Books by Mike Reed

Released: Oct. 1, 2009

A girl and her father embark on a quest in search of their missing cat. In a feline version of seek-and-find, the child explores her neighborhood in search of her beloved pet. Lilting, rhyming verses describe the myriad kitties the duo encounters on their journey. Alas, each sighting ends with the girl dolefully shaking her head: "It's not that one." Myers's narrative exhibits a keen appreciation for the oftentimes comedic behaviors of cats. Reed's finely detailed, full-color illustrations have a grainy quality to them. This feature, along with the slightly blurred lines of the drawings, creates an ideal medium through which he conveys fluid feline movements. The playfulness of the text combined with its predictability makes this a suitable candidate for read-aloud time with the preschool set. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
BAD TO THE BONE by Lucy Nolan
Released: Nov. 1, 2008

In their third chapter-book outing, doggy best friends "Down Girl" and "Sit" must contend again with their misguided masters and the annoying cat, "Here Kitty Kitty," who lives close by. The running joke is that the down-to-earth dog telling the story fully believes her name is "Down Girl" because she hears it so often. The gag may become a bit hackneyed by the end, but it's hard not to appreciate the funny miscommunications between loving pets and confused owners, all told with a limited vocabulary for children just making the transition from early readers. In one hilarious chapter, an obedience lesson in the park rivals Abbott and Costello's famous "Who's On First" routine, since Sit, Down Girl and Hush are all in attendance, and those same commands are being put to heavy use by owners who all seem to have forgotten their own pets' names. Reed's black-and-white illustrations appear on almost every page, extending the three or four paragraphs of text. Young readers will "stay" for the end of this one. (Fiction. 6-10) Read full book review >
SMALL FRY by Jaime Adoff
by Jaime Adoff, illustrated by Mike Reed
Released: Nov. 1, 2008

As all those petite, wannabe-tall yet slow-to-grow youngsters know, life as a small fry can have its disadvantages. Each of Adoff's 19 free-verse poems tells a different, complete story and describes, often in a rapping rhythm, various scenarios with which kids of all sizes will identify. Augmented by Reed's richly colored pastel/crayon drawings, each first-person voice expresses the frustrations of children who must contend with bullies or the dreaded "you have to be this tall…to ride me" amusement-park signs. Whether it's having Dad bring encyclopedia volumes to the movies to see "high above these big head trees" or cannily choosing a sport that capitalizes on "my four foot frame" to "DODGE the / BALL / like it wasn't there at all" or, as "Small Soldier," accomplishing "my mission, almost impossible" to retrieve, commando style, the Wiffle ball from one enormous and ferocious-looking bulldog's doghouse, a positive attitude can cut the world of big and tall right down to a manageable size. Cathartic and encouraging fun. (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)Read full book review >
A MILLION DOTS by Andrew Clements
Released: July 1, 2006

Here's a picture book that challenges the ease with which so many of us invoke "millions," as one million tiny dots range across some 19 successive double-page spreads. Fanciful illustrations superimposed over the arrays depict the various milestones along the count-up to a million. A cow in a space helmet jumps happily over the moon, while a tiny highlight indicates the 238,857th dot, representing the distance in miles from the Earth to the moon; a chubby tern appears next to his luggage, its tiny highlighted dot indicating that, "[a]n Arctic tern will fly more than 650,000 miles during its lifetime." Clements has done an admirable job selecting kid-friendly facts to aid in the count-up, effectively mixing the serious and the goofy. The concept begs comparison to David M. Schwartz's How Much Is a Million? (1985), and while this offering does its predecessor one better by delivering all one million goods, it lacks some of the earlier book's sparkle. Its clarity of design and variety of facts presented, however, make it a solid browsing book and an entertaining alternative for fact- and number-obsessed kids. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-12) Read full book review >
ON THE ROAD by Lucy Nolan
by Lucy Nolan, illustrated by Mike Reed
Released: Oct. 1, 2005

Down Girl and Sit are best friends. They are also dogs, dogs who enjoy the finer things of canine life, including chasing squirrels, bothering their masters and eating crumbs. The charming first-canine point of view really works here—partly because Nolan keeps her dog's voice steady and humorous, and partly because she really seems to think like a dog. The first of the four linked stories involves a drive to the beach and an exciting episode where the car's brake fails and the two dogs "drive" down the beach. Because Down Girl sees the world through canine glasses, the reader is treated to some amusing takes on dog behavior. For instance, when Down Girl and Sit find a bag of two doughnuts, they have to decide who gets them. "Hmm. There were two dogs, two masters, and two doughnuts. That sounded about right. Thank goodness dogs don't know math. That makes all our decisions easy. We ate the doughnuts." Kids will want to curl up with their best friend and laugh at the adventures of Down Girl and Sit. (Fiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

Boasting they are "smarter than squirrels," two comic canines patrol their backyards with a nose for trouble in this amusing first-chapter book. Dedicated to keeping the world safe for their masters, diligent doggies Down Girl and Sit chase marauding squirrels and birds and try to avoid a meddlesome feline named Here Kitty Kitty. When she gobbles all available acorns, garden flowers, bird seed, and dog food to deter hungry squirrels and birds, a very bloated Down Girl gets stuck, Pooh-like, under the shed door. When their masters go bike-riding, Down Girl and Sit follow, managing to roll in smelly leaves and splash in a slimy creek along the way. And when her master goes away overnight, a dejected Down Girl faithfully guards the premises and discovers two new friends. Lively, expressive black-and-white illustrations shot from a canine point-of-view animate Down Girl's hilarious first-person narrative. This donut-loving dog, with her unusual perspective, is sure to tickle all lovers of man's best friend. (Fiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
A CHILL IN THE AIR by John Frank
Released: Sept. 1, 2003

In simply phrased verses, nearly all previously unpublished, Frank notes in sequence autumn's changing leaves and dropping temperatures, the appearance of snow, ice, and bitter winds, and then early signs of spring at last. Though the language sometimes turns clunky—"I ran to catch it in my hands / Before it touched the ground, / And brought it home to keep among / The treasures I have found"—there are occasional flights of imaginative imagery, plus redeeming flashes of humor, such as the suggestion that Halloween witches had better wear thermal underwear. Not so in the illustrations, though, as Reed's leaden, sharp-looking, identically shaped leaves and stiffly posed human figures give many scenes a monotonous look, compounded on one spread by a child's puff of breath that expands to a page-filling cloud, thus contradicting the accompanying "I see each word I speak / take flight / a whiff of fog, / then disappear." Though there's never enough poetry, particularly for younger audiences, this collaboration is too uneven to consider as more than a secondary choice. (Poetry. 5-7)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

Two busy children use their imaginations to become firefighters, EMTs, police officers, and more, but they still take time to give their mother the affection she desires. When couch cushions become ground control for a space shuttle launch and a cage full of stuffed animals becomes a jailhouse full of criminals, it's obvious that some imaginative young people are hard at work. Playing along, their mother repeatedly reminds them that construction workers, helicopter pilots, and "even firefighters hug their moms." Too busy to stop, this little boy and his younger sister seem to fly from one game to the next, but they finally pause to give their mother a reluctant hug. A sheepish grin from the young boy makes it clear that he enjoys the affection as well. Amusing and colorful illustrations feature the creative duos work as they turn every imaginable object into one of their toys. Riding on the wave of stories featuring everyday heroes, this story of imaginative youngsters is appealing if ultimately an extra. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
OH NO, NOAH! by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: May 1, 2001

Hurwitz's (Russell's Secret, 2001, etc.) latest warm slice of family life explores another milestone: moving to a new neighborhood. Accident-prone, eight-year-old Noah has just moved and has to make friends and figure out a way to fit in. First, he meets Mo, the nosy and energetic girl next door who helps him meet the other children in her circle. The remarkable thing about these children is that each of them has a special talent: Andy can whistle shrilly, Jessica can read while standing on her head, and Mo can juggle. The pressure is on! Noah's only claim to fame is that his family is the owner of a bizarre, stuffed deer head. It was a gift from Noah's father's boss and is tucked away in their new basement. Mo and her friends concoct an elaborate plan that involves burying the head and having a funeral. Noah reluctantly agrees, figuring it would make him part of the group. Of course, things don't always turn out the way an eight-year-old boy might plan. Hurwitz builds the suspense nicely, and, though everything does turn out well in the end, Noah learns some important lessons about peer pressure and self-reliance. Unremarkable illustrations accompany each chapter. The predictable storyline, punctuated by believable surprises and realistic dialogue, makes this a winner for readers ready for the challenges of a longer chapter book. The generous font, comfortable size, and familiar story make this a fine addition to a growing list of good choices for new readers. (Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2000

A very gratifying first picture book from Williams-Garcia, one that plays with the willowiness of language while following the shenanigans of a young African-American girl trying to escape the bite of a comb wielded by her mother. As the mother approaches with the comb, the girl transforms into a "Wild Waiyuuzee" and takes flight. Actually, you can't see her at all, just the suggestion of her presence hiding here and there. "Trumpi. Trumpi. Shemama coming foot and foot after the Wild Waiyuuzee." But all that Wild Waiyuuzee wants to do is wiggle and giggle and run. Williams-Garcia adds lots of good sound effects, splashed across the pages in electric color by Reed: "Bang-O-Bok!" "Ah, Ko!" "Splee-Zash!" Her mother tracks after her, speaking of nut oil and plaits and beads. Finally Shemama corrals the girl. "No owie owie me?" "No owie owie." "Moka true?" "Moka true." Out of the fantasy wilds—a jungle of tall grasses, iguana caves, and the deep bush as dandied up by Reed in lush color and oversized detail—emerges the girl, back into her room, to gentling hands and painless braids. Lovely, all around. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
ELF HELP by Margie Palatini
Released: Dec. 1, 1997

From Palatini (The Wonder Worm Wars, p. 1310, etc.), a tongue-twisting tangle of cyberspeak that mars an otherwise merry tale of a mailroom elf who wants Santa's workshop to upgrade, download, and become high tech. Alfred, as a result of flunking Wrapping 101, is constantly clickety-click clicking away at his Frosty Windows program, much to the chagrin of the CEO (Chief Elf of Operations). ``Face the fax, Chief,'' says he. ``It's the new millennium! Time for Santa to surf the net. Weave a web. Dish the disk.'' The storyline, already cluttered with high-tech talk, is further entangled with puns (``It's totally yule-proof, sir!''), nods to Christmas carols and poems, idioms, hip slang, and a reference to Mikey, of Life cereal fame. Most of it will sail over the heads of readers and cause read-aloud meltdown long before Alfred's computer glitch brings Christmas to a screeching halt—that's one concept sure to be understood by all. Reed's acrylic paintings are merry and bright, infused with humor all their own. It's unfortunate for children's sharp eyes that the computer mouse is missing from three of the four scenes in which a computer is shown, even in the spread that refers to it, and hard on young techies that the Web address boasted in the subtitle fails to lead to an actual site. (Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >