Books by Jerry Smath

THE TAMING OF LOLA by Ellen Weiss
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2010

An ill-mannered shrew learns a valuable lesson. The story is told in five "acts," bracketed (and interrupted) by a tart grandmother shrew, who tells the tale to her hungry grandson. Under a big spruce tree on the West Meadow lives a huge burrow-ful of shrews, the most temperamental of whom is surely little Lola. "Shrews are not known for being nice, but Lola really took the cake." Lola meets her match in visiting cousin Lester; they scream at each other until both lose their voices. At school, they fight about activities and at home about beds and food. The exhausted Lola has an epiphany: When she and Lester fight, both lose. A compromise leads to harmony, in sleeping arrangements and at the dinner table. Smath's busy, impish illustrations—in watercolor accented with pen-and-ink—are a good match for Weiss's substantial narrative, told mostly in dialogue. There are chuckles on every page—particularly in the grandmother's narrative asides, which hint at her identity ("Screaming is relaxing")—and readers won't need to know Shakespeare to enjoy this yarn. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
SAMMY SALAMI by Jerry Smath
ANIMALS
Released: Nov. 1, 2007

When the owner of Pete's Diner finds an orange, tiger-striped and scrawny cat in his garbage can, he names him Salami, after the cat's favorite food. Skinny Sammy Salami quickly becomes chubby, but Pete, worn out from doing all the diner chores without any help, longs for a vacation and packs up for a weekend in the mountains. When he doesn't return right away, Sammy pussyfoots his way onto the daily commuter train, thinking Pete is inside cooking, where a woman "rescues" him and names him Choo-choo. By chance, Lolly checks in to the resort where Pete is staying. Missed connections abound (Pete appears in the backgrounds), but coincidence continues as Pete and Lolly meet on the train home and Sammy/Choo-choo becomes the conduit that stirs up a happy ending for all—at Lolly & Pete's Diner. Busily detailed and cartoonish illustrations play up the humor and silliness: Sammy sports a blue cap, leash and sunglasses; Pete wears the same sunglasses, a small derby and mustache fringe. A fun scrambled story—no baloney. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
THE COUNTRY MOUSE AND THE CITY MOUSE by Maxine P. Fisher
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 3, 1994

Emily, a corn-fed country mouse, lives with her loving human family on Johnson Farm. When her urbane cousin Alexander invites her to spend Christmas with him in New York City, she hesitates, thinking of her delightful Christmases at home. But eventually Emily heads off to Greenwich Village, to dapper Alexander's luxurious home in Antoine's, the finest French restaurant in the city. Although the food is delicious, mice are unwelcome in Monsieur Le Chef's restaurant, and a cat chase is more excitement than either of the cousins wants. Emily suggests that Alexander return with her to Johnson Farm, and he agrees. When they get there, the Johnson children have laid out a sumptuous, if simple, Christmas dinner for Emily, and the two mice could not be happier. Smath's illustrations are about as cute as a Hallmark card, and Fisher's (Women in the Third World, not reviewed) dialogue is a diabetic's nightmare. On the last page, Alexander says, ``I guess Christmas is not about fancy foods and expensive gifts, after all!'' And Emily responds, ``Oh, Alexander, I'm so happy. This is the best Christmas ever, because I'm sharing it with everyone I love!'' Riddled with platitudes. (Fiction/Picture book. 3-7) Read full book review >