Books by Tony Mitton

THE POTTER'S BOY by Tony Mitton
Released: Feb. 26, 2019

"Instructional in meditative practices; unmindful of its cultural context. (Fantasy. 9-12)"
Ryo, a young adolescent in a bygone Japan, embarks on a mindful journey of self-discovery. Read full book review >
SOUNDS by Tony Mitton
by Tony Mitton, illustrated by Ant Parker
Released: Sept. 15, 2015

"Serviceable—nothing more. (Board book. 1-3)"
The small 5-inch-square trim and the perennially popular vehicle theme will find an audience for this addition to the Amazing Machines First Concepts series. Read full book review >
SNOWY BEAR by Tony Mitton
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"An unapologetically sweet book that will engage both little and big hearts alike. (Picture book. 3-6) "
Where, oh where, can this little polar bear lay his head? Read full book review >
THE JUNGLE RUN by Tony Mitton
Released: June 1, 2012

"Fun for one or two reads, but, unlike Cub, it probably won't have much staying power. (Picture book. 3-5)"
Free-spirited artwork with colors of psychedelic intensity smooths the rather fitful nature of this race through the jungle. Read full book review >
Released: June 8, 2010

Twins Toby and Tess live with their mother in a cottage by the village green, and she sends them out with a picnic lunch to sit beneath the huge old chestnut tree. A twinkly-eyed old man materializes there, and in exchange for the children's sharing their lunch with him, he tells them a story. His name, aptly, is Teller, and over time he appears again, with more tales. Each time, he gives them a bit of something to remind them of the story he told: a dried berry from "The Woodcutter's Daughter," a bit of cloth from "St. Brigid's Cloak" and so on. His tales are told in vigorous rhymed verse, with prose sections knitting it all together. Bailey's black-and-white illustrations, in lithe line in Teller's tales and silhouette in Toby and Tess's frame, provide elegant visual counterpoint. Teller turns out to be a recognizable and beloved mythic character, and he leaves the children with the seeds of future stories and echoes of those past. Varied types are used judiciously to highlight both prose and verse; kudos to the designer for the harmonious whole. (Folktales/poetry. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2010

The team of Mitton and Chapman present dinosaur lovers with another collection of poems (Gnash, Gnaw, Dinosaur!, 2009). This one features a new cast of seven species and mixes a few facts about each with some outright fun. Deinosuchus, a giant ancestor of the crocodile, warns, "When I give a cheery grin, I may seem kind and happy, / but look out for my jagged jaws—they're seriously… / snappy!" (this last is revealed when a flap is lifted). Other featured species include Compsognathus, Elasmosaurus, Stegosaurus, Hadrosaur, Archaeopteryx and Ankylosaurus. The author chooses a good blend of the popular and lesser-known dinos, as well as representatives from a variety of habitats. The scansion works, and the word choices nicely suit the target audience. The illustrator's dinosaurs are brimming with personality (and a bit of artistic license), their faces adorned with eyebrows and eyelashes. The short length of the poems, humorous illustration and, of course, those ever-popular flaps all combine to make this a sure hit…but beware—exposure to these poems could transform children into Againosauruses. (Picture book/poetry. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2009

While seemingly light fare at first glance, Mitton's rhyming verses impart a fair amount of information about their dinosaur subjects, reflecting their behavior, food and eating habits and habitats. Peaceful Diplodocus's long neck can reach the leaves he eats, but watch out for that whip-like tail. Pteranadon's poem focuses on flight: "Watch how I whirl from the cliffs with a wheeeeeeeee! / swooping to scoop up a fish from the sea." Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops and Deinonychus round out the more well-known dinosaurs, while Kronosaurus and Mononykus represent the lesser-known species. Front endpapers offer a pronunciation guide, while back ones give extra bites of information. Chapman's illustrations reflect the text's subtle fact-underneath-fun manner. While her dinosaurs would not be out of place on any cartoon channel, their habitats and body structures are accurate, even if their colors may be a little outlandish. Allowing for motion of a sort, the flaps suit the topic well, especially since many of the dinosaurs are too large to fit on a spread. With great vocabulary, verses that scan well and a large trim size, this fits well into dinosaur-themed storytimes. (Picture book/poetry. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: April 28, 2009

Parents not eager to answer incessant "why" questions from their toddlers may wish to stay away from this existential tale about curiosity. A young bear wants to know, "Why do the daisies squeeze up from the grass?" Parent bear replies, "To drink in the light as the dreamy days pass." " ‘Why does the sky go all rumbly with thunder?' / ‘To give us a shiver and fill us with wonder.' " The big bear has an endless supply of patience and is quite a poet to boot, ably answering the young one's many questions. Howard's illustrations are soft and consciously cute, gradually including a number of different animals as the bears make their progress. Although both bears remain genderless in the text, and the big bear sports no distinguishing characteristics beyond a benign smile, the small bear wears a red cape and brandishes a sword—an unfortunate if unstated association of masculinity with curiosity. The rhymes are effective and children certainly do ask "why"—it's up to their parents how creative they might be in their own answers. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
Released: April 15, 2009

Mitton's modest, if mildly agreeable, contribution to the barnyard-hoedown genre opens with a bad case of malaise on Farmer Joe's spread. But readers will know something's cooking, even before Farmer Joe breaks out his guitar, because Parker-Rees's palette comprises the same colors associated with the stuff that gets piped onto birthday cakes, and the barnyard animals, who strike poses of sophisticated ennui, clearly know a good time when it bites them on the knee. Out come the instruments in cumulative fashion, each inspired by the one before, and the farm gets back in operation, for music shows the way to happiness and contentment. The basic rhythm has swing—"The crops like the music. Me-oh-my! / Look at them stretching up to the sky"—and plenty of onomatopoeic oomph—"Doom-doom-doo"—though readers may wince at such clunky rhymes as "idea / cheer" and "yee-har / guitar." Ultimately the book falls short of the panache of other barnyard merriments, such as Martin Waddell's The Pig in the Pond, illustrated by Jill Barton (1992). (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 2007

"Playful little penguins coming out today / looking for their furry friends . . . Here they are—hooray!" The penguins in scarves and hats slide down hills of snow, hop in the sea to hunt for fish and play hard until they find an orphaned seal pup. To cheer her up, the penguins jump and wiggle, have snowball fights and build snow penguins. Suddenly something dark swims toward them . . . of course, it's the seal's mama. The tired penguins go home. "Sleepy little penguins / in a happy huddle— / that's how penguins like to rest, / in a cozy cuddle!" Mitton and Parker-Rees team up again for this big and bright celebration of penguin fun. The text swirls and swoops, following the nicely individualized characters as they slide and swim across the pages. This unnecessarily re-titled American edition of the British Perky Little Penguins will have story-timers tapping their toes and begging for repeat reads. (Picture book. 2-6)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2007

When the animals on the ark become bored and irritable, quick-thinking Noah proposes a talent show to give their energies an outlet. It's a smashing success, as "the snakes both tied themselves in knots. / The leopards wiggled all their spots," the toucans, elephants, crocodiles and other acts perform, and "the talent show was such a ball / there's no room to tell it all." Lines of text float across big, bright scenes of cartoon creatures cavorting aboard a vessel that's striped like a beach umbrella and roomy enough to include a curtained stage. Closing with a burst of color brought on by a pair of newly hatched butterflies, last seen fluttering off toward the rainbow arcing overhead, this makes a particularly buoyant version of the world's best-known cruise. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
COOL CARS by Tony Mitton
by Tony Mitton, illustrated by Ant Parker
Released: June 16, 2005

Enhancing the Amazing Machines series aimed at preschoolers, Mitton deals with the vehicles that kids and adults use every day. He offers, however, the unique perspective of the role cars play in our lives: "Cars are really handy / for getting us around." But there's so much more. In lilting rhymes, this informal guide glances at the way drivers use signs and signals to navigate streets. It also looks at how a car is driven from the pedals on up, how to keep a car running with gas and care and even how to keep it spiffy with a wash. Mitton touches on different types of cars from off-road vehicles to racing cars. There's frustration, too, with driving: "Sometimes there's a traffic jam. / The vehicles all get stuck." The illustrations, painted in zesty watercolors, have a cartoon appeal featuring round-eyed animals, such as gophers, mice and cats. Topping it all off with a simple diagram of car parts, this is an enjoyable learning tool that will surely ignite curiosity. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 14, 2004

The nursery rhymes are nearly all familiar, but with a twist. Each is introduced by a rhyming riddle, a telling illustration, and the couplet, "What's the answer? Let me see . . . / Have a think. Now what can it be?" Turn the page, and there's a nursery rhyme that answers the riddle. This actually plays out rather cleverly, as in "Sky Pie" with its picture of a pot of honey, a half loaf of bread, a very empty pie pan, and the verse "Some bread and honey / and an empty pie, / and a bunch of blackbirds / singing nearby." The next page, of course, has "Six a Song of Sixpence." The illustrations are full of agitated line and sharp color, with cartoon exaggeration of faces and figures and some rather anthropomorphized animals like Old Mother Hubbard's dog. Lighthearted and worth a storytime or two. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
SPOOKY HOUR by Tony Mitton
Released: Aug. 1, 2004

Standing in for readers or listeners, an anxious-looking dog and cat look on as, once the clock strikes twelve, eleven witches, ten ghosts, and so on, troop through moonlit woods to the castle of witchy twins Mitch and Titch to chow down on "ONE GIGANTIC PUMPKIN PIE." The writing isn't first-rate—"Nine skeletons dance by, clickety-clack. / Their snapping teeth go snickety snack"—but Parker-Rees endows each full-bleed scene with intense Halloween colors, plus a cast of the usual suspects, looking far too friendly and unthreatening to alarm even the youngest children. A safe choice for holiday reading, with a bit of counting practice thrown in. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
THE TALE OF TALES by Tony Mitton
Released: March 9, 2004

As Monkey travels down the story road, he rounds a bend—only to slap into Elephant. After dusting the monkey off, the elephant joins Monkey on his way to Volcano Valley, where they anticipate finding the "tale of tales." To amuse one another they begin to tell stories—first about the clever servant girl and then "The Obstacle" (a version of the classic tale of the elephant and the blind mice). Other animals join them and tell their own story—an Anansi tale and even a story of Rip Van Winkle. Some are told in rhyming couplets and others in prose. At last the animals arrive in the valley, and as they wait quietly for the great storyteller, a deep voice comes from within the cave: "Once upon a time . . ." Black-and-white drawings and silhouettes nestle among the paragraphs on most pages. Full-page illustrations highlight each of the nine journey tales. A pleasure-filled journey indeed. (Folktale. 7-12)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2003

As long as there are kids, dinosaur books have less chance of extinction than the actual dinosaurs did. And thus, for the benefit of curious and expressive tykes, Mitton and Parker-Rees (Down by the Cool of the Pool, 2002, etc.) serves up yet another, albeit welcome, excursion in paleo-eurhythmics. Should this be read before or after naptime? Let's explicate. It is to be experienced, to be stomped out in character, to be recited aloud as the language reflects reptilian excitement in sound and onomatopoeia. And Parker-Rees's illustrations resound and bounce on a glowing color palette that has consigned earth tones to long-forgotten times. There is noise, dancing, and a sense of largeness that can only lead from the titular rumpus to a . . . nap. Despite fitting into a familiar genre, Mitton has somehow—perhaps through the rhyme, perhaps through sheer ebullience of language—tapped into a satisfying freshness that says stomping out a Dinosaurumpus is for anytime. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2001

A wacky romp of a tale, full of simple and buoyant verse and accompanied by electrically jazzy artwork, of a barnyard of creatures cutting it up down by the old waterhole. A jiving frog wants to know who can dance like him, and pretty much each animal on the farm takes up his offer. "I can dance too. / But not like you. / I can flap," says the duck. The pig also displays some fancy footwork, as does the sheep and the dog and the cat and a company of others. After each animal shows their moves, there is a cumulative run through of all those that went before. Finally they all roll—"With a bump and a slip / and a trip and a crash / and a ‘Whoops! Watch out!' / and a topple and a splash"—in a tumble down into the cool of the pool where they keep up the frugging until a sunset worthy of Peter Maxx encourages them to rest their feet. The text is as bouncy as the critters, swooping up and down and highlighting the "flap," the "wiggle," the "stamp," and the "Wheeee!" A slice of tomfoolery, suitable to be read as a song, giving the action the kind of chipper and carefree spin it begs for. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >