Books by Tim Raglin

COWBOY JOSÉ by Susan Middleton Elya
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 2005

Rollicking rhymed "Spanglish" couplets tell the tale of "Cowboy José, the vaquero" and his faithful horse Feo who "ride 'cross the prairie and belt out a song," and then get involved with a gal named Rosita, who is pretty—bonita. The story is minimal and predictable. Rosita is a gold digger who loves the vaquero not for himself, but for his dinero. Perhaps to reinforce the tall-tale nature of the story, the lively and humorous cartoon illustrations depict Mexican stereotypes that some may find troubling. The inclusion of Spanish words can be viewed as humorous or educational. Sometimes the verses strain as hard as the characters. "José grips the horse at his middle—su tronco. / His legs squeeze the sides of the wild bucking bronco." A glossary of Spanish words with pronunciations precedes the story, although many non-Spanish speakers will be able to guess the meanings from the context and repetition in English. Recommended mainly for its language possibilities. (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >
BILL IN A CHINA SHOP by Katie McAllaster Weaver
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2003

The title sets up the funny premise as Bill, a bull, collects china cups, but his size and clumsiness create havoc in china shops. When he finds a store without a "Bulls Keep Out" sign and a cup that he can't do without, disaster ensues. Three tottering ladies save him from crashing disgrace and to thank them, he invites them to tea. The rhyming text of two- and three-line stanzas has humorous moments but it's the pen-ink-and-watercolor illustrations that ping with panache: finely detailed, cross-hatched dishes and Bill in a morning coat, striped trousers, top hat, and bow tie. Though kids will not likely know the expression, there is a note about it on the verso, and the depiction of Bill's hulk amid the fragile china will imprint the meaning. The ending clinks some and in one illustration a key object falls into the page gutter, but as the appealing cover promises, Bill has more charm than bull. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
GO TRACK A YAK! by Tony Johnston
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2003

A witch's trick backfires in this folkloric original episode. Wringing their hands because Baby won't eat, a supposedly clueless couple promises a sly witch her heart's desire if she'll help. Only "yak juice" will do, she announces and so Papa sets out to find a yak to squeeze. Obviously, he needs plenty of help; led on by the increasingly impatient witch, in various guises, he brings back a yak at last, who not only provides plenty of juice (milk, of course), but when the witch tries to claim Baby as her prize, boots her over the next mountain. The partly rhymed text, printed in diverse sizes and faces, is scattered about the page; Raglin dresses his pop-eyed figures for the steppe and gives them comically exaggerated expressions. Fans of Johnston's Witch's Hat (illus. by Margot Tomes, 1984), Eric Kimmel's Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock (illus. by Janet Stevenson, 1988), and other tales of tricksters tricked will relish this new comeuppance. (Picture book. 7-9)Read full book review >
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S TWELFTH NIGHT by Bruce Coville
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2003

Coville, who's done so well with these in the past (Romeo and Juliet, 1999, etc), prefaces his latest Shakespearean retelling with the claim that its themes of trying on a new identity and having to yearn in silence for another will carry particular resonance for young readers as "the struggle of adolescence in microcosm!" Perhaps—but even more attractive, to teenagers and preadolescents alike, is the nonstop pace with which pranks, jests, twists, and mistaken identities in this tale of shipwrecked, separately rescued twins, tumble over each other. Coville creates a capable digest, but even his antic gifts are severely tested by Raglin's leaden tableaus, all of which feature frozen, staring figures in period dress, their glum or exaggeratedly clownish visages lacking any saving sympathy or real humor. It's hard to believe that this is the same witty artist whose interpretation of The Wolf Who Cried Boy (2002) shared equally in the humor. Prospective audiences or cast members will get a clear sense of the play's tangled plot from this, but will have to see it performed to fully appreciate its sheer hilarity and joyful climax. (Picture book. 9-12)Read full book review >
THE WOLF WHO CRIED BOY by Bob Hartman
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 2001

The traditional tale gets turned upside down in this hilarious new version. Little Wolf is sick of the meals his mother makes each night. No matter how good her lamburgers or sloppy does, he can't help wondering why the wolf family doesn't eat Boy anymore. Father explains that Boy is just getting too hard to find, but that if Little Wolf ever sees one, his parents would be happy to catch it and cook it for him. On the way home from school, the odor of Three-Pig Salad inspires Little Wolf to hatch a devious plan. He runs home, yelling "Boy" all the way. His parents fruitlessly search all evening, and just as he'd planned, the dinner is ruined and the family ends up eating snacks instead. The same happens the following night. But then Little Wolf slips up—Father overhears him bragging about what he had done to a friend on the telephone. Father and Mother make a pact to ignore him the next evening. Unbeknownst to the little family, though, a Boy Scout troop just happens to be hiking through the woods. Try as he may, Little Wolf just can't get his parents to pay him any attention, even though he is finally being truthful. Little Wolf's high-top sneakers and hat, along with a sour look on his face, give him a little devil look that fits the storyline perfectly. Meanwhile, his parents are impeccably dressed—Father in button shoes, vest, bowtie, and bowler, Mother in a long dress and frilly apron. Pen-and-ink drawings are wonderfully detailed, especially in the big "chase" scene—the facial expressions really make the story and the illustrations come together. Bigger laughs and more detail than the original, along with the time-honored message that truthfulness pays, make this a wonderful addition to any fairy-tale collection. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
A CAT OF A DIFFERENT COLOR by Steven Bauer
ANIMALS
Released: June 1, 2000

A free-ranging feline catalyzes community reaction in this pointed warning about the dangers of blindly obeying authority. Dazzled by Jeremiah Hoytie's magisterial appearance and bluff bonhomie, not to mention the free hot chocolate suddenly available at his gourmet deli, the contented residents of aptly named Felicity-By-The-Lake elect him mayor—only to find themselves victims of a power-hungry schemer and saddled with a dusk curfew plus other restrictive fiats. The citizens grumble, but Hoytie institutes a reign of terror, ordering his 7-foot-tall, 287-pound son Sam to grab scofflaws by their ankles and bring them in to pay fines. Returning to his birthplace after a long wander, Ulwazzer, a cat distinguished by fur that is sometimes one color, sometimes another, finds the people huddling in their houses, and the wildfowl on the lake (those that have survived Sam's indiscriminate blasting) huddling in the reeds. It's time to take matters into his own paws. Bauer (The Strange and Wonderful Tale of Robert McDoodle, 1999, etc.) heads the human cast with a familiar type: Daria, a kind young orphan girl forced to do all the Hoyties' cooking, housework, and storekeeping. Ultimately, she and Ulwazzer cleverly nudge the townsfolk into rising up to send the Hoyties packing. The carpetbaggers' pop-eyed cupidity comes through clearly in Raglin's occasional pen-and-ink caricatures. As farce, this is not in the same league with Dahl or Mahy, but Hoytie's stupid, selfish wife Prucilla provides some low comedy, and readers will relish seeing her, and her family, get what they deserve. (Fiction. 11-13)Read full book review >
THE BIRTHDAY ABC by Eric Metaxas
ABC BOOKS
Released: March 1, 1995

The text of this alphabet book makes a nice birthday gift, but the wrappings—the exquisitely crafted illustrations—are even better. Twenty-six dandily dressed critters (there is no animal for X, but the Lion has a scion) proclaim birthday greetings to lucky readers. The accompanying verses by Metaxas sometimes clank and rattle, but almost always play second fiddle to the drawings. ``O is for Orangutan,/who from a limb is seen to hang'' is awkward, but the ape's picture is worth its weight in words. Raglin (Pecos Bill, Picture Book Studio, 1991) shows a British influence: his impish humor and unstuffy formality are reminiscent of Tenniel or Graeme Base, though he does not possess the dynamism found in the latter's popular works. Readers with a knack for history can entertain themselves by trying to figure out the historical periods of the animals' elegant costumes. This bunch is a treat to behold. (Picture book. 4-6) Read full book review >