Books by Mary Calhoun

Released: May 1, 1999

PLB 0-688-14675-9 Blue-Ribbon Henry (40 pp.; $16.00; PLB $15.93; May; 0-688-14674-0; PLB 0-688-14675-9): Calhoun and Ingraham (Henry the Sailor Cat, 1994, etc.) welcome readers to the hustle and bustle of a county fair where Buttons, the dog, and Henry, the cat, are entered into a pet show. When Henry gets loose from his cage and enters the greased-pig pen, the excitement is just beginning. Henry paws at and bursts the balloon of a lost child, but redeems himself by returning her to the safety of her mother's arms. Is it any wonder that Henry wins a blue ribbon? Ingraham's illustrations capture all of the highlights and atmosphere of a county fair in the summertime. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
FLOOD by Mary Calhoun
by Mary Calhoun, illustrated by Erick Ingraham
Released: March 1, 1997

Wholesome family values are served up in this story of one family's survival of the great flood of the Midwest in 1993. Sarajean is as tenacious as her grandmother in her resistance to the rising waters of her beloved Mississippi. When possessions, including Sarajean's dog, are moved to higher ground, her family staunchly ``camps out'' on the second story to weather the storm. When the levee breaks, they are forced to evacuate. In true Laura Ingalls Wilder style, they learn the true meaning of home. This is not high-action disaster drama; it is social commentary via the portrait of an individual family's efforts and contribution within a community. Appropriately dull grays and blues convey the damp, dreary heaviness of the skies and water-soaked landscape in a much more serious take on floods than found in George Ella Lyon's lively Come a Tide (1990). Although the home-is-where-the-heart-is message is heavy-handed, it's also enduring. (Picture book. 5-7) Read full book review >
TONIO'S CAT by Mary Calhoun
Released: Aug. 1, 1996

Calhoun (Henry the Sailor Cat, 1994, etc.) writes about Tonio, from Mexico, who is new at school and new in California. Hanging around the school one day, he befriends a stray cat. Little by little—giving him a piece of sausage, helping him catch a mouse- -Tonio wins his trust and makes his first friend. As a result, he gets to know a couple of his classmates as well. The story ends with a dramatic twist in which Tonio finds the cat caught in a cage and sets him free. This short tale about the immigrant experience has emotional subtlety, and readers will empathize with Tonio as they watch him gradually embrace his fragile new life. Its low-key style combines a clean and easy syntax with a rich assortment of adjectives and a sizable Spanish vocabulary: a dinner-table conversation takes place in Spanish, in which every phrase is unobtrusively translated in the third-person narration. The large paintings, in a palette of understated grays and greens, are filled with Mexican faces. What these illustrations capture best is not any individual personality but a general mood: The way things look to the slightly melancholy, no longer completely miserable, new kid in school. The lunchroom scenes are particularly evocative. (Picture book. 5+) Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1994

The popular Siamese returns as a stowaway on a jaunt with ``The Man'' and ``The Kid.'' When hiding below makes Henry queasy, he comes on deck to enjoy the sights (including dolphins and a whale), ascend the mast, note how the small craft is sailed, and play a crucial role in rescuing The Man when he falls overboard. The story is slight and predictable, but it's smoothly told by this old pro, while the carefully crafted realistic illustrations (remarkably precise for watercolors) are sure to appeal to Henry's fans and other cat lovers. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
WHILE I SLEEP by Mary Calhoun
Released: April 23, 1992

Like Ginsburg's Asleep, Asleep (below), another bedtime survey of sleepers, inspired by a child's questions. The repetitive, more pedestrian text here (``Does a boat sleep at night, Mama? Yes, dear. Boats sleep at their docks'') is also broader-ranging, going from domestic to wild animals to kinds of transportation and concluding with the sun and the curious child. Young sets his night-darkened images of the sleepers in four-inch squares that he imposes on sunny double spreads of the corresponding animals, train, etc. engaged in daytime activities, their evanescent forms distilled to impressionistic simplicity against serene, dreamlike clouds of glorious color. The idea here is trite, but Young's imaginative visualization is a pleasure. (Picture book. 2-6) Read full book review >
HIGH-WIRE HENRY by Mary Calhoun
Released: April 24, 1991

The popular Siamese who appeared in Cross-Country Cat (1979), etc., copes with competition: a new puppy with whom his family is wholly smitten. Striving for attention, Henry practices balancing on the clothesline, becoming so adept that he's able to run along the telephone wire to rescue the puppy when it climbs out onto the roof. The tried-but-true formula, told with practiced skill, is endearingly extended in the soft, precisely detailed pencil-and-watercolor illustrations. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >