Books by Phillis Gershator

TIME FOR A BATH by Phillis Gershator
Released: Oct. 7, 2014

"Will the book convince a child that bathtime is a happy time? It won't take many reads to get them to want to try and find out. (Picture book. 2-4)"
Gershator and Walker's bunnies from Time for a Hug (co-authored by Mim Green, 2013) return to explore the seasons and reasons for bathtime. Read full book review >
TIME FOR A HUG by Phillis Gershator
Released: Jan. 1, 2012

"Worth a pause and may well inspire a hug or two. (Picture book. 2-4)"
Gershator (Moo, Moo, Brown Cow, Have You Any Milk, 2011), in collaboration with her mother, offers this sweet, brief rhyming tale celebrating hugs at any hour of the day. Read full book review >
MOO, MOO, BROWN COW!  HAVE YOU ANY MILK? by Phillis Gershator
Released: July 28, 2011

"Farmyard industry becomes a bedtime soporific. (Picture book. 2-6) "
Through creative tweaking, a familiar nursery rhyme, "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep," returns as a cadenced lesson in farmyard enterprise as well as a comforting bedtime lullaby. Read full book review >
WHO’S IN THE GARDEN? by Phillis Gershator
Released: April 1, 2010

An oversized format and round die cuts allow a little girl to show off her garden in fine fashion. "Who's coming to see how my garden grows?" loops above a hole cut through the page, through which readers see one gray rabbit. Turn the page, and readers see many "[r]abbits hop, hop, hopping between the rows," while the die cut frames some carrots on the opposite page. Frogs, bees, birds and moles join the rabbits as the book continues. McDonald's ebullient mixed-media illustrations are alive with jolly, springtime colors, stylized shapes creating fanciful yet recognizable images. The busyness of the illustrations marks this for toddlers, who will enjoy the many critters that populate this patch. Serious gardeners may wince, but it's not for them. (Board book. 18 mos.-3)Read full book review >
WHO’S AWAKE IN SPRINGTIME? by Phillis Gershator
Released: Feb. 1, 2010

"Down, down goes the sun, / And down in the sea, / Fish find a safe place to hide. // Who's asleep? / ‘Not I,' says the minnow." Habitat by habitat, a child dressed in a lamb costume investigates the possible sleepers: ducks in the pond, turtles near the pond, bees in the garden, birds in the trees and so on. Gershator and Green provide a sweetly rhythmic cumulative survey of the fauna; Chollat supplies bright, flat acrylic-and-collage illustrations to depict the fun, but she sacrifices recognizable realism to the detriment of the whole. The duckling looks like an adult duck; the baby jay looks like a yellow cartoon chick (as do all the presumably adult jays). The reason for this can be seen in the child's bedroom accessories, but that last spread comes too late to satisfy quibblers. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
ZOO DAY ¡OLÉ! by Phillis Gershator
Released: April 1, 2009

A trip to the zoo includes not only the thrill of seeing the different animals but, with Abuelita, it also means counting in Spanish from one to ten with each activity of the day. Whether counting the critters at the petting zoo or the folks in the ice-cream line, Abuelita adds a new number each time. "Abuelita counts the animals waiting by the gate. Siete means seven— / and ocho means eight. Abuelita counts the people in the ice cream line, Ocho means eight— / and nueve means nine." Cohen provides plain, coloring-book-style figures hand-drawn in black outline and Photoshop-colored with bright, opaque hues to enhance the simplicity of this rhyming concept book. While the infectious rhyme and repetition reinforced by page turns make for an effective presentation of the numbers in both languages, the pages do not show numerals—a perplexing choice for a counting concept book. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
OLD HOUSE, NEW HOUSE by Phillis Gershator
Released: March 1, 2009

After spending the summer in an old country house, a little girl feels bereft when her family moves west to a new house. As the girl and her parents settle into the rural house without plumbing, she revels in the cranberry bog, plays with neighbor kids, picks berries, bathes in a washtub and has the "very best summer" ever. But when summer ends and they leave, she feels sad parting from the old house and her friends. She wonders if she will ever see snow or find a new friend. By describing her feelings of elation and sadness in first-person, past-tense verse, the little girl creates a nostalgic tone that captures her idyllic memories of that perfect summer. Potter's softly hued chalk-pastel illustrations spread across the pages with elegiac images of the girl drawing well water, lying by the cranberry bog, picking blueberries, washing in a galvanized tub and cavorting with farm animals. The satisfying and simple verbal and visual images sustain summer memories while anticipating life in a new place. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
THIS IS THE DAY! by Phillis Gershator
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

Counting, adding, and the days of the week are introduced in this quirky traditional song about babies and adoption. "Monday's the day we give babies away with half a pound of tea," it begins. The mildly nonsensical rhyming text curls around the swirling illustrations as ladies of various races (some seemingly single and some not) visit a Bemelmans-inspired home for infants and adopt consecutively growing numbers of babies. When the final prospective mother declares, "Seven is heaven," the ladies relax in a circle, lovingly playing with all of their tots. Priceman's dreamlike watercolors are a joy to behold, and Gershator's adaptation of the song retains a buoyant musical quality. While adoption itself receives a relatively light treatment here—each set of babies is accompanied by a whimsical gift such as milk and cookies or a bear and a honeybee—young listeners will come away with the idea that each child is very much wanted and all of the new families are filled with warmth and love. Includes an author's note on the song's origins. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
SKY SWEEPER by Phillis Gershator
Released: April 9, 2007

Young Takeboki takes a job as a Flower Keeper. Throughout the years, he sweeps up blossoms in the monks' temple with absolute dedication, despite suggestions that he find a job with a future and look for a wife. He knows that "the monks need a temple, the temple needs a garden and the garden needs a Flower Keeper." No one perceives his efforts, but Takeboki is not bothered. Even when he grows old and wears shabby clothes, he sees himself as rich with the gold of the fallen leaves. It is not until he grows ill and takes to his bed that people notice all he has done, but it is too late to thank him; by the time the monks arrive, Takeboki has died with a contented smile on his face and moved on to a new place where he sweeps the sky. Infused with a Buddhist sensibility, written in clear, minimalist language, accompanied by rich, organic illustrations and culminating in a haiku by Moritake, this is an original fable not to be missed. Includes an explanatory note on Japanese gardens. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
SUMMER IS SUMMER by Phillis Gershator
Released: June 1, 2006

Gertrude Stein's "A rose is a rose is a rose" serves as the poetic structure for this somewhat surrealistic examination of summer's pleasures. Two brother and sister pairs explore a variety of summertime activities: playing near a creek and a beach, attending a baseball game, visiting an amusement park at night. The short, rhyming text introduces paired elements that convey the sights and sounds and tastes of summer, from pink lemonade sipped under a tree in the heat of the day to ice-cream cones on the front porch in the evening. Though the summer activities are traditional, Blackall's watercolor illustrations add a more modern slant, with an enormous rose as tall as a tree as the beginning and ending images. The two girls on the cover illustration are enjoying an old-fashioned swing with a wooden seat, but they are swinging higher than the kites that their brothers are flying, conveying the magical quality of childhood's sunny summer days. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
THE BABYSITTER SINGS by Phillis Gershator
Released: May 1, 2004

Cheerful tropical pinks, yellows, greens, and blues enliven this charming Caribbean nursery tale. A loving babysitter sings to her young charge, trying to keep him cheerful when Mama and Papa go away. The words, based on traditional slumber songs from Africa, Spain, and the Caribbean, will remind readers of other "hush little baby" songs. "Hush little bird. / I'll sing you a song. / Do you want to know/ where Papa's gone?" Papa's gone to catch a fish, and Mama's gone to market. "La La La," the babysitter sings, while baby in his cradle, goes, "Whaaaaa." A white bird, with babies in a nest, flits in and out of the pictures, one of many details (the parents' car, numbers in the sky, clothes on the line, a sleeping lion, a cow, a moon) that toddlers will delight in spying. As day ends, baby finally falls asleep just before the parents return. Young children and their parents, too, will enjoy this reassuring rhythmical tale. (Picture book, 1-5)Read full book review >
ONLY ONE COWRY by Phillis Gershator
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

The wealthy, yet stingy, king of Dahomey (now Benin) is ready to marry, but he is only willing to offer one meager cowry shell as dowry in a retelling "freely based on African folklore." A clever young subject named Yo volunteers to find a bride for the king and sets off with the one cowry, bartering along the way until he has accumulated enough goods to offer a respectable number of gifts to a village chief. At each stop, Yo lists his growing stash in a refrain children will enjoy that ends "Well, well, I'm doing well, / thanks to Dada Segbo's shell." The chief's clever daughter in turn uses her guile to obtain food and drink for her village and clothing (including jewelry made of hundreds of cowry shells) for herself from the king before consenting to the marriage. Soman's collage illustrations flow across double-page spreads in a pleasing combination of colors, textures, and patterns, with black lines providing detail, especially of faces. They aptly convey the rural village and tropical setting of this West African tale. A humorous touch is Soman's depiction of the increasingly exhausted messenger. A concluding author's note provides background and cites the sources of this amusing, cumulative-type tale. (Picture book/folktale. 4-7)Read full book review >
WHEN IT STARTS TO SNOW by Phillis Gershator
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

What if it starts to snow? What do you do? Where do you go? begins this rudimentary wintertime natural history from Gershator (Sweet, Sweet Fig Banana, 1996, etc.). Citizens of the field, stream, and forest briefly sketch their doings when the flakes start falling; namely, they go someplace warm and do something useful, such as the sparrow's search for seeds, or the frog's descent into the mud of the pond. Most of the answers are set to rhyme with the original question, but not all, and that makes for a pleasing unpredictability in the proceedings. Each creature is given a page to air their intentions before the tempo quickens and another animal_a boy_races into the cold to celebrate the snow. A surprising amount of information is imparted by the brief text, and the illustrations are effective; Matje renders the winter sky in a pinkish gray and leaves much of the landscape a hushed white, broken only by footprints and pawprints. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
ZZZNG! ZZZNG! ZZZNG! by Phillis Gershator
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

After Mosquito proposes in turn to Ear, Arm, and Leg, and is turned down for being too small and weak to last, she angrily turns on them: "I'll bite zzzng-zzzng/deep, deep zzzng-zzzng/in your sleep zzzng-zzzng." Gershator (Sweet, Sweet Fig Banana, 1996, etc.) expands a story found in a language textbook, adding sound effects and giving Mosquito an appreciative mate in the end—a male mosquito: "You please me a lot," he says, "you're big and strong, and I like your music too." Nonetheless, conjugal bliss doesn't stop Mosquito from passing her biting ways on to her children. Smith illustrates this alternative to Verna Aardema's classic Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears (1975) with close-ups of striped Mosquito, bristling with pointed extremities, against backgrounds of saturated blues and greens. A simple, clever story that will not only be new to young readers, but in this lively recasting lends itself equally well to reading alone or out loud. (Picture book/folklore. 5-8) Read full book review >
GREETINGS, SUN by Phillis Gershator
Released: March 1, 1998

Toddlers will delight in this cheerful, colorful rhyme that is easy to remember and easy to chant: ``The stars are hiding,/all but one./Good morning, good morning,/good morning, sun./Greetings, sun./Greetings, breeze./Greeting, toes./Greetings, knees.'' The couplets celebrate all aspects of daily life, from rituals to body parts, meals, school, and family. While the rhymes can become tongue-tangling, the appealing illustrations never falter. Saint James extends the rhyme with her distinctive paintings that turn abstract, flat shapes into expressive, gesticulating people set against solid backgrounds in complementary colors. Action, emotion, and story are conveyed through thoughtful compositions and a grand use of vivid color. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
TO FLY by Lucia Scuderi
Released: March 1, 1998

An extremely brief text describes the comical adventures of baby birds learning to fly, while several fold-out pages dramatize the action. "Peck peck pop" is the text for the first spread, showing the babies' exaggerated pointy orange beaks and matching feet emerging from three white eggs in the grass. "Walk walk" is the second; a glowering parent leads them off. One of them hides, instigating readers to lift up the page, which extends full-size, doubling the book's vertical size. The brief, rhyming text is enjoyable to recite aloud and will be easy for toddlers to memorize. The denouement shows all the birds flying into the sky with an enormous golden sun in the background, in a spread that folds out to twice the size of the others. Repeated folding will put a strain on this book in an institutional setting, but the humor of the birds' expressions and the bold and stylized art easily recommend this for the board-book set. (Picture book. 2-5) Read full book review >
SWEET, SWEET FIG BANANA by Phillis Gershator
Released: March 1, 1996

Soto plants a banana shoot by his home in the Virgin Islands and oversees its growth; the development of the fruit is watched not only by the boy, but by tree rats and thrushees as well. When the fig bananas are ripe, Soto's mother takes them to market to sell. This implies a further threat to Soto's bananas, one that is quickly defused when Soto is allowed to give some to his friends- -the hatmaker, the fraico man, and the local librarian—all of whom have been kind to him. Gershator (Sambalena Show-Off, 1995, etc.) pens a sweet, sweet tale; newcomer Millevoix's primitive illustrations are rough but decorative, enhancing the story's exotic setting. (Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >
SAMBALENA SHOW-OFF by Phillis Gershator
Released: Oct. 1, 1995

A cautionary tale, set in the Caribbean, based on a Brazilian song about an indolent boy, Sambalena. To the consternation of his family, Sambalena has an aversion to work in any form. He'd rather be showing off. But his attitude changes drastically when he puts his head in a clay pot as a joke and it becomes stuck. His confinement gives Sambalena new insight into the value of work and the joy of helping others. Gershator (Tukama Tootles the Flute, 1994, etc.) ably introduces young readers to the story behind the song; Jenkins's artwork evokes the colors and rhythm of life in the West Indies, planting realistic figures against sun-drenched, stylized landscapes. (Picture book/folklore. 5-8) Read full book review >
RATA-PATA-SCATA-FATA by Phillis Gershator
Released: April 1, 1994

A sunny, well-shaped tale about little Junjun, who'd rather dream than do the tasks his busy mother asks him to do. Instead, he utters the eponymous ``Caribbean gobbledy-gook'' (explained in a note as ``an old-time Virgin Islands way of talking nonsense'') in hopes of magical results—and, by happy chance, is rewarded each time: A fisherman happens to drop a fish as he passes, so that Jumjum is spared a trip to fetch one; the goat turns up on its own; tamarinds fall before he must pick them. And each time Junjun has a playful explanation (``The fish got dusty when it swam across town''), while his interchanges with Mommy, however purposeful, remain relaxed and affectionate. Meade's torn-paper collages—rough, white-bordered areas of radiant tropical hues- -are the perfect complement to an engagingly cadenced story that will be just right for sharing aloud. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
THE IROKO-MAN by Phillis Gershator
Released: March 1, 1994

So hideous and powerful is the man-spirit dwelling in the iroko tree that anyone who looks at his face goes mad and dies. Nonetheless, the women of a childless village entreat his help; the wood-carver's wife even offers her firstborn in payment. Later, when she refuses to give up the child, the irate spirit changes her into a bird—until the wood-carver tricks him with a wooden boy. In the end, everyone is satisfied: the child is returned while the iroko-man gains a companion that doesn't go mad and smiles continually. This simple retelling of a vivid Yoruba tale accompanies flat acrylic and collage figures placed as if on a flannel board; the spirit is appropriately treelike (and not particularly horrible of aspect), while humans are painted in a rich brown, evoking the grain of tropical wood. A handsomely set out African ``Rumpelstiltskin.'' (Folklore/Picture book. 6-8) Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1994

From St. Thomas, a cautionary tale about a heedless boy who narrowly escapes being eaten by a two-headed giant when he beguiles the giant's wife with his music. The story will need introducing, since neither title nor jacket painting hint of the drama within; it's a wonderful read- or tell-aloud, with colloquial dialogue, lots of repetition, and a satisfying symmetry in the way Tukama is lured, step by step, into the giant's clutches (``Get on my big toe, and play that song for me again.'' ``Jump on my knee.'' ``Climb up on my chest, and play that song louder''), and then, bit by bit, persuades the giant's wife to let him out of the bag in which he's imprisoned. Tukama's bouncy little songs are repeated so often that listeners will quickly learn them. Saint James's oil paintings combine large areas of bold, uninflected color, figures with featureless faces, and parallel brushstrokes suggesting palm fronds, light-flecked ocean billows, and jumbled rocks. An outstanding introduction to a less well-known folklore. Endnote on sources and local references. (Folklore/Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >