Books by Renata Liwska

Released: May 7, 2019

"It feels fresh at the start, but it fizzles out. (Picture book. 4-7)"
An unseen narrator suggests a wide range of what-ifs, each playing out in a single scene among a group of animals. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 2, 2018

"A sweet meditation on the value of creating, regardless of use. (Picture book. 2-6)"
Llama and Beaver both enjoy making things, but for different reasons. Read full book review >
PLACES TO BE by Mac Barnett
Released: April 4, 2017

"Funny and gentle. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Two ungendered fox siblings—or perhaps friends—have all sorts of places to be. Read full book review >
WAITING FOR SNOW by Marsha Diane Arnold
Released: Nov. 1, 2016

"Snow can't be forced, but this will help ease the wait. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Small woodland animals try to conjure snow. Read full book review >
Released: June 30, 2015

"Quietly alluring and visually peaceful. (Picture book. 3-6)"
A bear, a bird, and a snail differ on plans for an outing. Read full book review >
BOOM, SNOT, TWITTY by Doreen Cronin
Released: April 17, 2014

"Serene, quietly joyous and utterly life-affirming. (Picture book. 2-5)"
Three friends with different philosophies spend a companionable day together, crocheting and weathering storms. 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 >
CHRISTMAS QUIET BOOK by Deborah Underwood
Released: Sept. 11, 2012

"Nevertheless, a congenial, understated choice for reading aloud to excited children to help them settle down for a long winter's night. (Picture book. 3-6)"
In their third collaboration on the numerous nuances of volume, Underwood and Liwska focus on the softer sounds of the Christmas season. Read full book review >
THE LOUD BOOK! by Deborah Underwood
Released: April 4, 2011

For each kind of quiet found in Underwood and Liwska's Quiet Book (2010) there are now just as many kinds of LOUD! Written with the same grace and economy, the short glimpses of "louds" range from good to bad and every clanging in between. The day starts with "alarm clock loud," showing little rabbit desperately trying to muffle the sound with a pillow wrapped round his ears. There is also the embarrassing "dropping your lunch tray loud" and the ever-agonizing "candy wrapper loud" (in a quiet theater, of course). But surprisingly, some louds have no sound at all, like the "deafening silence loud" of getting caught doing something wrong. Eschewing noise lines and other dramatic visuals—save for the title and copyright page where the words burst forth at sharp, diagonal angles—Liwska instead shows mouths open in loud roars, boisterous crowds and hands over tortured ears. The text, written in all caps, doesn't necessarily shout, but it does sneak in an urgent edge. The overall format of fuzzy illustrations and sweet simplicity of moments suited its quiet predecessor a bit better, but the collaborators have created a worthy companion to their previous success. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
RED WAGON by Renata Liwska
Released: Feb. 1, 2011

A mundane task fills with delicious thrills. Lucy asks permission to play with her new red wagon, so mom agreeably sends her to market with it—but, hmm, "That sounded like a chore. Lucy didn't want to do chores." Never fear; this journey is anything but dull. Adroitly pairing innocently understated prose with pictures of simple but imaginative adventures, Liwska invites readers to giggle at Lucy's impressive escapades that unfold entirely visually. When the rainy countryside becomes a roaring ocean, the wagon's a sailboat riding cresting waves. The wagon also becomes a rocket ship, a train, a construction-site truck and a covered wagon. At the carnival/circus (market), "Lucy neatly loaded the wagon with vegetables from her list"—by juggling them with help from a trapeze flyer. The illustrator's pencil work is nimble, her backgrounds airy and free, with hatched grasses for these child animals—cousins of her characters in Deborah Underwood's Quiet Book (2010)—to romp in. The colors glow softly. Red wagon's last role? The perfect nap-spot for a girl all played out. A winner. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
THE QUIET BOOK by Deborah Underwood
Released: April 1, 2010

This gallery of quietude works for bedtime or calming down while also acknowledging that some quiet moods are less than happy. Each page shows one type of quietness, from classics such as, "Sleeping sister quiet," to the creative locale of "Swimming underwater quiet," to the delightful specificity of "Trying not to hiccup quiet." As these young children (moose, bear, rabbit, mouse and porcupine) move from scene to scene, they experience some contented silences (watching a robin, skipping rocks with a friend) and some tinged with insecurity ("First look at your new hairstyle quiet"), regret ("Jelly side down quiet"—a sandwich falling to the floor) or worry ("Last one to get picked up from school quiet"). The final sequence—a nighttime car ride in the snow, peaceful steps to bedtime—makes a comforting end. Liwska colors her finely hatched pencil drawings with low-value, low-intensity hues, matching the theme of low aural volume with a muted but detailed visual quality that invites a close look. Soothing and layered. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
LITTLE PANDA by Renata Liwska
Released: Oct. 27, 2008

Grandfather Panda shares an outlandish tale of flying tigers with his grandson in this slyly amusing tale. The story of Bao Bao and his mother Lin Lin flows in all serenity and peacefulness as Grandfather describes the idyllic days of the young panda. Through play, Bao Bao's mother imparts crucial survival tips: Running, wrestling and climbing to safety are all incorporated into Bao Bao's frolics. However, when Lin Lin must travel to search for bamboo, she cautions Bao Bao about the slender tree he has picked for a napping spot, to no avail. When a large tiger creeps up the fragile tree for a meal, Bao Bao uses cleverness and a bit of luck to escape. Liwska's tale is generously imbued with a gentle humor that is echoed in her digitally colored pencil drawings. Keeping the roly-poly black-and-white principals just this side of saccharine is no mean feat, but both text and illustrations are up to the challenge as they unfold with wily deliberation. Much like this whimsical tale, the elegant illustrations hold small surprises for perceptive readers to enjoy. (Picture Book. 3-6)Read full book review >
SKYLAR by Mary Cuffe-Perez
Released: March 1, 2008

Skylar, one of five plump geese who share a suburban pond, has dim memories of his first migration and considers himself to be more of a wild goose than his neighbors who have never left the pond. When a one-eyed heron appears and asks that they help him meet with his brethren to migrate, Skylar is unsure. Naturally, he'd be the point goose, but can he really remember all that such a flight would entail? Weedle, the young goose who looks up to Skylar, has absolute trust in him, but the other three geese laugh at Skylar's lofty claims. Still, when Skylar decides they should go, the flock sets out together, determined to reach the heron's destination and to prove themselves as capable as wild geese. Unbeknownst to them, they will wrestle with aching muscles, dangerous storms and predators they can barely imagine. Strong characterization and scientific detail blend together in an inviting yet suspenseful tale of migration, loss and accomplishment. Realistic black-and-white illustrations add just the right touch. (Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
NIKOLAI, THE ONLY BEAR by Barbara Joosse
Released: March 1, 2005

A sensitive adoption story loosely based on fact, but given an imaginative twist that makes it uncommonly moving. All of the residents of Novosibirsk Orphanage Number One are human except for Nikolai. Being a bear, his play is too rough for the children, his roars and growls not understood by his adult caregivers. But that all changes when a man with a "furry face" and a woman with "moonlight hair and lake water eyes" arrive from America to hold his paw, growl and roughhouse with him, and at last, ask him to be part of their family. Liwska debuts with quietly composed scenes in muted colors; Nikolai, a small, smudged, dark brown cub with a red kerchief, stands out among the other ragdoll-like figures, his feelings expressed in relatively subtle but clear shifts of head and posture. Economically told, deeply felt, this will leave readers feeling, like Nikolai near the end, "soft bearish." (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >