Books by Lee Christiansen

LOOKING FOR JAGUAR by Susan Katz
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2005

In the most compelling tour for younger children since Jane Yolen's Welcome to the Green House (1993), Katz presents 19 wonderfully evocative glimpses, mostly in rhyme, of rain-forest flora and fauna. Encountering huge spiders, rainbow-fledged birds, walking trees, a giant armadillo sporting a "hundred-tooth smile and his own suit of armor, / He's really a one-in-a-million-y charmer" and other memorable denizens, Katz transports readers to exotic, mysterious locales, "Where purple flowers float like butterflies, / We listen for the jaguar's grunting call. / The air's so hot and wet it's hard to breathe. / The darkness seems alive—it watches us." Using plenty of greens and yellows, Christiansen provides a dense, leafy setting through which a tiger and an immense anaconda glide, while a gigantic rafflesia flower swells on the ground, and birds and reptiles flit about the high canopies. Though she casts an occasional glance elsewhere, Katz generally stays in the South and Central American rain forests: Still, capped by specific notes and a tour of rain forests worldwide, her insights make essential reading for every child. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-11)Read full book review >
ON THIS SPOT by Susan Goodman
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2004

Goodman follows the midtown area of New York City from the present day backwards, in irregular increments, to the Paleozoic era, providing "snapshots" of evolution along the timeline. The conclusion conveys the notion of constant transformation coming full circle beyond the present—when things will be different still. Goodman keeps the information about each historic era brief but engaging: "20,000 years ago . . . glaciers were so thick they would have buried today's tallest buildings." Conceptually, this measures the brevity of human history (four double-paged spreads) against the expanse of natural history (the rest of the work). For a generation that is sensitive to global warming, Christiansen's pastels dramatize the climatic shifts, which could scarcely be more extreme. Full-bleed illustrations contain the words "170 million years ago . . . " at the upper left and "but on this spot . . . " at the lower right, giving readers both patterned repetition and a feeling of expectancy when turning the pages. With several points of access, this is not only illuminating but intriguing. (timeline, acknowledgements) (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-8)Read full book review >
WATER HOLE WAITING by Jane Kurtz
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 2002

A baby monkey awakens on the African savanna, eager for a trip to the watering hole. But Mama makes him wait as they watch a parade of animals take turns drinking. His cautious mother must physically restrain him with a pull on the tail or a grab at his neck to keep him from being eaten or trampled by the other animals. Some awkward phrasing: "The silence pokes at Monkey's ear," is balanced by internal rhyme that works well for read-aloud: "Sun cartwheels slowly up the sky, herding hippopotami. The grasslands fill with birdcalls, wails, a loud buzz-buzzing of insects, a great swish-swishing of tails." Soft-focus pastels convey the golden light and heat of the savanna. Close-ups of the creatures are sure to appeal to animal enthusiasts, although the monkeys, especially Mama, look depressed or angry. An author's note explains watering-hole protocol and the signaling system of the vervet monkeys portrayed in the story. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
TURTLE, TURTLE, WATCH OUT! by April Pulley Sayre
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

Considering the dangers a sea turtle faces, its life would be a "short story, or no story at all" without helping hands, according to this compelling narrative. Here that help begins before a little loggerhead even gets off the beach, as a child chases away marauding raccoons, places a wire cage over the buried clutch of turtle eggs, and later turns off a house light to prevent the new hatchling from crawling inland. The hazards don't end there, as the young turtle still faces not only natural predators, but also entangling fish nets and floating plastic bags that look like edible jellyfish. With each danger comes the refrain, "Turtle, Turtle Watch Out!," inviting listeners to take part in the story. Using a palette dominated by deep blues and greens, Christiansen creates spread-filling, dimly lit ocean scenes, viewing the turtle (generally head on) as she plugs along, feeding, growing, narrowly escaping one risk after another, returning at last to the beach where she hatched to lay eggs of her own. Sea turtles are a popular picture book topic, but the emphasis on protective measures and practices gives this an unusual slant. The afterword includes a conservation organization's address and information about how ordinary citizens are helping sea turtles survive. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >