Books by Jeanne Willis

DON'T GO THERE! by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 5, 2019

"A spacey twist on the potty book. (Picture book. 1-3)"
Can a human preschooler teach a baby alien how to use the potty? Read full book review >
STARDUST by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 12, 2019

"Warm and light. (Picture book. 4-7)"
A little girl caught in her big sister's shadow comes to see her inner light. Read full book review >
I'M IN CHARGE! by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 20, 2018

"The 'terrible twos' come alive at the savanna watering hole. (Picture book. 2-5)"
A little rhino gets his comeuppance after gleefully disrupting everyone else's day. Read full book review >
NOT JUST A BOOK by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2018

"Fun but forgettable. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Books are more than just words and ink. Read full book review >
THE T-REX WHO LOST HIS SPECS! by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2018

"A comic episode with a bit of a bite (implied, not explicit) at the end. (Picture book. 6-8)"
A nearsighted T. Rex stumbles into a chain of calamities after losing his eyeglasses. Read full book review >
BLUE MONSTER WANTS IT ALL! by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2018

"An amusing, over-the-top new-sibling book with echoes of 'The Fisherman and His Wife.' (Picture book. 3-6)"
A little monster who loves "brand-new things more than anything" has some trouble adjusting to a new baby in the family. Read full book review >
TROLL STINKS by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2017

"Let's be honest. The goats are the stinkers. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Two kids—as in young goats—prove just why that creature has a tough reputation. Read full book review >
POLES APART by Jeanne Willis
by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Jarvis
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 8, 2016

"A cheery introduction to a few major cultures across the globe, with both poles as anchors. (Picture book. 3-7)"
Taking a wrong turn on the way to a picnic results in a grand world tour in this tale of penguins who find themselves at the North Pole. Read full book review >
SLUG NEEDS A HUG! by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2015

"Sluggy may not have limbs for hugs, but the book feels like a big, generous embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)"
A mopey mollusk seeks approval from his mom, but can't get the hugs he desperately wants, in a bittersweet, slimy story. Read full book review >
THE COW TRIPPED OVER THE MOON by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 12, 2015

"Children just graduating from nursery rhymes will find this a hoot. (Picture book. 3-7)"
Hey-diddle-diddle! Nursery-rhyme EMTs rescue stranded characters from "Mother Goose." In verse! Read full book review >
SUPERCAT VS. THE FRY THIEF by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 24, 2015

"Gentle, occasionally funny furry adventures for those just ready for chapter books. (Fantasy. 6-9)"
Have no fear, Supercat is here! Read full book review >
ELEPHANTS CAN'T JUMP! by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2015

"Elephant may fail spectacularly, but this is a success story through and through. (Picture book. 3-6)"
The old adage that if you dream it, you can do it gets (rightfully) turned on its head in this sweet concoction. Read full book review >
THE FIRST SLODGE by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2015

"From the primordial ooze to the red fruit, the illustrations serve to reinforce the Adam and Eve metaphor, and the whole thing may leave readers rooting for the serpentlike Snawk. (Picture book. 4-7)"
The prolific Willis' offbeat fable of cooperation and sharing features a solitary green, bipedal, two-armed, sluglike being called a Slodge. Read full book review >
BOA'S BAD BIRTHDAY by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2014

"Festive fare that ultimately misses the mark. (Picture book. 4-8)"
On the cover of this picture book, an impossibly cute, sad-looking boa lolls from a tree branch, birthday hat on his head. What could possibly be the matter? Read full book review >
FLY, CHICK, FLY! by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2012

"This gentle read-aloud looks forward to the time when the child will have a young one of her own. (Picture book. 3-7)"
The third of three owl chicks hesitates to fly, requiring much encouragement from its parents. Read full book review >
HIPPOSPOTAMUS by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2012

"Eeeew. But in a good way. (Picture book. 5-7)"
A mysterious pink spot on Hippo's bum provides the MacGuffin for a lottamus of silly wordplay capped by a deliciously gross denouement. Read full book review >
WHO'S IN THE LOO? by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 8, 2012

"A few clogs in the digital plumbing away from a wrap. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)"
Sound effects and animated wriggles squeeze out laffs from this unabashed exercise in toilet humor, but the software coding and design is a major update short of release-ready. Read full book review >
I'M SURE I SAW A DINOSAUR by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2011

"Another slyly disquieting outing from the creators of Who's in the Bathroom? (2007). (Picture book. 6-8)"
Willis and Reynolds deliver a sharp tweak to the credulous, as just the rumor of a monster sighting prompts a mass migration of rubberneckers. Read full book review >
THAT'S NOT FUNNY! by Jeanne Willis
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2010

Hyena gets a taste of his own mischievous medicine. Just for fun, he places a banana peel in Giraffe's path and, sure enough, Giraffe slips and skids into a tree. This knocks loose a coconut that falls right on Hippo's head. Hyena laughs uncontrollably, even as both Hippo and Giraffe cry, "That's not funny!" Hippo's dizziness sets off a chain reaction involving Snake, Ostrich, Rhino, Turtle, Vulture, Zebra, Cheetah, Wildebeest and, ultimately, Elephant. Through it all, Hyena laughs uproariously. He gets his just deserts, though, when he slips on the same banana peel and ends up in a steaming heap of elephant poo. When Hyena declares loudly that "It's not funny!" what do you think all the other animals do? Willis's text is nicely streamlined for maximum slapstick effect and much abetted by the clever compositions of Reynolds's illustrations. His brightly colored animals look soft and cuddly, like stuffed toys, but they move like classic Looney Tunes characters. Sure to trigger young listeners' laughter as well. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
OLD DOG by Jeanne Willis
by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Tony Ross
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2010

Does Grandpa need new tricks to get the attention of canine whippersnappers? Three Young Pups whine, whimper and snort in protest when their mother wants them to visit Grandpa. He scratches, he's boring and he has dog breath. Mother reminds them of Grandpa's kind heart, but at his house, when Grandpa starts to tell stories of his youth, the kids tune out; seeing their disinterest, Grandpa wanders away disconsolately. Not long after, Grandpa reappears in a bright circus costume and dazzles the Pups with a series of daring deeds: juggling and balancing on a two-wheeler and even getting shot out of a cannon. As he flies through the air, a buoyant Grandpa declares, "There's life in the old dog yet!"—and now the kids can't get enough of his yarns. Ross's pictures add several sly jokes—Grandpa trying to play Twister is priceless. A clever design touch has two page spreads of photos from Grandpa's album on inside covers; those in the front are black-and-white, and those in the back in full color. Great message about mutual respect, crisply told. (Picture book. 3-6)
Read full book review >
THE BOG BABY by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 13, 2009

Anyone who has ever tried to re-create a tide pool in a jar or displaced a wild thing only to watch it wither will understand the heartbreak of two sisters and their beloved Bog Baby in this whimsical British import. The disobedient duo catches a blue, boggly-eyed beastie on a forbidden newt-fishing trip, so they can't tell their mom about their fantastic discovery. The sisters build him a nice bucket world of shells, gravel, clean water and cake crumbs, and all is lovely until the Bog Baby gets sick. The desperate girls blow their secret, but find a sympathetic ear in Mom, who fondly remembers Bog Babies from when she was young. Bluebell Wood, the newt-fishing site, is a breathtakingly beautiful sea of delicately rendered bluebells in what must be one of the most inviting forests ever illustrated in children's literature. Narrated in the personable voice of one of the sisters all grown up, this happy-ending story asks readers to consider not only the importance of leaving wild things wild but the possibility of magic. (Bog Baby field note form) (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
FLABBY CAT AND SLOBBY DOG by Jeanne Willis
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2009

Eating right and exercising is undoubtedly an excellent prescription for good health. Unfortunately, good advice, however well intentioned, rarely makes for an enjoyable story, particularly when it's delivered in a condescending tone. Willis invites readers to laugh at, not with, her characters by making them both fat and stupid. The anthropomorphized animals, shown living in squalor and wearing stereotypical lower-class clothing, believe that their sofa is shrinking. They comfort themselves with food and sleep and television until the day that they simply can't fit into their cozy house. Setting out to find their "distant relatives," the "cunning tiger" and "wild wolf," they travel the world only to wind up back home again, much slimmer and much happier. Ross's typically scratchy illustrations capture the action of the plot but can't inject enough individuality into the characters to make readers really care about them. His comedic skills are sorely underused, which is too bad as the heavy-handed message could have used some help. Skip this sermon and enjoy a nice walk outside instead. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
MOMMY, DO YOU LOVE ME? by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2008

Yet another entry in the how-much-do-you-love-me genre with a helpful addition toward the end. The sweet story of the chick questioning his mom about how far her love will go (if I've lost a race, if I've gotten dirty, etc.) has the usual elements of this picture-book genre. The ending does add to the pantheon by having the chick act out enough that his mother gets frustrated and yells at him. Frightened, he runs and hides. His mommy finds him and they question each other about the extent of their love for each other. Chick talks about how he sometimes gets angry with his mom but still loves her. Fearnley's watercolor-and-ink illustrations are colorful, funny and convey a sense of forward momentum and all-encompassing affection. The themes of love and forgiveness aided by the lovely illustrations help this addition rise to the top of the genre. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
COTTONBALL COLIN by Jeanne Willis
ANIMALS
Released: Feb. 1, 2008

In a tale pointedly addressed to overprotective adults, a mother mouse finally lets her littlest one go. The smallest of ten siblings, Colin is forced to stay indoors all day with his mother hovering about—dosing him with unspecified medicine from small brown bottles in Ross's typically bright, slapdash watercolors. At last, though, she takes Grandma's suggestion that he'll be all right if he's wrapped in a big ball of cotton. Colin ventures outside and the chase is on, as he's mistaken for a snowball by a boy, a tasty piece of bread by a duck and a juicy rabbit by a fox. Back home he saunters, cotton-free and exhilarated. After that, there's no holding him back, and as the final scene indicates, even cats had better be on the lookout. Parents will get the point. Young children daunted by how dangerous to mice and other small creatures Colin's world turns out to be may be happier with the sibling support in Martin Waddell's Tiny's Big Adventure (2004), illustrated by John Lawrence. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
WHO’S IN THE BATHROOM? by Jeanne Willis
ANIMALS
Released: March 27, 2007

Echoing the plaint of many a desperate bathroom-seeker, Willis offers an extended series of rhymed speculations about what's holding up the line for the loo. This is bathroom humor in its purest form: "Is it a tiger who needed to tiddle? / A wandering wombat who wanted to widdle? / A waddling penguin too frozen to piddle?" Rising ingeniously to the challenge, Reynolds depicts a menagerie of easily recognizable animals, discreetly but unmistakably engaged in elimination or other restroom activities as a long queue of humans waits outside with varying degrees of patience. For bladder or worse, rare is the child who won't "go" for this, despite its unexpectedly low-pressure dénouement. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
DELILAH D. AT THE LIBRARY by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 19, 2007

Delilah D., a precocious preschooler, insists that she's the queen of a distant country. Despite her mother's denials, Delilah firmly asserts that where she comes from, things are different. Just how different is detailed during Delilah's trip to the library with her younger brother and her babysitter. A land where libraries feature free doughnuts doesn't sound half bad, but Delilah's disruptive behavior will undoubtedly bring adult readers back to earth with a thud. From climbing up the bookshelves to singing very loudly, Delilah draws attention, but the patient "Library Anne" continues to cope. The babysitter, by the way, is exceedingly true to life—she spends her time at the library emailing her boyfriend. Sprawling colored pencil, ink and collage illustrations keep the focus squarely on Delilah, whether she's parading through her spacious home, sharing a made-up map of her country in a fold-out page or cavorting in the bright, cheerful library. While her antics may be amusingly familiar for parents and librarians, it's less clear how much kids will enjoy the arch humor. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
GORILLA! GORILLA! by Jeanne Willis
ANIMALS
Released: June 1, 2006

This colorful work, rendered in pastels, is another collaboration between the team that made readers laugh at Tadpole's Promise (2005). Here the subject is the suspenseful chase of a mother mouse by a killer gorilla as she searches for her lost baby. The refrain, "Help! Help! He'll catch me! / He'll squash me and scratch me, / He'll mince me and mash me, / And crunch me up for lunch!" is heard throughout as she travels around the world with the gorilla close behind. Ross cleverly introduces a variety of countries, landscapes and transportation, while portraying humorous situations of the native animals. In China, a panda is eating his bamboo dinner with chopsticks, and a chipmunk wearing a ten-gallon hat appears in western America. The expression of the gorilla is especially sweet as he presents the mother mouse with her baby in the Arctic and asks from whom she is running. Utterly embarrassed, she allows the gorilla to carry both her and the baby back home to the rainforest, gently teaching the folly of a rush to judgment. Illustrations are ideal for group readings. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
TADPOLE'S PROMISE by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2005

In this deceptively innocuous love story, a caterpillar and a polliwog pledge their love, promising each other that they will never change. Fat chance, obviously: Each time they reunite, polliwog has grown new limbs. When he loses his tail, the caterpillar declares her heart is broken and huffs off to nurse her sorrows in a cocoon. Ross illustrates this economically told tale with equally sketchy watercolors, creating a serene natural setting, but turning it sideways so that the gutter becomes the boundary between land and water, and keeping background detail to a minimum to maintain visual focus on the rainbow-hued caterpillar and her "shiny black pearl." In the end, she emerges rather different in form herself, but when she repentantly flutters down to a certain frog at the water's edge, the romance comes to an abrupt and fatal end. The setup being perfect enough to leave even adult readers unsettled, this makes a promising addition to the "share if you dare" list, next to, say, Chris Raschka's Arlene Sardine (1998). (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
I HATE SCHOOL by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2004

Never have the horrors of school been more forcefully, or adroitly, expressed. Why does young Honor Brown hate school? "My teacher is a warty toad! / My classroom is a hole! / The cafeteria ladies feed us worms, / and rabbit poo, and coal!" Is it really that bad? Yes, the teachers "throw us out of windows, / And make us walk on glass. / I've heard they cut your head off / If you're talking during class." All of this receives explicit expression in Ross's loosely inked scenes as, clad in tartan skirts and floppy hats, or the equivalent uniforms for boys, Honor and her classmates suffer or inflict each torture with uproarious glee or dismay. Of course, when it's time to graduate, Honor tearfully declares that she's really going to miss it all. Willis will have readers or listeners rolling in the aisles—and what a refreshing twist on all of those blandly reassuring "First Day of School" stories. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
NAKED WITHOUT A HAT by Jeanne Willis
FICTION
Released: May 11, 2004

Will Avery, who's slow, deliberate, and unusually kind to both people and animals, narrates his love story in an unsophisticated voice. At 19, he values his first chance to live away from home and hold down a job, even one cleaning up at a park. When he meets the volatile Zara, who describes herself as part Gypsy and part Irish, they fall in love and soon become close, sexually and emotionally. But Will and his mother have a secret that threatens to undermine his relationship with Zara. The secret, which comes out near the end, prompts readers to see the narrative up to that point in a new light. The revelation, only one of several plot elements that deal with prejudice, emphasizes how labels diminish everyone involved. With strong secondary characters and an original final twist, this British story, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread prize, moves slowly at times but ultimately rewards the reader in full measure. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
DON’T LET GO! by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2003

Achieving the skill of riding a two-wheeled bike is the first step on the path to independence. Dad spends time with Megan in the park, supporting her with encouraging words and with his steady hands when she finally takes off on her own. Parallel emotions and concerns of father and daughter are expressed in the rhyming text as the theme of letting go is brought out in Megan's anxiety versus Dad's apprehensive uncertainty of the latitude that bike-riding will provide. Willis deftly brings it all together as she completes the circle of emotions by having Megan repeat the reassuring words that Dad says at the start of the bike lesson: "Daddy, I'm here. I won't let go, / Not until you say / Hold on tight. I love you, so / We'll do this together, okay?" Watercolors outlined in black ink reflect the active scenes, and close-ups of the characters figuratively evoke the sentiments involved. Wholesome fare for both parent and child. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
THE BOY WHO THOUGHT HE WAS A TEDDY BEAR by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

The fairies are responsible, so this story of a boy who thought he was a teddy bear qualifies as a fairy tale—and a very charming one indeed. A baby boy is resting in his carriage in the woods—his mother is a short ways off picking flowers—when the fairies find him. They deliver him to their friends the teddy bears, who take him under their wings and raise him as a teddy. They name him Pinky Blinky Dinky because he was and did those things. He learned to walk and growl like a teddy, sit on shelves and sleep in cupboards, attend picnics in the wildwood, and became a first-class cuddler. Just when the bears are feeling that it's appropriate to tell Pinky Blinky Dinky the truth about his identity, the fairies usher the boy's mother to the teddy bears' house. Pinky Blinky Dinky's not sure he wants to be a little boy—"I want to hide in cupboards and go on picnics and play in the woods with my friends"—until his mother reassures him that little boys get to do just those things. Cuddle, too. In time to celebrate the 100-year birthday of the teddy bear, Willis's (The Truth or Something, p. 669, etc.) tale is an artful, deep reminder of how pleasurable it is for kids to have teddy in attendance, trucked around by the arm or leg, a steady, sturdy companion. Varley's pen-and-wash art has teddy's essential qualities: homey, disheveled, and warm. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
THE TRUTH OR SOMETHING by Jeanne Willis
FICTION
Released: May 1, 2001

"I don't know me either. Not any more." Nothing is the way Mick Spicer thought it was. His father Harry Spicer is really his stepfather. His sister Eileen, whom he believed had been sold to the rag-and-bone man, is really buried in the nearby cemetery, having died of pneumonia when six months old. His mother is not in the hospital having a baby; she's in prison for theft. And his name's not Mick Spicer; it's Mick Stokes. Having been shifted from place to place, left alone or left with friends and relatives, Mick Stokes has been desperately poor and lonely, an invisible child whose whole short life has been one of mistaken identity. He says early in the story, "I was trying to make a world. I don't know what out of, but whatever it was, I was making it wrong." It's as if Mick had some of the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, but not all of the pieces or not the right pieces, or perhaps the wrong puzzle. Mick's first-person narrative is nicely drawn, from the confused, disjointed narrative of a lonely little boy to mid-story, when Mick is surprised to find out who he is—and isn't. By the end, having come full-circle, Mick's voice gets stronger as he gets older and more capable of making his world. If he doesn't quite find himself, he does find his voice, and his resolve to not be beaten in life. The narrative voice is a challenge and the subject matter is grim, but patient, older readers will find a good story and some measure of truth. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
WHAT DID I LOOK LIKE WHEN I WAS A BABY? by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2000

Most schoolchildren in the primary grades study lifecycles in science class, often focusing on frogs to observe their dramatic metamorphosis. This droll picture book by Willis (author of the Dr. Xargle series) follows several different species as each young'un questions a parent about his or her looks as a baby, from the little boy on the cover through a baboon, hippopotamus, leopard, ostrich, hyena, warthog, and chameleon. All the parents answer that their babies looked like smaller versions of Mom and Dad, with most of the answers including a delicious pun relating to that particular animal's looks or attributes. (The hyena mommy replies that her baby "looked just like your dad and we laughed and laughed!") Of course, the little bullfrog is another story entirely, and at first he is horrified by the baby pictures his mother shows him. In disbelief, he vows "never to trust his mother again," until he hears his brothers and sisters singing a clever song detailing the frog lifecycle and realizes that all frogs must go through the same stages of development. The words to the song are included in the text, and can be sung to an original tune (music appended) or to a traditional folk tune. The amusing full-color illustrations by Ross (illustrator of the Amber Brown and Dr. Xargle series) are a delight, with sly additions of humor, such as the young ostrich wearing her mom's green high heels and the mother snake putting on her lipstick in the reflection of a pond. A fine choice for a frog-themed story time or for integrating a satisfying read-aloud into science class. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
THE BOY WHO LOST HIS BELLY BUTTON by Jeanne Willis
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 2000

This quiet, engaging fantasy, illustrated in humorous, expressive color pencil falls flat at its sudden ending. A young boy is missing his belly button and asks all the animals about its whereabouts. Droll language emphasizes the silliness of the situation. Huge jungle animals fill the double-page spreads as the pajama-clad boy begins his journey with the giraffe. "I've lost my belly button. Do you know where it is?" "Search me," says the giraffe. But the giraffe has had his since the day he was born. The Gorilla has one, too, "My mother gave it to me." The boy parts the fur on a lion's belly with a large green comb and politely asks, " ‘I was wondering if you borrowed my bellybutton?' ‘Why would I? I've got a perfectly good one of my own,' said the lion. ‘See?' " Animal after animal reports the existence of its own belly button: the zebra's is striped, the hippopotamus's muddy. Finally the journey concludes with a secretive crocodile sporting "something small and pink and round" and the brave, naked little boy courageously wades into the dark, forbidding swamp to retrieve his body part. Turning to the last page: "he grabbed it!" and the illustration is a close-up of the round bare tummy, belly button firmly in place. The conclusion, though in the tradition of the "gotcha!" story, is too abrupt and somewhat out of context with the charming absurdity and leisurely pace of the rest of the text. It will take a good storyteller to make it work, but it might be worth the effort. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
SLOTH'S SHOES by Jeanne Willis
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 1998

It's Sloth's fifth birthday, and all the animals pitch in to plan the party of the year. But slow-poke Sloth is so fashionably late that the other party animals, who revel throughout the year while waiting for their friend, tire just before Sloth finally arrives: "right place, right day, wrong year." Sloth has missed all the fun, and has also grown out of his birthday present, a pair of carefully stitched shoes. This humorous tale trips off the tongue, its rhyming stanzas bordering more on fun than forced, with poetic sounds and alliteration. The friendly and unusual cast of characters—ranging from potteroos to pangolins—are whimsically depicted in revelry—from a tuxedo-clad snake to a party-pooping fruit bat in pajamas. Readers are bound to enjoy the amusing, offbeat party preparations. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
IN SEARCH OF THE GIANT by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 1994

A little boy and his older sister explore a dark forest ``looking for a creature of enormous size, with a backbone as strong as a beech tree...and thighs as round as oaks.'' While the text mentions such pleasurably shivery possibilities as the scent of a moist bank being ``the giant's mossy breath'' or wind-blown brambles his snare, the illustrator's marvelous watercolors offer more evidence of an elusive giant, and perhaps other weird creatures, in the forest's shadowed recesses, the twisted, muscular shapes of trees, and some startling juxtapositions of fungi and knotholes. Meanwhile, friendly, exquisitely rendered birds and squirrels and a family of foxes lighten the gloom. The beautiful art tantalizes the imagination, yielding intriguing new images with each rereading. (Picture book. 4-10) Read full book review >
EARTH MOBILES, AS EXPLAINED BY PROFESSOR XARGLE by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 1, 1992

Moving right along, the fuzzy, green three-eyed alien who explained human babies so hilariously in Earthlets (1989), as well as our cats and dogs in later efforts, takes up the subject of terrestrial transportation before his class dons their disguises for a field trip to sample the marvels he has described. The professor's comical misconceptions cover several modes of transport, so that only a few pages are available for each; there's less opportunity to expand on the jokes, but the alien nomenclature and literal-minded observations are still amusing. Ross's gleefully satirical illustrations extend the humor in their usual style. Not as amusing as its predecessors, but still good fun. (Picture book. 4-9) Read full book review >
EARTH TIGERLETS by Jeanne Willis
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 1991

Though the first (Earthlets, 1989) in this series of comical lectures by an extraterrestrial pedant concerning what he describes as some of Earth's more bizarre species is still the funniest, these misconstructions of feline motives and behavior (``Earth Tigerlets...leave squishy puddings on the stairs so the Earthling has something soft to step on when he has forgotten his socks'') are also pretty funny, especially as rendered in Ross's vigorous, wickedly satirical pictures. (Picture book. 4+) Read full book review >

A one-joke book, but its humor suffices. A green, five-eyed monster explains "Earthlets"—human babies—to an unseen class: "They have one head but only two eyes. . .Earthlets often leak. When they do, their bottom tentacles are raised so the Earthlet can be pinned in a white cloth. . .During the day, Earthlets collect dirt, fluffy hair, milk, and banana-mush. Then they are placed in a plastic capsule with warm water and a floating bird." Ross adds considerably to the furl with his exaggerated, cartoon-style illustrations. In a preposterous conclusion, more little green monsters are disguising themselves as boys and girls in school uniform, preparing to visit Earth by spaceship. A new slant on seeing ourselves as others see us; the perfect icebreaker for a new group. Read full book review >