Books by Matthew Cordell

BABY CLOWN by Kara LaReau
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 14, 2020

"Both amusing and endearing; caregivers and close acquaintances of newborns will feel seen—and heard. (Picture book. 3-8)"
At the Dingling Circus, "a STAR is born"—but how can he dazzle the audience when he won't stop crying? Read full book review >
EXPLORERS by Matthew Cordell
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 24, 2019

"A thousand mixed messages at the museum. (Picture book. 3-7)"
In this almost wordless book, a family of four encounters cultural diversity in the exhibits and the patrons of an urban museum. Read full book review >
HOPE by Matthew Cordell
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 5, 2019

"This abstract work will be rendered concrete when shared with a loved one on a lap. (Picture book. 4-6)"
Two grandparent lions visit their grandchild for the first time and find many ways to express their love and wisdom. Read full book review >
KING ALICE by Matthew Cordell
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 25, 2018

"Sweet and loving characters can't quite make up for a lack of plot. (Picture book. 4-8)"
King Alice lays down the law when her family is snowbound. Read full book review >
ROCK ’N’ ROLL SOUL by Susan Verde
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 15, 2018

"A rappa-tappin' good read that will invite readers young and old alike to move, groove, and turn on their favorite tunes. (Picture book. 4-8)"
For every kid who makes a joyful noise from sunrise to sunset…and all the adults within earshot. Read full book review >
IF THE S IN MOOSE COMES LOOSE by Peter Hermann
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 13, 2018

"Little listeners and beginning readers alike will enjoy the rhyme and wordplay. (Picture book. 4-7)"
Alphabet mayhem ensues when a cow frantically tries to reattach the last two letters in "moose." Read full book review >
THE ONLY FISH IN THE SEA by Philip C. Stead
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 15, 2017

"Readers who are looking for more moxie in their lives will love this absurd adventure. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Stead and Cordell take their readers on a big adventure to save a tiny fish. Read full book review >
SECOND GRADE HOLDOUT by Audrey Vernick
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 4, 2017

"A new look at an age-old fact: change is hard but maybe not as hard as what one might imagine. (Picture book. 5-9)"
After a rocky period in first grade (First Grade Dropout, 2015), the same anxious blond, white boy decides not to advance to second grade. Read full book review >
DREAM by Matthew Cordell
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 2, 2017

"A sweet book, though it's undermined by character choice. (Picture book. 3-5)"
A (gorilla) parent's dream for a child. Read full book review >
GONE CAMPING by Tammera Will Wissinger
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 28, 2017

"An uplifting tale showing what fun may be had when one summons the courage to head into the woods and off the grid. (bibliography) (Verse novel. 6-9)"
A much-anticipated family camping trip goes slightly awry. Read full book review >
BOB, NOT BOB! by Liz Garton Scanlon
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 14, 2017

"For a book that really comes down to a sick kid yelping for his mother, his nose so clogged it needs dynamite to clear, the story has a lot of adorable acreage. (Picture book. 3-5)"
When you're sick and stuffy, some letters—like T's and L's and M's—disappear. Read full book review >
WOLF IN THE SNOW by Matthew Cordell
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 3, 2017

"Deeply satisfying. (Picture book. 4-8)"
A near-wordless story of kindness repaid. Read full book review >
LEAPS AND BOUNCE by Susan Hood
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 15, 2016

"The life cycle of a frog becomes a joyful, energetic celebration of growing up. (Picture book. 3-5)"
Changes are happening underwater—look closely and watch the fun as a clutch of eggs turns into leaping, bouncing frogs. Read full book review >
THE KNOWING BOOK by Rebecca Kai Dotlich
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 23, 2016

"A frenzy of feeling, pen strokes, and verse that seeks to excite and empower young people just awakening from childhood slumber. (Picture book. 8-12)"
A poem's gentle admonishments nudge readers to open themselves up to the world. Read full book review >
LOST. FOUND. by Marsha Diane Arnold
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 3, 2015

"What is 'Found' now? A community, that's what. (Picture book. 3-7)"
Just two words (and many amusing sound effects) form the text of this visually driven story about conflict resolution, resourcefulness, community—and a red scarf. Read full book review >
FIRST GRADE DROPOUT by Audrey Vernick
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 7, 2015

"A sure conversation-starter about empathy. (Picture book. 5-9)"
In typical child fashion, an embarrassing slip of the tongue leads one young blond boy to want to drop out of school altogether. Read full book review >
SPECIAL DELIVERY by Philip C. Stead
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 3, 2015

"Animal lovers and stamp collectors, especially but not exclusively, will be enthralled. (Picture book. 4-7)"
Nothing will deter Sadie from her mission of transporting an elephant to her beloved Great-Aunt Josephine, who "lives almost completely alone and could really use the company." Read full book review >
WISH by Matthew Cordell
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 3, 2015

"Wish fulfilled, if a tad inscrutably. (Picture book. 3-5)"
A much-wanted child arrives as fulfillment of his parents' dearest wish. Read full book review >
ROOTING FOR YOU by Susan Hood
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 11, 2014

"As sweet and benign as a summer daisy. (Picture book. 3-5)"
A flower-to-be, looking like a green pea and behaving just like a human preschooler, voices its fears about its inevitable transformation. Read full book review >
WHAT FLOATS IN A MOAT? by Lynne Berry
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 9, 2013

"A goofy romp that will fit right in with elementary school science lessons. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-8)"
Silly meets science in this title inspired by Archimedes' principle. Read full book review >
LIKE BUG JUICE ON A BURGER by Julie Sternberg
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 2, 2013

"Readers will celebrate and look forward to more. (Fiction. 7-9)"
Nine-year-old Eleanor discovers that it's possible to like some things about sleep-away camp. Read full book review >
GONE FISHING by Tamera W. Wissinger
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 5, 2013

"Appendix aside, this tender, well-crafted sibling story should hook many readers. (bibliography) (Verse fiction. 5-9)"
A playful verse narrative of the joys and perils of a family fishing trip. Read full book review >
IF YOU WERE A CHOCOLATE MUSTACHE by J. Patrick Lewis
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2012

"Verse seekers could do worser than to swallow down this course of funky, funny forms of wordy wit. (Poetry. 6-12)"
Prolific versifier, author, riddlizer (etc.) Lewis offers this mostly new (a few appeared in magazines or anthologies) collection of laughs and linguistic lampoons. Read full book review >
HELLO! HELLO! by Matthew Cordell
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 18, 2012

"This wry object lesson blends clever design and a sincere, never-preachy delivery. Terrific! (Picture book. 3-7)"
Into a family's device-dominated existence, Cordell inserts this tribute to the realms of nature and the imagination. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 8, 2012

"Hilarious, laugh-out-loud fun for middle-grade readers. (Fiction. 7-10)"
Justin tries to convince himself that, in spite of his well-earned nickname, he is not a worried kid anymore and that summer vacation means that there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Read full book review >
BAT AND RAT by Patrick Jennings
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2012

"Cordell's starry cityscapes combine with Jennings' gentle text for an agreeable read-aloud—with a cherry on top. (Picture book. 4-8)"
A sweet friendship story hums with jazz and is heaped with ice cream. Read full book review >
Released: March 13, 2012

"Macabre, sometimes downright mean, this mischievous collection is sure to engage the devilish side of readers of all ages. (Illustrated poems. 6 & up)"
A playful primer on insincerity for budding poets. Read full book review >
ITSY-BITSY BABY MOUSE by Michelle Meadows
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 6, 2012

"Another appealing mouse hero likely to tickle toddlers embarking on their own adventures. (Picture book. 3-7) "
"Itsy bitsy baby mouse" gets very lost and must find his way in this home-away-home mouse adventure for the wee set. Read full book review >
ANOTHER BROTHER by Matthew Cordell
ANIMALS
Released: Jan. 31, 2012

"This is not just another new-baby book: Cordell's humorous text and mischievously silly, expressive cartoon art will have readers bleating to read it again and again. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Davy, a little sheep, has trouble adjusting to the arrival of not one but 12 baby brothers in this humorous twist on the tried and true new sibling theme. Read full book review >
LEAP BACK HOME TO ME by Lauren Thompson
ANIMALS
Released: April 26, 2011

Veteran picture-book author Thompson teams with Cordell to create a deceptively simple instant classic. Little frog and his mother share a warm lily-pad embrace on the cover. Then comes the action: "Leap frog over the ladybug. Leap frog over the bee. / Leap frog over the prickly clover, / then leap back home to me!" As the little amphibian takes each ever-more-ambitious jumping adventure, his mother happily welcomes him back. The rhyming text creates a loving refrain that young ones will enjoy repeating. Sound effects for alternating excursions add to the interactive fun, as frog goes, "PLIP! … SPROING! … WHEEEEE! … WHOOSH!" over clover, splashing beavers, rocky hilltops and roaming clouds. Cordell works his magic with pen, ink and vibrant watercolors to not only perfectly complement the text but also show little frog's growing confidence and sheer glee at each accomplishment as the day progresses. Mama frog patiently awaits her little one with smiles, crayons, a storybook, dinner and, finally, another hug as he does a "Leap frog over the sun. / Leap frog as high as you please. / Leap frog out to the farthest stars… / when you leap home, here I'll be." A sure delight to present to a preschool group or share one on one. Hop to it and make sure this is on your shelf! (Picture book. 2-4)Read full book review >
LIKE PICKLE JUICE ON A COOKIE by Julie Sternberg
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2011

When Bibi, her first and favorite babysitter, moves away, it takes all of August for 8-year-old Eleanor to get beyond her sense of loss and get used to a new caretaker. Her parents grieve, too; her mother even takes some time off work. But, as is inevitable in a two-income family, eventually a new sitter appears. Natalie is sensible and understanding. They find new activities to do together, including setting up a lemonade stand outside Eleanor's Brooklyn apartment building, waiting for Val, the mail carrier, and taking pictures of flowers with Natalie's camera. Gradually Eleanor adjusts, September comes, her new teacher writes a welcoming letter, her best friend returns from summer vacation and third grade starts smoothly. Best of all, Val brings a loving letter from Bibi in Florida. While the story is relatively lengthy, each chapter is a self-contained episode, written simply and presented in short lines, accessible to those still struggling with the printed word. Cordell's gray-scale line drawings reflect the action and help break up the text on almost every page. This first novel is a promising debut. Eleanor's concerns, not only about her babysitter, but also about playmates, friends and a new school year will be familiar to readers, who will look forward to hearing more about her life. (Fiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2010

Third grader Justin Case gets this nickname thanks to his amazing ability to worry about everything. His journal chronicles his nightmares and self-fulfilling prophecies of doom. He carries concerns about school, sports and friendships to wild extremes, and he creates a litany of characters and events that strike terror at every turn, from the imaginary robber Big Boy to his beloved stuffed animals, which wage a war over control of his bed, to the boiler at the way back of the basement—and anything else his incredibly active and freewheeling imagination can conjure. For him "there's always tomorrow for all the bad things that didn't happen today." He doesn't notice that he is also kind, dependable, tenacious and highly creative, as well as a very good friend and big brother. Vail employs easy, direct language in a rhythm and syntax that captures the essence of a charming, lovable and very believable boy. Readers transitioning to longer fiction will groan, sympathize and laugh out loud in delight. Absolutely marvelous. (Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
TROUBLE GUM by Matthew Cordell
ANIMALS
Released: Aug. 1, 2009

Despite Mom's sage warnings, piglet Ruben and his little brother Julius wreak havoc with multiple sticks of gum (first proffered by, then filched from Grammy) and a newly knit blanket. Ruben's purposeful instruction sticks ("This is how the big pigs stretch a piece of gum, Julius"): Even after the boys' de-gumming bath, it's Julius who provides both the ultimate laugh and the biggest bubble by far. Cordell mingles retro elements effectively, with a three-color palette of gray, pig-pink and red text typeset in Century Schoolhouse (think Dick and Jane) and myriad ink-and-wash spots that channel Steig, big time. These vignettes are offset by genuinely funny sound effects—"crinkle wrackle crackle" yields to "smik smak smak," which leads inevitably to "stuuuurch…" The display type in many sizes fills copious white space—in fact, the generous 48-page layout is a bit of a stretch for this tale. There's much detail to pore and giggle over, though, and the endpapers—front ones sporting bubbles blown to enormous size then bursting impressively in the back—are a hoot. Packs plenty of pop. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
TOOT TOOT ZOOM! by Phyllis Root
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2009

Pierre the fox lives a lonely life at the foot of a very high mountain. One day he jumps in his zippy red car hoping to find a friend on the other side. At each switchback he honks: "Toot! Toot! Zoom!" But listeners shouldn't get too carried away zooming, as Pierre frequently screeches to a halt, his way blocked—first by Goat, then Sheep and finally Bear. One after the other Mr. Gumpy-like, they pile into the little red car, hoping, like Pierre, to find a friend. When a horrendous crash wrecks their trusty vehicle, the animals offer to stay with Pierre on the other side of the mountain, which but for them, would be just as lonely as Pierre's side. Cordell's ink-and-watercolor illustrations effectively portray the seesawing emotions of the characters, and he often orients his spreads vertically to chart Pierre's progress up and down the needle-like mountain. While the car crash is played as slapstick, the house the four construct of the car's remains is a nice detail. Not a necessary purchase, but rounds out the friendship theme and has storytime potential. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
MIGHTY CASEY by James Preller
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 1, 2009

As a writer of verse, Preller, author of Six Innings (2008), makes an excellent prose novelist. His rhymed tale of a Little League nonhitter who lights a fire in his team of total losers shows plenty of heart, if shaky scansion. Winless for the season and trailing five-zip in the first inning, it looks like just another long day for the Delmar Dogs—"Omar scraped a knee; / grape juice spilled on Lapinski's shoe; / Ronald the runt had to pee, / and figured left field would do"—but with urging from no-hit, no-field Casey (a lefty, as it happens), the team puts on a rally, and it's Casey's hit with the bases loaded that brings victory within grasp. Cordell's simply drawn cartoons of geeky, distracted children sporting oversized batting helmets suit this lightweight remake of a certain famous baseball ballad, and if the author doesn't quite recapture the original's tone or suspense (or ending), he may get young readers and their parents who take the game a little too seriously to lighten up a touch. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
RIGHTY AND LEFTY by Rachel Vail
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2007

Bad enough that Lefty wants to live a life enveloped in galoshes, but does he have to be so neurotic? Yes, when you're a pair of feet, you're pretty much stuck with the personality of the appendage beside you. Lefty, distinguishable (aside from his arch) by his personality-appropriate Band-Aid, is happiest when he's safe and dry. His general attitude? "Life is a blister." Righty, in contrast, is an adventurous sort. He loves grown-up shoes, beaches and running about. Can two such different footsies ever find a way to get along? Certainly. They may not be the same, but Lefty and Righty have a relationship that can survive everything from boo-boos to falling asleep. A truly unique method of discussing relationships, Vail's feet are a step above the rest. Cordell's understated watercolors help by lending the tale a soft, humorous tone. Consider this a love story that every man, woman, child and podiatrist can enjoy. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
TOBY AND THE SNOWFLAKES by Julie Halpern
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 27, 2004

In this slow, quiet story, a lonely boy discovers that friends come and go. When his best friend moves away, a despondent Toby checks the empty mailbox for a letter. Then it begins snowing and the falling flakes invite Toby to play. Toby imagines the individual flakes have names and hears them talking and joking with one another. Together Toby and the snowflakes make snow angels, snowballs and a snowman. But as sun melts his new snow friends, Toby feels deserted again until a new boy named Gary invites him to play. Simple pen-and-ink outlines and watercolor washes in soft colors echo the subdued, somewhat somber mood. In his red snowsuit, Toby seems particularly isolated against the forlorn gray-and-white winter landscape. Although the storyline is a bit disjointed, its message should appeal to kids with both real and imaginary friends. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >