Books by Michael Rosen

BAH! HUMBUG! by Michael Rosen
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 11, 2018

"An accessible and funny morality tale that's useful reading for work-obsessed parents as well as their children. (Fiction. 8-12)"
Veteran British children's author Rosen gives a new twist to an old tale. Read full book review >
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ÉMILE ZOLA by Michael Rosen
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 15, 2017

"Zola had a knack for turbulence, both in his fiction and in his personal life. This lively account documents one of the most turbulent and consequential episodes of all."
A chronicle of Émile Zola's exile in England after the novelist's involvement in the Dreyfus affair. Read full book review >
A GREAT BIG CUDDLE by Michael Rosen
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 22, 2015

"Despite (or perhaps because of) the odd bits, this book successfully celebrates the private, gleeful, imaginative world of toddlers. (Picture book/poetry. 1-5)"
Short poems and accompanying illustrations make up this word-format poetry anthology for little ones. Read full book review >
THE BUS IS FOR US by Michael Rosen
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2015

"A lovely treatment of a perennially popular topic. (Picture book. 2-5) "
There are so many ways to ride; some are flights of imagination. Read full book review >
ALPHABETICAL by Michael Rosen
HISTORY
Released: Feb. 10, 2015

"A delightfully informative book about letters, their meanings, and the words and meanings we derive from them."
A poet, writer of children's books and host of BBC Radio 4's Word of Mouth tells the history of each letter in our alphabet.Read full book review >
SEND FOR A SUPERHERO! by Michael Rosen
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 27, 2014

"Although this approach has been used before, rarely has it been executed with such hilarious results. (Picture book. 4-8)"
An over-the-top comic-book adventure within a bedtime story aims for laughs. Read full book review >
AESOP'S FABLES by Michael Rosen
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2013

"Incorporating a vain crow, opportunistic wolves and foxes, talking trees and more, this collection both instructs and charms. (scholar's note) (Fables. 5-10)"
Prolific Brit Rosen and Canadian artist Hacikyan deliver 13 of the legendary fabulist's moral vignettes. Read full book review >
HAPPY HARRY'S CAFÉ by Michael Rosen
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 9, 2012

"Slim plot, weak humor and lackluster appeal will leave preschoolers asking for more substantial fare. (Picture book. 3-5)"
The picture-book crowd will most likely find this thin story bland and unsatisfying. Read full book review >
I’M NUMBER ONE by Michael Rosen
CHILDREN'S
Released: Dec. 1, 2009

Mother and daughter leave for the day while four toys and the dog stay home. The toy soldier, A-One, declares he is in charge and commands each of the other toys to wind his key. Of course they are "no good," "so bad" and "the worst" at doing so. Wound up, A-One continues with more name-calling and insults. The other toys, with a touch of humor, twist and combine all of the hurtful words A-One has spoken into nonsense phrases. Eventually everyone laughs, including the bossy soldier. What follows are kind, apologetic actions from A-One until he is "one of the gang." Graham skillfully uses pen and watercolors to portray each scene in his signature cartoon style. The toys stand out in saturated color against the setting's pale washes, and new readers will appreciate the subtle changes in text highlighting dialogue. Most dramatic is a close-up of A-One realizing how silly he has been. Sure to provoke discussions about bullying, especially since retaliation, even in this rather gentle way, could be deemed controversial. (Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >
RED TED AND THE LOST THINGS by Michael Rosen
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2009

Red Ted, accidentally left behind, is deposited in the Place for Lost Things. Determined to find the little girl who loves him, he escapes the cavernous closet of forgotten toys. A naysaying crocodile and cheese-craving cat join Ted's expedition, and together they search for friendship, family and food in this charming tale. Both text and illustrations evoke time-tested teddy-bear classics such as Corduroy, with its toy-comes-alive point of view, and Paddington and Winnie-the-Pooh, with delicately penciled characters clearly defined against subtly drawn backgrounds. Crocodile serves as Red Ted's foil, much like Pooh's Eeyore, highlighting the bear's sweet temperament and determined attitude. Stewart's dense environments, filled with texture and intricate details, create a rich world for Rosen's heroes, and his use of graphic novel-type panels offers a good introduction to sequential-image storytelling. A satisfying tale for all involved, from the adopted crocodile, satiated cat and found teddy bear to the readers who will delight in this sweet adventure. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
BEAR’S DAY OUT by Michael Rosen
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

A worthy successor to We're Going on a Bearhunt (1989), this rhythmic chant follows bear from his cave—"All alone? / All alone"—to the waves on the shore "By the sea? / By the sea!" Lured by sounds from the city, bear hops on a train: "Chuffy chuff / Chuffy chuff / Chuffy chuffity chuff." Overwhelmed by rushing cars and people and hucksters in the market, bear flees to a park, "Down the street? / Down the street!" Some kind children rescue him and accompany him home, reversing the trip and chants. "Follow us! / Follow us!" Home again, on the shore in the moonlight, the children and the bear play "in the waves. / Splishy splash / Splishy splash" before falling asleep cozily in the cave, "Doo bee doodily doo." Reynolds's colorful illustrations are large and luscious, with the atmospheric and idyllic shore scenes at beginning and end providing a contrast to the busier perspectives and crowded scenes in the town and on the train. Pure delight. (Picture book. 2-6)Read full book review >
TOTALLY WONDERFUL MISS PLUMBERRY by Michael Rosen
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2006

Rosen is once again spot-on in addressing emotions. Molly sets out for school with a crystal, eager to show it to classmates, because it comes from "Grandma, over the water and far away." At first, everyone's interested, but then, "Russell r[uns] past waving a pink and green dinosaur," and the crystal's instantly forgotten. Molly feels abandoned and teary until totally wonderful Miss Plumberry claps her hands, calls everyone's attention back to the crystal and admires it. Rosen powerfully highlights the arc of emotion with Molly's anger, elegantly avoiding blatancy but simply stating, "And in a minute, a great big lion was going to run in and gobble everyone up. / Come on, lion. / Come on, lion, / thought Molly." Lee's pleasant watercolor-and-pencil illustrations have a light touch, nice colors and expressive faces and capture the details of Molly's classroom with items familiar to the audience. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
DICKENS by Michael Rosen
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Oct. 1, 2005

Following the same format as their work on Shakespeare (2001), Rosen and Ingpen seek to introduce young readers to Dickens's life and oeuvre. The author's youth and early career are sketched out, emphasis placed on the family's hard times and Dickens's fondness for reading and the theater. Following this brief biographical sketch are a description of Dickensian London, literary examinations of four works and an appreciation of Dickens's legacy. Accompanying the generously spaced text throughout are watercolor illustrations that echo the 19th-century British landscape painters and caricaturists. It's a lovely combination, but readers may be excused for asking, "To what end?" The text, acknowledging its audience's unfamiliarity with Dickens's work (with the possible exception of "Mickey's Christmas Carol" and other variants), is a weird combination of patronizing introduction and literary analysis. Asking young readers to indulge in criticism of works they haven't yet read seems of dubious value in inculcating an appreciation of same. Rewritten for teens who may be studying Dickens, this offering could be of great value, but as it is, the younger audience to whom it's aimed may be forgiven for passing it over. (Nonfiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
OWW! by Michael Rosen
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 2005

Fans of Snore! (2001) will welcome this return to the same barnyard full of helpful animals. It seems that Piggy Piglet has snagged a thorny bit of thistle in his tail, and not only is he unable to dislodge it, everyone else who tries, from clever Cat to Sheep and Cow, is left with smarting paws, hooves or other extremities. The appealing livestock in Langley's smoothly drawn rural scenes exude sympathy for poor Piggy Piglet and readers will too—until, at last, along comes ever-hungry Donkey, who despite universal skepticism bends down without ado and proceeds to eat the offending plant. Off trot the relieved Piggy Piglet and everyone else, to chow down likewise at the feeding trough. A comic tale, with several views of piglets flying through the air and a mild lesson about never refusing help. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
MICHAEL ROSEN’S SAD BOOK by Michael Rosen
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2005

"Where is sad? Sad is anywhere. It comes along and finds you. When is sad? Sad is any time. It comes along and finds you." Impelled by the sudden death of his teenage son, Rosen offers a personal meditation on living with loss, to which Blake's accompanying watercolors give poignant visual dimension. Addressing readers in simple, unaffected language, the author describes ups and downs; how he sometimes wants to share his feelings, but other times wants be alone; the small acts that make him feel worse or better; how memory can hurt or help. His changeable inner landscape is reflected in the scribbly, emotionally exact art, as subdued color alternates with washes of gray, facial expressions of the author and those around him change—and other signs, from body language to outdoor scenes and the weather itself—evoke each moment's mood. Rosen offers no easy solutions here—but he and Blake close with the image of a candle shedding a small, hopeful light. Readers burdened by similar loss will be touched by the honesty and perception here. (Picture book. 6-10)Read full book review >
HOWLER by Michael Rosen
by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Neal Layton
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 2004

A dog's-eye view of family changes. Having looked on tolerantly as one of his human pets, Cindy "started getting bigger outwards" and eventually brings home a small, loud addition he dubs "Howler," the canine narrator is dismayed to discover that he's no longer the center of attention. So he gets friendly with Ruff Ruff, the pooch next door, and soon he's the father of five "Rufflets"—"I thought they all ought to be called Small Me, but I wasn't asked." Still, his bruised ego is soothed when the humans all leave Howler snoozing peacefully, and come running to "bark" excitedly over the puppies. Layton's quick brushwork and scribbly lines further brighten this lively, equally droll follow-up to Rover (1999). (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
SHAKESPEARE’S ROMEO AND JULIET by Michael Rosen
CLASSICS
Released: Jan. 1, 2004

Shakespeare fangeek Rosen has done the nearly impossible: produced an edited and elided version of the play both accessible and thrilling. He's aided in this by Ray's beautifully sumptuous watercolors. Rosen sets the stage and propels the story with his narrative descriptions linking Shakespeare's own words (cited by act and scene). He glosses unfamiliar vocabulary next to the running text, and at the end sends readers forth with the desire to see the play themselves. The key elements—political and familial rivalry; young and passionate love; missed and seized opportunity—are noted enough to illuminate their eternal verity, but not so much as to be hammered at. Ray's colors are rich, her line delicate, and her figures ripe and sensuous in magnificent counterpoint to the text. She borders each page spread with silken pattern, enclosing them like a stage set. She uses detail brilliantly: Juliet and Romeo look like creatures of Faerie with their hair in tendrils and their tender features; she employs vignettes of hands, flowers, and stars for emphasis. Students and teachers have been waiting for this one. (Nonfiction. 12+)Read full book review >
SHAKESPEARE by Michael Rosen
ADVENTURE
Released: Nov. 1, 2001

Rosen makes the life and work of Shakespeare vibrant and exciting in this perfectly splendid biography. He opens with Shakespeare and his cohorts pulling down a wooden theatre under cover of night, to rebuild it as the Globe on the other side of London Bridge. He continues by describing in clear contemporary language some famous plots from the plays, spiced with quotes. He gives enough history so readers can understand that Shakespeare lived in tumultuous times, and that such was reflected in what he wrote. For Shakespeare's life, Rosen sticks strictly to what is known, and does a beautiful job of tying those few facts into English life in the 16th century, to make a brief but coherent whole. A Midsummer Night's Dream, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, and Macbeth are treated at some length, and Rosen is very good at offering just the right hook to lure young readers in. His analysis of Juliet's screaming argument with her parents, who want her to marry Paris when she has already secretly wed Romeo, will find readers nodding in abject recognition. He urges his audience to rent a video or see a performance, reminding them that Shakespeare wrote scripts, not books. But it's the format that makes this stand out from the usual treatment of these times; large type on oversized pages, quotes in bold, and lots of white space invite younger readers to explore this fascinating universe. Ingpen's exquisitely detailed watercolors range from full two-page spreads to marginalia; most are in full, burnished color but some are done in grisaille very effectively. Beautiful and engaging. (timeline, bibliography) (Biography. 10+)Read full book review >
THIS IS OUR HOUSE by Michael Rosen
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 1996

Nine kids drag a cardboard box into a playground, where George immediately takes over: ``This house is mine and no one else is coming in.'' The others try to get past him, but George won't let them inside—and he explains why not: ``This house isn't for girls,'' ``This house isn't for people with glasses,'' etc. After he temporarily vacates the box to go to the bathroom, he finds that the others have declared the house off-limits to ``people with red hair.'' George, who has red hair, has an epiphany: ``This house is for everyone!'' Rosen (A School for Pompey Walker, 1995, etc.) has written a persuasive and entertaining morality play. For all its cadences, the dialogue is pungently realistic, perfectly reflecting the reasoning that goes on among children. The ethnically diverse cast appears against a stark white urban background of high-rise apartment buildings. These unassuming pictures are surprisingly powerful; Graham grays some characters and leaves others in full- color to shift the spotlight from scene to scene, then further emphasizes this theatrical effect by zooming in or pulling back from the action. Overall, it's real cartoon drama. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
CROW AND HAWK by Michael Rosen
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 1995

Rosen, Michael CROW AND HAWK A traditional Pueblo Indian tale, spectacularly illustrated with cut-paper collages—assemblages of sharp shapes, set against blue and clay-red backgrounds that are crammed with details to pore over. Crow gets tired of waiting for her eggs to hatch and abandons her nest; Hawk finds the nest, hatches the eggs, and raises the baby crows; Crow returns to the nest and demands to have her babies back, Hawk refuses, and Eagle resolves the conflict by letting the baby crows choose their mother. But most of this tale of justice, told in a telegraphic style, is found in the pictures, not in the words. Clementson breaks down his spreads into wide main panels, which feature vividly colored pictures, and narrow side panels, which contain the text plus stylized images; the text then acts as subtitles to go with the images in the larger sections. The borders are full of endless variety of decorative patterns, reminiscent of Pueblo Indian designs; but the frames are never restrictive. The characters cut across every barrier and fly off the edge of the page. Everything is in motion in these dynamic pictures, in this dynamic book. (Picture book/folklore. 3-8) Read full book review >
MOVING by Michael Rosen
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 1993

A cat that treasures its independence (``No one knows what I do./No one knows where I go'') and its freedom to choose when to join its humans (``they have me to tickle,/I have their laps'') suffers the indignities of a move. In a carefully crafted text whose repetitive phrases perfectly evoke the cat's behavior and priorities, Rosen describes its disorientation as the old house is emptied (``Still they had me to tickle,/but I had no laps''), outrage at being caged for the journey, and bolting once freed at the new place (there's a touch of anthropomorphism here—``Now they will worry,'' the cat speculates. ``I vanished myself./I warmed a new nowhere and I waited''). In time, of course, food is an irresistible lure, and things get back to normal. Williams's soft, painterly double spreads, in muted earthtones warmed with reds and greens, capture the family's feelings and the cat's expressive movements with equal facility. A familiar drama, developed with unusual sensitivity and style. (Picture book. 3-8) Read full book review >
HOW GIRAFFE GOT SUCH A LONG NECK...AND WHY RHINO IS SO GRUMPY by Michael Rosen
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

The publisher notes that ``Versions of this story are told in many parts of East Africa,'' crediting a printed source and adding that ``the artist has based his depiction of Man on early Masai tribesmen''—an auspicious introduction to another handsome collaboration by the creators of How the Animals Got Their Colors (1992). In the beginning, Giraffe is shaped (in Clementson's vibrant cut-paper collages) much like a horse. In a time of drought, she and Rhino seek the help of Man, who prepares a magic herb to help them reach the juicy leaves of trees. Rhino forgets to show up when the herb is ready, so Giraffe eats a double dose and thus grows doubly tall—to Rhino's continuing annoyance. Briskly, simply told and illustrated with humor and an outstanding use of graphic design, an entertaining tale that makes a natural lead-in to Kipling's explanation for the rhinoceros's notorious bad temper. (Folklore/Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1992

Another anthology in aid of a cause. These 25 traditional tales—many collected by Oxfam field staff—are from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Their 22 illustrators include Nicola Bayley, Helen Oxenbury, and John Burningham; the artists' styles vary as much as the tales. There are ghost stories from England, Jamaica, Malta, and Vietnam; a Brazilian creation myth; a trickster tale from Botswana. Several retain a vernacular style, as if transcribed verbatim from indigenous storytellers. Whoopi Goldberg's introduction is a beautifully simple statement of the value of knowing many different peoples' stories. Worth owning for literary as well as charitable reasons (solicitation included). Notes on the artists (mostly British); history of Oxfam. (Folklore. 6-12) Read full book review >
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 1992

Nine pourquoi stories drawn from named sources such as Bulfinch, The Journal of American Folklore, and the work of various anthropologists. Rosen's retellings are spare but fairly lively; Clementson's illustrations, vibrant with sharp-edged areas of joyfully intense color that appear to have been cut with scissors, dramatically frame the stark white areas of text. Concluding notes about cultural sources and the animals themselves are addressed to young readers; it's too bad that the credited sources are not also mentioned. An outstandingly handsome, eye-catching book—one that's likely to be especially useful to storytellers and teachers. (Folklore. 3-9) Read full book review >