Books by Joan Holub

THIS LITTLE DREAMER by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 14, 2020

"This Little is both too little and too early to do justice to these important lives. (Board book. 2-3)"
A board-book introduction to 10 workers for social justice. Read full book review >
HELLO DINOSAURS! by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 6, 2019

"Fun, accessible Jurassic jargon and hijinks. (Board book. 1-4)"
A group of smiling dinosaurs chases after some runaway eggs while modeling some of the traits that make our prehistoric predecessors so fascinating to toddlers. Read full book review >
ATHENA & THE MAGIC LAND by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 14, 2019

"Maybe it will inspire readers' interest in its sources. (cast of characters, glossary, discussion questions, author's note) (Fantasy. 5-8)"
Greek mythology meets The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Read full book review >
HELLO ROBOTS! by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 22, 2019

"Good for a giggle from preschool readers despite its slight imperfections. (Board book. 2-4)"
A brightly illustrated story told in rhyme about mixed-up robots getting ready for the day. Read full book review >
SIF AND THE DWARFS' TREASURES by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 16, 2018

"Despite unevenness, strong humor (from puns to Loki's shenanigans) and hints at deeper frost giant machinations keep the series moving. (further reading, glossary) (Fantasy. 8-12)"
Loki cuts Sif's hair in this spin on the Norse myth set at Asgard Academy, first introduced in Freya and the Magic Jewel (2018). Read full book review >
THIS LITTLE SCIENTIST by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 25, 2018

"A mismatch in every way. (Board book. 2-3)"
An introduction to 10 scientists for the youngest readers. Read full book review >
HELLO NINJAS! by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 28, 2018

"Wannabe ninjas will flip over this board book's cool vibe, awesomely frenetic art, and dual math and sharing narrative. (Board book. 2-4)"
Crafty ninjas take on both math and samurai masters to win a tasty taco treasure. Read full book review >
HELLO KNIGHTS! by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 28, 2018

"A goofy story and zippy illustrations make this a nice-enough book but not a must-have. (Board book. 2-3)"
In this rhyming board book, knights meet dragons and become friends after an almost-battle between the two is defused by silly undergarments. Read full book review >
FREYA AND THE MAGIC JEWEL by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2018

"A frothy, occasionally scattered series starter to introduce the wide, entertaining mythological world. (authors' note, further reading) (Fantasy. 8-12)"
Norse mythology is rewoven into a boarding school story starring the Vanir "girlgoddess of love and beauty," Freya. Read full book review >
SEED SCHOOL by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 6, 2018

"Paired with a nonfiction title to round out the learning, a fun (and punny) introduction to seeds. (Informational picture book. 4-8)"
A variety of seeds go to school in the fall to learn how to grow. Read full book review >
THIS LITTLE TRAILBLAZER by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: Dec. 12, 2017

"While this historic roll call is impressively diverse, toddlers are highly unlikely to grasp the importance of these female pioneers from the few, short lines and the simplified and sometimes confusing images. (Board book. 2-4)"
Florence Nightingale, Rosa Parks, and Maria Tallchief are some of the icons introduced in this "Girl Power Primer." Read full book review >
TOOL SCHOOL by Joan Holub
by Joan Holub, illustrated by James Dean
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 25, 2017

"Doesn't measure up. (Picture book. 3-7)"
Five tools—Hammer, Screwdriver, Tape Measure, Pliers, and Saw—go to school for the first time to learn to build on their skills. Read full book review >
THIS LITTLE EXPLORER by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 27, 2016

"Like Amelia Earhart's plane, this bare-bones rundown of history is going to fly far out of range of what is developmentally appropriate for toddlers. (Board book. 2-4)"
This "Pioneer Primer" introduces little ones to Leif Erikson, Marco Polo, Sacajwea, and more. Read full book review >
ITTY BITTY KITTY AND THE RAINY PLAY DAY by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 29, 2016

"A good addition to stuck-inside storytimes. (Picture book. 3-7)"
Ava and Itty Bitty Kitty (who is anything but itty-bitty) have a day of indoor play. Read full book review >
GOOD JOB, ATHENA! by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2016

"In centering a child of color as a source of wisdom, the book makes a positive statement for young readers. (Board book. 1-3)"
Holub and Patricelli are back with another Mini Myth; here, a dark-skinned, bespectacled tot named Athena shows off her preternaturally advanced fine-motor skills by tying a plethora of bows. Read full book review >
THIS LITTLE PRESIDENT by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 12, 2016

"Rhymes and sturdy pages do not necessarily make a book right for toddlers; don't expect this little book to please the little people for whom it was ostensibly designed. (Board book. 2-4)"
Presidents for toddlers? Really? Read full book review >
THE KNIGHTS BEFORE CHRISTMAS by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 8, 2015

"These knights know how to keep the castle safe and the readers entertained. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Three young knights defend their castle from "a red-and-white knight and eight dragons. Oh dear!" Read full book review >
PLEASE SHARE, APHRODITE! by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"A gimmicky use of the Greek myths that falls flat. (Board book. 3-5)"
This entry in the Mini Myths series is meant to encourage sharing through the Greek myth of Aphrodite. Read full book review >
ITTY BITTY KITTY by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 19, 2015

"Even the most avid cat lovers may feel like giving this a miss. (Picture book. 2-5)"
Itty Bitty is one large kitty. Read full book review >
BRUSH YOUR HAIR, MEDUSA! by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 24, 2015

"While the mini-myth concept falls flat, this is a lighthearted look at the conflict between grown-ups and strong-willed tots with their own agendas. (Board book. 2-5)"
This selection in the Mini Myths series introduces a little girl named Medusa, whose hair—while it may not be made of poisonous snakes—does seem to have a life of its own. Read full book review >
MAKE A WISH, MIDAS! by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 24, 2015

"Give babies Mother Goose; leave mythology for later. (Board book. 1-3)"
Like his Greek god namesake with the golden touch, toddler Midas loves yellow. Read full book review >
BE PATIENT, PANDORA! by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 16, 2014

"Parents expecting to introduce tots to classic myths will be disappointed, but the life lessons the source material inspires are spot-on. (Board book. 2-4)"
Pandora, a curious, modern-day tyke, is forbidden by her mother to open a certain box in this tale loosely based on the Greek myth. Read full book review >
MIGHTY DADS by Joan Holub
by Joan Holub, illustrated by James Dean
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 29, 2014

"Sure to enjoy commercial success thanks to the marquee talent, this effort will result in more disappointment than enjoyment. (Picture book. 2-5)"
Big-daddy and little-kid trucks of all kinds are busy at work on a construction site. Read full book review >
LITTLE RED WRITING by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 24, 2013

"Every writers' group should start with this story. (Picture book. 7 & up)"
Exploding with puns, wordplay and the irrepressible desire to re-imagine "Little Red Riding Hood" one more time, Holub and Sweet bring forth some actual useful writing advice—that's not just for beginners. Read full book review >
DIG, SCOOP, KA-BOOM! by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 25, 2013

"An early-reader book to build on. (Early reader. 4-6)"
An accessible, rhyming text drives this story-with-a-twist about a construction site, inviting new readers to hone their emerging skills. Read full book review >
ZEUS AND THE THUNDERBOLT OF DOOM by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 7, 2012

"Readers will gobble this down and look for more, make no mythtake. (Fantasy. 9-11)"
Promising myth-adventures aplenty, this kickoff episode introduces young Zeus, "a very special, yet clueless godboy." Read full book review >
PUMPKIN COUNTDOWN by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2012

"Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to many library shelves. (Picture book. 4-7)"
A class visits the pumpkin patch, giving readers a chance to count down from 20. Read full book review >
ZERO THE HERO by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 28, 2012

"A hero and some villains and good winning over evil (oh, and all that educational stuff, too), all wrapped in humor and tied with a comic bow—what could be better? (Picture book. 7-12)"
The counting numbers get their comeuppance in the havoc that breaks out after they fail to believe in Zero's heroic powers. Read full book review >
WAGONS HO! by George Hallowell
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2011

This spry outing contrasts parallel westward journeys of two families—one traveling by covered wagon in 1846, the other by car, trailer and moving van in a modern-day relocation. Read full book review >
TWINKLE, STAR OF THE WEEK by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2010

A classroom filled with personified stars teaches readers a few facts about space and about being special. When Ms. Sun tells her Sky School class that each of them will get a turn to be the Star of the Week, they are all excited, but none more so than Twinkle. Looking forward to Sharing Time, she plans to share her special song. The other stars share such things as asteroid cookies, a pet Comet and the game of Constellation Tag, and all the while Twinkle practices her song. But then Blink sings the song she thought was hers alone. Can she find something special to share in the time remaining? Is there any doubt? In the nick of time someone uses her as a wishing star, and she helps them make their wish come true. Nicholls's digital artwork gives each star his/her own personality, but his renderings hew to the obvious, picturing the students with oversized, five-pointed stars for heads. While Holub's concept of a wishing star is a great one, it comes too close to the end to support the lackluster story that comes before it. Perhaps her next will further build upon that conceit. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
SHAMPOODLE by Joan Holub
by Joan Holub, illustrated by Tim Bowers
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 13, 2009

This Step into Reading title is a crazed, out-of-breath, fly-on-the-wall peek at picture-day morning at the Shampoodle salon for dogs. Four stylists are simply no match for seven rambunctious dogs. Add in the distraction of three cats, and chaos ensues. Snappy rhyming verses lead children through the fiasco to the hysterical hairstyles that are the result (all, oddly enough, look remarkably like the stylists that crafted them): "New hair. Blue hair. / Beads with knots. / Purple hair with polka dots. / Spiked hair. Mohawk. / Striped like skunk. / Glitter critter. / Super funk." Short sentences, easy vocabulary and a large font fit the Step 2 level. Bowers's characters all have wonderful personality, especially the pooches. Beginning readers will have to stop laughing at the pictures before they will be able to read the text. Very funny—there may be a short film in this somewhere. (Early reader. 4-7)Read full book review >
GROUNDHOG WEATHER SCHOOL by Joan Holub
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 2009

Holub presents a clever look at the weather as readers follow some groundhogs (and an imposter) through their training at Professor Groundhog's school. In their lessons (including "GeHOGraphy") they write reports on "Famous Furry Hognosticators," learn other natural weather predictors, read about famous figures in weather history, learn about burrow building, do a skit entitled, "The Reasons for Seasons" and experiment with making shadows. Readers can take "The BIG Test" along with students to see how much they have learned. Sorra's illustrations combine a scrapbook style, with letters, checklists and typed research reports, and a comic-book style complete with speech bubbles and panels. The result really lets readers get into the premise and allows for diverse facts to be presented in little snippets (and funny comments to be assigned to each unique groundhog). Bright colors, textures and the incorporation of found objects, as well as the busyness of each page will keep readers searching the artwork. Backmatter includes information about Groundhog Day. Nothing in-depth or too serious here, but good fun that will subtly teach in between laughs. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
KNUCKLEHEADS by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2008

What is the sound of one hand clapping? Or perhaps a better question would be, if someone puns alone in the woods, is it still funny? This collection of four fractured fairy tales prominently features body parts without being bawdy. Most of the characters, like Handsel and Gretel, have hands for heads (though they also have arms and hands in the normal arrangement). Others, like Handerella's ugly stepsisters, have feet atop their bodies, while Nose White's most prominent protuberance is obviously her proboscis. Thumbelina gets short shrift, being a single (inexplicably blue) digit whose story is told in just two pages. Jokes, both visual and verbal, abound, as do puns and other forms of wordplay. Repeated readings may reveal some of the more subtle humor, but most of it will slap readers across the face immediately and (dare we say it?) quite handily. Not, perhaps, for a wide audience, but there are definitely those who will be willing to give this quirky work a hand (sorry!) and a loud hurrah. Original and entertaining. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
BEDS, BATS, & BEYOND by Joan Holub
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

The sun's coming up and it's time for bat children to go to bed. Something is wrong, though, and bat brother Fink can't sleep. Fang has just the thing for his brother: a scary story of a scary, stinky swamp with an even scarier and stinkier monster, Swamp Owl. Though Fang spins quite a tale, all it does is terrify Fink. Brother Batrick tells his own adventure story filled with pirates. Even sister Batsy gets in on the act with her story of love and kisses. Nothing will do until Mom Bat tells just the right tale. Gallagher-Cole fills her amusing black-and-white illustrations with images of a terrified, exhausted Fink clutching his stuffed bat doll while swamp bats, pirates and an eye-shadowed Cleobatra keep him awake. The stories-within-the-story are set apart inside a frame, making the overall narrative easy to follow. New readers will stay awake to read this one, filled as it is with silly wordplay, funny stories and frequent spot drawings. Insomnia, with a side of hilarity. (Early reader. 5-8)Read full book review >
THE MAN WHO NAMED THE CLOUDS by Julie Hannah
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2006

This combination biography and science text is a fascinating look at one man's interest in weather. Luke Howard began keeping a weather journal at the age of ten. Always fascinated with clouds, studying the weather became a lifelong hobby. Howard created a system for naming the different cloud types that is the basis for our cloud names today. Information about Howard's time period puts his life and experiences in perspetive for young readers. Scattered throughout the text are excerpts from an elementary school student's own weather journal. These are not just temperature recordings—Grace explains the weather, including how rain and snow form, what fog is and how clouds can be used to predict weather. Budding meteorologists can use her journal as a template for their own, and will find her project ideas helpful. Billin-Frye's watercolors bring the past to life. Actual paintings by Howard and photos of the cloud types, along with a diagram, are included. An excellent combination of history and science, sure to spark the interest of future meteorologists. (Nonfiction. 7-12)Read full book review >
BIG SURPRISE IN THE BUG TANK by Ruth Horowitz
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 2005

The built-in "Ewwww!" factor will draw new readers like ants to a picnic in this follow-up to Breakout at the Bug Lab (2001). Brothers Leo and the never-named narrator bring home a pair of giant hissing cockroaches chosen from the stock at their entomologist mother's lab—then look ahead to a scary future when two unexpectedly become eight. Uh-oh. After unsuccessful (go figure) efforts to sell or give away the extra little cuties, the sibs at last uncover a crucial bit of information—how to tell males from females—that helps them put a stop to the incipient population explosion without resorting to extermination. Arranged in easy chapters, replete with tips on pet bug care, and illustrated with small cartoon scenes featuring smiling, thumb-sized insects with appealingly googly eyes, this should please children who wax buggy over the likes of Megan McDonald's Insects Are My Life! (1995). (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

Younger readers with an affinity for all creatures green and scaly will linger over both the sharply detailed photos and the easy but specific text in this three-part Q&A. Holub poses and answers about a half-dozen similar questions for each type of reptile—how many kinds are there? What are the biggest and smallest ones? How well can they see, hear, and smell?—then closes with some basic provisos for prospective pet owners. With DiVito's small watercolors filling in some gaps, the illustrations include well-lit shots of animals eating, posing, and enduring handling by confident-looking children, both in natural settings and with backgrounds removed. Some recommendations for further reading or Web viewing wouldn't have been amiss, but the steady course steered here between the empty hype and numbing barrages of undigested fact offered by similar titles earns it above average marks. (Easy reader/nonfiction. 6-8)Read full book review >
WHY DO HORSES NEIGH? by Joan Holub
ANIMALS
Released: Jan. 1, 2003

Holub (Why Do Rabbits Hop?, below, etc.) continues her series of easy readers focusing on a particular animal with this offering that will be popular with the younger faction of the horse-crazy set. She uses a question and answer format as the structure to impart a broad overview of the equine world, including horse classifications, behavior, characteristics, care, and an introduction to riding. She works interesting tidbits of information into the text, including some surprising facts that children will enjoy, such as the fact that horses sleep only three hours per day or the statistics about the world's oldest horse on record. Humorous spot illustrations alternate with full-color photographs of horses, many being held or ridden by children. This combination of illustration styles provides an attractive visual variety, augmented by the leading questions on each page reproduced in purple type. The text is written for readers at the early fluency level, but this will find other uses as well: for younger children who are just getting interested in horses and for older children who are reading below grade level. The amount of information covered in a simple, interesting way makes this an excellent introduction to this popular topic. (Easy reader/nonfiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
ANIMALS
Released: Jan. 1, 2003

Using the same question-and-answer format as her previous entries in this easy reader series, Holub (Why Do Horses Neigh?, above, etc.) offers some basic information about rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and gerbils. After a couple of introductory pages detailing what the creatures have in common, the first half of the work focuses on rabbits' appearance and behavior, and the second half concentrates on the other animals. The author includes some interesting facts, especially about rabbit behavior, but the structure causes some repetition, for example, in the description of number of babies born to each type of animal and the type of toys preferred. Each page begins with a leading question in purple type, followed by an answer and further additional information. The short sentences are presented in large type set off by lots of white space, with parenthetical pronunciation guides for difficult terms. This feature is not consistently utilized, however, as pronunciations are not given for guinea, gerbil, and Guiana. Attractive full-color photographs, often in the knock-out format against a white background popularized by DK, are combined with amusing watercolor and ink illustrations to create a pleasingly varied presentation. The wider topic with this format does not work quite as well as the other volumes in Holub's series, but the newly fluent reader interested in furry little critters will still find this an interesting and informational read. (Easy reader/nonfiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
THE GARDEN THAT WE GREW by Joan Holub
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2001

Holub (Scat, Cats!, above, etc.) uses a rhyming, patterned text to follow a group of five young children experiencing the growth cycle with pumpkins, from planting seeds all the way through to jack-o'-lanterns, pumpkin bread, and seeds saved for next year's garden. The simple text at the 2.4 level uses a "this is the —" pattern throughout, with rhyming couplets that encourage prediction of closing words. The sequential storyline covers both the necessary elements of nature (tilled soil, water, sun, worms, and bees) and the work by gardeners required for growing healthy plants. Nakata's (Lucky Pennies and Hot Chocolate, 2000) cheerful watercolors of round-headed children are charming and generally complement the text, but the color palate is not as bright as it should be to reflect the vibrant, bouncy rhymes, especially for a title that will be used for reading to a group, as well as by individual readers. Nonetheless, easy nonfiction titles about seed cycles are always in demand for first- and second-grade science lessons, and Holub's story will also be used for preschool or kindergarten story hours in October, when pumpkin stories are as popular as full-sized candy bars on Halloween night. (Easy reader/nonfiction. 5-8)Read full book review >
SCAT, CATS! by Joan Holub
Kirkus Star
by Joan Holub, illustrated by Rich Davis
ANIMALS
Released: July 1, 2001

A marauding band of neighborhood cats of every color invades the house of a red-haired little girl and her tow-headed brother in this amusing easy reader from the talented Holub (The Garden That We Grew, below, etc.). The frolicking felines wreak havoc throughout the house before the children shoo them out, but then the house is a little too quiet and lonely, so the kids invite the cats back to stay under more controlled circumstances. The satisfying conclusion shows the kitties curled up asleep all over the children's bedroom: "Fat cats purr all day. Our cats here to stay." Holub uses patterned sentence structures, with rollicking rhythm, rhyming couplets, and repetition of key words providing lots of help for new readers. Delightfully loose watercolors by Davis (Tiny Goes to the Library, not reviewed, etc.) add humorous details and plenty of action, while providing picture clues and exact picture-to-text match. Thoughtful art direction varies the placement of text (appropriate for a reader at the 1.9 level) and encourages left to right flow across the pages. A model for the genre: a funny, satisfying story with solid educational underpinnings. A first choice for most libraries. (Easy reader. 5-7)Read full book review >
BREAKOUT AT THE BUG LAB by Ruth Horowitz
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 2001

The first page of this easy reader sets the tone for a very funny story narrated by an unnamed boy whose entomologist mother works at a complex of scientific research labs, working with insects in the bug lab. "She studies dung beetles. They eat animal poop!" (What second-grader could resist that?) This cool scientist-Mom also has a large pet cockroach named Max (a Madagascan hissing cockroach, as we learn in the author's biographical note) that she keeps in her lab. The narrator and his brother are visiting the science labs to attend a special dedication ceremony when Max, the cockroach, escapes from his glass tank. The two boys manage to trap him with the help of Ruby L. Gold, the benefactor of the science labs, a gray-haired older lady who is most definitely not afraid of bugs (or boisterous little boys, either). The positive images of women are just one commendable aspect of this story, written at the 2.1 reading level, with short sentences, large type, and plenty of white space surrounding the text (which is divided into short chapters). Holub's (Why Do Dogs Bark, p. 110, etc.) watercolor, acrylic, and gouache paintings add to the humor, especially her illustrations of the buggy-eyed Max. Horowitz (Crab Moon, 2000, etc.) injects lots of droll wit and sly puns into the tale, along with interesting bits of information about insects and scientific work. New readers will enjoy this on their own, but the story will also work well as a read-aloud in first- and second-grade classrooms. (Easy reader. 6-9)Read full book review >
WHY DO DOGS BARK? by Joan Holub
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 2001

The only hesitation readers might have about this easy-to-read gathering of dog information is that the answers are a little too pat, without room for doubt or suggestion. Why dogs bark is a good example. Holub writes here that barking is a form of warning or greeting. But dogs will also bark for just about any reason, which makes for a lot of false alarms on the warning front. On the other hand, the book does offer plenty material on sniffing and tail-wagging, on how much fun dogs can be, and what an amazing variety there is. It is chock-a-block with photographs of dogs doing dog things, and there is a small complement of line drawings to soften the touch. The text is facile without being silly or moronic: "When puppies are three to four weeks old, they begin to walk, bark, play, and wag their tails." Nice to have an easy-reader information book on a topic sure to be enticing. A companion volume is available: Why Do Cats Meow? (ISBN 0-8037-2503-5) (Easy reader. 5-8)Read full book review >