Books by S.D. Schindler

ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S DUELING WORDS by Donna Janell Bowman
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2018

"An attractive volume created out of an insubstantial historical anecdote. (sources) (Informational picture book. 6-9)"
Abraham Lincoln gets himself into big trouble and ends up facing a political opponent in a duel. Read full book review >
BEN FRANKLIN'S BIG SPLASH by Barb Rosenstock
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 2, 2014

"As inventive as Ben himself, this presentation is awash with delight and definitely makes a big splash. (author's note, timeline, sources, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)"
Is another picture book about Ben Franklin really needed? Read full book review >
BROTHER HUGO AND THE BEAR by Katy Beebe
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 4, 2014

"This accurate (if abbreviated) delineation of the process of medieval manuscript bookmaking shines thanks to the fey twist of ursine longing for the written word. (glossary, author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 5-9)"
Prepare to be charmed by a bear who loves words—or at least loves to eat them. Read full book review >
SPIKE AND IKE TAKE A HIKE by S.D. Schindler
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 18, 2013

"Here's hoping the happy pair have more adventures to come. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Wacky wordplay accompanies a hedgehog and a coatimundi as they walk to lunch at Cousin Rosa's. Read full book review >
HORNBOOKS AND INKWELLS by Verla Kay
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2011

"Whether studying colonial life or comparison/contrast, teachers will surely reach for this. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Terse rhyme introduces children to 18th-century schooling. Read full book review >
MAGNUS MAXIMUS, A MARVELOUS MEASURER by Kathleen T. Pelley
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 13, 2010

Magnus Maximus has a walrus mustache, a benign countenance and a preoccupation: measuring and counting. He doodles about his day, counting this and measuring that—petals on a geranium, raisins in a bun, wetness and dryness, nearness and farness—then slapping the tally, jotted on a piece of paper, onto the object of his interest. Seemingly oblivious, he corrals an escaped lion to do some close calculations and for his good citizenry is named his town's official measurer. Maximus myopically goes on his way until he breaks his glasses and learns that there is more to life than numbers—like waves to splash in and "the snugness of a hand in a hand." This is a lovely marriage of word and image. Pelley's text is brightly humorous and musical—"Now that he was the town's official measurer, Magnus Maximus had to measure all kinds of NESSes, from the wobbliness of a jellyfish to the itchiness of an itch"—and that goes for Schindler's illustrations as well, with their busily elegant line work, their lustrous washes of color and, best of all, their high and brilliant tomfoolery. (Picture book. 5-10)Read full book review >
THE TYRANNOSAURUS GAME by Steven Kroll
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2010

A rainy day at school turns a dozen restless children into master storytellers. Students stare out the window at the falling rain in dismay, until the teacher suggests a game. Next thing you know, the students are sitting in a circle, crisscross-applesauce, and Jimmy begins an exciting story that begins with a Tyrannosaurus rex disrupting Saturday morning by crashing through the window. Ava picks up the thread, having the hungry dinosaur gobble up the family's breakfast. And so around the circle it goes, to Susan and Roberto and Rusty and the rest. Jason ends it with a citywide search for the creature on the loose (and there's a rib-tickling surprise on the final page). Schindler's ink, gouache and watercolor illustrations are smile-inducing, extending the simple story visually. As the story continues, spread by spread, the next teller appears in a wavy-outlined inset on the bottom right, while the action described plays out across the spread, with lots of sharp teeth and debris to fill the scene. Listeners might be induced to create their own collective yarns after seeing this one. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
CAT DREAMS by Ursula K. Le Guin
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2009

A tortoiseshell cat enjoys a run after a chipmunk and some leaps over the furniture, but she's ready for a nap. She settles down and goes to sleep. "Oh, how nice! It's raining mice!" She and her friends chase the dogs away with a scary Trojan cat. She sups on cream (pouring from a Grecian-inspired cat fountain) and kibble and climbs a catnip tree for a rest in a blue jay's nest. When she tumbles out of the tree in her cat dream, there's only one place that will soothe her. "I need a lap. I need her lap. / Her lap is the best, best place for a nap." The lap and the petting that follow lead inevitably to the purr. National Book Award winner Le Guin and her Catwings collaborator Schindler re-team for this peek into the dreams of cats. Easy rhyming text will be quickly memorized, but the realistic, full-bleed watercolor illustrations will keep youngsters turning the pages. A perfect fit for storytimes on cats, naps and dreams. (Picture book. 2-6)Read full book review >
TRICKING THE TALLYMAN by Jacqueline Davies
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 14, 2009

The tallyman is a census-taker, and in Davies's book, he is Phineas Bump—"heartsick, saddle-sore, and down on his luck"—and something of a clever-boots poking through the "rooty Vermont woods" in 1790 to take his count of the locals. He's been on the road too long, misses his wife and has run short of paper and ink, but he's a dutiful soul who must outfox the suspicious residents of a Vermont town to get his job done. The good citizens of Tunbridge fear the tallyman's count is all about taxes and conscription, so they scheme to deceive him. Then they learn the count is all about proportional representation in government, so they scheme to deceive him contrariwise. When they learn it is all three, they are reduced to playing an honest hand. Schindler draws this waggish, keen-witted piece of Americana with delicate colors and fine lines. All told, it is a slice of engaging history—told with a bracing comic flourish: " ‘Carp and cod!' exclaimed Mrs. Pepper…‘Cheese and chowder!' "—sandwiched between wily designs, making for extremely satisfying fare. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
COME TO THE CASTLE! by Linda Ashman
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2009

Wit meets historical accuracy in a pitch-perfect mix of laugh-out-loud text and entertaining image. When the Earl of Daftwood decides to plan a tournament, everyone from the Steward to the Gong Farmer (also known as "Privy Lord") is going to say what they think of it—and little is good. Told in rhyming monologues, the story of the tournament contains facts about life within a 13th-century English castle's walls. A knight bemoans the uncomfortable clothing he must wear: "I see little, hear nothing, itch and perspire. / I pray I don't rust before I retire." Schindler's pictures are clever odes to the illuminated manuscripts of yore. Whether he's bedecking his curlicues with a cook's questionable ingredients or turning a jester into a letter, these pictures are all worth examining closely, at times approaching Brueghelian riot. Sadly, no bibliography appears at the end, although the author's note refers to what must have been considerable research. In spite of that, this simpler version of Laura Amy Schlitz's Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! (2007), illustrated by Robert Byrd, remains an informative delight bound to find its audience. (Informational picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 1, 2009

Interspersing her narrative with verses from "Home on the Range," "Sweet Betsy from Pike," "The Old Chisholm Trail" and like cowboy chestnuts, Hopkinson retraces the early career of the greatest collector and recorder of American folk songs ever. Taking minor liberties with the historical record (and compensating with a detailed afterword), she follows him from rural Texan childhood to the halls of Harvard, and then back out onto the trail, where, with a notebook and a primitive "Ediphone," he gathered verses and performances from anyone who would sing for him. In Schindler's atmospheric illustrations a dapper young man mingles comfortably with brushy-mustached, Stetson-topped cowpokes—and sits in one scene with a colorfully clad fortuneteller—in settings that are mostly wide, outdoorsy spreads of western prairie. Capped with a fuller picture of the work of Lomax and his son Alan, as well as enticing source notes, this account can't help but broaden the insight of little dogies everywhere into the histories and meaning of these enduringly popular songs. (Picture book/biography. 7-9)Read full book review >
MONSTER MESS! by Margery Cuyler
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 5, 2008

A cheerily skewed take on the familiar monster-under-the-bed schtick. While the family is nestled all snug in their beds, a clumsy monster creeps around the house. With a head like a frog (including a dangling tongue), an impossibly long tail that curls at the end like a cinnamon bun, funny fins and countless legs ending in red feet that resemble hands, the monster looks designed by a committee. "Shhh, shhh, along the floor I crawl. / Zzzz, zzzz, there's someone down the hall." The rhythmic, minimal verse charts his slow progress through the house to his boy pal's bedroom, which he helpfully cleans, stuffing everything into the closet and spritzing air freshener about. An alarm wakens the boy, and it's playtime with the monster! Schindler's quirky and colorful watercolors play with perspective, abetted by a text that dances around the pages in different paths and sizes. Simple but sublime, best suited to the very young. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
THE CURIOUS ADVENTURES OF THE ABANDONED TOYS by Julian Fellowes
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

In a pair of cozy read-aloud tales, Doc, a worn plush bear discarded when his hospital's Children's Ward is spruced up, meets a quartet of like survivors in a dump, lends expert aid to reset a blackbird's dislocated wing and later pitches in to get a lost toy bunny back to its distraught boy. Fellowes, an award-winning screenwriter, tells the tales in an adult voice, combining sophisticated language—overhearing talk of the renovation gives Doc "intimations of mortality"—with a matter-of-fact tone, adding touches of humor (the toys take rides around town by tying themselves to the radiator grills of garbage trucks) and giving each of the toys a simple but distinct personality. Schindler's color and black-and-white scenes catch every detail with such exact delicacy that even piles of trash look fetching. Fellow author Shirley-Anne Lewis gets title-page credit for providing the "idea," but this joins a long chain of similar adventures, from The Velveteen Rabbit to Emily Jenkins's Toys Go Out (2006), illustrated by Paul Zelinsky. It should find a ready audience—of children, as well as parents—to cherish it. (Illustrated fiction. 8-10)Read full book review >
LOUDER, LILI by Gennifer Choldenko
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

Lili is so shy that her voice, when she actually says anything, is usually too soft to be heard. At recess, Lili remains in the classroom with only Lois the guinea pig for company. She is too timid to volunteer to care for Lois, so she loses the job to Rita B. Cassidy chooses Lili as a partner but turns out to be a bully. When Cassidy endangers Lois, Lili is able to yell, "Stop it!" in a voice that could be heard by "the birds in the sky and the fishes in the sea." She saves Lois, and Rita B. becomes her new partner and friend. Choldenko tells a familiar school story with humor and simplicity, using language that flows naturally and features many snappy turns of phrase. Schindler's bright, cartoon-style illustrations are just right, capturing both the actions and Lili's reactions to them, as well as incorporating many eye-catching details. A good read-aloud or read-alone that is sure to delight. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
TERRIBLE STORM by Carol Otis Hurst
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 1, 2007

Remember the blizzard of 1888? Probably not, but the narrator's two grandpas sure do. Depending on whether you ask Grandpa Walt, who loves to be around people, or Grandpa Fred, who's a bit shy, they'll both tell you it was the worst storm ever, but each for a different reason. When the unexpected storm hit, Grandpa Walt was chopping firewood and Grandpa Fred was delivering milk. The snow was so deep they had to take cover. Sociable Walt found refuge in a barn, stuck for three days with only a horse, chickens and cats. Shy Fred got trapped for three days in the White Horse Inn full of people. As they reminisce, the watercolor-and-ink illustrations add humorous nuances with historical details and personality traits. Clever formatting of the text places one line between two panels, above for Walt and below for Fred, juxtaposing each one's "survival." Kids may need to flip pages to keep the grandpas straight (a beard is key), but that won't detract from the fun. The author's note cites that the story is based on her own grandfathers' experiences. Great for sharing and storytelling. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
THE STORY OF SALT by Mark Kurlansky
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2006

The author of Cod's Tale (2001) again demonstrates a dab hand at recasting his adult work for a younger audience. Here the topic is salt, "the only rock eaten by human beings," and, as he engrossingly demonstrates, "the object of wars and revolutions" throughout recorded history and before. Between his opening disquisition on its chemical composition and a closing timeline, he explores salt's sources and methods of extraction, its worldwide economic influences from prehistoric domestication of animals to Gandhi's Salt March, its many uses as a preservative and industrial product, its culinary and even, as the source for words like "salary" and "salad," its linguistic history. Along with lucid maps and diagrams, Schindler supplies detailed, sometimes fanciful scenes to go along, finishing with a view of young folk chowing down on orders of French fries as ghostly figures from history look on. Some of Kurlansky's claims are exaggerated (the Erie and other canals were built to transport more than just salt, for instance), and there are no leads to further resources, but this salutary (in more ways than one) micro-history will have young readers lifting their shakers in tribute. (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-10)Read full book review >
THE SNOW GLOBE FAMILY by Jane O’Connor
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2006

A small and gentle foray into imagination. A mama, a papa, a boy, a girl and a baby live in a big Victorian house. On their mantel sits a lovely old snow globe, and inside it lives a tiny family of the same configuration. The tiny snow globe family wishes for a big storm—someone to shake the globe—but that has not happened for some time. The papa tells of times the dishes were knocked off the shelves and he was thrown out of the tub. In the big world, a blizzard sends the family out with their sled, but mama and baby stay inside. Baby manages via footstool and pillows to reach the top of the mantel, to tumble over with the snow globe, providing just the "storm" the snow globe family had hoped for. They go out sledding on their tiny hill, Baby's mama decides the snow is too wonderful for them to miss outside the big house and off they go, too ("Wheeeeee!"). Schindler's colored inks and gouache in a wry, slightly exaggerated style capture the Victorian setting perfectly, vivacious line and muted color making a fine winter bedtime treat. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
BOY, WERE WE WRONG ABOUT DINOSAURS! by Kathleen V. Kudlinski
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2005

A spirited text and humorously detailed line-and-color illustrations discuss the evolving nature of dinosaur research, emphasizing the ways recent discoveries have changed the ways paleontologists understand the always-fascinating creatures. Using the refrain, "Boy, were we wrong . . . !" Kudlinski introduces early thinking about the giant reptiles and then juxtaposes it with our current knowledge: For example, early drawings of dinosaurs show them dragging their tails, but the lack of tail drag marks in thousands of fossil footprints and close examination of tailbones have led scientists to conclude that dinosaurs held their tails out and used them for balance. Schindler's finely-inked illustrations use faux-antique effects to illustrate old thinking, while current theories feature colorful, full-bleed paintings, giving personality to their subjects without undue anthropomorphizing. Throughout, readers are encouraged to question received knowledge (and older library books), always acknowledging that the science keeps changing. An opening that encourages readers to laugh up their sleeves at the "ignorance" of ancient Chinese scholars on the subject of dinosaurs is an unfortunate detour into exoticism in a text that otherwise treats both readers and subject with respect and enthusiasm. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-8)Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

In this well meant (if a little overdone) tribute, the great maverick Thoreau shrugs off the scorn of Concord's bustling, consumerist townsfolk—some of whom exhibit respiratory ailments from the sooty air—and builds his cabin near Walden Pond. When he hears of plans to construct a toothpick factory next door, he fights back by inviting those same head-shakers to stand with him in the woods, and to recall the pleasures of quiet and clean air. Schindler uses a folk art-style to illustrate the fictional episode, posing the smiling, rail-thin Thoreau and his neighbors in natural ways, while creating a strong sense of time and place with period dress and buildings. Though not quite as intimate a glimpse into Thoreau's character as D.B. Johnson's Henry Hikes to Fitchburg (2000) and its sequels, this too will leave readers curious to know more about this gentle rebel. (biographical afterword) (Picture book. 7-9)Read full book review >
WHITTINGTON by Alan Armstrong
ANIMALS
Released: July 26, 2005

Into Bernie's barn, filled with castoff animals he has either actively collected or hasn't the heart to refuse, wanders Whittington the cat, an ugly bruiser of a tom who seeks community. Abby and Ben, Bernie's grandchildren, also seek refuge in the barn; they live with him because their mother is dead and they don't know where their father is. Over the course of seasons, from winter till fall, Whittington tells the story of his namesake, Dick Whittington, and his famous cat. Entwined with Whittington's storytelling is Ben's struggle to learn to read, and the commitment of both humans and animals to his success. The magic that allows Abby and Ben and the animals to talk to each other is understated and assumed, unremarkable. What is remarkable is the compelling quality of both characterization and story. Even as the youthful exploits of the long-dead Lord Mayor of London bring together friend and foe in the barn, the finely drawn characters and the small-scale but no less monumental struggle of Ben to read keep the pages turning. It's a lovely paean to the power of story and the words that carry it along. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
GRANDY THAXTER’S HELPER by Douglas Rees
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

In this variation of the folk theme in which mortals cheat death, Grandy Thaxter is a sturdy old New Englander in a solid clapboard house and Mister Death is a tall, lanky old fellow dressed in black tails and top hat. Grandy quickly sets him to work cleaning the house, scrubbing the laundry, spinning flax into linen, and cooking dinner for the many children she minds. With aching muscles and burning blisters, Mister Death is always too tired to carry off the very sturdy Grandy and finally just gives up. The pen-and-ink drawings expressively convey the smug self-assuredness of the old lady and the increasing weariness of Death, but ultimately the conflict is so one-sided as to remove any suspense for the reader. There's humor, for sure, as Grandy carefully spells out every single step required to complete the many household chores correctly. Those wanting a more gentle take on the tale will enjoy the read. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
A CONFUSED HANUKKAH by Jon Koons
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

Hanukkah is approaching, the Rabbi's out of town, and the villagers have forgotten how to celebrate, so they send Yossel to the next town to find out what the traditional observance entails. Yossel unknowingly ends up in a Christian town that's in the midst of preparing for Christmas and learns that they observe "the holiday" with tree decorating. This jars a memory as Yossel recalls the festival of lights, while the man he meets tells him it's more like the festival of presents, food, and the fat man in a velvet suit. Returning to his town, Yossel convinces everyone to prepare for Hanukkah by decorating a tree with matzo balls, dreidels, and menorahs and dressing the fat Shmuel in a blue velvet suit, "Oy, Oy, Oy." The Rabbi returns to this uncertain scene, recounts the story of the Maccabees, and reminds the villagers of the traditional Hanukkah customs as they all celebrate together. Like Eric Kimmel's The Chanukkah Tree (1988), this version attempts an unnecessary dual approach to the holiday season. Schindler's comical rendition captures the Eastern European environment; however this is needless folly even for Chelm. (Folktales. 6-9)Read full book review >
THE RUNAWAY PUMPKIN by Kevin Lewis
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2003

Lewis and Schindler transform a tale usually associated with Thanksgiving into a "thumpety bumpety thumpin' bumpin' round and roll-y" Halloween disaster-in-the-making, narrowly averted by some quick thinking and ending with a hilarious twist. Three children find a huge pumpkin at the top of a hill and cut it loose, with predictable results—but after smashing through one fence after another it comes to rest in Poppa's hastily plowed field, and everyone rolls it home with visions of Granny's pumpkin pie, bread, and soup in their heads. Schindler rolls his gigantic missile through autumn scenes done in harmonizing oranges and browns, dresses the entire family in costume, and, after Granny does indeed cook up a storm in the kitchen, places everyone around the dinner table—including the still-intact pumpkin, now a grinning jack-o'-lantern. Lewis shows an all-too-common tendency to drop or add syllables to his rhymed lines at random, but he expertly captures the rumbling drama of the pumpkin's descent, and sets up the punch line perfectly. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
THREE PEBBLES AND A SONG by Eileen Spinelli
ANIMALS
Released: Aug. 1, 2003

Unlike the rest of his family, Moses the mouse can't focus on gathering supplies in anticipation of the coming winter. Instead, he dances ("twirling and skittering"), he sings "a whistle-y song" with the wind through the dried cornstalks, and he juggles pebbles near a stream—all of which come in handy later, when the other mice profess to being bored in their snug refuge. Readers of Leo Lionni's Frederick (1967) may experience some déjà vu, but not only does Spinelli give the tale a livelier, less formal tone, Schindler, taking a cue from Beatrix Potter, clothes his delicately detailed mice warmly as they scamper about, first in an atmospherically autumnal landscape, then within a comfortably furnished tree stump. An indirect but eloquent reminder that art, too, is a staff of life. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
ONE WITCH by Laura Leuck
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2003

In jaunty rhyme, one witch gathers up a fish tail from two cats, a blackbird's claw from three scarecrows, and similarly appetizing ingredients from similarly iconic ookie-spookies, up to the spider's soup donated by ten werewolves. Why? To concoct a "gruesome stew," for her party, of course, to which she proceeds to invite each contributor in descending order—note the skeletal arms holding bat-delivered invitations from their graves. Schindler marks the festive occasion with scenes of capering, precisely detailed skeletons, vampires, Gorey-like ghosts, and similarly risky friends; young readers may be pleased—or not—to learn that they've "saved the last bowl just for . . . YOU!" The monster-ridden cast and ghoulish goulash will elicit choruses of delighted "Eeeewwwwws!" (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
SPINNING SPIDERS by Melvin Berger
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 2003

A beautifully illustrated, informative entry in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series explores the biology of spinning spiders. The text dutifully explains the distinction between insects and arachnids, eschewing scientific terminology in favor of language that will be crystal-clear to a primary-grade audience. The catching, killing, and eating of flies is described with a ghoulish relish appropriate to the audience: "Once the fly's insides have turned to mush, the spider can slurp it up." Also included is an overview of the many uses and forms of webs. Schindler's illustrations are a marvel of clarity and composition, varying perspective and picturing several different kinds of spiders in action. Berger's text, on the other hand, while informative, is for the most part lackluster. Also, the meticulous illustrations, sadly enough, are not labeled, so unless specific mention of a particular spider is made in the body of the text, the many others depicted will remain anonymous. These and other deficiencies make this offering an additional, rather than a necessary, purchase. Back matter provides a web-preserving activity and offers two Web sites for further consultation. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-8)Read full book review >
SKELETON HICCUPS by Margery Cuyler
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

Who hasn't shared the aggravation of a whole day's worth of bone-rattling hiccups? Poor Skeleton wakes up with a deadly case that he can't shake, and it's up to his friend Ghost to think of something to scare them away. Cuyler (Stop, Drop, and Roll, 2001, etc.) cleverly brings readers through the ups and downs of Skeleton's day, from shower to ball-playing. Home folk remedies (holding his breath, eating sugar) don't seem to work, but Ghost applies a new perspective startling enough to unhinge listeners and Skeleton alike. While the concept is clever, it's Schindler's (How Santa Lost His Job, 2001, etc.) paintings, done with gouache, ink, and watercolor, that carry the day, showing Skeleton's own unique problems—water pours out of his hollow eyes when he drinks it upside down, his teeth spin out of his head when he brushes them—that make a joke of the circumstances. Oversized spreads open the scene to read-aloud audiences, but hold intimate details for sharp eyes—monster slippers, sugar streaming through the hollow body. For all the hiccupping, this outing has a quiet feel not up to the standards of some of Cuyler's earlier books, but the right audience will enjoy its fun. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
HOW SANTA LOST HIS JOB by Stephen Krensky
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

Assembly-line workers are being replaced by machines—but Santa? That's just what Muckle the elf has in mind. Annoyed at Santa's last-minute changes and the inefficiency of the whole setup, he decides there must be a better way. Behind the text boxes, readers can see the incredibly detailed blueprints for Muckle's wondrous new machine, the Deliverator. In lighting speed it matches children's letters with a gift. It can travel around the world in one night, and zip up and down chimneys to make deliveries. But Clara, the mail carrier, has her doubts that the Deliverator can do everything that Santa does. After all, who will eat the milk and cookies, and who really knows the children as well as Santa? Predictably, a glitch causes the Deliverator to fail—and during the most hectic year of all. But the uncomplaining elves have learned that Christmas is not about a schedule, rather about caring, something that can't be programmed into a computer. And Santa makes a couple of changes of his own: the elves now track orders from a bank of computers in the workroom. However, his other major change—marriage to Mrs. Claus at the finale—seems not to fit in with the flow of the story. Krensky (Shooting for the Moon, p. 802, etc.) has crafted a tale with an obvious lesson, but somehow this does not detract. Rather, it highlights the importance of personal attention and the "little things" in the celebration of Christmas. This is a wonderful complement to Krensky's first Santa book, How Santa Got His Job (1998), which documents the job experiences and skills that make him perfect for the position. Schindler's (The Cod's Tale, p. 1294, etc.) drawings are masterworks of detail, from the reindeer snitching cookies in Santa's kitchen, to the steam coming from Muckle's head as he has to reprogram the Deliverator. Keep on truckin', Santa. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
THE COD’S TALE by Mark Kurlansky
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

An awesome introduction for young readers to the Atlantic codfish by the author of the bestselling adult title, Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World (1997). The readable narrative is coupled with handsome paintings of majestic codfish and often-humorous sketches of early explorers, fishermen, cooks, and historical figures. The author describes how the cod was to become: "not only the most commonly eaten fish in the Western world, but also one of the most valuable items of trade. Valued like gold or oil, cod played a central role in the history of North America and Europe." He includes information on life cycle and anatomy, enemies, where cod is found, and how it was caught, from early Viking days to the present. He describes how dried and salted cod became the staple food of the Vikings, the Basques, and other early explorers, permitting longer sea voyages. How it saved the lives of early settlers, and became an important currency in the slave trade; fueled prosperity for the 13 colonies; and was a bone of contention in the Revolutionary War. Kurlansky is a masterful storyteller with great enthusiasm for his subject, and Schindler's pictures, from serious to silly, add to the pleasure. A timeline across the bottom of the pages helps to put everything in perspective and a terrific bibliography offers a variety of other reading (and recipes) for young and old. Readers of this title will never again look at fish and chips in quite the same way. (Nonfiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
CACKLE COOK’S MONSTER STEW by Patricia Rae Wolff
ABC BOOKS
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

Wolff manages to be gross without getting nauseating in this witch's brew of ABC's. Cackle Cook is throwing together her famous stew when she discovers she is missing some key ingredients, the very stuff to make it supremely repugnant. She'll need that ancient ape's <\b>short armpit hair and that half-inch square of big brown bear<\b>. She sends her ghoulish pal Igor to the store—he hates shopping—time and again to get all the goods: "One hobgoblin's <\b>knobby nose / nine or ten iguana <\b>toes / Three large jars of jellyfish <\b>jelly / A piece of pocket from a kangaroo <\b>belly." Schindler does a fine job with the ingredients, with just the right bilious colors, and his population of witches and ogres are comfortably spooky. When Igor returns with the last of the fixings—"The hairy hump from the neck of a yak <\b>/ A dusty clump from a zombie's <\b>back" (his own)—he dances a little jig, Cackle Cook judges the stew a success ("YYUUCCKK!!" she shouted. "It's just right!"), and the doors to her world-famous restaurant are thrown open to a long line of waiting monsters. Igor first, though; he may hate shopping, but he does like eating. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
JOHNNY APPLESEED by Rosemary Benét
BIOGRAPHY
Released: July 1, 2001

Schindler (Hog Music, 2000, etc.) beautifully illustrates a poem from the Benéts' Book of Americans (1933) with spacious scenes of a cheerful, bearded, apple-cheeked wanderer, sometimes seen in youth, sometimes in old age, juggling apples and tending both gnarled fruit trees and slender saplings in sunny, sparsely settled landscapes. Shades of soft greens and rosy apple come from extraordinary use of colored pencils in details that manage to convey the spirit as well as the humor of the legend. The strongly rhythmic verses still roll out grandly—"He has no statue. / He has no tomb. / He has his apple trees / Still in bloom." And if a Benét seedling, Thomas, has to add an afterword acknowledging that a reference to Indians as "wild things" carries "overtones of a less enlightened period in history," this brief tribute still makes a stirring companion to more detailed accounts of John Chapman's history and legend, such as Steven Kellogg's Johnny Appleseed (1988) or Andrew Glass's Folks Call Me Appleseed John (1998). (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)Read full book review >
COVERED WAGONS, BUMPY TRAILS by Verla Kay
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2000

A pioneer family travels from Independence, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, in a covered wagon some time in the 19th century. The five-month journey is briefly described in rhyming couplets beginning: "Covered wagon, / Bumpy road. / Plodding oxen, / Heavy load. / Mother, Father, / Baby John, / Bouncing, jouncing, / Moving on." Along the way there are storms, mountains, deserts, and snowstorms, till at last the new homestead site is reached, where the land is cleared, and a sturdy cabin built. Not bad for five month's work. The author concludes: "Sturdy windows, / Heavy doors, / Warm and safe now, / Happy snores." The humorous, softly colored illustrations have an appealing folk quality and give a panoramic view of the landscape as they sweep across the double page. Illustrations follow the text and show the wagons moving from the green, wet prairie, up craggy, rocky paths and through parched dry deserts till they come at last to the California meadows lush with wild flowers. The illustrations are even more cheerful than the text. Travelers, says Kay, were "Weary, bleary, / Sweaty, hot," but it sure doesn't show. Upbeat and buoyant, the text and illustrations only hint at the awesome adventure, danger, or difficulty of the journey. Traveling west by covered wagon was no picnic, and this cheerful picture-book presentation tends to obscure rather than illuminate the difficulties of the historic journey west. Diane Stanley's Roughing It on the Oregon Trail (p. 722) does a better job of capturing the flavor of the journey by wagon train. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)Read full book review >
SAM’S WILD WEST CHRISTMAS by Nancy Antle
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

This easy-to-read comic adventure yarn, for all its simplicity, has real narrative momentum and a pleasing mess of puns, while Schindler's fine ink-and-watercolor illustrations lend the tale an even greater merriment. Sam, Rodeo Rosie, and their Wild West Show are headed home for Christmas. "Suddenly Sam put his hand to his ear. ‘Hark!' he said. ‘The herald angels sing,' the cowboys and cowgirls sang. ‘No! Shhh!' Sam said. ‘I hear crying.' Everyone listened. ‘That sound is sadder than a partridge without a pear tree,' Rodeo Rosie sniffed." Turns out that a train has been robbed of all its Christmas presents. While the Wild West Show stays behind to brighten the spirits of the travelers, Sam and Rodeo Rosie follow a trail of torn wrapping paper to the bad guys' hideout. And it's not just presents the outlaws have swiped but the Man in Red himself. Sam and Rodeo Rosie catch the robbers with the help of some wicked fruitcakes and some fancy lasso work with Christmas ribbon on Sam's part. The villains are jailed, the presents returned, then Sam and Rodeo Rosie help Santa drop off a few gifts, with Sam being lowered by rope down chimneys from his hot-air balloon. Best of all here is Antle's (Lost in the War, 1998, etc.) delight in language, humorously conveyed to readers, as pure an encouragement as can be to keep turning the pages and a good introduction to the pleasures of wordplay. (Easy reader. 6-8)Read full book review >
GOLD FEVER by Verla Kay
ADVENTURE
Released: Feb. 1, 1999

Kay debuts with a rollicking tale about an idealistic farmer's quest for gold and glory during the gold rush of 1849. Jasper's dreams of discovering gold lead him on a journey westward, leaving farm and family behind. However, Jasper is dismayed at the hardships he encounters while searching for the elusive metal. Albeit brief, Kay's minimalist verses, set in sing-song rhymes, convey their message with piercing clarity. "Icy water,/Wet feet, cold./Sluicing, panning,/‘Where's the gold?'/Grumpy miners,/Nuggets'small/Jasper scowling,/Fireside brawl." Increasingly disgruntled and disillusioned, Jasper has a close encounter with a rattlesnake that prompts his return home. Back in the cozy comfort of his farm, the resilient Jasper benignly waves on other aspiring miners, wishing them well. Kay realistically depicts the wild expectations that caused so many to abandon their way of life to gamble on a long shot and the often harsh conditions they encountered in California. Schindler's detailed illustrations, executed in colored pencil, provide readers with a glimpse into a forty-niner's world. As an introduction to a vital piece of American history, it's wryly humorous and unflinchingly candid. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
CLEVER CROW by Cynthia DeFelice
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 1998

From DeFelice (Willy's Silly Grandma, 1997, etc.), a rollicking, rhyming read-aloud with a clever little girl and the crow of the title. Crow loves shiny things, and steals Emma's mother's keys right off the front porch. Emma, not to be outdone, lures the bird with a silver ball, ``made of silver wrappers from/Thirty zillion sticks of gum.'' While Emma gets the keys back, Crow has the last laugh; as Emma and her mother drive off, the bird flies in through an open window to steal a pocket mirror. The colored- pencil on parchment paper illustrations are appealingly contemporary: Emma has pierced ears, jeans, sneakers, and her hair is in a scrunchy. Schindler provides nice symmetry between Crow's shiny treasures and Emma's under-the-bed box. (Picture book. 3-8) Read full book review >
HOW MANY FISH? by Caron Lee Cohen
ANIMALS
Released: Feb. 28, 1998

This My First I Can Read title is a rhythmic puzzle for the youngest of readers. A school of six fish swimming happily in the bay come up against the six feet belonging to three children, one of them armed with a red pail. An energetic and repetitive refrain will be comfortable for emerging readers; the visual clues supplied by Schindler's bold illustrations also build math skills. A gentle drama about an odd fish out—it is captured in the pail but escapes when the small pail-wielder's attention is claimed elsewhere—will appeal to children and boost their confidence in taking on more difficult reading material. (Fiction. 4-6) Read full book review >
BETCHA! by Stuart J. Murphy
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 30, 1997

Playing with numbers—that's what this book from Murphy (The Best Vacation Ever, 1997, etc.) is all about. Part of the MathStart series, this entry introduces the art of estimation. Two boys are engaged in the project, one estimating, the other counting. Their ultimate goal is to try to figure out how many jelly beans are in a big glass jar and win tickets to a sporting event, but the storyline bows deeply to the emphasis on estimation as a process. As the boys head downtown to the toy store and the jelly beans, they estimate the number of people on the bus, the numbers of cars in a traffic jam, the total prices of goods in a window, all the while demonstrating both rounding off and how to count a small number and apply that to the great, uncounted whole through the use of multiplication, fractions, and simple geometry. Murphy's success is in beveling the sharp, unforgiving reputation of math and in showing how numbers can be toyed with. Readers may come away with the sense that they are not slaves to numbers—it's the other way around. (further reading) (Picture book. 6-9) Read full book review >
BAT IN THE DINING ROOM by Crescent Dragonwagon
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

``A bat flew into the dining room,/at the hotel restaurant by the lake./Mistake.'' Dragonwagon (Alligators and Others All Year Long, 1993, etc.) pens a lilting, loosely rhymed text about a bat who finds itself in an alien indoor environment, the human pandemonium that ensues, and the observant little girl who imagines how the bat must feel. She sensibly opens the emergency exit door to let it fly free, ``a moving breeze of joy against the sky.'' Schindler's detailed colored pencil and watercolor illustrations contrast the peace of a summer night—moonlight shining on the lake and on the brown-shingled walls of a grand old lake resort—with the brightly lit frenzy inside, where hysterical diners scramble to escape the bat. Only Melissa holds still and keeps her wits about her. Her identifying with the frightened bat will draw readers in, and her pleasure at its escape provides a satisfying conclusion. A surprising, lovely book. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
TUNDRA MOUSE by Megan McDonald
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

McDonald (see review above) and Schindler have created an uncommon blend of folkways and natural history that underscores a gracefully told, lovingly illustrated Christmas story. In an Alaskan variant of the town mouse/country mouse tale, a wild mousereferred to as Tundra Mousefinds herself in the unfamiliar environment of a human house, where she is welcomed by the resident House Mouse. Busy arranging a nest made from Christmas tinsel stolen from the family's tree, the mice are driven back out onto the tundra by a burst water pipetheir cheek pouches still full of silver threads. Weeks later out on the tundra, the children of the household find a litter of baby mice curled up in a nest made of tinsel. These events are part of a story about ``last Christmas'' told by a Yup'ik girl, Elena, to her younger sister, Lissie, as they gather berries. The soft colored-pencil illustrations portray the mice and the landscapes with almost botanical precision, and also employ symbols based on traditional Yup'ik ``storyknife'' drawingsfigures scratched into mud or snow with the tip of a knife as the story proceeds. Younger listeners may need help with Lissie's interruptions story; older ones may want more information on tundra micespecifically, what becomes of the mice when their burrows are invaded or crushed by humans, as they are here. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
A TREE IS GROWING by Arthur Dorros
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 1997

A verdant testimony to the noble plants that shade our lawns and line our streets. Dorros (Isla, 1995, etc.) goes back to the basic botany of mostly temperate-zone trees, presenting leaves, roots, bark, flowers, and fruit in simple language. He also explains processes such as photosynthesis, the movement of xylem and phloem, and the tree's ``ring system'' of charting its own age. Using sidebars to his advantage, Dorros sets forth interesting details—e.g., how a baobab stores water—without interrupting the flow of the main text. The science isn't new, but Schindler's illustrations portray it so vigorously that readers will almost hear leaves rustling overhead. Textures abound, from scratchy-looking bark to the smooth round bottoms of acorns. Readers will be exploring woods, sidewalks, and yards- -anyplace there are trees—with new eyes. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-8) Read full book review >
THE GHOST OF NICHOLAS GREEBE by Tony Johnston
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

When old Nicholas Greebe dies on a wintry day, his shivering family buries him hastily in a shallow grave. Shortly thereafter, a pooch unearths one of Greebe's bones and launches it, through a series of coincidences, on an epic journey to distant lands. For a hundred years Greebe's ghost haunts his old home, unable to rest until the bone is returned. It is, and the story ends. The story begins promisingly, and the telling has attitude: slightly formal, mostly tongue-in-cheek. But Johnston (Three Little Bikers, 1994, etc.) disappoints readers because her threadbare characters don't deliver. The ghost is not fearsome because, based on the family's shoddy treatment of Greebe's remains, his outrage is justifiable. The events that lead to the bone's return are random, rather than ironic, and never compelling. Schindler's best pen-and-ink efforts, suggestive of Edward Gorey in New England mode, put some meat on these bones, but this sputtering tale wouldn't spook Ichabod Crane. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 30, 1996

Madame LaGrande is fashion's latest slave in pre-Revolutionary Paris. When she hears about the new pompadour style, she rushes out to get herself the biggest and best to flaunt at the opera that night. Her ceiling-scraping monstrosity soon attracts pigeons, cats, poodles, and even the King himself in a suitably histrionic finale at the Grand Opera. While the colors are sometimes dull, the comic, almost Seussian style of illustration is perfectly suited to the atmosphere. So is Fleming's tendency toward over-alliteration, as in ``Three calico cats crouching on a window ledge saw the two plump pigeons pecking in Madame's pompadour.'' The story's length, theme, and complexity may not recommend it to younger readers, but it will reward those school-age children just beginning to struggle to keep up with the latest fads. (Picture book. 3-8) Read full book review >
IF YOU SHOULD HEAR A HONEY GUIDE by April Pulley Sayre
ANIMALS
Released: Aug. 1, 1995

With outstanding care and restraint, Sayre (Grasslands, 1994, not reviewed, etc.) introduces this unusual bird and tells the story of symbiosis in a spare, poetic text that is also exciting for reading aloud. Readers are told to follow the honey guide, a small brown bird from Kenya, and it will lead them to a tree of wild bees and their honey. The bird cannot always get into a honey supply without help, so uses a distinctive cry to attract the attention of the honey badger or a human. After leading them to the tree or other source, it waits for the badger to scatter honeycomb while it eats, or for the human to leave some honeycomb in an accessible spot. Readers meet several other animals of East Africa including elephants, cobras, zebras, lions, and crocodiles. Schindler's realistic renderings in soft brown, beige, and green complement the text. Double-page spreads show the vast openness of the wild bush country, and paintings of mottled and moss-covered tree trunks are rich in detail. An attractive, surprising, and useful volume. (Picture book/nonfiction 5-9) Read full book review >
WONDERFUL ALEXANDER AND THE CATWINGS by Ursula K. Le Guin
ADVENTURE
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

The endearing winged cats who escaped the city to be cared for by two reliable country children (Catwings, 1988, etc.) make a third appearance in this tale of a self-important kitten from nearby who discovers that his true worth is not what he has supposed. Alexander—"the biggest, the strongest, and the loudest"—has never noticed that his sisters are "quite tired of him," but when he sets out to explore the world he soon learns that his cocky preconceptions don't serve. The cow who says "Moo" instead of "Mew" is unconcerned when he corrects her; speeding trucks and rude dogs threaten; when he bolts up a tree, he can't climb down and his doting parents don't turn up to help. Enter youngest Catwing Jane, nearly mute because of an early trauma (her only words are "Me" and "Hate"), to take Alexander to her home—where his parents and "Owner" turn out to be glad to let him stay. After Alexander cajoles and hectors Jane into confronting her fears and describing them with her first real words, the Catwings agree: Alexander is "wonderful." Brief as it is, this is a deftly crafted bildungsroman. The book's small format and Schindler's delicate illustrations add to the enchantment. A first chapter book to charm both newly independent readers and their elders. (Fiction. 5-10) Read full book review >
ANIMALS
Released: June 1, 1994

Another offbeat tall tale from the authors of Charlie Malarkey and the Belly-Button Machine (1990); William Kennedy is also the Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of Ironweed and other adult fiction. Barnaby, the moose in question—appealingly long- faced in Schindler's exuberant depiction—is an unwilling circus star, captive of moose-trainer Bungaroo. Barnaby can only sing with the help of a polka-dot tie, which ends up in Charlie's possession. The tie enables Charlie's monkey, Max, to sing—and also, when hidden (from bad-guy Bungaroo) in the freezer, causes a quartet of fish sticks to burst into harmony. In the end, Bungaroo gets his comeuppance, and Charlie sets Barnaby free; but this inevitable outcome is second to the wordplay and whimsical shenanigans along the way, much enhanced by the authors' crisp delivery. Better-than-average slapstick; Schindler's adroit caricatures suit the playful tone. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
POETRY
Released: March 1, 1994

A veteran author and illustrator bring their common interest in nature to a beautiful anthology of high-quality poetry: 91 poems from such as Roethke, Sandburg, Ciardi, Merriam, Millay, and Zolotow and from Leila and Tanya Dreskin (ages 5 and 7), plus several haiku and Native American songs. Though the table of contents offers a logical seasonal arrangement, many poems don't fit their categories: e.g., only a few selections in the ``Planting Green'' section have anything to do with cultivation, while ``Maple Sweet'' surely doesn't belong among the fall poems. Schindler alternates two styles in his watercolors: one detailed enough for a field guide, the other a more generic rendering in which humans, in particular, are almost cartoonish. Juxtaposed, as they frequently are, the contrast can be jarring. Still, a useful and attractive volume, informed by a sensibility similar to the one that inspired Anne Harvey's Shades of Green (1992), but visually more lavish and accessible to younger children. Indexes of authors, titles, and first lines; acknowledgements are adequate, but a full list of sources would have been more useful. Crediting editors and designers is a nice touch. (Poetry. 7+) Read full book review >
I LOVE MY BUZZARD by Tres Seymour
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 1994

An effervescent, kid-appealing parody of a popular folk song (``Yonder Tree''): An impish-looking boy details the delights of his bizarre pets (``I love my warthog and my warthog loves me./He blows his round nose on my sleeve./He borrows my toothpaste, my brush, and my floss./My mom has asked him to leave.'') Finally, Mom is so plagued by a menagerie that also features a bat, an iguana, and slugs that she leaves, so the boy packs up his pets with ``a week's worth of food in a sack'' and settles on the stoop to hope for her return. Schindler adds considerably to the merriment with artfully detailed depictions of the irrepressible collector, his righteously indignant mom, and the realistic yet delightfully expressive creatures he's harboring. Pure fun. (Picture book. 4-9) Read full book review >
GREAT-AUNT IDA AND HER GREAT DANE, DOC by Leah Komaiko
ANIMALS
Released: Feb. 1, 1994

Skateboarding down the block for his weekly visit with his elderly aunt, the peppy, freckled kid, sweatband holding his squared-off red hair bolt upright, dolefully anticipates the usual tedium while Aunt Ida stops to chat with friends during their walk with her Great Dane. ``If Doc and me could have our own way/We'd get up and GO, MAN, GO!'' While he endures the sedate pace, the boy imagines what he and the dog could do if they escaped: ``rope cattle on the prairie,'' perform in a circus... But when an awesome-looking pack of strays threatens, it's Aund Ida who has the gumption to shout, `` `SHOOOOO!' And they do!'' Komaiko's perky verse, an unusually felicitous marriage of story and playful use of language keeps the story skipping along at a pace precluding any boredom in the audience, while Schindler's witty, dynamic illustrations are right in step. The huge, bumptious dog, sturdy kid, and jowly old lady (who has a twinkle in her eye from the start) make a likable trio. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
ODDS ON OLIVER by Constance C. Greene
ADVENTURE
Released: March 1, 1993

Greene's first foray into humorous fiction for a younger audience than her popular series about Al and Isabelle. Since preschool, Oliver has had one ambition—to be a hero. Now he's finished fourth grade and is still trying, but misses his chances in one misadventure after another until, on the Fourth of July, his dog chokes on a chicken bone and he's able to save her with the Heimlich maneuver. The book as a whole is sitcom-like—slick and fast-paced, with lots of action and little depth, and without the serious touches that distinguished A Girl Called Al (1969)—while Oliver lacks Al's memorable quirkiness. A graceless caricature of a fat person, U. Crumm, the town clerk, who literally has to be hoisted off a restaurant floor after consuming six helpings of chili and seven of pie, and then slipping on an ice cube, seems unfortunate. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 7-10) Read full book review >
BIG PUMPKIN by Erica Silverman
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 30, 1992

In a nicely cadenced variant on the cumulative tale about a turnip, a witch is vainly trying to tug a pumpkin off its vine in order to bake a pie. A number of other Halloween figures (ghost, vampire, mummy) happen by to help; they sneer at the little bat who suggests that they all pull together, but then take his advice. They share the witch's pie, and afterward she plants one of the pumpkin seeds. In Schindler's deft, colorful illustrations, these familiar figures take a traditional, popular form, just scary enough to be fun. A sure-fire addition to the Halloween shelf. (Picture book. 3-7) Read full book review >
WHOO-OO IS IT? by Megan McDonald
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 1992

Just before dark, a nesting barn owl hears a faint sound, familiar yet mysterious. As night closes in, sources are suggested in a series of questions: Was it ``a mouse, scurrying...? Tch, tch, tch, tch...'' or, as the owl goes out to explore beneath a full moon, ``the whhoosh of a dragonfly's wings...?'' At daybreak, she discovers the true cause—her owlets are hatching. The mystery may be a contrivance, but it works well as a narrative device to link nighttime experiences. McDonald's poetic text is wonderfully full of words that evoke the senses- -especially sounds: deftly mimicked voices (``Churrr, churrr,'' says the raccoon, while Father Owl cries, ``Kwa-kwa-hoooo. Hu, Hu, Hu'') and a wealth of other onomatopoeic words. Children will delight in chiming in, especially at the end when the sounds are reiterated, summarizing the owl's search but now understood as noises made by the hatching babies. Schindler's dark illustrations are outstanding. Almost drained of color, many of the double spreads are almost entirely black, with shapes barely suggested by delicate highlights, a starry purple sky showing through a crack in the barn roof, or the outline of a raccoon's mask. The effect is daringly dramatic and surprisingly legible from at least a short distance—which is fortunate, since the text lends itself so well to group interaction. An unusual, splendidly handsome book. For primary grades, try pairing it with Walter de la Mare's haunting poem, ``Some One.'' (Picture book. 2-8) Read full book review >
NOT THE PIANO, MRS. MEDLEY! by Evan Levine
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 1991

Levine's first book is a tall tale with a role reversal guaranteed to amuse: Max's grandma, Mrs. Medley, takes half the day to get to the beach—she keeps going home for more stuff. Rain gear, pillows, Monopoly, a radio with extra batteries— everything, it turns out, except their bathing suits. Once there, Grandma realizes she doesn't need any of it; what she and Max really enjoy are paddling, sand castles, and the sound of the waves. Schindler deftly extends the humor with his overdressed, irrepressible Mrs. Medley and long-suffering Max. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
CATWINGS by S.D. Schindler
Released: Sept. 1, 1988

A charming, if insubstantial, little story about the setting out into the world of four alley kittens who were born with wings—perhaps "their father was a fly-by-night" Once they begin to fly, their mother (Mrs. Jane Tabby)—because she realizes that the neighborhood is "terrible. . .and getting worse," and because she is making her own plans with Mr. Tom Jones, who has proposed—sends them out to seek their fortune. They discover a lovely rural area; and after an adventure with an owl, they settle down where two children are wise enough to feed them without threatening their independence—thus obviating the danger of the kittens' upsetting the natural balance by taking unfair advantage of their wings. Although there is nothing extraordinary here in either theme or event, the wit and precision with which the story is told give it considerable appeal. Schindler's exquisitely detailed drawings, warmed with the softest of added color, make a perfect accompaniment to what should serve as a satisfying young reader or as a read-aloud. Read full book review >