Books by Matthew McElligott

THE OCEAN DISASTER by Matthew McElligott
Released: July 9, 2019

"Information and entertainment in an appealing comic format. (more ocean organisms) (Graphic science fantasy. 6-9)"
Dr. Cosmic takes his students on an underwater adventure using a specially designed underwater vehicle he calls a SKWID. Read full book review >
THE SPACE DISASTER by Matthew McElligott
Released: July 11, 2017

"Young readers can only hope for this much excitement on their real field trips. (Graphic informational fantasy. 7-9)"
The diverse young monsters of the Mad Scientist Academy take a whirlwind tour of the solar system thanks to an unusually realistic planetarium. Read full book review >
THE WEATHER DISASTER by Matthew McElligott
Released: July 5, 2016

"With outlandish situations rendering scientific concepts memorable, McElligott has concocted a winning formula for learning as entertainment. (backmatter) (Graphic science fantasy. 6-9)"
Having survived disastrous dinosaurs in the first series installment, students at the Mad Scientist Academy now attempt to comprehend the mystery of weather. Read full book review >
Released: July 7, 2015

"Mad fun. (Graphic science fantasy. 7-9)"
An informative but hair-raising tour of a rather-too-realistic dinosaur exhibit gives six new students a memorable first day at Mad Scientist Academy. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 30, 2012

"Another entertaining foray into science both mad and real; new readers should start with the opener, though, to make sense of it all. (Sci-fantasy. 10-12)"
Closing a comical series' first story arc, America's two greatest inventors square off in a death match over the Emperor Napoléon's scheme to conquer the world…with science. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 7, 2012

"Tasty fare for alien fans. (Picture book. 4-8)"
When his summer snack stand fails to attract family and neighbors, an enterprising young chef with a flair for the unusual draws some very weird customers from way out of town. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2011

Renowned inventors square off in a battle for modern Philadelphia in this daffy sequel to Benjamin Franklinstein Lives! (2010). Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2010

Nerdy Victor is literally blasted out of his compulsively regimented ways when "Frank Benjamin," waking from 200 years of suspended animation, moves into a nearby apartment. Being a human battery with electricity-conducting bolts embedded in his neck and veins filled with "harmonic fluid," Ben—er, Frank—has a tendency to run amok when overcharged or devolve into a zombielike state when the juice runs low—conditions that the authors exploit to hilarious effect as they send young Victor scurrying across Philadelphia after his new neighbor and mentor, discovering a secret lab buried beneath their rundown building and rebuilding his elaborate but derivative science-fair volcano into an experimental one so massively destructive that even Victor is left impressed and proud. Frequent technical diagrams and actual patent drawings add a luster of Real Science to the antics, and 18th-century veneer is provided by Poor Richard's Almanack-style borders and display type. The balance struck between Victor's methodical approach and Ben's "we'll have to trust our instincts, whack away at the problem, and hope for the best" attitude provide some food for thought, too. Expect sequels. (Sci-fantasy. 10-12)Read full book review >
THE LION’S SHARE by Matthew McElligott
Released: Feb. 1, 2009

Basic math is inescapable, even at dinner parties with the lion king. At this royal meal, the elephant takes half the cake before passing it along, the hippo takes half of that, and so on. When the cake finally reaches the ant, she struggles to cut the tiny remaining slice in two—one for her, one for the king—but it just crumbles to pieces. Mortified, she vows to bake the king a strawberry sponge cake. The other, ruder, animals, not to be outdone, each double the ant's offering… crescendoing to the elephant's hard-to-swallow pledge of 256 peanut-butter pound cakes. In addition to witnessing the occasional price of boorishness, young readers will easily grasp how fast things disappear when repeatedly halved, and how quickly numbers add up when doubled. A divided-up cake on the endpapers illustrates fractions from one to 1/128, and the o'er-hasty cake-doublings are displayed in countable cake form, from one to 256. The handsome watercolor-and-ink illustrations are as gently funny as the story, and the heavily partitioned design well suits the math lesson at hand. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
BACKBEARD by Matthew McElligott
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

Having transformed himself and his crew into fashionistas (of a sort) in Backbeard and the Birthday Suit (2006), the huge and hirsute Captain finds himself called before the Pirate Council for dress-code violations in this even better sequel. Ordered to exchange his eye-watering pink and green duds for more conventional garb or find another occupation, Backbeard sets out to look for work—landing, after several false starts, in a tea shop run by an uncommonly unflappable little old lady. A true spectacle, from red silk shoes to snappy boater, Backbeard really steps out in style across McElligott's loud-pattern-drenched settings. His crew, from Mad Garlic Jack to swashbuckling Scarlet Doubloon, isn't far behind—in fact, they burst in to the rescue when he's left in charge and the tea shop's blue-haired clientele turns ugly. Sandwiched between original and modified "Pirate Rules" on the endpapers, as well as hilarious jacket art, this knee-slapper rivals even Colin McNaughton's Captain Abdul's Little Treasure (2006) for freewheeling freebooter frivolity. (Picture book. 6-8) Read full book review >
BEAN THIRTEEN by Matthew McElligott
Released: May 1, 2007

The "oddness" of prime numbers is driven home in this delightful tale of two bugs and their bean dinner. On a foraging expedition, Flora insists on picking just one more, even though Ralph is vehemently against having 13 beans, an unlucky number. The two perfect piles, and the one leftover bean, seem to prove him correct. But Flora is quick with a solution—call a friend and divide the beans into three even piles. Still one bean is leftover. More and more friends are invited, but that unlucky bean remains. What's the solution? Serve the beans family style. Flora invites the guests to take what they wish, and every bean is eaten. The only question left for Ralph is, "Who ate bean thirteen?" McElligott's imaginative pen-and-ink-and-digital illustrations feature brilliant hues and humorous bugs with a large vocabulary of body language. Pair this one with Elinor J. Pinczes's A Remainder of One (1995) to show just how unique prime numbers are. A must for every elementary-school library and classroom bookshelf. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2006

Backbeard the buccaneer gets a wardrobe upgrade in this waaay south of serious outing. So hairy and unsanitary that even his parrots quit in disgust, the pirate chief at last decides to exchange his filthy rags for something classier, and maybe pick up a new mascot too. Fortunately (for readers, if not for him), he finds a tailor both quick-witted and poker-faced, and soon Backbeard is strutting down the street past stunned townsfolk in a sporty boater and flashy psychedelic duds, balancing a piglet on his shoulder. His own crewmembers don't recognize him—"You sound like the Captain, but you look like a goofball"—until a friendly melee sets them straight. Properly capped with a back cover of equally hilarious alternative outfits and a squat, glowering, hirsute paper doll, this makes the funniest makeover since Laura Rader's Santa's New Suit (2000). (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
ABSOLUTELY NOT by Matthew McElligott
Released: April 1, 2004

Watercolor, pencil, and digital techniques illustrate this gentle story about the nature of fear during two insects' late-summer stroll. Gloria proposes an outing, but Frieda is frightened of the snake outside the window—which is really the winding river in the distance. Gloria coaxes Frieda outside, where Frieda sees huge frogs waiting to eat them—but they're really only the negative space of leaf patterns on the ground. Some pictures show the two insects from afar, emphasizing how small they are within their landscape; endpapers provide an aerial view of the territory covered. Pale greens and blues keep the setting mild and summer-like. Deft visual pacing brings sudden drama when one of Frieda's worries turns out to be well-founded, but never fear: this whimsical tale may ponder the relative value of fear itself, but McElligott brings everyone home safe. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
UNCLE FRANK'S PIT by Matthew McElligott
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

McElligott (The Truth About Cousin Ernie's Head, 1996) finds inspiration in Uncle Frank, an amiable old codger who is full of cockamamie ideas and immune to suggestions that he's worn out his welcome. Uncle Frank answers an invitation to drop in on his relatives: " ‘I can only stay a few hours,' said Uncle Frank. . . . A month later, he was still with us." A scientist/inventor with a shock of white hair to make Einstein proud, and one card shy of a deck, Uncle Frank believes that dinosaur bones are buried in the backyard and starts to dig—and dig and dig. As the young narrator's father becomes increasingly vexed, Uncle Frank changes his mind and keeps digging, first for oil and then for buried treasure. His hole in the ground begins to resemble a full-service apartment, and he orders a hot tub to make it homier yet. At the climactic moment when the narrator's father has had enough and Uncle Frank is about to be evicted, treasure is struck: an Easter Island—like statue that resembles Uncle Frank (who hastens off to his next adventure). This is a good-time, goofy story, without deep meanings or hidden agendas. The illustrations, chock full of color and shadow, have the fuzzy quality of low-tech computer artwork. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1996

The sole child in this story is the unnamed narrator who dreads Thanksgiving with his combative relatives. Uncle Klaus flies in from Bangladesh (in a balloon); Aunt Helen and Uncle Max ride a bicycle ``down from Alaska.'' They bicker and argue over details of old family stories such as whether an airplane, a buzzard, or ``Mrs. Halusa and her casserole'' once fell on Cousin Ernie's head. When the narrator finds a home movie full of evidence that settles all the arguments, the holiday takes a sad turn, ending abruptly. The next year, the boy and his grandmother dislike the continuing silence enough to pretend to lose the film, launching the controversies anew. McElligott's first book shows his taste for the wacky and the absurd, which children have been known to like, but winds it through a silly story about adults. The mixed media artwork, too, shows promise; the kitchen-sink inclusion of visual asides demonstrates the artist's energy and enthusiasm, but doesn't add up to a funny whole. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >