Books by Keith Baker

LMNO PEA-QUEL  by Keith Baker
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 4, 2017

"Perhaps these peas have simply pea-tered out. (Picture book. 3-7)"
Baker's industrious pea-ple are back for a fifth tour, this time delivering an A-to-Z look at work and play. Read full book review >
HAP-PEA ALL YEAR by Keith Baker
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2016

"An infectious, pea-sized romp. (Picture book. 2-8)"
Having conquered the alphabet (LMNO Peas, 2010), numbers (1-2-3 Peas, 2012), and colors (Little Green Peas: A Big Book of Colors, 2014), Baker's goofy spherical seeds return to revel in the seasons and holidays in this book of months. Read full book review >
LITTLE GREEN PEAS by Keith Baker
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 22, 2014

"Sweet—but alas, not a three-pea-t. (Picture book. 3-7)"
After tackling the alphabet and numbers in two previous excursions (LMNO Peas, 2013; 1-2-3 Peas, 2012), Baker's winsome legumes return for a third ap-pea-rance, exploring nine colors. Read full book review >
MY OCTOPUS ARMS by Keith Baker
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 24, 2013

"Though a little on the bland side, this effort should reassure little ones resting in the human arms of favorite story readers. (Picture book. 2-5)"
Who hasn't occasionally wished for more than two hands (or arms) in order to simultaneously accomplish all that one needs to? Read full book review >
CAMPING by Keith Baker
by Keith Baker, illustrated by Keith Baker
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 7, 2012

"Engaging, sitcom-style humor based on personality differences and securely attuned to the intended audience. (Early reader. 4-6)"
A practical alligator and her more excitable husband plan a camping trip in this slightly reformatted chapter taken from Meet Mr. and Mrs. Green (2002). Read full book review >
1-2-3 PEAS by Keith Baker
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 24, 2012

"Whether they're counting scores of peas, enjoying the rhymes and puns or relishing the funny visual quirks, families are sure to devour Baker's latest winner. Totally ap-pea-ling! (Picture book. 3-7)"
After an alphabetical, rhyming tour de force (LMNO Peas, 2010), Baker's energetic pea pack is back—this time, to count by ones and 10s. Read full book review >
NO TWO ALIKE by Keith Baker
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2011

"A worthwhile message that just doesn't quite fly. (Picture book. 3-5)"
A sadly lackluster paean to the premise that "no two snowflakes are alike, / almost, almost… / but not quite." Read full book review >
LMNO PEAS by Keith Baker
Kirkus Star
by Keith Baker, illustrated by Keith Baker
ABC BOOKS
Released: April 5, 2010

A passel of industrious peas narrates inventive, alphabetically arranged avocations: "We are peas—alphabet peas! / We work and play in the ABCs." Amid towering, digitally textured capital letters, Baker's veggies, sprouting green arms, legs and animated physiognomies, star in scores of charmingly detailed tableaux. At "F," farmers hoe and water at "Happea Farms," a duo waves checkered flags at a bike race's finish line and a quintet of friends jams in a band whose drum kit announces its name: "Pod." "K" features (soccer) kickers, kayakers navigating the letter's watery, angled bend and a couple of kings—one atop a tower with crown and scepter, the other crooning into a mike below (he's Elvis, of course). The well-chosen text type, Frankfurter Medium, pudgy and whimsical, proves eminently crisp and legible for emergent readers. This high-energy romp invites repeat visits by young browsers—there's plenty to pore over and giggle about. Delicious! Peas out. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
JUST HOW LONG CAN A LONG STRING BE? by Keith Baker
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 2009

Little Ant's exclamatory question allows Bird to produce a list of long and short ideas handily crafted from a ball of white string. In the air holding balloons or kites, in the house hanging a painting, in the garden tying vines of peas, Baker's patterned rhyme beautifully balances the continual image of a white cord that loops along his elegant full page chalk/crayon-style drawings on pastel-hued, spring-like backgrounds. "Will it pull down a shade? / Will it turn on a light? / Will it fly in the sky / holding on to a kite?" Ant and Bird create clever applications exploring the many everyday basic uses for good string, ultimately and logically migrating to Bird's adroit nest weaving. "Ah! / Will it weave through a nest? / That's the string I like best!" Budding and new readers will easily fill in the rhyme as they match illustrations to context. Another winner for the pattern-book list. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
POTATO JOE by Keith Baker
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2008

Lively potatoes frisk and frolic across the page in this lighthearted counting book that expands on the familiar rhyme, "One potato, two potato." Popping out of the dirt, Potato Joe initiates the rhyme with his "one potato" call and is joined by a second potato echoing "two potato." As more potato pals join in, they add to the count as they fall into a tic-tac-toe formation, line up in a row and spot a "big black crow." The growing potato pile is covered in snow as it continues the count to ten at which point ten brown spuds sporting cowboy hats are lassoed into a rodeo to do-si-do. Eventually the playful potato pack makes way for Tomato Flo and Watermelon Moe before rolling back into the dirt in descending numerical order. Simple illustrations starring the rotund tubers in assorted shapes, sizes and tones of brown against plain pastel backgrounds prove amazingly expressive and active as Potato Joe and his gang get down and dirty maneuvering through the count. Spunky spuds with appeal. (Picture book. 3-7) Read full book review >
HICKORY DICKORY DOCK by Keith Baker
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 2007

The familiar nursery rhyme gains new verses in this latest from Baker, who rounds out the rest of the mouse's busy hours. When the clock strikes one, "it's time for fun." The little mouse echoes the actions of the many creatures that come by to interact with the clock: He sings along with the serenading bird; flies an airplane alongside the buzzing bees; and investigates the nibble marks inflicted on the clock by a hungry porcupine. Following the rhyme and rhythm scheme of the original perfectly, Baker gets around the difficulties of rhyming seven and eleven by changing the word order: "seven was struck." The illustrations become increasingly somnambulistic as the hours creep toward midnight, when the moon wishes the mouse goodnight and sees him safely tucked into his bed. A great addition to the collection of "singing" books, with the added bonus of helping readers practice counting and time-telling skills. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
LUCKY DAYS WITH MR. AND MRS. GREEN by Keith Baker
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 2005

Three more happy tales along the lines of those in More Mr. and Mrs. Green (2004) and its preceding volume. Here, the close-knit couple Sherlock their way to Mrs. Green's missing pearls (stolen by crows while she was in the bath), win both a goldfish and a swimming pool full of jellybeans in a contest and, thanks to a bit of quick thinking on Mrs. Green's part (plus a handy hose), triumph at a Talent Show. Baker is terrific at sliding funny little asides into the telling: At the talent show, the couple enjoy "the storyteller (a little Shakespeare, a lot of Dr. Seuss!)." The effervescent personalities of the all-alligator cast come through clearly in Baker's small, bright green-and-purple scenes; those ready to move on to something slightly beyond the basic easy reader will enjoy all the energy and joie de vivre on display. (Fiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
MORE MR. AND MRS. GREEN by Keith Baker
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 2004

The big-hearted alligators introduced in Meet Mr. and Mrs. Green (2002, but reformatted as an easy reader, too) return for three more feel-good episodes. Mr. Green catches fish after fish, leaving Mrs. Green "frustrated and fishless" until he shares his secret bait: jellybeans. He then gladly sits for a portrait that turns out decidedly cubist, and loses a race to the ice-cream truck when Mrs. Green cannily takes a shortcut. Identical, save for necktie and pearls in Baker's bright green and yellow illustrations, the two have different but wonderfully compatible personalities; their relationship may not have the fizz of George and Martha's, but they manage to express mutual affection without getting soppy about it. (Easy reader. 6-8)Read full book review >
MEET MR. AND MRS. GREEN by Keith Baker
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

Replete with greens and grins, these three episodes introduce a pair of sunny tempered alligators—one with a taste for adventure, the other with a taste for chocolate, pancakes, and cherry snowcones. In the first, Mr. Green's excitement after Mrs. Green proposes a camping trip changes to anxiety as he visualizes dark woods, glowing eyes, and mosquitoes, then relief when the map leads them around the neighborhood, then through a familiar gate, and finally the tent is pitched in their back yard. In the second, he needs a little help to make good on his determination to eat 100 pancakes, turning "green," but managing a celebratory slice of cake when he does it. In the third, both Greens shine as her painting, and the flowers he puts on her hat, win blue ribbons at the County Fair. Though the Greens' relationship doesn't have the effervescence of, say, Frog and Toad's, or George and Martha's, children will enjoy following the rotund reptiles through their mini-adventures, and through the bright and snappy, simply drawn cartoon scenes. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
LITTLE GREEN by Keith Baker
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 2001

A young artist observes a hummingbird named Little Green that flits from flower to flower outside the boy's window. Baker (Quack and Count, 1999, etc.) creates brilliantly-colored cut-paper collages to illustrate the simple storyline following Little Green's flights of fancy around the boy's yard, told in lighthearted rhyming couplets with just a few words in large type on each page. He shows Little Green's flight path with sketchy swirls of white paint swooping across vibrant turquoise-blue skies and lots of bright red and fuchsia-pink blossoms favored by hummingbirds. Baker's collages in this book are very similar in style to those of Eric Carle, and alert children will delight in searching for the tiny caterpillar camouflaged on every page or spread (perhaps a tip of the artist's beret to the master of collage picture-book illustration, from his heir apparent). Continuing glimpses of the boy with his sketch pad and paint brushes lead the reader to expect a hummingbird painting by the young artist on the last page, but the artistic punch line is the boy's multi-colored interpretation of the bird's zigzagging flight patterns. This simple, satisfying story will work well with two- and three-year-olds right up to first-graders, and the large full-page and full-spread illustrations and lively text make this a fine choice for story hours with bird or artist themes. (Picture book. 2-6)Read full book review >
QUACK AND COUNT by Keith Baker
Released: Aug. 1, 1999

Baker (Big Fat Hen, 1994, etc.) engages in more number play, posing ducklings in every combination of groups, e.g., "Splashing as they leap and dive/7 ducklings, 2 plus 5." Using a great array of streaked and dappled papers, Baker creates a series of leafy collage scenes for the noisy, exuberant ducklings to fill, tucking in an occasional ladybug or other small creature for sharp-eyed pre-readers to spot. Children will regretfully wave goodbye as the ducks fly off in neat formation at the end of this brief, painless introduction to several basic math concepts. (Picture book. 4-6) Read full book review >
SOMETIMES by Keith Baker
by Keith Baker, illustrated by Keith Baker
Released: March 1, 1999

Emerging readers follow the adventures of a busy crocodile in this Level 1 entry in a promising series (see McPhail, below). Baker uses short, direct sentences to describe the emotional and physical experiences of an amiable crocodile. Gently validating children's feelings, the tale explores an array of mental states, from happy to sad, embarrassed to melancholy. A refrain, "I like who I am. I like what I do," reaffirms the crocodile's self-worth, and gives readers a ready chant; gaily colored illustrations adorn the pages, providing visual clues to the context of the sentences. The engaging pictures and familiar experiences are a gratifying combination. (Picture book. 5-7) Read full book review >
INHERITANCE by Keith Baker
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 5, 1998

Grimly atmospheric sins-of-the-father first novel set in Northern Ireland of 2017, where, despite 1998's official end to the Troubles, nothing much has changed. About the most Jack McCallan has to worry about is his somewhat insecure (if steamy) sex life, which is shared with married but promiscuous Julia Shriver (her American husband is cheating on her, the rotter!). Having taken a shot during a less than distinguished adventure in a UN peacekeeping force in West Africa, Jack is content for a time to knock about London. Then he gets word that his father, Bob, a retired Northern Ireland policeman who had earned a medal for bravery in an IRA ambush, has died in a mysterious explosion that rendered his corpse almost unrecognizable. In a thriller crowded with brooding, guilt-ridden, and hard-drinking Irish types who can't stop hating each other, Baker, a TV journalist with the BBC, holds back precious little in the way of damning details and innuendos: not only was Bob brutally murdered before his body was set afire, but several dirty seeds are buried in his past, and they threaten to sprout and bear fruit. Soon Jack, blissfully (and unbelievably) ignorant of his father's past, finds that his father, who lived in a crude mobile home, has left him enough stock in an Irish software company to dwell in luxury, especially if that company, owned by his father's good friend Henry Lomax, is acquired by wealthy Americans. Such a bequest seems too good to be true. Before long, in fact, Jack is framed for the first of several murders of Ulstermen who may or may not have had something to do with his father's nasty intelligence work. Richly evocative of late-1990s Ireland, but too many corpses—and bad guys'support an unduly intricate plot. Read full book review >
CAT TRICKS by Keith Baker
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

Fans of Baker's Hide and Snake (1991) will be happy to encounter this new book of catchy verse and tricky pictures in an intense purple, green, blue, and gold palette, used to depict cats, shoes, hats, clocks, patterned fabrics, and extravagant textures of all kinds. In this tall, narrow book, every other page is half- width; turning it transforms the picture into a completely different scene, showing a dapper black-and-white cat doing something quite improbable. The fun is in seeing how Baker transforms lines or shapes in one picture into something totally different in the next: a spiderweb to a ship's rigging, a sweeping green feather to a curling ocean wave, a loosely tangled plate of spaghetti to skate tracings on a frozen pond, a pair of green curtains to a plunging waterfall. Often an object in the first picture will prefigure something in the second, or the second will contain an echo of the first. In all, an illustrator's tour de force, and a great stimulus to a child's visual imagination. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
BIG FAT HEN by Keith Baker
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 1994

In vibrant full-bleed spreads, a boldly graphic rendition of ``1, 2, buckle my shoe,'' with the numbers from 1 to 10 enacted by the ``big fat hen'' and her friends and their hatching chicks. The spread for each couplet's first line features a decoratively individualized hen with an appropriate number of insects and eggs; in the second, the eggs have hatched and the chicks carry out the action described. The bright, uncluttered acrylic illustrations are rendered in saturated tones strongly outlined in black on a ground of golden yellow, making the figures especially easy to count, while large square pages and bouncy hand lettering add to the visual effectiveness. After the basic rhyme is complete, however, the book's internal logic falters. Six hens are counted, then ``all their eggs'' are presented: 50, i.e., 20 more than appear within the rhyme, while the chicks that hatch from them number only 49. Still, the art is gorgeous. (Picture book. 2-7) Read full book review >
ELEPHANTS ALOFT by Kathi Appelt
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

When two little Indian elephants get an invitation from their African auntie, they set out to pay her a visit. Getting ``in'' a balloon, they fly ``above'' the onion-shaped domes of their homeland, ``through'' clouds, ``between'' towering cliffs, ``behind'' a waterfall, and even ``beyond'' a rainbow before climbing ``out'' at Aunti Rwanda's thatched hut. Except for the beginning and end, the text consists of just one preposition on each handsome spread; the story and travelogue are all in the expansive art. Kids enjoying the adventure may never notice that they're getting a vocabulary lesson, but they'll be intrigued by the elephants' antics and the many other details in the handsomely stylized illustrations. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
THE ANTIQUE STORE CAT by Keith Baker
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 1992

Alice, introduced in The Third-Story Cat (1987), is wandering again. This time, she gets caught in the rain and takes refuge in an antique shop. When she leaps at the parrot perched on the shoulder of a woman trying to sell a little statue to the kindly proprietor, it looks like disaster but turns out to be a good deed: broken by Alice's pounce, the statue is revealed as a fake. There's nothing very original about the story, but it's smoothly told (children will especially enjoy the reiterated comment that ``no meant nothing to Alice''), while Baker's impressionistic watercolors continue to be beautifully observed. Quiet, but a sure bet for cat-lovers. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
HIDE AND SNAKE by Keith Baker
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

Hidden among other patterns as repetitive and brightly colored as his own variegated stripes, a snake challenges readers to discover him in one picture after another: "I'm playing with toys / twisting `round vases, / weaving through baskets, / and tangling with laces.'' The text doesn't add much here, but Baker's bold, handsomely stylized art is sure to amuse with its many clever pseudo-snakes and intriguing camouflages of the real one. (Picture book. 3-8)Read full book review >