Books by Petra Mathers

BUTTON UP! by Alice Schertle
POETRY
Released: April 1, 2009

"Loads of fun. (Picture book/poetry. 3-8)"
Shoelaces, hats, undies, jammies, jackets—all have a story to tell. Read full book review >
PIERRE IN LOVE by Sara Pennypacker
FICTION
Released: Jan. 1, 2007

"An endearingly elegant pick for Valentine's Day, featuring well-matched art and text. (Picture book. 5-8)"
Rodent Pierre—a wistful fisherman—is secretly in love with rabbit Catherine, an artistic ballet teacher whose studio he passes each morning. Read full book review >
THE MIRACULOUS TALE OF THE TWO MARIES by Rosemary Wells
FICTION
Released: April 1, 2006

Wells spins out an original tale loosely based on local legends from a small town in southern France. Read full book review >
THE KITCHEN TALKS by Shirley Mozelle
FICTION
Released: April 1, 2006

"Mathers's cheerfully quirky watercolors notwithstanding, this collection neither falls flat nor rises above. (Poetry. 4-8)"
The inanimate denizens of the kitchen nab the limelight in this somewhat uneven, amusingly illustrated collection of 20 short poems. Read full book review >
STRANGE MR. SATIE by M.T. Anderson
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Sept. 1, 2003

"Anderson closes with notes on recommended books and pieces—good thing, as this portrait makes an irresistible invitation to discover a relatively little known, but profoundly influential, 20th-century artist. (author's note) (Picture book/biography. 8-10)"
The author of Handel, Who Knew What He Liked (2001) profiles another musical original: Erik Satie, surrealist composer and all-round oddball, a capricious, temperamental rule-breaker whose works reflect the dreamlike quality of his eccentric life. Read full book review >
HERBIE’S SECRET SANTA by Petra Mathers
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

"In addition to working well as a different sort of Christmas story, this cautionary tale will also serve to ward off any child's remote idea of shoplifting or even tasting an unauthorized bite of the merchandise. (Picture book. 3-7)"
With this fourth entry in her Lottie and Herbie series, Mathers (A Cake for Herbie, 2000, etc.) explores the concepts of a guilty conscience and the difficulty of apologizing within an amusing, nontraditional Christmas story. Read full book review >
THE FROGS WORE RED SUSPENDERS by Jack Prelutsky
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 2002

"A brilliant match of talent that's guaranteed to make a hit. (Poetry. 5-10)"
The title sets the stage for this delightful pairing of Prelutsky's (Awful Ogre's Awful Day, 2001, etc.) amusing rhymes with Mathers's (Dodo Gets Married, 2001, etc.) charming watercolor illustrations. Read full book review >
DODO GETS MARRIED by Petra Mathers
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: May 1, 2001

"Despite Mathers's oddly shaped animal cast and her funny little details (Dodo spells out her acceptance with laundry), there's an adult sensibility to much of this, but younger readers will respond to its warmth and good humor. (Picture book. 5-7)"
Operating on the premise that there's someone for everyone, the author of Lottie's New Friend (1999) hooks up Lottie's long-beaked Germanic acquaintance Dodo with a bitter, one-legged ex-helicopter pilot. Read full book review >
WHEN MOMMMY WAS MAD by Lynne Jonell
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: May 1, 2001

"Then you smooth down the prickles," readers will smile along with them. (Picture book. 3-7)"
Christopher and Robbie (Mommy Pie, 2001, etc.) return to the scene on a bad day for Mommy. Read full book review >
MOM PIE by Lynne Jonell
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: March 1, 2001

"A touching and astute tale about keeping the important things in perspective for frazzled moms and their bewildered offspring. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Jonell's (It's My Birthday, Too!, 1999, etc.) latest adventure involving siblings Robbie and Christopher comically captures that classic conundrum: when moms are at their busiest, their children are at their neediest. Read full book review >
LOTTIE'S NEW FRIEND by Petra Mathers
Released: April 1, 1999

"A brief, understated take on a common worry—not confined to childhood—with enlivening touches of wit and charm. (Picture book. 6-9)"
Although it appears to Herbie the duck that he's been displaced in the affections of his sidekick Lottie (Lottie's New Beach Towel, 1998) by Dodo, a new neighbor with an exotic accent, he needn't fret. Read full book review >
ON RAM¢N'S FARM by Campbell Geeslin
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

"Earth-toned folk-art illustrations are friendly and funny, a warm match for Ramón, who turns the routine of everyday tasks into his own personal fiesta. (Picture book. 3- 7)"
Easy-to-read vignettes revisit the style and theme of Rosa's magical encounters with animals in Geeslin's In Rosa's Mexico (1996, not reviewed). Read full book review >
LOTTIE'S NEW BEACH TOWEL by Petra Mathers
ANIMALS
Released: June 1, 1998

"Move over, Minerva Louise (Minerva Louise at School, 1996, etc.). (Picture book. 5-7)"
On an outing with her friend, Herbie—a duck—a resourceful hen named Lottie finds multiple uses for her new polka-dot towel: on a hot beach, under a picnic, as a sail for a boat with a conked-out motor, and even in a wedding, when a sea breeze blows the bride's veil away. Read full book review >
I NEED A SNAKE by Lynne Jonell
ANIMALS
Released: May 18, 1998

"Nevertheless, Mathers's drawings have the appropriate feel of a child's own scenes, and if Robbie's enthusiasm doesn't rub off on his mother, it will certainly convince readers. (Picture book. 4-6)"
From Jonell and Mathers (Mommy Go Away!, 1997), a charming solution to the age-old dilemma of convincing parents that snakes are good pets; unfortunately, it also promotes the stereotype of female ophidiophobia. Read full book review >
MOMMY GO AWAY! by Lynne Jonell
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Oct. 13, 1997

"A highly original book that will strike a chord in every child's experience, and one that parents will enjoy immensely. (Picture book. 2-6)"
 Jonell turns the tables on parental authority and childlike obedience in a terrific story of a boy and his mother. ``Pick up your blocks,'' ``No more T.V.,'' and ``Time for your bath'' are the phrases that set off a small boy's protests. Read full book review >
TELL ME A SEASON by Mary McKenna Siddals
COLORS
Released: March 17, 1997

"The characteristic flat perspective, clean lines, and pleasing colors that mark Mathers's work add up to soothing effect, and the pages will be smudged by the enthusiastic pointing of little fingers. (Picture book. 3-6)"
 Colors define the four seasons in this compact look at nature's annual cycle. Read full book review >
GRANDMOTHER BRYANT'S POCKET by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 1996

"Mathers's cameo-like illustrations harmonize beautifully with the story; its theme resonates. (Fiction. 5-9)"
 After the death of her dog in a barn fire, Maine farm girl Sarah Bryant has bad dreams that stick ``to her skin like . . . soot.'' Her parents try to comfort her, but when the dreams persist, her father takes her to Grandmother Bryant for a cure. Read full book review >
PATCHWORK ISLAND by Karla Kuskin
POETRY
Released: May 30, 1994

"A charming tribute, as well as a fine reminder that such a patchwork of familiar forms and intense colors makes an enriching landscape for any infant. (Picture book. 2-7)"
 Inspired by the bright textures and patterns of the landscape on Canada's Prince Edward Island, Kuskin pens a brief poem about a mother capturing its visual effect in a quilt for her baby, who can enjoy playing on the completed needlework scene and also sleep under it: ``These island nights can grow quite cool.'' Mathers's saturated colors and clean compositions are particularly appropriate to the subject; the interplay between geometric forms and fabric patterns that at some times literally represent landscape features and at others cleverly imitate them (e.g., in a patchwork of cultivated fields) is delightful. Read full book review >
WHEN IT SNOWED THAT NIGHT by Norma Farber
POETRY
Released: Oct. 30, 1993

"Lovely. (Poetry/Picture book. 4+)"
 Forget the legions of contrived tales about this animal or that making its way to the Manger; the late Farber (d. 1984), in an imaginative cycle of poems—whimsical, lyrical, and wise- -introduces a dozen creatures, follows their intersecting journeys, celebrates (in the title poem) the moment when they all help keep the melting snow from the Baby (``Cricket clung fast to a ceiling-hole,/Dove plugged a gap with his beak...Giraffe held his head against a crack...and the Three Grand Kings/raised a parasol...'') and, for balance, embellishes the story with three Queens who ``came late, but not too late,'' bringing ``a homespun gown of blue,/and chicken soup'' before hurrying home to their own children and chores. Read full book review >
VICTOR AND CHRISTABEL by Petra Mathers
FANTASY
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

 Another offbeat love story from the author of Sophie and Lou (1991). Read full book review >
AUNT ELAINE DOES THE DANCE FROM SPAIN by Leah Komaiko
FICTION
Released: Oct. 1, 1992

"The story is slight but pleasantly frothy; Mathers, widely praised for her sophisticated colors and clean, imaginative design, breaks no new ground here but nicely captures the lighthearted spirit in her vibrant, delicately witty art. (Picture book. 4-8)"
 ``Aunt Elaine/thinks she's from Spain,/but she and Dad were born in Maine,'' confides Elaine's slightly nerdy-looking niece, Katy; as ``Elena,'' her aunt is enthusiastic about performing Spanish dances with what looks like a multicultural troupe. Read full book review >
LITTLE LOVE SONG by Richard Kennedy
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: Jan. 15, 1992

"Fine for sprucing up the Valentine's Day shelf. (Picture book. 4+)"
 In sprightly doggerel, a lighthearted blend of fresh images (``My darling's eyes are as bright as tea''), and more colloquial passages (``A witch enchanted me to be small,/for stepping upon her toes./She had her reasons, I had mine./Lousy luck, that's the way it goes''), the man-sized narrator explains about his Thumbelina-sized love, her domestic arrangements (she lives in a peanut shell), and their unique manner of getting together: ``after supping on pickles and pie,'' he dreams about her to his heart's content (never mind hers). Read full book review >
BORREGUITA AND THE COYOTE by Verna Aardema
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: Aug. 1, 1991

"A fine story; outstanding illustrations. (Folklore/Picture book. 4-9)"
 Borreguita is a little lamb who manages to trick the coyote who wants to eat her not just three but four deliciously satisfying times: she suggests that she'll grow if he waits; she describes the moon's reflection as a cheese, so that he jumps into a pond; she cajoles him into taking her place ``hold[ing] up this mountain'' while she goes for help; and, finally, she bravely volunteers to jump right into the coyote's mouth so that he can swallow her in one gulp—with the result that poor Coyote, his teeth aching, vows to leave the wily lamb alone henceforth. Read full book review >