Books by Roberta Baker

Released: July 1, 2007

Baker's inimitable Olive tackles a major childhood milestone with her usual panache. Olive may have had 17 play dates at her best friend Lizard's house, but tonight is her first-ever sleepover. Baker infuses a familiar tale with a hearty dollop of zany humor that readers have come to expect from these quirky and appealing characters. When Lizard's older sister regales the friends with a spooky tale, the inevitable occurs and Olive finds herself in Lizard's suddenly unfamiliar room, sans a night light, desperately wishing she were home. Readers need not despair, as Olive and Lizard set out to conquer their fears in a courageous scheme that goes comically awry. Tilley's ink-and-watercolor illustrations deftly capture the liveliness of the duo. While they highlight how overactive imaginations can turn even the most benign objects, such as a rubber ducky, into something sinister, she carefully maintains a comic element in her paintings. Baker's splendid tale is just the thing to share with readers approaching this major event, or for those just looking for a good giggle. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2005

The can-do star of No Ordinary Olive (2002) returns to get her pirate-themed seventh birthday party shipshape—with some unexpected help. When Olive Elizabeth Julia Jerome learns that the party's venue has to be switched from her own home to the gracious, lace-and-fine-china digs of Great Aunt Tiffany, she's sure that the whole enterprise is sunk—but her proactive nature soon reasserts itself, and she sets out to salvage what she can. Come the day, there's a surprise waiting: Genteel Aunt Tiffany comes through with a pirate costume, a treasure hunt and a huge Jolly Roger cake complete with flag and cannons. In windswept-looking watercolors, Tilley gives Olive a big, drama-queen personality, putting her and her classmates in piratical garb and lively poses and closing with a warm exchange of hugs and gifts. Budding buccaneers will give a hearty "Yo Ho!" for this high-energy tale of intergenerational connection. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
LIZARD WALINSKY by Roberta Baker
Released: June 1, 2004

As they did in No Ordinary Olive (2002), the Baker and Tilley team introduce another engaging heroine in this amusing affirmation of friendship. Elizabeth Ann Walinsky, a.k.a. Lizard, definitely prefers dinosaurs to dolls. Lizard's playmates just don't share her obsession with giant reptiles, leaving her "sad and alone." At T-ball practice, she discovers arachnid aficionado Simon, a.k.a. Spider. Instant best friends, the reptile-loving duo build a terrarium for their model dinosaurs, scour the outfield for Pteranodon eggs, and feast on toasted marshmallows and gummy worms. But when summer ends, Lizard and Spider are sent to different schools and a desolate Lizard faces first grade on her own—until she meets Samantha, a.k.a. Salamander. Whimsical reptilian images reinforce the prehistoric theme; detailed backgrounds teeming with activity add humor and invite close examination. The expressionistic watercolor-and-ink illustrations, plus the dinosaur subtext, transform a somewhat ordinary story into a lively celebration of special friends. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
NO ORDINARY OLIVE by Roberta Baker
Released: April 1, 2001

Newcomer Baker takes on an old topic: How free spirits, however peculiar, allow us to see the world in a different, often better way. Young Olive, from the moment she entered the world, had a mind of her own. Depicted by Tilley (Fribbity Ribbit, 2001, etc.) in the spidery line-and-wash style of Roz Chast, Olive steps to her own beat, though never wildly or disturbingly so. Her parents, bless them, are behind their ragamuffin 100%, start to finish (they may be the true heroes of this tale). Olive's exuberance—for that is how her imagination manifests itself—finds its first bump in the road in the shape of her teacher, Ms. Fishbone. Of course, her name should be Ms. Boneinthethroat, for a minor disturbance in her class lands Olive at the principal's office. Mr. Weepole is even more of a stick-in-the-mud than Ms. Fishbone and can't even see the joy and beauty of Olive having painted his desk in a tropical motif. Fortunately, the science, art, music, and drama teachers do see its beauty, helping convince Mr. Weepole that he ought to loosen up and cut Olive some slack. Olive is sweet enough, but more ingenious feet than Baker's have trod this ground. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >