Books by Nancy Antle

SAM’S WILD WEST CHRISTMAS by Nancy Antle
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

This easy-to-read comic adventure yarn, for all its simplicity, has real narrative momentum and a pleasing mess of puns, while Schindler's fine ink-and-watercolor illustrations lend the tale an even greater merriment. Sam, Rodeo Rosie, and their Wild West Show are headed home for Christmas. "Suddenly Sam put his hand to his ear. ‘Hark!' he said. ‘The herald angels sing,' the cowboys and cowgirls sang. ‘No! Shhh!' Sam said. ‘I hear crying.' Everyone listened. ‘That sound is sadder than a partridge without a pear tree,' Rodeo Rosie sniffed." Turns out that a train has been robbed of all its Christmas presents. While the Wild West Show stays behind to brighten the spirits of the travelers, Sam and Rodeo Rosie follow a trail of torn wrapping paper to the bad guys' hideout. And it's not just presents the outlaws have swiped but the Man in Red himself. Sam and Rodeo Rosie catch the robbers with the help of some wicked fruitcakes and some fancy lasso work with Christmas ribbon on Sam's part. The villains are jailed, the presents returned, then Sam and Rodeo Rosie help Santa drop off a few gifts, with Sam being lowered by rope down chimneys from his hot-air balloon. Best of all here is Antle's (Lost in the War, 1998, etc.) delight in language, humorously conveyed to readers, as pure an encouragement as can be to keep turning the pages and a good introduction to the pleasures of wordplay. (Easy reader. 6-8)Read full book review >
LOST IN THE WAR by Nancy Antle
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 1998

A vivid and disturbing look at the effects of the Vietnam conflict on both its survivors and those who love them. Lisa Grey's father was killed in Vietnam, and her mother, Mary Ann, served as a nurse there. Ten years later, her mother's fears and nightmares are getting worse instead of better with the passage of time. Lisa and little sister Jenny do their best to cope and to help, but the long-over war is starting to ruin their lives, too. When Lisa's history class begins a month-long study of the war, she is horrified: Is there nowhere she is safe from discussion of that awful place? Matt Parker, a Vietnam veteran who lost his legs, comes to talk to the class; upon hearing that Lisa's mother served at Chu Lai, he asks to meet her, to thank her as one of the nurses who saved the lives of so many soldiers. Through his patience and understanding, Matt helps Mary Ann understand what has happened to her, and why her year in Vietnam was not only the worst of her life, but the best. When in a final, gritty scene, the Greys and Matt visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., they experience its power, and readers know that the long, arduous process of healing has finally begun. The story takes no position on the war, but Antle instills a powerful message about its after-effects into an outwardly simple, telling story of the Grey girls and their mother. (Fiction. 11-13) Read full book review >
STAYING COOL by Nancy Antle
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 1997

Boxing is an unusual subject for the picture-book audience. Here, Curtis's ambition to qualify for the Golden Gloves tournament and his desire for his grandfather's approval motivate him to train hard and control his emotions in the ring. The young boy's kindly but demanding grandfather runs a gym in a boarded-up corner grocery store. A promising fighter in his younger days, Grandpa still regrets that he never got a shot at the middleweight title. When Curtis promises to do it for him, his grandfather counters, ``You have to do it for yourself.'' ``I'll do it for both of us'' is the boy's reply. An atmospheric story of intergenerational affection, this is set in a very specific urban, African-American milieu, carefully captured in Lewis's watercolors. (Picture book. 7-10) Read full book review >
SAM'S WILD WEST SHOW by Nancy Antle
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 1995

A rollicking sweetheart of a yarn about teamwork, in western dress, part of this publisher's Easy-to-Read line. A traveling band of entertainers floats down from the sky to bring a little excitement to a quiet frontier town and come face to face with some ornery bandits. Men and women work together to successfully save the town in a book that moves swiftly and smoothly to its free-spirited climax. Taback's scenes are joyous, fun, and never too busy. They work well with the text and focus on the clearly described events, helping new readers along the comprehension trail. The art includes typical tones of the old West and a variety of lively purples and greens adding to the carnivalesque atmosphere. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
BEAUTIFUL LAND by Nancy Antle
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 1994

Part of a series, Once Upon America, that highlights various episodes in American history by creating fictionalized stories based on actual circumstances and events, Beautiful Land is a satisfying tale of a young girl's experiences during the Oklahoma Land Run of 1889. Twelve-year-old Annie Mae is so excited she can barely sleep; after two years of waiting (during which she, her father, and brother lived in a dugout), they are finally ready to start their journey to Oklahoma, where they will choose a plot of land on which to build a farm and a home. But things don't go as smoothly as Annie Mae would have wished: Their wagon gets stuck in mud; then it nearly pitches off a bridge and into a river. When they finally reach their destination, they encounter outlaws who try to bully them off land that is rightfully theirs. And to make matters even worse, her beloved Uncle Michael will barely even look at her since the death of her mother, as if he holds her responsible. Antle is skilled at weaving large historical events together with smaller, more personal ones to create a convincing story of American frontier life. Her affable style, the realistic dialogue, and lively pacing will make this a good first novel for many readers and an excellent history lesson for all of them. (Fiction. 7-11) Read full book review >
TOUGH CHOICES by Nancy Antle
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

A less successful entry in the Once Upon America series, partly because the causes and domestic consequences of the Vietnam War were so complicated that it's difficult to make them comprehensible to an elementary-school audience. Marine Corporal Mitch Morgan, returning from a year's tour in Vietnam, encounters anti-war protesters that include his own teenage brother. (Younger sister Samantha, who narrates, is trying to make up her own mind about the war.) When Mitch learns that his best friend has been killed in action, he signs up for another tour, hoping he can teach new ``grunts'' how to stay alive. Readers will need to know more about the war's political background and the reasons for the sometimes-violent protests against it than they will be able to glean from the expository dialogue here. Tighter editing (do we need to know how the family was seated to watch TV?) and less extraneous period detail might have helped. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 8-11) Read full book review >
HARD TIMES by Nancy Antle
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 1993

In the ``Once Upon America'' series, an Oklahoma family weathers the transition after Daddy loses his job, and they lose their house, in 1933. An older sister and her husband and child answer California's call, but later return with reports of discrimination and meager work; meanwhile, the rest of the family leaves the city to move in with grandparents on a farm. There's no real plot here, but Antle hangs the facts that are the book's obvious purpose on telling, well-chosen incidents (a dust storm; affections and adjustments in the new household; Daddy's reluctance to apply for public assistance) and moves it along with plenty of dialogue. A few details seem amiss (snapping beans in March?), but the simply drawn characters are likable and believable, the historical picture authentic. (Fiction. 7-10) Read full book review >