Books by John Prater

IS IT CHRISTMAS? by John Prater
Released: Aug. 1, 2003

Roly-poly, golden-brown Baby Bear lives with Grandbear (who could be either a grandmother or grandfather bear) in a cozy home with all the accoutrements of modern life. Together they prepare for the arrival of Christmas: making cards, cleaning, baking, finding a Christmas tree, and decorating the tree and house, with time off to play in the snow together, creating a snow bear with sticks for claws. Grandbear explains each step to Baby Bear, who impatiently awaits the big day. The pair enjoys a fireside picnic on Christmas Eve, and the story ends with all the bear relatives arriving on Christmas morning. Prater's bears are expressive and delightful, especially in the snow scene with Grandbear serving as a sled for Baby Bear. There isn't much plot here outside the steps of getting ready for the holiday, but parents may find this useful to introduce toddlers and younger preschoolers to the concept of preparing for Christmas gradually. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
ONCE UPON A PICNIC by Vivian French
Released: June 1, 1996

In this sequel to Once Upon a Time (1993), the bored little boy is on a picnic, during which he encounters many of the same fairy-tale characters (three bears, the bumbling witch, the giant, Red Riding Hood, and the wolf) he met the first time around. The first work, however, relied less on physical slapstick than does this one, in which the father bear brains himself with a baseball bat and requires immediate first aid. He's not the only one involved in a mishap: Red Riding Hood clobbers the wolf; the hapless witch blows herself up with a spell gone awry and turns into a frog. Among the gentler outcomes: The giant's discarded shoe makes a new home for the old woman with all the children; the three billygoats outsmart the troll; and the gingerbread boy gets away. Although this book is not as much fun as the original, the formula still affords droll, amusing moments for fans. (Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 29, 1993

Tim is, well, timid; unlike the boisterous other children Prater depicts in his engaging, freely rendered pencil-and- watercolor illustrations, he doesn't like ``noisy, messy fun or being splashed or roughhousing.'' What he does love, despite the teasing, is his blanket; and when a pointy-hatted creature—a sort of shadow with a shadow of its own—steals this constant companion while Tim sleeps, he sets out, with unaccustomed boldness, in a dreamlike pursuit over mountains and seas to the thief's ``dreadful lair.'' Tim's brave demand for his blanket dissipates the thief's ``huge darkness,'' whereupon the lad retrieves not only his own but a hoard of other ``blankets, teddy bears, and best-loved toys'' and goes home to a hero's welcome. In the manner of Martin Waddell, Prater relates this child-sized drama with kindly humor and real empathy, and without a trace of condescension. Nice. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
ONCE UPON A TIME by Vivian French
Released: May 1, 1993

``Not much to do. Not much to see,'' complains a bored child, sticking close to his own yard and oblivious to the familiar folklore in progress all around him: three bears chase Goldilocks, then mend their broken chair (much comic difficulty with the glue); Humpty Dumpty cavorts on a wall; the three pigs borrow Humpty's ladder to complete their roof; a giant looms in the distance and then marches into the foreground. The idea isn't unique, and some of the details are a bit off (the ``wolf'' looks more like a fox), but ``readers'' will enjoy spotting favorite characters, following them through successive spreads, and picking up on amusing variants (Red Riding Hood gets rid of the wolf by stamping on his toes). Prather's broad, deftly limned spreads are lively and expressive. After a first reading of the brief text, children will happily pore over the eventful illustrations alone. (Picture book. 3-8) Read full book review >