Books by Shutta Crum

MOUSELING'S WORDS by Shutta Crum
CHILDREN'S
Released: Dec. 5, 2017

"Encouraging, lovely words. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Mouseling's family lives in a nest filled with words gleaned from restaurant menus, labels, signs, and packaging. Read full book review >
WILLIAM AND THE WITCH'S RIDDLE by Shutta Crum
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 13, 2016

"An exciting, neatly crafted adventure. (Fantasy. 8-12)"
There is more to the tale of "Sleeping Beauty" than has been told through the centuries. Read full book review >
UH-OH! by Shutta Crum
by Shutta Crum, illustrated by Patrice Barton
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 14, 2015

"Though there are as many 'Uh-oh' books out there as there are fishies in the sea, this petite charmer is a fine addition to the beach-time shelf. (Picture book. 2-5)"
Aside from the ubiquitous "NO!" few toddler phrases are more beloved than the expansively useful "Uh-oh!" Read full book review >
DOZENS OF COUSINS by Shutta Crum
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 2, 2013

"An ebullient celebration of family. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Reminiscent of Cynthia Rylant and Stephen Gammell's Caldecott Honor book, The Relatives Came (1993), Crum and Catrow's collaboration delivers a spirited, loving depiction of extended familial bonds. Read full book review >
MINE! by Shutta Crum
Kirkus Star
by Shutta Crum, illustrated by Patrice Barton
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 14, 2011

"This charming, animated episode will elicit giggles and demands of 'read it again!' (Picture book. 2-5)"
What toddler hasn't experienced the frustration of trying to retrieve toys from a baby sibling or the family dog with a shouted "MINE!"? Read full book review >
THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN by Shutta Crum
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 13, 2010

A teenage knight sets out to rescue a princess kidnapped by a dragon and discovers that compromise will (sometimes) solve more problems than violence. So eager is Crum to make this worthy point, however, that she's neglected to embed it in a tale that has much to offer beyond trite story elements and scenes more described than experienced. Stout heart beating in a pipsqueak body, Thomas rises speedily from leatherworker's son to Knight of the Realm, then borrows a donkey to chase after the dragon who has seized the aging King's only daughter. Along the way, Thomas loses his sword, donkey and much of his clothing, reaching the dragon's lair to discover that Princess Eleanor was taken to be nanny to a gang of cute-as-puppies dragon hatchlings. Being the eldest of ten siblings, Thomas expertly lands a hand—and as courage, honesty and courtesy are his only remaining "weapons," the dragonlings' huge mom obligingly limits herself to the same for their climactic competition. Fans of Gerald Morris's similar tales of knightly morality will find this one disappointingly thin. (Fantasy. 10-12)Read full book review >
THUNDER-BOOMER! by Shutta Crum
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 15, 2009

A little girl's lazy summer day quickly turns soggy when a violent thunderstorm drenches their family farm. Scurrying to shelter, they tear laundry from the clothesline and coop their fussing chickens along the way. With unrelenting ferocity, rain pours in and hail pounds down as her father frets over the likely damage. After the thunder-boomer subsides, the daughter receives an unlikely surprise when her favorite hen leads her to an orphaned kitten. Vivid imagery and Thompson's innovative mixed-media art that incorporates textual sound effects naturally reflect the weather's dramatic ebb and flow. The child's engaging first-person voice propels the account of the storm. "Gusting rain pelts the roof. The maple's branches brush and wump against the walls." The sky's rumble is reflected in dynamic phrases lettered against the dark storm clouds. Watercolor, gouache, pastels and crayons smoothly combine to depict the outburst's unyielding power; colored splashes speckle the muddy mess. Powerful lines and thick, swaying strokes vary shading with dramatic emphasis. Intermittent collage patches subtly enhance the textured scenes, providing a wildly successful sanctuary from this soaking storm. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
A FAMILY FOR OLD MILL FARM by Shutta Crum
ANIMALS
Released: May 21, 2007

Two enthusiastic realtors offer different spins on the same dilapidated, but lovely rural property as their clients search for the perfect home. While a fast-talking human realtor in red coat and high heels extols the virtues of Breezy Lake Lodge, Dry River Ranch, Rocky Point Lighthouse, Mountain Peek Perch, Briarwood Cabin and Prairie Place Park to a human family, a raccoon realtor in trench coat and bowtie urges families of finches, ducks, cats, rabbits, foxes and deer to settle down on Old Mill Farm. The human realtor strikes out with every inappropriate property she shows, but raccoon's clients find cozy Old Mill Farm the "perfect" venue to raise their babies. And when the human realtor finally takes her prospective buyers to see homey Old Mill Farm, they, too, pronounce it "perfect." This lighthearted real-estate review rendered in verse text and amusing watercolor and digital-media illustrations eventually unites human and animal buyers in the pastoral perfection of Old Mill Farm. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
THE BRAVEST OF THE BRAVE by Shutta Crum
ANIMALS
Released: Jan. 11, 2005

A little skunk tromps through the deep, dark woods thinking brave thoughts to steel himself against (imagined) dangers. First he encounters one masked robber (a raccoon), then two howling ghosts (owls) and on up to the number six—when his family arrives. They take him to a party where he tells his tale seven times to all his woodland friends, the erstwhile spooky folk. After a dance with eight fireflies and nine big hugs, he sacks out under ten watchful stars. It might take practice to get through Crum's alliterative, rhymed text while reading aloud, but audiences—be they storytime or bedtime—will enjoy tiny skunk's bold story. Some might be slightly confused since the woodland friends never look menacing. Even in shadow the porcupines are too cute to be thought of as witches, and the flying squirrels are none too piratical. Bowen's pudgy, bead-eyed critters could be considered at odds with the text, but this makes the whole package more useful for explaining away irrational fears. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
MY MOUNTAIN SONG by Shutta Crum
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 24, 2004

Pleasant but bland watercolors don't provide enough nuance for this double-themed plot. Brenda Gail is spending the summer on her grandparents' mountain farm. Beloved Gran Pap sings a tune one morning, prompting a conversation about how everyone who's born in the mountains has their own "mountain song" made up of their favorite memories like a quilt. Brenda Gail wants to work on figuring out her own mountain song, but frustration at cousin Melvin makes her throw rocks at him—accidentally hitting and injuring Big Ma's favorite egg-laying hen. The hen recovers, but Brenda Gail's guilt and punishment overshadow the mountain song idea and turn the story moralistic. Text length and complexity, especially about the abstract and intriguing mountain song, are out of proportion with the pictures, which don't merit more than a quick look. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
SPITTING IMAGE by Shutta Crum
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 21, 2003

Twelve-year-old Jessie can't decide which is worse, having no father or one that's no good. Secrets and strangers are few in her small town of Baylor, Kentucky, until Miss Woodruff, a VISTA volunteer, arrives in the summer of 1967, changing the lives of Jessie, her friend Robert, and his brother, Baby Blue, and their families. When Miss Woodruff says government help is available for medical needs and schooling, Jessie plans to raise $20 to get Robert new glasses. When two photographers need a guide to show them all the people and places of local color, Jessie earns ten dollars. But her plan backfires when a photo of dirty, barefoot Baby Blue sleeping on Cooch, their dog, appears in a national paper, and everyone is embarrassed at the way they're portrayed. Backwoods, small-town flavor is peppered with distinct characters and Jessie's spirit and determination drive the plot and theme of fathers. The dilemma is believably resolved with both emotional pain and gain as issues of bigotry, hatred, moonshiners, and religious snake-handling thread through the story. Her cover portrait will draw readers; her voice will intrigue them. (Fiction. 9-13)Read full book review >
THE HOUSE IN THE MEADOW by Shutta Crum
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2003

Utilizing the device of the familiar rhyme "Over in the Meadow," this new reconstruction features all the kinds of workers needed to build a house. A couple gets married and what's next? A house, of course. "Over in the meadow, with a bucket big and fine, / shoveled Charlie with a backhoe and strong diggers 9<\b>. / ‘Dig!' said Charlie. ‘We dig,' said the 9<\b>. / So they dug and dumped dirt with a bucket big and fine." Then counting down with 8 masons, 7 carpenters, 6 well drillers, 5 roofers, 4 plumbers, 3 electricians, 2 painters, and 1 inspector; finally a housewarming party and the couple beams with their own new addition: a baby. The cut-paper pictures are attractive and clearly demonstrate each phase. The rhymes could have been nailed down a bit tighter as some phrasing is a bit clumsy. The numbers in bold type will help kids with the countdown and the story might familiarize preschoolers with kinds of equipment and different procedures that are involved. This could have worked without the poem device as there is little else available in a picture-book format for this young audience other than Byron Barton's Building a House (1990), but the counting is fun and will give the audience a chance to chime in. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
FOX AND FLUFF by Shutta Crum
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

Nurture overcomes nature when a tough-talking fox and a newly hatched chick cross paths. Discovering that he can't eat anything that calls him "Papa," Fox looks for a meal elsewhere—only to find little Fluff stubbornly following along, leaving Fox's usual prey rolling on the ground in laughter. At last, rationalizing that Fluff needs to be with his own kind, Fox drops the cuddly chick off at the henhouse, but Fluff has picked up some fox-like habits, and after terrorizing peeping age-mates and full-grown hens alike, he's ejected—setting the stage for a happy reunion. Fox, in a sleeveless T-shirt and jeans, projects a suitably bachelor-ish air in Bendall-Brunello's (Mouse, Mole, and the Falling Star, p. 800, etc.) sketchy rural scenes, but Fluff seems to suffer from arrested development, as he's still clad in yellow down when seen at the conclusion, teaching a class of forest denizens in Fox's all-vegetarian school. Still, though no replacement for Lynn Reiser's Surprise Family (1994), this too will nudge readers toward the idea that outer form is not the most important element in familial relationships. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
WHO TOOK MY HAIRY TOE? by Shutta Crum
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

This folktale has been a favorite for many storytellers and Crum, a storyteller herself, provides a smooth and lively retelling that will send shivers down the listener's spine. Old Tar Pockets is a truly greedy man who steals warm, soft tar from a neighbor's bucket and sticks it in his pocket as it is the only thing he has to carry it back home. He also digs up "sweet taters" for supper—but in the process he finds a big, hairy toe. He sticks the toe in the same pocket as the tar, and it sticks tight. That night, he hears a voice crying, "WHO TOOK MY HAIRY TOE?" so he crawls under the quilt to escape, but the voice keeps asking the question. At last, he answers, begging the beast to take it, but, since it is stuck in his pocket, the beast carries Old Tar Pockets away. The tale ends with the folk saying, " ‘Pay that no nevermind! It's just Old Tar Pockets getting his due.' I say, ‘Just as long as what's in your pocket is yours . . . I wouldn't worry about it.' " Illustrations begin with bright and sunny rural landscapes, but soon become somber, dark, and scary as the telling gets progressively scarier. The beast is suitably ghostly until the last two spreads, where he is depicted as huge and furry as he carts Tar Pockets off. An author's note cites sources for the tale and the variants, which include the British "Teeny Tiny Bone" and the Midwestern "Tailipoo." (Folktale. 5-8)Read full book review >