Books by Tom Birdseye

STORM MOUNTAIN by Tom Birdseye
ADVENTURE
Released: Oct. 15, 2010

When Cat's cousin Ty steals her father's ashes and heads up Storm Mountain, Cat takes off after him, setting up a fast-paced adventure in Oregon's Cascade Mountains. Their fathers were twin brothers—both world-famous mountain climbers—who died on that mountain two years ago, and Ty wants to scatter their ashes as a remembrance. However, a lot stands in his way: the angry Cat, an avalanche, a fall into a crevasse and dog farts in a snow cave. The dialogue is occasionally regrettably expository—"That storm raged for nearly a week," Cat informs her cousin. "Helicopters were grounded, rescuers pushed back. Even though our dads dug a snow cave on a ledge, by the time the weather finally cleared...it was too late"—but Birdseye's prose, full of careening action, melodrama and overwrought similes, reflects Ty's bulldozing personality. Add believable characters, the author's mountain-climbing expertise and a tear-jerking conclusion, and there's plenty here for young adventure enthusiasts, especially reluctant readers who prefer brief novels with simple, action-packed plots that can be read in one big satisfying gulp. (Adventure. 8-12)Read full book review >
A TOUGH NUT TO CRACK by Tom Birdseye
CHILDREN'S
Released: Dec. 15, 2006

Stubbornness creates, prolongs and then ultimately manages to take the edge off a feud in this comfortably conventional family tale. Cassie's widower dad is a friendly, affectionate sort, until it comes to his father, whose name is not to be mentioned. When she finally gets to meet the supposed old dragon, though, she finds him even more genial and fun-loving than her own parent. So what's up? Persistence plainly running in the family, Cassie sets to work—and after much browbeating, plus several failed attempts to heal the rift, she finally chivvies the two into admitting, with no evident shame, that the break came over an accusation, years ago, of cheating at Monopoly. By the end, they are at least talking to each other again, if only to argue, and Cassie comes to understand that she'll have to be content with that. Considering the dispositions of Cassie's father and grandpa, the length and strength of the feud raises credibility issues—but this is the sort of story where, as Cassie puts it, "even though life isn't always fair, and bad things happen that break your heart, there are perfect moments when people actually do get what they deserve." Readers fond of such ideas will find it engaging. (Fiction. 10-12) Read full book review >
OH YEAH! by Tom Birdseye
by Tom Birdseye, illustrated by Ethan Long
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 15, 2003

Two boys camping out in the backyard have a war of words and one-upmanship. One claims to be able to stay out all night in the dark, and the other says he can do the same with the added horror of spiders hanging over his head. Competition escalates, each actually becoming more frightened, until both are scared back into the tent by a little white dog . . . er, a big, hairy, kid-eating monster. Birdseye's text will probably strike a chord and tickle the funny bone of many young "brave" campers. Long's wild acrylic-and-colored-pencil illustrations show the menacing, monstrous wildlife crowding around the boys as their boasting mounts. The muted pallet of rusts, aquas, and tans, fitting since it's dark, might put some off, but the whole is a nice addition to the fear-of-the-dark and camping canons. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
LOOK OUT, JACK! THE GIANT IS BACK! by Tom Birdseye
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 15, 2001

Clever Jack of English folklore has stolen the hen that lays golden eggs, the harp that sings, and bags of money. He has slain the giant who followed him down the beanstalk and lived happily ever after—not. In this fractured tale there is more to the story. Jack has sailed to America with his mother and the aforementioned purloined objects. All is well as they settle on a nice little farm in the mountains of North Carolina and "Life was good and peaceful, and oh so fragrant." When the giant's older brother arrives on the mountaintop, the story leaps into action. Birdseye's (The Eye of the Stone, not reviewed, etc.) folksy style of storytelling uses an American vernacular full of tall-tale exaggerations and dramatic page turns. Jack has a plan to distract the giant from eating him by overfeeding him. And feed him he does—piles of fried chicken, heaps of boiled okra, one thousand biscuits, six hundred pounds of mashed potatoes and huge heaps of coleslaw. Chased with ninety-nine gallons of apple cider. The giant is so close to puking he can't even move, let alone grab clever Jack. Kids will revel in the gross pictures and the equally disgusting belching and the giant's secret weapon, stinky feet. Hillenbrand's (Pre-School to the Rescue, p. 338, etc.) mixed media, illustrations—tempera, colored pencils, crayon, and oil paint on vellum—create an a soft almost marbleized palate of spring greens and changing skies. Great fun. (Picture book 5-8)Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Dec. 15, 1996

The Birdseyes, subtitling their book ``Kids Talk about Faith,'' offer the religious beliefs and other interests of six students from Corvallis, Oregon, in short, first-person essays, along with Crum's full-color, snapshot-like photographs from the youngsters' daily lives. In a preface, the authors note the difficulty of deciding which religions to include. The six faiths they chose—Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and ``Native American''—are represented, respectively, by Min, Alex, Janani, Aly, Carmel, and Kaila. They are intelligent children, who share—despite the variety of faiths—a belief in a benevolent power, an acceptance of religious guidelines that prove useful in real life, and a firm sense of ethics. Their families are also presented in a generous light, making this a heartwarming and unexpectedly fascinating book. (further reading) (Picture book. 7-10) Read full book review >
TARANTULA SHOES by Tom Birdseye
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 1995

Ryan doesn't like anything about his family's move from Arizona to Kentucky, not the pink walls of his room, the humid weather, or the weird neighbor who insists on being friendly. He especially hates the fact that sixth graders attend junior high. When he hears that all the cool kids at school will be wearing $125 basketball shoes called Slam Dunk Sky Jumpers, he decides he must have a pair, and concocts several schemes to raise the money, including putting on shows with his pet tarantula. Wholly without pretensions, Birdseye (A Regular Flood of Mishap, 1994, etc.) pens a piece of lightweight middle grade fiction, as pleasant as his other books, with engaging characters (especially Ryan's younger twin siblings, who are convinced that an alien named Quando is coming to visit). If the moral is a bit predictable, it's still a good one in this amusing, modestly agreeable bit of fluff. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
A REGULAR FLOOD OF MISHAP by Tom Birdseye
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 15, 1994

Poor Ima Bean! She doesn't mean to break Grandpa's fishing pole, send Hester the mule galloping through Mama Lima Bean's wash, wreck Brother Chili Bean's bicycle, or scatter a whole truckload of apples—each calamity just naturally follows on the heels of the last. Begining with a serene view of Mossyrock Creek, Lloyd builds the chaos in successive scenes until, with ``cabbages and carrots and `taters and `maters flying every whichaway,'' Ima bails out, packs a bag, and trudges dejectedly off in search of a new home. ``But wouldn't ya know!...in my family, you're always family...even when you goof!'' Instead of exile, Ima is last seen receiving hugs and comfort. In this comical, reassuring tale, Lloyd's precise lines and clean colors make even the wildest mishaps look curiously tidy. (Picture book. 5-7) Read full book review >
JUST CALL ME STUPID by Tom Birdseye
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 1993

Patrick's problem with reading stems from the trauma of his long-absent father calling him ``Stupid'' and locking him in a closet. By fifth grade, his panic when confronted with the printed word has been reinforced by insensitive teachers, by a bully who taunts him, and by his own failures. Then luck provides two friends—a fine teacher (Mrs. Romero) and a neighbor/classmate. What begins as a shy chess game on the outdoor board where Patrick has been playing against himself becomes real rapport when Celina, brimming with contagious enthusiasm, reads him The Sword and the Stone. Patrick's fright when she suggests he take a turn is a brief setback; but in time he reciprocates by telling her a story that she records and, without telling him, submits to a contest. It wins, but Patrick's first response is fury—at her betrayal and his continued inability to read. Still, his story's success and the confidence of Celina, Mrs. Romero, and his hard-working mother help Patrick begin to find his own honorable way out of his terror and unlock the pleasures of books. Though rather implausibly wise and empathetic, Mrs. Romero and Celina are likable, while the sabotaging of Patrick's real gifts by his long-held fears—and his difficult decision to pull his own metaphorical sword from its stone—are subtly portrayed. Lively and well plotted, with funny—as well as touching—scenes and a satisfyingly upbeat ending. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
SOAP! SOAP! DON'T FORGET THE SOAP! by Tom Birdseye
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 15, 1993

Plug Honeycut has ``such a poor memory some say he'd forget his own name,'' so when Mama sends him to the store he chants her instructions, over and over, until a bullfrog distracts him. An encounter with an old lady who's just slipped on a stone ``as slick as soap'' recalls the words; unfortunately, she takes exception to his happy recovery and dunks him, hollering, ``What a mess I've become, but now you're one, too!'' So it goes: Plug picks up the new line, which proves peculiarly insulting to the next person he meets, who inadvertently provides him with another, and so on until a lady shrieks, ``I ought to wash your mouth out with soap!'' just as he nears the store. Birdseye's brisk down-home retelling is colorful and comical; Glass's affectionately caricatured mountain folk cavort in sunny colored pencils and watercolor. A natural for reading aloud. (Folklore/Picture book. 5-10) Read full book review >