Books by Karla Firehammer

SAKES ALIVE! by Karma Wilson
ANIMALS
Released: July 1, 2005

Giving new meaning to "cattle drive," bovines Molly and Mabel lift the farmer's keys one day and take the pickup for a joy ride. Barreling down country lanes—"They bounced along the bumpy road / at quite a frightful speed. / ‘What's that sign say?' Mabel asked. / But cows of course can't read"—toward seeming disaster, the duo roars into town trailing a line of howling police cars, zooms through the Mayor's garden, then screeches to a halt right outside the jail—where cheering onlookers declare it the best parade they've ever seen. Firehammer's sweet illustrations, all rounded edges and still forms in pale, harmonious colors, capture the humor, if not the frenetic energy, of Wilson's headlong verse odyssey nicely. Readers are bound to hope that these two cousins to the bovine troublemakers introduced by Doreen Cronin in Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type (2000) haven't finished sowing their wild oats. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
FROM THE DOGHOUSE by Amy E. Sklansky
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

The stunning, beaded illustrations are clearly the best-in-show winners of this thematic collection of 25 poems celebrating canines. In their collective picture book debut, the four artists have created beaded illustrations using rows of tiny beads on colored backgrounds with clever additions of larger beads, buttons, and charms interspersed for variety. Their beaded dogs (and a few companion cats) have plenty of humor and personality, including some imaginative pooches: a sheriff dog in a ten-gallon hat, an astrodog in a silver spaceship, and two scuba-diving dogs. In her first published work, Sklansky offers a variety of poetic forms, mostly rhymed, all written in first person from a dog's point of view. Several poems examine a dog's dreams or nightmares, while others focus on standard features of a dog's life (fleas, baths, bones, balls, digging holes, and affection for human owners). The creative design includes different type treatments, borders, backgrounds, and illustration placement that make the most of this unusual medium. The final page includes additional facts about the beadwork and short bios with tiny self-portraits of the bead artists. (Poetry. 5-9)Read full book review >
IF THE SHOE FITS by Alison Jackson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

The hunt for the perfect abode is the premise for this romp through the world of nursery rhymes. The little old woman and her many children are definitely feeling the pinch in the toe of the shoe they live in. From Little Jack Horner's coat and Miss Muffet's teacup, to a sock hanging from a grandfather clock and a tub, the family attempts to find a home that will accommodate their number—a place that is stationary, not too loud, not too small, and not already occupied. As they quickly discover, this is not too easy to find in Mother Goose's world. Old Mother Hubbard snatches their glass jar and puts it in her cupboard, and the demise of an egg brings all the king's horses and men to one of their trial homes. Finally, as the family is literally squeezed out of a vest pocket and shot into a boot, they realize that their old home was more spacious than this one. "If the shoe fits, then wear it." So, "She gave them some broth and kissed all their faces, / Then tucked them in bed and tied up the laces." Jackson (I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie, not reviewed, etc.) retains the rhyming pattern of The Little Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe throughout the family's adventures, providing stability to their leaps around the various tales. Young readers will delight in identifying the many different nursery rhymes, and the author/illustrator team has given just enough clues for them to be able to do this with ease. Firehammer's (The Flea's Sneeze, 2000) characters have charmingly simple faces, round cheeks, and stubby bodies. Pastel colors and barely hidden details fit the realm of nursery rhyme books perfectly. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
THE FLEA’S SNEEZE by Lynn Downey
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

A tiny little flea with a great big cold disrupts the slumber of the barnyard animals in this rollicking tale with a fitting end. Sprightly, rhyming verses recount the trials of the beleaguered insect as it struggles to go to sleep. A tickling cough, a few sniffles, a desperate request for a tissue all go unheeded by his barn mates, which include everything from a rooster to a frog. When the inevitable sneeze erupts, mayhem ensues as the other animals awaken with a start: "It scared the rat, / Who cried ‘Boohoo!' / And woke the cat, / Who hissed ‘Mairoo!' / It baffled the bat, / Whose eyes turned blue / And confused the cow, / Who muttered ‘Moo Moo!' " Amid the confusion, the sympathetic mouse that "the flea used for a house" finally gives the long-suffering flea a tissue. Downey's bouncy verses merrily skip along to the uproarious conclusion, which ends on a comical note as everyone, including the flea, settles down again—with the exception of the hog . . . "I think I'b godda sdeeze." Newcomer Firehammer's full-page, full-color illustrations perfectly suit the silly story. Brightly colored, the pictures are intricately detailed and are funny throughout, even though there is no real action until the sneeze. From the myriad of silly sleeping positions of the various animals to the bleary-eyed expressions on the flea's face, there's plenty to pore and laugh over. And kids will clamor to hear it read again and again. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >