Books by Mary McQuillan

ACHOO! by Mij Kelly
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2009

After learning to use the potty (Have You Seen My Potty?, 2007), Suzy Sue and her farm-animal friends are back, this time teaching the very young some manners in rhyming verses with a catchy beat. When Suzy Sue sneezes in their faces, the animals decide it's high time she learned how to behave. They instruct her in three rules of etiquette: "Don't be disgusting"; "Don't eat like a pig."; "Do not fight." But in explaining these rules to the tot, they insult the dog, whom they say stinks, and the pigs, who eat too much, and the cats, whose tug-of-war rope they cut in half. Suzy Sue then intervenes and teaches the animals the rule they forget—the golden rule. While dogs and smelliness and pigs and eating often go hand in hand, the fighting cats may be a little further from readers' ken, and the illustrations are not much help in puzzling out how the cats are being rude. Still, McQuillan's whimsical cartoon animals are full of personality, and her bright colors and humorous details are sure to have readers poring over the illustrations. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
HAVE YOU SEEN MY POTTY? by Mij Kelly
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2007

A stolen potty is a disaster for young Suzy Sue, "who had something very important to do." As she searches high and low, with a disgruntled look on her face, a bevy of farmyard animals is oohing and ahhing over the great new poo-pot and anxiously awaiting their own turn with the bright red wonder. Youngsters, already tickled with the bathroom humor, will be in hysterics as Suzy Sue asks each animal in turn if they have seen her potty . . . while they are obviously sitting on it. They've never heard of a potty. Just as the situation looks dire, the animals notice what Suzy Sue is about to do and save the day: "Haven't you learned . . . / Or have you forgotten . . . / Always poo with a poo-pot / under your bottom!" Kelly's rhymes keep the tale moving along, although read-alouds may be interrupted by raucous laughter caused by McQuillan's artwork. The animals' body language and facial expressions will be all too familiar to the recently potty-trained and their trainers. The brightly colored illustrations have a country feel and delightfully adorable anthropomorphized animals. This is a sure winner for the toddler and preschool set. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
IT’S NOT FAIR! by Anita Harper
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

Here's another entry into the sibling-rivalry pantheon, made different only by the quick understanding of the younger sibling's issues by his big sister and McQuillan's genuinely appealing illustrations. The older of two adorable kittens relates many examples of feeling that her baby brother gets away with anything. The complaints are the usual ones—getting in trouble for making a mess or being too noisy. Midway through the story, she realizes the number of instances when she's allowed to do something that her brother isn't because he's too little. She lists many familiar complaints from younger siblings in her empathetic recounting of her brother's situation. The quick turnaround on her part is rather abruptly introduced, and the natural transition period between jealousy and sympathy is not shown. The pictures are great fun with soft, colorful pages showing skewed perspectives, humorous touches and a plethora of anthropomorphized animals. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
BARE BEAR by Miriam Moss
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 2005

It's best to have a change of clothes, as evidenced by this bear whose line-drying garments are blown away, leaving him . . . bare. In pursuit of his clothes, Busby encounters a hare in a "red riding hood" who's using his T-shirt (called "underwear" here) to cover her basket: "Hare held up the cloth. / "Yes, I see you're undressed! / You are short of clothes. / Let me help find the rest." Things grow more madcap still when hare and bear meet a mouse polishing his clock with the bear's sock, and he too echoes the aforementioned refrain. Enter warty ogre. He frightens all three until he tells them he's a vegetarian, returns the bear's shorts (he had them on his head) and joins the hunt for the final errant sock. Surprise! They end up back at the bear's lair (where his last sock is), and Busby finally gets to deliver his punch line: "I'm not a bare bear!" McQuillan's textured paintings are friendly and fun, but even they can't rescue the bland, forced rhymes and downright silly story. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
CLUCK O’CLOCK by Kes Gray
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 2004

A busy day down on the farm is the premise for this lesson in telling time, focusing on a coop full of perky hens with names such as Jane, Marge, and Freda, and their resident rooster, Colin. The rhyming text includes various ways of stating the time, with the repeating pun of "o'cluck" instead of "o'clock." A small clock, shaped like an egg, precedes the relevant text, showing each new time designation. The hens are a funny flock in both their actions throughout the day and in the way they are portrayed in the illustrations, with different imaginative colorations and characteristics to lend each of them individuality. In the story's climax, the chickens fend off a dramatic midnight attack from a fox named Olga (a welcome female villain), who gets mud in her eye and fleas in her ears to send her packing. Funny stories that make the potentially boring subject of telling time more interesting are welcome any time in the kindergarten and first-grade classroom, and teachers and librarians will be happy to give this tale a few minutes in story hours about chickens or clocks. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
OUR TWITCHY by Kes Gray
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 2003

Twitchy, a soft white rabbit, is startled to discover the reason his parents don't hop like he does: they aren't his Bunnymom and his Bunnypop, but his adoptive parents. As he munches on a carrot and tries not to look too worried, he listens as his mother, Milfoil and Sedge, a cow and a horse, explain how he came to live with them. Confused and frightened, Twitchy runs away. When Mifoil and Sedge find him, he's tried to change his appearance to match theirs, rolling down his ears, smearing his fur with mud, and adding a twig tail. After some kisses and comforting, Twitchy is assured that they are a family after all. Folksy artwork of a bonnet-wearing cow and a horse who sports a bandana are rendered in bright colors with some scratchy texturing. An easy and comforting look at a different kind of family. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
SQUEAKY CLEAN by Simon Puttock
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2001

The three little piglets in this rambunctious tale, like most wee ones, have a knack for getting downright filthy. Mama Pig, however, prefers her children when they are clean and smelling fresh. Despite their loud protests, Mama carries her piglets off to a bath. But oh how they squeal and squeak while in the hated tub. Mama gets her brain working and thinks up some creative cures for their unhappiness. First she adds some bubbles and the piglets find them pretty and tickly and loads of fun. Mama Pig has more surprises up her sleeve: she supplies rubber duckies and to top it off " . . . she splooshed and she swooshed and galooshed them all over." And it's a grand time for all. When her piglets are patted dry and snug in beds Mama decides she needs a bit of pampering herself. But she is surprised to find that her bath-time creativity may have backfired and that her piglets have decided that " . . . because baths are the BEST FUN EVER!" hadn't they better hurry and get grubby again. Perfect for bath-time, but great for lap time, Puttock's (A Story for Hippo, 2001, etc.) read is good-humored and filled with bubbly language. Children will revel in the kid-sized cliffhangers as they anticipate the next bath ingredient. McQuillan (Get Well Soon Book, not reviewed) illuminates the story with her brushstroke textures of pudgy cuteness brightened with sparkling colors on silky paper. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >