Books by Tony DiTerlizzi

Released: Sept. 18, 2018

"A delightful if somewhat disjointed story of 'Christmas magic' working its charms on a family. (Picture book. 4-7)"
Jack needs some magic to help make this year's Christmas the best ever. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 13, 2015

"The message—about the value of trying new experiences and learning to trust—lies lightly on this lively tale. (author's note, illustrator's note) (Animal fantasy. 6-8)"
A large cat and a small dog strike up an unlikely friendship in this early chapter book. Read full book review >
A HERO FOR WONDLA by Tony DiTerlizzi
Released: May 8, 2012

"Inventive in detail if predictable in plot, this should please fans of the first volume. (Science fiction/fantasy. 10-13)"
Long on action and atmosphere, with detailed descriptions and illustrations of the odd world of Orbona, Eva Nine's adventures pick up just where they ended (The Search forWondLa, 2010).Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 21, 2010

What's the difference between an absorbing adventure and a disappointing effort? Since it's in the mind of the reader, some may welcome DiTerlizzi's latest with open arms. Others will be frustrated that awkward word choices, inconsistent voice, lengthy descriptions and a heavy-handed environmental agenda obscure the author's usually inventive imagination and squander the appeal of the frankly beautiful, carefully designed illustrations. All of the elements for a fascinating tale are here: the solitary child, Eva Nine, apparently the only human in the world; trusty companions (Eva's robot Muthr, Rovender Kitt, an alien blue creature who is utterly charming but decidedly adult in his concerns and back story, and Otto, an animal who communicates telepathically with Eva); a quest (to search for other signs of human life and discover the meaning of a mysterious scrap of paper); and, of course, a brutish villain, Besteel, who threatens them all with capture and death. Unfortunately, while the sprawling plot offers plenty of action, stilted language distances readers, the final reveal is utterly clichéd and the shameless cliffhanger is more likely to exasperate than entice. (Science fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
KENNY & THE DRAGON by Tony DiTerlizzi
Released: Aug. 5, 2008

Reports of children requesting rewrites of The Reluctant Dragon are rare at best, but this new version may be pleasing to young or adult readers less attuned to the pleasures of literary period pieces. Along with modernizing the language—"Hmf! This Beowulf fellow had a severe anger management problem"—DiTerlizzi dials down the original's violence. The red-blooded Boy is transformed into a pacifistic bunny named Kenny, St. George is just George the badger, a retired knight who owns a bookstore, and there is no actual spearing (or, for that matter, references to the annoyed knight's "Oriental language") in the climactic show-fight with the friendly, crème-brulée-loving dragon Grahame. In look and spirit, the author's finely detailed drawings of animals in human dress are more in the style of Lynn Munsinger than, for instance, Ernest Shepard or Michael Hague. They do, however, nicely reflect the bright, informal tone of the text. A readable, if denatured, rendition of a faded classic. (Fantasy. 9-11)Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 26, 2006

Jacketed in a large, folded, glow-in-the-dark poster, this guide for prospective sprite owners features a suite of minutely detailed, full-body portraits paired with cogent advice on selecting, obtaining (legally), housing, feeding and showing the finger-sized creatures. Distinctly insect-like in appearance, with wings, faceted eyes ("Sprites see in a manner that could be compared to looking at a wall of televisions, with several turned to different channels"), ornate coloration on chitinous bodies, but humanoid facial features, sprites come in a rich assortment of types. They range from the Rackham Sprite (a bit of homage there) to the Glowing Toadfly, and make rewarding, if invariably mischievous, pets—far less dangerous than, for instance, boggarts or will-o-the-wisps. This diverting vade mecum ends with an entry on the International Sprite League, which confirmed Spiderwickians will be strongly tempted to join. (Nonfiction. 8-11)Read full book review >
G IS FOR ONE GZONK! by Tony DiTerlizzi
Released: Sept. 12, 2006

In memorable homage to his dedicatees Dr. Seuss and Edward Lear, DiTerlizzi introduces an unruly alphabet of imaginary "creachlings," colored in flat hues to evoke the printing processes of the previous century's middle decades and described in sprightly verse. Bidding readers, "say good-bye to boring books / where ‘bears can bounce a ball,' " the author, who portrays himself in the pictures as an owlish lad wielding a paintbrush, starts out conventionally enough—"A is for an Angry Ack. / He eats your dirty clothes. / His favorite snack is stinky socks / with jam packed in the toes." Soon, however, he finds himself struggling with entries that wander in out of order, thanks to a multiplying coterie of floating, beanlike "Teedle-Weenie Woo" that, being numbers rather than letters, make a bid to hijack the whole project. Ultimately, he comes to an accommodation with the interlopers, but his effort to kick off a "123" after reaching the "Zanderiffic Zibble Zook" takes an ominous turn when Ack and company pop back into view. Fans of If I Ran the Zoo (1950), or silly alphabets in general, will delight in tracking the burgeoning chaos while trying to wrap their tongues around the droll monikers of this manic menagerie. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2003

Unexplained things are happening in the eerie Victorian heap that is new home to the Grace family. Rustlings in the decrepit walls lead the three children, to discover and destroy the nest of a Brownie and to locate, in Arthur Spiderwick's secret library, his Field Guide to the Fantastical World, which details the habits of faeries. The infuriated Brownie exacts retribution in hateful ways: knotting Mallory's long hair to her headboard and freezing animal-loving Simon's tadpoles into ice cubes. The children mollify the Brownie by building him another home, but against his warnings that harm will result, keep the Field Guide. Book 2 (The Seeing Stone, 0-689-95937-6) steps up the peril: the unheeded warnings lead to Simon's kidnapping by a roving gang of goblins. His siblings gain The Sight by means of a small stone lens (and efficacious goblin spit rubbed into the eyes) and succeed in rescuing him. Cleverly marketed as too dangerous to read, handsomely designed, and extravagantly illustrated this packs quite a punch. Readers who are too young to read Harry Potter independently will find these have just the right amount of menace laced with appealing humor and are blessed with crisp pacing and, of course, DiTerlizzi's enticingly Gothic illustrations. (Fiction. 7-11)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

"This cautionary intrusion serves to explicate the metaphor for concretely minded readers, but the message is not likely to diminish their pleasure in the grisly doings one bit. (Picture book. 5-9)"
" ‘Will you walk into my parlor?' / said the Spider to the Fly." Howitt's 1829 cautionary poem is realized here in full cinematic fashion. Read full book review >
ALIEN & POSSUM by Tony Johnston
Released: May 1, 2002

Possum and Alien are good friends who first met in Alien and Possum: Friends No Matter What (2001). Here, they play together and help each other understand their place in the world. In the first of three stories, Alien bemoans the fact that he is different from all the other living things in the forest, while Possum complains that he is merely one of "skadillions" of possums. They reassure each other that they are both unique and wonderful. The second tale is about a delightful, fun-filled birthday party. The last, reminiscent of Stellaluna (1993), shows our heroes sharing the joys of perching on a tree branch, each in his own special way. The plots are gentle expressions of friendship and acceptance. Johnston's language is simple and straightforward, as befitting the easy-to-read format, but she does not sacrifice imagination or imagery. Repetition of words and phrases and generous use of contextual clues provide aid and comfort to emergent readers. However, an oversight in the layout might cause some confusion: a table of contents lists page numbers for the beginning of each story, but there are no corresponding numbers on those pages. DiTerlizzi's cheerful, cartoonlike illustrations nicely complement and enhance the slight stories with a spirit of fun. Possum has a slightly goofy demeanor and Alien is very egg-like and even resembles Humpty Dumpty. A likable duo and an enjoyable romp for beginning readers who will be looking for the next installment. (Easy reader. 6-8)Read full book review >
ALIEN AND POSSUM by Tony Johnston
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

Possum's open-minded attitude helps him to make an unusual new friend. One night while sitting under a tree, Possum sees a spaceship land and Alien (a dome covers two eyes on stems at the top of a fairly standard space suit) comes out. At first fearful, Alien is convinced by Possum that despite their contrasts—"You are hairy. I am smooth"—they can still be friends. Succeeding chapters have them searching for delicious trash and trying to share a bedtime story. DiTerlizzi (Ted, p. 329, etc.) uses watercolors, gouache, and colored pencils to depict the two and their simple adventures in a combination of full- and double-paged spreads as well as in smaller vignettes. Droll and expressive language helps to add a little humor to what might have been too much of a lesson about understanding differences, and readers will look forward to "hanging out" with the two in a sequel of the same name. (Easy reader. 6-8)Read full book review >
TED by Tony DiTerlizzi
Released: April 1, 2001

A more-or-less imaginary friend brings a lonely boy and his distracted father together in this heavy-handed but slapstick romp from the author/illustrator of Jimmy Zangwow's Out-of-This-World Moon Pie Adventure (2000). Looking like a cross between a flop-eared John Goodman and Jabba the Hut, Ted saunters into the unnamed young narrator's life, and proceeds to instigate more chaos than the Cat in the Hat ever dreamed of. After helping to spatter the bathroom with shaving cream, "illustrate" the living-room walls, and create an indoor swimming pool in the study, Ted retreats from Dad's wrath to a nearby playground. The boy soon follows, to wonder why grownups have forgotten to have fun, and to learn that Ted was his father's playmate too, years ago. In due time, Dad shows up, and with the help of an old toy dredges up half-forgotten memories—after which all go back home for "one mean game of space-pirates-Monopoly-Twister!" Owing equal debts to Norman Rockwell and Mad Magazine, DiTerlizzi's polished, carefully detailed illustrations feature nerdy-looking humans and wild swirls of domestic disaster, with Ted, invisible to Dad but looking just as solid and real, mugging hugely and providing a mottled, pink focal point. It's not exactly subtle, but children may find its exaggerations appealing. (Picture book. 7-9)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

Recast from a prizewinning stage production, this patchy tale of a young entrepreneur has a satiric edge that will play better to adult audiences. Ever on the lookout for moneymaking opportunities, young Ernie Castellano hits paydirt when he converts an empty lot into a pet cemetery. Thanks to some high pressure sales tactics, plus a hired staff than includes Dusty, a nerdy but loyal artist with a genius for turning junk into elaborately decorated coffins; Swimming Pool, quaintly introduced as a "tomboy," who discovers an innate talent for feeling a bereaved pet owner's pain; and Tony, a "scrappy" eight-year-old boy-with-a-shovel, the funeral biz is soon booming. It's not hard to see this show's theatrical roots in the thoroughly typecast characters and in snappy, Little Rascals-style dialogue (Tony: " ‘It's not complicated. When I got a gig, I gotta dig. That's my motto. I'm an independent contractor' ") that Cooney's interpolated narrative passages only serve to slow down. Most of all there's a string of stagy set pieces that end with Ernie and his Dad both grieving in the wake of Ernie's Mom's death from cancer, growing closer by decorating the grave of the family dog together. Young readers are unlikely to give this a standing ovation, but the broadly brushed comedy and sentiment may draw an occasional chuckle or tear. (Fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
RIBBITING TALES by Nancy Springer
Released: Oct. 1, 2000

From Jane Yolen's froggy Pied Piper remake to "A Boy and His Frog," by David Lubar (designer of the Game-Boy version of "Frogger"), about a lad who releases his oversized pet into the local swamp after it eats a neighbor's Chihuahua, these eight new tales will make a big splash with middle readers. The tone, reflected in DiTerlizzi's Homer Price-like drawings of cheerful, high-stepping children and bulging, inscrutable amphibians, is generally light. It changes toward the end with Stephen Menick's anguished Pharaoh's-eye view of the Seven Plagues of Egypt before bouncing back up with Springer's closer, "Ahem," in which a shy, harassed child turns jeers to cheers by going to school with a loudly assertive frog in her throat. Invite readers to follow Bruce Coville's shape-changing superhero Dennis Juggarum in releasing their own inner frogs with this kickin' collection. (Short stories. 8-11)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2000

A lad's quest for a classic snack takes him to distant corners of the universe in this retroflavored, roller coaster picture book debut. When Mom rejects his plea for a moon pie, Jimmy soars off into space in his homemade race car/rocket ship, taking on a thousand moon pies from the Man in the Moon, dipping gallons of milk from the Milky Way, then reluctantly but gamely sharing it all, after a crash landing, with 999 hungry Martians and a peckish monster with a loudly rumbling tummy. In red cowboy boots and aviator goggles, sporting freckles and a gap toothed grin, Jimmy looks like a living Howdy Doody, with his jalopy, made from crates and buggy wheels, the Martians, who look like tops with bright blue heads, and other features of his elaborately detailed surroundings of like vintage. In the end, Martians and monster repay Jimmy's generosity by constructing a moon pie wrapper balloon that floats him home in time for dinner (Brussels-sproutnoodlebean casserole) and, (yes!) guess what for dessert. DiTerlizzi pays visual homage to a gallery of illustrators from Arthur Rackham to Mercer Mayer, and gives his intrepid protagonist an infectious look of wide-eyed excitement. Tempt fans of David Wiesner's Sector 7 (1999) and William Joyce's books with this highflying, lipsmacking adventure. (Picture book. 79)Read full book review >