Books by Michael Hague

Released: Oct. 1, 2013

"It could be argued that simplifying and softening these tales does neither the stories nor their audience any good, but for those who want short and sweet versions, they are here. (Fairy tales. 4-7)"
Fourteen familiar tales are retold in their simplest and most bloodless forms for reading aloud to very young children—an approach somewhat subverted by Hague's powerful and somewhat surreal pictures. Read full book review >
Released: June 17, 2011

First a poem, then a lullaby, often a book and now an app—how we wonder what you... will be next. Read full book review >
IN THE SMALL by Michael Hague
Released: May 1, 2008

Vibrant art is incongruously juxtaposed against a poorly executed story line. After a mysterious blue flash shrinks the human race to 1/12 its original size, siblings Mouse and Beat must learn to live in an increasingly perilous new world. While the human race has been affected, animals have not, so now everything from common garter snakes to housecats presents itself as a deadly enemy. A promising concept, this graphic novel quickly loses its stride with histrionic dialogue (as Beat sees a corpse being devoured by ants she melodramatically cries "I'm sorry…I need to be stronger. I need to get used to things like this..."). Furthermore, the oddly formed plot takes too many liberties and fails its reader by setting haphazard boundaries in the creation of its world. Speeding along with a sci-fi-tinged man-vs.-nature theme, the text veers way off-course in the conclusion with an abrupt introduction of supernatural elements. This extremely anomalous ending offers only the vaguest of hints toward further explanation, possibly in a sequel, and will leave readers scratching their heads, if not thoroughly disgusted. (Science fiction/graphic novel. YA)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

In this outstanding alphabet rhyme, a wee, purple-frocked mouse goes "Tip-tip tippy tippy" through a lovingly detailed house, going "Sniff-sniff sniffy sniffy" all the way along. For her, this is a mouthwatering adventure as she licks B's butter, gets I's icing in her white fur and nibbles O's orange peel. Not without mishaps, she discovers that P for pepper just causes sneezes. She also explores V for vacuum and R for roses and delights at tasting the clever sugar-coated X atop the hot cross buns. All is fun and games until Z brings the mousie a round a corner and a close encounter with a furry member of the family. Hague's illustrations shine with sumptuous vividness. The delicate plays of light and bright colors bring a visually arresting blend of realism and fancy as the reader sees the giant world from the mouse's point of view. Additionally, the lilting verse and sing-song refrain make this a treasure of the genre. (Picture book. 2-6) Read full book review >
ANIMAL FRIENDS by Michael Hague
Released: April 1, 2007

Hague's typically charming illustrations of a vaguely old-fashioned, pastoral world decorate 20 brief poems. Some of these are excerpts of longer works. Poets featured range from the clearly contemporary (Eileen Spinelli) to big names from the past (Robert Louis Stevenson and Christina Rossetti). Even Mother Goose appears. The poems' appeal varies considerably. Spinelli's verses, as well as the poems by Aileen Fisher, are expressive and engaging. Some of the other poems, however, seem unlikely to capture the interest of contemporary listeners. As is usual in Hague's illustrations, this time created in pencil, ink and watercolor and digitally enhanced, there is a certain static quality. In most of the pictures, a child shares the space with an animal, large or small. Most often the child is sitting quietly and observing the animal rather than interacting with it. While there will certainly be an audience for this collection, it seems most likely to appeal to fans of the illustrator rather than those looking for good poems for young listeners. (Poetry. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 2006

The whimsical sweetness of Nesbit's original story and the richness of its early 20th-century language have both been stripped from this misguided attempt at retelling. While adult readers will keenly miss that richness, new young readers will probably enjoy the story of young Lionel, taken from his building blocks when the news comes that his many-greats-grandfather has died and he must be king. Lionel is far more taken with his grandfather's books, even though the Prime Minister and Chancellor warn him not to open them. He does so of course, letting loose among other beasts a red dragon who eats every member of Parliament, an orphanage and the Football Players. Lionel, with some help from a Hippogriff and none at all from a Manticora, finds a way of getting the dragon back into the book, with only slightly singed pages. Nurse, a figure of comfort, has a severe mien in these pictures, which are lush and hyperreal, as is Hague's wont. Not to everyone's taste, but his adult fans will snap it up. (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2006

Nesbit's wry 1908 telling casts Jack as a dreamy lad more adept at composing poems about "the Dignity of Labor" than engaging in it. She enlivens the familiar plot with chatty speculation, nimble description and a tidy resolution. The giant's realm is a desolate landscape of withered trees and streams gone dry. A fairy defines Jack's quest, revealing that Jack's unknown father, ruler of that very land, had been killed by the giant, who imprisoned his subjects in the trees. The fairy confirms that Jack's mission is "the one particular dream" that he heretofore "never could quite dream." Jack's thievery of the golden egg-laying hen, money bags and magic harp, laid out as a righteous corrective to the giant's usurpation, is ably facilitated by the giant's wife, "whose only fault was that she was too ready to trust boys." Tavares's handsome pencil-and-watercolor pictures deliver a satisfyingly scary giant, his shirt bloodstained, his comb-over topped with the stolen, too-small crown, his house strewn with the skulls of victims. No source notes, but thoroughly satisfying nonetheless. (Picture book/folktale. 5-8)Read full book review >
THE NUTCRACKER by Sarah L. Thomson
Released: Oct. 1, 2003

A jolly nutcracker with his mouth wide open waves his sword and flag and seems ready to ride right off the cover in Hague's version of this Christmas classic. This retelling uses the structure of the original story by Hoffman, retaining the name of Marie for the little girl, and adds some of the familiar elements from the ballet version of the story. Hague's illustrations in pen and ink, watercolor, and colored pencil set a dark and theatrical mood with deep jewel tones and rich velvet draperies framing several spreads. His Rat King is a fearsome fellow with seven heads and 14 glowing red eyes, but his sweet Sugar Plum Fairy dances with butterfly wings ornamenting her flower-petal costume. This retelling is too long for most preschoolers, but will serve as an introduction to the story or preparation before a performance for school-age children. An author's note includes the history of the story and how it came to be a ballet. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
KATE CULHANE by Michael Hague
Released: July 1, 2001

A shivery ghost story from Ireland that will surely appeal to lovers of the macabre. Young Kate Culhane finds that nothing goes well for her after her mother dies. One darkening day she accidentally steps on a newly dug grave and is caught by the ghostly figure beneath it. He commands her to carry him on her back to town, and she must obey. Rejecting two households where he senses holy water, he makes her take him inside a merchant's house, where he forces her to make him a grisly repast: oatmeal mixed with the blood of the house's three sons. Kate hides her portion of the meal in her kerchief, and when she is forced to carry the ghost back, she escapes sharing the grave with him, but not before learning the secret of his gold and of the restoration of the three boys. She makes the merchant promise that she can marry the oldest if she restores his sons to life. Thereupon, she feeds them the saved oatmeal and blood. All goes well, and Kate has her new husband dig up the ghost's gold, which they share with all. Spectral figures, Gothic hues, and Rackham-esque lines are used very effectively in the watercolor pictures, which are fully as scary as the text. (source note) (Picture book/folktale. 9-12)Read full book review >
THE BOOK OF DRAGONS by Michael Hague
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

A fine collection of mostly well-known short stories and excerpts from novels about dragons, including works by J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Kenneth Grahame, Andrew Lang, and E. Nesbit. Stories include ``Perseus and Andromeda,'' ``The Deliverers of Their Country,'' and ``St. George and the Dragon,'' and excerpts from ``The Hobbit'' and ``The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,'' among others. Of course, they are widely available elsewhere, but here are accompanied by Hague's lavish paintings. His dragons are imbued with highly individual personalities, including a particularly goofy-looking creature in ``The Reluctant Dragon.'' The people seemed to have stepped out of the pages of early 20th-century children's illustrations, but the glowing backgrounds and skies, in deep, rich palettes, mark them as Hague's. For fans of the artist this is another must-have; the cover is stunning. (Anthology. 10+) Read full book review >
Released: April 23, 1993

``A Classic Action Rhyme'' with a spread for each line—text on the verso, framed in little bears on a golden honey ground decked with stars; cuddly plush bear with appealingly mobil face on the recto, in a pictorial story Hague has devised to suit the familiar words. When this bear turns around, it's in a mud puddle in the garden; when he shows his shoe, it's covered with mud- -indoors. There's another bear (apron, mop, spectacles) who sends him upstairs to bed and tucks him in. It's all very traditional, very cozy, and quite nice. An illustrated ``Note to Parents'' explains the appropriate actions. Sure to find a wide and willing audience. (Picture book. 2-5) Read full book review >
Released: April 17, 1992

An expansive setting (11''x12'') for a sentimental favorite, a song (``written over forty years ago'') describing a teddy bears' woodland outing without their ``Mummies and Daddies,'' who come at the end to ``take them home to bed.'' Hague provides a lush setting, mostly in teddy-bear brown and gold, with muscular Rackham trees, fairies hiding under toadstools and among roots, dozens of winsome bears feasting, blowing bubbles, swimming, etc., and one toddler (disguised in a bear-suit and clutching his own large teddy) as observer; in the end, these last two snuggle down amid fairy dust after the other bears have gone home. Appealing; too bad the music wasn't included. (Picture book. 3-7) Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1980

A large, elaborate production in the revivalist mode—double-page spreads in color, single-page, decoratively framed drawings in black and white—all more or less from the Maxfield Parrish era. And a long-drawn-out story with legendary trappings about a prince who yearns for the sea—dirty and dangerous, says his father, fit only for commoners—and how he learns from the young diver Demetrius that the vision is truer than the reality: a blind man had evoked the sea's beauty for the prince, Demetrius sees only sea slime. Fancy furbelows, an empty core. Read full book review >
Released: March 12, 1980

One might speculate on why the mouse is called Junction, but not very profitably. Cunningham shows him at a junction in his life, a protected wide-eyed innocent eager for experience and unacquainted with tears, fear, or hunger. In Cunningham's typical pretentious prose, Junction steals from bed one night, "achieves a passage" to the outside world, and revels, "aquiver with delight," in the freedom, the smell of grass, and the sight of stars. A bird and a squirrel warn him of the monstrous rat and the fearsome owl; but "danger is what I have come for," says Junction to himself. A cautionary tale in the making? On the contrary, when the rat does turn up it's to rescue Junction from the swooping owl, and to pity the wounded mouse's newly (and proudly) acquired wretchedness. Junction responds to the pity with love, and the rat responds in kind, "with a smile so wide with joy it gathered Junction into a feeling of forever." Whatever forever feels like, Junction moves in with the rat, and the two become "like father and son, king and princeling." Doesn't Junction miss his old treats and toys and pillows? "Never," he answers the rat. "The best is here, you with me and me with you. Always." But what has replaced his pampered past? From the mushy core to the sticky surface, it's not much like real life. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 1933

An allegory requires its own followers (for there is a definite cult) or a raison d'etre. I don't doubt that this book will find many of the first, but I must admit I could not find the second. It was frankly beyond me. Why should there be a need for (to quote the sub-title) an allegorical Apology for Christianity Reason and Romanticism? But what of it? Mr. Lewis fortunately has a keen wit and in spite of a rather juvenile style and phraseology, the book moves along, if your customer likes allegories. Read full book review >