Books by Michael McCurdy

WALDEN THEN AND NOW by Michael McCurdy
ABC BOOKS
Released: July 1, 2010

"An unusual yet entirely appropriate introduction to the famed hermit—and the other residents of Walden Pond. (source notes with quotes from Walden) (Alphabet book. 10 & up)"
This elegant alphabet book brilliantly conveys the essence of 19th-century American author, naturalist and philosopher Henry David Thoreau's solitary sojourn at Walden Pond. Read full book review >
THE TRAIN THEY CALL THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS by Steve Goodman
MUSIC AND THE ARTS
Released: June 1, 2003

"An opening map marks the train's 17 stops between Chicago and New Orleans. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-9)"
Goodman's Grammy-winning country-music song is resurrected with illustrations rendered in scratchboard and watercolor. Read full book review >
THE SIGNERS by Dennis Brindell Fradin
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Nov. 1, 2002

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." Read full book review >
TAKE COMMAND, CAPTAIN FARRAGUT! by Peter Roop
BIOGRAPHY
Released: April 1, 2002

"An unusual presentation that could spark interest in this exceptional young man. (Historical fiction. 8-11)"
At age ten, David Glasgow Farragut became the youngest midshipman ever assigned to a warship in the United States Navy. Read full book review >
AN ALGONQUIAN YEAR by Michael McCurdy
FICTION
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

"Satisfying in many ways. (Introduction, bibliography.) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)"
McCurdy's (Iron Horses, 1999, etc.) signature scratchboard illustrations take on a hieratic power as he recounts a way of pacing the year far different from what's familiar. Read full book review >
WAR AND THE PITY OF WAR by Neil Philip
POETRY
Released: Sept. 21, 1998

"The book makes vivid humankind's innate darkness and makes war painful again. (indexes) (Poetry. 10-14)"
This startling and honest presentation of the horrors of war from Philip and McCurdy (American Fairy Tales, 1996, etc.) uses poems to thoughtfully balance the often romanticized vision of battle as an expression of bravery and honor. Read full book review >
THE SAILOR'S ALPHABET by Michael McCurdy
ABC BOOKS
Released: March 1, 1998

"The sailors in water-blue uniforms are young and rosy, or old and grizzled, and word-buffs and nautical enthusiasts will find plenty to pore over—halyards and lanyards, jibs and vangs. (Picture book. 5-9)"
Some time in the 19th century, a sailor created this sea chantey, a rhythmic song to keep him and his mates working in tandem to keep a ship afloat. Read full book review >
TRAPPED BY THE ICE! by Michael McCurdy
ADVENTURE
Released: Aug. 1, 1997

"Still, aspects of this are riveting, and it will certainly lead readers into longer, more detailed accounts of this two-year expedition. (map, bibliography, index) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)"
 McCurdy (The Old Man and the Fiddle, 1992, etc.) switches from his familiar woodcut style to realistic paintings of landscapes, ice, and ocean in a retelling of Sir Ernest Shackleton's famous expedition. Read full book review >
AMERICAN FAIRY TALES by Neil Philip
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: Nov. 2, 1996

"With a preface by Alison Lurie. (Fiction. 10+)"
 From the pair behind Singing America (1995), a gathering of a century's worth of stories that defy well-known European fairy tale conventions. Read full book review >
THE SEASONS SEWN by Ann Whitford Paul
HISTORY
Released: April 1, 1996

"McCurdy has a following, and quilting is again in vogue, but the elegant architecture of this conceit may have difficulty finding an audience; it's a nice book that somehow fails to sing. (bibliography) (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-9)"
 Artfully constructed images of the early 19th century reflect daily life through the names of patchwork quilt patterns. Read full book review >
THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS by Abraham Lincoln
FRIENDS AND SCHOOL
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

 The deliberate pace Lincoln's words acquire when spaced out in this powerful, somber book gloriously introduces the most famous speech in American history to a new generation and gives fresh meaning to those who have read and heard it before. Read full book review >
SINGING AMERICA by Neil Philip
POETRY
Released: June 1, 1995

"In art and word, the America that emerges is compelling in all its contradictions. (further reading, indices of first lines, titles, subject, and poets) (Poetry. 10-14)"
 An astounding array of poems about the American identity, representing the events and attitudes that have helped shape a unique history, by the compiler of Fairy Tales from Eastern Europe (1991). Read full book review >
LUCY'S SUMMER by Donald Hall
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: April 1, 1995

"The book is a best bet—conjuring another time and place with eloquence, humor, and grace. (Picture book. 5-8)"
 If a good picture book is like a good poem, where every word counts, then there isn't a word misplaced in this lyrical book about summer on a New Hampshire farm in 1910. Read full book review >
LUCY'S CHRISTMAS by Donald Hall
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

"A winner. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 5-8)"
 It's 1909 in a New Hampshire farming town. Read full book review >
ESCAPE FROM SLAVERY by Frederick Douglass
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Feb. 1, 1994

"Brief bibliography of sources. (Autobiography. 9+)"
 Skillfully selecting from the first volume of the great African-American abolitionist's monumental autobiography (1845), McCurdy presents Douglass's early life—including his escape from Baltimore to New Bedford, via New York, at age 20—scrupulously explaining that he has edited ``to emphasize action'' but has ``kept Douglass's own words, spelling, and distinctive punctuation,'' and has occasionally ``rearranged for the sake of clarity.'' The result is eloquent and compelling. Read full book review >
GIANTS IN THE LAND by Diana Appelbaum
NONFICTION
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

"The medium is poetically felicitous; the result is an outstandingly handsome and interesting book. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 7+)"
 After the many paeans to rainforests, a different kind of tribute to trees—to the towering specimens that grew only in the primeval New England forests and were felled to make masts for British warships—``forty inches wide at the base, one hundred and twenty feet tall, and absolutely straight'' (a resource the British lacked once the Revolution began). Read full book review >
THE BEASTS OF BETHLEHEM by X. J. Kennedy
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 30, 1992

"Serious, reverent, and handsomely designed. (Poetry/Picture book. 8+)"
 In the manner of De Gasztold's Prayers from the Ark, 19 carefully fashioned short poems, in the voices of the traditional Nativity animals plus some unexpected others—snail, hummingbird, worm, mosquito, and a cat that, this once, forbears chasing mice. Read full book review >
THE OLD MAN AND THE FIDDLE by Michael McCurdy
FICTION
Released: June 3, 1992

"As a cautionary tale, the point seems belabored, though McCurdy's sprightly verse is imaginatively phrased; best are his lively illustrations with their angular human and animal characters, the dramatic black of the engraving tinted with softer color. (Picture book. 4-8)"
 An accomplished wood engraver adopts the form and scenario of ``The Arkansas Traveler,'' writing a mostly new ballad with a more complicated plot: not only does the man's roof leak, but ``His house was a shambles, the porch almost gone,/The yard was a sight, but the man fiddled on.'' Several neighbors, amusingly depicted in McCurdy's vigorous art, protest and try to help, but in the end it takes a flood to tidy up—a flood that takes the old man with it but fails to quench his spirit: on the last page, he's glimpsed fiddling from ``beyond the next hill'' (apparently the next life). Read full book review >
AMERICAN TALL TALES by Mary Pope Osborne
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: Oct. 1, 1991

"Each story is introduced by source notes; a story-by-story bibliography provides a good roundup of this popular genre. (Folklore. 6-12)"
 For the 90's, a handsome, well-documented collection of stories about nine uniquely American characters. Read full book review >