Books by Nina Laden

YELLOW KAYAK by Nina Laden
Released: Jan. 23, 2018

"A gentle story of calm courage and of quiet, trusting perseverance that will comfort readers in their anxious times. (Picture book. 3-8)"
A white child and a giraffe encounter danger and adventure in a small boat on the high seas. Read full book review >
PEEK-A MOO! by Nina Laden
Kirkus Star
by Nina Laden, illustrated by Nina Laden
Released: Aug. 29, 2017

"A soon-to-be favorite that kids will love hearing, and, later, paging through by themselves. (Board book. 6 mos.-5)"
A rhyming and guessing delight for infants and toddlers. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 7, 2017

"Easy on the eyes and ears; excellent for bedtime. (Picture book. 3-7)"
Rhyming stanzas explore the notion of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, each one beginning with the words, "If I had a little…." Read full book review >
PEEK-A CHOO-CHOO! by Nina Laden
Released: Aug. 16, 2016

"A disappointing trip on a too-frequently-driven track. (Board book. 1-3)"
Laden revisits the formula she found early success with in Peek-a Who? (2000). Read full book review >
ARE WE THERE YET? by Nina Laden
Released: March 1, 2016

"Surreally unsatisfying. (Picture book. 3-5)"
The trip to Grandma's house goes through many remarkable places. Read full book review >
PEEK-A BOO! by Nina Laden
by Nina Laden, illustrated by Nina Laden
Released: Aug. 18, 2015

"A good-enough choice for parents and teachers to use to get the youngest goblins excited about many adults' favorite holiday while introducing sophisticated, though still one-syllable, vocabulary. (Board book. 1-3)"
Laden puts a Halloween spin on her successful wordplay board books, Peek-a-Who? (2000) and Peek-a-Zoo! (2014). Read full book review >
Released: March 4, 2014

"Good, silly fun. (Board book. 2-4)"
A split-page board book allows readers to mix and match the upper bodies and legs of animal daddies, a skeleton father and a human dad. Read full book review >
PEEK-A-ZOO! by Nina Laden
by Nina Laden, illustrated by Nina Laden
Released: March 4, 2014

"While the first book executed this gimmick more successfully (there are only so many words that rhyme with 'Boo'), this companion title is a welcome pairing. (Board book. 6 mos.-2)"
The follow-up to the long-lived and much-loved Peek-a-Who? (2000) is finally here. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 3, 2013

"Reflective and peaceful. (Picture book. 3-6)"
A rhythmic poem explores origins, both physical and abstract. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2005

With "a wag of the tail to Shakespeare," Laden recasts the star-crossed lovers as house pets—albeit in a mix of modern and Renaissance courtly dress in the dashing, canted-perspective illustrations. They belong to the Felini and Barker families who meet, marry and then survive encounters with spike-collared rottweiler Turbo, animal-control warden Officer Prince and finally, a speeding automobile. Breaking occasionally into unabashed (and, considering the cast, appropriate) doggerel, Laden thoroughly reworks the plot, too, though she does leave in the party scene and the balcony scene: "Romeow licked Drooliet on her face. / His whiskers tickled but she smiled with grace. / ‘We shall be married,' said young Romeow. / ‘I'll be with you forever, starting now.' " Readers fond of Mary Jane Auch's equally clever animal send-ups, from Poultrygeist (2003) on, will be rolling in the aisles. (Picture book. 7-9)Read full book review >
AN ANT’S DAY OFF by Bonny Becker
Released: June 1, 2003

Brushing off his buddy Floyd's reproachful slogans—"You must work and work and work some more . . . Happiness is a finished chore!"—Bart does the unheard-of, dropping his shovel and scrambling out of the anthill for a gander at the wide world. Aside from a brief, comfy snooze atop a dandelion, Bart's day off proves to be not all that relaxing, but after surviving a near-fatal encounter with a frog, a scary but exhilarating flight beneath a bee, and a sudden rain storm, he gains re-entry to the hill thanks to a sympathetic guard who confides that he, too, once took a break. Laden illustrates this pointed message to overscheduled readers with ground-level "Bug's Life" scenes of four-armed ants in work jeans and hard hats, surrounded by towering leaves and flowers. Refreshed, Bart shares his experiences with Floyd over and over as they toil away underground, then ends up slipping further down that slippery slope by taking another flyer to lead his friend outside. What nerve! (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2001

What do clowns do to unwind? Following a family of performers permanently decked out in wildly patched outfits and bulb noses (even the dog), the author/illustrator of Bad Dog (2000) and other free-spirited romps proposes a more-or-less rhymed string of alternatives. Laden asks intriguing questions: "Do they play in the sand / Or read in the shade? / Can clowns get a tan / And drink lemonade? When clowns get hungry, / What do they eat? / . . . What's a clown's favorite treat?" Stretched out on a beach or shivering on an iceberg, visiting roadside attractions or trying to find them ("Welcome to LOST," reads a billboard, "Population: you"), climbing cliffs or exploring caves, Laden's motley vacationers, with a permanently nonplused elephant tagging along, caper through scenes replete with jokes both verbal (a beach novel bears a "Quirkus Review" cover quote) and visual. In the end, it's back to the Big Top, though, thanks to a massive glue spill and other mishaps, the clowns make a late, not entirely controlled, entrance. Ladeeeeez and Gentlemen: better sit down, before you fall down laughing. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2000

A sometimes heavy-handed and knowing story about a humble small-town termite who "went against the grain." A trial to his parents, Roberto "melted over maple." But he wanted to play with wood . . . not eat it. Pining for bright lights, Bug City, he travels to "Bug Central Station, in the [city's] busy, buzzing hive . . . where the other termites wouldn't bug you." He lives in a "flea bag" hotel and even rooms with a family of bed bugs for whom "he built . . . their very own beds." With no luck finding an architecture gig, he meets a sobbing houseless fly and a frantic ladybug that cries, "My house is on fire and my children are gone!" Inspired by adversity he draws plans and soon turns a junk-filled lot into a block of custom housing for his homeless friends. Fame and fortune follow and soon he's an international sensation and an inspiration to creative young termites everywhere. Printed on slick, thick paper, the book features arresting mixed-media collage illustrations that cleverly employ catalog and magazine photos, wood and cork veneers, blueprints, and touches of gouache. Like Laden's earlier solo work When Pigasso Met Mootisse (1998) and Private I Guana (1995), this entry is satire-heavy with abundant sight gags and snappy wordplay. There are ample references to skylines (New York's Empire State Building coexists with the Tower of Pisa, San Francisco cable cars and the Space Needle), news personalities ("Barbara Waterbugs" and "Diane Spider") and architects ("Hank Floyd Mite" and "Fleas Van Der Rohe"). Fun for those in elementary school who just can't hold out for the next Scieska and Smith collaboration or who will love to discover the hidden pictures-within-the-pictures. Buy for Laden's many adult fans or those who particularly admire her wry illustrations for Walter Deans Myers's new Blues of Flats Brown (p. 121). (Picture book. 7-9)Read full book review >
PEEK-A-WHO? by Nina Laden
by Nina Laden, illustrated by Nina Laden
Released: April 1, 2000

The classic child's game of peek-a-boo becomes an exuberant guessing game in this compact, colorful board book from Laden (When Pigasso Met Mootisse, 1998). Each of the riddles begin with the phrase "Peek a" on one page. The facing page contains a cut out in an enlarged keyhole shape, allowing the reader a brief glimpse of the underlying picture. Readers can then attempt to solve the puzzle before turning the page to reveal the complete picture. The rest of the rhyme is printed on the facing page, e.g., one riddle reveals a quixotic collection of cheerful animals. The answer? "Peek a Zoo," of course! Laden provides plenty of clues for the youngest reader. The artwork on each overlaying page is decorated in a theme to match the answer, and the solution to every riddle always rhymes with boo. Color saturates every page, easily capturing a child's attention. The array of cheerful creatures (and one choo-choo train) populating the pages and Laden's whimsical rhymes make this a book little one's will reach for again and again. Companion book is Ready, Set, Go! (Board book. 6 mos.-2)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

During their youthful art wars in Paris, Picasso and Matisse had a brief falling out after a competitive spat. Here, art imitates life as Laden takes that episode and, through transformation and embellishment, turns it into neat little lessons in art history and ego reduction. Pigasso and Mootisse have separately garnered such fame that they each must flee the hordes to concentrate on their art. When they become neighbors in the countryside, all is bonhomous until their temperaments—and their artistic visions—clash, so much so that they build a great wooden fence between their houses. Gradually their hearts soften. To make amends, and since neither knows how to simply apologize, each simultaneously paints a tribute to the other (and, of course, to himself, as befits such self-importance) on the fence. There are plenty of good (modified) examples of the real artists' works, as well as a couple of surprises, such as a Jackson Pollack-style explosion between the painters. The characters come across as bumptious, strong-willed, and appealing. Laden further lightens the story with goofy wordplay—moosterpiece, pork of art—that adds little when the quality of the artwork and the book's detonation of color are already such pleasures. (Picture book. 4-10) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

Early one morning, a boy sees his dog step out of a limousine wearing a tuxedo. The next night, the boy follows his dog and discovers that the pet he always thought of as boring (he can't sing, like the neighbor's dog, or change channels on the TV) is actually the suave owner of a swinging nightclub called ``The Doghouse.'' At the club, the boy meets two mean bulldog bouncers, a cocker spaniel waitress, and a glamorous greyhound, among other canine lounge lizards. His dog explains the point of his club: ``See all the sofas? We can sit on the sofas here. We can get treats without having to lie down, roll over, or play dead....This? This is a place where dogs can be dogs.'' Laden's dog characters are especially keenly drawn. The type (made to look like the boy's handwriting, with pictures drawn around some words) can be a little fussy looking, but it fits the tone. A whimsical book. (Picture book. 4-10) Read full book review >