Books by Marion Dane Bauer

THE STUFF OF STARS by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: Sept. 4, 2018

"Wow. (Picture book. 3-8)"
The stories of the births of the universe, the planet Earth, and a human child are told in this picture book. Read full book review >
WINTER DANCE by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: Nov. 7, 2017

"An exemplary addition to the shelves of nature-themed picture books. (Picture book. 3-6)"
As winter begins to set in, a curious fox wonders what he ought to do. Read full book review >
LITTLE CAT'S LUCK by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"Excellent for young readers and all cat lovers. (Verse fiction. 7-12)"
This little cat's luck turns out to be dependent on the kindness of strangers, and that, most satisfyingly, connects back to her own unerring kindness. Read full book review >
CRINKLE, CRACKLE, CRACK by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: April 1, 2015

"A new perspective on the 'arrival of spring' theme best suited to blond, pink-skinned readers. (Picture book. 4-7)"
Bauer's imaginative first-person romp puts (some) readers right into the story, inviting them to journey with the animals in the moonlight to welcome spring. Read full book review >
HALLOWEEN FOREST by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: Oct. 1, 2012

"Elegantly designed, this collaboration shows a great respect for children's sensibilities regarding the fine lines between fear, fun and bravery. This title should be at the top of the book pile come autumn. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Veteran Bauer sends an intrepid trick-or-treater into a deliciously creepy forest full of fantastical frights and rattling menaces. Read full book review >
LITTLE DOG, LOST by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: May 1, 2012

"A perfect selection for pet lovers new to chapter books and anyone who just enjoys a cheerful dog story. (Verse fiction. 8-12)"
When her loving family—especially the boy who kisses her on the lips—moves to the city, Buddy is re-homed with a clueless though kind woman while a dog-loving boy yearns for a mutt of his own. Read full book review >
DINOSAUR THUNDER by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: May 1, 2012

"This book's big brother provides just the ticket for riding out scary times. (Picture book. 3-6)"
In this perceptively illustrated take on a common theme, an older brother's comment does more than all the supposed comfort offered by grownups to dispel a child's fear of thunder. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 23, 2011

"This early chapter book sets up the premise for Zoey's story and, more importantly, prepares children for the sometimes prickly task of growing up. (Doll fantasy. 6-9) "
Rose finds a china doll abandoned in the attic in a tale that builds on the themes found in The Velveteen Rabbit. Read full book review >
THE GOLDEN GHOST by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: March 22, 2011

This ghost story by Bauer is a companion chapter book to her previous titles, The Blue Ghost, The Red Ghost and The Green Ghost (2005, 2008, 2008) and features an animal ghost—a golden dog. Out of boredom, Delsie and pal Todd decide to visit the supposedly haunted houses that were abandoned when the old cement mill shut down. They find one door that opens and evidence of someone living there, which spooks them. When they see an old man walking in the road, they know he's the one. By his side is a sparkling, golden shape, the old man's dead dog, now a ghost, but Delsie is the only one who can see it. She has longed for a dog but can't have one because her father is allergic to animals (up to and including groundhogs, as his tired, old joke goes). Opening with the dog's thoughts as she paces waiting for someone to see her, Bauer sets up the premise, and, of course, in the end the ghost dog comes to stay with Delsie. Credibility is strained, but kids reading this short chapter series won't mind. (It is one of the long-standing Stepping Stones series of early readers and chapter books.) Each of these "color" ghost stories features different characters and gimmicks, sure to make fans want more. Could purple be next? (Ghost story. 7-9)Read full book review >
THANK YOU FOR ME! by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: March 23, 2010

Bauer offers a simple celebration of self suitable for babies and toddlers that identifies basic body parts and functions with gentle, rhyming text that uses just a few words per page. Midway through the book, the children use their "two hands to pray," moving on to say thank you for all those body parts and concluding, "thank you for me." The fluid rhythm and graceful rhyme make it a useful choice for babies just moving into longer books. Stephenson's watercolors follow the gentle mood of the text with soft colors, rounded shapes and smiling children enjoying pleasant experiences such as dancing, twirling with a hula hoop and playing music. Her illustrations use lots of white space and not too many background details, so youngsters can focus on the children in the illustrations without too many distractions. Though God is not actually mentioned in the text, this understated offering can serve as an introduction to prayer for toddlers and their families. (Picture book/religion. 1-3)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 23, 2010

Imagine you're a four-foot-tall girl visiting a Grandmother that you never knew you had and you find a beautiful, 100-year-old doll that comes alive in your hands. Imagine you're a three-and-a-quarter-inch ceramic doll who is a princess and whose new servant girl, Zoey, is the third generation to bring you to life with tears. Imagine a fanciful, doll-coming-to-life story that turns into a disturbing tale of abandonment. An intrusive narrator poses questions to readers and sets up the dual point of view. Zoey and her mom's arrival at Grandma Hazel's immediately starts with arguing and tension. Zoey avoids the spitefulness by playing with the doll. Just 22 pages from the end, Zoey, and readers, realize what's happening, as she watches her mom get in the car and drive away without a hug or kiss, just the words, "I need to be by myself"—the only clue to this betrayal was that her mom didn't bring a suitcase. That the story takes place in one day lends immediacy, but young girls expecting a sweet doll story are likely to be shocked by the abrupt ending, which leaves no hope or happiness. Sayles's final art not seen. (Doll fantasy. 6-9)Read full book review >
THE CHRISTMAS BABY by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: Oct. 6, 2009

A charming, poetic text is marred by Cowdrey's over-sweet illustrations in this Nativity story that celebrates the miracle of birth, not only of the Christ Child but of all babies. The story is told in traditional, linear fashion as Mary and Joseph find their way to the stable, and the illustrations for these initial spreads are polished and professional. Several later spreads show the assembled animals breaking into wide grins like an animal chorus line, followed by floating cherubs with blissful grins and oversized halos and wings. These illustrations of the animals and the angels detract from the text rather than enhance it, though some readers won't object to the appeal to Cute. The concluding pages connect the birth of a modern baby, with all the attendant joy and family celebration, with the birth of the Christ Child. (Picture book/religion. 3-5)Read full book review >
THE LONGEST NIGHT by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: Sept. 1, 2009

On the longest night of the year, when snow covers all and darkness rules, woodland creatures wonder who will be the one to bring back the sun. A crow caws he will wake the sleeping sun with his sharp beak. A moose cries he will scoop the sun with his antlers while a fox barks he will toss the sun back into the sky with his teeth. But when the wee chickadee sings her song, the sun listens, smiles and returns to the sky. Relying on repetition and onomatopoeia to create memorable images of the crow, moose, fox and chickadee trying to rouse the sun, Bauer's poetic text reminds readers that endings are often beginnings and the ordinary can be extraordinary. Working primarily with a limited palette of blues and browns, Lewin's watercolor illustrations evoke the deep darkness of winter woods illuminated by moonlight. Remarkable close-ups of the crow, moose, fox and chickadee convey their natural power and almost magical beauty. A harmonious pairing of verbal and visual images sends a strong message of affirmation. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
ONE BROWN BUNNY by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: Feb. 1, 2009

A bright-eyed little bunny looks for playmates to share a sunny day in this engaging, energetic counting rhyme. Coupled with Bates's bright, dynamic illustrations that place a curious, slightly rumpled protagonist in an inviting forest landscape, the text bounces along cheerfully as Bunny searches for friends to join him, finding two red birds, three black bears and other progressively larger groups of colorful forest inhabitants. He finds fish, snakes, bees and flowers in turn but like the clouds and butterflies, all are unresponsive or busy. Bunny is discouraged. Is he really all alone? Of course not! Young children will delight in the final surprise and identify readily with Bunny's plight as they soar along with the catchy rhyme, study the appealing pictures, identify common animals, objects and colors and practice numbers from one to ten. A strong selection that showcases many basic concepts in an entertaining, fun-filled manner, and a solid choice for school or home. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
THE RED GHOST by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: April 22, 2008

Known for her ghostly tales, Bauer has successfully opened a trap door for transitional readers who want a scary—but not too scary—story. This companion to The Blue Ghost (2005), part of the Stepping Stones series, features an old doll dressed in red velvet that Jenna finds at a neighbor's garage sale. It's just the gift she needs for her younger sister's birthday, and the neighbor even gives it to her for free! But when Jenna's cat hisses and attacks the doll, and strange sounds come from it in her closet, she tries to get rid of it, even putting it in a garbage can. Is the muted voice calling for help coming from the doll? Why won't Mrs. Tate take the doll back? Is the doll haunted or haunting? Ferguson's sketchy black-and-white drawings decorate the text, but it's the eerie plot that will have girls racing to the end, and even looking at old dolls with widened eyes. Bauer's hit on a perfect formula, and like Andrew Lang with his Fairy Books, she has many more colors to go. (Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: July 10, 2007

Like The Blue Ghost (2005), Bauer's latest is a well-written beginning chapter book with plenty of suspense and mystery to keep young readers turning pages. After she and her family move into a new home, Emily is delighted to discover a playhouse in the forest behind the house. The strange thing is that there is a forest painted inside of it. . .and inside that painting, another playhouse. . .ad infinitum. As if this isn't scary enough, Emily's little brother Logan steps into the painting and is lured further and further into a series of identical painted worlds by Penelope, the girl, now dead, to whom the original playhouse had once belonged. While this rather gothic offering has the potential to scare or confuse some younger readers, it's ideal for those braver souls intrigued by the eerie and the supernatural. There is also a valuable message woven into the tale, as Emily learns through this scare just how very important are the ordinary, even annoying things in her life, such as her little brother. (Fiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
Released: May 21, 2007

Five distinctly adult stories explore coming of age in 1950s Illinois. Tracing Claire from age 11, when she befriends a black girl and learns to recognize her segregated world for what it is, to age 15, when she peeps at a half-naked teacher (and later shares a bed with her), leading to an uncomfortable recognition of Claire's own sexuality, these autobiographical tales are tinged with nostalgia and a sense of a world long gone. The short-story format detracts from Bauer's skilled and graceful writing; many characters appear only in glimpses, leaving them seemingly half-finished and inconsistent—but as an independent story each piece is perfectly executed. Unfortunately, this will have limited appeal for children and teens; indeed, the final story, which has genuine teen appeal in its sensitive depiction of budding sexuality and discomfort, is unlikely to be accessible to most readers, and the title story, in which Claire's mother kills their pet cat, is genuinely disturbing in its placid observations. (author's note) (Fiction. 13+)Read full book review >
A MAMA FOR OWEN by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: March 27, 2007

The story of the baby hippopotamus named Owen who adopted Mzee, a century-old tortoise, as his mother, caught the world's imagination after the tsunami of 2004. Here, veteran author Bauer makes a sentimentalized version of the tale. Owen loves to play hide-and-seek with his mama, but the tsunami washes away all he knows and all those who know him. When he sees the giant tortoise, which seems to be the same color as his mama, Owen snuggles down next to him. He follows Mzee, swims, eats and plays hide-and-seek with him. Butler's acrylics-and-colored-pencil pictures are awash in pale and shadowy or rosy and golden tones, and the pictures give the animals soft and human expressions without quite anthropomorphizing them. The story is dramatized more fully, although with almost no words, in Jeanette Winter's Mama (2006), and told with photographs and a fine narrative text in Owen & Mzee (2006), by Craig Hatkoff and his daughter Isabella. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
THE BLUE GHOST by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: July 26, 2005

Liz is trying to help her grandmother prepare the family's old log house for sale. She's her grandmother's guardian angel as she helps with the packing and reminiscing. Though Liz is sad to part with the home, her sadness turns to fear when strange things start happening. First, it's the girl in the blue dress, then it's the talking and singing behind the wall and then, one afternoon after a nap, Liz walks through the wall and joins the voices. She becomes a guardian angel to her great-great grandmother, young Elizabeth. Poor Elizabeth is trying to care for her brothers, including the desperately ill Matthew. By being in the right place at the right time with the right remedy, Liz is able to save her namesake and ensure her own future. With easy-to-follow twists and turns, Bauer spins a spooky time-travel story for the youngest readers that will keep them interested without giving them nightmares of their own. A welcome addition to the venerable Stepping Stone series. (Fiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
A BEAR NAMED TROUBLE by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: May 23, 2005

Ten-year-old Jonathan is lonely, waiting for his mother and little sister to join him and his father, the new keeper at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, but no lonelier than the three-year-old brown bear whose mother has abandoned him. They connect when the bear, wounded and desperately searching for food, runs blindly into town, visits Jonathan's back deck, and then tunnels into the zoo where he kills a goose, the boy's favorite. If he can't be captured in the zoo, a ranger will kill him as a nuisance bear. Does he deserve that? Once again, Bauer asks her readers to think about our responsibilities for others' lives. Basing her story on an actual incident, Bauer intertwines the two stories, emphasizing the bear's wildness. She weaves in facts about brown bears without interrupting the flow of the narrative. She does the same thing with the fact that Jonathan's sister, the only one who really appreciates his empathy with animals, uses a wheel chair to get around. A charming, deceptively simple story with special appeal for animal lovers. (Fiction. 8-11)Read full book review >
IF FROGS MADE WEATHER by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: April 1, 2005

Using an array of patterned, textured papers, Donohue creates colorfully dappled collage scenes for this child's rumination on what the weather would be like if different animals controlled it. Bauer's associations are sometimes rather free: Yes, frogs would have it wet; for robins, it would be perpetual, worm-rich spring; and "If flies made weather, / every day would be hot, hot, hot. / All the food would rot, rot, rot"—but would turtles really prefer to "snap their / doors shut and smile / in the dry dark" while lightning flashed outside? Or geese to see frosty lawns and hear the sky "sigh / with the lonely cry of / ‘Going. Going. Gone' "? Dancing off to bed, surrounded by animal toys, the child closes by claiming all weathers for his own. Bauer turns the rhyming on and off like a switch, but she introduces a thought-provoking theme for young poetry readers or listeners to consider. (Picture book/poetry. 5-7)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2004

Just in time for Father's Day, Newbery Honor author Bauer offers a companion to My Mother Is Mine (2001). Here, animal daddies demonstrate paternal nurturing qualities while providing safety and shelter for their offspring in simple ways that are certain to resonate with young readers. For example, a father robin brings a crunchy and sweet breakfast of worms to the nest; a gorilla gently combs his baby's hair so it's fresh and neat; and a wolf comforts his crying cub. Mothers will especially appreciate the acknowledgement that "some [fathers] take care or your mama, so she can take care of you." Wu's dramatic illustrations of animals in their natural habitat display fantastic color, depth, and feeling, providing the perfect complement to the sentimental text. A beautiful celebration of fathers of all species, complete with a separate greeting card to share. (Picture book. 1-5)Read full book review >
THE DOUBLE-DIGIT CLUB by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: April 1, 2004

When nine-year-old Sarah's best friend Paige deserts her at the beginning of the summer to join the hated "Double-Digit Club"—only for those girls who have turned ten—a miserable season looms. Rather than seeking alternative fun, as her mother suggests, Sarah instead sulks, turning to Lois Lowry books and Miss B., her elderly blind neighbor, for diversion. A classic Bauer struggle with conscience ensues when Sarah, on an illicit trip upstairs, discovers Miss B.'s treasured antique doll and "borrows" it, thinking to use it to win Paige back—with entirely predictable results. Sarah emerges as a distinct character, bossy (and blissfully unaware of it), headstrong, and with a gift for language: she paints "word pictures" for Miss B. and always has the nom juste for a new doll. The territory this slim volume covers is familiar enough, but Bauer, as usual, covers it well. Sarah's wrestling with her better self is thoroughly believable, as is the nasty cliquishness that leaves her on the outside looking in. It's a small work, with small aspirations, but what it does, it does nicely. (Fiction. 7-11)Read full book review >
SNOW by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: Nov. 1, 2003

Bauer provides a simple explanation of snow in this beginning level easy reader, the second in a series of weather-themed volumes from this team. The text explains cloud formation, snow crystal formation and size, and snow's place in the water cycle, all in just a few simple sentences. Wallace provides charming watercolor illustrations of two children and a gray dog waiting for the snow and then having fun skating and sledding together. The younger child helps the main character to build a snowman on the cover, and both are so bundled up against the cold (in gender-neutral winter wear) that the reader can't be sure if the children are boys or girls. Bold blobs of white paint serve as the snowflakes against wintry blue skies, and the scenes of spring weather with melting snow include snow-capped peaks with pink and orange shadows or reflections splashed across the mountains. First- and second-grade teachers will find this useful in the classroom for science as well as for the easy reader shelves. (author's note) (Easy reader. 5-8)Read full book review >
WHY DO KITTENS PURR? by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: March 1, 2003

Playful verses explore the mysteries of the animal kingdom with the wide-eyed wonder of a child. Bauer's (Runt, 2002, etc.) simple rhymes form a tongue-in-cheek lesson on the whys and wherefores of animal behavior. The animals featured are an engaging blend of creatures of high-interest to the preschool set. She examines a puppy's wagging tail, a lion's ferocious roar, some squeaky mice, and hibernating bears. The format of the text follows a set pattern in which an observation about the natural world is presented as a basic question, with answers that are sometimes fanciful and other times factual. Bauer even arranges the responses into clever riddles for readers to decipher: "Why do spiders spin? To make a plate to keep their dinner in." Cole's (City Chicken, Jan. 2003, etc.) colored-pencil and acrylic illustrations pull the tale together, featuring a young boy wandering through his house and encountering the varied fauna described in the verses. Cole's paintings are at their best when they blend the reality of the boy's life with the fantastical images of the animal antics: a humongous lion lounges next to the kitchen table, holding a bowl labeled "kitty," a tree branch grows into the child's bedroom through a window, and frogs hop down stairs that end in a lily pond. Full of fun, Bauer's tale is just right to share with fledgling naturalists. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
RUNT by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: Oct. 21, 2002

Runt is the name given to the smallest and last-born pup in the litter by King, his father. Although treated kindly by his family and the rest of the pack, Runt constantly feels the need to prove himself. His sisters and brothers are each named for a particular skill or attribute, like Hunter, Helper, and Sniffer. Runt doesn't seem able to measure up and worries that he will always be an outsider, tolerated but not needed. He experiences uncertainty and pain and loss as the pack strives for survival. Although it does not seem to be Bauer's intention, these very human emotions are the most successful element of the work. The plot is overly contrived, setting up a neat lesson about the habits and needs of wolves, including hunting practices and dangers, fighting for the position of pack leader, and relationships to humans and other creatures. In an afterword, the author provides much additional information about wolves and their habits and strongly indicates that her sole purpose in creating Runt's story is to enhance readers' empathy for these endangered creatures. She also includes a bibliography that will lead readers to accurate information about wolves as well as fictional works that succeed far better than this one. (Fiction. 8-10)Read full book review >
LOVE SONG FOR A BABY by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

The lyrical verses of this tribute to all the things there are to love about a baby, begins as a mother tells her young son about his earliest days. Tiny hands, perfect toes, rounded features, and even burps become beautiful when viewed through a parent's loving eyes. Text accompanied by a small illustration faces each full-page painting of the cherubic baby. From a portrait of the expectant parents, through the newborn weeks, to the first hesitant steps of the toddler, this follows the development of one small boy. The mother relates to her young child all the things that there were to love about him as a baby. A final painting features the family in an embrace. An expressive baby full of grins and bright eyes beams out from each oil painting. Parents and grandparents alike will recognize the shy smiles, impish looks, and proud grins. Unfortunately, the uninspired text seems a bit too icky-sweet for even the most tearful young mother. Instead of being simply repetitive, it quickly becomes droning. Fortunately, the beautiful illustrations need no addition for them to shine. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
FROG’S BEST FRIEND by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: March 15, 2002

Bauer and Hearn (Turtle Dreams, 1997) pair up for their second easy reader about a group of forest friends, this time with the addition of an overbearing frog that wants to claim Turtle as his best friend while excluding the other animals. Turtle tries her best to remain friends with everyone, artfully avoiding Frog's exclusionary tactics. When a bear cub arrives on the scene, all of Turtle's friends play a part in rescuing her, and she wisely concludes, "A turtle can't have too many best friends." Bauer skillfully works quite a bit of characterization and humor into her plot, which offers some spot-on comments about friendship applicable to the intended first- and second-grade audience. The text, written at the 2.4 grade level, is set in a large typeface with generous white space, and the story is logically divided into short chapters with a variety of illustration sizes and placements just right for this level. Hearn's appealing animal characters add considerable charm to the whole, with a bossy frog, earnest turtle, inquisitive bear cub, and furious mother bear arriving on her hind legs to claim her baby. Though Frog and Turtle don't rise to the stellar level of the Frog and Toad series, more of their group's adventures would be welcome additions to the easy reader shelves. (Easy reader. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 15, 2001

A young girl explores the fantasy of what she could do if she had the trunk of an elephant, the feet of a fly, the tongue of a snapping turtle, the jaw of a snake, or the spinnerets of a spider. Then she glories in what she can do with her human nose, legs, and mouth. Writing as smoothly as she did in Sleep, Little One, Sleep (1999), Bauer offers the possibility of a storytime movement segment in which children could pretend to be the various animals. She also presents a glimpse of animal behavior. At one point, the little girl holds a lizard's tail that has broken off in order to facilitate escape. "If you had a tail like a lizard's, you could never be caught in a game of tag." Creative teachers could spin off into a discussion of the phenomenon. But the lizard's small light-brown tail held in the little girl's beige hand can only be seen close up, making this less effective for a group. Unfortunately for the concept of glorifying the human child, Winter's (Toddler Time, 2000, etc.) pretty children are all standard-issue Caucasians, not a child of color or limited ability among them. Compare this to Jean Marzollo's and Jerry Pinkney's Pretend You're a Cat (1990) and know that this is a truly missed opportunity. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
MY MOTHER IS MINE by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: April 1, 2001

In a sweetly sentimental ode to motherhood, with a gently rhyming text, Bauer (Grandmother's Song, 2000, etc.) extols the virtues of Mom, as seen through the eyes of a bevy of animal babies. The infants' encomiums reflect the distinct attributes of their particular species; a tiger cub's mother is strong while a ewe is soft, and a giraffe's mom is "tall and tall and tall." Bauer's simple text is a celebration of the multitude of tiny acts that define motherhood: loving hugs, watchful care, goodnight kisses. Elwell's softly hued, pastel illustrations radiate warmth; slightly blurred images artfully reflect the loving bonds between mother and child, regardless of the species. Each two-page spread contains an accolade printed in oversized text on a delicately colored background rendered in a palette of twilight colors: translucent lavender, soft sage, luminescent blue. On the facing page is a full-color, full-bleed illustration depicting a different mother and child. Elwell's studies encompass an array of animal life, both domestic and wild, featuring docile sheep, howling wolves, and leaping kangaroos, culminating in a tender portrayal of a human mother/daughter pair. This reverent tribute to a mother's devotion also serves to remind mothers of the extraordinary way their children perceive them. An inviting tale: just perfect for cozy moments and quiet read-alouds. (Greeting card included) (Picture book. 1-5)Read full book review >
GRANDMOTHER’S SONG by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

Bauer's (Jason's Bears, p. 627, etc.) latest effort is a sentimental tribute to motherhood, both her own and her daughter's. She expresses in loving and poetic words her emotions on the birth of her own child and then her feelings about the birth of that child's son, her grandchild. Borrowing from the fairy-tale tradition of "Once upon a time," she tells her own story as "Long ago, when rain was wet, and the moon waxed and waned" her daughter "sprouted like a mushroom in the secret dark." That daughter grew and "Then . . . a little while ago, when elephants were large and hives dripped honey," another baby "grew inside my heart." "My grandson . . . welcome to the world." Other language is evocative, likening the baby in the womb to blooming "like fragrant bread filling an oven." The phrases describing behavior when her daughter was born—"I held her, I rocked her, I counted her fingers and kissed her nose"—are repeated after the birth of her grandson and will resonate with new mothers and grandmothers. Rossi, in her debut as a children's-book illustrator, creates gentle, soft pastels that fill the pages with the light and color of the natural world and convey the mood and the wonder of the miracle of birth more effectively than the words. A beautifully illustrated celebration of birth. (Picture book. 1-5)Read full book review >
JASON'S BEARS by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: April 1, 2000

A child finds courage in a cookie and exacts sweet revenge on a pesky big brother, in this triumphant tale. Jason dotes on "the big of bears, the brave of bears, the nobodybettermesswithme of bears"—until brother Kurt tells him about the toenibbling bear in the back yard, the one in the basement that likes noses, and the big one right under his bed. However, Kurt's effort to cap the head game with a fierce looking gingerbread bear (recipe included, happily) backfires. Jason's fear disappears with the cookie, and as he chomps, off he stomps to roust out the lurking beasts. Lighting his scenes to create dark corners and looming shadows, Hawkes (Weslandia, 1999, etc) not only captures Jason's intense, though temporary, anxiety, but also provides actual bears for him to chase away—or in the case of the one under his bed, to suggest a move to under Kurt's. Children, especially those with overactive imaginations, will be cheered by Jason's refound boldness, and will understand perfectly well from whence it really springs. (Picture book. 68)Read full book review >
AN EARLY WINTER by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: Aug. 23, 1999

A leaden, purposeful tale of a child encountering the reality of Alzheimer's. Tim has ferociously denied that anything is wrong with his beloved grandfather, but he quickly learns otherwise on a clandestine fishing trip. Although his grandfather exhibits flashes of his old self, he can't make change at the bait store, forgets to pack fresh water or a net, and experiences sudden, frightening mood changes. Worst of all, he keeps withdrawing into an eerie, silent helplessness, and finally walks off into the night, abandoning Tim and the camper. Bauer leaves out pointed lectures and clinical information about the disease to focus on its emotional impact on the victim and those around him. That focus wavers with the sudden, gratuitous revelation that Tim's long-vanished father was exiled from the family for being a cocaine addict; still, Tim's experience with his grandfather may convince readers with Alzheimer's-stricken relatives that denial serves no purpose, and that the only response may be to surround the victim with loving, responsible family. (Fiction. 10-12) Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 15, 1998

This easy-reader entry from Bauer (Alison's Fierce and Ugly Halloween, 1997, etc.) tells the story of a frosty, magical night in the forest that gives Cat a new reverence for all babies, regardless of their species. Hungry and shivering, Cat has been left outdoors by her owners on Christmas Eve. A fortuitous encounter with a naive young mouse means dinner, but Cat is first roped into explaining what Christmas is to the forest creatures. Cat experiences a quick reversal of fortunes when she becomes a prospective meal for grouchy Bear, who has been roused out of hibernation. A frantic explanation about the special Christmas baby leads Bear, Mama Mouse, and Cat to reflect on the miracle of babies, and Cat is invited into the mice's home to await morning. Separated into six easy chapters and designed for emerging readers, the book has an element of uncertainty to keep children engaged, and will also entertain a more accomplished audience. Hearn's plentiful full-color illustrations vividly portray the action and tenderness of the tale in a realistic style. A unique—even surprising—holiday story that locates the real spirit of Christmas. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
IF YOU WERE BORN A KITTEN by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

Aspects of the birth process of a variety of animals are described in an inventive, often poetic text. The book begins: ``If you were born a kitten, you'd slip into the world in a silvery sac, and your mother would lick, lick, lick you free.'' For each creature—seahorse, chicken, porcupine, whale, opossum, snake, bear, mouse, elephant, and frog—Bauer (Alison's Wings, 1996, etc.) provides brief factual content in the ``If you were'' construction. The choice of the animals becomes clear when readers see the array of stuffed animals owned by the human baby to which this story is uttered. The pictures are always warm, conveying a sense of place that varies from woodsy locales to underwater habitats. Pastels on gray paper and Stammen's strong, scoured lines mute the representations of the parents and children, complementing the dreamy, melodious text. A perfect bedtime book, this also provides some simple answers to those first questions on reproduction. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

In this third book about Alison (Alison's Wings, 1996, etc.), she and her friend Cindy dress as pirates for Halloween, and are unhappy when no one is frightened by them. When an old woman declares her ``cute,'' Alison's frustration gives way to a foolish act: She throws a handful of pebbles at the woman's door. The next day she confesses and cleans up. This dull entry will convince few emerging readers to go on to Bauer's more challenging works; the plot is a door-to-door description of the trick-or-treat trail, without conveying any of the suspense of Halloween. Those who haven't met Alison previously will have no sense of her character, and the repeated use of the phrase ``fierce and ugly'' becomes a strain. (illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 6-8) Read full book review >
ALISON'S WINGS by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: April 22, 1996

Ignoring everyone's skepticism, Alison is sure that ``girl wings'' are about to poke out of her shoulder bumps. They do, sort of, but only when she's asleep. This entry in the Chapters series is simply and sparely written, but the episodes too often have disappointing outcomes. Brother Mike tells Alison to try flying off the porch; he amuses himself but all she gets is a bandaged knee. A playmate seems to share Alison's dream of flight, but gives up easily. Her parents surprise her with an airplane ride; she suffers through it silently and then smiles politely afterward. In the most satisfying chapter, Grandpa installs ``the nicest swing in the world'' on top of a hill: ``Here you are. Wings for a girl.'' But Alison will accept no substitutes, and the book ends much as it began, as she sinks into a nighttime dream of flying. Well-crafted, but prosaic and downbeat. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 6-8) Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1995

In a text as spare as haiku, Bauer (Am I Blue, 1994, etc.) tells of a camping trip that includes roasting hot dogs, catching a fish (and letting it go), and taking in the natural wonder of their surroundings. There is an intensity of shared experience in the writing, of an acknowledgement and celebration of nature. The pace is careful, leisurely; both campers revel in the hushed moments and quiet joys that are a part of such trips. Garns's paintings capture spectacular natural light, and have a comfortable familiarity of details; words and text encourage an attentive reading and a savoring of each page. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
AM I BLUE? by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: June 30, 1994

When gay and lesbian adults write about their youthful struggles to come to terms with their gayness, they frequently lament that there was little in books to help them understand their sexuality and accept themselves. In contrast, these stories by 16 luminaries of YA literature will help such young people realize that they are not alone, unique, or abnormal in their sexual orientation. The viewpoint here is sometimes that of a gay protagonist, sometimes that of someone whose life has been affected by a gay person. Bruce Coville's title tale of a modern fairy godfather is wonderfully campy and humorous; in Francesca Lia Block's ``Winnie and Teddy,'' a young man comes out to his girlfriend; in James Cross Giblin's ``Three Mondays in July,'' a young man's chance encounter with an older one turns his life around; Lois Lowry's ``Holding'' depicts a boy whose life has been a lie because he couldn't acknowledge his father's gayness; and the editor tells a delightful tale (``Dancing Backward'') of two young lesbians reacting to the rigid orthodoxy of a Catholic boarding school. Many of the other stories—which include entries by M.E. Kerr, Jacqueline Woodson, Jane Yolen, and William Sleator—are equally fine. Each is followed by comments by the author on his or her life and writing; these can be as interesting as the stories themselves. A book that belongs in every YA collection. (Fiction. 12+) Read full book review >
A QUESTION OF TRUST by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: April 1, 1994

Once again, Bauer constructs a close-knit story explicating subtle ethical issues through a young person trying to work out his troubles in good faith, if sometimes wrongheadedly. Furious with his mother for moving out, Brad, 12, refuses—in the vain hope of forcing her return—to speak to her or let his loyal little brother Charlie contact her. Meanwhile, the boys take in a stray cat and, with astonishment and awe, watch her give birth. They can't tell Dad because he's known to be unforgiving and is sure to cite their irresponsibility (years ago) with pets and to take ``Cat'' to a shelter; but with neither parent to help, Cat's ongoing drama grows increasingly traumatic. To feed her, the normally honest Brad snitches Dad's change; worse, Cat appears to have eaten an ailing kitten. Horrified, the boys drive her away, then struggle to care for the remaining kitten, a round-the-clock task. When Cat returns, Charlie angrily attacks her, she's hurt, and the whole story comes out (like the father in On My Honor, Dad proves to be fair and, ultimately, supportive); a vet explains Cat's not unnatural behavior in clearing her nest of a probably dead kitten. Resonances between Brad's misconstruction of Cat's actions and his mother's are clear without Bauer's explicit restatement at the end; still, that's a small fault in a powerful, carefully wrought novel. With rare insight, Bauer delineates the web of deceptions ensnaring this family in transition, setting them well on the way to unraveling it. (Fiction. 9-12) Read full book review >
A TASTE OF SMOKE by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: Oct. 18, 1993

Caitlin, 13, treasures the intimacy of an annual camp-out alone with her sister. This time, she's devastated to discover that Pam is giving all her attention to a young man she met during her first year at college. Pam has arranged to meet Alex at the museum commemorating the disastrous Hinckley, Minnesota, fire of 1894. When he shows up just after she's seen the museum film, Caitlin has a terrifying vision of the fire and hears the desperate cries of an orphan boy who died in it. Neither Pam nor Alex gives her story credence; but after days of becoming more at odds with Pam, and of repeated glimpses of the oddly dressed ``Frank''—who she's forced to admit is the orphan's ghost after she rides a bike through him—Alex confesses that he, too, has been plagued by the persistent spirit, who's now seeking comfort elsewhere because Alex is preoccupied with Pam. The prospect that Frank will haunt her forever grows more appalling when Caitlin realizes (after finding him in a toilet stall she'd planned to use) that he wants to be with her every second; in the end— unwittingly but courageously—she sets him to rest by her response to his cries. In Bauer's capable hands, the ghost story receives added depth from its interaction with present-day characters. Each sister is hurt by the other's unwillingness to hear about recent changes in her life; Frank makes an intriguing manifestation of their frustration. Well crafted and entertaining. (Fiction. 10-14) Read full book review >
GHOST EYE by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: Oct. 1, 1992

When old Lydia goes to a nursing home, her cat Purrloom Popcorn ("a white Cornish rex with one eye of brilliant blue and one of shining gold") goes on the competition circuit, where his extraordinary looks make him a Grand Champion. At Lydia's death, Popcorn is returned to her house, now occupied by Lydia's grandniece Melinda and her parents—and, as Popcorn can observe through his special blue eye, the ghosts of Lydia plus the rest of her cats, who have fond remembrances of Popcorn as a kitten. Bauer develops her intriguing premise with ingenuity and brisk humor. Feisty Popcorn is a true cat, with vague memories, self- centered hauteur, and a baleful response to the unfamiliar; but it's his vulnerability—his apprehensions when he first sees a ghost; his fleeting recollections of being loved as well as admired—that wins him sympathy. Will he make peace with Melinda, or join his old friends? Adroitly, Bauer keeps that a question until the very end. Hyman contributes a wealth of drawings; cats are one of her fortes, and these are a pleasure. (Fiction. 7-11) Read full book review >
Released: April 20, 1992

An award-winning novelist (On My Honor, 1987 Newbery Honor) and experienced writing teacher cogently discusses her craft. As John Gardner did in The Art of Fiction (1984), Bauer insists on technique and deliberation over inspiration and natural endowment, reminding readers that no musical virtuoso ever captivated without a command of the notes. After spelling out the need to regulate the writing habit, she settles into the nitty- gritty of gathering and expanding ideas; building on characters, plot, and themes; and, yes, mastering grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Her last comment is telling: ``Knowing your craft can help you tell a story. But only by taking risks can you make art.'' After many pages of provocative information and straightforward counsel, that sentence may be the one to launch youngsters to the challenge. The book speaks directly to young writers, but many adults (teachers, librarians, reviewers, editors, would-be writers) will also find this sensible dissection of the storytelling process invaluable. (Nonfiction. 11+) Read full book review >
FACE TO FACE by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: Sept. 23, 1991

In another gripping novel about a boy forced to confront his values, the author of On My Honor (Newbery Honor, 1987) examines the role of guns in the imagination of a troubled youth. Michael has not seen his father, Bert, since Bert left the family farm eight years ago. Though Mom's new husband—pleasant but taciturn Dave—has adopted him, Michael has always resented Dave and treasured his memories of Bert, especially of their hunting together. Reluctantly, Dave and Mom give Michael a gun for his 13th birthday—a gun he promptly misuses, and loses, by letting his little sister shoot it. At the same time, Bert invites Michael to visit: he's now a white-water rafting guide in Colorado. Michael sets out full of hopes for a man-to-man relationship, but Bert doesn't match his fantasies: he's not tall; his trailer is cramped and uncomfortable; he's a rolling stone who still doesn't make his son the center of his world. Ironically, it's his macho qualities that Michael finds hardest to bear—especially during a terrifying raft trip. In the end, Michael goes home and finally turns to Dave—but not before he finds his confiscated gun and experiences the kind of impotent, disillusioned rage that can make a person turn a gun against others, or against himself. Bauer subtly modulates Michael's changing feelings—as he discovers who Bert really is, recollects the bitter truth about that long-ago deer hunt, and is finally able to integrate what he has learned so that he can throw down the gun—for a thoughtful, richly provocative story. (Fiction. 10-14)*justify no* In another gripping novel about a boy forced to confront his values, the author of On My Honor (Newbery Honor, 1987) examines the role of guns in the imagination of a troubled youth. Michael has not seen his father, Bert, since Bert left the family farm eight years ago. Though Mom's new husbandpleasant but taciturn Davehas adopted him, Michael has always resented Dave and treasured his memories of Bert, especially of their hunting together. Reluctantly, Dave and Mom give Michael a gun for his 13th birthdaya gun he promptly misuses, and loses, by letting his little sister shoot it. At the same time, Bert invites Michael to visit: he's now a white-water rafting guide in Colorado. Michael sets out full of hopes for a man-to-man relationship, but Bert doesn't match his fantasies: he's not tall; his trailer is cramped and uncomfortable; he's a rolling stone who still doesn't make his son the center of his world. Ironically, it's his macho qualities that Michael finds hardest to bearespecially during a terrifying raft trip. In the end, Michael goes home and finally turns to Davebut not before he finds his confiscated gun and experiences the kind of impotent, disillusioned rage that can make a person turn a gun against others, or against himself. Bauer subtly modulates Michael's changing feelingsas he discovers who Bert really is, recollects the bitter truth about that long-ago deer hunt, and is finally able to integrate what he has learned so that he can throw down the gunfor a thoughtful, richly provocative story. (Fiction. 10-14)*justify no* Read full book review >
ON MY HONOR by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: Sept. 22, 1986

Joel grapples with a nightmare turned real: his best friend, Tony, drowns while they're swimming alone together, and Joel must carry the bad news home. Deftly, Bauer contrasts the two: Tony, a persuasive daredevil; Joel, less imaginative and perhaps too responsible, like his protective father. To Joel's dismay, his father has given permission for a bike trip on which Tony secretly plans a dangerous rock climb. Not knowing that Tony can't swim, Joel lets him persuade him to essay the forbidden Vermillion River as a safer alternative. Taunts and dares lead inexorably to the tragedy: Tony vanishes, and after a desperate attempt to find him, Joel returns alone. In trauma, he fears his father's wrath and through a bitter day conceals the truth; when it emerges he blames first his father, then himself for the tragedy; but his father, a wise, loving parent, helps Joel to see that he, Joel and Tony have all made choices; Joel and his father will have to learn to live with theirs, hard as it is. A gripping, compassionate portrayal of a boy's struggle with conscience, by the author of Rain of Fire (Jane Addams Award). Read full book review >