Books by Mary Ann Hoberman

Released: March 19, 2019

"A celebration of unity through variety that's just right for these divided times. (Picture book. 4-8)"
An ebullient tribute to geographic and cultural diversity on this planet. Read full book review >
I LIKE OLD CLOTHES by Mary Ann Hoberman
Released: Aug. 14, 2012

"With Barton's nuanced illustrations, Hoberman's 36-year-old hand-me-down poem defines sustainability for the next generation. (Picture book. 3-7)"
Hand-me-downs gain new poetic life in this charming picture-book remake. Read full book review >
FORGET-ME-NOTS by Mary Ann Hoberman
Released: April 3, 2012

"An oversized, ambitious collection of verse that, in the end, proves sadly forgettable. (Poetry. 8-14)"
Over 120 poems, with accompanying illustrations, selected to help young readers discover the pleasures of committing verse to memory. Read full book review >
Released: April 27, 2010

Nola has always stood by her younger sister, Song—through surgery, chemotherapy, remission and the recurrence of Song's cancer—but, craving adventure and normalcy, she takes a summer job as a waitress at Rocky Cove, a swanky Maine resort. On the bus, she immediately bonds with spontaneous, gregarious Carly. When Carly abruptly replaces Nola's roommate Bridget, Nola is overjoyed, and the two girls spend the first half of the summer as an inseparable duo, known to all as "the Cannolis." As busy mealtimes in the dining room, lazy days at the beach and beer-soaked parties bleed together, Carly takes over Nola's life—copying her haircut, becoming pen pals with Song, flirting with the boy Nola likes—undermining Nola's confidence and sense of self all the while. During a surprise visit from Song, Carly precipitates a dangerous stunt, which prompts a major confrontation with Nola. Carly is ultimately a pitiable figure, and Jacobson's gradual reveal, through Nola's first-person, present-tense narration, of the fun, then the danger, of this classic frenemy's borderline personality disorder is deliciously, palpably tense. (Fiction. 15 & up)Read full book review >
ALL KINDS OF FAMILIES! by Mary Ann Hoberman
Released: Aug. 1, 2009

Readers who approach this title expecting a 21st-century love-makes-a-family message overtly embracing adoptive, queer, blended and other diverse family constellations will be disappointed. Instead of approaching "all kinds of families" in this way, however, the author riffs on "family" as a synonym for "group," describing not only human relationships but placing inanimate objects, animals and other things into family groups. The result is vintage Hoberman: Clever, rhyming wordplay mining a single concept for all it's worth and a singsong cadence that begs to be read aloud combine to produce a text reminiscent of earlier collaborations with Betty Fraser in A House is a House for Me (1978) and The Cozy Book (1999). French artist Boutavant's stylized, digitally produced illustrations are a clear departure from Fraser's watercolors, but they share a high attention to detail, inviting children to pore over pictures for new discoveries on every page opening. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
STRAWBERRY HILL by Mary Ann Hoberman
Released: July 1, 2009

Ten-year-old Allie is beside herself when she learns that her family is moving far away from her best friend, Ruthie. When her family arrives at their new home, however, Allie begins to form new friendships immediately. There is Allie's favorite friend, the rich girl, Martha, who goes to Catholic school but plays with Allie in the afternoon. And then there is Mimi, who is Jewish like Allie, chubby and desperate for friendship; she attends Allie's school but has been held back in the third grade. Petty BFF politics take center stage as the three girls, along with a few peripheral characters, vacillate among loyalty, jealousy, friendship and rejection. Predictably and unrealistically, Mimi loses weight, improves her reading enough to get promoted to fourth grade with Allie's help and earns herself the overvalued title of Allie's official best friend. Minus the few passages and scenes that serve to establish the Great Depression-era setting, the story could have happened just about anywhere. Neither a great friendship saga nor a good choice for historical reading. (Historical fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2007

Hoberman and Emberley return with their fourth collaboration of short read-aloud stories in verse, this time a baker's dozen of goofy-scary original ones. The author's note (aimed at adults) and the introductory poem (aimed at readers, with illustrations of two youngsters in monster masks) proffer the book's premise: These stories, ideal for reading aloud, use spooky settings to express the joys of reading. Each poem spans two facing pages and, at 9"x12", the book is large enough to accommodate multiple small illustrations that retell each story pictorially. Subjects cover Halloween mainstays like "The Skeleton," "Trick or Treat" and "The Witch and the Broomstick," as well as a variety of other eerie entities. In "The Mummy," for example, two children in miners helmets gleefully unwrap a figure in a coffin, and get a surprise. A boy on a bicycle helps "The Ghoul" learn to read. Text throughout comes in multiple pastel shades, nicely matching Emberley's impish illustrations, in pencil, watercolor and pastels. Nifty. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
I’M GOING TO GRANDMA’S by Mary Ann Hoberman
Released: April 1, 2007

The first time a granddaughter sleeps over, Grandma makes her a little more comfortable when she tells the story of her special quilt. Hoberman's rhyming verses perfectly capture all the fun and excitement of Grandma's house—jam cookies, Grandpa's serenade on his musical saw, the new puppy, a closet full of dress-up clothes and helping to cook. All is fine until bedtime, when home suddenly seems far away. But then Grandma tells the tale of her Grandma, who had a beautiful dress when she was little. Finally, she outgrew it and her grandmother began a quilt from the fabric of the dress. Over the years, the quilt has grown and each square has its own story. Promising to tell her some of those stories the next time she spends the night, Grandma tucks in her granddaughter. Beeke's watercolor-and-acrylic illustrations mesh wonderfully with the mood and tone of the text. While this has limited applicability, it may alleviate some anxiety or help some grandparents start a new tradition, and is a sweet tale on its own. (Picture book. 3-8)Read full book review >
MRS. O’LEARY’S COW by Mary Ann Hoberman
Released: April 1, 2007

In this adaptation of Brian Wilson's song (originally about the supposed origins of the "Great Chicago Fire"), the excitement begins when the cow kicks over the lantern. "There'll be a hot time in the old town tonight!" rings the jubilant refrain, which is always followed by a chant like, "Fire, Fire, Fire!" or "Water, Water, Water!" The devoted family tries to save the cow that, trapped by smoke and fire, "Was getting warm as toast." When the firemen arrive, hoses spraying, they make a daring rescue, saving the cow from its precipitous perch on the roof. As the bovine is at last tucked under the quilt, she offers a wink and slight smirk, a wicked suggestion that, all along, she planned for this coziness. The stylized illustrations are so bright as to seem illuminated from within, and the colors are as smooth as velvet. The art is uncluttered with clean lines and endearing doll-like faces. This song with a shadowy past now translates to one of bravery and love, with a dash of impishness. A sure-fire hit for a rousing parent/child read-aloud. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: July 6, 2005

A companion to the two earlier volumes put out by this duo, this venture features original stories based on Mother Goose. Hoberman splits each rhyming story into parts differentiated by the color of the text. One color for one reader, a second for the other and a third color for the two to read together. There are 13 stories plus an introduction and a coda. The characters in these rhymes are recognizable: Simple Simon, Old Mother Hubbard, Little Miss Muffet. However, their antics diverge from the old saws in humorous and inventive ways. Jack Sprat and his wife go on a diet. Old King Cole's fiddlers get a lesson from the Hey Diddle Diddle Cat. Humpty Dumpty does get put back together, but he complains about the doctor's bill. Emberley's happily expressive animals and people are the icing on Hoberman's madcap Mother Goose. Sure to draw giggles from the most reluctant young readers. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

Playful rhymes celebrate the sheer joy of reading in this exuberant read-aloud collection. Designed for two readers, the poems are laid out with verses in place-specific positions and printed in a trio of colors to indicate the different voices; purple on the left, pink on the right, and the blue sections in the center indicating that the text should be read in unison. Hoberman (It's Simple, Said Simon, 2001, etc.) draws upon such universally kid-pleasing themes as frolicking in the snow and frisky puppies, liberally infusing them with copious amounts of silliness. The result: rambunctious poems to tickle funny bones. Whatever the theme, each poem concludes with the rousing chorus, "You read to me. / I'll read to you." Hoberman's verses draw the readers into a delightful verbal sparring match of dueling rhymes. The humorous bandying keeps the laughs coming while the actual vocabulary is manageable for fledgling readers. The poems run the gamut from a pair of dogs scolding a cat for chasing mice to the wonderfully insouciant poem, "Hop and Skip." Emberley's pen-and-watercolor illustrations capture the liveliness of the poems; small vignettes revel in the absurdities, beckoning readers to join in and relish the fun. In "The Two Mice," Hoberman sums up the philosophy of the collection quite nicely. "Two readers reading / Make a game. / It's twice as nice / When there are two." And what fun this is for readers and listeners alike. (Picture book. 6-8) Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2001

Layering paint, gesso, and natural objects thinly atop scraped concrete surfaces, Wilton (Where Does the Butterfly Go When It Rains?, 1997, etc.) places stylized flora and fauna into subdued settings suggestive of passing seasons. Hoberman's (The Marvelous Mouse Man, p. 493, etc.) accompanying verse is also more evocative than specifically descriptive: "In spring the wind whips up a kite. / Right outside my window. / Silver raindrops catch the light / Right outside my window," etc. Painting in a similar style, but on plywood, Stefano Vitale achieved a warmer look in Charlotte Zolotow's When the Wind Stops (1995); pair these two together for an illuminating study in contrasting visual textures, but stick with the latter for an emotionally richer commemoration of time's passage. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
BILL GROGAN’S GOAT by Mary Ann Hoberman
Released: April 1, 2001

Keeping the rhythm and rhyme of the familiar song, Hoberman (The Looking Book, below, etc.) updates and extends its ending. When his goat eats his newly laundered shirts, Bill Grogan punishes him by tying him to the railroad track. The clever goat manages to cough up the shirts just in time to flag the train. And there begins his newest adventure. The engineer invites him to come along for a ride, but he offends one animal passenger after another as he sits on them, mistaking them for furniture. He gives away his red shirts to make amends, but at lunchtime, the pig, sheep, and cow have such terrible manners that not only does the goat not get anything to eat, but the shirts become a filthy mess. When the engineer demands they clean up, the three dutifully comply. In a familiar ending, those red shirts drying on the line are just too much temptation for the goat. The pastel illustrations will have readers smiling at the accident-prone goat. The opening scene really sets the stage, with Bill Grogan hanging wash while the goat lounges in a lawn chair. Around them are the trappings typical of hillbilly yards: an old wringer washer outside, a clothes line with red long johns flapping in the breeze, hubcaps as stepping stones leading to a dilapidated house, and a tree growing out of an old rubber tire. Westcott's (She Did It, p. 104, etc.) characters are full of life, and their emotions are plain from their facial expressions and gestures. A humorous continuation of a childhood favorite . . . and a tune that readers will be hard-pressed to get out of their heads. (Picture book. 3-8)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2001

Bouncing verse takes Ned through the pages of the book as he searches for his lost cat Pistachio. Huliska-Beith's (Recess Queen, 2002, etc.) bright acrylic-and-collage illustrations depict a rubber-limbed Ned and his bespectacled horse as they travel through a series of surreal landscapes, always missing the (appropriately) green cat. Each page of the story, from 1-28, is numbered prominently, and most include some grouping of objects to count; these range from the obvious-but-clever (four goldfish and four four-leaf clovers on page 4) to the obscure (22 stripes on the tiger on page 22) to the absent (no such groupings on pages 9 or 14, for instance), making the counting activity hit-or-miss. Pistachio herself is more or less easy to spot, but some spreads feature two facing single-page illustrations while some are double-page spreads; the logic of Pistachio-spotting varies according to the page layout. Hoberman's (Bill Grogan's Goat, above, etc.) text rollicks along cheerily enough at first, but becomes rhythmically monotonous by page 18 or so, and the "book" that Ned moves through has no unifying narrative arc to milk the metaliterary device. While children are likely to enjoy the game of finding Pistachio, adult readers may be grinding their teeth by the end. There are better counting books and hide-and-seek books available, and goodness knows that, in the year following Wiesner's The Three Pigs, there are better books that deconstruct the notion of book. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2001

A classic legend gets a more or less good-humored makeover with a happier ending. Plagued by mice—" ‘What shall we do?' the townsfolk cried. / ‘In spite of every thing we've tried, / They've covered all the countryside / And still they keep on coming! / Their manners are extremely rude; / They don't show any gratitude; / And yet they gobble up our food / And clog up all the plumbing!' "—the residents of "Mousy Town" happily pay an oddly dressed stranger to wave his magic fan and lure the rodents away with deliciously cheesy odors. But then all the cats follow, and all the dogs, and finally all the children. What to do? Suddenly the Mouse Man has a sly look. Giving the tale a 19th-century setting, Forman combines soft lines and warm colors reminiscent of Jim LaMarche, with figures and details as finely drawn as Wendy Anderson Halperin's, then casts a golden glow over every scene that suggests the benign resolution to come. And, perhaps harking back to her renowned A House Is a House for Me (1978), Hoberman provides one, in a child's suggestion that a vagrant trickster might become a good neighbor, if only he had a house. A rollicking, readable remake from one of the best versifiers in the business, and a strong debut for the illustrator. (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
IT’S SIMPLE, SAID SIMON by Mary Ann Hoberman
Released: March 1, 2001

In sketchy, expressive watercolors, So (Tasty Baby Belly Buttons, 1999, etc.) deftly shifts the scene from city sidewalk to jungle path as a strolling lad takes on more and more difficult challenges from animals met along the way. Simon has no trouble growling like a dog ("It's simple"), stretching like a cat, or even jumping like a horse, but escaping a tiger after he's climbed onto its back isn't quite so easy. So gives the tale an indeterminate Asian locale, with brushwork and figure placement evocative of traditional Chinese art, though boy and beast look at least somewhat Indian. Not that this matters: it's an original tale, written in plain, but rhythmic language that begs to be read aloud, and features a self-confident lad as capable of getting himself out of trouble as into it. Cleverness saves Simon in the end: he tricks the tiger into taking him into a river, and swims away. Readers who never have liked the way the Gingerbread Boy meets his end will be pleased by Simon's escape—easily. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
THE TWO SILLIES by Mary Ann Hoberman
Released: Oct. 1, 2000

Hoberman's rhymes are ever a pleasure and so they are here in this staccato bit of folderol verse about taking the longest distance between two points. Silly Lilly wants a cat, but does she go scare one up at the local shelter? No. She takes the advice of her friend Sammy. First she cuts down a stand of trees, then builds a log cabin shed, then buys a cow, and when she milks the cow in her shed a cat wanders in to sample the goods. "Look! A cat has come! What fun! / You don't have to get me one. / See, I didn't have to do / All the work you told me to." She isn't called Silly for nothing. Then a mouse in the cabin frightens Sammy, who proceeds to follow Silly Lilly's suggestion to go cut hay, gather catnip, build a bed for the cat, move the cow out of the shed, and lock the cat inside—all to be rid of the mouse. Sammy doesn't make the connection when they return later—"Look how happy she does seem. / I bet she found a bowl of cream. / And look, the mice have gone away! / I guess they didn't want to stay"—but then he isn't the best friend of someone named Silly for nothing. Hoberman cares as much about the story, which is droll and warm, as she does the pleasing rhyme scheme. The well-paced repetitions in particular have the fine thrumming quality of a spoken charm. Cravath's brightly colored illustrations fill most pages with homespun humor: Lilly all scrawny legs and bony elbows, Sammy a plump country fellow, suspenders barely holding up his trousers, and Lilly's cat showing the evidence of its feast with one tiny tail hanging from its contented smile. A crowd-pleaser. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2000

Readers all know that the eensy-weensy spider went up the spout again, but then what did she do? In this expanded version of the song by the pair that collaborated on Miss Mary Mack (not reviewed) the plucky purple spider in a spunky blue hat encounters one adventure after another, as she rhymes her eensy-weensy way from morning 'til night. Whether hugging a baby bug, swimming with a frog, or buying new shoes (three pair please!), this minute arachnid heroine marches blithely along, courtesy of Hoberman's ear-catching verse. Finally "The eensy-weensy spider slept right through the night. / When she awoke the sun was shining bright. / ‘Good,' said the spider, ‘there isn't any rain!' " (Savvy readers will know what comes next.) Westcott's lush garden scenes are filled with critters large and small and provide a bug's-eye-view of the world. Riotous color and clever details add to the appeal. Begging to be read aloud, this is a sure-fire hit for story time. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
ONE OF EACH by Mary Ann Hoberman
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

An exuberant story in singsong about the pleasures of sharing with friends, from the author of The Seven Silly Eaters (p. 223). Oliver Tolliver, perhaps an Airedale terrier, thinks he has the perfect home, for he has one of everything he needs. He invites a small gray tabby cat, Peggoty Small, in to admire his accoutrements, but is dismayed that she finds his arrangements less than inviting. Oliver makes haste to equip his house more hospitably and is soon sharing his happy home not only with Peggoty but with a whole party of new friends as well. The simple story is borne along in lighthearted verse and busy, full-bleed paintings; children will enjoy touring Oliver's ``little old tumbledown house,'' with its riot of colors, jumble of patterns, curvaceous furniture, and dancing perspectives. Finding all the things Oliver adds to his house to make it fit for two is a pleasant challenge. (Picture book. 4-7) 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 >
THE COZY BOOK by Mary Ann Hoberman
Released: Oct. 1, 1995

The word cozy—warmth, ease, snugness—may not be the perfect choice for this compendium of hundreds of action and sensory experiences associated with one long day. The collaborators behind A House Is A House For Me (1978), which gets a plug in this book, include seesaws, fruit stands, cheek-popping, tongue-clicking, insect buzzing, alleys, clowns, cellars, traffic noise, airplanes overhead. As a chronicle of the author's favorite things, the relentless surge of words in rhyme offers toddlers much to listen to. Fraser's illustration are just as daunting; the spreads require lingering even as the words push readers ever onward. Accept this as riotously pell-mell wordplay and as a catalog of a child's world—then it's right on the mark. (Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1991

Thirty wise, witty, neatly constructed poems, from a spirited definition (``Whether there's ten or there's two in your family,/All of your family plus you is a family!'') to an inclusive celebration (``Our Family Comes from Round the World''). Between is a sampling of configurations (``I am a half- brother/I am a whole-brother/I am a step-brother/There's just one of me!''); comical glimpses of the family scene; and some quieter, affectionate moments. In her lively illustrations, Hafner captures both the hilarious—like an uproarious four-ring family at dinner—and such blissful moments as getting Mom's full attention while sick in bed. Full of insight and lots of fun. (Poetry/Picture book. 4-9) Read full book review >
A FINE FAT PIG by Mary Ann Hoberman
Released: March 15, 1991

Fourteen paintings of animals in a modern ``folk art'' style, accompanied by amusing, deftly phrased verse that seems to have been devised for the art, rather than the reverse: while Hoberman's usual wit and craftsmanship are in evidence, the book as a whole has less unity than her other popular titles (A House Is a House for Me, 1978). The poems do make good companions to the naive paintings, whose bold forms and colors will especially appeal to young children while their elders enjoy the exquisite balance of the vibrant tones.~(Poetry/Picture bool. 2+) Read full book review >