Books by M.P. Robertson

FRANK 'N' STAN by M.P. Robertson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2012

"Appealing both to the eye and the heart, and even though children are unlikely to catch the literary references, their parents will chuckle over them. (Picture book. 5-8)"
A heartwarming tale of a boy and his robot. Read full book review >
FOOD CHAIN by M.P. Robertson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2010

A hapless goldfish becomes an undersea victim. Staring in fascination at his goldfish in its bowl, a "naughty little boy" hatches an "evil plan." He dumps the fish into the toilet bowl, and, lickety-split, the little fish lands in the big ocean. There it's eaten by a big fish, which is eaten by a bigger fish, which is eaten by a great big fish, which is caught by a big plump fisherman and ultimately ends up as fish and chips on the plate of the smiling "naughty little boy"—who later has a narrow escape from a big hungry whale. Robertson's ink-and-watercolor illustrations are full of cheeky dark humor and resemble portraiture in their depictions of sea life, which should fascinate young readers; one priceless picture shows a cross-section, both above- and underground, as the goldfish travels through the plumbing to the ocean while the boy sits on the toilet. But sentence-fragment text and repeated use of the phrase "naughty little boy" seem to parody the very issue that the author purports to present. Swimmy is still the gold standard. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
THE DRAGON AND THE GRUESOME TWOSOME by M.P. Robertson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Dec. 1, 2009

This story begins like the others in the series, including The Egg (2001), The Great Dragon Rescue (2004) and The Dragon Snatcher (2005): An English boy named George sits in his garden, concerned with little more than "his mother's favourite chicken." On the next page, he is without explanation transported to a land "where knights were bold, and carried big shiny swords to prove it." The story then unfolds with fairy-tale predictability: The King will reward half his kingdom to anyone who rids the land of a pair of gruesome trolls, and of course, George can achieve what the entire army cannot. Robertson's illustrations feature truly ugly trolls—twins with the same ears, bad taste in jewelry and severe underbite—and beautiful dragons, but the divide-and-conquer story line comes to a quick and tidy solution, with readers placed once again back in George's yard with just the turn of a page. Recommended for fans of the series. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
BIG BRAVE BRIAN by M.P. Robertson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 15, 2007

Big Brave Brian tackles common childhood fears: Something is under the bed or something is in the closet, for example. However, brave Brian quickly deals with all obstacles. There is only one thing that scares him and that revelation will cause adult readers to chuckle. Robertson has a wonderful way with alliteration ("bottom-biting bog monsters that terrorize the toilet" and, "teddy gobbling goblins . . . don't give Brian the collywobbles"). The text calls for dramatic reading and will surely appeal to storytime groups or lap readings. The pictures, on oversized pages, are very funny: The bog monster in the toilet has a dinner plate at hand, and the things that go bump in the night are in the attic playing in the world's noisiest band. Intrepid Brian does sometimes allow a bit of fear to show, but it is nothing in comparison to the look on his face when readers see what his greatest fear is. The monsters are silly enough that they should not scare little ones, and the greatly detailed, enormous "incy-wincy" is enough to engage any budding naturalist. This fits well into the pantheon of scary stories for younger children. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
CLEOPATRA by Adèle Geras
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Oct. 15, 2007

Beneath a heavy cover studded with "rubies" and other "gems," the diary of one of Cleopatra's handmaids offers a look at Ptolemaic Egypt's last years. Interspersed with comments about cats, the court and life in Alexandria, ten-year-old Nefret's chatty record of Cleopatra's successive intrigues with her husband/brother Ptolemy, Julius Caesar and later Marc Antony ends partway through. Then Geras switches to third person to trace Cleo's later life and to cover a series of related topics, from Egyptian people and gods to the Roman army. Robertson's paintings range from busy Alexandria street scenes to a view of Caesar's bloody corpse, and are populated with natural-looking, sometimes humorous figures, including a glimpse of Nefret "walking like an Egyptian." Capped by photos of the pyramids and Egyptian artifacts, this mix of fact and fancy isn't exactly seamless, but it does introduce one of history's heroines and brings her era to life in a reasonably accurate way. (glossary, index) (Historical fiction. 9-11)Read full book review >
THE DRAGON SNATCHER by M.P. Robertson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2005

As in his Great Dragon Rescue (2004), Robertson pairs a perfunctory storyline to arresting, dramatically angled paintings featuring big, leathery dragons. Here, young George is carried off by his beloved dragon to a castle where an icy-hearted wizard has been collecting dragon eggs from various species. George tries to save the last unsnatched one, but during the battle it hatches; the dragonling imprints on the wizard, thus melting his frozen heart and so setting all of the other eggs to hatching too. Sure that the reformed wizard will be a good "mother" to all, George flies home, leaving a glorious flock of multicolored dragons soaring over the castle's peaked towers. Robertson is a one-note artist, but he plays that note very well, and dragon-lovers will pore over the pictures, at least. (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
THE MOON IN SWAMPLAND by M.P. Robertson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2004

Get ready for plenty of shivers, as Robertson retells a tale best known in this country as "The Buried Moon," and illustrates it with eerie, misted swampscapes populated by plenty of green-skinned, Gollum-esque bogles. Heedless of the stars' warnings, the Moon makes the mistake of coming down one night for a closer look at the Swampland. Just before its hungry, light-hating residents bury her deep in the muck, she manages one flash, allowing a similarly trapped human lad to escape. The local townsfolk become more and more troubled as, night after night, the moon fails to appear in the sky, until at last the rescued child persuades them to mount a rescue attempt of their own. Clambering through scenes of soggy, blue-lit hummocks and opaque pools, the web-fingered, razor-toothed swamp-dwellers give this atmospheric rendition a deliciously creepy edge. (source note) (Picture book/folktale. 6-8)Read full book review >
THE GREAT DRAGON RESCUE by M.P. Robertson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2004

This lushly illustrated story features a young, Harry Potter-like boy, his friend the dragon hatched in The Egg (2000), and a delightfully drawn witch. One day a slightly bored George and his chicken coop fly off on the dragon and into the forest, where he discovers a fledgling dragon held hostage by a warty witch. One of Robertson's most memorable watercolor paintings shows the witch savoring her dinner of barbecued toads, roasted on the young dragon's flame. George tries to free the dragon and ends up in a flying competition around the enchanted castle with the witch. Quick thinking on George's part leads to a happy ending for all but the witch, and the young dragon is reunited with, of course, his father. Robertson's predictable and unevenly paced story makes illogical leaps of plot, depending on its rich illustrations for its appeal. There are far better stories out there for dragon-loving children. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
THE SANDCASTLE by M.P. Robertson
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2001

Wishes come true for a young artisan in this abbreviated teaching tale. Jack builds elaborate sandcastles, only to watch the sea wash them away. At last he angrily wishes on an unusual shell that his latest creation would grow to full size, with him as its king. That night, both wishes are granted—but even so, rising waves take this castle down too. While the castle's merry residents turn to merfolk and swim away, Jack makes his third wish, and is wafted safely back to bed. The next morning he has not only accepted that the sea will always prevail, he's come to realize how much better it is to be a boy building sand castles, than a king. Dramatically angled points of view give Robertson's (The Egg, 2000) formal, carefully detailed paintings a measure of vitality, and Jack's castles, whether sand or stone, are showstoppers; still, Jack's change of heart comes without transition, and the lessons loom larger than the story's events. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
THE EGG by M.P. Robertson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 1, 2001

Resembling a younger Harry Potter more than a little in Robertson's technically accomplished, though flatly uninspired paintings, a lad finds an immense egg in the hen house one morning, and dutifully takes on parental duties for the dragon that hatches out of it. Though the dragon, a big, awkward-looking creature with green bat wings and warty, outsized hind legs, splatters flames and swoops about with dog-like enthusiasm, nothing is ever damaged, no one is ever hurt—not even the neighborhood "maiden" who is tied to a post for the "damsel in distress" lesson. Robertson doesn't even try to solve various logistical problems, such as how the egg was transported through visibly-too-small doors and windows to the boy's bedroom, the three panels depicting a mock battle between boy and dragon are confusingly out of sequence, and though the dragon is supposed to be roaring in the final scene, his mouth is closed. Even the dragon's search for home is a sort of ho-hum affair. A distinct waste next to such kindred books as Jerdine Nolen's Raising Dragons (1998) and Rod Clement's Just Another Ordinary Day (1997). (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >