Books by Lisa Shulman

Released: May 1, 2007

The well-known children's song "Over in the Meadow" serves as the structure for this charming interpretation featuring a shy little swan and her ballet teacher, a cat named Miss Faye. The young swan has been cast in a main role in an upcoming ballet, but she is filled with all sorts of worries about her performing abilities. Miss Faye thoughtfully acknowledges each concern in turn while insisting that her student can indeed handle the role. All the steps of getting ready for a theatrical performance are described in succeeding verses: building the set, making costumes, rehearsals, getting dressed and dealing with stage fright. Massini's delightful illustrations in a muted palette are filled with charming details and a wide variety of animal characters, and she does an excellent job with some complicated perspective issues, showing the outdoor stage set and the audience from varying angles. The whole complex range of the performance experience is packed into this seemingly simple rhyming story with an engaging text that works equally well when read or sung to the traditional tune. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2007

Rosie wonders what the moon is made of; her cat purrs, "a saucer of fresh milk." And off they set to ask their other animal friends what they think. Hen cackles, "an egg and small shining chicks hatch from it to become stars"; Butterfly whispers, "it's made of sugar"; Dog licks his lips, "a round pat of sweet butter"; Mouse claims, "you're all wrong, it's made of white flour that the wind blows to make powdery clouds." Rosie says "Gram will know," and they all race back to the house where Gran proves they are all right as she takes each item and mixes them together and bakes moon-shaped cookies. The story is gentle and flavored with elements of other cumulative tales for a young audience. Broad images depict the scenes with bits of collage and patterned textures and Tomie dePaola-style faces. A sweet bedtime tale that's sure to elicit a cookie request. (recipe included) (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
THE MATZO BALL BOY by Lisa Shulman
Released: Feb. 1, 2005

This Passover version of "The Gingerbread Man" employs numerous Yiddishisms to tell the story of a runaway matzo ball boy as he escapes from the lonely bubbe (old grandmother) and her soup and then runs into and challenges the schneider (tailor), the yenta (village gossip), the rabbi, and a fox. Finally, he meets a poor man who invites the now weary and worn out matzo ball boy to a warm home where he's cleverly lured into another pot of chicken soup. As in the original, the repetitious refrain, "run, run, as fast as you can / you can't catch me. / I'm the matzo ball man!" follows the chase of the frantic and surprised characters who stand with upstretched arms and wide-opened mouths. Shulman interchanges man for boy for the sake of the rhyme and adds a bit of Jewish flavoring to the characters' reactions and dialogue. In an amusing twist, listeners or readers will not overlook matzo ball boy's sardonic reference to gingerbread. Litzinger's bright, colorful, rounded figures provide a shtetl and rural atmosphere to the very familiar story. (author's note, glossary of Yiddish words) (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

"Old MacDonald had a shop, E-I-E-I-O!" This Old MacDonald is not a he but a she, and a sheep as well. And she has a saw, "with a zztt zztt here and a zztt zztt there." As the farm animals come to help her, she gives them each a tool—drill, hammer, chisel, file, screwdriver, and paintbrush. As the refrain expands, cameos of the animals using the tools provide clues and build anticipation as to what they're making. It's evident they're all working on something and when the object is unveiled, it is a surprise—a toy wooden barn complete with animals and tractor. Wolff's gouache and pastel illustrations are custom made for the story's "wordworking" with cunning touches like Old MacDonald's flower-patterned carpenter's apron and her pierced ears, and baby animals peering in the doorway. The endpapers display a pegboard filled with labeled tools. Preschoolers will be delighted with the familiarity of the song, the new sounds to make, and with following each animal's participation, especially the mouse that picks up nails and cleans up wood shavings. A terrific idea measured and mitered to a tee, building a perfectly crafted book, one that will make a fun gift. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >