Books by Melissa Sweet

HOW TO READ A BOOK by Kwame Alexander
Released: June 18, 2019

"New readers will be eager to follow such unconventional instructions, and experienced readers will recognize every single step. (Picture book. 4-7)"
A linguistic and visual feast awaits in Alexander and Sweet's debut collaboration. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 12, 2017

"Great for knitters, for readers, for fun-seeking adventurers. (Picture book. 4-7)"
A wolf and two sheep in a funny-ever-after tale? Yes! Read full book review >
Released: May 9, 2017

"Happy-go-lucky fun with words, collage, and a smattering of facts about bugs. (Picture book/poetry. 5-9)"
Each of over 25 different "bugs" receives its own short, titled, whimsical poem, an accompanying collage, and a few sentences of factual information. Read full book review >
SOME WRITER! by Melissa  Sweet
Released: Oct. 4, 2016

"A masterful biography that will enchant young readers. (author's note, afterword, timeline, source notes, bibliography, about the art) (Biography. 7-12)"
A celebration of the life and work of New Yorker writer and children's-book author E.B. White. Read full book review >
LISTEN TO OUR WORLD by Bill Martin Jr.
Released: March 15, 2016

"A delightful new visit with an old friend. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Martin, who gave the world the beloved Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, died in 2004, but another of his works is brought to life by his frequent collaborator, Sampson. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2015

"As a whole, the book ably carries readers past many flying friends and lands with ease in a safe nest. (Picture book. 3-8)"
Nestling her young child in for the night, a mother shares in rhyme the many ways birds bed down to sleep. Read full book review >
THE RIGHT WORD by Jen Bryant
Released: Sept. 15, 2014

"In a word: marvelous! (Picture book/biography. 6-10)"
After award-winning collaborations about poet William Carlos Williams and artist Horace Pippin, Bryant and Sweet return to investigate the life of Peter Mark Roget. Read full book review >
FIREFLY JULY by Paul B. Janeczko
Released: March 11, 2014

"Scintillating! (permissions, acknowledgments) (Picture book/poetry. 4-8)"
Choosing from works spanning three centuries, Janeczko artfully arranges 36 elegant poems among the four seasons. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 24, 2013

"Every writers' group should start with this story. (Picture book. 7 & up)"
Exploding with puns, wordplay and the irrepressible desire to re-imagine "Little Red Riding Hood" one more time, Holub and Sweet bring forth some actual useful writing advice—that's not just for beginners. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2013

"Very fine indeed. (Picture book/biography. 5-9)"
A sparkling picture-book biography of the dauntless organizer of the titular strike. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 8, 2013

"A splash of vibrancy about a self-taught master. (historical note, author's note, illustrator's note, references) (Picture book/biography. 5-11)"
This outstanding portrait of African-American artist Horace Pippin (1888-1946) allows Pippin's work to shine—and his heart too. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 25, 2012

"Hood and Sweet succeed admirably in creating a new twist on an identity story while cleverly introducing Spanish words and exotic creatures. (endnote, glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)"
While Spike, a tiny axolatl salamander, practices being the monster he believes he is, the other animals call him cute and funny because he is small. Will Spike show his true nature? Read full book review >
Released: March 13, 2012

An unlikely American explorer brings the first panda to the West. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 31, 2011

"This clever marriage of information and illustration soars high. (bibliography of adult sources, quote sources, acknowledgements, period photo) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)"
This bright, brimming picture biography commemorates Tony Sarg, a brilliant, self-taught artist whose innovative helium balloons delighted legions of Macy's parade watchers from 1928 on. Read full book review >
EASY AS PIE by Cari Best
Released: March 30, 2010

Enthusiastic pie lover Jacob unwinds after school with his favorite TV program, Baking with Chef Monty. After, he starts a peach pie. As he is challenged in this task at every turn, it is a good thing that he follows Monty's eight rules of baking. Interrupted by his sister? Rule #2 states, "Concentrate on what you're doing—no matter what." His parents want to leave for the restaurant to celebrate their anniversary? Rule #7 says, "Always finish what you start." Luckily, his parents are patient. On this special occasion, dessert comes first. Readers left drooling can follow the peach pie recipe on the back cover. Sweet's playful pencil, watercolor and collage artwork suits the text to a T. Jacob's facial expressions are spot-on—readers will surely be able to tell that he truly loves his hobby. A sweet look at a spunky kid with great problem-solving skills—and some rules that are easily applicable to everyday life. (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >
CHARLOTTE IN LONDON by Joan MacPhail Knight
Released: Dec. 1, 2009

It's 1895, and Charlotte, formerly of Boston, is leaving Giverny, France, where her father studies painting with Monsieur Monet, for London, where her mother hopes to model for John Singer Sargent. Presented in a fictional diary format similar to earlier books in the series (Charlotte in Giverny, 2000, etc.), this charming tale is likewise accompanied by Sweet's appealing watercolors and inventive collage that incorporates reproductions of artwork and period photographs. When it becomes clear that Sargent has traveled on, the family, hoping their paths will intersect, continues its tour as well and enters a social whirlwind of artists and members of le beau monde, from Henry James to James Whistler to hostess Mrs. Cyprian Williams. Charlotte's witty voice, peppered with French phrases, resonates brightly as she relates her tour of England from the Tower of London to the Cotswold countryside and includes interesting tidbits of historical detail for readers to savor. A terrific choice for readers with an interest in art history, this is a strong, appealing story on its own. (artwork credits, biographical notes, author's note) (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
DAY IS DONE by Peter Yarrow
Released: Oct. 1, 2009

Yarrow's (of Peter, Paul and Mary fame) well-known song conveys the truth that parental presence brings peace to frightened children in a difficult world; on the CD that accompanies this book, his gravelly voice melds with the bright children's chorus and his daughter's nimble soprano. However, the text and illustrations do not combine well. The melancholy lyrics are illustrated with images of animal parent-child pairs, including one sad bear family and a couple of timorous babies, but the rest of Sweet's watercolor-and-mixed-media world is in bloom with playful, child-friendly flowers, and the animals mostly sport smiles. Without visual clues as to the reason for the parents' stated sadness ("In a world filled with sorrow and woe, / If you ask me why, why is this so? / I really don't know"), the already-opaque lyrics threaten to baffle the young readers who will be drawn to this large, bright volume. The two bonus songs ("I Know Where I'm Going" and "Dona Dona Dona") are equally well performed, but their inclusion is puzzling. All in all, a very pretty disconnect. (afterword) (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: June 9, 2009

Sierra's reliably commendable verse teams with quirky illustrations from Sweet to produce an alphabet-bedtime hybrid with plenty of appeal for families. Restless lower-case children resist bedtime in assorted realistic, predictable ways: "h tries standing on her head. / i and j jump on the bed." The author knows her preschool audience and produces potty chairs and underwear for dependable giggles. The illustrator's blocky letters sport pop-eyes and toothy grins. She intersperses plenty of additional objects beginning with the letters featured on each pastel spread, providing parents and kids with opportunities to linger and learn. By letters v and w, the transition from pre-bedtime chaos to irrefutable tiredness is complete, and the final spread depicts a veritable dormitory of typographic drowsing. Capital! (Picture book. 2-6)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2008

With plain words, appropriate to the style of this master of clear and precisely worded poetry, and brilliant images, Bryant and Sweet introduce Williams and his poetry in a fresh, accessible way. The spare text manages to give an impression of his liberating childhood, his affinity for the ordinary, the successful marriage of his medical profession with his writing and the modernist artistic community of his time. The mixed-media illustrations, created primarily with watercolor and collage, take their inspiration from vintage books. At once vividly childlike and highly sophisticated, they have enormous visual appeal. The single-page renderings of Williams's brief poems are brilliantly conceived in colorful hand-lettering and collage, which might have been hard to read if they weren't so artistically compelling. It is entirely possible that this offering will not only acquaint readers with the man and his poetry but will also inspire creativity—Williams would no doubt be pleased. (timelines, bibliography, author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book/biography. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: April 7, 2008

In a winsome tale laced with doggy humor, an abandoned canine tags along with a pack of other four-legged fellows searching for new homes, before finding a companion to call her own. Left by the roadside with only her "skanky" sock puppet for company, plucky Tupelo follows her nose to a motley posse of lost BONEHEADS (Benevolent Order of Nature's Exalted Hounds Earnest And Doggedly Sublime) engaged in the ancient ritual of making wishes on Sirius, the Dog Star. Those wishes soon come true, thanks to the efforts of aptly named hobo Garbage Pail Tex, but in the general scurry of adoptions Tupelo is left alone again. Sweet depicts Tupelo's odyssey with a mix of sequential panels, full-page scenes and occasional foldouts, all sandwiched between star-strewn endpapers and a timeline laid out in dog years. In the end Tupelo hops aboard a passing train, and Tex himself sits down beside her—so off the two go, "like Sirius and Orion," to travel the world together "with a little stench." Fans of the popular stray-animal genre will bid her godspeed. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2007

Yolen captures the universal wish of young children to be older and more grown-up without giving up the protective care and admiring love of their parents. This sweet but not saccharine story is told in first-person narrative by a preschool-aged bear dressed in plaid shorts or hiking clothes. He announces all the things he plans to do when he grows up "in a year or two," such as inviting his friends to move in, staying up late and leaving his toys strewn all over the house. In short, rhyming text, the little bear ponders living in a toy store or a tree house and camping with just his big brother for company. The oversized format highlights Sweet's engaging paintings done in mixed-media and collage, with the text set against backgrounds of lemon and lime. She fills her illustrations with clever details, such as a stuffed bee toy carried by the little bear (instead of a teddy bear), and her exuberant style is well-matched to the young bear's playful antics and confident personality. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
Released: April 9, 2007

In this whimsical tale set in South Louisiana, readers meet a blue-headed rooster who, due to a case of the chicken measles, loses the will to trumpet the morning wake-up call. When the rooster's owner, Mrs. Vidrine, decides it's time to make some "quiet rooster stew," his friend, a brown hen called Cleoma, takes action. She and the other chickens invent ways to keep Mrs. Vidrine busy while Cleoma sets out to find musician Joe Beebee, whose marvelous music just might inspire the rooster to sound his morning call once again. In a text that is at the same time eloquent and hilarious, Martin creates a rousing barnyard tale into which she skillfully interweaves the story of fictional musician Joe Beebee, recounting his childhood love of music and his attempts to fashion his own instrument from a cigar box and an old screen door. Illustrator Sweet often includes several frames on one spread to depict everything that's happening simultaneously. Her lively illustrations, employing collage and found objects, are the perfect complement to this lyrical Louisiana tale of good music and good friends. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
CHARLOTTE IN NEW YORK by Joan MacPhail Knight
Released: Sept. 1, 2006

This author-illustrator pair successfully continues the conceit of the child of a fictional 19th-century American painter living in Giverny, in Paris and now in New York. The pair's attention to historical detail is utterly winning. For example, Charlotte's entries in her diary about Monsieur Durand-Ruel's auto breaking down in Giverny, the crossing on the ship Champagne from Le Havre or the Havemeyers' ball in New York. Sweet uses collage, reproductions of the paintings mentioned and her own spirited watercolors to teach a few French words, supply a recipe or to illumine Charlotte's comments about the artists' colony in New Hampshire where her family goes to escape New York's summer heat. It's hard not to be charmed by her sending a packet of the new candy, "Good and Plenty," to Monsieur Monet, who had asked for a souvenir. Fans will love to hear that Charlotte's mama wants to have her portrait painted by John Singer Sargent, so the family will be going to England next. Brief biographies of all the real artists and patrons are appended. (illustration credits, author's note) (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
WON’T YOU BE MY HUGAROO? by Joanne Ryder
Released: March 1, 2006

While the venue has changed from smooches to hugs, Ryder and Sweet remain faithful to the popular format of their earlier title, Won't You Be My Kissaroo? (2004) Playful rhymes describe the myriad hugs to be savored as a young zebra spends the day at an amusement park with friends. From ebullient tickle hugs to consoling cheer-up hugs, Ryder celebrates the widespread uses of an action that is second nature to care-givers yet so vitally important to a child. The sprightly rhymes move readers along at a brisk pace but not before they tug at the heartstrings with their touching sentiments. Sweet's watercolor, pencil and collage illustrations are indeed sweet. Vivid colors capture the vibrancy of a summer's outing on a glorious day, while her deft pencil sketches convey the less tangible yet equally joyous feeling of spending a day with loved ones. A celebration of all things lovable, Ryder's tale is bound to strike a chord with fans and newcomers across the generations. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

A wee bruin extols, in sly Goldilocks fashion, the virtues of the various sized chairs in his house. With longing, the little bear describes the perks that go along with being able to fit into the larger seats, from big bears who get to stay up late—without naps—to medium-sized bears who can bound around on their "middling" proportioned furniture with great ease. While Yolen's jaunty tale taps into the universal desire of all tots to grow up quickly, she concludes on a winsome note, gently encouraging little ones to savor being just their size. Snug within the safe harbor of Papa's lap at the end of the day, little bear lays claim to the best chair in the house. Yolen's verses swing along in an easy, playful rhythm that is perfectly suited for read-aloud sessions with small or large groups. Sweet's mixed-media-and-watercolor collages continue the whimsical theme of the tale. Her renderings of the bear family home, cluttered with toys and homemade drawings taped to the walls, will be readily recognizable to young readers. A cozy and comforting send-off to slumber. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: July 12, 2005

Drawing on her Ph.D. in folklore, Sierra has compiled an upbeat selection of dozens of schoolyard rhymes and funny poems, complemented by Sweet's charming illustrations in watercolor and fabric collage. The collection includes many old clapping games and jump rope rhymes that have been around for generations, as well as familiar short chants and funny verses. The illustrations bring a fresh focus to the collection with a sophisticated design that includes tiny columns of the typeset rhymes creatively enhancing the illustrations, outlining a palm tree or serving as jump ropes. There are many available collections of children's traditional rhymes, but this one uses bright colors, great illustrations and pleasing design elements to reach out to contemporary children. Includes an index of first lines and an author's note. (Nonfiction. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2005

Calmenson, herself a former kindergarten teacher, explores that world in this collection of original poetry. The 18 short rhyming poems address common features of the classroom such as show-and-tell, learning the alphabet and celebrating holidays, and several of the poems could be used as part of special days such as the 100th day of school. Some are written as riddles or with a missing final word to be filled in or with related movement or activity suggestions, and one of the last, a riff on the old "See You Later, Alligator" pattern, might just become a new playground classic with 19 ways to say good-bye ("time to float, billy goat"). Sweet fills her vibrant illustrations with bright citrus colors and bouncy children of varied ethnicities who help bring the rhymes to life. (Picture book/poetry. 4-6)Read full book review >
CARMINE by Melissa  Sweet
Released: April 4, 2005

The illustrator tries her hand at words and images in this delightful alphabet and fairytale twist. Carmine loves to make pictures, and she loves all the versions of the color red, like her name. When Granny calls and mentions she's made alphabet soup ("beware of dangers"), Carmine takes her dog Rufus, her bike, her paints and paper and goes off to Gran's, after promising not to "dilly-dally." However, she cannot resist the call of some poppies, so the local "lurking" wolf does indeed get to Gran's house first. When Carmine and Rufus get there—with her painting of poppies—things are quite the mess. But it's only the soup bones the wolf was after, so Granny's released from the closet, she and Carmine finish the alphabet soup and Carmine goes home safely. Besides her vivacious paint and collage pictures, Sweet plays with her love of words by highlighting in alphabetical order, above and within the text, some unusual choices for an alphabet: "exquisite," "nincompoop," "zillion." Includes Granny's recipe for alphabet soup. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 27, 2004

This winsomely imagined account of an episode when Audubon was 18 years old joins the flocks of commemorative works. Sent to the US to learn business, the young man happened upon a mated pair of pewee flycatchers; these he made an object of exclusive study, sketching and painting of course, but also banding the fledglings with silver thread to discover whether they would return after their winter migration—the first such experiment done in North America. Davies's narration, though bolstered by an author's note and bibliography, blends fiction into fact, recreating dialogue and Audubon's own internal thoughts with no specific reference to written sources. This significant weakness is balanced by the tight, appealing focus on a lonely, bird-obsessed young man whose perfectionism led him to burn his artwork every year and who burned to demystify the migratory habits of small birds. Sweet's illustrations soar, incorporating mixed-media collage into her line-and-watercolor paintings in a gloriously eclectic mélange that evokes both the time and Audubon's scientific enthusiasms. A solid offering that, were it more completely sourced, would be nothing short of tremendous. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
I LOVE YOU, TOO! by Eve Bunting
Released: Jan. 1, 2004

An adorable small volume is just the right size for little hands and says just the right words for little voices. A line of animal children—Little Brown Puppy, Snowy White Kitten, Clever Little Monkey, and so on, each want to give their mama a present. Each finds just the right thing: carrots for Soft Little Rabbit's mama; a big leaf for Tiny Frog's mama; and a daisy chain for Little Pink Piglet's mama. The only rhyme in the simple rhythmic text comes when the child gives the gift: "This strawberry's so red and sweet. / It's for you and me and Dad to eat," says Little Turtle. Each mama responds with a similar refrain: "I love the strawberry, my Little Turtle, and I love you." It ends with Billy, who knows what his mama wants: a kiss, a hug—and a "very special bug." Sweet's limpid and winsome images, in bright washes of color, balance the text without being cloying. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
GIGGLE-WIGGLE WAKE-UP! by Nancy White Carlstrom
Released: Oct. 14, 2003

In an ebullient burst of playful language, Carlstrom's tale whisks readers through a youngster's Monday routine. From the first glimmer of sunlight that awakens Sammy, to a raucous recounting of his preschool experiences, fanciful rhyming word pairs frolic across the pages, entreating readers to join in the fun. A fast-paced tempo combines with tongue-twisting verses for a read-aloud format that is perfect for preschooler participation: "Clomp-stomp, clomp-stomp / Noisily we're marching / Clashing, click-sticks / Pounding on the drum / Sing it, ring it / Monday moning music." Sweet's buoyant illustrations reflect the vivaciousness of the verses. Cartoon-style drawings come in an array of vibrant colors; tangerine orange walls complement the lemon bright floors in Sammy's kitchen, while Sammy wears eye-catching primary hues of red and blue. This boisterous tale is just the thing to chase away the doldrums and start Monday, or any other day, with a bang. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
MOONLIGHT by Cynthia Rylant
Released: Aug. 1, 2003

Moonlight's a night-loving, night-prowling cat, but Halloween night's her special favorite. She revels in the smiling pumpkins, "straw laps" of neighborhood scarecrows, and costumed children that make Halloween so unique. A carelessly dropped piece of candy doesn't hurt either, and under Halloween moonlight, Moonlight the cat joyously laps it up. Yet another, though not especially memorable, addition to the Halloween canon, Rylant's very simple text makes a good holiday read-aloud for the very young. Sweet's illustrations, mostly double-paged in acrylic and colored-pencil are rich and bold and have loads of child appeal. Surely some will take this as an example of looking differently at the deep darkness of night and all its splendors. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
MY GRANDMA IS COMING TO TOWN by Anna Grossnickle Hines
Released: April 1, 2003

This joyous story impressively invokes a toddler's love for his distant Grandma. They have a very special relationship carried out primarily by phone. When the little narrator was a baby, he says, his Grandma came to visit and taught him the pat-a-cake rhyme. Then he could only say "Patta patta, rolla rolla." Now they have a cherished ritual: "when Grandma calls on the phone, she still says, ‘Patta patta.' ‘Rolla rolla,' I say." He points out that though grandma lives too far away to give him real kisses and hugs, " . . . she puts lots of X kisses and O hugs in her letters." So when Grandma writes that she is coming for a visit, he can hardly wait. When the day finally arrives, he is surprised to find that it feels so strange. She looks like grandma, but different, and though she offers a "Patta patta," she sounds just a little wrong and too shy of her, he can't bring himself to respond. The boy soon figures out what he needs to smooth the transition and with grandma sitting right next to him, he pretends to call her on the phone. It isn't long before they are thoroughly enjoying the visit, this time with real hugs and kisses. For so many children whose favorite family members live far away, Hines (Whistling, below, etc.) handles this issue with style, never forgetting to give kids credit for solving problems. (Picture book. 2-4)Read full book review >
WELCOME, BABY! by Stephanie Calmenson
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

A collection of original poems offers cheery readalouds for very young children. Roughly encompassing a child's first year, they go from a pregnant mom to baby's first birthday. The pictures are bright and winsome: clear colors and recognizable baby realia—toys, pets, household objects, and parents—inhabit the pages. The babies are of various races and genders and they do what babies do. In "I Like Buttons": "Buttons here. Buttons there. / Some I push. Some I wear." There are cell-phone and elevator buttons, and both dad and kid have nice big buttons on their shirts. "Babies in a Stroller" takes kids to the store, to the mailbox, and to the park. There's counting poems, an alphabet poem, a poem for colors, and a few pretty silly ones, too. It all ends appropriately with a kiss goodnight, "A butterfly / Fluttered by / And gave a kiss / Just like this." (Picture book/poetry. 2-5)Read full book review >
Released: May 8, 2002

For armchair archaeologists, young and old, this imaginary trip to Egypt in 1924 will be golden delight. Narrating as a first-hand account through diary entries and postcards sent to his friend back home, young Will Hunt and his family join an expedition to a site called Giza 7000X to search for a secret tomb. The family, as Will's name and pun suggests, is fictitious, while all of the information is based on actual records from a Harvard University/Boston Museum of Fine Arts expedition. Effectively designed double-page spreads utilize acrylics, watercolors, and inventive collages that incorporate stamps, postcards, and archival documents, to create a you-are-there feeling. The story puzzle approach adds an interactive element and sidebars insert details and explanations that further engage the reader. The team does uncover a tomb, one older than King Tut's. Whose tomb is it? Why are things out of place? Is there really a curse? The last two pages provide facts about Giza 7000X and a theory about the missing queen. This clever presentation of nonfiction captures the spirit of adventure and fascination with Egypt and Pyramids with suspense, humor, and zeal. Move over Ms. Frizzle, this guarantees that readers will not be "tombed to eternal boredom." (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-11)Read full book review >
Released: March 25, 2002

Repeating the inspired formula of Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women (2000), Sweet's exuberant collages add both information and visual energy to lively profiles of more than a dozen female adults or children who have Found Something Significant. Along with such usual suspects as Mary Anning (dinosaur fossils) and Jane Goodall (tool-using chimpanzees), Thimmesh includes less-familiar figures, conducting personal interviews with each of her living subjects. Among them are astronomer Vera Rubin, whose "dark matter" theory is revolutionizing our ideas about the universe; archaeologist Denise Schmandt-Besserat, who identified a surprising precursor to writing in ancient Middle Eastern sites, and Anna Sofaer, who identified among Chaco Canyon petroglyphs a complex Anasazi calendar. Not everyone here is a trained scientist, or for that matter, even out of junior high. The last section is given over to six students with inventive science projects, from a low-tech method of turning puddles into safe drinking water, to proof that vegetables grown in city lots can contain dangerous levels of lead. Though, oddly, only the living are listed in the table of contents, and an account of June Moxon's trip across the US in a foot-powered kinetic sculpture doesn't really fit the premise, Thimmesh makes a convincing case for the idea that the thrill of discovery is a feeling anyone can have. She closes with an array of resources to help young readers get off the stick. (timeline, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

An assortment of two dozen rhymes touts the triumphs of toddlerhood in this wonderfully affirming collection. Joyously exuberant, Calmenson's verses enlighten and entertain. Snappy rhymes instruct readers on such preschool essentials as colors, numbers, letters, and animal sounds. Social niceties are also covered in the perky poems: "Oops! Excuse Me!" helps wee ones mind their manners while "Teddy Bear Eats Out" provides a valuable lesson in restaurant etiquette. The singsong rhymes celebrate everything from the joys of potty learning to rollicking bus rides. "Run, run! Catch the bus! / Run, run! It stopped for us! / Climb inside. Pay for our ride. / Bumpity, bumpity, bumpity bus." Several rhyming riddles are also included—keeping older preschoolers challenged. Sweet's buoyant illustrations depict idyllic childhood days filled with parks, loving caregivers, and merry tikes. Full-bleed paintings feature children of many cultures harmoniously playing together. A gleaming array of hues captivate the reader's eye: tangerine and fuchsia-colored fish swim beneath turquoise waters in one spread while bright lime and sunlight-yellow backgrounds shimmer in others. Perky and pertinent. (Picture book. 1-5)Read full book review >
NOW WHAT CAN I DO? by Margaret Park Bridges
Released: Aug. 1, 2001

With a little ingenuity, a sagacious mother turns rainy-day doldrums into dynamic adventures in housework. When Little Raccoon wanders listlessly around the house plaguing his mother with pleas for something to do, she gently encourages him to make a game out of cleaning up. Humdrum chores such as putting away the laundry and setting the table become exciting when Little Raccoon masquerades as a basketball pro and pretends to be dining al fresco. From sunup to sundown, Little Raccoon is busily, happily engaged, and at bedtime, he eagerly anticipates the next day's activities. Bridges (Am I Big or Little?, 2000, etc.) takes a common childhood complaint and attempts to show the possibilities of judicious applications of imagination. Clever, but it all comes across a bit flat: the dialogue between mother and child, for example, is somewhat stilted and lacking an easy flow. Yet the ideas are so nifty, and the illustrations so appealing, that the story still manages to be engaging. Sweet's (Bouncing Time, 2000, etc.) full-bleed illustrations are filled with bright hues and busy details. Each spread reflects both the physical and imaginative world, with one page depicting mother and child going about their chores, while the facing page reveals Little Raccoon's vivid imaginings. A good way to jump-start the creative juices when the ho-hum blahs loom near. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
DIRTY LAUNDRY PILE by Paul B. Janeczko
Released: June 30, 2001

Janeczko (A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems, p. 411, etc.) advocates using poetry in the classroom daily, and teachers who are introducing the concept of point of view will find some unique ways to get the point across through these poems. The poets represented here can hear anthropomorphic voices in some pretty odd places: curtains, a snowflake, a crayon, and the source of the title—a pile of dirty laundry. Other poems give voice to animals, trees, kites, the winter wind, and three machines that relate to the dirty laundry: a washing machine, a broom, and a vacuum cleaner. Well-known poets such as Karla Kuskin, Lilian Moore, Jane Yolen, Douglas Florian, and Bobbi Katz are represented, along with less familiar poets. Sweet's watercolor illustrations help bring each poem to life with dancing brooms, a menacing vacuum cleaner, and a poignant horse waiting for a blanket and a carrot. Younger children will enjoy the poems simply as funny or touching poetry, but older students will begin to see the poetic possibilities in the unexplored voices of the inanimate. Janeczko has a wide following through his own poetry collections, anthologies, and books on writing poetry, so this collection should find a ready audience, especially in school libraries. (Poetry. 7-11)Read full book review >
TEN LITTLE LAMBS by Alice B. McGinty
Released: May 1, 2001

In her debut picture book, McGinty depicts a slumber party that takes a sleepless turn in a comical counting rhyme. "Good night, little lambs. / Go to sleep," says the mother to the children tucked in bed and counting sheep. The rumpus begins when she leaves: "Ten little lambs who won't go to sleep. / What will they do all night? / They'll tackle and tumble, and wrestle and rumble. / Ten little lambs all night." Rendered in soft pastel hues, Sweet's (The Sky's the Limit, p. 266, etc.) busy watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations depict the children (who have turned into lambs) laughing, bouncing, and swinging from the bedpost in a raucous pillow fight. Encouraging participation, McGinty's text remains essentially unchanged as the story counts down, except for the description of the lamb's activity. To wit, "Six little lambs who won't go to sleep. / What will they do all night? / They'll plow winding freeways through piles of pj's. / Six little lambs all night." Sweet adds an important element to the narrative by placing the additional sleeping lambs in circles across the bottom of the page. The formula presents many mathematical possibilities, including comparing the number of lambs asleep and awake and calculating different combinations that total 10. It all adds up to good fun. And as a bonus, little ones who've yet to experience the irony of the slumber party will get solid training in the stay-awake-at-all-costs ritual. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
BOUNCING TIME by Patricia Hubbell
Released: April 30, 2000

An energetic tot bounds through her day in this jaunty tale from Hubbell (Sidewalk Trip, 1999, etc.). A mother takes her lively toddler on a trip to the zoo to see some frolicsome animals. From skipping panda bears to somersaulting monkeys, a carnival of creatures parade past. After dinner and a bath, the little one, all bounced out, is tucked into bed for a peaceful night's sleep. Hubbell's spirited verses capture the exuberance of childhood. Sprightly rhymes fairly quiver with energy, conveying the irrepressible vivacity of youth, "Will you bounce like your clown doing tricks on his mat? / Like your bouncy-bounce puppy? / Like your pouncy-pounce cat?" Sweet's (Love and Kisses, 1998) brightly hued illustrations fill the pages from edge to edge. Pages awash in an invigorating array of colors from sunlit yellows to deep indigo are the perfect backdrop for the cheerful pictures. The peppy paintings, artfully depicting jolly animals cavorting about, and the gleeful delight of the child are nearly impossible to resist. Young readers will be enthralled by this jubilant tale that celebrates children's wondrous ability to revel in the moment. (Picture book. 1-4)Read full book review >
Released: April 30, 2000

Lights, camera, action; it's American Batstand, a 12-hour marathon of nonstop shake, rattle, and roll hosted by the ageless Click Dark. Captivating cartoon critters decked out in their best disco duds shimmy, shrug, and swim to a beat that changes every hour on the hour. Rhyming text carries the reader through a musical repertoire from jitterbug to jive. "There was rockin' in the rafters— / there was dancin' in the street. / Then they did the locomotion / and they boogied to the beat." Or "They twisted left and twisted right / until the hour of seven. / There was shakin', there was shoutin'—it was rockin' rollin' heaven!" Some of this may fly right over the heads of the intended audience, but they will certainly enjoy the rhythm of the poetry and the chance to dance the bop. And they might learn a little bit about telling time, too, since a mouse holds a small clock on each page with a time change. This is the third bat math book from this team and they seem to have the formula stirred just right. Boogie down. (Picture book. 4-6) Read full book review >
CHARLOTTE IN GIVERNY by Joan MacPhail Knight
Released: April 1, 2000

A fictional diary captures the Giverny of 1892 through the eyes of its little-girl owner, in this charmingly constructed conceit. In a format full of illustrations of famous Impressionist paintings, winsome watercolors, and collage bits of ribbon, lace, flower petals, and cards labeled with their French names, we read about Charlotte's visit to France. She writes about her voyage from Boston, her stay at the Baudy Hotel, the French gardener and maid, her neighbors and her tutor. She is fascinated by the glimpsed courtship of Theodore Butler and Suzanne, the daughter of Monet, who lives nearby. Other more or less well-known American Impressionists pass through Giverny and Charlotte's journal: William Merritt Chase; John Singer Sargent; Lilla Cabot Perry; and Mariquita Gill. A lot of information about life in Giverny and about painting en plein air is imparted painlessly in a font resembling very neat handwriting. The illustrations are simply irresistible. Linnea in Monet's Garden focuses on that artist and his splendid creations; this would make a natural pairing with it. Credits for the reproductions, brief biographical sketches of all the artists, and an author's note are appended. (Historical fiction. 9-13) Read full book review >
LOVE AND KISSES by Sarah Wilson
Released: Feb. 1, 1999

Small, sweet, and silly, Wilson's book exhorts readers to "Blow a kiss and let it go. / You never know how love will grow." A little girl in a red dress and black tights kisses her ginger cat. The cat kisses a cow, who kisses a goose, who kisses a fish, etc., with the kisses leaving a trail of candy-colored hearts, nicely done in watercolor and collage, from beast to beast. The trail of kisses eventually returns to the girl via the cat: "Kisses! Kisses! Smooch and SMACK!/You'll have your love and kisses back!" It's a cute, distant cousin to the classic A Kiss for Little Bear from the Minarik/Sendak team and Elizabeth Winthrop's Sloppy Kisses. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
WILL YOU TAKE CARE OF ME? by Margaret Park Bridges
Released: Aug. 1, 1998

Parent and child kangaroos charmingly express their immeasurable love in this appealing story, with echoes of Runaway Bunny. While cycling home one day, Little One innocently asks Mama, "When I'm big, will you still take care of me?" "Of course," Mama answers. "As long as I can make your life better and help you grow." "What if I turned into a field of flowers?" Little One to asks. "I'd breathe in the wonderful smell of you," Mama replies. Sweet's soothing watercolors summon a gentle mood, depicting an idyllic bike ride through rolling green hills and a cozy evening at home. While the premise might have become precious, Bridges's sentiments avoid the obvious. (Picture book. 2-5) Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1998

Pinky and Rex (Pinky and Rex and the Bully, 1996, etc.) return in this entry in the Ready-To-Read series, intended for emerging readers to tackle independently, with a plot to draw them in but little grace or style in the writing. Pinky wants to be the star in a school stage production; Rex isn't interested, although she attends the try-outs in support of Pinky. Predictably, Rex lands the lead; Pinky, given the role of a monkey, is mortified. In a huff, he stops speaking to Rex. Eventually, Pinky gets over his bruised ego—it doesn't hurt that he saves the play—and patches things up with Rex. Howe hits upon many sensitive issues here, from dashed hopes and inadequacy to envy and hurt feelings. He counters them with unforced forgiveness and some manner of acceptance from his characters: They may be hurt when things don't pan out, but they are open to finding something good and satisfying in the experience. Unfortunately, the language is inexorably sterile, without even the humor of previous Pinky and Rex installments. (Fiction. 6-9) Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1997

As readers of Regan's Monsters in the Attic (1995) already know, Rilla Harmony Earth (formerly Rilla Pinowski) receives a different monster in the mail every month. Usually the monsters are stuffed animals, but sometimes, when the cosmic forces line up just right, they come to life. September's offering, a bespectacled owl, arrives laughing. Concealing the live monsters from her family is never easy for Rilla, and feeding them can be a problem if they prefer junk food, because Rilla's health-conscious mother runs a very New Age bed-and-breakfast. Owl is easier to care for than the others; he eats paper and comprehends the words on any print material he consumes. Owl is a big help with homework, but when he eats part of a computer manual, he goes wild surfing the Internet. Rilla's problems are compounded when the July and August monsters come alive, but monster management isn't the only thing on her mind: She wants to use the Internet to find her missing father, and she goes out on her first date. Regan skillfully mixes fantasy with realistic 13-year-old behavior, adding a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor about Rilla's politically correct family. Along the way, Sweet provides funny black-and-white illustrations. This offering in the series puts middle-grade readers right into Rilla's shoes, and it couldn't be a better fit. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1996

This anachronistic entry about a popular duo in the Ready-to- Read series addresses gender issues for newly independent readers. Second-grader Pinky is bullied by third-grader Kevin for his friendship with a girl, best buddy Rex, and for his love of the color pink. Kevin warns Anthony not to play with Pinky, or ``You might turn into a girl, too!'' Pinky, whose real name is William, is upset enough that he asks to be called Billy and decides to end his friendship with Rex, too. An elderly neighbor, Mrs. Morgan, tells him her own childhood tale of lost identity, and Pinky finds the courage to stare Kevin down. Howe (Pinky and Rex and the New Baby, 1993, etc.) sends a positive message to children to be themselves, an idea sensitively illustrated by Sweet. But Mrs. Morgan's monologues are laced with preachiness and compassion that seem more convenient than real. Meanwhile, Rex is only a marginal figure, barely sketched into the tale; all her behavior is described rather than shown. (Fiction. 6- 8) Read full book review >
A HOUSE BY THE SEA by Joanne Ryder
Released: March 1, 1994

In verse that echoes both Milne's whimsical make-believe and the cadence of Poe's ``Annabel Lee,'' a child imagines living by the sea: playing with the seals (``When I got too wet/or they got too dry,/we'd hug and we'd run/and we'd yell, `Good-bye' ''); wishing on the moon; being cared for by an octopus (``With an arm doing this/and an arm doing that,/he'd cook and make my bed''); and so on. The idea isn't exceptional, but it's nicely developed; Ryder's verse has a lovely, musical lilt, while Sweet's delicate watercolors show the child and his companion, in snapshot-sized vignettes, playing along the shore while their imaginary activities are displayed in bubble-like vistas, airily framed with sky and sea and extending across the spreads. An attractive addition. (Picture book. 3-8) Read full book review >
SYCAMORE STREET by C. B. Christiansen
Released: Sept. 30, 1993

Best friends Angel and Chloe, who enjoy ``pretending'' together, have no time for new boy Rupert, who makes a pest of himself until Chloe discovers (while Angel's on vacation) that he's a good pretender, too. The inclusion/exclusion issue looms large for the target audience, but its exploration here isn't always credible—Rupert's still hanging around after being rebuffed for months, and, oddly, the girls never confront him when they suspect him of swiping their mittens. Still, humorous and nonpreachy, with short paragraphs, plenty of repetition for newly independent readers, and likable watercolor illustrations: unusually attractive for this genre. (Young reader. 5-7) Read full book review >
Released: March 31, 1993

Perhaps because Rex is a little older than the expectant siblings found in many picture books, her experience is the reverse of theirs: her worries about being supplanted come before her parents bring home new adopted brother Matthew. But then it's love at first sight—and pride in her new role of big sister and helper. As a result, Pinky feels he's lost his friend, but he devises a perfect remedy: his gift to Matthew is a soccer ball that Rex can start ``breaking in'' right now—which she does with Mother's blessing: ``You've been terrific with the baby, but go out and have some fun.'' With lively, believable dialogue, realistic situations that gently test the likable pair's mettle, and Sweet's appealing art on every easily read spread: another strong entry in a popular series. (Fiction/Young reader. 5-8) Read full book review >
Released: March 31, 1992

Fifth in an appealing series of early chapter books about two close friends, boy and girl, whose names reflect their characters' reversal of stereotypical roles. It's Pinky who is anxious about going to his first sleep-away camp, while Rex is busily practicing ball with her dad; still, Rex's last-minute admission that she also has qualms and is counting on Pinky to keep her from getting too scared is just what's needed to start him packing in earnest for what proves to be a wonderful time at camp. Howe presents these young children learning how to share their feelings with a sure touch for realistic dialogue; Sweet's full-color illustrations, on almost every page, nicely reflect the story's warmth and gentle humor. (Fiction. 5-8) Read full book review >
ROSIE'S BABY TOOTH by Maryann Macdonald
Released: Sept. 30, 1991

When Rosie, the appealing little rabbit introduced in Rosie Runs Away (1990), loses her first tooth, admires it so much that she's reluctant to part with it. Her friend Sid is definite: she has to give it to the tooth fairy. Fortunately, Dad is more tactful and accepting—as is the Tooth Fairy, who produces a chain so that Rosie can wear the tooth. The simple dialogue here is amusing and unusually perceptive; Sweet's pleasing watercolors reflect the warmth of this nice bunny family and extend the story's good humor. (Picture book. 4-8)*justify no* Read full book review >
Released: April 30, 1991

One of two new books about the likable best friends introduced in 1990. (The other, Pinky and Rex and the Mean Old Witch, is a nicely understated but predictable story about the mellowing of a neighborhood grouch.) The Spelling Bee has some thought-provoking twists: seized with competitive fervor, Pinky has his heart set on winning a spelling bee; he doesbut learns that losing isn't the worst thing when, over-excited at his moment of triumph, he ``pees'' in front of the class. Later, Rex conveys her sympathy with ingenious (and credible) tact. A satisfying story that effectively challenges several preconceptions. Sweet's attractive illustrations extend the wholesome good humor. (Young reader. 6-8) Read full book review >