Books by Jo Harper

I COULD EAT YOU UP! by Jo Harper
ANIMALS
Released: April 15, 2007

In this aptly titled tale, animal parents of all species murmur sweet endearments to their adored offspring. Harper relies upon clever, species-specific food analogies to describe the depth of the parent's adoration—a foal is a "sugar lump," while young elephant calf is a "crunchy peanut"—with each stanza ending with a human parent extolling his or her child's virtues. With a single verse dedicated to each two-page spread, the simple format is appropriate for the youngest reader. The subtle rhythms of Harper's gently rhyming text make this ideal for shared read-aloud times, either one-on-one or in a group format. Chorao's gouache-and-colored-pencil illustrations feature realistically detailed animals with added anthropomorphic touches—a bear cub wearing a bib or a young monkey adorned with a ribbon bow atop its head. The gentle execution of the drawings is in absolute harmony with the tale. Harper's whimsically themed tale offers up a hearty serving of a parent's love that is just right to share with little ones. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
PRAIRIE DOG PIONEERS by Jo Harper
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

Young Mae Dean is stunned when her father announces that he is moving his family from their home and manicured yard with the tree swing to the Texas Panhandle where they will have their own land and sod hut. During the journey she suspects that her father put her in danger during a nerve-wracking attempt to reach high ground in a ferocious storm. She nurses this hurt for several weeks until her father makes her see the light—he was saving them all from flood. It's an odd plot element when sustained for the length of the story. Although the authors express their enthusiasm for the Texas Panhandle in this affectionate tribute to a Harper ancestor, this is a fairly conventional pioneer story. Spearing's art recalls the charm of woodcuts, with stylized and tidy landscapes, structures, and people. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
THE LEGEND OF MEXICATL by Jo Harper
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 1998

The story of a young man destined to be a leader of his people is also the story of the founding of Mexico. A young boy who lives "under the blazing desert sun" is called Mexicatl, after the mescal plant used to make his cradle. The strong child is told that the Morning Star will speak to one who will rise up among their people and resettle them. One day in the desert, the young man hears his name. A voice calls him to a mountaintop where he sees the vision of a cactus and an eagle. He leads some of his people to a new land. He reigns, but does not contribute to the good of the community until his mother offers her advice: "You have set yourself above the people. This is not the way of harmony." Lesson learned, Mexicatl changes his ways and the people prosper. A note describes the Mexican legend's history. The illustrator chooses to make the scenes very simple: the realistic depiction of a young man against a background of color that is the stylized landscape; uncluttered vistas and several portraits of Mexicatl—with movie-star good looks—at various ages. The overall effect is to enhance the legend with timeless pictures of strength and beauty. There is food for thought in Harper's recasting of the legend, which locates the humanity at the center of true leadership. (Picture book/folklore. 5-8) Read full book review >
JALAPEÑO HAL by Jo Harper
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 30, 1993

When ``rough, tough cowboy'' Jalape§o Hal comes to Presidio, everyone keeps out of his way—except Kit, whose ambition is to eat enough hot peppers to grow up as tough as his hero. When there's a drought, Kit calls Hal to come to the rescue: loading their horses with hot chilies, they hand them out to everyone in Presidio. The resulting tears—and steam from people's ears—form a cloud that rains down in a lifesaving thunderstorm. The tongue- in-cheek narration of this original tall tale, and the sendup of both Texan heroics and the westerner's classic laconic delivery, make it a natural for sharing aloud. Harris's lively illustrations are in the proper spirit; with flat, bright colors rimmed in heavy, squiggly black line, they almost jump off the page. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >