Books by Michael Emberley

BABY'S FIRSTS by Nancy Raines Day
Released: Sept. 4, 2018

"An excellent first book for baby—and parents, too. (Picture book. 0-3)"
A joyful, poetic celebration of tiny moments in babies' lives. Read full book review >
PRISCILLA GORILLA by Barbara Bottner
Released: March 7, 2017

"A precious and precocious primate parable sure to please. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Priscilla is not a gorilla, but she sure loves everything about them. Read full book review >
MISS BROOKS' STORY NOOK by Barbara Bottner
Released: Aug. 5, 2014

"While sequels can sometimes be disappointing, readers and listeners who enjoyed Miss Brooks' first appearance will likely be very happy to find out what happens next—and they just might be inspired to create some tall tales of their own. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Energetic, book-loving Miss Brooks is back, as is Missy, the grumpy, stumpy, hat-wearing reluctant reader-turned-bookworm who is her biggest fan (Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I don't), 2010). Read full book review >
FORGET-ME-NOTS by Mary Ann Hoberman
Released: April 3, 2012

"An oversized, ambitious collection of verse that, in the end, proves sadly forgettable. (Poetry. 8-14)"
Over 120 poems, with accompanying illustrations, selected to help young readers discover the pleasures of committing verse to memory. Read full book review >
AN ANNOYING ABC by Barbara Bottner
Released: Sept. 13, 2011

What's annoying? Adelaide annoys Bailey when she runs at him wearing her tiger costume, scaring him and causing him to let the gerbil out of its cage. Read full book review >
Released: April 27, 2010

Nola has always stood by her younger sister, Song—through surgery, chemotherapy, remission and the recurrence of Song's cancer—but, craving adventure and normalcy, she takes a summer job as a waitress at Rocky Cove, a swanky Maine resort. On the bus, she immediately bonds with spontaneous, gregarious Carly. When Carly abruptly replaces Nola's roommate Bridget, Nola is overjoyed, and the two girls spend the first half of the summer as an inseparable duo, known to all as "the Cannolis." As busy mealtimes in the dining room, lazy days at the beach and beer-soaked parties bleed together, Carly takes over Nola's life—copying her haircut, becoming pen pals with Song, flirting with the boy Nola likes—undermining Nola's confidence and sense of self all the while. During a surprise visit from Song, Carly precipitates a dangerous stunt, which prompts a major confrontation with Nola. Carly is ultimately a pitiable figure, and Jacobson's gradual reveal, through Nola's first-person, present-tense narration, of the fun, then the danger, of this classic frenemy's borderline personality disorder is deliciously, palpably tense. (Fiction. 15 & up)Read full book review >
Released: March 9, 2010

Guaranteed to be warmly welcomed by librarians everywhere, this paean to the joys of reading will find an enthusiastic audience among kids and parents as well. The first-grade narrator is clearly an iconoclast—and a curmudgeon. She wears the same scruffy overalls and striped hat (pulled down to her eyes) throughout, turns away from reading circle to pursue her own interests and doesn't even bother with a Halloween costume. She looks askance at Miss Brooks, the tall, lanky (and, in her opinion, overenthusiastic) librarian who dresses up for storytime and urges her listeners to share their favorites with the group. After the narrator rejects her classmates' picks, Miss Brooks sends yet another pile home, with similar results. When her remarkably patient mother opines that she is "as stubborn as a wart," however, a seed is planted. A book with warts (Shrek) is found, loved and shared with great success. Bottner's deadpan delivery is hilarious, while Emberley's exaggerated illustrations, executed in watercolor and pencil by way of computer, bring her charmingly quirky characters perfectly to life. In a word: lovable. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
MAIL HARRY TO THE MOON! by Robie H. Harris
Released: May 21, 2008

With keen understanding and a comic touch, Harris addresses the trials and travails of adjusting to a new baby in the house. Told with all the snappish disdain of an older sibling, Harris's protagonist laments the bygone days before his little brother's arrival. His laundry list of misdeeds inflicted by his litter brother includes nibbling on toys that do not belong to him and usurping the cozy comfort of Grandma's lap. With each infraction, Harry's big brother suggests solutions to the problem of Harry that become increasingly extreme, resulting in his demand that Harry be sent into orbit. Harris keeps her text simple and straightforward. While adults may cringe at the sentiments of the disenfranchised sibling—"Flush Harry down the toilet!"—young readers will relate. Emberley's illustrations comically convey Harry's brother's rising disgruntlement. His over-the-top characterizations of the exaggerated requests will elicit gales of giggles from all readers, regardless of their birth order. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2008

Lloyd-Jones's celebration of the grandparent/grandchild bond presents itself as an instruction manual for children. Readers are advised not only to dance, sing and play with their grandparents, but also to "help" grandma and grandpa cross the street and park the car, to make sure they take their naps and to let their grandparents give them special treats that mom and dad won't allow and permission to stay up past their bedtimes. Most importantly, of course, kids must hug and kiss and love grandma and grandpa, because that's what they "like best in all the world." Readers of all ages will appreciate Emberley's lively illustrations. A wide-eyed, open-mouthed grandma tiger in pink nightgown stands on the bed as she tells her grandchild a bedtime story; a little rabbit feeds a chocolate ice-cream cone to an exhausted grandpa rabbit who sits in the middle of a sandcastle. The notion that grandma and grandpa's house is a no-rules-apply zone won't sit well with all parents, but who cares? It's not for them. (Picture Book. 3-6)Read full book review >
MAYBE A BEAR ATE IT! by Robie Harris
Released: Jan. 1, 2008

A small fellow of indefinable species snuggles down for the night with his stuffed animals and a much beloved book. A particularly vigorous yawn, however, dislodges the tome from its place on the bed and onto the floor where it is promptly lost. The only logical conclusion to be drawn, therefore, is that a bear has eaten the book. Or maybe a stegosaurus "stomped on it." As each fearsome beast is inspired by a soft squishy toy on the bed, our hero grows more and more outlandish in his theorizing. Finally, he searches high and low for the beloved object and emerges in fits of pure unadulterated joy when he finds it. Harris drills home the affection we all feel for those objects we name as "ours." The art here is also unexpectedly irresistible, not to mention moving, guaranteeing that for at least one child this will become a very special book of his or her own. (Picture book. 3-8)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2007

Hoberman and Emberley return with their fourth collaboration of short read-aloud stories in verse, this time a baker's dozen of goofy-scary original ones. The author's note (aimed at adults) and the introductory poem (aimed at readers, with illustrations of two youngsters in monster masks) proffer the book's premise: These stories, ideal for reading aloud, use spooky settings to express the joys of reading. Each poem spans two facing pages and, at 9"x12", the book is large enough to accommodate multiple small illustrations that retell each story pictorially. Subjects cover Halloween mainstays like "The Skeleton," "Trick or Treat" and "The Witch and the Broomstick," as well as a variety of other eerie entities. In "The Mummy," for example, two children in miners helmets gleefully unwrap a figure in a coffin, and get a surprise. A boy on a bicycle helps "The Ghoul" learn to read. Text throughout comes in multiple pastel shades, nicely matching Emberley's impish illustrations, in pencil, watercolor and pastels. Nifty. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2006

Harris and Emberley's trademark bird and bee return to help harried parents explain to their preschoolers and early elementary-aged children just exactly where babies come from. Opening with a dialogue that features a number of myths about procreation, the narrative then delivers what readers of It's So Amazing! (1999) and It's Perfectly Normal (1994) have come to expect: frank, age-appropriate discussions of topics that can send the unprepared parent screaming from the room. From the differences and similarities between boys and girls, to a preview of puberty, to conception, pregnancy and birth, Harris's reassuring text and Emberley's cheerfully lumpy cartoons hold the reader's hand through question after question. Concluding chapters explore physical and emotional boundaries, "okay touches" and "not okay touches," and the many different permutations of the modern family unit. Far too long for a bedtime read-aloud, this volume is well-suited for browsing, reference and independent examination. Although it is primarily aimed at young readers, the clarity and candor of the presentation will ensure its usefulness to older elementary children with limited reading skills. A happy addition to the Harris-Emberley family. (Nonfiction. 4-11)Read full book review >
Released: July 6, 2005

A companion to the two earlier volumes put out by this duo, this venture features original stories based on Mother Goose. Hoberman splits each rhyming story into parts differentiated by the color of the text. One color for one reader, a second for the other and a third color for the two to read together. There are 13 stories plus an introduction and a coda. The characters in these rhymes are recognizable: Simple Simon, Old Mother Hubbard, Little Miss Muffet. However, their antics diverge from the old saws in humorous and inventive ways. Jack Sprat and his wife go on a diet. Old King Cole's fiddlers get a lesson from the Hey Diddle Diddle Cat. Humpty Dumpty does get put back together, but he complains about the doctor's bill. Emberley's happily expressive animals and people are the icing on Hoberman's madcap Mother Goose. Sure to draw giggles from the most reluctant young readers. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2004

Harris and Emberley spin out the third of their "Growing Up Stories," using an episodic scenario-with-accompanying-commentary format to offer fresh, frank views on what to expect, developmentally speaking, from typical two-year-olds and also twins of that age. The stars in this outing belong to an African-American family, but Emberley adds vignettes on every spread that feature a rainbow of young faces. Addressed as much to parents as to older siblings, this takes Jasmine and Jackson through physical, emotional, and behavioral changes in a characteristically upbeat, nonjudgmental, low-pressure way—also modeling appropriate, nonviolent responses to the twins' antics. Another solid contribution to the literature of parenting and sibling relationships. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-8)Read full book review >
RUBY AND THE SNIFFS by Michael Emberley
Released: June 1, 2004

Ruby, an imaginative little mouse with a big attitude, hears a "thumpity-bump!" from upstairs and simply must investigate. Tricking her babysitter, Mrs. Mastiff, with a fraudulent game of hide-and-seek, Ruby ventures into the upstairs apartment, where she encounters the three Sniffs—new neighbor pigs whose denseness is equaled by their supreme good nature. Emberley rings the changes on the "Three Bears" motif, but this offering is not a simple fracturing of the familiar tale, but a rather overblown romp that pits the highly savvy Ruby against the very numb, rather gross (they are pigs, after all) Sniffs, throwing in a genuine cat burglar to round out the story. If the elegance of the original story is lost in the chaos, kids will nevertheless enjoy the street-smart Ruby and the dimwitted pigs. The very funny cartoon vignettes compensate for the overlong text, depicting a pointy-nosed Ruby in red overalls and oversized baseball cap (on backwards, natch) and a set of fat, hairy Sniffs, the genteel Mrs. Mastiff adding a touch of Steigian elegance. Not quite just right, but close enough. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
HELLO BENNY! by Robie H. Harris
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

Children are exposed to a wealth of information as Harris (Goodbye Mousie, 2001, etc.) begins a series that will educate children about the first five years of life. In this first, focusing on the first 12 months, the reader is introduced to the newborn, Benny. From incomprehensible gurgle sounds to smiling for the first time to his first spoken word, Benny is observed in his home environment quickly learning all the things that are necessary for his development. Each page contains a text box of additional facts that explain in greater detail a baby's actions throughout the growing stage, answering the many questions that curious readers might have—and quite a few they haven't thought of. The content is richly comprehensive; preschoolers will learn all of this material gradually, through multiple readings. Emberley (You Read to Me, I'll Read to You, 2001, etc.) uses a blend of computerized and traditional artwork with pen, colored pencils, and watercolor to create each one of Benny's friends and family members. On white matte paper, the painted portraits are suspended above the text, while others mix in it. The visual references that correspond to the supporting facts make this piece educational and lots of fun. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

Playful rhymes celebrate the sheer joy of reading in this exuberant read-aloud collection. Designed for two readers, the poems are laid out with verses in place-specific positions and printed in a trio of colors to indicate the different voices; purple on the left, pink on the right, and the blue sections in the center indicating that the text should be read in unison. Hoberman (It's Simple, Said Simon, 2001, etc.) draws upon such universally kid-pleasing themes as frolicking in the snow and frisky puppies, liberally infusing them with copious amounts of silliness. The result: rambunctious poems to tickle funny bones. Whatever the theme, each poem concludes with the rousing chorus, "You read to me. / I'll read to you." Hoberman's verses draw the readers into a delightful verbal sparring match of dueling rhymes. The humorous bandying keeps the laughs coming while the actual vocabulary is manageable for fledgling readers. The poems run the gamut from a pair of dogs scolding a cat for chasing mice to the wonderfully insouciant poem, "Hop and Skip." Emberley's pen-and-watercolor illustrations capture the liveliness of the poems; small vignettes revel in the absurdities, beckoning readers to join in and relish the fun. In "The Two Mice," Hoberman sums up the philosophy of the collection quite nicely. "Two readers reading / Make a game. / It's twice as nice / When there are two." And what fun this is for readers and listeners alike. (Picture book. 6-8) Read full book review >
HAPPY BIRTH DAY! by Robie H. Harris
Released: July 1, 1996

Perhaps designed for the baby-gift market (the title page is preceded by a page for recording a newborn's vital statistics), this book occupies an unusual niche: There are plenty of books about gestation, birth, and infancy, but this one focuses on the baby's experiences in the minutes and hours immediately following birth, particularly on the bonding between parents and newborn. In carefully detailed text and pictures, Harris and Emberley (It's Perfectly Normal, 1994) make the day of firsts realistic without being clinical: The wrinkled, puffy baby is more presentable than many newborns. Large, smiling adult faces and solicitous hands surround the baby in nearly every picture. The earthier aspects of infancy are all noted: cutting the umbilical cord, nursing, peeing, pooping, burping, sneezing, and hiccuping, as well as sleeping and crying. The predominant message, however, is of the love and wonder that greet this child from her first moment. (Picture book. 3-8) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

Illustrator Emberley (Welcome Back, Sun, 1993, etc.) has teamed up with Harris (Hot Henry, 1987, etc.) to present more ethnic and sexual diversity than New York City's Rainbow Curriculum ever bargained for as they battle all concepts non-PC: They take swings at ageism (``People have sexual intercourse well into old age'') and at homophobia in the military (pointing out that, in ancient Sparta, it was thought ``that if a warrior was in the same regiment as his lover, he would fight harder in order to impress him''). But there's more information than polemic here, as the reader is guided by a corny but never condescending pair—an uninhibited bird and a repressed bee—through puberty, anatomy, reproduction, and a sense of the emotional weight that accompanies sexuality. The book intelligently covers birth-control options, how to have safer sex, how to treat STDs, and, in an especially impressive chapter, how to combat sexual abuse—all without patronizing the pre- or post-pubescent. Emberley's illustrations are often as funny as they are informative. With affirmations of homosexuality and masturbation—``it's perfectly normal''—and a choice-leaning (yet cautious) discussion on abortion, this volume will be anathema to social conservatives. But for parents who fear that a school sex-ed class may not be informative enough, it will certainly aid that dreaded birds-and-bees discussion. A terrific teaching tool that just may help slow the spread of sexual diseases and ignorance. (Nonfiction. 10-14) Read full book review >
WELCOME BACK, SUN by Michael Emberley
Released: Oct. 1, 1993

A little girl who lives ``wedged deep in a narrow mountain valley'' far in the north describes the weary months Norwegians call ``murketiden''—``the murky time'' when the sun has disappeared—and the joyful March day when she and her parents make the steep climb to glimpse its first reappearance. Emberley captures the effect of the darkness on these villagers with unusual sensitivity, touching on the hunger for sunshine that most people hold off until Christmas but that affects even patient, stoical Papa before spring; the eager trek up Mount Gausta to find the glorious explosion of ``brilliance [that] flashes off snow and ice'' makes a tellingly dramatic conclusion. Emberley's beautifully composed illustrations, with expressive, delicately limned characters that recall Lena Anderson's, are especially fine. A perfect antidote to a dreary winter week. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
THE PRESENT by Michael Emberley
Released: May 1, 1991

The author of Ruby (1990) creates another charmingly original story, this time set in rural Denmark. Arne, proprietor of a fix-it shop, is reminded by the postman (who seems to have read Arne's mail) that his nephew Tove's 12th birthday is coming up; Arne will need to find a present. In the busy village market, he finds a 17-blade knife, fixes it up—then, deciding to keep it, repairs an old bike as a substitute. He's so fat that he's a precarious rider, but off he wobbles on his present—only to be greeted by Tove with his fine new bike. Never mind; the knife still in Arne's pocket makes the perfect gift, and now they can ride bikes together. Told with wry good humor and some comical repetitions (a true Dane, Arne consumes pickled herring at every opportunity), but the illustrations are the most fun: dogged, a little foolish, but endearing, Arne searches the market, labors in his shop, or careens on the bike, sometimes appearing dozens of times across a double-spread landscape as if appearing in the frames of a film sequence. Lighthearted and innovative: a story to amuse older children as well as its intended audience. (Picture book. 4-11) Read full book review >