Books by Margaret Chamberlain

BOOM, BABY, BOOM BOOM! by Margaret Mahy
Released: Oct. 1, 2014

"One cool Mama, one cunning baby and five opportunistic animals—yum, yum, fun. (Picture book. 2-5)"
This reissue of Mahy's 1997 publication illustrated by Patricia MacCarthy rings with her familiar, infectious rhythm and repetition and is rejuvenated with new illustrations. Read full book review >
MADE BY RAFFI by Craig Pomranz
Released: Sept. 1, 2014

"A solid support for all children who don't fit an accepted mode of behavior. (Picture book. 4-7)"
A boy with a flair for fashion finds affirmation. Read full book review >
MY TWO GRANDADS by Floella Benjamin
Released: Nov. 1, 2011

"Cheery, brightly colored, cartoon-style illustrations reiterate the text, which, while a touch didactic, laudably expands on the typically monocultural depictions of families in picture books. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Benjamin and Chamberlain's picture book is squarely focused on family diversity as it tells the story of a biracial boy and his musical family in a companion to their earlier collaboration, My Two Grannies (2008). Read full book review >
I'M ME! by Sara Sheridan
Released: April 1, 2011

When Imogen arrives at her Aunt Sara's house for the day, she announces that she is ready to "play pretend." Aunt Sara runs wild with this idea, offering a series of suggestions, from a naughty monkey to a beautiful princess, a witch's cat to a pirate's parrot! Aunt Sara's ideas are depicted in almost psychedelic colors splashed across each page spread. Imogen occupies a narrow column in a contrasting color on the very edge of each right-hand page, from which she summarily rejects each suggestion. Children will no doubt enjoy this back and forth, from the zany suggestions of Aunt Sara to Imogen's rejection to an even more outlandish suggestion. The resolution to their dialogue, unfortunately, doesn't really work. In a confusing turn, Imogen finally announces what she wants to be—herself. She wants to go to the park, eat ice cream and then curl up with her Aunt Sara and enjoy some stories. This is a fine way to spend the day, no doubt, but in a story that seems intended to celebrate the imagination, it provides a most contradictory and unsatisfying conclusion. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
LION’S LUNCH?  by Fiona Tierney
Released: Jan. 1, 2010

This British import pits a spunky artist against a feline philistine with mixed results. When young Sarah is accosted by an angry lion, he demands to know her business. Protesting that she was just walking and singing, the lion informs her that in the jungle the animals all creep or run or sprint or slither. And as for her singing, far preferable are the growls, roars, yowls and pants of the other creatures. Though the lion has convinced himself that she does not belong and is therefore a viable foodstuff, Sarah insists that there is one thing she can do better than any animal: draw. Initially incensed by her picture of him, the lion is eventually convinced to change his angry ways and by the end Sarah is told that she is welcome to walk, sing AND draw whenever she likes. Not quite rhythmic enough to work as a large-group read-aloud, the book still makes for a satisfactory one-on-one experience. Chamberlain's comfortably jazzy art seeks to subdue the action rather than to surprise, nicely complementing the text. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
PINK! by Lynne Rickards
Released: Jan. 1, 2009

"Whoever heard of a pink penguin?" and "BOYS CAN'T BE PINK!" exclaims Patrick when he inexplicably wakes up covered in the pastel hue. After being teased at school, the young bird swims to the coast of Africa, where he finds hundreds of flamingos—boys and girls—all pink. While the flamingos skim their long, curvy beaks to catch fish, stand on one leg to take a nap and fly to their nesting ground at sunset, Patrick is left coughing and sputtering, hopelessly wobbling and all alone. His return to the South Pole elicits wonder and, finally, acceptance from his classmates—and himself. Chamberlain's stylized cartoon illustrations with vibrant splashes of color exaggerate the silliness and cheer as this penguin learns to march to the beat of his own drummer. For another look at unconventional penguins, pair with And Tango Makes Three. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
MY TWO GRANNIES by Floella Benjamin
Released: Oct. 1, 2008

Alvina loves her two grandmothers more than anything. Granny Vero is from Trinidad and tells Alvina about her childhood in the sun. Together, she and Alvina dance along to Calypso music. Granny Rose is from Yorkshire and has stories about riding donkeys on the English coast. When she plays brass-band music for Alvina, they dance, too. When Alvina's parents decide to go on vacation, Granny Vero and Granny Rose both want to take care of Alvina, who settles the situation by suggesting they all stay at her house. The visit looks to become something of a battle royal as each granny tries to take over, but some clever negotiating on Alvina's part and cooperation from the grannies saves the day. After all, despite their differences, they have a lot in common—each loves her granddaughter very much. Alvina is a spunky, biracial heroine whom readers will enjoy and appreciate. Chamberlain's bright, childlike illustrations capture all three worlds and add a gently humorous touch. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
PLEASE DON’T TEASE TOOTSIE by Margaret Chamberlain
Released: June 1, 2008

Tootsie's angry eyebrows on the cover say it all: Don't mess with the cat. It's best, alliteratively or otherwise, not to "provoke Poochie," "madden Mutley" or "disturb Dixie," either. Bitsy, a hidden bunny in an endpaper-sea of flowers, is not to be bullied, and don't even think about tickling Trixie the newt. This playful primer of pet protocol, first published in the UK, also suggests how to treat animals right—with a pat, some pampering and, in a favorite puppy couplet, "Mutley's here for you to dote on. / Will you put his new blue coat on?" (The dog's coat is cleverly foreshadowed as a gift-wrapped present in the "madden Mutley" scene.) The charming, expressive illustrations, saturated in colors from raspberry to pistachio, are both hilarious and sweet; on each spread, simple black lines capture a child either tormenting or coddling a pet. Love and kindness toward myriad animal friends crescendo to the grand finale: "We will stroke you, never poke you. / We love you, TOOTSIE CAT!" Eyebrows resume contented position. (Picture book. 3 & up)Read full book review >
IT’S MY SCHOOL by Sally Grindley
Released: July 1, 2006

Alice eagerly awaits the start of kindergarten, while older brother Tom is not so eager to have her attend the same school, more concerned about how she will embarrass him. Urged by Dad to be nice and watch out for his little sister, Tom is at first angry, then resentful, but dutifully comes to her aid at recess when she tearfully loses her Teddy to another child. He even plants "a great big kiss, right on her cheek" before returning to his friends. Expressive features highlighting both Tom's negativity and Alice's enthusiasm extend the message in animated mixed-media, brightly colored paintings that portray a typical day at school filled with multicultural schoolmates. An honest portrayal of first-day concerns from an older child's perspective, some rivalry and true sibling love. Including Dad as the parental focus is another realistic touch. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

This addition to the Read and Wonder series is a lighthearted survey of round shapes and, particularly, different types of circular motion. Each informal topic is discussed in playful verse (``But what if you twirl/a thinnish disk/until it's a perfect blur?/You'll find what you've made/in a ghostly way/is the every-way-round of a sphere'') and depicted in an appealing setting—an amusement park where rides demonstrate wheels, spirals, and ``Things that swing/in orbital rings''; a beach where rolled towels are cylinders, shells come in flat and conical spirals, and water ripples into concentric circles. Chamberlain's ebullient illustrations of children cavorting with springs or demonstrating the various principles are a fine complement sure to fascinate young readers. Logic doesn't always prevail (if a quantity of water were dropped into space it would become ice, not a spherical drop of liquid), but on the whole the ubiquity and utility of round things are explored engagingly and broadly. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4-10) Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 1993

Curled up in the teachers' room with her knitting and tea, Miss Cushy Butterpat is the epitome of dull; when she tells her class that, during vacation, she ``might stow away on a ship to South America, explore the jungle, live with a tribe of Indians, canoe down the river...'', they say, ``You do tell whoppers.'' But that's what she does, though her adventures, which comprise most of the book, are even more exciting, especially in Chamberlain's lively, cartoony illustrations. After a first-class journey home on a luxury liner, paid for with poker winnings from a wicked, pistol-packing bandit, Miss Butterpat goes back to school, where the other teachers don't bother to ask what she's been doing and her pupils don't believe her tale. One of two entries in the new Teachers' Secrets series (Jackie Vivelo's Mr. Scatter's Magic Spell, ISBN: 1-56458-201-9, is about an absent- minded teacher/magician), this is light fare that's liable to amuse primary-grade readers even if they don't take the comically exaggerated message about teachers to heart. (Young reader/Picture book. 5-9) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 30, 1993

Urgently, Scrimshaw telephones his mother for help: Wanda's left him with Sweeney, who's teething, and only some of his grandmother's cock-a-hoop honey cake will mollify him. Loading cake, meatballs, and some heavy, nutritious muffins into her backpack, Mrs. Oberon leaves her seven hungry cats and hops onto her trailbike. Her journey involves many kinds of transport- -rafting through rapids and alligators (diverted with meatballs); a plane menaced by "ice vultures" (the muffins weigh them down); etc. Meanwhile, Scrimshaw vainly tries to amuse Sweeney with his electic guitar, and is so exhausted by the time his mother quells the tyke that his next move is for the TV. No way. Pleasant but firm, Mrs. Oberon teaches her son to bake his own cake, then goes home to feed her cats. Lilting with wordplay, Mahy's tall tale is so good-humored that even a feckless father would be disarmed. Chamberlain's airy cartoons are equally cheery, with plenty of comic dividends—the alligators "trying to free their fangs" from the meatballs; huge, couch-potato Scrimshaw, beaming with pride over his first cake. A delight. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1993

In the antic spirit of The Blood-and-Thunder Adventure on Hurricane Peak (1989), another from the irrepressible New Zealander's past—published abroad in 1983, a farce involving a young man who escapes managing "Ye Olde Pyratte Shippe Tea Shoppe" to set sail with his staff, already suitably costumed, in the shop/ship, now christened the Sinful Sausage in honor of their hoped-for exploits. These never materialize, but virtually everything else does: dragons and orphans; missing persons, doubles, an amnesiac; a witch in a gingerbread house on a dessert island; villains, comic constables, and romance. There's almost too much going on, in fact, but, as is her wont, the redoubtable Mahy has a reason for everything, even the puzzle pieces her characters keep picking up along the way—in the end, they all fit together to explain the whole picture, with plenty of intriguingly unexpected bits. The characters are from stock, but since it's Mahy's stock, they have a sharp and distinctive flavor. There are some ongoing themes—libraries are mentioned, casually but frequently, as if they were normal amenities; the pirates, who learn to read midway, find illiteracy a major inconvenience; there are even offhand remarks about free will and determinism. But fun's the main event, in the form of an incredibly intricate plot and continuous wordplay and hilarity- -enough for a dozen more ordinary books. (Fiction. 9-12)Read full book review >