Books by Simms Taback

DINOSAURS by Simms Taback
Released: April 1, 2012

"All of the dinos, even T. Rex, sport friendly smiles that will undoubtedly be mirrored on the faces of any toddler in visual range. (Board book. 2-4)"
From the late, great Taback, a half-dozen burly dinos on sturdy foldout squares. Read full book review >
Released: June 30, 2011

"Share with kids before and after camp—newbies will be astonished at how typical Michael's experience is; seasoned campers (and their parents) will laugh all the way through. (Picture book. 7-12)"
A reluctant camper gradually adjusts over the course of the summer, which is communicated entirely in postcards and letters between him and his father. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2010

A wee (4" X 4") trim contains this partially successful introduction to farm animals and their young. Chickens, pigs, ducks, goats and more are all presented in the author's trademark naïve line-and-color style against mostly white backgrounds with just enough scenery to provide context. This is, regrettably, not one of his stronger efforts. The ducklings' outstretched wings look rather like spiny reptilian sails, and both owl and owlet look downright angry. Moreover, the author misses some opportunities with his vocabulary, using gender-specific language for the "hen" and the "cow" but eschewing it in the case of the sow, the nanny goat and the ewe. Possibly even more troubling for zoological sticklers is the usage of "bunny" for kit. Taback's other spring 2010 books, Zoom (ISBN: 978-1-60905-007-8) and 4 5 6 (ISBN: 978-1-60905-006-1), are both superior. (Board book. 1-2) Read full book review >
COLORS by Simms Taback
by Simms Taback, illustrated by Simms Taback
Released: Sept. 1, 2009

Arrayed within a baby's hand-sized trim are the usual suspects of any beginning concept book—red, yellow, blue, orange and so on—along with a few oddballs. Done in the Caldecott Medalist's distinctive style, a fish swims in an aqua sea, a boy plays in crimson pants, a lime green crayon waits for use and tan work boots regard lavender sneakers from across the gutter. Each object or set of objects is boldly drawn in ink, the color in question the only hue against the white background. While crimson may not occur to adults as a critical concept for a baby, why not? Taback challenges them to use rich vocabulary from the get-go, and good for him. Equally diminutive companion volumes are 1-2-3 (ISBN: 978-1-934706-89-3) and Animals (ISBN: 978-1-934706-87-9). (Ages 6-18 mos.)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2009

Following the same format as Simms Taback's Safari Animals (2008), the author/illustrator celebrates the animals that make their homes in the city. The clever design offers children a tantalizing glimpse of one-fourth of an animal along with a clue as to its identity. The right-hand page then unfolds upward to reveal another fourth of the picture and an additional clue. Unfolding this page to the left reveals the entire animal and the answer in a poster-sized illustration. The city dwellers include a squirrel, a dog, a cat, a police horse, a pigeon and a mouse. Bold colors, clean lines and simple details suit the youngest listeners, who will be pleased with their deductive skills as they guess the animals' identities before the final unfolding. The heavy cardstock should withstand many readings—good thing, as this one is sure to be a favorite among young patrons. (Picture book. 2-5) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

As the mouthful of a title indicates, the only subjects covered are supposed to be about space, snakes or bugs, though the riddles sometimes stretch these boundaries. The jacket copy says the riddles "will make readers laugh—or groan," but unfortunately such riddles as "Why is a cloud like Santa Claus? / Because it holds the rain, dear!" don't do much of either, and aren't particularly spacey, snakey or buggy, to boot. Luckily Taback's vibrant, colorful illustrations combine the right amount of smart and silly. The insects are wonderfully buggy, with hairy legs aplenty, and the sneaky snakes all have perfect poker faces. This visual wit saves the somewhat random, ho-hum collection. There are some highlights, however, such as, "What do little rattlesnakes like best in school? / Hisssss-tory!" or, "What did the mosquito say when she got a stomachache? / It must have been someone I ate!" Maybe die-hard riddle fans will eat it up, and it's fun for the eye, but otherwise not one to run to. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
I MISS YOU EVERY DAY by Simms Taback
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

Taback's trademark illustrations bring to life the adventure of a young New Jersey girl who mails herself across the country. Along the way, youngsters will subtly learn the workings of the postal system as they follow her vivid green high-top sneakers. Emily Ann misses someone she loves very much. So much, in fact, that she wraps and decorates herself as a present, gets in a box and ships herself off to California, where she finds comfort in the simple routines of childhood: dinner, a bath, a treat and stories at bedtime. Taback's vibrant colors and humorous details will delight young children. Gentle rhyming couplets add to the emotion of the simple story, and the lack of punctuation suits Emily Ann's impulsiveness. While visual clues at the end point to a father as the missed loved one, the tale is open-ended enough to suit many long-distance relationships. This will likely open the door for a conversation about how they can keep in touch with loved ones who are far away. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

If you sat Webster, Aesop and Sholem Aleichem around a rickety table and served them some chicken soup with or without the rice, you might achieve something as delightful as Taback's old world Yiddish storytelling-cum-definitions-cum-morals, all learned from his zayda (grandfather). These short but very wise vignettes come out of a world of poverty imbued with spiritual richness and a strong dose of practicality. From sick chickens to torn umbrellas, from quests for the meaning of life, to schlemiels (fools) dumping soup onto the laps of schlimazels (unlucky ones), the stories are gems for reading and telling. Taback's signature style of colorful and zany illustrations is delightful. As he says: "A suit of clothing is as good as the tailor." In this case, the author/artist has stitched together a very fine suite of stories. (Folktale. 4-10)Read full book review >
BEACH PARTY! by Harriet Ziefert
Released: April 1, 2005

This play rhyme in board book form invites young listeners to sashay like a menagerie of marine life, each one with its own verb: "Can you walk like a penguin? FLIP-FLAP-FLAP! / Slide like a slithering seal? SLIP-SLAP-SLAP!" Taback depicts the animals in characteristic cartoon style, placing them against a clear blue backdrop and all heading, as it turns out, for a swim. A colorful way to get audiences not quite up to the Method exercises in Jean Marzollo's Pretend You're a Cat, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (1990), off their duffs to "Walk . . . Slither . . . Dash . . . " "Dance . . . Scoot . . . Splash!" (Board book. 1-5)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2004

Caldecott Medal-winner Taback wields a strong black line and vibrating color on each of these pages, where an object sits on a plain white background. The four sections—playthings, clothing, food, and animals—appeal to the deepest interests of the toddler set. Each page has but one word (or, very occasionally, a phrase like "pail and shovel" or "peanut butter and jelly") and its image. There's no forgetting that Taback is an artist. Probably no real teddy bear ever wore such a bow tie with his striped pants and backwards baseball cap, and no real child ever wore a shirt of such delirious black and orange plaid. But no matter, the eye-popping colors only serve to identify the object—hot-pink pockets on the turquoise jeans, yellow, green, and red keys on a blue chain, a positively psychedelic red tomato. The only misstep is the telephone, a black number with a dial and a cord that children may not recognize at all. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2002

Caldecott Medalist and Honoree Taback (Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, 1999, etc.) has outdone himself with deeply colorful, intricately detailed and witty mixed-media illustrations of each figure in this familiar cumulative tale: cheese, rat, cat, dog, cow, maid, man, judge, rooster, and newly added artist. The fun starts with the endpapers, inventively printed with illustrations of houses accompanied by real-estate ads. Each subsequent spread includes clever extras like labels indicating how smelly various cheeses are, pictures of different breeds of cats (some real, some imaginary—like Felix, of cartoon fame) and humorous descriptions of their temperaments, and a particularly hilarious cow with its parts noted: "tail," "loin," "chuck," "Big Mac." The hand-drawn, frenetic typeface in colors contrasting with the background adds even more energy to the retelling, which is straightforward and traditional until the very end. The back cover is a spoof of an advertisement for tools "Recommended by Jack" and lists punny, whimsical names for the tools. An author's note mentions general origins of the rhyme and explains who the mystery artist is; it turns out to be Randolph Caldecott himself, "who first had drawn a picture of the farmer. . . ." Adults in the know will enjoy pointing out his identity to children, but the joke will be lost on those not familiar with the history of children's literature. (Picture book. 4+)Read full book review >
Released: May 18, 1998

In a lighthearted look at the immigrant experience, Ziefert retells a cumulative 19th-century American poem that describes a cheerful man who comes to the US, buys a farm, sets up house, and makes a life. The verses are catchy and fun: With each page, the farmer explains what he has taken on, and what he names it. "I called my horse/I'm-the-boss!/I called my plow/Don't- know-how!/And I called my farm/Muscle-in-my-arm!" Shack, cow, wife, and son also show up, with the son taking over the last verse by naming his duck, mother, and father. Taback's bold, bright illustrations portray the charming farmer in a series of mishaps that add fun and meaning to the verse. Antique ads, photos, ticket stubs, newspaper clipping, and stamps pasted into the art augment the period of history in a grand story about a brave generation who won't soon be forgotten. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

A die-cut hole approach to an old favorite that offers a view of the old lady's stomach and its expanding bestiary. The text has the look of a ransom note (a touch the devoured creatures might appreciate), but the jaunty colors—set skipping by a judicious use of black—keep the dark side of the poem at bay. Those accustomed to the streamlined version of this ditty won't know what to make of the comments scattered throughout the pages, little asides quipped by animals not yet swallowed; these rhyme with the ``perhaps she'll die'' line of the poem. Fortunately, these additions can be easily ignored or inflated according to taste, and full concentration given to the poem itself and the wild, eye-catching artwork: It is good fun to watch the old lady bulge and bloat, and the sheer corniness of the verse continues to be deeply gratifying. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1995

A rollicking sweetheart of a yarn about teamwork, in western dress, part of this publisher's Easy-to-Read line. A traveling band of entertainers floats down from the sky to bring a little excitement to a quiet frontier town and come face to face with some ornery bandits. Men and women work together to successfully save the town in a book that moves swiftly and smoothly to its free-spirited climax. Taback's scenes are joyous, fun, and never too busy. They work well with the text and focus on the clearly described events, helping new readers along the comprehension trail. The art includes typical tones of the old West and a variety of lively purples and greens adding to the carnivalesque atmosphere. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >