Books by Mary Stolz

Released: Aug. 1, 2004

Decked out in handsome new illustrations, this 1962 Newbery Honor-winner (originally illustrated by Beni Montresor) features twin mice who discover that they aren't as powerless as they thought. Dispatched to bell the resident cat by fierce lead mouse Portman, Bob and Ozzie screw their courage to the sticking place, steal a collar from the pet store, then flee aboard a departing ship to escape feline pursuit. The first creature they encounter upon disembarking is a sleeping cat of monstrous size—a tiger, who, rather than eating them, admires the collar they intrepidly slip onto its tail, shows them their effect on a passing elephant, then sees them back to the ship. This experience gives them the moxie to face Portman down, on their return home. Both Stolz's rich language and her central theme have a timeless freshness, and Pratt's impasto scenes of dot-eyed, square-nosed mice scampering through a very large world capture the tale's danger, comedy, and lightly satiric touches expertly. Bob, Ozzie, and the cat are renamed; the otherwise unaltered text is quite a bit longer than usual for its new format, but today's readers will be as delighted by it as their grandparents were. (Picture book. 7-9)Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 30, 1997

Stolz (Coco Grimes, 1994, etc.) fleshes out—barely—a sentimental Civil War ballad about brothers who share a hobby horse, and years later, another steed in the aftermath of battle. Tom Rigby's excitement as he awakens on his ninth birthday changes to outrage when he learns that the slave Aaron, a companion to him and his twin for most of their lives, has been summarily ``sent to the quarter'' by their father to be a field hand. Although he listens reluctantly to the warnings of the household slaves (who maintain that making a fuss will only endanger Aaron), Tom defiantly gives his birthday toys away to the slave children. He has an argument with twin Jack, who echoes their father's advocacy of slavery, although the rift isn't wide enough to prevent him from sharing his hobby horse when Jack's breaks. Twelve years later, Tom—a Union officer—recalls that time as he offers a ride to a wounded Confederate soldier who only looks too familiar. Stolz focuses more on her characters' emotional states than on plot or background detail, and readers who are less familiar with the era will wonder why Aaron was sent away, and why the slave children have to hide their new toys from the overseer. Paul Fleischman's Bull Run or Gary Paulsen's Nightjohn (both, 1993) afford more insight into the realities of slavery and of what Stolz calls ``this brothers' war.'' (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 9-11) Read full book review >
COCO GRIMES by Mary Stolz
Released: May 30, 1994

Another exquisitely crafted visit with Thomas and his grandfather (Stealing Home, 1992). Thomas receives some memorable birthday gifts: a ball hit by Bobby Bonilla in a spring training game; a blank journal from Great-Aunt Linzy (Grandfather suggests that he close each entry with a Pepysian ``And so to bed.'' And so he does); a mouth-watering homemade chocolate-and-apricot butter cake from Grandfather; and later, an awed interview with Coco Grimes, irascible 90+ veteran of the Negro Baseball League. As usual, Stolz's characters are simply drawn but never superficially realized; they work and speak together in an atmosphere of mutual respect freshened by understated humor and a thoughtful appreciation for both the pleasures of the moment and those that endure. A rich, wise, and tender story from a treasured writer. (Fiction. 9-12) Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1994

Unlike the weather, for which the forecast is often amusingly wrong in this pleasant early chapter book, the routines enjoyed by gray-haired Mrs. Weed and her cat Clover (``plump and proud'') and dog Pocket (``little and lighthearted'') are comfortably predictable—different seasons and times of day cause only small modifications in their ritual walks and snacks, while such happenings as a spring bouquet from Mrs. Weed's former students (now grown), or minor vicissitudes like a tree, blown down in a fall storm, blocking the front door, are momentary diversions. Watson's precise illustrations, as cozy as the neatly honed text, nicely enhance the contrast between Mrs. Weed's tidy home and the little occurrences that add interest to her placid days. Quiet, beautifully crafted, a book that glows with the simple pleasures afforded by the unexpected in an orderly world. (Young reader. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1994

Telling his story as a very old man, Cezanne Pinto begins with a morning early in his boyhood when his mother, who's been sold, is taken away: she ``sat with her back straight, her eyes meeting mine, as the wagon moved slowly out of the muddy yard...'' Bereft of his only kin, the boy is comforted by Tamar, the new cook, who- -years later, when he's 12—escapes with him to Canada on the Underground Railroad, educating him along the way. After serving briefly in a cavalry division at the end of the Civil War, the gifted young horseman goes to Texas with a white friend, Cal Trillo. In scenes rich with the pathos of brothers divided and reunited, Stolz conveys a powerful message about prejudice and war. Cezanne's empathy with the cattle he drives as a cowboy resonates- -as does his guileless gratitude at the kindness of strangers. His ``slave'' speech makes for difficult reading in the beginning, and the flashback format somewhat undermines suspense by allaying concern for his safety; still, an interesting tale, abundant in real detail. (Fiction. 12+) Read full book review >
DEPUTY SHEP by Mary Stolz
Released: Sept. 30, 1991

The fourth burglary in Canoville occurs just before Deputy Shep begins the night shift, forcing him to disrupt his laid-back style with an active investigation. His troubles multiply when wealthy Mrs. Colly's bay mare disappears and when Fire Chief Dal disturbs the peace by wildly racing the fire engine through town. Deftly dealing with pressures brought to bear by the town's leading citizens, Shep recovers the stolen objects with the help of young Bert Peke, the mayor's son, who has discovered a pack rat at work. Though some of the quirky tongue-in-cheek humor about a town populated by dogs may be beyond young readers, this will answer requests for ``a funny story'' or a mystery; it's also a good choice for hard-to-help transitional readers or for kids who enjoy a warm, fuzzy world like Canoville. Illustrations to be plentiful, but not seen. (Fiction. 7-10)*justify no* Read full book review >
Released: May 24, 1991

In Emmett's Pig (1959), Emmett received his heart's desire; ``King Emmett,'' a pig described as his but kept on a farm at some distance from his N.Y.C. home. Now, in one day, Emmett receives two overwhelming pieces of news: he hears that his family is moving to a small Ohio town (which precipitates what may be his first temper tantrum); then, with remarkably bad timing, his mother tells him that King Emmett is no more—he has met a pig's usual fate. Not surprisingly, Emmett arrives at the Ohio house full of belligerence, but Ohio simply doesn't fight back: the house really is nicer; despite Emmett's suspicions, the older boy next door is friendly and teaches Emmett to ride his new bike; and a more suitable pet is soon provided—a dog with a memorial name (see title), to be called simply ``King.'' Once past the jolting (though not altogether improbable) beginning, this becomes a pleasant story of necessary adjustments made with good intentions and with some realistic parent-child negotiations. Williams's contribution is minimal here, but Emmett is recognizable, just a year older. (Fiction/Young reader. 7-10) Read full book review >
Released: May 6, 1964

When Will Fanshaw protested the clock and calendar routine imposed by his Grandfather, the old man assured him, "Change is a very bad thing." He said "As a rule" and had one for everything. None of these had ever been broken until Tom Kitten arrived. It was stormy, the door had been looked for the night on schedule, but after much soul searching, the Grandfather let him in. Tom, of course, had his own set of rules. The foremost seemed to be to get out nights to the woods that bordered their cottage. This was absolutely forbidden territory because the Grandfather had a rule about not going near them. One night, Tom slipped out when the locked door was reluctantly opened to a policeman. Will and his Grandfather went to search for him. They were lost in the never-before-investigated woods. The fierce animals that the Grandfather had suspected there, turned out to be small animals quietly going about their own routines. With catly assurance, Tom Kitten found them and led the way home. There, a re-examination of the rules by a newly thoughtful Grandfather led to a separation of the inconsequential from the sensible and necessary. The watercolor illustrations catch the air of a starkly ordered existence as well as the gloom of the night in the woods. Easy to tell or read aloud or to read alone, the story has comfort for the rule-bound as well as some reminders for chronic rule breakers. Read full book review >