Books by Jennifer Brutschy

JUST ONE MORE STORY by Jennifer Brutschy
Released: June 1, 2001

While they may not be the most conventional family, "The Swamp Snakes" do have their traditions. Every night, no matter what, Austin's father tells him a story before bed; by day, the family performs in front of big crowds in small towns across the country ("Dad played fiddle, Mom sang country-western, and Austin banged the tambourine"). But when they stay in Uncle Roy's two-story house in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a misunderstanding rewrites the bedtime ritual in Brutschy's (Celeste and Crabapple Sam, o.p., etc.) clever effort. In an energetic watercolor vignette, Smith (No More Nasty, 2001, etc.) portrays Austin jumping on the bed demanding two bedtime stories. " ‘Hey, you know the rules,' [says] Dad. ‘Just one story at bedtime.' " " ‘But . . . this is a two-story house,' " says Austin. On the next page, the full-bleed illustration shows Austin peering down a darkened staircase while his father explains what a two-story house really means. But he indulges Austin anyway; after all, it's not often that they spend a night away from their tiny trailer. It will be back to normal the next night. But when the family wins a fiddling contest, they decide to splurge by staying in an 11-story hotel. Young readers will easily predict the outcome: the final spread shows Austin asleep in bed with 11 story bubbles floating above his head. Brutschy makes this unusual family seem familiar; and in a welcome change of pace, Smith portrays the family with brown skin and dark hair. While it's open to interpretation, the family appears to be Hispanic. All in all, it's a good yarn and a nice addition to multicultural collections. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 1994

Crusty old Sam seems to be as sour as a crabapple, but the fact that he keeps a dog, Zack, a pet pig named Poppy, and— curled companionably under the porch roof of his seaside shack—a large snake, suggests at the outcome that he has another side. Sure enough, he's no match for Celeste, visiting next door with her Grandpa Hammond. The little girl begins by making friends with Zack; cheerfully disregards Crabapple's sign (``Beware of rattlesnake''), pointing out that rattlers don't live by the sea; and pursues the old man's friendship with such unquenchable zeal that, step by step, she wins him over—as nicely evidenced in Christelow's pen-and-watercolor art as well as in the adroitly phrased dialogue. In the end, Sam comes over to Grandpa Hammond's for a fish fry, bringing his own catch (``Can't let this girl eat store-bought fish, Hammond''), his pet boa constrictor (``Rattlesnake'') draped around his neck, and even a grin for Celeste's grandpa, who's been his antagonist (and friend) since childhood. An energetic and entertaining tale, deftly pointing out that a gruff manner may be overcome with persistence, and may mask real affection. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
WINTER FOX by Jennifer Brutschy
Released: Oct. 1, 1993

Rosemary treasures the rabbit she named ``Annabelle...the most beautiful name I had ever heard.'' When Annabelle disappears from her outdoor hutch, Papa takes his gun to hunt a fox that also threatens the hens; but when Rosemary sees it—``winter- thin, butterscotch-pale. Its coat...ragged, its body lean and hungry'' in the moonlight, she shouts ``No!'' before he can shoot. Though she knows the fox took Annabelle, he's not as ``big as a tiger'' and ``strong as a bear,'' as she'd imagined, but needy and vulnerable. It would be interesting to compare this honest, beautifully cadenced book—and its luminous, sensitive, roughly rendered art—with Red Fox Running (Clarion, 1993, received too late for review), where Wendell Minor's exquisitely detailed depiction of the fox belies Eve Bunting's description of a hunter struggling to survive and capturing scrupulously anonymous prey. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >