Books by Sue Hellard

Released: March 18, 2014

"Exuberant and humorous, this pretty book has style and, yes, substance. (Picture book. 2-6)"
Who is prettiest: Princess Allie, Princess Mellie or Princess Libby? Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 28, 2010

From a promising beginning—Jane Austen's best friend Jenny sneaks out of their austere boarding school at midnight to post a letter to the budding author's mother warning of Jane's terrible fever—this effort winds down to pages of syrupy-sweet, diary-format narrative. After being rescued by Jane's parents, Jenny and Jane, 16 and 15, move to the Austen home, site of a lively boys' school. Jenny dreams of the dashing sea captain who befriended her on her night-time foray, attends balls and helps Jane teach a form of sign language to her disabled brother, who is being cared for in the village. Jenny tells all in her "secret diary"—although why it is secret is never clear. When, predictably, the captain shows up at a ball, she wonders if he shares her amorous infatuation and if love can overcome minor obstacles set in their way. Although clearly well researched and embellished with ample historical detail, this vanilla-flavored tale lacks tension. Knowledgeable readers will long for Austen's own writing instead. (Historical romance. 11 & up)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2010

In this rollicking sequel to Princesses Are Not Quitters! (2002), Lum's trio of perseverant princesses discover that being royal does not make one perfect. Princesses Allie, Libby and Mellie excel at their favorite pastimes, which are baking, building and gardening, respectively. On the eve of their grand Summer Party for the children of their populace, Mellie impetuously decides they should switch their tasks. Unfortunately, their mantra—"princesses are good at everything"—leads to mayhem, as they attack their new chores with more enthusiasm than skill. The author gracefully leads readers to the conclusion that princesses—and others—succeed best when they do what they enjoy. Hellard's ornate watercolors burgeon with humorous details; her vivid paintings depict billowing gowns and towering hairdos that cheekily represent each princess's hobby. This sprightly tale will enchant aspiring princesses. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 2008

Young Madeleine is the best chef at the Squealing Pig, run by her uncle, Monsieur Lard, a greedy bully who turns every recipe into a greasy disaster. When Madeleine comes across Madame Pamplemousse's mysterious shop Edibles—cool, musty-smelling and full of such unusual supplies as salt-cured raptor tails and pâté of North Atlantic sea serpent with green peppercorn mustard—she unwittingly finds her place in the world, a place where cheeses seem to sigh and sausages whisper in "dry, garlicky voices." Her culinary discoveries stir up a delicious sensation, and Monsieur Lard gets his just deserts before the culinary world of Paris. Kingfisher's first novel is a sensory delight, with well-paced prose and the playful language of Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket, the magic of J.K. Rowling, Julia Child's passion for French cuisine and the rhythms of Ludwig Bemelmans's own story of a Parisian girl named Madeline. Hellard's black-and-white line drawings help to keep this concoction lighter than air: Like a good soufflé, it puffs over the top but holds together for a delectable treat. (Fantasy. 8-12)Read full book review >
WHERE’S MY HUG? by James Mayhew
Released: Feb. 1, 2008

When mom wants a hug from her primary-schooler son, Jake, he rolls his eyes. "Everyone will think I'm a baby." Later, when it's HE who needs a hug, mom explains that since he didn't want hers, she gave it to Dad, who gave it to the cat, who gave it to a witch, etc., until the coveted hug was given to a gigantic red dragon, from whom Jake must retrieve it. At bedtime, mom asks for a hug once again, but after having gone to such lengths to recover one, Jake is reluctant to let it go. Mom solves this quandary by giving Jake an extra hug, which he returns with sweet affection. Hellard's watercolor-and-pen pictures spread to fill pages with expanding make-believe action, and children will enjoy spotting the playthings—Jake's storybook wizard and toy knight, for example—that become part of the larger story. With its opportunity to chant the refrain "Where's my hug?," Mayhew's text will work equally well in group settings or up close for one-on-one reading. Pair this with Else Holmelund Minarik's A Kiss for Little Bear for a hugs-and-kisses storytime. (Picture book. 2-7)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2006

Milo, a captivating British mouse, propels this warmly reassuring tale about a common childhood fear. Troubled by nightmares starring a horrible monster with huge claws, Milo seeks help from family members who, in turn, suggest warm milk, fresh air and exercise. When these remedies fail to bring relief, Milo confronts his fears by entering the scary closet under the stairs where he finds nothing but harmless linens. This gentle story incorporates repetition and is simple yet affecting, offering a surprise in the revelation of the monster's true identity. Using a confection of contrasting colors and a mixture of floral, geometric and linear patterns, Hellard creates a cozy English household of china and chintz. Her imaginatively detailed watercolor paintings demonstrate a fine manipulation of light and shadow, showcasing a mouse-eye view of the world where colorful paperclips form a jump rope and Milo's rodent father rows a sponge boat with a toothbrush oar. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
TAKE A KISS TO SCHOOL by Angela McAllister
Released: July 1, 2006

McAllister's heartwarming story follows Digby's second day of school, to which the young wombat is reluctant to return, as he fears he will forget everything learned on his first day. His reassuring mother cleverly tucks a dozen kisses into his pocket so that he may remove them whenever needed. And it works. With each kiss removed throughout the day, Digby feels comforted and braver to the point of being able to help another fearful classmate. On the third day, Digby feels secure enough to go to school without a pocket full of kisses. Enhanced by Hellard's watercolor illustrations, school activities are exemplified throughout, and the autumn season is evident everywhere. Rich with details readers will enjoy studying, it includes a table full of acorns, dandelions, worms, flies, fish, apples, grapes, radishes and seeds for the animal's lunches. A sweet take on an old theme. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2003

This modest, rhymed charmer from Andreae ought to find a market with a good number of vainglorious grandfathers. Here, Granddad has the tyke with him for the day. Every dribble, drool, splatter, and yelp invokes images of a brilliant future for the child from Granddad. Beat a pot with a spoon and visions of a symphony appear to the aged one; shoving a sandwich into the video player displays the boy's potential as a scientist. Of a tantrum in the supermarket: "His voice is so angelic / That he'll really suit the stage." Of a conversation the boy is having with a dog while sitting on the potty: "And although it sounds unlikely, / If you heard my grandson speak, / You'd probably elect him / As the president next week." The freewheeling pen-and-wash artwork gives vent to the anarchy that surrounds the oblivious grandfather. If it's pride that ignites these dreams, who would call it a mortal sin? Who would not rather call it affection? (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2003

Three pampered princesses find out what life is like for the overworked servants in their "huge silver palace by the sea," in this ode to the inherent worth of a hard day's work. Lum uses a light, humorous approach and fairytale language to convey her gentle social commentary, providing lots of snappy dialogue and long lists of chores that the princesses must accomplish when they switch places with three servant girls as a lark. The princesses have a collective paradigm shift in attitude and proclaim kinder, gentler rules for the servant staff. They continue to pitch in with the work as they find they enjoy the fruits of their own labor. Hellard's delightful watercolor-and-ink illustrations feature 18th-century-style princesses and a palace reminiscent of Versailles. The princesses are particularly amusing, with imaginative, fancy gowns and immense wigs that provide resting spots for passing farmyard fowl and a stray spider. The illustrations are full of visual humor and tiny jokes that extend the humor of the story. Little modern-day princesses who don't like to clean their own rooms just might learn a thing or three from these practical princesses. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 1994

British Coats's thoroughly adorable bedtime counting rhyme follows the antics of babies of all kinds. Young readers will delight in hearing how alligators, hippopotamuses, bunnies, pandas, ducks, kitties, pigs, owls, koalas, and teddies eat their suppers, make their messes, are bathed, dried off, tickled by older siblings, hear bedtime stories, and are finally tucked into bed by their loving—and exhausted—parents. While the emphasis on numbers is not overplayed, nevertheless the counting aspect forms an integral and important part of the book's charm, serving to unify the themes and actions. With its lilting rhythms and whimsical cartoon-like illustrations, this is one story that is sure to be asked for again and again, not only at bedtime. (Picture book. 6 mos.- 5 yrs.) Read full book review >