Books by Marylin Hafner

IT'S THANKSGIVING! by Jack Prelutsky
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

Like Prelutsky's It's Halloween and It's Christmas, this consists of jog-trotting rhymes concerning standard holiday topics - including the modern one of the after-dinner football game on TV. The least expected but still mild ending comes in "I Went Hungry on Thanksgiving." The reason - "my new braces hurt so much." There's a rhyme about the parade seen (the last line reveals) on TV; a straight one about "The First Thanksgiving"; another set at school ("Our teacher gives us projects/that we work on every day,/we make Indians and Pilgrims/out of paper, paste, and clay. . . ."); still others set at the dinner table; and a final one about too many turkey leftovers. Hafner picks up the spirit of familiar fun, and though there are no delights here, the sheer predictability of form and content (suitable perhaps to this most predictable of holidays) might be an advantage to beginning readers. Read full book review >
TEACHER’S PETS by Dayle Ann Dodds
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 2006

When Miss Fry told her students that their pets could visit for their weekly sharing day, little did she know it was the beginning of a zoo. Each Monday, a different student brings in his or her pet . . . and conveniently forgets to take it home. Tuesday always illuminates the reason why: The rooster disturbed the neighbors; the dog chewed the sofa cushions; and on it goes, from Alia's goat to Lily's monkey. All year long Miss Fry feeds and cares for the animals before going home. On the last day, the children leave with their pets, except Roger. His cricket Moe likes Miss Fry best. And so the somersaulting cricket goes home to Miss Fry's garden and adds the perfect sound to her quiet little house. Hafner's illustrations follow the text, focusing on the additions of the animals, rather than on the zaniness that must be the result of so many creatures living in one classroom. A cute tale to share with a teacher who has a similar classroom zoo, but a rather troubling sub-message that pets can be foisted off on others when they show less-than-desirable behaviors. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
TUMBLE BUNNIES by Kathryn Lasky
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 2005

An insecure little rabbit finds that the air is where he shines. Clyde's unhappiness about the upcoming Sports Spectacular at school is compounded by his older brother's teasing—so much so, in fact, that he starts to think of ways to miss the whole event, to avoid the humiliation of not being chosen for a team. When his friend Rosemary tells him that there will be individual acrobatic events as well as team sports, however, Clyde decides to put his bed-bouncing prowess to the test on the trampoline in a display of "dynamic air tumbling"—with predictably satisfying results. Lasky's rather lengthy text displays a sympathetic understanding of the child psyche; readers, athletic or not, will easily recognize Clyde's insecurities, and they will delight in his triumph. Hafner's amiable ink-and-watercolor illustrations depict a school full of happily middle-class bunnies all going about their sporty business. If it's not a startlingly original setting or plot, it's nevertheless an eminently comfortable one—and there's nothing wrong with that. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
THE PEPINS AND THEIR PROBLEMS by Polly Horvath
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 11, 2004

Horvath puts a distinctive and decidedly hilarious spin on the "problem novel" with this chronicle of a family's unusual (to say the least) mishaps. She also carries the metafictional conceits of Allen Ahlberg's Better Brown Stories (1995) and such a step further—for not only does she converse with her characters, she invites readers to chime in psychically from wherever they may be, duly recording any suggestions she "receives," along with their towns of origin. Poor Pepins: if it's not a rash of toads in their shoes, or a cow who's suddenly giving lemonade when it's cheese that's in short supply, it's Mrs. Pepin's latest crying jag, or the mysterious disappearance of all the tableware. Young readers won't be able to turn the pages fast enough to discover the Pepins' newest predicament, to find out its seldom-obvious cause, to check out the reader comments winging in from the likes of Boring, MD, Forks of Cacapon, WV, and other real places—but mostly to meet the Pepins, part Bagthorpes, part fugitives from Chelm, and their fittingly quirky neighbors, all of whom are rendered in Hafner's sunny, simply drawn cartoons. A delight. (Fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
POCKET POEMS by Bobbi Katz
edited by Bobbi Katz, illustrated by Marylin Hafner
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2004

With an eye toward easy memorization, Katz gathers over 50 short poems from the likes of Emily Dickinson, Valerie Worth, Jack Prelutsky, and Lewis Carroll, to such anonymous gems as "The Burp"—"Pardon me for being rude. / It was not me, it was my food. / It got so lonely down below, / it just popped up to say hello." Katz includes five of her own verses, and promotes an evident newcomer, Emily George, with four entries. Hafner surrounds every selection with fine-lined cartoons, mostly of animals and children engaged in play, reading, or other familiar activities. Amid the ranks of similar collections, this shiny-faced newcomer may not stand out—but neither will it drift to the bottom of the class. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)Read full book review >
STARRING LUCILLE by Kathryn Lasky
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

Prepare a place for yet another precocious piglet protagonist with panache, this time the youngest in a family of three little pigs: Frances, Franklin, and budding ballerina Lucille. She appeared in a previous collaboration (Lucille's Snowsuit, 2000), and this story finds little Lucille determined to have her moment in the spotlight by performing on her fifth birthday for her family. She wants to pirouette at her party in her new ballet shoes, tutu, and crown, despite her lack of formal dance training. Her older siblings attempt to squash Lucille's bids for attention, but their calm, wise parents corral the older piglets and help little Lucille celebrate her birthday in her own way, showing the sort of skillful parenting that subconsciously reassures preschoolers. Hafner's charming watercolors are filled with delightful details of a busy family, and her anthropomorphic pig characters are both expressive and believable, even when brother Franklin rides in on his bike wearing Lucille's tutu as a hat. Lasky's witty text effectively captures the dynamics of family life and the feelings of a youngest child, with a tale that is reminiscent of the Frances stories. Give that ham a hand: Lucille is a lovable star who deserves another encore. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
A CARNIVAL OF ANIMALS by Sid Fleischman
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 30, 2000

Fleischman (Bandit's Moon, 1998, etc.) relates six lively, interlocking tall tales involving the animals who live near Barefoot Mountain and the changes brought about by "a no-account little tornado" that "came twirling like a ballerina across the countryside." A sidehill clinger with two long and two short legs who had its fur plucked out by the storm, a cat who blows itself up like a balloon to scare the nasty dog next door, and a rooster who eats so many fireflies it lights up like a lamp are among the curious characters to inhabit this nonsense world. A chapter book for those who are ready to move up from the beginning-to-read level, this can also be read aloud to a younger audience. Hafner's (Lucille's Snowsuit, p. 1119) watercolor, colored-pencil, and pen-and-ink illustrations perfectly suit the tales. Full-page pictures introduce each story while numerous small-scale sketches add humor throughout. While not as rollicking as the author's McBroom stories, these will tickle the fancy of many and could serve as an introduction to Fleischman's masterful tall-tale telling.(Fiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
LUCILLE’S SNOWSUIT by Kathryn Lasky
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

Snowsuits, the bane of every child's snow-filled days, are the focus of this hilarious tale. Poor Lucille just wants to frolic in the snow with her older siblings, who are stylishly attired in sleek snow pants and parkas, complete with jaunty little hats. However, Lucille's mother decrees she must wear her dreaded snowsuit, and Lasky (First Painter, see above) comically captures the epic struggle required to get one reluctant tot into it. Lucille's tussle with her attire entails all the calamities that can befall youngsters endeavoring to dress themselves; a jammed zipper, a sock that mysteriously disappears into the abyss of a pant leg—resulting in one overheated piglet. " ‘I'm hot. I'm sweating. My sock's lost. My zipper's stuck. I hate snowsuits!' Lucille roared." Lucille's mother is almost saintly in her compassionate but unyielding stance, gently coaxing her frustrated child to don her suit. Eventually the steamy piglet is lured outside for some snow play and Lucille makes a miraculous discovery. Toasty in her snowsuit, she outlasts her siblings in the frosty air. While Franklin and Frances retreat indoors to defrost, Lucille is free to enjoy the splendor of a winter's day. Hafner's boldly colored illustrations are uproariously funny, deftly conveying Lucille's evolving moods through her body language and facial expressions, giving readers a real sense of her personality. Mothers everywhere will send up a cheer for this wonderfully funny tale that shows mother does know best. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
A YEAR WITH MOLLY AND EMMETT by Marylin Hafner
ANIMALS
Released: June 1, 1997

Anyone who has witnessed a child chuckling over the last page of Ladybug magazine will relish the arrival of plucky Molly and her sidekick cat, Emmett, in their picture book debut of 15 brand-new comedies. In familiar storyboard panels complete with dialogue balloons, Molly and Emmett tear through the seasons in one humorous adventure after another. Children will readily recognize themselves in the impish misbehavior of Emmett, who is not only Molly's constant companion but something of an alter ego as well. His imagination often outstrips his courage—he pictures himself as a daring acrobat at the circus, but in reality, he needs help climbing down from the branch of a tree. At Uncle Edward's house, he breaks all the rules for cats, and his passion for fish continually gets him into one scrape or another. The understated humor never fails to deliver satisfaction by the final frame of the cartoon. Hafner takes the comic-book form to new heights with her colorful and expressive watercolors of this inimitable pair. (Picture book. 2-7) Read full book review >
DADDY, COULD I HAVE AN ELEPHANT? by Jake Wolf
ANIMALS
Released: Aug. 1, 1996

From the collaborators behind And Then What? (1993, not reviewed), the I-wanna-pet story of a different color. Tony starts the morning by demanding from his father a pet elephant, or better yet two elephants. Once they conclude that elephants might be too big, Tony asks for a pony, or a python, or a flock of woolly sheep. As they wash and make breakfast, Tony goes over the options, envisioning more and more outrageous scenarios (elephants playing bridge, a baby whale swimming in the living room), while his father skeptically points out potential difficulties. The matter-of-fact discussion is made doubly funny by Tony's penchant for pairs: not one gorilla, but two; not just a dolphin, but a whale, too. In a splendidly fulfilling ending, they settle on a puppy. Wolf has perfect pitch: The dialogue between Tony and his father has the punctuated rhythm of a two-man comedy routine. In the watercolor, colored pencil, and pen illustrations, these two look exactly the way they sound: two disheveled, absent-minded free spirits, who are also incessant readers, talented bridge players, and lovers of Chinese food. A riot. (Picture book. 4+) Read full book review >
DON'T TEASE THE GUPPIES by Pat Lowery Collins
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 31, 1994

``I'll read the signs,'' Jon assures his little brother as the two enter the aquarium, but Tim isn't deterred: he likes to ``read'' them first. Sometimes Tim's version suits him better than the real one (the sign says ``Go Around,'' he opines of one reading ``Please Wait in Line''); sometimes it suggests that he has absorbed an earlier message (``It says Don't Feed That Fat Turtle. His Shell Will Bust''). New readers will enjoy the brothers' amiable bickering as much as they do reading the signs for themselves in Hafner's cheerful, cartoon-style art. A touch of suspense is added when Tim gets caught in a broom closet marked ``Keep Out'' (he thinks the sign says ``Come In'') and, in the dark, imagines fearfully what it contains (``Like dead fish....And a really dead porcupine. It sure does smell''). After his brother rescues him, the little boy finally reads one sign correctly: ``Exit.'' A likable story, sure to find a variety of uses. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
RED DAY, GREEN DAY by Edith Kunhardt
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 26, 1992

A simple, upbeat story that reviews a typical kindergarten experience while presenting the colors. Andrew's class has ``Red Day,'' ``Yellow Day,'' etc., when the kids bring something of the appropriate color for show-and-tell time. Books, toys, jello, blueberries, and a daffodil are cheerfully shared; then, fortuitously, a real rainbow appears at the right educational moment, inspiring Andrew to a classic work of kindergarten art. The lively, well-observed drawings on the text pages are as appealing as the full-color art facing them. Broad borders in appropriate colors emphasize the basic lesson, while patchwork endpapers are a subtle reminder that the spectrum embraces many intermediate hues. Unpretentious fare but right on target. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
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 >