Books by Mordicai Gerstein

THE BOY AND THE WHALE by Mordicai Gerstein
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 21, 2017

"Bravo for a courageous boy's achievement. (Picture book. 5-8)"
A boy defies his father's warning and rescues a whale tangled in their sole fishing net. Read full book review >
THE SLEEPING GYPSY by Mordicai Gerstein
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 18, 2016

"A whimsical artistic meditation that perhaps needed more time on the drawing board. (Picture book. 5-8)"
Inspired by Rousseau's painting of the same name, Gerstein imagines a dream that provoked the artist to create it. Read full book review >
I AM PAN by Mordicai Gerstein
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 8, 2016

"If ever there was a god of fun, here he is…no mythtake. (afterword, bibliography). (Picture book/mythology. 7-11)"
The goat-footed god of "noise and confusion" (also herds and herders) offers up giddy versions of his best known pranks and exploits. Read full book review >
THE NIGHT WORLD by Mordicai Gerstein
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 16, 2015

"A beautifully realized and delightful celebration of night and sunrise. (Picture book. 3-7)"
A young narrator says goodnight to his cat, Sylvie, who later wakes him to beckon him to an adventure in the early hours. Read full book review >
YOU CAN'T HAVE TOO MANY FRIENDS! by Mordicai Gerstein
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2014

"A rib-tickling variant on a tale not often enough retold. (Picture book. 3-7)"
Gerstein tones down the violence and ramps up the humor in this reworked version of an old tale: A year after the king "borrows" his prizewinning jelly beans, Duck the gardener marches off to get them back. Read full book review >
THE FIRST DRAWING by Mordicai Gerstein
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 10, 2013

"Solid storytelling, satisfying narrative circularity, and masterful, creative illustrations make this an inspiring story for young artists. (author's note) (Picture book. 2-6)"
Who made the world's first drawing—and why? Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 2, 2013

"The whole is a grand flight of fancy perfect for a new generation of dreamers and planners. (Picture book. 5-9)"
Sensing that the moon needs cheering up, a young inventor provides instructions for an expedition to plant sunflowers there. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Jan. 19, 2012

"Wonderfully simple, sweet and engaging. (author's note, source notes) (Picture book. 7-10)"
Theodore Roosevelt's 1903 trip to the western parks included a backcountry camping trip—complete with snowstorm—with John Muir in the Yosemite Wilderness and informed the president's subsequent advocacy for national parks and monuments. Read full book review >
DEAR HOT DOG by Mordicai Gerstein
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2011

"Twenty-two poems in all; an attractive and highly approachable introduction to poetry for young readers. (Picture book. 4-7)"
As the subtitle indicates, poetry and pictures about everyday stuff. Read full book review >
DANGER & DIAMONDS by Elizabeth Levy
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 12, 2010

"Sail on by. (Mystery. 8-11)"
The daughter of two employees of a cruise ship joins forces with the son of the new captain to solve a not-very-exciting puzzle aboard the luxury liner. Read full book review >
APPLESAUCE SEASON by Eden Ross Lipson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2009

"Applesauce recipe appended. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Flavored with family tradition and spiced with Gerstein's cheerful illustrations, this account of one family's love of applesauce hits the spot. Read full book review >
MINIFRED GOES TO SCHOOL by Mordicai Gerstein
ANIMALS
Released: July 1, 2009

"Her keen green eyes find one rule she can follow, leading to a resolution that will satisfy kittens everywhere—if not their parents and teachers. (Picture book. 5-8)"
When Mr. Portly finds a tiny orange kitten behind the sofa while vacuuming, he and Mrs. Portly raise her as the baby they've always wanted. Read full book review >
A BOOK by Mordicai Gerstein
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2009

"The girl's ultimate decision to write her own story until bedtime provides an ending to this disorienting and undeniably clever novelty, for whom the natural audience is unclear. (Picture book. 7-10)"
A family wakes up when you open this book, yawning and stretching and looking up at you. Read full book review >
HOW TO PAINT THE PORTRAIT OF A BIRD by Jacques Prévert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

"With irresistible wit, this makes its point that, with dedication, art and creativity are infinitely renewable. (Picture book/poetry. 5-9)"
Gerstein sets the words of the French poet to pictures. Read full book review >
LEAVING THE NEST by Mordicai Gerstein
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 6, 2007

"Guaranteed to pump self-confidence in wee ones about to leave the nest. (Picture book. 3-6)"
The world can be a scary place when you're little and heading out on your own for the first time. Read full book review >
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 30, 2006

"A graceful and artistic biblical portrayal to be read aloud throughout the year. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Working from Midrash or legend based on the Old Testament, Gerstein tells the story of the white ram, created by God on the sixth day, with a mission to save the life of Abraham's son, Isaac, at the sacrificial altar. Read full book review >
CAROLINDA CLATTER by Mordicai Gerstein
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

"Refreshingly, marvels trump morals in this lovely, larger-than-life legend. (Picture book. 5-8)"
"Once there was a lonely giant who fell in love with the moon. He was the very last giant, and there was no one else large enough for him to love." Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY
Released: March 11, 2005

"Although most in the audience will be unfamiliar with Aleichem, they will identify with the child's dual wishes to please his father and to excel. (author's note, afterword, sources) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)"
A picture-book biography of Sholom Aleichem focuses not on his work as an adult, but on how the child grew to become the writer. Read full book review >
THE MAN WHO WALKED BETWEEN THE TOWERS by Mordicai Gerstein
ADVENTURE
Released: Sept. 1, 2003

"Readers of all ages will return to this again and again for its history, adventure, humor, and breathtaking homage to extraordinary buildings and a remarkable man. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5+)"
A spare recounting of Philippe Petit's daring 1974 wire walk between the Twin Towers depicts him as a street performer who defies authority to risk his feat, is arrested, and then sentenced to perform for the children of New York. Read full book review >
SPARROW JACK by Mordicai Gerstein
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 2003

"Gerstein declines to take up a discussion of the now-controversial practice of importing alien species—but that just makes his tale a springboard for discussion, as well as an engaging take on an obscure bit of Americana. (foreword) (Picture book. 7-9)"
Gerstein reworks a historical anecdote about an Englishman who transplanted himself—and a thousand house sparrows—to this country in 1868. Read full book review >
THREE SAMURAI CATS by Eric A. Kimmel
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 15, 2003

"A sophisticated story designed to stimulate unconventional thinking. (author's note) (Picture book/folklore. 6-9)"
Zen stories are difficult for the uninitiated to grasp and this adaptation of a Japanese folktale by prolific reteller Kimmel is no exception. Read full book review >
THE MIXED-UP MASK MYSTERY by Elizabeth Levy
ANIMALS
Released: Jan. 1, 2003

"The first-canine perspective, complete with rear-end sniffing, will have everyone howling. (Fiction. 7-10)"
It's a dog's life and Fletcher, the detective-sniffing Bassett hound, has a better one than most. Read full book review >
WHAT CHARLIE HEARD by Mordicai Gerstein
BIOGRAPHY
Released: March 18, 2002

"An unusual and joyful treatment of an unusual and joyful subject. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)"
A 20th-century composer whose music was so revolutionary that his contemporaries largely ignored him may seem an unlikely subject for a picture-book biography for children, but here Gerstein (I Am Arachne, 2001, etc.) manages to pull it off beautifully. Read full book review >
ANIMALS
Released: July 1, 2001

"New chapter-book readers will be won over by the episode's engaging cast and well-tuned sense of wonder. (Fiction. 8-10)"
On the last day of a summer vacation, Martin looks into a fox's eyes, and discovers just what his Great Aunt Zavella meant when she warned him of the "little trick" that foxes can play. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2000

"An uneven collection, but a few of the stories will provide short seasonal read-alouds. (Fiction. 7-10)"
Chelm, the legendary Jewish town of fools, is the setting of Kimmel's (The Runaway Tortilla, see below, etc.) Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2000

"Eminently readable, this biblical tale of evil vanquished and innocence saved contains an important message about strength of character that speaks to all children, regardless of their faith. (Picture book. 5-10)"
Gerstein (Absolutely Awful Alphabet, 1999, etc.) retells the tale of Queen Esther's plight, making the origins of Purim and its lessons shine. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1999

"Neon colors serve as a backdrop for the mutant letters in this irreverent book, aimed at those who delight in the preposterous. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Fiends and ghouls abound in a tongue-in-cheek take on standard alphabet-book fare. Read full book review >
NOAH AND THE GREAT FLOOD by Mordicai Gerstein
ANIMALS
Released: Feb. 1, 1999

"Gerstein's fusion of a variety of sources for the story gives it a richness; although for the picture-book audience, the details will be extraneous, there is no denying their value as curiosities, and as welcome springboards to discussion. (Picture book. 5-10)"
The basic story is retold by Gerstein (Victor, p. 1117, etc.), with extraordinary details: Noah was 498 years old when he married and had his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth; he lived among cruel, greedy, violent giants whom God views with pained regret; for 120 years, Noah tries, at God's request, to change his neighbors' ways, to no avail. Read full book review >
THE WILD BOY by Mordicai Gerstein
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

"While it is clear that the boy never truly adjusts, it is even more appealing that his essential wildness remains intact—a fact that will rivet children. (Picture book. 5-7)"
The wild child of Aveyron, captured in southern France at the very end of the 18th century, has been the subject of a film by Franáois Truffaut, and numerous books, including a novel by Gerstein (see review, above). Read full book review >
VICTOR by Mordicai Gerstein
FICTION
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

"Readers will be mesmerized, and even stirred by the questions Gerstein raises and attempts to answer. (Fiction. 13+)"
Gerstein (The Giant, 1995, etc.) brings to this novelization of the life of the so-called savage of Aveyron a sustained intensity that proves both haunting and chastening. Read full book review >
BEDTIME, EVERYBODY! by Mordicai Gerstein
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 8, 1996

"The story will appeal to parents faced with active children at bedtime; listeners will recognize the ploys of the toys and be soothed. (Picture book. 3-7)"
An amiable bedtime tale about a young girl who tries to get her stuffed toys to settle down at bedtime, even though none of them are sleepy. Read full book review >
THE GIANT by Mordicai Gerstein
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 1995

"A puzzling, perhaps private story, it is reminiscent of Oscar Wilde's fairy tales. (Picture book. 9-11)"
A brief, enigmatic story that parks most of its meaning (if there is any) on the metaphorical level. Read full book review >
THE SHADOW OF A FLYING BIRD by Mordicai Gerstein
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: Sept. 23, 1994

"Lyrical, comic, cosmic, and deeply touching. (Folklore/Picture book. 4+)"
Gerstein (The Story of May, 1993, etc.) explains that this tale of Moses's surpassingly reluctant and argumentative passage into heaven is from a midrash (``a text using biblical legends to teach a moral lesson'') and that his source was a translation from a 500-year-old Kurdistani manuscript. Read full book review >
THE STORY OF MAY by Mordicai Gerstein
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 30, 1993

"An enjoyable (if predictable) journey, with special meaning for children of estranged parents. (Young reader/Picture book. 5-8.)"
The merry young month of May, scattering blossoms, loses her way and wanders into June—her Aunt June, from whom May now learns of her father's existence. ``He lives off at the other end of the year somewhere....Very far and very cold.'' May sets out to visit him, helped on her way by other relatives/months. Read full book review >
THE CATARACT OF LODORE by Robert Southey
ADVENTURE
Released: Oct. 1, 1991

"Glossary. (Poetry/Picture book. 4+)"
At his children's request, one of Britain's poet laureates (1813-43) explains ``How does the Water/Come down at Lodore?''—a waterfall at the upper end of Derwentwater, also a favorite haunt of Beatrix Potter's. ``And moreover he tasked me/To tell him in rhyme.'' The indulgent father complies, ``For of rhymes I had store...Because I was Laureate /To them and the King.'' Rhymes indeed, cascading as uninhibited as falling water! Read full book review >