Books by Martha Alexander

Released: July 1, 2009

A crisp envoi from the late Alexander celebrates creativity in children while delivering a pointed message to prescriptive grown-ups. Certain that his mom would rather have an original drawing than a colored-in coloring page that his teacher forces on him, Max hides in the shrubbery outside school to create his own picture. When his four classmates see the result, they're inspired to make unique flowers of their own—and all the moms (plus the teacher) turn out to be delighted. Working from the author's sketches, Rumford depicts Max as a small, fierce redhead, suspends him and the other figures in white space as Alexander often did and adds a prose appreciation to go with the stylistic one. Opening and closing pages of flower paintings contributed by friends, family and associates (some of them familiar names) wrap this terse and lovely tribute to a veteran writer and illustrator whose works no self-respecting library should be without. (Picture book. 5-7) Read full book review >
THE LITTLE GREEN WITCH by Barbara Barbieri McGrath
Released: July 1, 2005

Alexander's soft-textured, colored-pencil illustrations convey a sweetness decidedly at odds with the verbal tone of this "Little Red Hen" remake. One day Little Green Witch finds some pumpkin seeds in the garden's carefully tended muck. She gets no help from the ghost, gremlin and bat with whom she shares a hollow tree, either in doing the "unhousework," or in growing the pumpkins and carving the resultant jack-o'-lanterns. She not only declines to share her well-burnt pumpkin-gloop pie at the end, but she turns all three of her lazy housemates into little red hens. Clad in a conical hat, ragged shift and pink panties, the childlike witch has a ready smile that looks friendly rather than malicious, even in the closing scene, and the illustrator's efforts to uglify the house and garden only make them look comfortably inviting. As Barry Downard's Little Red Hen (2004), Ann Whitford Paul's Mañana, Iguana (2004) and many other examples attest, the tale lends itself to offbeat riffs—but here the dissonance gets in the way of the humor. (Picture book/folktale. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 2003

Alexander adds a new tale to her much-loved series about the bear who comes to life from a drawing on a blackboard. Here, young Anthony is not happy about the prospect of having to share Blackboard Bear with a couple of neighborhood kids, Stewart and Gloria. Stewart and Gloria aren't so happy either, and Stewart goes so far as to bully: "You'll see, Anthony. I'll get him. I'm bigger than you and I'm not afraid of your bear either." Anthony and Blackboard Bear retreat to their house, where they have a powwow over the notion of sharing (only Anthony speaks during this conclave, as Blackboard Bear is ever mute): "How do you know they feel left out? Well, yes, I would too, I guess." Then they devise a satisfactory solution. A spare and effective vote for sharing (and a good example of how to avoid a pulping), cleverly drawn by Alexander to invest the real world with watercolor dreaminess, while the fantastical bear maintains a concrete—indeed, opaque gray—presence. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >