Books by LInda Bronson

F IS FOR FIREFLIES by Kathy-jo Wargin
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2011

Wargin continues her series of seasonal alphabet books (K Is for Kite: God's Springtime Alphabet, 2010, etc.) with this exploration of summertime delights interwoven with a religious message. Each page includes the traditional format ("B is for boat") in large type along with two or four rhyming lines in smaller type and a relevant illustration. God is included in the text in simple, relevant ways ("God calms the seas"), and there is no mention of Jesus, so the book could be used by a wider audience than just Christian readers. The rhyming text reinforces concepts of kind and cooperative behavior as well as presenting God as a powerful and loving force in the natural world. The references to God in the text are not preachy, and not every page mentions God, so the religious content flows naturally within the story. Bronson's vibrant, jazzy illustrations in ripe-fruit shades are filled with sunny skies, imaginative flowers and flowing lines that suggest the lively nature of happy summer days. The pictorial story follows a family and its spotted dog as they take part in traditional summer activities, but the illustrator makes this ode to summertime soar. Her paintings are filled with motion and bright colors, with children who look like they must be laughing and having a great time enjoying the outdoors. A sunny celebration. (Picture book/religion. 2-5)Read full book review >
MY FIRST NUTCRACKER by E.T.A. Hoffman
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 13, 2007

In an introductory note to adult readers, Peters describes the evolution of the story and later ballet that have developed into an annual holiday tradition for most American ballet companies. Because so many young children attend this ballet, Peters developed a simplified version of the ballet's story specifically to prepare youngsters for understanding a performance. The story is told in simple sentences with a clear plot line and delineation of the characters and their transformations. Short segments of dialogue interwoven into the text will also help young ballet fans understand the relationships between the characters. Bronson's bold, flowing illustrations with a modernistic flair are a departure from sugarplum-sweet versions of the story. Her Godfather Drosselmeyer and the fighting mice are a little scary, as they are in many stage versions of the ballet, which will also help prepare children for an actual performance. Bronson uses a palette of deep jewel tones, with each page set off by a darker border that suggests the proscenium arch of the theater stage. The spreads illustrating the Land of Sweets shift into brighter shades, with swirling accents that effectively indicate the dancers in motion. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
THINK COOL THOUGHTS by Elizabeth Perry
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 27, 2005

Rich in subtle expressions of feeling and character, this visit to tar beach vividly conveys both the oppressive heat of summer and the warmth within an urban family. After Angel's mother and her visiting aunt puff their way up the stairs with an old mattress and some kitchen chairs, Angel lies under the stars, counting ice cubes, listening to the cadences of conversation: ". . . the rhythm of a question and an answer and a question and the beginning of another long, long story about someone she didn't know." Then she dreams of the buildings all around leaning together to talk "about the stars in the sky and the little streets like threads below them." Angel wakes to a magically lit dawn, and a rain shower that sets her to dancing and singing in her underwear, while the grownups laugh and harmonize. The lines in Bronson's flexible city scenes curve and sweep to match Angel's dance, behind broad, brown faces drawn in Chris Raschka-like planes, and in colors that melt from steamy daytime pinks and yellows to cooler evening blues and purples, and then to a mix of hues seen through big drops of rain. Readers will be counting ice cubes along with Angel, and feeling the same sense of refreshment. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
THE STORY OF HALLOWEEN by Carol Greene
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2004

Bonfires and full moons cast elongated, autumnal contact shadows in the glowing, curvy, stylized pictures that decorate this simple history of Halloween and its revelers. Beginning with the ancient Celtic/Druid tradition honoring summer's end, and briefly considering the traditions of the early Romans, the British, the Irish, and Americans, Greene touches on the evolution of some of the customs and conventions of the long-celebrated change-of-seasons festival. Superstition and spirits, pumpkins and pranksters are included in the 18 pages of text, along with three ideas for jack-o'-lanterns and eight riddles, among them: "What is a spook's favorite dessert? I scream." There is no new trick here (except, perhaps, for the author's assertion, unsubstantiated, that what readers may recognize as a lyric from the familiar carol, "Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat . . . " is indeed a traditional English Halloween ditty). It's Bronson's motion-filled, Miró-esque art of purples, oranges, yellows, and greens that's the treat. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
ALL YEAR LONG by Kathleen Deady
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 1, 2004

A cycle of seasons, illustrated in candy-heart-colored collages and observed through a child's eyes: "I know it's Spring when robins sing / and tulips give a nod, / When grass grows green / and bass are seen on Daddy's fishing rod." Constructed from cotton puffs, buttons, swatches of cloth or tissue, and the like, Bronson's art creates a stylized, fanciful world through which the pink-cheeked, pigtailed narrator dances, accompanied by parents (their gender roles clearly and conventionally defined) and a younger sibling. It's pretty—but the singsong text and natural detail that is stylized rather than accurately rendered, make this read-aloud more a bonbon than an intellectually or emotionally nourishing introduction to the annual round. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
MOE MCTOOTH by Eileen Spinelli
ANIMALS
Released: April 21, 2003

In this very sweet tale, Moe McTooth's an outdoor cat, and life is good . . . that is, until winter comes and he turns into a shivering, "hungry fur sack of a cat." To the rescue comes a young woman who carries Moe off to a pampered indoor life in her apartment, and once again, life is good. When reminders of his outdoor life beckon, however, Moe's heart stirs and off he goes. Life's no longer good; the young woman and Moe miss each other terribly. Moe eventually returns home to a delighted human and to a perfect compromise: He remains an indoor cat by day and outdoor denizen by night. In a charming twist at the end, the young woman herself feels the seductive charms of the night. One evening, she joins Moe in his nocturnal wanderings and they realize that life is good—together. Spinelli's spare, heartfelt language captures the essence of what's important in life, and Bronson's offbeat, curvy oils are as warm and fuzzy as Moe himself. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
HEY, DIDDLE, DIDDLE by LInda Bronson
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2003

This collection of nursery rhymes amazes in its comprehensiveness; favorites like the title rhyme and "London Bridge Is Falling Down" as well as relative unknowns are included here, all illustrated in fascinating three-dimensional collage incorporating paint, clay, and other items. Over 60 rhymes appear, sometimes three to a page, resulting in a design that's a bit crowded, but readers young and old will appreciate the sheer number. No one will get bored, even after multiple readings; it may even be more fun to open this at random and read only a few rhymes at a time than to read through from start to finish. The virtually tactile illustrations provide appealing accompaniment to the rhymes; bright colors add an especially fanciful note: Old Mother Hubbard's dog is adorned with purple spots, and cheerful greens, yellows, pinks, and oranges feature prominently in every spread. The most successful spreads are those featuring only one rhyme: the giant, pink-cheeked, purple-spotted cow flying across a baby blue sky with an orange cat on her back on the "Hey, Diddle, Diddle" page is remarkably striking. The clay figurines and textured brushstrokes resemble folk art and suit the topic of nursery rhymes perfectly, since the rhymes themselves are a form of folklore. Nursery rhymes are perennial favorites: this compendium is more complete and more charmingly illustrated than most. (Picture book. 2-7)Read full book review >
SLEIGH BELLS AND SNOWFLAKES by LInda Bronson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

Bronson (Just Think, 2001, etc.) selected 19 poems, including 11 traditional Christmas carols or well-known songs such as "Silver Bells" and "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas," each serving as a springboard for her unusual illustrations. The familiar holiday songs and a few less familiar poems are secondary to Bronson's stellar art, done in mixed-media collage using clay, paint, fabric, paper, and bits and pieces of ribbon, lace, fur, and trim. She uses elongated, stylized shapes in her work with a strong sense of motion: a little girl stretching to place the star on the top of the tree, angels stretching across a dark red sky, and a one-horse open sleigh with the horse ready to dash off the page. Bronson often uses a face in profile superimposed on the three-dimensional clay-sculptured head of a character, sometimes with one part of the face in a lighter shade and part in darker brown. Other characters fill an entire page: a huge Santa holding a child; the three wise men with glowing golden hats and wrapped gifts; a jolly snow man with real twig arms and a cloth scarf. Her whimsical collage style is bold and colorful, full of textures and motion. The poems and songs may be old chestnuts, but Bronson's art is as fresh and surprising as an unexpected snowfall. (Poetry. 2-6)Read full book review >
JUST THINK! by Bette Killion
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

Stylized art captures the life and seasons of a young teddy-bear-toting girl. When Mom wants her to walk quickly, she thinks of fast things and she is quick. When Mom—"or some other poke-along person"—wants her to walk slowly, she thinks of things that are slow: "trailing strings, elephants strolling." Finally, the "tip-toe" person invokes quiet "and I'm sleepy." While intended for younger listeners, older preschoolers can use their imaginations much like the little girl, drawing parallels with the simple actions she is asked to perform. Placement of people and objects make the viewer's eye sweep the page from left to right, training young eyes for reading. Flowing movement of falling leaves, apple trees, and groups of bees point toward the serene little girl and mirror her thoughts. Though one never completely sees mother, her presence is strongly felt as a comforting tie to family and universe. Useful as the last book read at a storytime or at bedtime as the little girl's fulfilling day comes to an end on a winter night. (Picture book. 3-4)Read full book review >
THE CIRCUS ALPHABET by LInda Bronson
ABC BOOKS
Released: May 1, 2001

Bronson earns high marks for dazzling visuals in her solo debut, even if the rhymed captions don't always measure up. Inviting viewers under the Big Top, she offers a succession of stylized circus performers bent into paired letters: a leaping Clown <\b>frames posed Dogs<\b>; a joey leans out from its mother's pouch to form a "K<\b>" next to two (striped?!?) Lions<\b>; a glittering Ringmaster <\b>places one foot forward and bends into an elegant bow to create his letter. Too many of the accompanying lines are just filler: "O is for outrageous, a true work of art. / P is for performer, just doing her part." But, crafted from modeling clay, paint, and inventively used craft items, and topped by Picasso-esque double faces, her long, skinny figures gesture and posture in grand style. The bright colors and eccentric forms command attention, and if children skip the text, they won't miss much. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
TEATIME WITH EMMA BUTTERSNAP by Lindsey Tate
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

There are many manuals on tea and tea parties, but Tate steps out of the lacy tablecloth variety to serve up a tea party within a story, told by the plucky young Emma Buttersnap. The excuse is a visit to her Aunt Pru in England, the precept, to learn about the history and origins of tea and tea-drinking as well as to present crafts, recipes, and hints for making the perfect cuppa. Instructions for making invitations, creating menus, and choosing teapots are outlined in Emma's conversational narration; Bronson shows her as a perky doll of a girl in her round-buttoned pink dress and rebellious braids. Predominant purples and pinks will appeal to the tea party set, as will the antics of casting tea overboard in imitation of the Boston Tea Party, or the sight of tea poured out from a pot atop Emma's head into cups atop the heads of her cats. The book can be read Ö la carte, with individual sections on preparing finger sandwiches and setting the table, or full service, where children can cozy up to Emma's story about her aunt's birthday, complete with a tea party fit for a queen. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
CROOKJAW by Caron Lee Cohen
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

This fanciful story has its roots in New England whaling lore, from a time when witches were thought to inhabit the bellies of the more vicious whales. As Cohen (Pigeon, Pigeon, 1992, etc.) tells it, Ichabod, a whaler of world-renown, runs up against the fabled whale, Crookjaw. After being flummoxed by the beast, Ichabod plunges down the whale's throat in response to a siren call and falls quickly under the spell of the witch therein. Ichabod's wife, Smilinda, takes to the sea to find her man, sizes up the situation, returns home to fashion a harpoon of silver (the only element capable of turning a witch to wood), and rows back to Ichabod, where they dispatch the witch. The focus is at first on the hero and then the heroine (whom Ichabod seems to have married when he was ten)—canny, resourceful Smilinda, the only character who really comes to life. With so much going on in so few words, the story never develops dramatic tension, and at one point the New England ambience dissipates due to Southern-sounding dialogue: ``That ain't no way to keep your britches dry,'' ``Git aloft,'' ``Jumpin' tadpoles!,'' and ``Lookie here.'' In her first picture book, Bronson's accomplished oil paintings recall Stefano Vitale's work, although Bronson takes more license with perspectives and is not entirely keyed in to the text: Crookjaw's mouth is fairly symmetrical in appearance, even with its complement of snaggled teeth. (Picture book. 5-9) Read full book review >