Books by Nina Crews

Released: Feb. 1, 2018

"This loving, welcoming introduction to one of the most important American writers of the 20th century centers young black boys as supreme observers and interrogators of the natural wonders that surround them. (biographical note, further reading) (Picture book/poetry. 5-10)"
Award-winning illustrator Crews breathes new life into the poetry of the late Wright, who found solace and wonder in the traditional Japanese haiku form before he died. Read full book review >
Released: July 5, 2011

A contemporary urban version of the ancient tale of beans and boy, with spiky parts rounded off. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2011

A hop, skip and a jump away from The Neighborhood Mother Goose (2003), Crews once again places classic nursery fare in the middle of bright, bustling Brooklyn streets. This time, however, she sets her sights on songs—34 of them, to be exact. Photos of joyful, ethnically diverse children found in playgrounds, parks and cozy home settings infuse well-known tunes (and some forgotten favorites) with warmth and energy. Many scenes are quite literal: "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" shows youngsters playing baseball in the park. Others have a playful twist: "It's Raining, It's Pouring" has a boy gleefully jumping atop the "old man" in bed (i.e. Daddy), with an appropriately rain-splotched window in the background. "London Bridge" is in fact a bridge built with wooden blocks, and "Alouette" shows a boy racing towards pigeons—the urban equivalent of a lark if ever there was one. Crews also offers familiar digital effects: "Miss Mary Mack" has elephants high in the sky, while "I'm a Little Teapot" shows a rather large teapot with tiny children climbing on it. Sheet music is not included, but an author's note points readers to other books and online resources for help with the tunes. A collection that begs to be sung in all neighborhoods—city stoops or country front-porch swings alike. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
SKY-HIGH GUY by Nina Crews
Released: April 13, 2010

In this winning companion to Below (2006), Crews tells a simple story-in-photographs of two brothers, Jack and Gus, and their serene action figure, Guy, who's amenable to any kind of adventure from dinosaur hunting (on the bookshelf between Seabiscuit and Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary) to saving the city from destruction to ("Oh, no!") getting caught in a backyard tree while skydiving. Just at that dramatic moment, Mom calls the boys inside. But they can't leave Guy up in the branches with the possibility of rain and snow… or wild animals! (These imagined threats are effectively superimposed on the photos as loose, white, line drawings.) Sibling teamwork and the persistent flinging of a lasso facilitate a satisfying rescue. The spare text hits just the right notes, and, along with the full-bleed photos of regular (and adorable) kids in a regular (and lushly leafy) backyard, captures the childhood thrill of believing, if only for a while, that poor, steadfast Guy might really be in terrible danger and that only boy heroes could ever save the day. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
BELOW by Nina Crews
by Nina Crews, photographed by Nina Crews
Released: April 1, 2006

Using a mix of manipulated photography and line drawing, Crews places a lad with a wooden toy companion on a painted staircase next to a small, enticing hole. Jack and little Guy have many play adventures on the steps, but the scariest of all comes when Jack drops Guy through the hole into the darkness beneath. What could be down there? Dragons? Wild horses? Maybe toys? That last guess turns out to be a good one. Having unsuccessfully tried to enlist some parental help, Jack brings out his toy crane and recovers not only Guy, but a toy soldier, a brass button and several other items as well. Alternating views of Jack on the white, brightly lit steps above with Guy suspended in near darkness below, Crews expertly captures the mini-episode's drama, as well as the inexhaustible possibilities of stairs as playscapes. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 2004

Crews connects 41 nursery rhymes to full-spread, skillfully manipulated photo-collages depicting a multi-age cast of marvelously expressive children at play in various sunny, well-kept Brooklyn locales. Her visualizations are, by and large, literal: an outsized dish and spoon peer over a tall fence between brownstones, ignoring the airborne cow in the background; an itsy bitsy spider does double duty, climbing up a drain spout and frightening a brown-skinned Miss Muffet; a thumb-sized little old lady laughingly scolds 15 even tinier children as they clamber over a pair of shoes left on a carpeted stairway. Opening and closing with rooftop views of Brooklyn (look for the goose), this gathering of common and not-so-common rhymes will be a hit with young readers and pre-readers in any setting, urban or otherwise. (source note) (Nursery rhymes. 3-7)Read full book review >
A GHOST STORY by Nina Crews
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

This unusual story uses multiple first-person narrators and photographs of a real family to tell the story of Jonathan, an African-American boy who is bothered by a ghost who has taken up residence in the family home, though only Jonathan can see him. Jonathan's family blames him for the mysterious flying toys and books and unexplained noises. The ghost is a mischievous poltergeist type, represented in the photographs by a shadowy gray stick figure shadow floating in the air. The story is divided into short chapters printed on different colors for the different narrators, who also include Jonathan's younger sister, a budding jazz singer, and his beloved uncle Pete, visiting from his ranch home out west. Pete doesn't admit that he sees the ghost, but he helps Jonathan corral it in a blanket and together they toss the ghost out the window. Most children and some adult readers will take the story literally, but others of a more psychoanalytical bent will attribute the ghostly apparitions to Jonathan's need for more of the attention that his talented little sister demands. There is no one definitive way to interpret the story, and different interpretations of the plot and the author's intent could spark some interesting discussions with older children, especially with those learning about point of view. (Picture book. 5-10)Read full book review >
WE THE PEOPLE by Bobbi Katz
Released: Nov. 1, 2000

Katz has experimented with writing poems in the voices of Americans of the past, utilizing this approach with original poems in American History Poems (1998). In this new collection, 28 of the 30 poems from that volume are reprinted, along with 37 new poems written for this one. Her impeccable research is reflected in both the panoramic scope and exacting details of this project, with an amazing variety of poems in voices representing every age group and many cultures and perspectives. Each indicates its "author," the date, and the place of composition. At the bottom of each page, important dates and quotations are printed in light blue, helping ground each poem in historical context, and providing a time line throughout the book. Some of the poems are in the voices of famous leaders, explorers, or inventors who were actual historical figures; others are by average men or women of the author's invention; and many of the poems are in the fictional voices of children and young adults. The poems are presented in chronological order, divided into sections for each century. Crews (Ghost Story, 2000) provides a photographic montage to introduce each section, with a different typeface used for the poems of each century, moving gradually toward a more modern look. The poetic forms also progress through the centuries, from structured poems in formal language to more casual and humorous poems to modern formats such as rap, shape poems, and even a collection of e-mails. An author's note, bibliography, and source notes on the art are also included. Creative teachers will like the possibilities inherent in this collection: for choral readings, a "poetry through the centuries" performance, or as a spark for poetry-writing assignments. A chorus of lively, informative voices waiting to be discovered by those who make the effort to listen. (Poetry. 9+)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1999

PLB 0-688-16795-0 A High, Low, Near, Far, Loud, Quiet Story (24 pp.; $16.00; PLB $15.93; Oct.; 0-688-16794-2; PLB 16795-0) Crews (You Are Here, 1998, etc.) explores opposites that are a part of a child's daily experience; the full-color labeled photographs are ideal for pick-and-point toddlers and younger lap-sitters. Day and night, wide and narrow, loud and quiet—all make an appearance in home scenes, street scenes, and playground scenes that star a brother and sister, and sometimes their mother; the word "day" opens the book, and "night" closes it, but beyond this bracketing, the pairs of opposites appear on the same spreads. This simple book is certain to delight young onlookers and anyone familiar with Crews's other creations. (Picture book. 4-6) Read full book review >
YOU ARE HERE by Nina Crews
by Nina Crews, photographed by Nina Crews
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

Crews (Snowball, 1997, etc.) starts with a rainy day and two girls, Joy and Mariah are stuck inside and so dream up a game_they will go on a trip. Although it's imaginary, it's real enough to them, and to readers, due to Crews's terrifically appealing full-color photographs and some computer trickery. The objects on a mantel_a toy plane, a kaleidoscope, an art print, a toy penguin, a mask_become part of the trip; the girls are shown in the tiny plane, flying in front of the art print. A giant (the mask) tells them that they must bring him a trinket. They consult books from the bookshelf and try unsuccessfully to maneuver the family cat. They finally give up and sit on him. The expressions elicited are perfect; the girls are in charge of their world, confident and part of a great game. When their mother comes home, they go outside to the now-sunny tree-lined street. This is a slice of real life, that makes a child's fanciful interludes part of every day. (Picture book. 5-7) Read full book review >
SNOWBALL by Nina Crews
by Nina Crews, illustrated by Nina Crews
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

A spirited companion to Crews's debut, One Hot Summer Day (1995), that begins with endpapers that capture a wintry New York City in 18 city snowscapes arranged in a checkerboard. The excellence of the photo-reportage hints at what is to come: a keen depiction of a child's small adventure with the snow. The weather report predicts snow on Monday, but the girl who narrates must wait until Friday for the scene she's dreaming of. That day, she makes a snowball as she and other children revel in the snow. Interiors show a child's actual room with stuffed animals and a little television; the school scenes reflects New York City's diversity. A dream sequence allows Crews's photo-collage technique to soar; she cuts out the tops of brownstones and uses them to frame the girl in the act of throwing a snowball backward. Every scene is fresh and unpredictable, and the model's face perfectly reflects the exclamations of the caption-like text. It's a short tale entirely from a child's-eye view—from a child's heart—and a celebration of snow, play, and city. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1996

A girl's wish to build a ladder from her New York City apartment to the moon is vividly brought to life through ingenious photo-collages. Surprisingly, the photos heighten the fantasy element by grounding the story in the realistic world, a nocturnal cityscape of ``Honk, blink, stop, go.'' The pictures become more fanciful as the girl rises above her environment, the stars shining brighter than any Manhattanite is likely to witness. Occasionally, the outlines of the cutout shapes remind readers of the collage effect, temporarily dismantling the illusion that the girl is stepping through clouds. At the same time, the ``crafted'' nature of the illustrations may encourage readers' own artistic impulses to build ladders to the moon. In style and setting, this book is virtually a repeat of Crews's One Hot Summer Day (1995), but its star-drenched, dreamlike mood gives it a totally different emotional content. (Picture book. 4+) Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1995

The debut of a welcome new voice and vision, in photographs of a steamy summer cityscape and remembrances of the hottest of days. A little girl in beaded braids prances her way through this bright book; its full-color photos have a casual snapshot quality. The visual interest lies in the fresh and intriguing way these snapshots are collaged with other media into an urban narrative for very young children. Caramel-colored arms reach down from the top of a page to fry an egg on a tan sidewalk; sneakers ``splash'' through wavy cut-outs of water; streaky, painted raindrops underscore the actual wetness of the streets. The first-person narration is simple, written in a colloquial present-tense, and progresses with the pictures to the dramatic, cooling storm. (Picture book. 2+) Read full book review >