Books by Susan Condie Lamb

PRAIRIE PRIMER A TO Z by Caroline Stutson
ABC BOOKS
Released: Oct. 1, 1996

Stutson's rhyming alphabet book works its way over the prairie landscape. The time is early this century; the setting is a homesteader's handsome manse. These are drowsy days, the chores none too taxing, every neighbor and creature an amiable soul. ``I two Irons growing hot/breakfast porridge in the pot/When bowls are cleared away . . ./J a game of Jacks we play.'' Some will say that Stutson (By the Light of the Halloween Moon, 1993) has stripped the homesteader's life of its drama and heroism—a denaturalization process attended by Lamb's misty, sentimental illustrations. Story, setting, and characters are highly romanticized, and this paean is nothing if not harmonious: ``H the House that calls us in/`Coming! Coming!' we all sing,/on the porch for one last swing.'' It's extremely old-fashioned in sensibility and may not find an audience among the rough-and-ready preschool set. (Picture book. 3-7) Read full book review >
DOLL TROUBLE by Helen V. Griffith
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

Having a favorite doll come to life—what a rich, delicious fantasy. Caitlin's old doll Jodi, resenting Caitlin for abandoning her, arranges events so that Caitlin is blamed for stealing doll clothes, and even the doll herself. Caitlin, in turn, blames Holiday (the doll in Caitlin's Holiday, 1990) for the thefts. In the end all is forgiven: Holiday finds her way back into Caitlin's good graces; Jodi comes home to stay; and friend Lauren's Sandi joins Holiday and Jodi to make a trio of ``living dolls.'' Deftly told from Holiday's point of view, the story skips along at a playful pace. Holiday is still entirely self-centered yet endearing—just the kind of character a 12-inch fashion doll suggests. Smooth, satisfying fantasy. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
MY GREAT-AUNT ARIZONA by Gloria Houston
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 30, 1992

Echoing Barbara Cooney's fictionalized picture-book biographies of strong, independent women whose stories both challenged and exemplified their times (Miss Rumphius, 1982; Hattie and the Wild Waves, 1990), Houston (her The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree, 1988, was illustrated by Cooney) recounts the story of a great-aunt who spent her entire life in rural North Carolina. Though she dropped out of school to care for the family when her mother died, Arizona was eventually able to fulfill her ambition of becoming a teacher, returning to the one- room school she had attended, marrying, and bringing her own children to school with her but never going to the ``faraway places'' she visited only ``in my mind.'' Arizona doesn't have Hattie's individuality or Miss Rumphius's vision, and her story has less energy and unique flavor than either of theirs; still, Houston's simple narrative is warm and exceptionally graceful and clean, while Lamb's settings (which seem to be in watercolor plus color pencil) are well researched. Her impressionistic outdoor scenes are especially attractive; figures are less expert if lively—the young Arizona reading with high-button shoes aloft, or dancing with skirts aswirl above the knee, are engaging bits of poetic license. A nostalgic but appealing portrait of another generation. (Picture book. 5-9) Read full book review >