Books by Mick Manning

Released: Sept. 5, 2017

"Beautiful and reverent but perhaps not particularly relevant. (thumbnail bios, glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-12)"
As the subtitle indicates, young bookworms are invited to "Explore the Amazing Collection of the British Library." Read full book review >
THE BEATLES by Mick Manning
Released: March 18, 2014

"A fine little addition to Beatlemania, despite the rather unprepossessing cover. (timeline, bibliography, filmography, discography, glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-12)"
The Beatles age; a couple of them even pass away, but they never grow old, and Manning and Granström bring them back fresh as daisies—even with all their little blemishes. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 2013

"If we can no longer wander among the stones, which is a crying shame, this is a good start at getting into the circle's perplexity. (Informational picture book. 7-11)"
An engaging introduction to the mind-boggling monument that has held tight to its secrets for thousands of years. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 2011

"A strong choice for explorers, artists and nature lovers. (glossary, safety note, list of poems and music, information on The Wildlife Trust) (Nonfiction. 6-10)"
Chocked full of information, illustrations and inspiration, this wildlife journal will captivate nature lovers young and old. Read full book review >
WOOLLY MAMMOTH by Mick Manning
Released: Nov. 1, 2009

This newest wooly mammoth title, written in rhythmic bouncy verse, hopes to wow the youngest Ice Age fans with facts wrapped in an exciting frozen package. Across a watercolor backdrop of cold blues, greens and pinks a herd of mammoths crosses the icy endpapers. Immediately after the title page, the head mammoth gives readers a literally hairy eyeball in close-up. "Look at me!" it commands. "A chieftain of the elephant race, / A big hairy beastie with a big hairy face." The mammoth explains the dangerous life it leads, always on the lookout for predators. Humans in particular have clever ways of catching the wooly beasts for a meal, and readers see their tricks, traps and cave paintings. Helpful sidebars throughout the text give additional information about mammoths and the humans that hunted them. Hardcore mammoth lovers may find something new here while new converts will be won over. Some of the verse strains to scan, but overall it's a strong new mammoth addition. The book ends with the mammoth declaring, "Remember me!" Readers will have little difficulty doing so. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 4-10)Read full book review >
TAIL-END CHARLIE by Mick Manning
Released: July 1, 2009

Relating his father's anecdotes as he heard them, Manning presents an episodic account of the experiences of an RAF tail-gunner in World War II, from basic training ("Square-Bashing") to bombing runs—the last of which ended with a shrapnel strike and a serious head wound. In scrapbook-style visuals, the author/illustrators present text typed on period official forms, along with photos, ads and other ephemera foregrounding cartoon scenes of Charlie and his crew at briefings and social occasions while on the ground, and in the air flying a bomber through heavy flak and smoke. "Nowadays World War Two is a history lesson," Manning writes, "but for my dad, and millions of others, it was real life." The mix of homey details and matter-of-fact but not cold reportage of deaths and dangers will bring the era to life for young readers, too. The glossary, nearly as long as the main text, supplies definitions and commentary on slang, aircraft, historical highlights and special terms. (Informational picture book. 8-10) Read full book review >
WHAT MR DARWIN SAW by Mick Manning
Released: Feb. 12, 2009

Joining the spate of biographies issued to mark the bicentenary of Darwin's birth, this covers the great scientist's career in snapshots. It opens with scenes of him gunning down birds and catching rats as a feckless youth and closes with a view of the white-bearded sage delivering a simple explanation of natural selection on a chalkboard-style spread. In between, readers follow him from the famous incident with the three new kinds of beetles (one in each hand, the third—briefly—in his mouth) to stops and discoveries during his long voyage aboard the Beagle and the furor following the publication of his magnum opus. They will get some sense of both Darwin's character and the significant observations of nature in action that he recorded. The authors convey all of this in a mix of first- and third-person captions matched to watercolors that are freely drawn but detailed enough to show, for instance, telling differences in the beaks of Galápagos finches. At the opposite end of the accessibility scale from Peter Sís's hyper-ornate Tree of Life (2003), this will provide younger readers with an accurate, if sketchy, introduction to Darwin's big ideas. (Picture book/biography. 7-9) Read full book review >
GREEK HERO by Mick Manning
Released: May 15, 2008

Veteran nonfictioneers Manning and Grandström add an entry to their Fly on the Wall series with an engaging, if scattershot, look at the life and times of a fictional fifth-century BCE soldier. Creating a cast of informally drawn, ordinary-looking figures, the authors follow burly young Agathon, fresh from the great victory over the Persians at Plataea, as he settles in the town of Aegina, attends the theater, marries merchant's daughter Ambrosia, then travels to the Olympics to compete. Handwritten quotes or captions in the pictures supplement the brief text running across the bottom, and side spreads along the way provide comments on schooling, the place of women in ancient Greek society, life in Sparta and other special topics. The general focus on details of daily life makes this a good companion for the plethora of more systematic historical overviews. (combination index/glossary) (Nonfiction. 9-11) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

Smiling faces aplenty in the scribbly, informal cartoon illustrations give this quick once-over a lighthearted air at odds, sometimes, with what the snippets of text are describing. The authors follow the career of a ninth-century Viking ship as it carries loot and slaves from an Irish monastery into a disastrous storm, is bought and repaired by two young warriors who join the Viking Great Army to invade England and years later is burned as a burial sacrifice after a Saxon raid. A spatter of what looks like real blood on one page aside, the nonviolent pictures show Vikings preparing for battle (rather than actually fighting) or, more often, working and celebrating with their families—surrounded by general printed or hand-lettered comments on the level of "The Viking gods live in a place called Asgard," and "Viking children didn't go to school. They learned skills from their family and friends." Though closing with a dab of later history and a combined glossary/index, this is too superficial for assignment use, but it might lead readers to more rousing treatments, such as Susan Margeson's Eyewitness Viking (2005). (Nonfiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

Covering most of the major systems (circulatory, muscular, skeletal, digestive, respiratory and nervous), this is one introduction to the human body that will find a willing and fascinated audience. Although their terms are not always the most scientific ("food pipe" instead of esophagus), they do grab the attention of the intended audience, as do the abundant similes and metaphors. Readers will find "pee," "poop" and "snot" scattered amidst the more scientific body-part terminology: "Your rectum is your body's own trash can!" The illustrations are nicely detailed and well-labeled. The half-flaps on each page (they flip to reveal an insider's view of the body) cleverly line up with both the right and left-hand pages, making the most of the book's space. A table of contents and index allows readers to use this as a rudimentary reference source. The older elementary set will be clamoring for this lighthearted but informative look at their own insides. (Nonfiction. 5-10)Read full book review >
DINO-DINNERS by Mick Manning
Released: July 15, 2007

The loosely brushed illustrations aren't as luridly detailed as they might be, but fans of all things gross and gruesome will still be drawn to this gallery of extinct gourmands. Though most—from Oviraptor, seen crunching a "fat, crispy beetle snatched from the top of dinosaur poop," to Tyrannosaurus Rex chowing down on a bleeding, well-masticated mouthful—are carnivores, vegetarians too are represented, with the likes of Iguanodon: "We browse slowly and quietly, munching as we move. Then comes the noisy part—the more we eat, the more we fart!" The authors add side columns of dino-facts and small black-and-white drawings to each spread, but education definitely takes a back seat to titillation here. Cheap thrills: Buy accordingly. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2007

An owl takes over a rooster's role (well, mostly) in this rather ingenuous barnyard episode. Flabbergasted to find an owl roosting among them after a stormy night, most of the henhouse's feathered residents want to drive the stranger away. Though one speckled hen takes him under her wing, teaching him to scratch and pick just like a rooster, he can't quite get the hang of cock-a-doodling—until he really proves his worth by gobbling down a marauding, egg-eating rat. After that ,he manages a crow (see title) that's good enough for his grateful new harem. Two high spots sandwich the big cartoon illustrations: an opening scene in which the small, weary owl gets an unconscious cuddle from the sleeping hens; and a final view of him strutting out in front of a line of hens and chicks, past an astounded farmer. Even younger children may be left wondering where the next generation of chicks will be coming from, but the speckled hen's compassion and the owl's willingness to work at finding ways to fit in without compromising his essential nature thematically anchor a warmly inclusive tale. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
SNAP! by Mick Manning
Released: Nov. 1, 2006

This reinterpretation of "There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly" follows a cumulative, action-filled, food chain of events. First, a fly buzzes by. Snap! <\b>The fly is gulped down by a frog. Next, a duckling guzzles the frog. Snap! <\b>The duckling is then ingested by a Pike. The Pike makes a tasty meal for a fisherman, who takes a snooze. Snap! <\b>The fisherman is swallowed up by a hungry bear. As the bear takes his nap a fly buzzes by, starting the process all over again. Colorful illustrations with just the right amount of detail portray each animal in the larger one's belly, almost like a set of nesting dolls. While some may object to the inclusion of the fisherman as a snack, it adds a realistic touch, and children will likely take it in stride. The simple text and lighthearted, humorous illustrations will draw children in to this accessible example of the food chain at work, and teachers will find it a valuable classroom addition. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2006

A superficial glance at Egyptian society in the time of Rameses II, this layers breezy, hand-written factoids ("Egyptian farmers grow barley and a sort of wheat for food, and flax to make linen clothes.") along with bits of plant or animal matter and swatches of papyrus attached with modern straight pins over sketchy, generic watercolor cartoons. A perfunctory plotline featuring a scribe and his family rising in the morning, going to work, watching a funeral—all of which weakly link the topical spreads, and an index/glossary adds a few additional details. Definitely an also-ran, far back in the pack behind conventional nonfiction, or even such fact/fiction mixes as Richard Platt's Egyptian Diary: The Journal of Nakht (2005). (Nonfiction. 9-11)Read full book review >
YUCK! by Mick Manning
Released: July 1, 2005

An enjoyable gross-out game to share with very young listeners—with a bit of natural history thrown in. Set to a rhythmic commentary, oversized splashy watercolors depict in close-up a set of young animals, mostly birds, gulping down a worm, a rat, a fish and like food, live or far otherwise: "What's for supper? This baby slurps a rotten egg. A rotten egg all stinky and smelly? That's not our baby's supper! YUCK!" So, after all that, what's baby's supper? "Milk! Mmm, warm and creamy." And what would all those other babies say to that? You guessed it. This isn't going to convince picky eaters to change their ways, but rare is the toddler who won't chime in delightedly on the delicious exclamatory chorus. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
DOG STORY by Kathy Henderson
Released: March 1, 2005

Jo is a little girl of five or six who "wanted a dog more than anything else in the whole wide world." Her reluctant parents won't agree to a dog, but they do allow first a mouse, then visits from the neighbor's rabbit and guinea pig, and then the acquisition of a cat. After the arrival of a baby brother, Jo manages to add additional small pets as the household gets more and more out of control, until at last Grandma arrives to help with the baby, bringing along a puppy for Jo. Henderson tells the story partly in rhyming text and partly in straight narration, interspersed with a repeated refrain about each pet not being quite the same as the longed-for dog. The illustrations are in a refreshingly naïve style using watercolors and colored pencils, and the artist effectively captures both the charming child and her rapidly expanding menagerie. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
NO MORE COOKIES! by Paeony Lewis
Released: March 1, 2005

An insatiable desire for cookies, a dress-up trunk and a young girl's purposeful imagination are at the heart of this ingenuous tale from Lewis. Cut off from cookies for an entire week after overindulging her baked-goodie habit, Florence exercises Machiavellian-like plots in an attempt to breach the cookie embargo. Her zany ideas, fueled in part by her pet monkey Arnold, will keep readers chuckling—and possibly taking notes. However, her resolute mom is not to be swayed and the opposing sides reach a treaty—chocolate-dipped bananas. For fellow cookie-deprived readers, Lewis includes a recipe for Monkey Bananas at the conclusion. Granström's comical watercolor illustrations capture the fey, fanciful imaginings of the single-minded Florence and the wry exasperation of her mom. Blueprint-style diagrams—done in a young, wobbly hand—add to the comical flair. Good fun with a healthy message at its core, this is a tale both parents and their cookie-obsessed offspring can enjoy. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2003

There's one in every clutch—a nonconformist who's simply not content to toe the line. Saturday, the seventh of orderly Mother Hen's otherwise tractable chicks, wants to know when he will swim and bob like the ducks, hiss and honk like the bug-eyed geese, or sing and fly as the blackbird does. Unsatisfactory explanations leave Saturday to learn the hard way that all the wanting in the world won't turn a chick into a gosling. Although it will hardly pass muster as science—hens do not lay multicolored eggs (perhaps Mother Hen is a brooder?), and cockerels are not born with combs—this gentle life lesson of pursuing one's potential without wishing for what cannot be is well-organized, offering readers the chance to predict Saturday's dilemmas and to chime in on several of Mother Hen's refrains. Loose watercolor-and-pencil pictures and a touch of appropriately "scratchy" calligraphy put readers in the right farm—uh, frame—of mind to sympathize with Saturday and to applaud when he finally cock-a-doodle-doos. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
DOES A COW SAY BOO? by Judy Hindley
Released: June 1, 2001

Delightful pencil, watercolor, and crayon illustrations of multiethnic children accompanied by a lyrical narrative happily guide young readers through the many sights and sounds of the farm. Hindley and Granström (Eyes, Nose, Fingers, and Toes, 1999, etc.) return with an effort that is sure to become a crowd pleaser at story hours. "Does a cow say BOO? Oh, no! What does a cow say? A cow says . . . moo! That's what a cow says—and you can too." Similar teasing rhymes for pigs, dogs, cats, and owls naturally lead to discussion and imitation of animal noises, ranging from traditional oinks and woofs to more subtle tu-whits and tu-whoos. A seasoned children's author, Hindley respects the limited attention span of her audience and mixes up the format when relating other farm sounds. "And way up high on the hen house roof the rooster throws back his head and crows . . . how does he go? Cock-a-doodle-doo, doodle-doo, doodle-doo! Listen to that!" Other animals are covered even more succinctly with "a duck says quack, a bird says tweet . . ." as well as an acknowledgment that "some creatures say nothing at all." Especially pleasing are renderings of children in constant motion exploring the farm, pointing excitedly, imitating the horned cow, holding a nose in the pig pen, stroking a cat's fur, crawling on the ground to look at worms and snails, and, finally, throwing arms up in the air to shout "BOO!" A fresh approach to a popular topic. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
WASH, SCRUB, BRUSH! by Mick Manning
Released: April 1, 2001

There's going to be a party in this hygiene-centric picture book that teaches little ones how to keep clean. There is not a part of the body that is spared as Manning and Granström (Supermom, p. 262, etc.) take readers down the path to clean-dom. They start by informing them that there are more harmful germs underneath fingernails than on a toilet seat! A Komodo dragon pictured on the same page has claws, they learn, that are so dirty that just one scratch can cause an infection. People brush their teeth to keep down odors from plaque and decay, while small fish get a meal while cleaning the teeth of the larger grouper fish. Free of wordiness and pedantry this has a good dose of gross-out factor and fascinatingly relevant animal facts. Everyone arrives at the party well-scrubbed and proceeds to have loads of fun getting dirty again while eating, playing, and face-painting. The glossary of useful words adds still more information to this already packed and lively lesson. The drawings of an ethnically diverse cast of characters are pudgy and cute, while the animals are realistic with bright watercolors adding splashes of light. This takes all the drudgery out of coming clean! (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
SUPERMOM by Mick Manning
Released: March 1, 2001

A playful tale offering readers a peek at moms across the species. Supermom is a wonder to behold: she propagates her species, plays the greatest games, protects, and nurtures her young. The main text comments on the general theme of each page—playing, communicating, defending—while the subtext, set in a bolder typeface, provides captions for the illustrations of different creatures. Moms of all types are celebrated: human, animal, and insect mothers alike receive accolades. While the book does not provide an in-depth, scientific approach to the mothering habits of various animals, it does offer readers intriguing tidbits of animal-mom trivia. However, Manning's scope proves to be too broad; his attempts to establish connections among all mothers result in a few glaring missteps in the text, limiting its appeal. The assertion that "We call the person who gave birth to us 'mom.' We call the grownup who takes care of us 'mom,' too" is not applicable (and more than a little misleading) for the large number of children in daycare or those who stay at home with their fathers, grandparents, or other relatives. Furthermore, to say that all moms are "supermoms" and therefore gentle, nurturing, cuddly, etc., is simply wishful thinking. Ganström's full-color illustrations highlight a nice variety of moms busily mothering, be it a bear cuddling her young cub, or a wolf frolicking with her pups. Each two-page spread features moms of different species engaged in similar activities, establishing, with more success than the text, a clearer connection between these seemingly disparate mothers. A clever concept supported by appealing illustrations that sadly falls short of the mark. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

The team behind The World Is Full of Babies! (1996) allows readers to fly along with the child narrator on the back of a migrating goose. Once at the nesting ground, the geese lay their eggs; over the summer the goslings grow from little squirts to loud honkers. At the end of the season the geese and the girl head south, avoiding telephone wires and hunters' bullets. Ultimately the girl lands back in her soft, warm bed (with a comforter and pillow that look suspiciously downy). The watercolors are friendly and flighty, and facts on the last spread (ostensibly from the book the girl was reading before she fell asleep and dreamed the adventure) take care of questions that might arise from the tale. (Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1996

Subtitled ``How All Sorts of Babies Grow and Develop,'' this is an overview, in simple text and softly colored drawings, of the universal experiences of infancy that humans share with other species: gestation, birth, crying, sleeping; being carried, cleaned, and fed; learning to walk (or swim or fly), explore, and play. The creatures range from butterflies to whales, all wearing happy expressions as they go about their business of growing up. It's a book likely to stimulate questions, particularly about the birth process or some of the odd animal behaviors mentioned. Pair this with Ann Morris's The Baby Book (1995), which depicts a similar range of activities among human babies in full-color photographs, or Ron Hirschi's A Time for Babies (1993), which looks at wild animal offspring. (Picture book/nonfiction. 3-7) Read full book review >
A RUINED HOUSE by Mick Manning
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

In examining the physical and biological stages of decay, Manning is more concerned with process than with atmosphere. In his eyes, a ruin isn't deserted; rather, one tenant has been replaced by another (or a whole host). When the human residents of his farmhouse left Scotland for America some hundred years back, new families soon moved in: swallows and barn owls, lichens and fungi, spiders and wasps and earwigs, and lots of bad weather. As part of the Read and Wonder series from Candlewick, the book has annotated notes that painlessly give the facts relating to what is happening on the page, but they are also uninspired globs of information. Manning's illustrations are first-rate watercolor-and-pencil renderings, and the detailed drawings of flora and fauna that accompany the notes are beautifully observed. A sweet tribute to ruins, but so tame it seems to cower. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4+) Read full book review >