Books by John Wallace

THE RING BEARER by Laura Godwin
Released: March 1, 2006

An inevitable pendant to The Flower Girl (2001), this harmless rhymed ditty alerts little boys in that role to how it will go; there is even a dedication page for "a very special ring bearer" and a place to write in the name. The watercolors are friendly, rosy and pretty, and one might be especially fond of the first one, where the stalwart young ring bearer appears in his morning suit and bare feet, socks in hand. The bouncy verse takes him from, "This is the groom / who waits for his bride" down the aisle, past the gathered friends and the choir, to fulfill his mission and deliver both rings safely (the bride's wearing gloves and the illustrations don't show how that works) and then on to a garden reception and cake. Never has the phrase, "buy where needed" been more apt. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
ANYTHING FOR YOU by John Wallace
Released: March 1, 2004

Little Charlie has been working hard all day to help his mother do chores around the house. The little cub has tried to water the garden, pick apples, and mop the floor, but mostly, he's made a mess. Now he's tired and ready for bed. While climbing into his bath, he tells his mother, "I'll do anything for you." Bundled into his towel, he elaborates, finishing off the long list with the whispered words, "I'd even let you be my best friend." A clever and loving mother asks if he will snuggle into bed for the night, to which Little Charlie whispers, "Anything." Soft watercolor-and-pen illustrations of Little Charlie and his mother, following the daily rituals of mother and child, depict a familiar and quiet tale for the end of the day. Sweet and cozy. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
SNOW by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: Nov. 1, 2003

Bauer provides a simple explanation of snow in this beginning level easy reader, the second in a series of weather-themed volumes from this team. The text explains cloud formation, snow crystal formation and size, and snow's place in the water cycle, all in just a few simple sentences. Wallace provides charming watercolor illustrations of two children and a gray dog waiting for the snow and then having fun skating and sledding together. The younger child helps the main character to build a snowman on the cover, and both are so bundled up against the cold (in gender-neutral winter wear) that the reader can't be sure if the children are boys or girls. Bold blobs of white paint serve as the snowflakes against wintry blue skies, and the scenes of spring weather with melting snow include snow-capped peaks with pink and orange shadows or reflections splashed across the mountains. First- and second-grade teachers will find this useful in the classroom for science as well as for the easy reader shelves. (author's note) (Easy reader. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2003

A kind and gentle little boy turns into a destructive toddler when he dons his monster suit. As Monster Toddler, he spills juice, destroys toys, and tries to bite the cat. His sister, Charlotte, responds by shutting herself in her room, refusing to play with the wild beast. It's not until Monster Toddler gets himself into a mess from which he cannot escape, that he calms down enough to ask for Charlotte's help. Wonder Charlotte, donning a superhero costume, comes to the rescue. She responds with some lessons in polite and kind behavior, finishing with the removal of the monster suit. It's clear that this suit has not been put away for good, however, as Timothy gazes at it longingly in a final parting scene. Simple watercolor illustrations alternating between full-bleed paintings and small vignettes provide a view of this familiar scene. Sure to entertain other Monster Toddlers. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
BABY LOVE by Hope Vestergaard
Released: Dec. 1, 2002

A former teacher and nanny, Vestergaard crafts more than 20 odes to babies in her debut for children. Many speak from the siblings' perspective. "In the Sandbox," for example, reflects the joys and frustrations of having a new brother or sister: "Baby's small / I am big / baby sits / While I dig. / Baby dumps / When I fill. / Baby grabs. / Then I spill." Others, such as "Two of a Kind" ("Not much hair—just like Grandpa") and "Rockabye" ("In Gram's arms / Cozy tight . . . In her voice / Such sweet delight") focus on the special role of grandparents. Most are simple ditties, joyful observations of all things baby. "Diapers," for example, is just two lines long: "Wiggle waggle to and fro . . . / Sure looks like you want to GO!" Wallace's (One . . . Two . . . Three . . . Sassafras, p. 1039, etc.) humorous vignette shows a child toddling off while her diapers reveal a bit of bare bottom. Throughout, Wallace illustrates each poem with pastel-hued watercolors; playful borders of ribbon, toys, booties, and other baby accouterments draw poem and picture together. With their musical beat, Vestergaard's shorter poems ("Fancy Feet" and "Lunch," for example) are bound to appeal to the youngest listeners. Unfortunately, the rest of this collection is pure pablum. (Poetry. 2-5)Read full book review >
ONE...TWO...THREE... SASSAFRAS! by Stuart J. Murphy
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

Murphy sets up this beginning-level, math-concept outing to give readers a sense of numerical order, leading them down the road to place value. He buries the math in his typical good humor—even if the repetitive nature of the story line does begin to pale by the end—and sends words like "sassafras," "fiddlesticks," and "great galloping gillywhoppers" zinging through the pages. The plot revolves around Uncle Howie's desire to get family snapshots of a burgeoning group of cousins: first a handful, then a small gathering, then an entire company. He has them arrange themselves by age, though he throws in a kicker when a 13-year-old girl is shorter than an 11-year-old boy, giving readers the idea that the kids might be arranged in different orders, like height or alphabet. His notes at the end give suggestions on how the ideas can be expanded upon by readers to further develop their familiarity with numbers. Though Wallace puts more of a scowl on Uncle Howie's face than might be warranted, his cartoon art has a pleasurably unruly character that fits the story well. (short bibliography) (Picture book/nonfiction. 3-5)Read full book review >
GRUMP by Janet S. Wong
by Janet S. Wong, illustrated by John Wallace
Released: March 1, 2001

A weary mom and her tireless tot are the subject of Wong's (This Next New Year, 2000, etc.) humorous and poignant tale. The scenario is familiar: a mom, tired and slightly crabby, eagerly awaits baby's naptime. However, her energetic infant has other ideas. Lunch becomes a science experiment as baby mixes this and that, eventually deciding to wear the concoction rather than eat it. After an exasperated Mom cleans up, she marches baby upstairs for a nap. Naturally, just as mother reaches the nursery door, baby awakens. The conclusion is predictable—at least for sleep-deprived parents—and the mother falls asleep reading baby a story while baby remains cheerfully awake . . . until snuggling up on her lap for a comfy snooze. Wong hits upon a universal truth of motherhood: as mom's energy wanes, baby's waxes accordingly. Her short, gently repetitive verses neatly capture the swinging moods between infant and parent. Although young children are unlikely to catch the wry humor, beleaguered mommies may appreciate the jests. Wong's imagery has high giggle appeal for gleeful tots, making the poetry accessible for the littlest listener: "Mommy's stomping / Jumping, chomping / Long arms dragging like a chimp." Wallace's watercolors adroitly capture the nuances of the story, depicting both the increasingly frenzied dismay of mom as well as the sweeter, more sentimental moments. An enjoyable romp for little ones and a compassionate reassurance for their exhausted parents. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1997

Mr. Bumble is an egg-shaped bee whose black sweater over his yellow body accounts for his stripes (he lacks the most off-putting aspect of a bee—the stinger). He's building a house and his friends want to help out, but they need to select the right carpentry tools. A hammer, drill, shovel, saw, or rake: Which one should Mole use to cut wood? Each page presents a set of choices, and a gatefold conceals the answer—e.g., Mole carefully cuts a measured board with the saw. The tools are labeled and plainly drawn; preschoolers will be able to identify them easily. The color scheme is bold and basic, with plenty of peppy red, blue, orange, and green. After all the happy clatter, there's one task left, and that's for Mr. Bumble to move into his new, slightly off-kilter home—it turns out that his helpers are better friends than they are carpenters. A second book, Dressing Up With Mr. Bumble (ISBN: 0-7636-0075-X), makes the same amiable game of costume choices. (Picture book. 2-4) Read full book review >