Books by Mark Teague

FLY! by Mark  Teague
Kirkus Star
by Mark Teague, illustrated by Mark Teague
Released: Sept. 17, 2019

"Funny, feathery finesse. (Picture book. 2-5)"
In this wordless picture book, a fledgling robin with a vivid imagination keeps resisting its father's encouragement to fly. Read full book review >
Released: March 26, 2019

"A fine feline-and-canine tale. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Two animals at a shelter can't find a home. Read full book review >
Released: June 26, 2018

"An appealing approach, as ever filled with humor and common sense. (Picture book. 5-7)"
In the latest addition to the long-running, bestselling series, Yolen and Teague's rascally dinosaurs learn to read and enjoy books despite their sometimes-inappropriate antics. Read full book review >
Released: July 25, 2017

"Fun. (Picture book. 3-8)"
Teague fractures the classic fairy tale, sending Jack on a culinary odyssey. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 27, 2016

"Mammoth fun for dinosaur and pet lovers alike. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Face it: when you think about dinosaurs and other animals, you think predator-prey, no? Read full book review >
Released: April 26, 2016

"With a little more chaos and a little less nostalgia, this could have been an arrr-guably great book. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Like a block party but with significantly more eye patches. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 23, 2016

"If the formula is pat by now, it's still effective; who can resist when dinosaur buddies share a sincere, well-earned hug? (Picture book. 3-6)"
The 10th dinosaur outing for Yolen and Teague playfully addresses the minefield of school friendships, as always cleverly subbing in outsized dinosaur antics for the gigantic feelings in every little kid's body. Read full book review >
THE SKY IS FALLING! by Mark  Teague
Released: June 30, 2015

"Though this twist on the familiar tale is somewhat heavy-handed in both narrative and image, its sense of fun comes through clearly nonetheless. (Picture book. 2-5)"
The age-old "Chicken Little" story, but with a change-up. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 24, 2015

"Don'ts and Do's in a familiar formula go down easily for fans and will provide a good conversation starter for parents. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Officer Buckle had Gloria, his police canine, to help his audience see the value of his safety lessons; Yolen and Teague have their dinos. Read full book review >
Released: May 27, 2014

"A semiclever twist that lends itself to far more imaginative play in illustration than text. (Picture book. 3-5)"
As the title indicates, arboreal hijinks inspired by the classic rhyme. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2013

"Although no new concepts are introduced, not only will this title be a favorite at storytime, it may also serve as a discussion starter about feelings and how best to express and cope with them. (Picture book. 2-5)"
Yolen and Teague continue their best-selling series with a comic look at what dinosaurs might and then should do when they are angry. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2013

"A fine addition to the fractured-fairy-tale shelf, though it does lack that certain something that made Eugene Trivizas' The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (1993), such a standout. (Picture book. 3-7)"
The classic fairy tale gets an update with a subtle message about healthy eating and a happy ending for a hungry wolf. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 2012

"Despite some glitches in the scansion and lack of originality, this outing goes down pretty easily. (Board book. 1-3)"
This familiar dinosaur series takes a look at a favorite treat. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2011

Ike, that cute, crafty canine, is back in his fourth adventure. A planned cruise trip with his owner, Mrs. LaRue, is foiled when a neighbor lands in the hospital, stranding her two cats. Cruise ship becomes road trip across the country with the two cats creating a cat-as-trophy at each new juncture. Ike's postcards to the neighbor become increasingly desperate. From Pea Gravel, S.D., he writes: "The local postmaster claims it would be illegal for me to send live cats through the mail." Crossing the prairie, Ike is in the back seat of the car holding two signs: "Bad Cats! S.O.S." When Mrs. LaRue's car conks out in the desert, a First Mate on a cruise ship rescues them. Cleverly designed, the comic illustrations spare no whisker for laugh-out-loud humor, especially the feline facial expressions—sticking out their tongues, shooting slingshots. As in previous outings, Teague plays black-and-white scenes (dogs are colorblind, don't you know) against full-color acrylics to great effect. The endpapers are a map of the United States with their (incredibly illogical) route marked. This furry fiasco is fabulous fun. No pussyfooting here, just the cat's meow of a doggie's tale of woe. Bone Voyage. (Picture book. 4-9)Read full book review >
FIREHOUSE! by Mark  Teague
Released: May 1, 2010

"Edward wants to be a firefighter. One day he and Judy visit a firehouse." So begins a day that includes both a practice fire drill and a real "emergency"—kitten up a tree. Boston terrier Edward revels in the highs and wrestles with the lows, from pretend-driving the truck to getting blasted off his feet by the fire hydrant's spray. The Dalmatian firefighters (as well as retriever cousin Judy) display a grand, resourceful equanimity—and the daring exploits that Edward's permitted syncopate perfectly with a three-year-old's firefighting dreams. Teague's full-bleed oils supply just the right balance between dramatic, dizzying perspective and resourceful, doggy competence, and the visual laughs are nicely pitched to a preschooler's developing sense of humor. Firemice—in jackets and helmets—provide I Spy opportunities, and the charming fantasy concludes with a big parade in Edward's honor. No depicted conflagrations here—just sure-fire fun. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
DOOM MACHINE by Mark  Teague
Released: Oct. 1, 2009

A small band of more-or-less ordinary Earth humans takes on a galactic empire in Teague's first full-blown novel (Funny Farm, 2009, etc.). When the Dimensional Field Stabilizer that Uncle Bud has cooked up in his small-town garage draws a flying saucer full of piratical, spiderlike skreeps, young Jack Creedle and a handful of other residents and passersby suddenly find themselves captives, hurtling through time and space toward Planet Skreepia and (eventually, after many adventures) a climactic dustup with the Skreep Queen. Details in the story, which is set in 1956, and the occasional spot or full-page illustrations add a retro tone to the tale, as do the many pulp-magazine-style furry, chitinous or rubbery aliens met along the way. Though the author gives most of the active roles to the grown-ups, leaving Jack and his science-crazy new friend Isadora largely observers, his feeling for oddball characters and twists recalls Adam Rex's The True Meaning of Smekday (2007) and should draw the same audience. (Science fiction. 11-13)Read full book review >
FUNNY FARM by Mark  Teague
Released: April 1, 2009

In this picture-book twist on Green Acres, the joke is on citified cousin Edward, a dapper dog who visits his Uncle Earl's farm. Earl and his family try to orient Edward to their chores, and a humorous dialectic emerges between understated text and pictures packed with narrative. "In the woods Edward helps make maple syrup," reads a typical page; the accompanying illustration, an oil painting saturated with Teague's characteristically rich colors, shows Edward struggling to carry two pails of sap, with his foot stuck in another pail. Meanwhile, Aunt Josephine and Cousin Judy look on, bemused, as they capably check pails on other trees. The funny on this farm is also found in small pictorial details unmentioned by the text, as a robin holds an umbrella to protect her brood from a rainstorm or an industrious ant spins wool alongside Edward and his family while a sheep gazes in through the window. Ultimately, there's very little story holding the book together, but the humor found on each page is satisfying in its own right. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
LaRUE FOR MAYOR by Mark  Teague
Released: March 1, 2008

Giving fans even more reason to "Like Ike"—the dog, that is—Teague pits his irrepressible, letter-writing canine against "Law and Order" candidate Hugo Bugwort in a race for Mayor of Snort City. Expressing righteous indignation at Bugwort's resolute anti-dog stance, Ike (figuratively) throws his hat into the ring, and proceeds to report back to his laid-up owner Mrs. LaRue on his "dignified," issue-based campaign. The pictures tell a somewhat different story than the all-letters-and-news-items text, showing Ike and a gang of doggy buddies creating chaos at Bugwort's public appearances, defacing his posters ("Vote Sniff Bugwort For A Strong Snort City Odor"), plastering the neighborhood with "LaRue" stickers and staging raids on hot dog carts and ice-cream trucks. In the end a bit of heroic behavior from Ike earns an about-face from Bugwort and an offer to be Assistant Mayor. But, as a final picture hints, the mischievous pooch's political career may just be getting under way. Though less an election-year primer than a tale for dog lovers of every breed, this merits a spot alongside Doreen Cronin's wickedly satiric Duck For President, illustrated by Betsy Lewin (2004) as a waggish take on the theme. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2007

Off to school with our prehistoric pals from the popular How Do Dinosaurs . . .? series, in which familiar scenes are made riotous by the scale-skewing enormity of elementary school-student dinos. As silvasaurus rushes out the door, his human mom proffers a teeny-tiny (but life-sized to Homo sapiens) brown-bag lunch and thermos. Centrosaurus can't fit in the carpool vehicle (license plate DINOCAR), so he rides on the roof. And when Herrerasaurus loses his tooth in class, he can't help but let out a celebratory yell, and all his similarly gap-toothed schoolmates share his excitement. Once again, what readers can't see in Teague's positively pop-off-the-page paintings (tails and toes that are just too long to fit, for example) is just as important as what they can. Perfect partners for Yolen's easy rhymes, they extend the text with those oh-so-appreciated labels, plenty of wit and a well-placed wink or two. The standard-sized schoolyard and show-and-tell provide plenty of opportunities for giant lizards to be acrobatic, misbehave and generally cause a ruckus, but each of these dinosaurs earns top marks and works well with others. (Picture book. 2-7)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2006

Quick-thinking frontier gal outsmarts a passel of mean critters in a tale with echoes of a boy, tigers and pancakes. While riding in the back of Mama and Papa's wagon on the way to Whisker Creek, young Toby goes flying past a surprised eagle, when the vehicle hits a big bump. She lands on a soft pile of snow, and nearly into the arms of a ravenous wolf. Toby bargains for her life with her beautiful blue coat. After the wolf, Toby faces a cougar, a skunk, a porcupine and a bear. By this time, Toby is down to her red long johns, and watches from an evergreen as the five would-be predators turn on each other, racing so fast around the trunk of a maple that they turn into a golden brown puddle. The maple absorbs the puddle, and Mama rewards Toby with a big pancake breakfast. She eats 169, and takes the reins of the horses. Teague's vibrant oil paintings add humor and style to Isaacs's All-American tall tale. Totally delightful and a great new spin on an old story. (Picture book. 4-9)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

Dynamic dinosaur duo Yolen and Teague team up again, this time tackling the touchy topic of table manners. Their signature rhyming text and hilarious illustrations introduce an ensemble of wacky giant reptiles in the end pages and show them engaged in a spectrum of really terrible table tantrums. An orange and purple Cryolophosaurus rudely burps and belches. A ponderous Protoceratops picks at his cereal and throws down his cup. A quirky winged Quetzalcoatlus fusses, fidgets and squirms in his chair in a busy restaurant. An out-of-control pink-and-blue-striped Amargasaurus flips a plate of spaghetti into the air while a spotted Spinosaurus slyly spits out his partially chewed broccoli, a huge Lambeosaurus bubbles his milk and a recumbent Gorgosaurus pokes string beans up his nose. Readers soon discover these gargantuan diners actually have exemplary table manners, suggesting that little dinosaurs everywhere might do well to follow their lead and "eat up." A humorous, highly palatable read-aloud primer on table etiquette for the preschool dining set. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

The captivating canine from Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School (2002) returns for a second adventure revealed through Ike the dog's letters, this time written from jail. The dapper and dignified Ike has been detained as the prime suspect in the disappearance of two cats from his neighborhood. His plaintive letters to his vacationing owner proclaim his innocence and the cats' guilt as pet birds in the area begin to vanish. Newspaper stories are interwoven into the clever format, which also utilizes the device of one side of each spread in color showing what is really happening juxtaposed against a black-and-white illustration denoting Ike's melodramatic (and fictional) description of his unfair treatment as described in his letters. When Ike escapes from jail, he decides he must "take matters into my own paws." He helps the police capture the cats, followed by a police ceremony naming Ike an honorary detective. Teague's innovative approach to storytelling is fun, but educational as well, skillfully imparting some valuable lessons in point of view and reading between the lines. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2003

Repeating the winning formula of How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? (2000), Teague supplies art for Yolen's sprightly ditty on proper behavior while under the weather. Spread- and eye-filling domestic scenes, in which all the children are replaced by humongous, comically fretful, precisely detailed dinosaurs are the perfect prescription for the crankily bedridden. "What if a dinosaur / catches the flu? / Does he whimper and whine / between each Atchoo? / Does he drop / dirty tissues / all over the floor? / Does he fling / all his medicine / out of the door?" The dinos are specifically identified with cunningly placed labels within each double-paged spread and, on priceless endpapers, in a visual key of scaly, bedridden "patients." Yolen reinforces the message with more direct instructions—"He drinks lots of juice and he gets lots of rest. / He's good at the doctor's / 'cause doctors know best"—and closes with a get-well wish. This salutary combination of savvy advice and sidesplitting art belongs next to every sickbed. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
DEAR MRS. LARUE by Mark  Teague
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

An epistolary picture book detailing the misadventures of a very imaginative dog at obedience school. Ike the terrier is a reluctant student at the Igor Brotweiler Canine Academy, and sends daily letters home describing the tortures he's undergoing at school: "Needless to say, I am being horribly mistreated. You say I should be patient and accept that I'll be here through the term. Are you aware that the term lasts TWO MONTHS? Do you know how long that is in dog years?" In a series of inspired double-page spreads, the bright acrylic illustrations depict Ike scrivening away in the plushest possible surroundings, while he imagines (appropriately enough in black-and-white) what he describes. As Ike complains about the food, the reader sees him seated at a table covered in a white tablecloth and decorated with roses; his fevered imagination, however, conjures up a vision of a burly, tattooed cook standing over a cauldron and pointing at a sign that says "No howling, biting, scratching, growling, slobbering, or barking, and no seconds!" as Ike, prison-stripe-clad, forlornly holds up his dog dish. The concept is fun, but it's a one-note joke that depends on a highly developed sense of irony to appreciate. Teague's first offering as author/illustrator since One Halloween Night (1999) demonstrates a mastery of illustration without an accompanying command of textual narration; the overlong text bogs down as the reader attempts to figure out what's really going on: does Ike really want to go back home? does he really believe what he describes? is he simply trying to make Mrs. LaRue feel guilty? The work as a whole is energetic but ultimately fails to follow through on a promising concept. (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

This wintry triptych of Poppleton tales is all readers have come to expect from Rylant's (Little Whistle's Dinner Party, above, etc.) worthy pig: dry humor, natty friendships, and doings that kids can relate to. In the first story, Poppleton's impressive display of icicles on his house, of which he is justly proud (though neighbors and family counsel him to remove them), is knocked to the ground by a wayward finch. The finch, Patrick by name, apologizes, then, seeing that Poppleton is a bit distraught, suggests Poppleton do something with them. They build a picket fence, and camaraderie. Next, since "winter always made Poppleton creative," he decides to make a bust of Cherry Sue's head. As he toils away, he must make frequent trips to Cherry Sue's house to take a good look at her hair—and her eyes and her nose. Finally Cherry Sue has had enough and she tweaks Poppleton's snout. Taken aback, he explains his harassment and Cherry Sue comes for a sitting. She even gives his nose a peck. Lastly, he's disappointed when all his pals can't go for a sleigh ride. Compounding the misery, they are all busy making delicious foods that he wishes he were eating. Then surprise, they descend upon Poppleton to celebrate his birthday (he'd forgotten). They even get to go for a midnight sleigh ride. All's well in Poppleton's world, a place in which kids will be happy to tarry (and so encourage beginning readers). Teague's (Horus's Horrible Day, p. 862, etc.) jovial, scrubbed artwork has Poppleton written all over it, especially when capturing Cherry Sue at her most indignant. (Easy reader. 3-8)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2001

Horus wears jeans, a striped shirt, and a backpack like any other first grader, but he travels to school in a flying cup (flying saucers are so last century), because his school is on Mars. The students are different types of Martians: some green, some blue, some polka-dotted—and all funny. Corey, who made an auspicious debut with You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer! (2000), offers Episode 1 of the First Graders from Mars series, which describes Horus's reluctance to leave his martiangarten days behind to move on to first grade. He slurps his soup with the wrong tentacle, tangles with an overly confident Martian girl named Tera, and lands in the Beta reading group (rather than the Alpha group with nemesis Tera). Corey works some simple Martian-style language and clever puns into her story: the Martian kids sit in thinking capsules instead of desks, and the floating, polka-dotted teacher has eyes in the front and back of her head, and on both sides, too. Additional layers of punny humor enhance the full-color, cartoon-style illustrations by Teague (The Great Gracie Chase, p. 188, etc.) who finds something clever to add on every page. Horus has the real fears of any entering first grader, and this story will be popular with kindergarten and first-grade teachers and students, who will be waiting for Episode 2. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2001

Gracie Rose, a charming brown-and-white puppy, loves a quiet house. She loves the kitty sleeping quietly on the windowsill. She sings to the fish when it's lonely. She helps the bigger dog watch the house. For Gracie, the best home is a quiet one. But one day, the painters who come to paint her kitchen destroy the quiet. Not only are they noisy, but they put her out of the house when she barks at them. Gracie, who has always been a good dog, runs through an open gate and takes off. The whole town runs after her, gathering much as do the folks in "The Gingerbread Boy." Only when everyone, including the painters, drops from exhaustion can Gracie return to her home and find peace and quiet. Unfortunately for Gracie Rose, the reader knows that the dreaded painters will come again. Rylant's story seems deceptively simple, but its prose is beautifully phrased, conversational in tone, and easy to read. Teague outdoes himself here; his oversized drawings are equal partners to Rylant's words. They create narrative, movement, and fun on every page; Gracie often seems ready to leap from the page, as she becomes bigger than life. The small town is an idealized place where a multiethnic community comes together good-humoredly to protect a fellow creature. Humans and animals express a variety of emotions, but Gracie's face and body language as the painter puts her outside take the cake. The strong storyline in text and illustration makes this a fine read-aloud. Gracie Rose deserves a series! (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

A first grader finds reason to be proud of her physical differences rather than upset about them in this daffy follow-up to Episode 1: Horus's Horrible Day (p. 862). Thanks to classmate Tera's gibe, Pelly turns self-conscious about the pompom "fluffernobbin" atop her carrot-like, blue-with-yellow-polka-dots head. After all, except for Pelly and her family, the rest of Teague's (The Great Gracie Chase, p. 188, etc.) rubbery, sea anemone-like aliens (in human dress) sport tentacles. Corey's dialogue comes straight out of any terrestrial classroom, and Pelly's special feature receives due validation at the climax, when a member of the Grand Martian Opera sweeps in—"fluffy, fabulous fluffernobbin" and all. Like Dan Yaccarino's Blast Off Boy and Blorp series, the themes are familiar, but they're played out in a nutty, futuristic setting, so the lesson seems less heavy-handed. (Easy reader. 6-8)Read full book review >
POPPLETON HAS FUN by Cynthia Rylant
Released: Oct. 1, 2000

Here is Poppleton at his brief, mellow, sentimental best, mooning over the pleasure of friends in the coziest of settings. Accompanied by artwork that presents Poppleton as a lovable porker with a hint of the rascal in his body language, Rylant's (The High-Rise Private Eyes, p. 964, etc.) first story finds Poppleton going solo to the movies. At first this seems a nifty idea—no having to share the eats—but fast becomes an exercise in loneliness, as Poppleton has no one to share the laughs and shivers and tears with. It is always better to have a friend to join in the fun, he concludes. Next, Poppleton and three pals have a quilting bee, during which they entertain each other with stories about their respective pasts, and images from the stories get sewn into the quilt, as if by osmosis. Afterward, they take turns using the quilt: "Poppleton got it in summer. Fillmore got it in fall. Cherry Sue got it in winter. And Hudson got it in spring. Every season of the year, someone was sleeping under stories." Lastly, Poppleton runs out of bath emollients—nothing he liked better than a soak with lavender, lemon, and silky milk—so he visits Cherry Sue to see if he can borrow some. She only takes showers, but offers him some sweet smells from the kitchen: Blueberries? Vanilla? Cinnamon? No, says Poppleton, but lets go get something to eat. "Poppleton missed his soak that day. But it was okay. He was very happy smelling like a banana split." Poppleton is a darling, especially so in these stories, which can be favorably paired with tales in which he is a bit more of a rogue element. (Easy reader. 5-7)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2000

Huge, fanciful dinosaurs confront their parents at bedtime in this playful romp. How does a dinosaur act when Papa comes in to say it's bedtime? "Does he slam his tail and pout? Does he throw his teddy bear all about?" Teague's paintings tell the story. First the father appears at the child's door and reacts with surprise, or anger, or shock to each described behavior. Then, the mothers take over. Of course, dinosaurs don't really act that way. They turn off the light, go quietly to bed, and give extra hugs and kisses to their parents. Teague's humorous, detailed, and colorful paintings give the context to Yolen's simple verse. Each huge dinosaur lives in a child's bedroom surrounded by familiar toys, books, and pets that sometimes bear the brunt of the dinosaur's temper. One fearful dog wraps his body around the bedpost when his Trachodon shouts for one more book. Dinosaurs tower over their bemused, bewildered, or distressed ethnically diverse parents who range in age from young to middle aged, just as in real life! After they learn the names of each of the species pictured on the endpapers, children may enjoy finding their names hidden in the illustrations each time a new species is introduced. Verse and illustration are beautifully matched in these bedtime scenarios familiar to all parents of young children. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1999

Wendell, Floyd, Alice, and Mona discover that "anything can happen on Halloween" when their annual holiday outing turns into an unexpected adventure. Getting tricks instead of treats, receiving Broccoli Chews and Eggplant Fizzlers instead of ordinary candy, and being chased by Leona Fleebish and her gang of witchy bullies turn the evening from fun to fright. But Floyd's pirate costume has some unexpected swashbuckling in it, Wendell's mad scientist outfit offers some surprises, and Mona's wand from her fairy princess garb is no fake. Quick-thinking, poetry, and magic wand save the fearless foursome from the clutches of Leona. Small ghosts and goblins will enjoy this fantastical tale of Halloween night. (Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >
THE LOST AND FOUND by Mark  Teague
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

A wobbly offering from Teague (Baby Tamer, 1997, etc.), in which Wendell and Floyd, who missed their math test when a giant squid trapped them in the restroom, are waiting to see the principal when a new girl, Mona, approaches the lost and found box in search of her lucky hat. She disappears into the container, and Wendell and Floyd follow, entering a netherworld of lost gloves, baseballs, and dolls. A few sight gags—a suit of armor, a treasure chest full of gold, a Viking ship, a sign pointing the way to Atlantis—hold more promise than the actual story delivers, for the adventure sags and the theme of luck lurks undeveloped somewhere around the hat room they discover. Mona finds her hat (in her purse, where it was all along) and the two boys are ready to face the principal. The illustrations offer plenty to pore over, and will sustain Teague's fans until his next work rolls out. (Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >
SWEET DREAM PIE by Audrey Wood
Released: April 1, 1998

People in houses are upended, and cats and dogs tumble down Willobee Street when Ma Brindle gets out her ``extra-large utensils,'' scratches up some dough, and rolls out a crust for her famous Sweet Dream Pie. Every known candy is mixed into an enormous batter, sending a chocolate tornado through the otherwise average neighborhood. A pie the size of a wading pool comes out of the oven as a clan of rotund, pop-eyed folks bring their giant appetites to gobble down not just one piece, but seconds, thirds, and more, despite Ma Brindle's warning. Wood parodies the gluttony as people and pets become sleepy-eyed sacks of potatoes from overeating—slumping over fences, lolling over windowsills, passing out under bushes. Giant-sized, round-bellied monsters overrun the streets until a broom-wielding Ma Brindle takes charge, setting things right. Teague, who previously collaborated with Wood on The Flying Dragon Room (1996), bends the rules and the landscape by using a distorted, skewed perspective with houses a-tilt, lampposts leaning, and beveled panoramic street scenes, often seen from an aerial view. It accentuates the author's fondness for the preposterous, and follows the badly paced text to a deflated ending. After the tall-tale build-up to the pie's alleged effects, the monsters amount to little more than a burp of indigestion. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
BABY TAMER by Mark  Teague
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

Smart, self-assured babysitter Amanda Smeedy doesn't know what she is in for when she meets the Eggmont kids. The first clue comes when Mr. and Mrs. Eggmont make a mad dash out the door. In rhyme that is forced but fun, Teague (The Secret Shortcut, 1996, etc.) tells how the Eggmont brats try to scare away clever Amanda. She yawns through their amazing exploits, and sits quietly eating ice cream after the children have worn themselves out trying to foil her. The illustrations are full of action and excitement; off-kilter perspectives fill the pages as the Eggmont children grow desperate for results. An amusing romp. (Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

In this second outing for the kindly pig (Poppleton, 1997), readers learn that the keys to happiness are in sharing, kindness, and friendship. Rylant (see review above) features Poppleton's genial interactions with his friends Hudson, a mouse, and Cherry Sue, a llama, in three easy-to-read chapters. The first story is the strongest, when Poppleton boards a bus for the beach and a group of amiable older ladies share songs, poker secrets, and laughs with him and Hudson. At the beach, Poppleton and Hudson enjoy an easy companionship and then recall their good day for Cherry Sue when they return home. In the second story, good-natured Cherry Sue helps Poppleton battle ``dry skin'' while gently prompting the pig to clean up. In the final story, Poppleton discovers that friendship is the secret to living a long life, a comforting thoughtsimple and pure at heart. This is a far stronger showing than the first book, and Teague makes Rylant's characters all the more lovable. (Fiction. 6-8) Read full book review >
POPPLETON by Cynthia Rylant
Released: March 1, 1997

The first book in a proposed series of easy readers from the usually reliable Rylant (The Bookshop Dog, p. 1055) is an unqualified flop. Poppleton, dressed in coat, tie, and bowler, tires of city life and moves to a small town. Three stories follow that require neither a small-town setting nor a recent move. In the first, ``Neighbors,'' the limits of friendship are excessively defined when Cherry Sue invites Poppleton over too often, and he sprays her with the garden hose (instead of simply turning down the invitation) in his frustration over the situation. ``The Library'' shows how serious Poppleton is about his library day- -every Monday—as he sits at a table, spreads out his belongings, and reads an adventure. In ``The Pill,'' a sick friend who needs medicine asks Poppleton to disguise his pill in one of the many pieces of cake he consumes, recalling the tale in which Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad try to make some cookies inaccessible, but cannot thwart their own appetites. The stories are unimaginative and poorly plotted, without the taut language and endearing humor of Rylant's Henry and Mudge tales or her Mr. Putter and Tabby books. Teague's scenes of a small town are charming but have no real story in which to take root, and the book is printed on cardboard-weight stock that all but overwhelms the format. (Fiction. 4-7) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

Teague (who illustrated Audrey Wood's The Flying Dragon Room, p. 75) takes the sidelong view of life in this story about Wendell and Floyd, who are chronically late for school. One day it's space creatures that nearly abduct them, on another it's pirates in the neighborhood, and on another it's a plague of frogs that slows their progress schoolward. Their teacher is not amused. ``Absurd! I'm warning you—be here on time tomorrow—or else! And no more crazy excuses!'' Next day, up at the crack of dawn, determined not to let Ms. Gernsblatt down, Wendell recommends a secret shortcut. That shortcut seems to occupy a parallel dimension, one of rain forests and jungle animals, trailing vines and giant mud puddles. Finally, in the distance, they hear the school bell, and, running toward the noise, make it to their seats in the nick of time. This is an invigorating massage to the imagination, luxuriantly set in Teague's tactile acrylic illustrations, dreamlike items painted from worm's- and bird's-eye angles. Readers who have found themselves tardy and lacking suitable excuses will prize the brio of Wendell and Floyd. (Picture book. 5+) Read full book review >
MR. POTTER'S PET by Dick King-Smith
Released: April 15, 1996

In a short, simple chapter book, King-Smith (The School Mouse, 1995, etc.) tells the blissfully silly story of poor Mr. Potter who, after his parents are accidentally poisoned by a dinner of tinned crab on his 50th birthday, gets his first pet. Not knowing what he wants, he goes into a pet shop and comes out with a foul-tempered mynah. It turns out that the bird, who agrees to be called Everest, just wants a little freedom to fly outside his cage. The two become good friends as Everest takes charge of Mr. Potter's life. The mynah decides that Mr. Potter needs a housekeeper and contrives to find just the right lady. All are happy until Everest proposes to each of the humans on behalf of the other, and they accept. Suddenly, the two become lovebirds, and Everest feels left out. The solution to Everest's loneliness may not surprise everyone, but the tone is so lighthearted throughout the book, and the characters so charming, that no one will mind in the least. With Teague's humorous black-and-white illustrations, this is an endearing book from beginning to end, for classroom or family sharing. (Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1996

While Mrs. Jenkins helps Patrick's parents paint their house, she gives Patrick her special tools to work with; a week later, Patrick invites his parents and Mrs. Jenkins on a tour of his new place, a kind of magical amusement park consisting of endless fantasy rooms—the Small Creature Garden, the Bubble Room, the Food Room, the Jumping Room—through which the family and Mrs. Jenkins pass, not without adventures. Wood (The Rainbow Bridge, 1995, etc.) doesn't allow the Flying Dragon Room to enter the story until the last page, when it is mentioned as the location for future fantasies (and provides the excuse to put flying dragons on this book's jacket). Some of this is reminiscent of Willie Wonka, but most of it feels like a weak meshing of several of William Joyce's books, even to the faces and postures of the characters. Combining wonder and adventure with a sense of humor, the text is printed on huge acrylic paintings; the characters are compact and expressive against such fantastic backgrounds. It's just unfortunate that it often seems so derivative. (Picture book. 4-9) Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 1995

In an illustration bounded by neat white borders, Wallace Bleff writes ``How I Spent My Summer Vacation'' on the blackboard at school. Then imagination takes over as a steam engine thunders right out of the wall and readers are transported to the Wild West, depicted larger-than-life in full-bleed oil paintings. Captured by cowboys, Wallace acquires a fancy cowpoke costume, learns to rope and ride, and bravely diverts a stampede, matador-style. The rhyming text derives much of its humor from its interplay with the illustrations. When Wallace's Aunt Fern calls to invite the cowboys to a barbecue, the illustration shows Wallace in a modern phone booth, plunk in the middle of nowhere. In another spread, fat longhorn cattle stampede directly toward Aunt Fern's, where a green, mowed lawn borders abruptly on scrubby desert. The jokes continue right up to the final page, where Teague playfully trounces any last remaining boundaries between fantasy and reality. Rip-roaring fun. (Picture book. 3-7) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 3, 1994

King-Smith (Sophie in the Saddle, 1994, etc.) parodies human behavior in another of his animal fantasies. In the house of irascible Farmer Budge, mouse society is literally stratified. The thrice-widowed Mrs. Gray is an exception: She has not only been married to another aristocratic Attic but also to one of the comfortable Ups and, most recently, to a plebeian Down. When portly Mr. Gray is eaten and she's left with three tiny sons, she vows to train them as "guerrilla fighters in the cause of mousedom." And with her urging, plus the help of a hearty Cellarmouse, who also wins the pretty widow and moves into the west wing of her elegant chair in the attic, the "trins" eventually oust a half-dozen cats from their domain. King-Smith's wit is unabated; his sharp characterizations, including that of old Mrs. Budge, who slips treats to the mice her husband abhors, and such details as the "M1" that's the principle mouse thoroughfare between floors, are a delight. The class divisions that are the story's basis are peculiarly British, but they aren't liable to confuse anyone. A lively comic adventure. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
PIGSTY by Mark  Teague
by Mark Teague, illustrated by Mark Teague
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

Wendell Fultz has a problem picking up after himself. His room is a war zone of toys, clothes, and food. It might even be mistaken for a pigsty. Naturally enough, some pigs move in, increasing in number as the mess grows and grows. Wendell has a fine time with his new pals, playing Monopoly, having pillow fights, bouncing on the bed. The porcine intruders disappear when mom comes for a visit. When Wendell finds his basketball deflated and chomps taken from his baseball cards, he dragoons the porkers into tidying his room. They grudgingly comply, then take their leave, Wendell's spotless digs no longer to their liking. Wendell's mended ways are confusing in a story that is artful until this point: After all the fun, the abrupt moralizing has no toehold; it's as forgettable as it was easy to come by. On the other hand, Teague's (The Field Beyond the Outfield, 1992, etc.) illustrations are searingly good, lush cartoony acrylics, and the amiable indolence of the pigs is totally capturing. You'll want to give these good-time Charlies space in your room, rent free. (Fiction/Picture book. 6-9) Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1992

Ludlow Grebe's daydreams become too much for his parents, who sign him up for ``something real'': Little League. He ends up so far back in the outfield that he becomes a participant in the next field's game—in which all the players have six limbs and the stands are filled with monsters. In that game, he hits a home run. The lunatic realism in Teague's acrylics recalls that of William Joyce: solid, clearly limned shapes, small figures in spacious scenes, a weird sense that there's nothing unusual about a team of giant, grinning green beetles. The understatement of the brief, simply phrased text magnifies the humor. Another eye- roller from the author of Moog-Moog, Space Barber (1990). (Picture book. 6-8) Read full book review >
FROG MEDICINE by Mark  Teague
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

Another surreal adventure for Elmo, hero of Moog-Moog, Space Barber (1990). Stuck with a book-report book he's sure he won't enjoy—Frog Medicine—Elmo doesn't even open it. Suddenly, the assignment's due: ``I'll just make up something,'' he decides, but draws a blank. Meanwhile, the froggie details that have been invading Teague's art burst forth on Elmo's feet, now green and webbed. After a visit to the book's author, Dr. Galoof, a frog whose desk and bookcase of medical tomes sit among reeds and lily pads, elicits solid advice (``Just do your homework...You really should read more''), Elmo settles down, finds he enjoys the book after all, and returns to normal—even his feet. Offbeat and wryly amusing, but it's the illustrations that command attention: the solid, hard-edged forms are alive with energy, with even skyscrapers leaning purposefully; Elmo's cat acts as a constant observer, by turns anxious, bored, or debonair; every scene is bathed in curiously pure light, with plenty of clever, funny details to discover. (Picture book. 5-10)*justify no* Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1990

Elmo's haircut is an embarrassing disaster. Some sympathetic space monsters happen by and take him to their home at the other end of the solar system to find a better barber, but the result is no improvement. Never mind—best friend Buford isn't in a position to tease: on the first day of school, he too is concealing a silly haircut under a funny hat. Teague tells this space-age tall tale with winning, understated humor; in his vigorous, creatively composed paintings, the bright-green spacemen have pointy topknots just like Elmo's hat and move with a beguilingly sinuous authority. The story's subject, wit, and satirical theme should entertain older children as well as the picture-book age. Read full book review >