Books by Roger Essley

UNDER THE PEAR TREE by Brenda Seabrooke
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

In this sequel to Judy Scuppernong (1990), the language is simple in a narrative in free verse, but the emotions are genuine, powerful, and sweet. The narrator, Deanna, and her friends Lala and Stacy find the summer full of mystery: Deanna's teasing cousin, Rusty, and his hidden sorrows; their shell- shocked neighbor Joey and his new wife, Vivian, whom the girls find exotic but of whom their mothers disapprove; and the greatest mystery of all, boys. ``Who can explain them? . . . They don't even try—just do whatever they want and let the broken bits fall any old place.'' Friends wander in and out, nylons and Flame Kiss lipstick become talismans, lovely images of light, wind, and the ever-present pear tree suffuse this gentle book. Readers will love it; those seeking to unlock the secrets of the female heart will find some nuggets here. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Poetry. 10-15) Read full book review >
ANGELS IN THE DUST by Margot Theis Raven
Released: Feb. 1, 1997

Raven's first book for children explores life in the American Dust Bowl of the 1930s as ``Great-grandma Annie'' shares her memories of childhood. Annie lived on an Oklahoma wheat farm, ``where the land reaches out straight as a handshake.'' When the dust storms begin, forcing dirt through the boards and into the family's small house, Annie helps her sister, Bessie, write her name in the dust. That act makes Mama think that ``nothing's so bad that it isn't good for something''—the theme of the book. After Mama dies of dust pneumonia, Annie assumes adult responsibilities: keeping house; soothing Bessie's fears with tales of how Mama, an angel, keeps watch over them; and growing a garden with the aid of an inspired tin-can water pipe. When their dried-to-tinder house burns to the ground, neighbors—also hard- pressed—pledge small sums to help the family get on their feet. An author's note fills in the historical facts, while Essley's full-bleed paintings beautifully capture the reality of a hard- but-hopeful life in a world gone to wind-blown grit. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
REUNION by Roger Essley
by Roger Essley, illustrated by Roger Essley
Released: June 1, 1994

While Jon's grandmother naps, she leaves him to look at an old photo album entitled Paul's Fantastic Photos—1915. Bored, Jon finds the pictures ``gloomy''; even after he hears Paul's voice calling from a framed photo of him, climbs into it, and joins the boy in the earlier time, Jon sees everything there as gray. Paul, however, knows that ``Pictures can come to life,'' though ``it takes a little practice.'' The two visit several more scenes from the album before Jon, now convinced, makes a dive that lands him back in the full-color, but no more lively, present. A quiet story, but one that many young readers will find intriguing. Essley's appealingly nostalgic illustrations are distinguished by delicate modeling and carefully balanced composition. A creative introduction to time travel—and to the way that ordinary-seeming remnants of the past can become windows into a once-vibrant time. (Picture book/Young reader. 5-9) Read full book review >