Books by John Lithgow

Released: Oct. 22, 2013

"Move over, Carnival of the Animals (illustrated by Boris Kulikov, 2004); here's another snappy, yet lighter and younger, zoological fantasy to add to Lithgow's repertoire. (CD included) (Picture book. 2-6)"
One can easily guess from Lithgow's admonishing title just what might be in store. Read full book review >
DRAMA by John Lithgow
Released: Oct. 1, 2011

"Not a complex or innovative writer, Lithgow nonetheless emerges as genial, gentle, generous, grateful, self-deprecating and proud but never arrogant."
In a tribute to his father and to his profession, the celebrated stage and screen actor rehearses his early career, cheerfully describing his successes and honestly recording his failures, professional and personal. Read full book review >
I GOT TWO DOGS by John Lithgow
Released: Oct. 21, 2008

Pooches are playful...and sorta crazy, too, but ya gotta love 'em. Simple, rhyming text looks like it's slapped haphazardly on the page with a paintbrush (it's hand-lettered). This matches the (hyper)activity of the narrator's two dogs, Fanny and Blue. Little Fanny is white and scruffy while short-haired Blue's "kinda gray." They play with shoes, chase cats, root around in dresser drawers but don't really like to fetch a stick or know any tricks. They do like to lick their master's face, tag along wherever he goes and, at night in bed, sleep right on top of him. Neubecker's digitally rendered illustrations capture the mischief and movement of the two pups in bold strokes. Tying everything together is a bonus CD of the text as performed by the author, and a good thing, too. Deathless verse this ain't; Lithgow's slight, amiable book works best as a read-along for his catchy song. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: March 27, 2007

It's a gloomy day in Cambridge town when tiny Mahalia Mouse, trapped in a student's backpack whilst out on a food-finding mission for her pitiful little family, is transported to a strange, other world: academia, where she becomes a mouse on a mission! Riveted by the rantings of a wild-haired physics professor and emboldened by a heartening dream-message from her mother, unlikely scholar Mahalia undertakes a grueling course of study, succeeding "by simply refusing to fail." Come commencement day, she dons a mini-mortarboard and is hailed by all in Harvard Yard, her humble, long-lost family among them. Oleynikov's paintings are rich, fabulous full-bleed animated adventures in light, perspective and scale, which create dramatic settings for diminutive Mahalia's story of pathos and persistence. This rhyming-text portion of the keynote address delivered by author/alumnus Lithgow to Harvard University's Class of 2005 is accompanied by a CD recording of his performance. (Picture book. 5-10)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

In this hilarious sequel, Sue, Bartholomew Koala, Sydney Wombat, Winifred Wallaby, Percy Platypus, Melbourne Sheep and Neville, the Tasmanian Devil star in their local Aussie production of "The Runaway Pancake." Sue plays Auntie May who bakes a pancake for lunch that jumps from the oven wearing a "naughty expression on his face" and runs away singing, "I'm too fast, you're too slow. . . . I can get away from you, I can." With Auntie May in hot pursuit, the Runaway Pancake rolls through the countryside taunting all with his cocky refrain. Soon a Dog, a Cow, a Donkey, a Wolf and a Bear join the chase until the Fox lures the renegade Pancake just close enough. Colored-pencil, acrylic and ink illustrations packed with wacky details are entertaining in their own right, especially the Pancake in his running shoes. From endpages showing cast and crew prepping backstage to the final-page bow, this rollicking, rib-tickling, rhythmic rendition of a favorite tale will provide a gleeful read-aloud and sing-along. (CD recording of author's live performance) (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

Commissioned to flesh out a storyline and create a spoken text for a New York City Ballet production set to the Saint-Saëns piece, Lithgow offers a tale of a wayward schoolboy who escapes his teacher during a museum visit, falls asleep surrounded by stuffed exhibits in a closed gallery, and dreams of his classmates, neighbors, music teacher, librarian, mother, and great-aunt as animals. The author once again shows his knack for brisk doggerel—"Oliver Pendleton Percy the Third / Was a mischievous imp of a lad. / The tricks that he played on Professor McByrd / Nearly drove the old schoolmaster mad." Kulikov catches the rollicking comic tone with floridly dressed, theatrically posed figures bearing animal-like heads on humanoid bodies, or vice versa, performing for an amused-looking lad in a rumpled school blazer. An attendant CD features actor Lithgow's animated reading, interspersed with musical passages from the production. Though not quite another "Peter and the Wolf," this will give a much-performed orchestral piece a leg up with younger listeners—and it works at least as well on paper as it does on stage. (Picture book with CD. 7-9)Read full book review >
I’M A MANATEE by John Lithgow
Released: Sept. 1, 2003

A boy dreams he's a manatee in Lithgow's buoyant offering. "From time to time I dream / that I'm a manatee," he says as water rises in his room. "Undulating underneath the sea / Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, / A modest manatee, / That's me." When a massive manatee holds up a full-length mirror, the boy, now floating above his bed, sees the reflection of a manatee calf ("I look just like a chubby brown banana-tee"). Later, he "[sprinkles] seaweed on [his] Raisin Bran-atee." Sophisticated and silly at the same time, Lithgow's verse will keep kids on their toes. Meanwhile, Hoyt's colored pencils, pen, and ink spreads overflow with humorous aquatic activity. Words and music are included, as is a sing-along CD. Pure fun. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
MICAWBER by John Lithgow
by John Lithgow, illustrated by C.F. Payne
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

Now that Madonna's a mama, it's only a matter of time before she publishes her first children's book. Imagine a touch-and-feel, some pop-ups, and a few lift-the-flaps. Whatever the case, the Material Girl might want to take a lesson from Lithgow, a celebrity who's mastered the medium. Like the actor's previous efforts (The Remarkable Farkle McBride, 2000; Marsupial Sue, 2001), his latest offering is poised for the bestseller list. The story is set in Central Park and stars the titular squirrel, an aspiring artist. Lithgow's jaunty rhymes roll off the tongue as Micawber admires the Met's collection: "Through the windows he'd gaze at Van Dyck and / van Gogh, / Appraise every Rembrandt and Titian. / He would scrutinize Rubens, peruse each Rousseau, / Inspect each Lautrec and Cassat and Miró. / He would find a new favorite each time he would go, / And nobody charged him admission." He also meets his mentor. When the stranger packs up after a day spent reproducing Monet, Micawber stows away in her supply box. Payne's realistic illustrations are bathed in a mysterious light, then flecked with color, as Micawber sneaks out at night to experiment with the woman's paints. Through art, Micawber's world is transformed. So is his tail, which he uses as a paintbrush. A final gatefold reveals Micawber's creations hanging on the walls of his own "museum" with the requisite gala opening. The collaboration is perfectly charming from start to finish and—take note, Madonna—it comes with a CD of Lithgow reading the text. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
MARSUPIAL SUE by John Lithgow
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

Marsupial Sue must learn that lesson that so many picture-book heroes and heroines have learned before: just be yourself and follow your own "marsupial star," whatever that felicitous phrase might mean. "If you're a kangaroo through and through, just do what kangaroos do." This obvious and previously explored idea is one that beginning children's authors are warned against, but actor Lithgow (who made a remarkable debut with The Remarkable Farkle McBride, 2000) and Davis (illustrator of the Zack Files series) manage to make both the concept and their delightful heroine fresh and worthwhile. Davis's super-sized Sue is a delight, dressed in a sundress, straw hat, and sturdy sandals accessorized with a diamond ring, pearls, and heart-shaped sunglasses. She unsuccessfully tries climbing up a tree with a crowd of koalas and lounging at the shore eating seafood with a platypus, but both excursions leave her with a long list of ailments from migraine to typhoid. When she meets a wallaby and his cousins, she realizes from their behavior (very similar to that of related kangaroos) that her life isn't so bad after all. The story is actually a song that Lithgow performs in his children's concerts, and a CD of Lithgow singing Sue's story is included, along with the musical score. The oversized format, double-page spreads, and professional, witty CD make this a natural for reading aloud (and singing along) with a group. (Picture book. 3-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

A welcome debut from an accomplished actor, the remarkable Lithgow. Limerick-like rhyming text recounts the tale of a musical prodigy, Farkle McBride, who from age three, masters, then discards, instrument after instrument in the quest to satisfy his musical passions. Beginning with the violin Lithgow provides unique onomatopoeic tones for the instruments: "He went Reedle-ee, Deedle-ee, Deedle-ee Dee with all the strings at his side." The trombone: " He went Vroom-pety, Doom-pety, Doom-pety Doom . . ." and percussion: " He went Boom, Bash, Clang-a-ma Clash! All the clamor that he could provide." Yet the older McBride grows, the more dissatisfied he becomes with his accomplishments until finally given the opportunity to conduct, "his happy heart sings, / To brass, drums, winds, and strings, / And remarkable Farkle's at last SATISFIED." The story ends with a sweeping, dramatic, four-page panoramic gatefold featuring the proud ten-year-old standing on a symphony hall stage in front of an entire orchestra. Payne's (True Heart, 1999) humorous mixed-media illustrations feature characters with oversized heads and exaggerated features, changing points-of-view, and a variety of textures. Often the text is set on a background of giant notes and the format itself is as outsized as Farkle's personality. Encore! (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >