Books by Katya Arnold

Released: Sept. 1, 2005

Art teacher Arnold, together with her artist husband, embarked on a project to support the diminishing number of Asian elephants. Traveling to Thailand, India and Cambodia, they trained 30 elephants to paint and supplied their keepers with materials and ideas to keep the project in place. Arnold recounts, in alternating text and photographs, the basics of teaching art to children and elephants, exploring similarities and differences between the two groups. Students use their hands while others work with their trunks; some like peanut butter and jelly, while others eat grass. But in art class both can express their talent by painting with dots, bright colors and strokes in their own style. Remarkably, the elephant paintings parallel the artwork of the children quite well, including one bouquet that is amazingly realistic. Additionally, Arnold intersperses some interesting facts about the elephant's natural behavior. Beautiful photography displaying children, elephants and artwork set in a well-designed layout of large multi-colored text, coupled with green boxes filled with facts in a bold black font, add to the book's unique subject matter and appeal. (Nonfiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
LET’S FIND IT! by Katya Arnold
Released: Aug. 30, 2002

Two dozen plants and animals are hidden in plain sight on each page of this nearly wordless picture book. Thumb-sized plants and animals are painted and labeled against a white background on the left-hand page, while they appear as part of a fully developed watercolor painting on the right-hand page. The author invites children to find the plants and animals in the paintings while following a dog and cat that are exploring nature inside and outside in the city and country, in a meadow, pond, forest, and at the beach. Both common and unusual plants and animals are included. City dwellers will notice the pigeon, starling, and squirrel, while in the woods they are shown a bear, deer, fox, and porcupine. Flowers include Queen Anne's Lace, thistle, chicory, and pokeweed as well as jack-in-the-pulpit and trees like the white spruce. Some illustrations are more successful than others. The sparrow is recognizable, but the mouse is not, and the bats and children are awkwardly drawn. The author concludes with more information on plants and animals and identifies those that appear on each page, giving common names. An entertaining first-look for nature lovers. (Nonfiction. 3-6)Read full book review >
THAT APPLE IS MINE! by Katya Arnold
adapted by Katya Arnold, illustrated by Katya Arnold
Released: Nov. 15, 2000

In this version of a tale by early-20th-century Russian author Vladimir Suteev, Hare, Crow, and Hedgehog squabble so noisily over ownership of a fallen apple that they wake Bear, who suggests that they cut it into equal portions. Hedgehog gratefully gives Bear the fourth quarter as the peacemaker's share—leaving a disconsolate worm to crawl away muttering that the apple was actually hers. Robbing the argument of rancor by having all of the animals (except Worm) smiling throughout, Arnold places her heavy-lined figures over simple collages constructed from large, irregular pieces of painted paper; the effect is loud, brash, kaleidoscopic. Political subtext aside, this makes an enlightened alternative to such trickster tales as Mirra Ginsburg's Two Greedy Bears (1976), in which the sly arbitrator gets the lion's share of the treat. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 15, 1998

This personable adaptation of Vladimir Suteev's The Conifer from Arnold (Meow!, p. 492, etc.) definitely has the air of an early animated film, with the same endearing (and faintly menacing) gawkiness. It features the lovable, flappable Snowwoman, a popular Russian folklore character, with button eyes, a carrot nose, and a bucket for a hat. Snowwoman has been consigned a letter from the local children to be taken to the North Pole, to Santa Claus, asking for a tree. To deliver the letter, Snowwoman must brave the deep dark woods. After a couple of near misses, and with the help of squirrels and rabbits and a bear and a magpie, she makes good. Santa almost turns her down—he is busy with Christmas Eve—but relents when he learns of Snowwoman's heroic efforts to reach him in time. Everything here is obligingly clunky and stop-start, from the story line and broadly outlined, comic woodcut-like artwork, to the pages with a succession of illustrations that mark an increase in the story's tempo. (Picture book/folklore. 3-7) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

Ten absurdist poems and very short stories, written by Kharms (1905_1942) in Russia. At their best, as in "A Mysterious Case," of a portrait taken down for dusting that suddenly becomes a picture of someone else when rehung (upside down), or "Let's Write a Story," in which Sonya keeps commandeering her writing partner Boris's opening lines, the humor will play to young readers, but most of the stories are either fragmentary and surrealistic ("The Four Legged Crow"), or pointedly symbolic, or both. Arnold pays homage to the post-Revolution era's cultural ferment, as well as its severe lack of art supplies, with spiky figures rendered in thick, scratchy black lines and thin but vigorously applied color on wallpaper, wrapping paper, and even a montage of Soviet police documents. This evocative tribute to a writer unfamiliar to most US children will find its readiest audience in adults interested in children's books. (Picture book. 8+) Read full book review >
MEOW! by Katya Arnold
adapted by Katya Arnold, illustrated by Katya Arnold
Released: April 15, 1998

From Arnold (Katya's Book of Mushrooms, 1997, etc.), a retelling of a story by Vladimir Grigorievich Suteev that will bring shouts at story hours. Since even toddlers know who says "meow," the fun of this book is not just in the guessing, but in the reaffirmation that a cat is a cat is a cat. A loud "Meow!" wakes up a puppy, who immediately sets out to find the source. He meets a rooster, a mouse, a bee, a fish, and a frog, each of whom greets him with its own unique noise, but the cat always eludes the pup (though not readers, who'll find the orange feline peeking around corners on every page). While the final encounter ends with some hissing, the puppy goes to sleep satisfied, until into his dreams comes a low "Mooo." Arnold's brash illustrations are great for this classic Russian children's tale, capturing the puppy's energetic bumblings and the cat's prickly-backed hiss perfectly. A very welcome author's note places Suteev's work for readers and may inspire them to turn Arnold's text into a classroom play. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1997

Field guide, fact book, and diary of a mushroom-hunter gather under one umbrella. A first-person narrative, peppered with anecdotes of mushroom-collecting trips in the wild, brings to light the strange and surprising fungi that grow in backyards, snowbanks, and water, even in cars and carpets. A mushroom fanatic since her childhood in Moscow, Arnold (Baba Yaga, 1993) includes the standards—basic types, folk names, and scientific labels, identification tips and charts, pests, and habitats, including the mushroom's unusual partnership with trees. While Arnold enthusiastically promotes mushroom hunting, she and Swope caution readers repeatedly about the dangers of poisonous varieties. The history and origin of mushrooms, as well as religious and therapeutic aspects, are touched on in miscellaneous captions. Kids will relish the blunt descriptions—the red juice tooth is likened to ``a piece of cheese with drops of blood''; the Latin name for puffball means ``wolf fart.'' Other mushroom oddities are also sure to engross. Alternating illustrative styles shift between humorous depictions of a puffball-stomping child or a truffle-hunting wild-eyed pig and the more delicate, sedate renderings of velvety mushroom varieties. From the animal-shaped fungi to the spore-printed endpapers, Arnold's lifelong passion for her subject will make mushroom fanciers out of even the mycologically reluctant. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-10) Read full book review >
adapted by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Katya Arnold
Released: March 15, 1996

A classic tale about the fool who makes good, while his acquisitive older brothers are left holding the bag. Kindhearted Getzel is a poor merchant, for he's so eager to please his customers that he ends up losing money in any bargain. When his father refuses to give him anything to trade, Getzel begs for some cheap goods and sets sail with a bag of onions. Value is relative: Getzel is shipwrecked on an island where onions are an unknown delicacy and diamonds are mere rocks for the picking. Getzel makes the trade of a lifetime and returns home in triumph. Kimmel (The Adventures of Hershel of Ostropol, 1995, etc.) retells this Jewish folktale (carefully sourced in an author's note) with lively dialogue and a comic twist at the end. Arnold's frenetic acrylic illustrations have a rough-hewn woodcut look; the action fairly sails off the page. (Picture book/folklore. 6-10) Read full book review >
BABA YAGA by Katya Arnold
adapted by Katya Arnold, illustrated by Katya Arnold
Released: Sept. 15, 1993

A Russian-born artist draws on the classic Afanas'ev ``Tereshichka'' (here called ``Tishka'') for a disarmingly direct and authentic introduction to the well-known witch. Capturing the child by assuming his mother's voice, Baba Yaga takes Tishka to her chicken-legged house and tells her daughter to cook him. Outwitting the girl (as Gretel does in the Grimms' tale), Tishka escapes to a tree, but can't resist taunting Baba Yaga once she's eaten her daughter. Fortunately, a goose carries him safely away, just as the witch fells the tree with her iron teeth. Using gouache, Arnold emulates traditional Russian ``lubok'' art (handcolored woodcuts) in a vivid, energetic style that's a beautiful complement to the lively story. Sure to draw readers with its jewel-bright colors and pleasingly gruesome witch, while imaginative borders and varied framing also contribute nicely to the handsome format. Excellent source note. (Folklore/Picture book. 4-9) Read full book review >