Books by Rob Shepperson

BLUE DAISY by Helen Frost
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 17, 2020

"An easy-to-read, heartwarming lesson in trust-building. (recipes; author's note) (Fiction. 7-10)"
A homeless dog transforms a neighborhood. Read full book review >
CODY HARMON, KING OF PETS by Claudia Mills
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 14, 2016

"Another winner from Mills, equally well suited to reading aloud and independent reading. (Fiction. 7-10)"
When Franklin School principal Mr. Boone announces a pet-show fundraiser, white third-grader Cody—whose lack of skill and interest in academics is matched by keen enthusiasm for and knowledge of animals—discovers his time to shine. Read full book review >
ANNIKA RIZ, MATH WHIZ by Claudia Mills
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 13, 2014

"For number lovers and phobics alike—this bighearted series has something for everyone. (Fiction. 7-10)"
Annika loves numbers. Read full book review >
KELSEY GREEN, READING QUEEN by Claudia Mills
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2013

"Lesson learned: Read for fun, not for competition. (Fiction. 6-9)"
Can a third-grader like to read too much? Read full book review >
CAN I JUST TAKE A NAP? by Ron Rauss
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 5, 2012

"Skip this, and stick with Karen Beaumont and Jackie Urbanovic's No Sleep for the Sheep (2005) for a story with a catchy rhythm that will really have listeners chiming in. (Picture book. 3-7)"
Rauss, winner of the 2010 Cheerios® New Author Contest, reveals the travails of poor Aiden McDoodle as he searches for a quiet spot to get some sleep. Read full book review >
THE MEMORY BANK by Carolyn Coman
BEDTIME BOOK
Released: Oct. 1, 2010

Children's literature has a long history of cruel parents, but Hope Scroggins's are so heartless, they kick their tiny girl Honey out of the car for laughing… and never turn back. Hope is ordered to forget her sister, but she can't. Depressed, she starts sleeping day and night. Enter the World Wide Memory Bank (WWMB). Detecting an unusual imbalance in Hope's dreams (too many) and memories (too few new ones), the WWMB dispatches an agent, Obleratta, to pick her up in the dead of night. He drives her to headquarters, with its memory-harvesting bank and sumptuous, be-pillowed Dream Vault, and, for the first time in her life, Hope feels valued. The overall effect is uncannily Dahl-like, with vividly wrought settings involving elaborate, unlikely contraptions and larger-than-life characters. Energetic Quentin Blake-like pencil illustrations tell the tale of Hope's beloved Honey as she falls in with a rebel lot of lost children who threaten to overthrow the WWMB. Brilliantly crafted, thoroughly enjoyable and, though so very like Dahl, unique as a fascinating new way to ponder dreams and memories. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
LILLY AND THE PIRATES by Phyllis Root
ADVENTURE
Released: Sept. 1, 2010

Ten-year-old Lilly is perfectly content to be hauled around the world by her scientist parents in pursuit of boomerang beetles and lily pad leeches. So when they decide to leave her behind with her gray-as-dust great-uncle Ernest (a librarian!) while they head for the Shipwreck Islands to study the frangipangi fruit fly, she's crushed. One day chez Uncle Ernest, a flock of homing seagulls delivers an ominous note from her parents: "Have hit reef, sinkin." The next thing Lilly knows, she's on a sailboat on her way to rescue them, lost at sea with the frumpy-fierce pirate Mrs. Teagarden: "Aye, well, that's a problem, trusting pirates. Even if ye're a pirate yerself," she says. Lilly, a notorious worrywart, especially about the treacherous sea, finds her fears blasted away by the ocean spray when she bravely takes the tiller of Last Chance. This transformation from skittish bookworm to swashbuckling pirate girl is the real buried treasure in this enjoyably preposterous, emotionally resonant, library-revering adventure. Shepperson's cartoonish pencil illustrations are as wonderfully detailed, action-packed and good-humored as the story. (Adventure. 8-12)Read full book review >
VACATION by David L. Harrison
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2009

In this slim volume of rather bland poetry, Harrison introduces readers to a boy named Sam and takes them along on his family vacation. Written from Sam's point of view, the poems cover a wide range of subjects—including getting lost, a stop at an art museum, a fast-food excursion, staying over at a relative's house and camping—but the majority of them are devoted to the family's visit to the beach. For instance, in one of the cleverer selections, "Sunburn," Mommy warns the kids about getting burnt before taking matters into her own hands; she "lathers on / enough / lotion / to leave rings / around / the ocean." The volume ends with a predictable final poem called "Home at Last!" and the less-than-memorable lines, "Home at last! I'm glad we're here / but I can't wait / until next year!" Shepperson's cartoon-like illustrations add a bit of pizzazz to the collection but not enough to raise it above mediocre. Try Mike Thaler's Pig Little (2006) for a wittier day at the poetic beach. (Poetry. 6-10)Read full book review >
SNEAKING SUSPICIONS by Carolyn Coman
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

In this pleasantly rambling companion to Coman's The Big House (2004), Ivy and Ray's parents are finally out of prison, but Ivy anticipates further trouble when her father Dan announces his sudden desire to pay a visit to Gladys Mouton, a long-lost relative in Florida. As Ivy and her little brother Ray head off with their parents for a road trip, Ivy's already active imagination kicks into overdrive. Why does Dan want to give this distant relative the giant ruby he found in a hollowed-out book? Who is this shady Wolfgang character who seems nice enough but might try to poison them? In the end—after a few roller-coaster rides, a stop at the Big Deposit Gem Mine and a boat ride through an alligator-infested lagoon with the leathery spitfire "Glad" Mouton—Dan surprises everyone again. Ivy's constant attempts to decipher the world and her creative interpretations of terms such as "real estate" and "twice removed" ("Ivy couldn't remember if that meant sent to jail two times or sent to two different jails") are often hilarious. Shepperson's comical and expressive pen-and-ink wash illustrations are also a delight. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
UNDER THE KISSLETOE by J. Patrick Lewis
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

Sixteen rhyming poems of widely varying subjects all have some sort of connection to the Christmas season in this latest thematic collection from the prolific poet. Two of his best poems are shining stars: "Winter Scene," a lovely shape poem in the form of an ornament and "A Brown King," about one of the Wise Men. Both of these polished poems are strong enough to be anthologized in children's poetry collections. Other lighter and more humorous poems discuss misguided Christmas cards, gingerbread houses and the antics of Santa and his elves. Some poems are quick and short and funny, and others use a longer format to examine topics such as waiting up on Christmas Eve or a favorite cat's behavior on Christmas morning. Shepperson's quirky illustrations in watercolor and ink complement each poem with a variety of illustration sizes, and he includes children of different ethnic groups as well as a female elf in a key role (in the titular poem) and in the cover illustration. (Poetry. 6-9)Read full book review >
BUGS by David L. Harrison
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2007

Forty short, rhyming poems about bugs and other crawling creatures are complimented by the choice of a small trim size that suits the diminutive subject matter. Each poem addresses a different type of insect or "creeping thing," from the familiar and more popular (ladybugs and fireflies) to the unwelcome (ticks and mosquitoes) to the unfamiliar (dung beetles and seventeen-year cicadas). The poems are lighthearted and humorous, with occasional invented words and flashes of slightly gross humor that will appeal to young readers. Seven poems are written for two voices or for a narrator and chorus perfect for the classroom. The thoughtful design includes some creative type treatments and an intriguing cover in midnight blue showing a glass jar full of escaping insects, with a hand-lettered title giving an edgy look. Amusing illustrations of the insects in action are done in bold strokes of ink on white pages or in white on black pages with the poems printed in white type, adding a sophisticated flair. (Poetry. 5-10)Read full book review >
THUNDERBOOM! by Charlotte Pomerantz
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 31, 2006

The subtitle implies the essential weakness of this poetry collection. The varied verses within may well offer one or two poems that please individual readers, but are unlikely as a group to find an appreciative audience. As in many earlier works, Pomerantz's writing reveals a global outlook. In the title poem, for example, readers learn the word for thunder in 10 different languages. Literary connections ground several works: A brief limerick alludes to the work of James Joyce; a longer poem honors Margaret Wise Brown. Other poems focus on the joys of going barefoot, celebrating Passover and a dialogue between Jonah and the whale. Shepperson's pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations add humor, charm and a sense of coherence to the collection (for example, the "drowsy bumbling bumblebee" pictured snoozing in a pink flower shows up again pages later in the portrait of a just-engaged mole and vole). Despite their appeal and the undeniable quality of the writing, however, the publisher's description of this as a "ragtag, boodlebag of poems" remains unfortunately apt. (Poetry. 8-12)Read full book review >
WILDFIRE! by Elizabeth Stur Hill
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 12, 2004

Ten-year-old Ben learns a lesson about loyalty, obedience, and jealousy. Ben's parents died in a car crash six years earlier and his great-grandmother insisted that Ben move in with her and Ben's grandparents, stating firmly, "He's our boy." These three words have kept Ben on the straight and narrow, helping whenever he can and being a good, good boy. Ben likes his life, but begins to doubt himself when Elliot, the city boy, arrives and seems to have something negative to say about every detail of rural life. Sophisticated and worldly wise, Elliot has some of the material things that Ben lacks, even gets a dog put up for adoption. When wildfires move through the state one July, fireworks are forbidden. But Elliot goads Ben into shooting off just a couple, with a disastrous result. Though the depiction of the grandparents is warm and loving, the story is predictable and the rest of the secondary characters are wooden. This tale fails to ignite any sparks for the reader. (Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
THE BIG HOUSE by Carolyn Coman
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 15, 2004

"No!" Ivy shouts in the courtroom when her parents are sentenced to 25 years in jail for embezzlement. Sure, they'd been to jail before, but never together, and never for so long. When Ivy and her younger brother Ray are sent to live with the very same rich septuagenarian couple who sent their parents "up the river," Ivy (a quick-study of her dad's shady dealings and of various courtroom dramas) decrees that they will spend their days scouring the sumptuous mansion for evidence that will acquit her parents. Left to their own devices, the siblings hide out in a rhododendron bush, sentence a fleet of international dolls to do time ("Ivy gave Miss Canada life"), and generally "case the joint." Ivy is as surprised as anyone when their obsessive hunt actually turns up evidence that forever changes everyone's fate. This funny, thoroughly entertaining change of pace for Coman seamlessly blends fantasy and reality in that wonderful way children can, and Shepperson's splendid, Quentin Blake-style illustrations further enliven an engaging story of espionage, family loyalty, and justice prevailing. (Fiction. 9-12)Read full book review >