Books by Richard Cowdrey

Released: Feb. 1, 2016

"Well-meant but heavy-handed. (author's note) (Religion/picture book. 4-7)"
A Pennsylvania Dutch folk tale about the origin of the robin's red breast is woven into a story of a girl and her grandmother preparing for Easter together. Read full book review >
ELLIE'S STORY by W. Bruce Cameron
Released: April 14, 2015

"A satisfying and illuminating tale. (Fiction. 9-14)"
Ellie tells the story of her training and life as a search and rescue dog. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 28, 2014

"Missable. (Picture book. 3-5)"
Fifteen years after its original publication, this sentimental story that explains the symbolism behind Easter eggs and their role in remembering the Resurrection receives new illustrations. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2013

"Even a well-loved, popular main character can't save a story with frantic action, lame jokes and a plodding plot. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Yet another story about Marley the misbehaving Labrador retriever; here he runs rampant through the town Easter egg hunt. Read full book review >
THE CHRISTMAS BABY by Marion Dane Bauer
Released: Oct. 6, 2009

A charming, poetic text is marred by Cowdrey's over-sweet illustrations in this Nativity story that celebrates the miracle of birth, not only of the Christ Child but of all babies. The story is told in traditional, linear fashion as Mary and Joseph find their way to the stable, and the illustrations for these initial spreads are polished and professional. Several later spreads show the assembled animals breaking into wide grins like an animal chorus line, followed by floating cherubs with blissful grins and oversized halos and wings. These illustrations of the animals and the angels detract from the text rather than enhance it, though some readers won't object to the appeal to Cute. The concluding pages connect the birth of a modern baby, with all the attendant joy and family celebration, with the birth of the Christ Child. (Picture book/religion. 3-5)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2009

Carlstrom, author of the Jesse Bear series, offers a poetic look at the connection between God and nature, basing her free-verse text on a well-known Bible verse ("This is the day the Lord has made"). Day by day through the week, each spread offers a brief bit of advice in bold text about praising God or celebrating the wonders of nature, followed by a short, graceful description of the animals and natural wonders shown in the illustrations, which are set in the islands of the Pacific Northwest. The text uses active verbs and sensory details to draw the reader into the setting with descriptive phrases that are usually successful but sometimes a little overblown or too metaphorical for the intended audience ("Call out cloud shapes the sky has made / and watch light / walk across the water"). Cowdrey's realistic paintings capture the intriguing birds and beasts of the area, from herons and eagles to harbor seals and orca whales, with a dandy orca breaching on the front cover. (Picture book/religion. 4-7)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2008

Grogan continues his Marley franchise with his third children's book about the boisterous yellow lab, rearranging the chronology of the family history slightly so that there are already two children in the family when Marley arrives. During the Christmas preparations, Marley jumps in the box of ornaments, runs off with the strings of lights, knocks over the tree and then uses it for his "indoor bathroom." He pulls down decorations, runs through a painting project in one delightfully messy illustration and finally shakes snow all over the family's new toboggan in a conclusion that falls a little flat. The story is smoothly told but not in a particularly funny or original way, and the dialogue includes a lot of unintelligible and annoying baby talk from the toddler son. The humorous illustrations of Marley are the volume's best feature, but they really portray just a string of typical incidences of Marley misbehavior rather than a meaningful story. It may be time for this overworked pup to take a rest. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
THE SANDMAN by Ralph Fletcher
Released: June 1, 2008

For those who wonder how sleep comes, here's the answer: It is due to the magical sand the tiny and daring Sandman, Tor, grinds from a dragon's scale and sprinkles over sleepless children each night. While the mythical beast sleeps, the little old man braves the fire-breathing dragon's lair, waiting for a chance to retrieve any scales that may pop off into the dust. Fletcher's fantasy narrative fleshes out the familiar trope by combining worlds of fairy-tale-forest settings with average household bedtime environments. Much like a Santa Claus figure, each evening Tor rides through children's bedroom windows on his miniature mouse-drawn button-wheeled cart to spread his sleep-inducing emerald sparkle-dust. Cowdrey's deeply colored acrylics of flora, fauna, one frightfully greenish and nostril-smoking dragon, workshop scenes and angelically dozing children alternate with black-and-white images of a cherubic dimple-chinned bald and white mustachioed tiny gentleman hard at work. Bedtime fodder for the slightly older, wide-eyed and wakeful preschooler. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 30, 1997

Various adult creatures—among them, prairie dogs, oysters, beavers, crocodiles—sing their children to sleep in their own particular styles. The swan's lullaby (to "swanlings" instead of cygnets) is smooth and mesmerizing, the giraffe is quietly reassuring. Some of the others are downright noisy: The mother beaver calls her babies home with a "SLAP! SLAP! WHACKUM!" of her tail, and the mother crocodile threatens to eat intruders alive in "Alligator Lullaby." In a final twist, the owl mother gently sings her daughter awake. Cowdrey sets the mood with midnight blue endpapers spangled with stars and a crescent moon. His stylized illustrations present the animals from a variety of interesting angles. Many of the illustrations appear to be silvered by moonlight, and the book has a pleasant design with framed full-page illustrations facing text printed on blocks of shaded color. For purists, occasional inconsistencies detract from the whole—the name of baby swans, for example, or the chimpanzees in the picture that accompanies "Monkey Lullaby." Overall, though, it's a very pleasant bedtime book. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
ONE DAY IN THE PRAIRIE by Richard Cowdrey
Released: Oct. 9, 1986

A fine novelist (her Julie of the Wolves won a Newbery) and naturalist describes a day's events in an Oklahoma wildlife refuge. Massive bison and charming prairie dog are the most conspicuous inhabitants, but George introduces dozens of other animals and plants, explaining how each fits into this small world. The device of a boy who spends the day trying to get a photograph of the prairie dog doing the back flip that warns of danger helps tie it all together; an impending tornado, first sensed by the buffalo, adds drama. The carefully detailed drawings on every page are as important as the text; format is similar to Wilder's Little House books, to which this would be a perfect complement. Every line of this brief narrative is packed with information, so vividly presented that even the active city child should comprehend the fascination that could keep a boy "as still as a stone," watching; it's a persuasive brief for preservation, and a wonderfully composed whole. Index. Read full book review >