Books by Larry Di Fiori

MOUTH MOTHS by Douglas Evans
Released: Sept. 1, 2006

There's something strange happening with the third grade at W.T. Melon Elementary School. Rumor has it that the school's founder is still alive, lives just above the classroom and makes things . . . different. By all accounts, this seems to be true. Paul, who speaks out of turn, comes down with mouth moths—invisible creatures that fly from his mouth unless he raises his hand to speak. Kimberly, who cuts in line, mysteriously finds herself always last. Zachary learns that the reason he can't stay seated is actually because his chair is in need of taming. Hannah has trouble keeping her hands to herself until she finds that everyone she touches freezes. Loren comes to understand the value of tests when she becomes a test tester (with help from the class pet). And Matthew realizes the value of subtraction when his substitute, Subdude, makes it disappear entirely. Full of wordplay and accompanied by comical drawings, each stand-alone story in this collection contains a lesson about behavior that is never pedantic and always replete with warmth and humor. (Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: June 13, 2006

Strongly influenced by classic comics and underground comix alike, this monochrome, graphic novel-style mini-melodrama pits an anxious everylad against a menacing crook with both a tongue-twisting moniker and a gang of dwarfish, masked minions. Having lost both his math book and his shadow on the way home from school, Jackie turns to grizzled sage Mr. Socrates for help—and learns that his shadow, at least, has been seized by the Shadow Snatcher to incorporate into a cloak of concealment. So it's on to the Snatcher's spooky old mansion for a confrontation. Using layouts that place inset panels of various sizes into larger scenes, Di Fiori pumps up the suspense by giving Jackie a wide-eyed look, also adding eerie background details and plenty of noir atmosphere to the small town setting. Closing with a frantic chase and the well-timed arrival of a boatload of Keystone-like Cops, the episode will keep children, at least briefly, on the edges of their seats even as its self-conscious archness (the Shadow Snatcher is last seen dashing away, muttering "Groan! This is a repugnant situation.") will amuse more sophisticated readers. (Picture book. 7-9)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 15, 1996

The Classroom At The End Of The Hall ($14.95; Aug. 15, 1996; 132 pp.; 1-886910-07-3): A collection of stories about events in a weird classroom, where various creatures, including a genie, an intelligent doodlebug, and possibly a ghost, may live. Students learn the value of trying harder, doing their own work, appreciating their hardworking teacher, not daydreaming, and even keeping their desks neat. The instruction is only thinly cloaked in tall-tale humor and cartoony black-and-white drawings; Evans's first book is one educators may like but few children will finish. (Short stories. 8-12) Read full book review >
THAT'S SILLY by William Sleator
Released: April 14, 1981

The power of pretending—or is it magic?—is ingeniously but mechanically developed in the interplay between Tony, who likes to pretend, and pragmatic Rachel, who scoffs at his make-believe. She scoffs when Tom finds a doll's head and pretends it's magic, but then by wishing on it the children land inside Rachel's scary picture and then go flying on a scarier balloon ride. Rachel says that this proves the doll's head is actually magic; but when "pretending" they know how to operate it brings the balloon down safely in Rachel's back yard, she concedes that sometimes pretending can help you. Sleator's teasing questions and magic/pretending distinction take this a step beyond the usual confrontation between magic or pretending and skepticism. However, without the imagined life that wins assent for magic, pretending, or realistic fiction, it might strike children as an arid sort of distinction. Read full book review >
MICE ON ICE by Larry Di Fiori
Released: April 17, 1980

With the zip, the semi-puns, and the pop ingenuity of a bright TV cartoon, Yolen tells of a Mice Capades kidnapping engineered by Gomer the Rat King, a mouse gone bad, and executed by Gomer's henchmen the Four Muscles. As Miss Rosa Burrow-Minder rises on her hoist at the end of a triumphant performance, Gomer uses a magnet to lift the Mice Capades star up and out through the top of the tent; then he sends a ransom note demanding ringmaster Horace Hopper's secret ice formula. Instant ice, an underground hideaway, a ceiling escape hole, and quick action by Miss Rosa's little sister Ruby all figure in the rescue. From the opening lineup for tickets (with gypsy moths reading fortunes) though the accelerated final chapters (titled, caption-like, "The Big Fight," "Pawto-Paw," and "After the Melt"), a fast easy read with more punch than most. Read full book review >