Books by Simon Mendez

PREHISTORIC ANCESTORS OF MODERN ANIMALS by Matthew Rake
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2017

"Armchair thrills aplenty for Anthropocene readers. (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)"
Artful digital collage makes it easy to imagine memorable modern encounters with a hippo-eating snake and other extinct creatures. Read full book review >
CREEPY, CRAWLY CREATURES by Matthew Rake
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2015

"Browsers' delights, but definitely not for the squeamish. (Nonfiction. 8-10)"
Ten of nature's little horrors, presented in a gallery of close-up photo portraits with all-too-detailed commentary. Read full book review >
MAMA, WHY? by Karma Wilson
ANIMALS
Released: March 22, 2011

A lullaby featuring a polar bear mother and cub joins the legions of other tales of young ones asking their mothers the familiar—why? "When the moon sails high in the Artic sky, / Polar cub asks, ‘Mama, why?' / Mama answers, ‘Moon floats up there / to say good night to polar bears. / He glides above to shine sweet dreams / and sends them down on silver beams.'" Mama adds, "When the moon sends dreams of princes and queens, / he turns wondrous stories into dreams." While the sleepy polar cub continues to ask "why" in response to each of his mother's lyrical explanations, the mixed-media illustrations imbue a dreamy quality to the spare text. Amid the misty aura, the bears are almost photographically realistic, especially their fur texture. Mendez sprinkles stars liberally about his spreads, their luster adding to the silvery sheen of the moon against the dark Arctic night, as if channeling Thomas Kinkade. As Mama's explanations grow ever more fanciful, he incorporates fanciful imagery from the standard (pirate ships, royal coaches) to refreshingly original (bears and a trio of seals put together in the night sky). The overall effect is soothing, affectionate, precious and cozy—practically guaranteed to lull little ones to sleep. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
ON THIS SPECIAL NIGHT by Claire Freedman
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2009

A group of farm animals is drawn together by an unusually bright star shining over a stable in their neighborhood in this sentimental Nativity story. The narrative focuses on a gray kitten who is tenderly cared for by his mother in their home in a barn. They follow the other animals to the stable under the star, and as a group they enter and stand before the straw-filled manger in the final spread. The kitten describes his great happiness at this special baby, but unfortunately the baby is not shown in the illustration, which may leave readers confused and dissatisfied. Though Mendez's large-format illustrations are appealing and the simple story is accessible to preschoolers, the ending demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the needs of this age group, who need to see to believe. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
I LOVE YOU, SLEEPYHEAD by Claire Freedman
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 2008

The tender reassurance of a mother's affecting presence at bedtime is a universally appreciated theme (hence its ubiquity), here handsomely rendered by Mendez in fuzzy-edged full-page paintings of animal families, accompanied by a gentle, sometimes lyrical, sometimes imbalanced rhyme. "Look, little child, / as the night is unfurled, / The animals are going to bed / all around the world." The sleepy-eyed fawn feels safe by her mother, and yawning lion cubs snuggle up to a watchful lioness. Waddling ducklings huddle, little bear cuddles, while mother otter cradles baby "in the dappled moonlight." Young owls, a baby penguin, rabbits, monkeys, a panda and whale cub all feel close and safe as each, in turn, is kissed and told to "Sleep, my child, sleep, / ‘neath the moon's silver light. / I love you, sleepyhead, / sweet dreams—goodnight!" A visual lullaby of love and peace sadly hampered by the limping scansion. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
LITTLE BEAR AND THE WISHING TREE by Norbert Landa
ANIMALS
Released: June 1, 2007

A British import, this gentle but didactic story offers a lesson about sharing, caring and the watchfulness of moms. Bertie Bear does not want to share his car with Baby Bear. "It's mine. And, he'll break it," he tells his mother, and dashes outside to his favorite tree, vowing to stay there all night. He gets hungry, but pancakes appear. He gets cold, but a blanket turns up. It gets dark, but somehow there's a lantern. Alert children will notice among the softly dappled and pastel-toned illustrations that Mommy Bear has been making sure that Bertie has all he needs while sulking in his tree. Finally, of course, Bertie wants to tell his mother and sibling about his "pancake-blanket-lantern tree," so he comes back inside to a big hug and a knowing smile from Mommy Bear. Pretty insubstantial, but definitely pretty. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >