Books by Joanne Ryder

Released: March 15, 2016

"The story positively vibrates with fun. (Fantasy. 8-12)"
Following A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans (2015), the saga of Miss Drake, a dragon living in San Francisco, continues as she tries to train her pet human in the ways of magic.Read full book review >
Released: March 10, 2015

" Delightful whimsy. (Fantasy. 8-12)"
This comedy starring a 3,000-year-old dragon and a scrappy little girl takes young readers into a fantasy world situated right next to ours. Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2009

Ryder's latest focuses on the care and learning opportunities that are given to new panda cubs at China's Wolong Nature Preserve. Beginning with birth, the author describes how panda mothers care for their newborns and how the Preserve helps. While pandas often have twins, mothers can only care for one baby at a time, so workers and mother trade babies each week, allowing each twin to receive the care it needs. Once large enough to leave their mothers, they enter panda kindergarten—a large playground where they can learn, explore, play, make friends with the other cubs and learn the skills they will need to survive in the wild, should they be released (some will stay at the center to give birth to the next batch of cubs). Dr. Feng's adorable photos are the highlight here, the hugely photogenic black-and-white faces compensating for an occasionally overenthusiastic text. While this is a good choice for younger readers, for depth of information, counting practice and background on the Wolong Reserve, Sandra Markle's How Many Baby Pandas? (2008) is a better choice. (panda facts) (Informational picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2007

The author-illustrator pair who produced Mouse Tail Moon (2002) returns with a cycle of 26 poems describing toad lives over the course of four seasons. Gentle illustrations in delicate shades of green and brown include plenty of naturalistic detail and touches of whimsy in the toad-shaped clouds. A double-paged spread with a poem superimposed introduces each season. The poems that follow, one to a page, are each accompanied by an informative footnote. The poetry is varied in form and meter, the rhyme unforced. Large type, plenty of white space and appropriately simple language make this attractive to the beginning reader, but it can also be used as a read-aloud. Solid information and pleasing poetry make this a charming package for introducing young readers and listeners to the world of toads. (Poetry/nonfiction. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 2007

The invitation reads, "Can't you come out tonight and dance by the light of the moon?" Buffalo Flo, in her elegant bow, rounds up the other farm gal invitees, Gertie May Goose, Cassie Sue Cat and Patty Ann Pig, for the "surprise" event. They arrive all gussied up only to find that the men folk are late for their toe-tapping date. Surprise! It's Farmer Snow's barnyard party thanking the animals for all they do. Ryder literally takes the chorus of "Buffalo Gals" and spins off an amusing rhyming tale. The cartoon illustrations playfully depict the gals and guys "puttin' on the ritz" with visual puns and clever accents, e.g. the magazine on Patty Ann Pig's couch is In Sty. Adults may notice some missteps in the rhymes and a puzzling reference in the blurb to Farmer Snow's "annual" party that seems inconsistent with the surprise buildup, but kids will enjoy the story as another silly farm-animal book, without knowing the song or its origin. Overall, the conceit is clever even though it stumbles a bit. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
BEAR OF MY HEART by Joanne Ryder
Released: Dec. 26, 2006

No matter what they are doing, what their moods are, or how far apart they may be, a bear parent reassures a bear cub that she will always be there: "You are the bear of my heart, dear, / and I am the one who loves you." In gentle rhyming verse, Ryder follows a bear and her cub through their day, seeing new things, splashing, rolling, watching clouds, wishing on stars and snuggling. She then promises to be there should the bear cub need her—if he is lost, lonely or sad—and explains that nothing will ever change that. Moore's watercolors perfectly capture the mood of the text, tenderly rendering the pair as they explore the world together and express their love. While the cover blurb describes the characters as mother and child, the text and illustrations are ambiguous enough to fit any relationship or gender combination, making it ideal for adoptive, single and step parents, as well as for the traditional family. A must-have for the parents of young children and the libraries that serve them. (Picture book. 2-6)Read full book review >
MY MOTHER’S VOICE by Joanne Ryder
Released: April 1, 2006

The cover image, of a young girl and her mom in the kitchen using serving spoons as their microphones while they sing, is a key to this resonant and openhearted paean to the sound of a mother's voice. The daughter begins her day with her mother calling her "from darkness to light" as she wakes up. Her mother's laughter and warmth draw the girl to breakfast and out to the day, "[wrapping] her words around me." Mother hums in the backyard, cheers at the ballgame, whispers for comfort and above all, says her daughter's name with infinite tenderness. Catalanotto captures light and shadow magically; his grounded figures with their sculptural solidity, well-worn colors and edges blurred by the softness of memory inhabit a real world of remote controls and regal house cats. Supple, sweet and satisfying. (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2006

Ryder supplies two sets of captions in different point sizes—one for younger, the other for more able readers—to a gallery of big, color photos featuring two adorably fuzzy, alert-looking polar bear cubs in this engaging follow up to Little Panda: The World Welcomes Hua Mei at the San Diego Zoo (2001). Orphaned at just three months old, the bears (later named Kalluk and Tatqiq) explore the indoor pen where they're cared for until old enough to be introduced in stages to their outdoor habitat. As they grow up in the photos, Ryder describes their behavior, intelligence, distinct personalities and comfortable relationship with each other and with zoo-goers. Perfect fare for young fans after Miela Ford's Bear Play (1995). (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-8)Read full book review >
WON’T YOU BE MY HUGAROO? by Joanne Ryder
Released: March 1, 2006

While the venue has changed from smooches to hugs, Ryder and Sweet remain faithful to the popular format of their earlier title, Won't You Be My Kissaroo? (2004) Playful rhymes describe the myriad hugs to be savored as a young zebra spends the day at an amusement park with friends. From ebullient tickle hugs to consoling cheer-up hugs, Ryder celebrates the widespread uses of an action that is second nature to care-givers yet so vitally important to a child. The sprightly rhymes move readers along at a brisk pace but not before they tug at the heartstrings with their touching sentiments. Sweet's watercolor, pencil and collage illustrations are indeed sweet. Vivid colors capture the vibrancy of a summer's outing on a glorious day, while her deft pencil sketches convey the less tangible yet equally joyous feeling of spending a day with loved ones. A celebration of all things lovable, Ryder's tale is bound to strike a chord with fans and newcomers across the generations. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
WILD BIRDS by Joanne Ryder
Released: March 1, 2003

Ryder (Mouse Tail Moon, 2002, etc.) follows a fledgling birder as she watches and cares for birds in the wild. Ambience rather than identification is her goal, so she endeavors to catch a little bit of each bird's personality: starlings creeping about in the grass, finches fluttering as they take a bath, sparrows mobbing power lines like so many bleacher bums. An effort is made to convey some ornithological information in passing—what foods certain birds eat, which birds migrate south, which will stay for the winter—and Kwas's (A Rumpus of Rhymes, 2001, etc.) color-shot art is particularly deliberate when it comes to the birds themselves, though more stylistic when it comes to the people and architecture. The staccato prose works well enough when speaking of the birds—"Ever-so-hungry birds watch your shadow slowly stretching on the ground. They see you fill the feeder with sweet seeds, then move away"—but the same cannot be said when it tries to catch the wonder of flight, when it gets all too whiffy and fails to hold: "They flicker here and there between leaf and leaf, between earth and sky. Wild birds take the high path over your head under the clouds." Still, there is enough sustaining natural imagery here to launch more than a few young birders. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
MOUSE TAIL MOON by Joanne Ryder
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

This short, thematic poetry collection from Ryder (Big Bear Ball, p. 666, etc.) focuses on one night in the life of a common field mouse, though this mouse is an uncommonly accomplished rodent who writes first-person narrative poems describing a mouse's world. In 18 rhyming selections, the mouse poet examines the metaphor of a "Mouse Tail Moon" (a new moon curved like a tail); a mouse's defenses, such as smell, camouflage, whiskers, and flight; food and water; parasites (fleas), enemies (an owl and a fox), birth, death, communication, and play. Most of the poems are humorous, such as "Whisker Wise," about the use of whiskers as a navigational device, while "Brother" deftly shows the sadness of losing an unwary relative to an all-too-wary fox. Kneen (The Snow Bear, 2001, etc.) uses a muted moonlit palette for her charming watercolor illustrations of the mouse narrator, along with friends and foes. Each illustration employs a different size and format, integrated with abundant white space, a large type size, and a delightfully subtle, curving pink line next to the page numbers (representing a tiny mouse tail). The arresting cover shows the title in luminous white letters against a twilight-lavender background, with a vigilant owl, the crescent moon, and the echoing crescent of the mouse narrator's tail curving out of the illustration's border. Teachers in the early elementary grades will find this book useful both as poetry and as literature that effectively integrates interesting factual information. (Poetry. 6-9)Read full book review >
BIG BEAR BALL by Joanne Ryder
Released: June 1, 2002

Outlandishly dressed bears of all shapes and sizes romp and stomp at their monthly ball in this rollicking pairing of simple rhyming text and lusciously detailed, energetic illustrations. The party begins in the moonlit forest as bears arrive in helium balloons, munch berries, play fiddles and trumpets, and dance wildly. Even a shy bear is coaxed into participating. They stomp to waken moles, dance arm-in-arm down to the stream, logroll, and wrestle a crocodile, all with beatific grins and wild looks on their faces. Moles, frogs, the croc, and some foxes join in the fracas in a hilarious spread portraying the animals bowing to their partners in a beastly square dance as the fiddler bear plays a good-night tune. Then the bears float off in their balloons into a vivid sunrise, already looking forward to next month's full moon. The large typeface and brilliant colors encourage group sharing—and stomping. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
A FAWN IN THE GRASS by Joanne Ryder
Released: April 1, 2001

Inspired by a fawn's temporary residence in her yard, Ryder (Each Living Thing, 2000, etc.) offers a child's brief nature walk in simply written verse: "There's a squirrel who clings to the side of a tree. / There's the flash of a jay, / and the buzz of a bee." Narahashi's sensitive, gently brushed watercolors echo this simplicity; together, text and pictures make everything the young observer notices, whether it be as commonplace as wildflowers or ants, or as rare as a half-seen fawn in the grass, seem equally marvelous. Different perspectives help to focus attention and suggest ways of looking at the world, sometimes very closely as "a trail on a leaf" leads to a close-up of "a snail underneath" or from a bird's-eye view "as a hawk circles high." This quiet stroll will leave readers of any age with a deeper appreciation for the natural treasures all around them and add immeasurably to the pleasures of a walk of their own. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2000

Ryder's rhyming call reminds us to be aware of all living things and to treat them with respect and care. Some things are good to recycle: the bottles in the recycling bin that's carried through mud puddles by a young girl smiling at roadside robins and apple blossoms. Other things should be left as they are: spiders, snakes, and toads crossing the road, as well as the worms, snails, bees, and ants met by a young boy while gardening. As the season and characters change, autumn colors underscore smoke rising from the chimney of a mountain-country house as bears linger in the dusk. At night, owls hoot and hunt, bats flit, and cougars prowl unseen. Another change of characters brings readers to the seashore or to a park in Wolff's (Some Things Go Together, 1999) attractive, full-spread, full-bleed, black gesso and gouache illustrations. Her scenes making evident the variety of life in every environment. "Be aware of them," concludes the text. "Take care of them. Be watchful. Let them be." An idyllic but responsibly conscious view of nature in a book as rich visually as it is textually spare. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 1999

PLB 0-688-13683-4 Two children uncover a curved, saw-edged fossil and are instantaneously transformed into a living, breathing Tyrannosaurus rex. Transported back 65 million years, they enter the Cretaceous period. The story builds in intensity and tempo, as the carnivorous dinosaur sniffs the wind, seeking food. First it attacks the broad- beaked eaters by the river; then it charges out of a thicket to attack a three-horned dinosaur, ripping out its throat. The children in the tale return to the present, and wonder "Why did the dinosaurs die?" The author's note contains scientific information about speculative theories on this subject. Rothman's paintings are as graphic as Ryder's prose: "You eat and eat, your belly swelling." Readers are warned that they will learn "what it is like to be a killing machine and one of the largest meat-eating animals to have hunted on land," and not all children will be ready for the gory conclusion. For readers already familiar with such realistic aspects of the dinosaurs' lives, this volume is a must- have. (Fiction. 6-9) Read full book review >
EARTHDANCE by Joanne Ryder
Released: April 1, 1996

Ryder (My Father's Hands, 1994, etc.) addresses readers in the second person, beckoning them to join in a cosmic appreciation of the earth and all it holds. Simple verse shot through with sensory and physical images invite children to imagine themselves as the globe, twirling through nights, days, summer, and winter. Text and art boldly converge in a series of invocations: ``Wiggle your shoulders and mountains tremble and quake'' and ``Shake your hair and feel windswept grasses tickle your face.'' An innovative book design incorporates the text into Gorbaty's brightly colored paintings, which at first feature one or two images but quickly build into chaotic, celebratory scenes of life on earth. Powerful, pulsing graphics and a valuable, almost incantatory, message. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
MY FATHER'S HANDS by Joanne Ryder
Released: Aug. 1, 1994

A poet who has frequently celebrated nature in her picture books evokes a child's relationship with her father and the gentle example he sets her by his own relationship with the natural world. The lyrical narrative focuses on the father's hands as he works in the garden: As they lift, the hands are strong; as they dig, they are covered with earth, without apology; always, they are capable. When they reach for something interesting—a ``pink circle of worm,'' a snail, a mantis—``I bend closer,/knowing that/ nothing within/my father's hands/will harm me.'' Wide-eyed, a little hesitant in Graham's lush, romantic paintings, the little girl takes the mantis in her hands to gaze in wonder at a being ``so bold, so strange'' and wonders what it thinks of her; when it scampers across her shoulder before they let it go free, she grins with delight. Just so it should be, with trust passed from generation to generation. Lovely. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
A HOUSE BY THE SEA by Joanne Ryder
Released: March 1, 1994

In verse that echoes both Milne's whimsical make-believe and the cadence of Poe's ``Annabel Lee,'' a child imagines living by the sea: playing with the seals (``When I got too wet/or they got too dry,/we'd hug and we'd run/and we'd yell, `Good-bye' ''); wishing on the moon; being cared for by an octopus (``With an arm doing this/and an arm doing that,/he'd cook and make my bed''); and so on. The idea isn't exceptional, but it's nicely developed; Ryder's verse has a lovely, musical lilt, while Sweet's delicate watercolors show the child and his companion, in snapshot-sized vignettes, playing along the shore while their imaginary activities are displayed in bubble-like vistas, airily framed with sky and sea and extending across the spreads. An attractive addition. (Picture book. 3-8) Read full book review >
THE GOODBYE WALK by Joanne Ryder
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

At summer's end, a middle-sized child—shown in the illustrations as a girl, while the author addresses the reader in the second person—makes a last visit to favorite scenes at the seaside where she's spent the summer. Ryder's poetic text evokes the emotional response to leaving a place of beauty where there have been many wonderful things to discover and experience; Haeffele's vivid, dramatically lit paintings are a fortunate blend of impressionistic vistas and precise realistic detail. This will never take the place of McCloskey's Time of Wonder, but it makes a nice additional purchase. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
SEA ELF by Joanne Ryder
Released: Aug. 1, 1993

A particularly appealing entry in Ryder's ``Just for a Day'' series, evoking the experience of being a sea otter. The child addressed in the second person here is a girl, seen only on the first and last pages, who spends a day as an otter. The rest of the book describes the otter, dozing on a wave on a misty morning, diving through kelp for food, grooming (a note explains the importance of this for retaining warmth, which is why oil spills are life-threatening), sporting playfully with a frisky pup. Ryder's text is quietly melodious, gently conveying the otter's sensations while examining its behavior. Rothman brings it all vividly to life in full-bleed paintings that capture the shimmering sweep of the sea and the swaying underwater world in delectable blues and greens, with the lively, appealing otter and its companions as the center of interest. Unusually attractive. (Picture book. 4-9) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1992

Drawing on her own observations of Allen's hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin) in San Francisco and on scholarly sources, Ryder follows a male through a typical day in which he encounters a female and mates (offstage). Formatted as verse, the narrative is graciously cadenced and informative, celebrating the little bird's appearance and behavior. In delicately detailed, gold- bordered art, scientific-illustrator Lopez sets this particular hummingbird in Golden Gate Park's lovely Japanese Tea Garden, presenting in precise detail its morning mists, carefully tended specimen plants, and occasional artifacts; best is the jewel-like bird, in myriad poses in flight and at rest. A final note extends the information and suggests how to attract these nectar-loving birds. LC classes this as fiction. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4+) Read full book review >
WINTER WHALE by Joanne Ryder
Released: Aug. 14, 1991

The best yet of Ryder's ``Just for a Day'' books: ``you'' are a boy whose imagination takes you from a rainswept beach to being a humpback whale, exulting in the experience of ``gliding up and down between...sea and sky.'' Ryder's evocative text dwells on the joy of movement and also considers the pod, a new calf, and its mother, and the whales' mysterious warm-water song. Rothman's whitecapped underwater vistas are gorgeous, from rich purple depths to light-drenched apple-green surface. An author's note extends the informational value. A fine celebration of this appealing creature. (Picture book. 4-10) Read full book review >
THE BEAR ON THE MOON by Joanne Ryder
Released: Aug. 14, 1991

The author of several books about children who experience being animals in the wild (e.g., White Bear, Ice Bear, 1989) takes an even more imaginative approach to the bears' world with a polar bears' creation myth: In the beginning, the bears live in the sea. Just one bear is curious enough to try to plumb its depths and to wonder about the moon. One night she climbs the Northern Lights; once on the moon, she throws down rock and ice until just a sliver of moon is left—while the bears now have snowy islands where they can rest. As the ice in the sea melts, the moon grows again; but, each time, the bear climbs back to the moon to throw down more. Ryder develops her pleasing idea with intelligence, in graceful cadences well suited for reading aloud. In a fine picture book debut, Lacey (an experienced wildlife illustrator) provides glorious watercolors depicting sea and sky in impressionistic splendor. In action or repose, her bears are beautifully observed—including the rich array of tones in their fur, a more accurate representation than the white monochrome we imagine. Grand story, beguiling bears, lovely book. (Picture book. 5-10) Read full book review >
WHEN THE WOODS HUM by Joanne Ryder
Released: March 22, 1991

Jenny's father explains the 17-year cicadas' life cycle and tells her about the last time they appeared (he was 12); together, they observe and admire the insects' during their brief appearance. By extending the story another 17 years, Ryder links the cicadas' cycle to Jenny's: now she and Dad can share this special natural event with Jenny's son. Ryder's text is graceful as well as informative; Stock's gentle illustrations not only reinforce the warm family relationship but serve to identify the cicadas at different stages. (Picture book. 5-9) Read full book review >
WHITE BEAR, ICE BEAR by Joanne Ryder
Released: March 24, 1989

A second-person narrative suggests that "you" (a lively boy who looks about eight years old) are inspired by the snow outside your window to become an "ice bear," and are transported to appropriate surroundings where you experience typical polar bear activities (including hunting, but not catching or eating, a seal). The evocative paintings that extend the brief text are attractive, with rich shades of blue predominating, enlivened with dramatic highlights of white and gold. But the whole approach is coy and off-putting, especially in comparison with Matthews' straightforward, more informative, enchantingly photographed Polar Bear Cubs (above). Read full book review >