed-out classmates nicely satisfying. Washy blue images of Beetle as anteater and mealworm form visual counterpoint to a text that finds its subject's voice beautifully: "[B]ird's-nest soup did not make her Marco Polo. Bird's-nest soup just made her a spit-eater." Agreeably icky fun. (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2005

Firmly belted in the back seat and on the way to the zoo, a little boy wants to know if kangaroos have to wear seat belts, too. He also asks, in upbeat rhyme, if penguins have to ride in strollers, if young monkeys must wear bike helmets, and if hippo mommies hold their youngster's hands as they run to the pool. Mom always has a ready and cheerful response, "A mama hippo has legs, not arms, but she can hiss when she's alarmed." "If anything dangerous wanders his way, she carries and ferries him safely away." Throughout the tour of the zoo, Mom describes the similarities and differences between humans and various animals. The ultimate message, however, is that no matter the species, all parents do their best to care for their young ones. In beautifully blended watercolors with wood-block details, Manning decorates each page with realistic yet fanciful zoo creatures. A perfect read for the pell-mell toddler who is sometimes frustrated by the safety measures imposed by loving adults. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
BAA-CHOO! by Sarah Weeks
Released: Nov. 1, 2004

A sniffly sheep develops a tantalizing "Baa . . . ahhh . . . ," but the "choo" proves elusive in this rhymed barnyard caper. Wearing a garishly striped shirt and an expression of extreme misery, Sam the lamb seeks aid and finds it. But it takes the combination of a tickly feather from Gwen the hen, pepper from Sig the pig, and a cloud of dust kicked up by Franny Nannygoat to do the deed at last. Sam's mighty blast blows all of his helpers almost out of the picture, though not so far away that they can't all offer a secular "Bless you!" at the end. A juicy addition to such explosive classics as Ruth Brown's Big Sneeze (1985) and Patricia Thomas's "Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze!" (1971). (Easy reader. 5-7)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2003

The author of Mrs. Biddlebox (2002) posits another irascible senior citizen, this one living in a big boot with only an equally irritable cat for company. The arrival of five rambunctious children to a neighboring shoe sends both scurrying to the nearest witch for a supply of "Kiddie-Be-Gone." Unfortunately, it's a stale batch (and she doesn't read the instructions); suddenly, the coterie of cheerful young folk is transformed into a huddle of grumpy, querulous oldsters, "Some saggy and baggy, with moles on their skin, / Some crinkled and wrinkled, with rolls on their chin." Manning sets this cautionary tale in a landscape of rolling hills and widely scattered shoes and cottages. The old folk are all marked by scowls beneath oversized red noses—until the old woman hastily stirs up a batch of "Kiddie-Come-Back" that restores her neighbors to a fresh-faced, "clattering, chattering, clamoring crew" of children. "Now what would that old woman do?" Well, if you can't beat 'em. . . . Readers of Mother Goose with lingering questions about that old woman with so many children will find some answers at last, in this lively take on the traditional rhyme. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
A PET FOR ME by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Released: March 1, 2003

In this thematic poetry collection, noted anthologist Hopkins (Home to Me: Poems Across America, 2002, etc.) has selected 20 simple, humorous poems about children's pets for this addition to the I Can Read series. The selections include both common pets (dogs, cats, birds, and goldfish) and more unusual ones (a purple snake, a tarantula, and a hedgehog). Poems from well-known writers such as Karla Kuskin, X. J. Kennedy, and Aileen Fisher are included, along with several works by Hopkins himself. All the poems rhyme except one, with the text of the poetry printed in large type and with extra line spacing to assist new readers. Many of the poems are set against pastel backgrounds incorporated into double-paged spreads, which works well, but with several poems, part of the text is set against a darker portion of the illustration, a distraction for beginning readers. Manning (Drip, Drop, 2000, etc.) provides a cast of appealing animals and cute children with stylized, elongated eyes, and she focuses on both playful action scenes and more introspective moments between child and pet. The artist includes children of all ethnicities in her illustrations, and she chooses a spunky little girl as the owner of a pet tarantula. In an amusing subtlety, children often sport haircuts or clothes that echo the physical features of their pet in a gentle hint at the old concept of shared identity. An index of authors and titles is included, although a contents page is not, which seems to put the bibliographic cart before the horse. (Easy reader/poetry. 5-8)Read full book review >
DRIP, DROP by Sarah Weeks
Released: Aug. 31, 2000

Weeks continues her watery-themed flow of beginning readers (Splish, Splash!, not reviewed) with this entry in the I Can Read Book series. A charmingly domesticated rodent named Pip Squeak is struggling with that perplexing problem every homeowner dreads: the drips and drops and plips and plops of a leaky roof in a major rainstorm. Poor Pip Squeak is ready to snooze in yellow-striped pajamas and dapper bathrobe, longing to rest his head on his pillow printed with slices of Swiss cheese. Instead, he spends his entire night racing from one dripping leak to another, using every available container to catch the drops. The story is told in simple, short sentences with repeating phrases, picture clues, and a variety of simple rhyme schemes that help new readers predict the text. The straightforward but amusing story and large, clear illustrations also make Drip, Drop an appropriate choice for a group story session for preschoolers, perhaps for a thematic story hour focusing on mice or water. Manning's (Cindy Ellen, p. 636, etc.) droll illustrations use a contemporary palette of mango and lavender, with lots of light blue raindrops, and she fashions an appealing personality for the unfortunate mouse, who finally gets to nap in the morning when the sun comes up. It's hard to create a strong easy reader that works as both a teaching tool and an effective picture book, but Pip Squeak has the muscle to carry it off. A solid choice for the easy reader shelves in both public and school libraries. (Junior Library Guild selection) (Easy reader. 4-7)Read full book review >
CINDY ELLEN by Susan Lowell
Released: May 31, 2000

From the author of The Bootmaker and the Elves (1997), another ripsnortin' Western take on a traditional fairy tale. Thanks to a spirited fairy godmother who gets all the best lines—" ‘Remember, there ain't no horse that can't be rode, and there ain't no man that can't be throwed!' "—Cindy Ellen does make the local cattle baron's rodeo and follow-up square dance, proves herself a roping, riding champion, and ultimately hitches up with the rancher's son Joe Prince. Manning tricks out her characters in dazzling modern cowboy dress, and gives Cindy Ellen a big grin, a flowing mane of honey-colored hair, and diamond-studded stirrups instead of glass slippers. The stepsisters get off lightly, moving away to marry city slickers rather than mutilating themselves as in the Brothers Grimm version. Bright, stylish, and with a boosterish concluding note on women in rodeo. (Picture book/fairy tale. 7-9)Read full book review >