Books by Stacey Schuett

WINTER CANDLE by Jeron Ashford
Released: Nov. 11, 2014

"The story's acknowledged tidiness facilitates its reassuring theme of neighborly sharing and assistance and makes it easily adaptable to a wide variety of settings. (Picture book. 5-8)"
Light symbolizes hope, and festivals incorporating light and candles are found in many cultures, especially during winter. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 22, 2013

"This refreshingly particular Hanukkah celebration effectively encourages readers to gain a new understanding of 'miracle.' (author's note) (Picture book. 5-7)"
In Alaska, Hanukkah can have its own special festival of lights when conditions are just right to witness the aurora borealis, or northern lights. Read full book review >
OUT OF THIS WORLD by Amy E. Sklansky
Released: Feb. 14, 2012

"Likely to appeal to a younger audience than Douglas Florian's Comets, Stars, the Moon and Mars (2007), this would be a satisfactory, if rather mundane, companion. (Informational picture book/poetry. 5-9)"
Each of these 20 short poems for young readers is accompanied by information on the geography of space and its human exploration, exemplified by the Apollo 11 mission. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2011

Through the voice of 10-year-old Bessie in 1896 in Berkeley, Calif., readers glimpse a moment in the very long fight for women's suffrage in the United States. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2008

When the British threaten their town during the War of 1812, two patriotic sisters outwit the marauding redcoats in this true story. In September of 1814, the British have recently invaded Washington and burned the White House. Rebecca and Abbie Bates live with their family in a house next to the Scituate Light in Scituate, Mass., where, as lighthouse keeper, their father Simeon prevents approaching ships from running aground. Only two week ago, British sailors attacked Scituate harbor, burning boats and looting supplies. When Simeon goes away on a short trip, he leaves 21-year-old Rebecca and 17-year-old Abbie behind to watch the lighthouse. While Simeon's away, the British return, eager to attack the town again, but the vigilant Bates sisters see the invading sailors and cleverly use their Yankee ingenuity to trick the British and save Scituate. Relying on a dramatic use of light and color, Schuett's illustrations intensify the suspense in this little-known historical incident with real-life heroines whose quick-witted defense of their town is sure to inspire. (historical note) (Picture book. 6-10) Read full book review >
OH, THEODORE! by Susan Katz
Released: Sept. 17, 2007

A boy, settling for the one pet his mom will allow, narrates the gentle, mutual bonding between him and guinea pig Theodore. Short poems, accessible to primary-grade readers, detail the pet's slow acclimation to household life—despite the thuds, slams and phone rings that rattle it so. As the Latino narrator gains Theodore's trust by gently inuring him to being handled and petted, Katz deftly reveals how caring for a pet helps children become empathetic and capable. Theodore's temporary disappearance—he's found hiding in the spaghetti pot—adds a soupçon of drama. Schuett's warm-toned paintings, accented with blues and greens, charmingly extend the text; slightly cartoonish depictions exude child appeal. Both author and illustrator include accurate details about guinea-pig care. Whether readers tend pets or only pine for them, this collaboration is sure to satisfy. A nice addition for classrooms and libraries, and an easy handsell for bookstores. (Picture book/poetry. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2007

In this amusing variation on the traditional tortoise and the hare tale, Turkey tries on Turtle's shell after accidentally cracking and then repairing it. Then, " ‘Here comes Rabbit,' said the Little Bitty Five. / ‘Rabbit wants to race, and he won't be denied.' " Turkey, hidden in Turtle's shell, accepts the challenge of the bullying Rabbit, who is mean-looking and larger-than-life. The look on Rabbit's face when Turkey pushes out his long neck, then his long skinny legs, and finally his wings, is not to be missed. Turkey circles the lake before Rabbit even gets started, and puts Rabbit to shame. The story concludes, "Rabbit never challenged Turtle again. That's why you never see them racing today." The bold and colorful illustrations are a good match for this lively telling that, with Rabbit's breezy rap-like dialogue, is a joy to read aloud. Based on a traditional Choctaw story, this telling wins the race. Includes notes on sources. (Picture book/folktale. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 12, 2006

Charlie and his Grandpap's special project is the watermelon patch, and Charlie declares they should grow a "wishing watermelon" in the patch. The pair works together to plant the watermelon seeds, which Charlie has been keeping safe in his shirt pocket. They work the seeds into the sandy soil, water it and then take a well-deserved break. Their daily routine then includes a regular check of the growing plants, in between trips to their secret fishing spot and swimming hole and games of basketball and cards. Meanwhile, Grandpap has been trying to guess what Charlie's wish will be and finally, he and Charlie find the perfect melon, which Charlie picks. Later at the house, he sticks his hand in the middle of the watermelon, pulls out a handful of seeds for planting next year and makes his wish. The story (and the ritual) ends with a juicy bite. Moser works in some nice horticultural details, and Schuett's radiant pictures, in acrylic and gouache, are as warm and friendly as the story. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
PAPA’S LATKES by Michelle Edwards
Released: Oct. 1, 2004

The recent death of Selma and Dora's Mama clouds the happy, celebratory mood of Chanukah. Papa, who is cheerfully determined to carry on—with the girls' doubting help—will make Mama's latkes, the highlight of each year's holiday. Each step in the recipe and in getting the house ready with Mama's polished menorah, embroidered tablecloth, and special blue plates reminds Selma of how much she misses Mama and how delicious her latkes smelled and tasted. Sitting down to Papa's lumpy mud pie-looking version at a table set for only three, brings Selma to tears. Consoling hugs and words from her father and younger sister help her continue the tradition of lighting the menorah, celebrating as Mama would have expected. Illustrations in tones of murky green, blue, and tan gouache accentuate the mournful mood and expressions of the characters in this melancholy story set with a 1940's-style background. While the holiday is one of remembrance, mixed themes of death, grief, and festive preparation make this painful story more suitable for the section on death and dying than for the holiday shelf. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

Smitten by chess in kindergarten, Alex is enthusiastic but not a prodigy, so when he runs up against "moldy old Uncle Hooya" and gets his clock cleaned, he doesn't give a second thought to turning his attention to other pursuits all the way to third grade, where football results in enough turf-eating for him to reconsider chess. By now his confreres are savvy players; clock-cleaning becomes Alex's lot, except for a few players who are obviously there for the fun—exemplars. Alex hangs in at tournament time, experiencing a flow-state moment when the pieces talk to him: Go ahead, they say, be reckless and enjoy yourself. This is about fun. A distraction allows him to smoke Uncle Hooya's nephew, but by now Alex knows there is more to the world than the chessboard. Wong's terrific telling (full of humor and clever asides) offers a fine example of enjoying chess in the non-obsessive mode—gads, there are always sports and pizza to attend to—set against the rich colors and interesting perspectives of Schuett's art. Back matter includes some universal hints to guide all those Alex's out there. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: June 8, 2004

Schuett's art really lets Raffi's 1982 version of the traditional spiritual shine. Lowering the overall lighting level but kicking up the color intensity, she portrays a troupe of young thespians painting backdrops and choosing costumes in preparation for a performance, while a smaller child shyly looks on, sometimes hesitantly lending a hand. As the curtain opens, Schuett first cuts to an audience crowded with rapturous faces, then to the stage, where figures from Lady Liberty to a ghost with a jack-o'-lantern proffer diverse sources of light—and that child has become, literally, the Star of the show. Younger viewers may need a moment to figure out what happened, as only her hands and face are visible, and all of the children look pretty much alike. Still, the otherwise-easy-to-follow plot, and simple, repeating lyrics, makes this a natural for sharing with the preschool set. Lyrics recapped, with musical arrangement, at the end. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
PRAIRIE FRIENDS by Nancy Smiler Levinson
Released: March 1, 2003

Betsy and her family live on the Nebraska prairie in this idyllic story of friendship. She is lonely because there are no girls her age to play with. When her father tells her about a new family, she hopes for a new friend. When she meets Mr. Fitzroy, her hopes are raised to hear he has a daughter, Emmeline, just about Betsy's age. Betsy makes Emmeline a cornhusk doll, but is disappointed by her unenthusiastic response to the gift. Turns out that Emmeline is from St. Paul, and misses her porcelain dolls and all the toys she had to sell to move to Nebraska. The two girls get lost while berry-picking, and have to rely on Betsy's understanding of the prairie, including her knowledge that sandhill cranes will lead them to the creek near home. The adventure solidifies their friendship in an all's-well-that-ends-well conclusion. Much is left from the text: exactly when does this story take place? Why do they live so far from neighbors? What are the families doing in Nebraska? How do the families react to the girls' disappearance? An author's note fills in some of the blanks, but the information seems incomplete. Levinson mentions the differences between dugouts and soddies, but the illustrations and story have little to do with housing. No mention is made of the sandhill cranes, though most young readers will know little of their habits. For a more poignant and informative historical fiction about prairie life, friendship, and loneliness, refer to Eve Bunting's Dandelions. (Easy reader. 5-8)Read full book review >
AMERICA IS... by Louise Borden
Released: May 1, 2002

You can practically hear the music swell behind Borden's celebration of the US, a land where, between "rugged mountains with caps of snow" and "the swamps and bayous of the Deep South," people "rush to and from work," "proud tribes . . . live in peace with the earth and the sky," and "American farmers grow food that feeds families all over the world." Using lambent acrylics, Schuett (Are Trees Alive?, p. 419, etc.) echoes the text's high tone with scenes of rippling flags, multicultural groups of proud, prosperous-looking citizens, maps in jewel-like colors, Fourth of July fireworks, and sweeping landscapes. It's a stirring tribute, though the glow of idealism washes out any hint that this country might not be paradise on Earth for all of its residents. Woody Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land, illustrated by Kathy Jakobsen (1998), is at least as inspirational while, with its suggestion that we may still be a few steps away from Utopia, providing readers with a clearer-eyed view. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
A TREE IS A PLANT by Clyde Robert Bulla
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

Glowing new illustrations featuring a multiracial cast of children adorn this classic "Let's Read and Find Out Science" primer, first published in 1960. Using plain language and short sentences, Bulla follows an apple tree from seed to maturity, introducing readers to leaves, flowers, branches, roots, and fruits—all of which are depicted in thickly brushed but recognizable detail in Schuett's (Night Lights, 2000, etc.) outdoorsy scenes. It's a staid but still useful introduction, and budding botanists will "Find Out" more from the two experiments and a short reading list at the end. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-7)Read full book review >
PIRATES by C. Drew Lamm
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

An older sister's literary torment of her brother backfires in this spooky tale of pirates. Ellery has chosen a library book that she's sure will frighten young Max, who would rather read about cats than pirates. She maximizes the scare factor by waiting until dark to begin reading aloud with a flashlight. The text alternates between the italicized words of the library book and the action in the den, where the siblings are curled up in their sleeping bags. While Max tries to downplay each thing in the book, Ellery's interpretations are downright evil. Where Max sees the Spanish moss hanging from the trees as green tinsel, Ellery tells him that it's pirate's hair. The pelicans aren't stretching to catch raindrops in their bills—"They scream silent screams of pirate victims." But gradually Ellery's stories catch up with her. Will Max rescue her when the pirates step out of the book with their eye patches and hooks? Heh, heh, heh. Then she can go to the library and get that book about cats. Lamm (Prog Frince: A Mixed-Up Tale, 1999, etc.) has created two very creative children with wonderful imaginations. Schuett's (Fat Chance Thanksgiving, p. 1215, etc.) oil paintings masterfully show the two children (and their black cat) growing more and more frightened. These are interspersed with pirate scenes that, although spooky, also show a kind of dark humor. In a beach scene, crabs watch the pirate ship with eyes that poke out of the sand on stalks, and on the pirates' island, a skeleton keeps watch over the X that marks the spot. This is a tale best told at Halloween, but right any time a good scare is in order. (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

The only thing left from the fire that destroyed their home is Carla's copy of A Pilgrim Thanksgiving, and as they move into their new apartment, Carla uses her book as an inspiration for the best Thanksgiving celebration ever. The apartments in her new building are small, so it seems that her dreams of a giant holiday feast are hopeless. Even her mother is sure that the idea's impossible, giving her usual answer: "Fat chance," but Carla is determined to find a way. She enlists the help of her classmate and neighbor Julio, and together they convince the building manager and other neighbors to celebrate the holiday together in the lobby. On the day of the feast, the table is brimming with all kinds of dishes, from the traditional holiday fare to arroz con pollo and Irish stew. Soft acrylic and gouache illustrations add life to this new take on sharing the traditions of Thanksgiving. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
ARE TREES ALIVE by Debbie S. Miller
Released: April 1, 2001

Responding to her daughter's question about how trees breathe without noses, the author celebrates the common features of trees and humans in this multicultural picture book more successful for its art than its science. She compares tree roots to human feet: "Roots anchor a tree, like your feet help you stand." And: "A crown is the top of a tree, like your head is at the top of your body. The branches and leaves of a large crown give you lots of shade on a hot summer day." While the extended metaphor is rather muddled, she succeeds in conveying a warm feeling for trees and the environment. In an afterword, she invites readers to send her a digital picture of a tree to post on her Web site, and concludes with thumbprint pictures and facts about trees and animals seen in the illustrations. The artist uses acrylic paint and gouache to great effect, presenting double-page layouts showing trees and children around the world. Especially appealing are a tropical layout with bananas, cocoa pods, butterfly, bat, boa constrictor, and a smiling face; and an island scene with a sandy beach, seabirds, sprouting coconut, and a young family. End papers show where in the world trees from different pages are found. A feel-good story from the tree-hugging illustration on the front cover to the cozy family picnic at the end. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
NIGHT LIGHTS by Steven Schnur
Released: April 7, 2000

In rhyming text, a little girl counts the lights in her room, in her house, in the surrounding neighborhood, and even in the night sky before she goes to bed. Each night, Melinda counts the lights that she can actually see—one seashell nightlight, five TV sets across the street—and the ones she can only imagine—nine pairs of raccoon eyes, 18 ships going out to sea, and finally, one million stars in the sky. (The text, though, concentrates on the numbers one to twenty). Some of the chosen lights seem to be reaching or overly arbitrary ("FIFTY pond-reflected moons") or even hard to actually count on the page ("ONE HUNDRED lightning bars"). Some are downright cryptic ("TEN flashlights sweep the sky"), shows ten people shining flashlights into the night sky, making the reader wonder what, exactly, those people are doing out there. The palette of the illustrations is muted and even a little somber, as befits a book about nighttime and the contrast of light and dark, but some scenes are striking, using deeper blues and greens. Schnur (Spring: An Alphabet Acrostic, 1999, etc.) has written a perfectly fine concept book, and while it certainly is not breaking any new ground, it will be a welcome addition to the bedtime bookshelf. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

Kimmy is to spend a week with her Chippewa grandmother while her parents look for a new home in Chicago. Grandmother lives in a cabin in the north woods, and Kimmy enjoys spending time with her, but a week away from her parents sounds like a long time. When bad dreams cause Kimmy to wake up screaming, Grandmother knows just what to do; she and Kimmy craft a dreamcatcher of bent wood, sinew, feathers, and beads, while Grandmother tells Kimmy the legend of the first dreamcatcher. The dreamcatcher—or the story—works; Kimmy wakes up happy and refreshed. The love shared by the child and her grandmother is palpable, reflected in the old woman's reassuring presence, her words, actions, and spirit. Schuett's acrylic and gouache illustrations show that warmth in expressive faces, and in the curve of Grandmother's arm and the angle of her head as she holds Kimmy. Directions for making a dreamcatcher round out this satisfying offering. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1998

In 1893, when she was 34, Wellesley English professor Katharine Lee Bates took a train trip from Boston to Colorado Springs to teach summer school. She kept a diary, as she had since she was nine, and wrote down odds and ends of observation and poetry when she could. She saw Niagara Falls, stopped off to visit a friend and see the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where she marveled at Mr. Ferris's Wheel and the gleaming white buildings. While in Colorado, she briefly glimpsed the top of Pike's Peak, and the beginning of poem began to form. Combined with her other jottings, it would become "America the Beautiful," set to a hymn by Samuel Ward. Using original sources, Younger makes a living character out of Bates, whose quirks and full-bodied charm gracefully flow from the letters and diary excerpts. Schuett's illustrations, with their slightly exaggerated forms and saturated colors, capture not only the "fruited plains" and "alabaster cities" but vistas of Bates's hometown of Falmouth, and intimate scenes of her cozy bedside table and the parlor where she welcomed guests. A wonderful historical endnote will be appreciated by those who think they are too old for picture books, or those working on school reports. Put this on display near Barbara Cooney's Miss Rumphius (1982) and Michael Bedard's Emily (1992). (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10) Read full book review >
FOREST by Laura Godwin
Released: April 30, 1998

PLB 0-06-056667-8 This heartwarming I Can Read provides a deft balance between the basic wording required for beginning readers and a realistic scenario about a girl's awakening to nature. One day while planting potatoes on her parent's farm, Jeannie hears a cry coming from the forest. She and her mother investigate and discover a newborn fawn. When night falls and it becomes apparent that the fawn has been abandoned, Jeannie and her parents take it home. To her disappointment, Jeannie learns from her parents that this abandoned baby will go to a place that cares for other wild animals. Godwin's uncomplicated sentences and engaging plot will encourage even the uncertain readers. Coupled with Schuett's warm and softly drawn illustrations'some of the finest she's done—this gentle tale delights. (Picture book. 5-9) Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 28, 1998

For this Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science entry, originally published in 1975, Schuett brings an artistic spirit to Branley's facts about the origins of light: A child perched in a treehouse discovers light from a luminous jar of fireflies; candles on a birthday cake illustrate the concept of light coming from sources that are hot. Within a text that is somewhat repetitive, Branley offers elementary explanation of properties of light: reflective light, speed of light, and what happens inside an electric light bulb. Sunlight, candlelight, flashlight, campfire, lanterns, and stars are discussed. The mention of simple experiments, e.g., placing a white plate in a dark room, provides hands-on opportunities for very young learners. A snug atmosphere and palette are reminiscent of some scenes in Schuett's own Somewhere in the World Right Now (1996, not reviewed). (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-8) Read full book review >
FLASHLIGHT by Betsy James
Released: Nov. 1, 1997

While staying overnight at Grandpa's, young Marie is scared once the lights are out: ``Mom and Dad are far away, in the bedroom down the hall.'' She is nervous on the fold-out couch in the living room. Grandpa hears her, and provides a flashlight. Marie experiments. She flicks it on and off, comparing the spotlight to the light of day. She finds that moths love her light, and feels she can protect her sleeping sister from the darkness and the unknown. Her confidence grows till she declares herself queen of the night world, but her fears return, and she must call Grandpa one more time before she whispers, ``Don't be scared, Tibby. I've got a flashlight.'' It is a very familiar scenario, although James (Mary Ann, 1994, etc.) adequately captures the different moods and deliberations of Marie as her self-confidence grows. Schuett has an impossible task: capturing on a static page the flickering of the flashlight and the looming shadows in the room. One inspired spread shows ``whining midges, bumbling June bugs'' clinging to a screen, but many scenes repeat Marie's wide-eyed fear and illumination of homely corners of the apartment. (Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 30, 1996

For readers younger than the audience for Creech's other novels (Absolutely Normal Chaos, 1995, etc.), an entertaining story with modest aspirations. Dennis, whose father recently died, is visited by the ghost of Uncle Arvie, who wants Dennis to perform three tasks for him. As the result of a stroke Uncle Arvie suffered while he was alive, he can only communicate in a system of nonsense words—``yin'' for yes, ``pepperoni'' as the name of Dennis's father (Uncle Arvie's brother), ``Heartfoot'' for Uncle Arvie's wife, etc.—that will tax readers as it leads Dennis, eventually, to a lost letter, lost painting, and buried treasure for his aunt. This featherweight fantasy is mildly amusing, but those who have experienced the death of a parent may be pained by Dennis's hope, portrayed as a perfectly reasonable wish, that his father's ghost will visit him soon. Black-and-white chapter decorations further lighten the fare. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
BEGINNINGS by Virginia Kroll
Released: March 1, 1994

In warmly glowing illustrations and dialogue that exudes familial affection, sketches of six differently composed families. Each begins with a child's question—``Tell me, Mommy, about how I began,'' or, ``Daddy, when I was first born, you were just my Uncle Joe, right?''—leading into what's obviously a comfortable reiteration of a familiar tale: how Ruben ``grew inside, giving me a basketball belly...[and when] you came right out of me...Daddy and I sputtered and sparkled with joy''; how Katherine Grace came from Korea when her birth mother couldn't care for her; how Mark's single mother, before she died, asked her brother to care for her baby; how Olivia's single mom and Habib's parents arranged to adopt babies yet to be born; and how Nicole, who uses a wheelchair, was adopted into a large family at the age of six. Kroll's upbeat, realistic text and Schuett's vibrant acrylic and pastel art combine for a joyous take on the diversity of the contemporary family. (Picture book. 4-9) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

`` the morningrise melt/across rooftops/and splash against windows./There's a man on the street corner/who plays golden saxophone./Listen to the music,/dance in the sun...'' For the usual colors and more (black, white, copper, gray), Spinelli's imaginative text, sampling all the senses (the smell of green onions, the taste of cilantro), occasions Schuett's attractive full-bleed paintings, featuring the city scenes described in lush symphonies of color, each with a thematic hue. Not a first color book, but excellent for those ready to consider the range suggested by a word like silver, which is depicted—not literally but to be imagined, on the last spread—in the stars, in a ``shimmery dress,'' or in ``silver tinkling party sounds.'' Nice. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1993

The first half of this depiction of a child's intensity in imagining an upcoming visit to a dying uncle (a former pilot) is a fantasy beginning with ``If she were a skywriter'' and going on to detail the girl's piloting a plane to write a message across a beautiful sunset: ``Good-bye—I love you—I'll see you in my dreams.'' Then, still in a poignant conditional tense, Jukes describes what may really happen (``her mother would say, `He might not even know you're there' ''); though only ``a little kid,'' the child resolves to brave the uncertainties because she would know she was there, and she'd know what to say. In her handsome, richly expressive paintings, Schuett realizes both the fantasy and the imagined reality in saturated sunset colors that grow deeply shadowed in the realistic conclusion. Expressing with unusual strength the complexity a child's thoughts may have at such a time, a deeply felt book with potential for comforting or for opening communication. (Picture book. 5-10) Read full book review >