Books by Marla Frazee

LITTLE BROWN by Marla  Frazee
Released: Oct. 2, 2018

"A promising start dissolves to an undetermined, unsatisfying conclusion. (Picture book. 4-8)"
A cranky dog faces the consequences of his crankiness in this picture book. Read full book review >
IT TAKES A VILLAGE by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Released: Sept. 12, 2017

"The book reaches for inspiring but stalls out at bland. (Picture book. 3-7)"
Although it shares a title with Clinton's 1996 work calling for a social commitment to children's welfare, this picture book offers just 16 sentences spread over 40 pages illustrated with Frazee's customarily humanistic detail. Read full book review >
THE BOSSIER BABY by Marla  Frazee
Released: Nov. 1, 2016

"Someone give Frazee a raise. (Picture book. 3-6)"
A new baby sister hands the Boss Baby a demotion. Read full book review >
ONE AWESOME THING by Sara Pennypacker
Released: April 5, 2016

"An upbeat celebration of lively imagination, friendship, family, community, and the exuberance of childhood. (Fiction. 7-11)"
Fourth-grader Waylon Zakowski is struggling to navigate change. Read full book review >
IS MOMMY? by Victoria Chang
Released: Nov. 3, 2015

"A funny and deceptively simple meditation on unconditional filial love. (Picture book. 3-5)"
A passel of tots discuss their moms' positive and negative aspects with uncontained glee. Read full book review >
Released: March 3, 2015

"Though looser in weave than previous appearances, still this provides the emotional honesty readers have come to expect. (Fiction. 6-10)"
Antic third-grader Clementine faces her biggest challenge yet: looming change. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 23, 2014

"The beauty of an unexpected visit, done beautifully. (Picture book. 3-6)"
A solitary farmer on an empty plain receives the most unlikely visitor. Read full book review >
GOD GOT A DOG by Cynthia Rylant
Released: Oct. 29, 2013

"Funny, devout and oh, so human; this collection hits home. (Poetry. 10 & up)"
Several of the poems from Rylant's wry meditation God Went to Beauty School (2003) are regathered, rearranged and luminously illustrated by Frazee. Read full book review >
BOOT & SHOE by Marla  Frazee
Released: Oct. 9, 2012

"Read unhurried, in a lap, again and again. (Picture book. 4-7) "
This gem about canine siblings goes from peaceful routine to funny mayhem to erroneous bereavement—and relief. Read full book review >
STARS by Mary Lyn Ray
by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Marla Frazee
Released: Oct. 11, 2011

"Ideal for bedtime, this will shine on through repeat readings. (Picture book. 3-7)"
A poetic paean to stars both real and metaphorical brings the heavenly down to readers without robbing it of mystery. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 13, 2011

"Filled with familiar Clementine charm but, more importantly, a whole lot of heart, too. (Fiction. 7-10)"
Clementine has had many not-so-good days. But this one just might be the worst. Read full book review >
THE BOSS BABY by Marla  Frazee
Released: Aug. 31, 2010

Sporting a black business-suit onesie, this baby looks and acts more like a balding CEO than an infant. He keeps his parents hard at work, calling endless meetings, demanding increases in output and scowling as his employees buckle under pressure. Nostalgic pencil-and-watercolor drawings recall mid-20th-century furnishings, clothes and hairstyles. This retro aesthetic serves as a perfect office space for the boss baby, who enjoys the perks of an old-school exec: a big desk (exersaucer), lounge (lambskin rug), spa (sink tubby), endless drinks (bottles) and a private jet (airplane swing). The parents' weak, watery eyes communicate a bottomless desire to please their tiny tyrant, who grimaces, growls and cocks his brow in dissatisfaction. Young readers will cackle at Frazee's reversal of power. Just when the boss baby borders on brutal, though, he employs new tactics to motivate the staff: "Ma-ma? Da-da?" The ecstatic parents jump with glee, ready for the next challenge. This wry picture book will appeal to parents, of course, but also to siblings who see a new baby demand so much of mom and dad's time and energy. (Picture book. 4-8)
Read full book review >
ALL THE WORLD by Liz Garton Scanlon
Released: Sept. 8, 2009

In flowing rhyme, Scanlon zooms outwards from smallness to bigness: "Rock, stone, pebble, sand / Body, shoulder, arm, hand / A moat to dig, / a shell to keep / All the world is wide and deep." Watercolor-and-line illustrations show several beach close-ups of siblings playing before pulling back to reveal the seashore and cove. Next: "Hive, bee, wings, hum / Husk, cob, corn, / yum! / Tomato blossom, fruit so red / All the world's a garden bed." Close-up on people tending bees and plants, then a broad double-page spread of farmstands and fields. Frazee connects all scenes with black pencil lines of shading, texture and motion. Her gift at drawing postures graces every page as multicolored families climb trees, get drenched by rain, seek a lit café at twilight and play in a musical jam session. An occasional grumpy child and wailing baby prevents idealization, but it's hard to imagine a cozier and more spacious world. At once a lullaby and an invigorating love song to nature, families and interconnectedness. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
CLEMENTINE’S LETTER by Sara Pennypacker
Released: April 15, 2008

Clementine's only just "getting the hang of third grade"—she hasn't been sent to Principal Rice's office for a whole week—when her world turns upside-down: Her beloved Teacher is a finalist for an Adventures for Teachers award, and if he wins, he'll be gone for the rest of the year. As it is, he's absent for a week to prepare, and life with his substitute does not go well. Mrs. Nagel doesn't know any of the tricks Teacher did that helped to keep Clementine "in sync" with the classroom, so when Principal Rice asks the children to write letters of nomination to the award committee, Clementine sees her opportunity to sabotage his success. Pennypacker and Frazee have this latter-day Ramona down to a T, her distinctive voice and unruly curls happily unblunted by familiarity. The great success of this outing, however, lies in the warmth of the relationship between Clementine and Teacher, whose humane and sympathetic understanding of his admittedly difficult scholar will strike a welcome chord with readers, especially those out-of-sync students and their teachers. (Fiction. 7-11)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2008

James and Eamon spend a week with Bill and Pam, Eamon's grandparents, while they take in a week of nature camp—a week that turns out to be "the best week ever." A deadpan text narrates the events of the week, from the obligatory nature hikes and sleeping on an inflatable mattress downstairs to Bill's well-meaning attempts to engage them in wildlife study and Pam's great cooking. Frazee's hilarious round-headed cartoons romp across the page in snort-inducing counterpoint, abetted by the occasional speech balloon ("I think it should be called Sit-Around-Camp."). What emerges is a complete portrait of two thoroughly modern boys who watch TV, get messy, resist both nature and self-improvement—and still get won over by the spell of the great outdoors. The genius here is not that the boys finally get outside in the end; it's that their joy in being together is celebrated equally whether they're annihilating each other in a video game or building a replica of Antarctica on Bill and Pam's dock. As respectful of kid sensibilities and priorities as it's possible for an adult to achieve. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2007

What to do when all the third- and fourth-graders are putting on a talent show but you don't have a talent? That's Clementine's dilemma, and her mechanisms for escaping the talent show escalate into hilarity. Pennypacker once again demonstrates her keen insights into the third-grade mind with Clementine's priceless observations of the world around her: "At journal writing I did my idea. When I was done writing, I curled my hand over my sentence as if it were too private to share. Which is how you get a teacher to come and look at it." Clementine's quest for a talent includes gluing beer-bottle caps to the bottoms of her sneakers; juggling her mother's pocketbook, half-full coffee cup and her kitten, Moisturizer; and leashing her little brother as a prop. Even as Clementine's antics escalate, the narrative avoids the pitfall of deteriorating into slapstick with the constant reminders of her essential humanity. Every kid will understand her desperate desire not to look like a fool in front of her classmates, and they will find her very talented solution—achieved with a little help from her principal—enormously satisfying. (Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
CLEMENTINE by Sara Pennypacker
Released: Sept. 1, 2006

Maybe it was because third-grader Clementine was a little bit angry with her best friend Margaret that things got out of hand with the scissors and the permanent markers and the hair. Or maybe she really was just trying to help. In short chapters, set in the city apartment building her father manages or the school where she has some tough days, Clementine relates the events of the trying week she discovered she was the difficult child in her family and thought she was about to be given away. Middle-grade readers will sympathize with Clementine's conflicted feelings about her friend and her family, and laugh out loud at her impulsive antics, narrated in a fresh first-person voice and illustrated with plenty of humor. Just like her family they will cheer when she comes up with a way to end The Great Pigeon War as well as the temporary rift with her friend. Energetic and imaginative, Clementine is gifted with understanding and patient parents. Give this to readers of Cleary and Blume and cross your fingers for more. (Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
WALK ON! by Marla  Frazee
Released: April 1, 2006

"Is sitting there on your bottom getting boring?" asks an unseen narrator of a roly-poly tot with one curl on his head, followed by the announcement, "It is time to learn how to walk!" Beginning with the instructions to stand up, Frazee centers said baby's bottom smack in the middle of a double-paged spread, head peering over it and legs akimbo. From there, it's all instructions and laughs as page by page he's is encouraged to walk by selecting appropriate support, pulling himself to a standing position, balancing, breathing and just letting go. And falling down. And having a good cry. Running down the all-important sock, shoe and diaper check, is vital as well. Simple retro-style cartoon-like illustrations in black pencil and gouache use spot art to feature the toddler in yellow booties acting out the directions while quizzically and determinedly taking those all important first steps. Clever use of bold fonts plays up the tongue-in-cheek text and adds to the fun. Frazee's saucy invitation to all generations to "walk on" has just enough kick and sass to incite action in babies (and grown-ups) everywhere. (Picture book. 1-3)Read full book review >
SANTA CLAUS by Marla  Frazee
Released: Oct. 1, 2005

This unusual view of Santa Claus focuses solely on the jolly old fellow himself, because in Frazee's interpretation, dedicated Santa does all the work, all the time and all alone, from initial toy selection to final package delivery. He visits with numerous children and visits many others in his dreams, does research at his computer (asleep, head on desk), keeps meticulous records (hundreds of Post-its) and stockpiles all the toys in his vast warehouses. He tests mechanical toys (including a long, Frazee-style curl of pogo-stick bounces), bonds with stuffed animals, wraps everything and then carefully selects the right toy for each child. The concluding pages show two dozen children unwrapping their special gifts, with an exhausted Santa enjoying his own toy, a red bicycle, after his Christmas duties are done. Frazee uses her trademark approach in her colored-pencil and gouache illustrations, showing multiple images of Santa on a page to indicate motion or passage of time and adding typical Frazee humor to the mix. Her Santa has a genuine personality and some real-world workplace issues of overwork and frustration, but also pride in a job well done. An oversized, horizontal format adds to the unique view of this Santa's workaday world. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
NEW BABY TRAIN by Woody Guthrie
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

Rather than airborne transport of newborns by the stork, singer and songwriter Woody Guthrie imagined distribution of infants by a special-delivery train. The words to his song serve as the text for this whimsical view of toddlers riding in an old-time train on their way to their new families. An older boy with a guitar (recalling a young Woody, perhaps) hops aboard, helps the conductor with childcare, and then returns home with one of the babies as a new addition to his own large family. Frazee uses gouache on speckled tan paper that mimics brown paper sacks, conveying a nostalgic flavor of Depression-era Dust Bowl farms with flat fields, tiny houses, and big, loving families, and her interpretation of the train effectively shows its special powers with varying perspectives. Unfortunately, as charming as the illustrations are, this train isn't bound for glory, as there is no music included for the unfamiliar song (which was only recently recorded for the first time) and the lyrics are not particularly successful as text to be read aloud. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
ROLLER COASTER by Marla  Frazee
Released: May 1, 2003

The most exhilarating amusement park visit since Kevin O'Malley's Roller Coaster (1995) begins with a line of prospective riders, each drawn as a distinct individual; some look eager, or at least confident, but "at least one of them has never ridden on a roller coaster before, ever." Children will soon figure out just who that might be as, after pulling back for a look at a glorious tangle of red tracks, Frazee fills up a train, then sends it zooming, swerving, dipping, and diving through pages of empty white space. At last it pulls up, and its passengers stagger off—except for one youngster, who has lost her initial anxiety, and "is planning to ride the roller coaster again . . . right away!" Capturing both the train's breathtaking speed and a hilarious range of rider reactions with consummate skill, the artist who made Linda Smith's Mrs. Biddlebox (2002) and Susan Meyers's Everywhere Babies (2001) such delights is once again in top form. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
MRS. BIDDLEBOX by Linda Smith
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

Features pinched, frizzy hair floating like a cloud of concentrated gloom overhead, entirely surrounded by great, dark angry swirls of color, old Mrs. Biddlebox has definitely gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. But rather than just grump around, she marches off to gather up dirt and shadows, twirl the fog around her broomstick like oversized cobwebs, roll up the lowering sky, stir in a sunbeam, pour it all into a pan, and bake the day into a delicious cake. Smith's posthumous text displays the animated rhythm and rhyme of her debut, When The Moon Fell Down; Frazee (Everywhere Babies, 2001, etc.) gets not only Mrs. Biddlebox's evil mood just right, but her ultimate "witchety delight" too as, with a full belly, she throws open her window (a door in the verse, but let's not quibble) to a moonlit night aswirl, this time, with flower-like stars. If Betsy Everitt's Mean Soup (1992) isn't filling enough, dish up this tempting dessert. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2001

Meyers and Frazee play a happy, well-tuned concerto on every reader's genetically preprogrammed heartstrings with this long parade of babies: swaddled, sleepy, bright-eyed, screaming with joy and/or rage, being fed, nuzzled, carried, and generally loved by a parental cadre that, unobtrusively, will raise no diversity issues. Frazee (Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild, 2000, etc.) is even better at depicting babies than Jan Ormerod (if that's possible), capturing in dozens of stubby figures everything from those funny-looking tufts of hair topping rounded or lumpy-looking heads to the utter intensity with which babies express their feelings or explore the bright world around them. Meyers's rhymed captions carry the message that every day, everywhere, babies are born, kissed, dressed, played with, and nurtured: everywhere they make noise, like toys—and, when the time comes, turn into toddlers. The text and pictures make beautiful music together, and like babies themselves, this composition is irresistible. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2000

Fox offers a wry look at the often-tumultuous life of a toddler and her harried mother. Harriet is a typical young child: spilled juice, sticky jam, and broken crockery follow in her wake over the course of an ordinary day. Her mom tries very hard not to yell or get upset; after all, Harriet is always genuinely sorry. Yet, when Harriet's pillow bursts during "quiet" time, so does her mother's temper. In the aftermath of the outburst, mother and daughter apologize and the tale ends on an upbeat note as the two recognize the silliness of their situation and, feather-bedecked, clean up the room. Fox's brief sentences capture the essence of everyday childhood catastrophes, e.g., "At lunch, Harriet slid off her chair and the tablecloth came with her, just like that." Young children can appreciate Harriet's predicament as she unintentionally wreaks havoc everywhere she goes. Fox's sympathetic tale reassures readers that mistakes and angry outbursts do not alter the loving relationship between parent and child. Frazee's lively illustrations sparkle as each of Harriet's little episodes is depicted in humorous detail. Clearly drawn and colorful, they are a witty counterpart to the story. The story, insightful and with ample doses of gentle humor, should prove a soothing balm for exasperated moms and their busy little bees. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1999

The traditional folk lullaby is given an Appalachian setting in which the pictures tell their own story. All is peaceful and quiet as baby is bedded down, until an older sibling comes along and purposefully catapults the chain of events by abruptly rocking the cradle. The baby awakens, howling, and won't stop crying. The young girl prompts her father to join her in finding the old peddler with the cart, from whom they buy a mockingbird that won't sing, a looking glass that breaks, a billy goat that won't pull, etc., all in an effort to distract and calm the baby. Most of the action takes place in front of an old-fashioned hearth, inside a candlelit log cabin, which sets the story in a bygone era. Expressive faces offer plenty of detail, while the dusky tones match the intended nighttime hush. Colors brighten as dawn appears and a tuckered-out family collapses in a heap after a stunning fall that finally quiets the baby. A funny, earthy interpretation, with plenty of scenic details to pore over. (Picture book/folklore. 3-6) Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1997

Hoberman (The Cozy Book, 1995, etc.) renders the story of finicky eaters with an understatement that both children and those who cook for them will appreciate. Persnickety eaters—they are Mrs. Peters's cross to bear, and she has seven of them. One wants warm (not hot, not cold) milk, another lemonade (not from a can, but homemade), or applesauce, or strained oatmeal, hot bread, eggs poached and fried (for the twins). Although she loves her children, her efforts to keep them fed drive her batty—``Creamy oatmeal, pots of it! Homemade bread and lots of it! Peeling apples by the peck, Mrs. Peters was a wreck.'' On her birthday, the kids do the cooking, and from their respective preferences emerges a delicious cake. Hoberman gives this tale a droll rhyme, singsongy and fresh as paint, while Frazee's pen-and-ink illustrations, with a touch of Hilary Knight's chaos to them, mold the story with warmth and mayhem: The Peterses live in a Walden-like setting that grows with the family and mellows over the years. Point taken—the antidote for picky eaters (and for the happy trials of large families) is a good sense of humor. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >