Books by Marcy Ramsey

PATCHES AND SCRATCHES by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 2007

Sarah—the "Idea Girl"—Simpson uses her trademark ingenuity to solve a tricky problem for a friend in this third installment of the series. When her best friend Peter pines for a pup to call his own, Sarah takes on Mr. Gurdy, her building's curmudgeonly superintendent, as well as Peter's grandmother's misgivings, in an attempt to help her pal. However, it soon appears that Sarah may have finally come across an insurmountable problem when Peter stoutly refuses her substitute offerings of a goldfish and a turtle and the super won't bend on the building's "no dogs" rule. It is the timely arrival of an orphan animal in need that proves to be just the impetus for Sarah to unleash, as it were, her creative problem-solving abilities and discover the perfect solution. Ramsey's ink-and-wash illustrations complement the tale, adding humorous details to spark the reader's imaginations. The universal appeal of Sarah and her friend's kindhearted compassion, combined with her dogged determination to resolve dilemmas, will keep readers anticipating further adventures of the ever-resourceful Sarah. (Fiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
SIMPLY SARAH by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 2006

Naylor continues her series featuring "Idea Girl" Sarah Simpson in a pigeon disaster that takes place outside her Chicago apartment window. Sarah hopes to keep Coo and Cuckoo, occasionally perched on her ledge, as her own pets. But she's disappointed to discover their newly made nest in an old flower pot that rests on an opposite sill outside a neighboring apartment building. Making friends with the new Hispanic children living in the competing apartment, Sarah is determined to work something out. Her selfish concern for the birds, however, only escalates when a couple of aggressive pigeons attack their nest. Naylor masterfully creates parallel rivalry and a workable solution to both Sarah's distress and the birds' conflict in simple-to-read large print. Her assortment of young, multicultural city residents with Sarah leading the way will appeal to youngsters just making the transition into early chapter books. Ink-and-wash drawings add visual appeal. (Fiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
ANYONE CAN EAT SQUID by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2005

Eight-year-old Sara Simpson wants to do something extra-ordinary, but she thinks she's the most normal girl on the planet. She trades names with a friend in class when they have a substitute teacher, but that only results in a lower spelling-test grade. She thinks having a middle name will help, but her friends make suggestions like "Tornado" and "Taco." Her dad calls her the "Idea Girl," and she finally comes up with the perfect idea for saving her favorite restaurant. It not only works, but it also fulfills her wish that people would say, "Here comes Sarah Simpson!" Newbery Award-winning author Naylor enters Amber Brown territory with her newest series Simply Sarah. Sarah's a spunky, creative girl with a multicultural group of friends living in Chicago. Her mother's an artist and her father is away on business. Ramsey's watercolor illustrations are a nice complement even if they don't match the text in a couple places. The shelves might be full of similar series, but Sarah should find her fans with a little help. (Fiction 7-10)Read full book review >
IN OUR BACKYARD GARDEN by Eileen Spinelli
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2004

In a series of free-verse observations, a child tracks a year's changes in her extended family through episodes in her grandparents' garden. Along with routine chores, the year brings changes large and small, from a cousin's pierced new boyfriend (still, promisingly, around the following spring), to an older aunt's brief, disastrous driving lesson, a new job for Dad, a new baby, and a wedding. Despite holding enough plot for a novel, the poems seem as spacious as the well-tended setting, and Spinelli's language frequently takes flight. Responding to an ominous forecast on that wedding day, Grandpa "waves the weather-words away. / He tweaks my cheek. ‘Think sun,' he says. / ‘Think sun.' / And sun it is the whole sweet day. / The whole sweet day." Though she's evidently never seen a crocus, Ramsey offers busy but not overcrowded scenes featuring a multigenerational cast of generally, but not invariably amicable folk, working, playing, or just hanging out together in a succession of seasons. By the end, readers will feel like members of this engaging family. (Poetry. 7-10)Read full book review >
DARE TO BE, M.E.! by Anne LeMieux
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 1997

Storm clouds gather but don't stand a chance in this sunny, thematically encyclopedic follow-up to Fruit Flies, Fish & Fortune Cookies (1994). Though her friend Ben moves away just before the start of seventh grade, Mary Ellen Bobowick is delighted to learn that her bosom buddy, Justine, is returning from a year in Paris. Justine is changed, though, in several worrisome ways; in the wake of her parents' separation she has become self-deprecating, especially about her nonexistent weight problem. In a story filled with subplots and modeled behavior, LeMieux offers a primer for students entering junior high: the rotating schedule, heavy-duty homework, a class in self-esteem (``Dare To Be Different!!! Dare To Be Yourself!!!''), cafeteria food, classroom politics (Mary Ellen runs for homeroom rep), first dates, first kiss. A veritable sheaf of issues are covered: nose rings, the damage fashion photography and dolls do to a girl's body image, bullies, and vanishing rainforests. By the end, all skies are blue again- -Mary Ellen has a string of triumphs and good deeds to her credit, Justine is seeing a therapist for an eating disorder, and her parents are thinking of getting back together. The Bobowicks aren't quite the Krupniks, but they're well worth a visit, and the lessons slide down easily. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 10-12) Read full book review >
TOP WING by Matt Christopher
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 1, 1994

In his latest sports story, Christopher skates the edge of self-parody. Dana is being ostracized by members of the Hammerville Anchors; consequently, the team is losing game after game. His father's in the hospital, badly injured while rescuing Dana's best friend Benton from a burning house, but Benton—rather than showing gratitude—is spreading a rumor that Dana's father is responsible for the fire. The author provides more than enough clues that Benton is hiding something: shifty behavior, a persistent cough, a mysterious box that he disposes of after the fire while a neighbor secretly films him. Yes, he's taken up cigarettes (``I got hooked,'' he confesses when Dana confronts him) and it has not only affected him on the playing field but has resulted in his burning the house. His horrified parents rush him off to therapy; the Anchors once again become a winning team. Christopher's handling of underlying issues is uncharacteristically exaggerated; still, his soccer action is dependably fast and furious. (Fiction. 8-11) Read full book review >