Books by Susan Kathleen Hartung

WELCOME, BABY! by Theresa Dubiel
Released: Feb. 1, 2017

"Although well-meaning and important, this book neither fulfills its purpose nor broadcasts its message in a way that works for infants and adults. (Board book. 0-1)"
Numerous studies have shown that the safest way for babies to sleep is in their cribs on their backs. This simple board book attempts to reinforce this important message to prevent sudden unexplained infant death. Read full book review >
A MOM FOR UMANDE by Maria Faulconer
Released: April 3, 2014

"Not only a special adoption story, but also a heartwarming look at the human-animal relationship. (note) (Picture book. 5-8)"
At the center of this tale based on a true story is an adorable baby gorilla whose mother does not know how to take care of him. Read full book review >
MITTENS AT SCHOOL by Lola M. Schaefer
Released: July 1, 2012

"With its feline star, school theme and mild suspense, this is another solid addition to early-reader collections. (Early reader. 4-7)"
In Mittens' sixth outing, he goes to school to be Nick's show-and-tell, but sitting all day in his carrier is boring. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2010

Sofia is awakened one morning by "scrumptious smells." She and her cat Figaro go downstairs to her family's restaurant to discover that her family is already cooking for the arrival of her grandparents. She tries to help, but she splatters Papa's tomato sauce, puts too much yeast in Mama's breadstick dough and tosses her brother Mario's pizza dough onto the ceiling fan. Each time she is scolded—"Bambina, sei troppo piccola!"—she retreats to her seat in the fig tree. Finally, she helps herself to some gelato for breakfast and takes it outside under the tree, where a ripe fig falls into it—and lo! she has made a special dessert for her grandparents and the restaurant. The time sequencing is odd: It seems peculiar that Sofia would be asleep when everyone else is downstairs working, and it would take her quite some time to make those mistakes, making breakfast rather late. The images veer toward stereotype: Papa is bald and and has a black, handlebar mustache; Mario has thick, curly, black hair; Nonna wears her white hair in a bun. (author's note, recipe, Italian words and phrases) (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
YOUR OWN BIG BED by Rita M. Bergstein
Released: June 1, 2008

A little boy's birth and growth proceeds parallel to that of several animals on the farm and in the wild. Baby chick, baby alligator and baby sea turtle all grow too big for their shells, just as the little boy grows too big for his mother's tummy: "Soon they all came out— / and so did you!" His parents carry the little boy everywhere, just like little koala bear, baby kangaroo and tiger cub. First steps are followed by sleep, each in habitat or crib. But when the little boy grows even bigger, as marked against the ruled wall, a new big bed awaits, similar to the new stall for a foal and the doghouse for a puppy. Bergstein's juxtaposition of animal behavior against human adds both comfort and acknowledgement of a little one's movement from the familiar to the new. Hartung's softly iridescent paintings add depth to the simple text in their depictions of animals and boy, each childhood milestone gently marked. A nice, if not startlingly new, addition to the genre. (Picture book. 2-4)Read full book review >
WHAT’S THAT, MITTENS? by Lola M. Schaefer
Released: May 1, 2008

In the third entry in this series for the newest readers, an inquisitive, gray-striped kitten named Mittens meets his next-door neighbor, a dog named Max. Using a minimal text in a large font, the simple story introduces Mittens, who plays alone in his fenced-in backyard. Mysterious scratching and barking noises from the other side of the white picket fence ensue, with plenty of leading questions and broad hints that prompt the new reader to predict what will happen to Mittens next. Soon the kitten and the unseen critter are both digging away on their respective sides of the fence to mutually beneficial effect, leading to a budding friendship. The author skillfully integrates short exclamations and animal sounds into the text, moving the story along and adding sensory details within the early-reader format. Hartung's soft-focus watercolor illustrations imbue the appealing kitten and the big (but friendly) dog with a perky sweetness that will charm the youngest readers. (Early reader. 4-7)Read full book review >
FOLLOW ME, MITTENS by Lola M. Schaefer
Released: May 1, 2007

Sweet kitten Mittens and his owner Nick, are back in this second book about Mittens in the I Can Read series. They are exploring the safe, interesting world outside their front door. While on their walk, Mittens stops to smell the flowers and is distracted by a butterfly and gets separated from Nick. Not to worry, a sweet reunion is in store. Short, manageable repeated text, generous font and clear illustrations are hallmarks of a good offering for brand-new readers, and this one delivers on all counts. The language sounds a bit stilted to an adult ear, but the predictable text and easy-to-decode words are just what an emerging reader needs. More challenging words ("flutter," "butterfly") allow a little challenge and are repeated frequently enough to become familiar. Clear, uncomplicated illustrations complement the text, further ensuring reading success. Comforting predictable fare for the newest reader. (Easy reader. 3-6)Read full book review >
MITTENS by Lola M. Schaefer
Released: June 1, 2006

Nick welcomes his pet kitten, helping him overcome fear of his new home in this My First I Can Read entry. Skittish Mittens "zooms" behind the noisy TV, into the spooky dark under the sofa and, finally, under Nick's bed. There, amid the clutter of toys and a wayward sock, he finds "a small place just for him." But the kitten, still frightened, meows until Nick finds him, reassuring the pet gently until the last page's "Purrrrrr." Schaefer's necessarily brief text is crisp and cogent, integrating dialogue in an accessible manner for new readers. Hartung's simple illustrations use tones of yellow, blue, brick red and grey. Nick has a mop of curly black hair, and both he and Mittens, a tabby with white feet and chest, feature mere dots and dashes for eyes and brows. Ample white space and oversized type complete the package: a sweet, sturdy addition to the growing array of very first readers. (Easy reader. 4-6)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

A mother's tender love and concern for her newborn is the theme of this sweet Christmas story with a well-written, traditional structure and inventive illustrations. As Mother Mouse carries her newborn mouseling through the snow-covered fields searching for a safe haven, she meets several animals: a sheep, a dove and a cow. Each one offers its home to the mice, because the animals are leaving "to see a king." A repeated refrain of blowing wind, flying snow and sneezing mouseling causes each borrowed home to blow apart, so the two mice eventually follow the other animals toward the star and the stable. There they borrow a corner of the Christ Child's blanket and receive a kind word from another mother with a newborn. Hartung's illustrations provide a properly appealing Mother Mouse, who carries her baby out into the world in a sling made of a seed pod. Many pages use large snowflakes layered over the panoramic views, and the repeated refrain is creatively incorporated within the illustrations along pastel blue swirls to indicate the whirling winter winds. (Picture book. 2-7)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

In her picture book debut, Mannis uses the underlying structure of a little girl in a Japanese garden as the theme for a lyrical counting book with arresting illustrations by Hartung (One Dark Night, 2001, etc.). The author uses haiku as her format to count elements of the garden: one leaf, two carved temple dogs, three bonsai trees, and so on, up to ten lanterns lighting the way into the garden at twilight. The final double-page spread shows all the previously counted items integrated into the idyllic garden, with the little girl catching the leaf that eluded her grasp on the first page. The thoughtful design includes a full-page illustration on the left-hand pages, the appropriate numeral and the haiku in large type on the right-hand pages, and a related textual note in smaller type at the bottom of the page. This format imparts additional information about Japanese gardens and culture without intruding on the effectiveness of the haiku. Hartung's delicate illustrations with varying perspectives effectively complement the haiku and add touches of visual humor throughout. Just as each element of a Japanese garden contributes to a calming, satisfying whole, the elements of this work—poetry, subtly integrated additional text, illustration, design, and even the endpapers—all meld together into a lovely whole that both entertains as successful poetry and educates as an introduction to several aspects of ancient Japanese culture. Teachers in elementary school classrooms will find this volume useful when studying Japan or the haiku format. (author's note) (Picture book/poetry. 4-10)Read full book review >
ONE DARK NIGHT by Hazel Hutchins
Released: May 1, 2001

As a thunderstorm draws closer and closer, pajama-clad Jonathan opens the door to a stray cat with something in her mouth. A mouse? No, it's a kitten, "soft as whispers, gray as dawn." The cat streaks back outside, to return with another kitten, "soft as stuffing, white as snow," then, through pouring rain, a third, "wet as water, black as night." Hartung (Dear Juno, 1999) alternates scenes of inky darkness, lit by flashes of lightning, with close-ups of the kittens and their mother, all of whom are seen at the end nestled cozily in a box atop Jonathan's bed, "safe from the rain and the wind / and the rolling thunder . . . " With suspense, compassion, kittens, and safety all rolled into one brief, comforting story, this is more than likely to become a popular bedtime choice—especially on stormy nights. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >