Books by Meredith Hooper

THE LONGEST WINTER by Meredith Hooper
Released: Oct. 1, 2011

"A grand story of six brave men who literally and figuratively pulled together in their race for survival."
The tale of how Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen triumphed in the race to the South Pole, beating British contender Robert Scott by only two weeks, still grips our imagination 100 years later. Read full book review >
CELEBRITY CAT by Meredith Hooper
Released: Nov. 1, 2006

When all the city cats gather for Cats' Visiting Night at the Art Gallery, they are dismayed to see that so few paintings include felines. So Felissima Cat takes paintbrush in paw and adds them to six masterpieces in the art museums of London, Madrid, New York and Paris. For example, the reason the Mona Lisa is smiling is because she's holding a cat (now we know). The last spread reproduces the paintings and identifies the artists and the museums where they hang. As art appreciation, the device is original and the painting images accurate, but the illustrations of the cats are eerie. They are not cute, furry kitties, but appear somewhat menacing with sinister eyes that are more human than feline. The stylized illustrations in pencil, oil pastels and acrylics add unusual details and cleverly position the added cats into the artwork. Akin to Hooper's Dogs' Night, illustrated by Mark Burgess (2000), featuring four masterpieces in the National Gallery in London. (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
GOLD QUEST by Meredith Hooper
Released: Oct. 1, 2005

Viewing human history from an unusual angle, Hooper and Biesty follow a scrap of gold as it passes through many forms and hands over thousands of years. Fast-forwarding from its origin in a star, the gold begins its journey as part of a pharaoh's death mask—stolen by robbers and quickly recast into a chalice that winds up in a temple, and so on down the centuries. Hooper creates scenarios for each stage of the journey, often around such historical figures as Nero, Charlemagne and Robert Boyle. Biesty adds typically well-populated, minutely detailed large scenes and insets. The gold, repeatedly divided, is ultimately scattered over much of the world: some disguising counterfeit coins; some as a ring displayed in a museum; some buried in a field; illuminating a manuscript letter; or turned into buttons on an old uniform—one of which a modern New Yorker turns into a necklace. There's plenty of food for thought here about permanence and change; young historians will enjoy the metal's long trip, and will come away understanding that it's never over. (Nonfiction. 9-11)Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 8, 2004

Ten castles, including two that are not European, get the Biesty treatment, with full-spread, minutely detailed aerial views featuring cutaway sections and antlike swarms of residents. Smaller drawings on following pages serve as visual keys to the locations of a dozen or more rooms or other parts of each structure; Hooper fleshes out those keys with glimpses of workers or visitors, most of the latter historical figures, and pivotal events in each castle's history. Portrayals of life in fanciful or composite castles, of which Biesty's own Cross-Sections Castle (1994) is the most spectacular, are not hard to find; here the connection with castles that still exist—though some, the author notes, are in ruins—adds an extra dimension. Fine fare for young armchair travelers, who would otherwise never get a gander at Osaka Castle, Neuschwanstein, and Castel Sant' Angelo in their prime. (Nonfiction. 9-11)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2004

Despite some evident seams, this case study in plate tectonics is valuable for its unusual approach. Hooper traces the origin and history of an imaginary Antarctic island. First, its molten material wells up on a primeval ocean floor. Fast forward to 200 million years ago, and it's a shoreline where dinosaurs roam amid lush greenery—then so on, in stages, as it slowly pulls away from the mainland supercontinent, and today, still moving "at the speed a fingernail grows," makes a ruggedly rocky home for mosses, lichens, insects, birds, and penguins. The author describes that supercontinent's breakup, but deLeiris's matching map doesn't show up until much later on—after island scenes abruptly give way to spreads on fault lines, earthquakes, and continental drift in general. A good supplementary purchase, but with staid-looking art and haphazard organization, it's not going to drift past Helen Roney Sattler's Our Patchwork Planet (1995). (Nonfiction. 8-10)Read full book review >
WHO BUILT THE PYRAMID? by Meredith Hooper
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

An unusual blend of fiction and nonfiction celebrates the individuals whose collective efforts built a pyramid 4,000 years ago. From Senwosret, the king who commanded its construction, through Imhotep, the priest who determined its placement, and Nakht, one of the laborers who actually wrestled the stones into place, to Wah, the water carrier—and Sasobek, the tomb robber who raided it—each man answers the question, "Who built the pyramid?" with brief poetic lines that capture each contribution. Nesumontu, the stonemason, says, "With my sharp eye and steady hand. / I'm a stonemason, like my father before me. / I cut and shaped the casing stones / to fit tight together on the outside of the pyramid. / You couldn't slide a hair between them! / I built the pyramid." One full-bleed, double-page spread highlights each contributor's efforts, the stylized, blocky human figures in terra-cotta, against terra-cotta sand, white stone, and turquoise sky. Eight pages of concise, clear prose accompanied by photographs and diagrams follow these poetic presentations to explain "what happened next" and to explore in greater detail the building, robbing, and excavation of the pyramid. While this extended author's note indicates that at least four of the characters introduced in the main body of the work were actual historical figures, it does not indicate that the artisans and laborers presented are fictional representations based on historic extrapolation. This information is buried with the copyright information, where most children will not encounter it. This detail aside, Hooper (Antarctic Journal, 2001, etc.) and newcomer Heighway-Bury, have concocted a sophisticated yet easily appreciated offering for budding Egyptophiles. (index) (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-10)Read full book review >
ANTARCTIC JOURNAL by Meredith Hooper
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

Here is an adventure in a unique setting. The lively text and lovely watercolors document three and a half months of a summer the artist and author spent at the South Pole, as part of the National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists & Writers Program. Hooper describes everyday life aboard the research ship Laurence M. Gould, a sturdy orange icebreaker that scientists use to travel between the islands to study the wide variety of animals who come each year to breed and raise their young. An assortment of penguins, elephant seals, giant petrels, huge skuas, and leopard seals hold center stage. Scientists are less important than the serious business of successfully raising young in the short summer season. The author captures the drama of the ice-cold ocean, alive with life: "Swarms of barrel-shaped blue-tinged salps, stuck together in floating chains. Minute creatures with red eyes. Sliding through the water in a curving path like a ribbon." The artist provides striking paintings of the landscape and the animals in soft washy colors, and quick pencil sketches. The ice is lemon gold with mauve shadows, and the sea a silver gray in the 24-hour day. Animals are expressive and individual. The krill, the tiny shrimp-like creatures that form the backbone of the ocean food chain, appear in luminous glory. The author concludes with a page on global warming, a map of the islands visited, and an index. From cover to cover a personal and informative journey. (Nonfiction. 7-12)Read full book review >
RIVER STORY by Meredith Hooper
Released: June 1, 2000

Trickling, bubbling, swirling, rushing, a river flows down from its mountain beginnings, past peaceful country and bustling city on its way to the sea. Hooper (The Drop in My Drink, 1998, etc.) artfully evokes the water's changing character as it transforms from "milky-cold / rattling-bold" to a wide, slow "sliding past mudflats / looping through marshes" to the end of its journey. Willey, best known for illustrating Geraldine McCaughrean's spectacular folk-tale collections, contributes finely detailed scenes crafted in shimmering, intricate blues and greens, capturing mountain's chill, the bucolic serenity of passing pastures, and a sense of mystery in the water's shadowy depths. Though Hooper refers to "the cans and cartons / and bits of old wood" being swept along, there's no direct conservation agenda here (for that, see Debby Atwell's River, 1999), just appreciation for the river's beauty and being. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
DOG’S NIGHT by Meredith Hooper
Released: April 1, 2000

This lighthearted addition to books about art for children combines art appreciation with a twist. Once a year when the museum is empty, dogs in the paintings have their special night out. They romp around the museum and, just at midnight, jump back into their frames. This year, partygoers had food and fizzy drinks in the gallery and the dogs enjoyed the leftovers. When the revelry was over, four dogs jumped into the wrong pictures. A young girl points out the mistake and everyone is astounded. People line up all year to see the unexplainable. A year passes until the next dog's night out when, dissatisfied with their new surroundings, the dogs move back to their right places. Hooper's (The Drop in My Drink, 1998, etc.) text is fast and funny, filled with descriptive phrases matched well by the illustrations. Curless, a London political cartoonist, did the initial drawings, but died before he could complete the illustrations; Burgess finished the work in his style. All the dogs pictured are reproduced from paintings in the collection of the National Gallery in London. A picture index of the featured paintings is a useful addition. Text and illustrations combine to make an amusing read and one that will compliment other more serious works about art for children. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

In this striking companion to The Pebble in My Pocket (1996), Hooper and Coady explore the water on Earth, beginning with the drop in the faucet, through its history from the origin of the universe, its presence in the oceans at the beginnings of life, in the bodies of the dinosaurs, in the trees of the rainforests, to the present drop of water, dripping from the tap. Hooper expertly makes difficult concepts part of a sweeping vision accessible to readers; the language is vivid and poetic. Coady complements the text with effective full-color paintings: a fiery comet crashes into earth, the dinosaurs lumber across swampy landscapes, and the anaconda coils around a towering tree in the rainforest. The author concludes with a brief discussion on the water cycle and amazing water facts. This is very fine science writing, spinning out one fact after another but always bringing readers back to the narrator's single drop of water. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-11) Read full book review >
THE PEBBLE IN MY POCKET by Meredith Hooper
Released: May 1, 1996

Hooper and Coady pass on a sense of wonder for the history contained in one small pebble in an outstanding picture-book overview of 480 million years. The narrator, a young girl, holds a small pebble up and asks a simple question: ``Where did you come from, pebble?'' The book flashes back to the ``beginning'' of earth history, a dramatic spread of red hot volcanoes on the earth's crust spewing forth fire and rocks. One page and 85 million years later, the earth's surface is beginning to rise and buckle, rain and snow cause cracks in the rocks, and the first living things appear on the land. Seas rise and fall, fish give way to giant amphibians, amphibians give way to dinosaurs, then furry rodents, mammoths, early man, saber-toothed tigers, farms, houses, and modern times. The text never loses track of the pebble, worn smooth by rain and wind, packed into a new layer of rock forming under the sea, pushed up into mountains as the earth tilts and folds, and carried by glaciers to the field where the girl finds it. The final page offers a chronology with charts. A note makes clear that species are not drawn to scale, and other licenses taken. Coady provides spectacular paintings, given texture, weight, and movement by the strokes of his brush. (Nonfiction. 7-12) Read full book review >