Books by Robert Lawson

EL CUENTO DE FERDINANDO by Munro Leaf
Released: March 1, 1962

The popularity of Ferdinand the bull has long been established. This translation without glossary, vocabulary lists, or English references — is obviously meant for Spanish speaking children and a minority of lucky participants in language courses offered to a select few in some elementary schools. The vocabulary and grammar can be grasped by high school students in their second year of Spanish, though, because of the format, the book is not marketable at that level. But those brave and humble enough to sneak it off the shelves will find it considerably more rewarding than the drab little stories that appear in so many textbooks. Read full book review >
THE GREAT WHEEL by Robert Lawson
FICTION
Released: Aug. 19, 1957

The last book to appear by the late Robert Lawson, The Great Wheel is the story of Cornelius Kilroy, a twelve year old lad in Ireland, who follows his aunt's advice to keep his face to the sunset and follow the evening star. The author's black and white drawings follow the boy to New York and thence to Chicago where he works with his uncle constructing the Ferris Wheel for the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. Portrayal of the determined newcomer in the New World is convincing. Conn's romance with the pretty little German girl whom he meets on the boat means a new life for him after the wheel is a success. Read full book review >
CAPTAIN KIDD'S CAT by Robert Lawson
ADVENTURE
Released: Feb. 6, 1956

Patterned on the confidential humor of Mr. Revere and I, and Ben and Me, here is the inside story of Captain Kidd and how he came to an undeserved end, told with strict adherence to the facts of the case by his worldly, practical cat. Home from loyal service with another master, Captain Tew, our cat is again called to duty when Tew's friend Kidd is unwillingly embroiled in a movement to keep "the trade" alive, by certain businessmen to whom the failure of piracy would mean bankruptcy. Mac is a literate cat. His only fault is the omission of the "ly's" from his adverbs and, as ever, the drastic plots and events he relates have a subtler to reality than the liberal dressing of humor might indicate. Read full book review >
THE TOUGH WINTER by Robert Lawson
FICTION
Released: Sept. 10, 1954

Mr. Lawson's latest animal story takes the characters on The Hill through a humorous if hard three months and still proves he can personalize his animals without being in the least sentimental. Now the tale focusses on the Rabbit family- Uncle Analdas, crotchety and country-wise, Father who's often flustered despite flowery phrases, and Georgie who's still learning. They and Phewie the skunk, Willie the field-mouse and all the others are in a spot when the Folks who own the land move for the winter and a new mean Caretaker takes over but doesn't care. Fire, flood and famine follow but the animals pull through to be rewarded by the Folks' return in spring. And the reader's reward is Mr. Lawson's matchless description of incident, in words and pictures. Read full book review >
EDWARD, HOPPY AND JOE by Robert Lawson
Released: June 15, 1952

This falls between the magic of Robbut Hill and the let-down of Robbut but is quite definitely "good Lawson", and another plus count in his candidacy for the title of an American Kenneth Grahame. One of the few writers who can make his animals talk-and act- like humans without sentimental whimsy. Edward was a young rabbit who was an animated question mark, but completely bored with school. Hoppy the toad, and Joe the possum, were his inseparable companions — all of a piece when it came to indifference to the painful steps essential to growing up, or when Edward's fertile imagination suggested some new activity. Chapters just long enough for a good read aloud at bedtime take the trio through adventures with a birthday canoe, learning to swim, roller skates, an escapade in an automobile, a stolen trip to the circus, and so on. Bit by bit, circumstances taught them that even schooling had its place. In text and exquisite pictures in muted tones of black, white and grey, Lawson spins a tale with morals skilfully injected between the lines. A sure favorite. Full color jacket. Read full book review >
SMELLER MARTIN by Robert Lawson
FICTION
Released: Sept. 22, 1950

A cocky, tongue-in-cheek story with a very funny gimmick, this is sure to be a hit in spite of possible adult disapproval. There are some who might object to the outrageous spoofing of the solemn clergy, the sky-high glamor of the young hero's playwright-actress parents, the exclusive atmosphere of the private school and country home set, while we voice a very serious objection against the use of a caricature of an Uncle Tom servant... However, the story is very, very funny. Smeller Martin earned his title for his distinguished sense of smell at Elder Brewster Academy. His gift was first discovered when he identified the kitchen preparations for a horrid meal from a sizable distance. Later his talents were utilized by an enterprizing roommate in winning bets from victims who defied Smeller to name their afternoon activities, which was a breeze for Smeller who could smell wood on the hand which had held a baseball bat. Later at his country home Smeller not only aided the romance of his Aunt Agatha and a nearby professor but detected a thief and solved a murder for the police. Read full book review >
THE FABULOUS FLIGHT by Robert Lawson
ADVENTURE
Released: Sept. 8, 1949

There will be a good deal of pro and con discussion about this story this fall wherever children's book trade people and librarians gather, very much the way there was about Stuart Little. After two readings we feel that most children are going to be charmed with its story about Peter who, for some inexplicable, glandular reason, started growing smaller from the time he was seven until now, at thirteen, he is only four inches tall! And only such a good fantasy writer as Lawson could write about his adventures so plausibly — for the plot is lifted almost directly, it seems, from the pages of the much despised comics. Peter's father is in the State Department in Washington and Peter's trip abroad to locate the deadly atomic granules of a mad scientist and save the world is handled as a broad and suspenseful farce. He travels on the back of a tough but kind- hearted and competent sea gull to whom he owes his life several times over, and the specially fitted cockpit and cabin in which he travels are lots of fun. The encounter with the mad scientist is thrilling and what happens when Peter gets rid of the deadly grains is well told. Kids will like it and it can be used as an antidote for the comics. And the author's pictures get better and better as the story progresses. Read full book review >
ROBBUT by Robert Lawson
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 1948

Oh Mr. Lawson, Mr. Lawson, how can you let down your admirers with so hackneyed a theme as this in your latest lovely book. For lovely it is in format — in pictures - but you've not even given a new twist to your tale. There's a discontented rabbit who wants some other sort of tail; there's a magician who owes the rabbit a favor for letting him out of the trap; there's experiment after experiment, as the rabbit tries a cat's tail, a snake's tail, a fox tail — and ends up by happily putting temptation out of reach and accepting his own tail back again. Predictable to the last dot- and the humor is forced, the least hardened young reader would feel the rabbit deserved all he got, and the implications are hardly conducive to free enterprise. However, on Lawson's name and fame, the book will sell. But don't be misled- it's second string Lawson. Read full book review >
MR. TWIGG'S MISTAKE by Robert Lawson
Released: Oct. 8, 1947

Children will chuckle over this and adults groan (particularly if they have battled moles in garden and lawn) — and only Robert Lawson could get away with this many and frequently hilarious story of what happened when young Amory, nicknamed Squirt, fed Bita Vities cereal to his pet mole, nicknamed General DeGaulle because he was leader of the Underground. Due to a slight mistake in the factory, this particular box of cereal was filled with pure vitamin C, the super-duper growth vitamin. The mole grows and glows-larger, brighter and more playful with each feeding, delighting young Squirt, astounding the scientists, and confounding the neighbors. The moles career ends in a blaze of glory as he soars aloft on a gas cloud, with oil gushing from the well he has discovered in the course of his digging. Robert Lawson's line drawings are perfect for such an endearing mole, but readers of his adventures will regret his disappearance into thin air. Read full book review >
AT THAT TIME by Robert Lawson
Released: Oct. 3, 1947

There's a slight difference of opinion here, but majority rules, and we are placing this as autobiography for young adults. Far Away and Long Ago by W.H. Hudson is beloved of young people, not only because of the wonders of nature he describes, but because of the sensitive revelations of a boy growing up. Robert Lawson, while he is simpler, more direct, has something of that quality of remembering, with no vestige of the condescension of an adult reviewing half-memories of youth. There is no subtle psychological interpretation, but simply recall of some of the joys, the fears, the agonies, the shyness, the frustrations, the achievements. He remembers vividly disappointments in discovering that things imagined were not actual; his complete block at school when he refused to confess his bafflement over long division, and chose to skip school instead; the recurrent round of games and sports, the curious timing year after year of marbles, kites, and so on; thunder storms; joys and sorrows of shopping with his mother; a despised bowler hat; too long postponed long trousers; childhood cruelties to anyone different or foreign; distorted humor and practical jokes; first love. Charmingly done — poetic, compassionate, understanding. The growing pains of youth- which youth will appreciate. Read full book review >
MR. WILMER by Robert Lawson
Released: May 21, 1945

Underplaying, rather than overplaying, the idea of a man who can talk with animals, this is the story of Milquetoast-y William Wilmer, who for years has been an insignificant, spineless cog in the Safe, Sane and Colossal Insurance Company, and who — on his 16th birthday — discovers he can talk animal. He doesn't believe in his first experience, with a policeman's horse, but when Toby, the lion at the Zoo, tells him about an aching teeth, William passes the information along — only to be laughed at. He loses his job and is sinless and hopeless, when the Manager of the Zoo expresses his williangness to test William's gift. When it proves to be a fact, William becomes the figure of the day, and is given a permanent job at the zoo to talk to the animals and solve their problems. Publicity is tremendous — William has no conception of the money he is earning with testimonials, fees, etc. But the Manager of the See manages him well, even to securing the secretary he wants, only to have William almost lose her as a result of gossip. With the aid of the N. Y. police department, she's found, and William marries her and heads for the country on the back of an elephant. There are all sorts of Robert Nathanish touches in incidents and characters, in good humor and entertaining impossibilities. Don't try to sell to the anti-whimsy blo. Plus juvenile sale, particularly as it is a made to order setting for Robert Lawson's beguiling drawings. Read full book review >
RABBIT HILL by Robert Lawson
Released: Sept. 18, 1944

Lawson is difficult to place so far as his juvenile audience is concerned. Frankly, I think he is definitely adult — even in the stories he presumably writes for juniors. This is a somewhat too whimsical story of the animals on Rabbit Hill and their excitement when they learn that "New Folks" are coming to live in the "Big House". They are thrilled when they find in use an old fashioned uncovered garbage can, no sign of traps, spring guns or other lethal weapons, and only a harmless tiger-striped gray cat as a pet. Then the climax comes when a sign goes up "Please drive carefully on account of small animals" — and a statue of St. Francis is set up to preside over a ledge where a morning banquet for the little creatures is placed. And the result? The little animals are wholly satisfied and no longer destroy what is not theirs — and even leave a flourishing garden for the new folks. The Lawson illustrations are sure to capture the hearts of all prospective purchasers — but as a story, it doesn't quite come off. Read full book review >
Released: June 15, 1944

Sundry remarks and observations on the joys, perils and vexations of rustic residence together with suggestions of cautionary nature for the inexperienced-so runs the substance of the subtitle to this glossary of life in the country as experienced by cosmopolites who have bought a little place in Connecticut. Despite his efforts at debunking — his sly and not so sly digs at various illusions, his undercurrent of keeping a few of those illusions regardless proves him one of those "zanies" who continue to live in the country and like it. Chiefly a picture book — drawn says he, from life — with "rural" scenes illustrating his alphabetized captions. Read full book review >
WATCHWORDS OF LIBERTY by Robert Lawson
Released: June 15, 1943

An important book, which should not be confined to this age group, as it brings into general information (and how this age group loves to collect miscellaneous facts) the sources of sayings that have become an integral part of our national inheritance and tradition. Robert Lawson's illustrations are more storied than usual — each one really adding that touch to the background his text supplies. Read full book review >
THE LITTLE WOMAN WANTED NOISE by Val Teal
Released: March 1, 1943

We loved this one, and prophesy that the youngsters will too. An original idea, this of the little woman who had lived in the midst of city noises and couldn't bear the country and its quiet until she collected a new lot of noises. There was a cow first, then a dog, a duck, a rooster and a hen, a pig (this picture appealed to me particularly), even a rattly old car with a noisy horn. And still it wasn't enough until she found that two small boys supplied all the noise she wanted. The Robert Lawson pictures—simple line drawings—are just right for the text. Read full book review >
THE STORY OF SIMPSON AND SAMPSON by Munro Leaf
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Oct. 31, 1941

Are Munro Leaf's name, plus Robert Lawson's beautiful pictures sufficient to warrant wide popularity for this new venture, which I personally, felt much too adult in its conception, its execution and its humor for small children. It lacks the simplicity of Ferdinand — and even Ferdinand, in its implications, had its adult side. Simpson and Sampson were twins, one very good, one very bad, so that it made it difficult for their mother who didn't know when or whom to punish. And when they grew up, one went through the country righting wrongs, the other wronging rights — and achieving quite other results from what they set out to do. The final test came in a tournament, a trial by arms; they helped each other out — and ultimately they patched up the quarrel, for they couldn't remember what it was about anyhow. Judge for yourself — is this a book for children, or a book adults will buy using children as an excuse? Read full book review >
I DISCOVER COLUMBUS by Robert Lawson
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Sept. 10, 1941

A spoof on Columbus, which I liked better than Pen and Me, its satire is more pointed, its humor more subtle. A parrot, Aurelio, blown to Spain by a hurricane, tells how he was responsible for bringing Columbus to Ferdinand and Isabella, how he fostered proceedings raising money, and plotted ways in which Columbus' own reluctance to sail would not stop the expedition. Of a hard crossing, with Columbus seasick in his cabin, or stranded on a tropical island, unwilling to go on, afraid to return. Lawson's illustrations are perfect for the text — and it's a very taking take-off all in all. Read full book review >
THEY WERE STRONG AND GOOD by Robert Lawson
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Sept. 27, 1940

I like the idea behind this book. Robert Lawson couldn't do anything really poor. But I found this disappointing — and I wonder whether children can be persuaded to read for themselves, and dig out the nuggets that are there. The book might have been called "They Made America" — for the idea back of the book is that everyone has ancestors who were strong and good, even if they were not famous, and that it was of such people that our real strength was made, through them the pattern of life was formed, people came together and built for permanency and the future, the America we know. It is an adult concept. He has attempted to bring it to human terms by using brief factual material from his own family story. But it just seems to lack the spark, and the jacket drawings are a trifle austere and forbidding — so it seems to me. Read full book review >
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 2, 1939

Hugely entertaining (and enlightening) mouse-eye view of the career of Benjamin Franklin. Nobody but Robert Lawson could have done it successfully — this re-interpretation of his public and private life, as seen by a mouse who was his friend. And he has made delightful pen and ink illustrations. (Fantasy/historical fiction. 7-12)Read full book review >
WEE GILLIS by Munro Leaf
Released: Sept. 30, 1938

Wee Gillis' father's people were Highlanders; his mother's people were Lowlanders, and he was faced with the problem of which he should be. So he went to visit first one set of relatives, then the other. And with one he learned to whistle for the cows, and with the other to hold his breath during stag hunts — and with both his lung power grew. So when the chance came, he proved himself as a topnotch bagpiper and acceptable to both sides. Read full book review >
MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS by Richard Atwater
Released: Sept. 26, 1938

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet. Read full book review >