Books by Susin Nielsen-Fernlund

TOO MANY FAIRIES by Margaret Read MacDonald
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2010

The magic in this Celtic cognate to "It Could Always Be Worse," summoned by an old woman's complaints about her housework, comes in the shape of crazy-cleaning fairies, who, as soon as they have washed the dishes, swept the floor, made the bed and done the knitting, undo all their work so they can start again. The village wise woman gives the old woman the right advice to both get rid of the fairies and stop her complaints. Using strong construction and repetition in all the right places, the simple text is so artfully composed that it is ready-made for retelling, from the old woman's cantankerous "Work! Work! Work! How I hate it! Hate it! Hate it!" to the onomatopoeic clankety, swishety, flumpety and clickety noises made by the fairies gone berserk. Mitchell's watercolors reflect the text too sweetly, without enough visual clues to make the cute gossamer-winged, roly-poly mischief-makers convincing nuisances, and even the crotchety old woman doesn't look very crotchety. Taken alone, master storyteller MacDonald's work shines. (Picture book/folklore. 4-6)Read full book review >
THE MAGIC BEADS by Susin Nielsen-Fernlund
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2007

When a little girl living in a shelter has to produce something for Show and Tell, she is filled with anxiety until her imagination takes over. Lillian's tummy flutters with nervous butterflies on her first day of second grade in a new school. Butterflies magnify into grasshoppers when her teacher explains the daily classroom Show and Tell and assigns Fridays to Lillian. As the week advances, the grasshoppers grow into rabbits and then into donkeys and finally into stampeding buffalo as Lillian worries what she's going to show. She has no toys in the shelter where she's living with her abused mother until they can afford an apartment. Watching classmates show off spiffy dolls, scooters, Lego spaceships, robots and action figures, Lillian resents her absent abusive father as well as her mother, who can't afford to buy a new toy. But when Friday arrives, the resilient Lillian relies on her strand of plastic beads and lots of imagination to create the best Show and Tell ever. Simple line-and-watercolor illustrations effectively contrast innocent classroom activities with Lillian's dark inner fears. A talisman for anxious readers. (Picture book. 7-9)Read full book review >
MORMOR MOVES IN by Susin Nielsen-Fernlund
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 15, 2004

A little girl and her grandmother learn the meaning of loss. Five-and-three-quarter-year-old Astrid and her teddy bear Bjorn have always been best friends, a real team. Bjorn helps Astrid feel brave when she climbs up to her tree house and shoos away monsters under her bed. When Astrid learns that her grandfather in Sweden has died and her Swedish grandmother, Mormor, is coming to live with them, she looks forward to a new playmate. But all the grieving Mormor wants to do is sit alone and criticize Astrid for playing with a "dirty old sak" like Bjorn. Astrid wants Mormor to go away. But when Astrid loses Bjorn on the way to school, Mormor comes to the rescue and the two generations realize they have a lot in common. Full-page colored-pencil illustrations perfectly express the emotion of Astrid and Mormor's separate losses and eventual bonding. Pictures and text show how a good dose of kindness can salve sorrow's wounds. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
HANK AND FERGUS by Susin Nielsen-Fernlund
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 2003

Hank is sure his imaginary dog Fergus is the only friend he needs. When new-boy-next-door Cooper tries to strike up a friendship, Hank accuses him of stepping on Fergus's tail. All Cooper can see is the ratty old shoestring Hank uses for a leash. Bad feelings grow until the leash is broken during an argument. Both boys feel awful, but make up by exchanging gifts. Nielsen-Fernlund's first picture book is a mixed bag; the rocky start to Cooper and Hank's friendship is laid out well, and it's nice that Hank gets to keep his imaginary friend. However, this simple story is muddled by the addition of a focus, near the end, on Hank's raspberry birthmark. The birthmark is not mentioned in the beginning, and young readers will be confused when Cooper asks, "What's that thing on your face?" Hank does explain the birthmark in the end, but his explanation interrupts the flow of the real story. Despite the fun of Laliberté's bright, full-bleed illustrations, in which Fergus changes his breed to suit Hank's mood, this Canadian import is not a first purchase. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >