Books by Vera Rosenberry

Vera Rosenberry is the author and illustrator of other Vera adventures, including When Vera Was Sick, Vera's First Day of School, Vera Runs Away, Vera Goes to the Dentist, and Vera Rides a Bike. Ms. Rosenberry currently lives in Cambridge, England, with h

VERA'S HALLOWEEN by Vera Rosenberry
Released: Aug. 1, 2008

Little sister Ruthie is going trick-or-treating before dark, but this year Vera gets to join older sisters June and Elaine with their father in "the spooky night." All wrapped up in her toilet-paper mummy costume, she rejects her mother's offer of a winter coat: "Mummies don't wear snowsuits!" At first all is well, but when Vera stops to rewrap a bandage, she loses track of her family and then her way. It begins to rain, then snow, and suddenly Halloween isn't so much fun anymore. Rosenberry has her finger on the pulse of children's anxieties—Vera's unhappy adventure and its comforting resolution is on just the right scale for preschoolers. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
VERA’S BABY SISTER by Vera Rosenberry
Released: May 1, 2005

Rosenberry sorts out sibling rivalry with her usual straightforward approach to challenging childhood milestones. Vera's parents, busy with new baby Ruthie, don't seem to notice Vera's feelings of being overlooked and displaced (or maybe they're just ignoring her in hopes that she'll come around). Vera's grandfather, however, sees her distress and offers a simple solution—some time spent together working in the garden and, eventually, a lovely tent of green beans into which Vera can retreat to find peace and quiet. Soothed by time, Vera's feelings about her noisy and noisome baby sister grow and change, too, allowing the book to end on a positive note. Rosenberry's familiar, somewhat stylized, gouache paintings show a decidedly old-fashioned world that will none-the-less ring true with contemporary kids. Whether with fans of Vera's previous appearances or listeners who are adjusting to new siblings themselves, this gentle adventure should find a warm welcome. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
VERA RIDES A BIKE by Vera Rosenberry
Released: May 1, 2004

A welcome return of Vera, Rosenberry's rough-cut alter-ego. Here she gets her much-loved tricycle ripped off during a visit to the park (Rosenberry likes to tackle life's curveballs: first day at school, going to the dentist, etc.). An unavailing search is conducted as the skies open up, mirroring Vera's tear ducts. But her father has renovated and buffed her older sister's bike (nice recycling touch). Vera takes to it with a passion, all but the starting and stopping parts. The story climaxes with Vera pedaling into the sunset because she doesn't know how to apply the brakes, only to give them a good stomp and discover the mechanics of a body in motion. The top-drawer story comes with equally fine artwork—soaked watercolors that unfurl across the page—and characterizations, from Vera's poses to her trim, Botticelli-esque mother's clodhoppers. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
THE GROWING-UP TREE by Vera Rosenberry
Released: Sept. 15, 2003

In this Giving Tree-like parable, infant Alfred and his mother seem to float in a sort of fecund and fantastic Eden, rife with less-than-subtle and sometimes disconcerting symbols of fertility. Here, Eve-like, mother tastes the apple that starts it all. The heavy-handed offering features the gouache palette we expect from Rosenberry, bespattered to create textured backgrounds of intense blue and green. Against this, birds and bees frolic, vegetation abounds, and both Alfred and his apple tree mature towards their oh-so-predictable demise. The illustrative distortion and exaggeration that are Rosenberry's trademark, and that in other works seem so winsome, are somehow disturbing here. In particular, children may find the haloed deathbed scene abrupt and upsetting, and ominous, carrion-seeking crows may give them a fright. The lackluster text does little to ameliorate the rather overpowering pictures. Unsettling. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
BAYA, BAYA, LULLA-BY-A by Megan McDonald
Released: July 1, 2003

An Indian mother lulls her choti ladki (little girl) to sleep, singing of baya-birds weaving and decorating their pendulous nest in an old thorn tree as she weaves a blanket, and rocks the child in a suspended chadr (scarf). In poses, dress, and adornment, the drowsy child, her loving mother, and other figures reflect traditional styles of Indian art. McDonald also invokes a common tradition by injecting an element of danger into her murmurous lullaby; the bough's not about to break, but a cobra's silent approach is heralded by the baya-birds' warning cries in time for mother to whisk baby to safety. Rosenberry's richly colored, finely detailed scenes give the effectively soporific verses a lovely backdrop. Lovely. (afterword, glossary) (Picture book. 1-4)Read full book review >
LITTLE MARTIN by Barbara Baker
Released: March 1, 2003

Little Martin has a sizzle of orange hair, jug ears, and the devil in his eye. Little Martin is trouble, and this team knows just how to present the rapscallion. Martin is a merry prankster, fully aware of his desires and guarding his territory like a junkyard dog. Let his mother try to fool him by pretending to eat the eggs he has spurned. "Yummy, yummy, yummy," says his mother. Martin pretends to eat them, too, and then demands a banana. Martin won't share toys, unless it gets him out of a bit of hot water, or, of course, they are someone else's toys. Martin knows how to say "no," but has some trouble with "thank you"; "mine" readily trips off his tongue, though "share" appears to be a foreign language. Martin is a prize—as is the terrific typeface, perfect for starting readers, and Rosenberry's artwork, with its wobbly, 3-D quality (check out Martin's monster face, his eyes bulging right off the page)—as long as he is not your very own bundle of joy. But then, he so often is, and that's what makes him elemental: there will be no closure with Martin, no glad summation of lessons learned, or behavior forever modified. Nope. Martin is a reprobate, fielding the consequences of his acts like a major leaguer, then tossing them right back at you. (Easy reader. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

Yum! Spotted frog, hairy spider, lizard, bat—if not the stuff dreams are made on, then certainly the (un)savory contents of a Halloween monster stew! In this cute holiday rhyming story, four monsters gleefully contribute these morsels—still alive, by the way, and squirming in their garbage-can cooking pot—to what they expect will be a grand and festive treat. Enter Little Moe, a fifth monster who accidentally tips the cauldron over. Exit, in a big hurry, the writhing, slithering ingredients. What a monstrous predicament. Moe is most unhappy. Suddenly, another monster appears bearing—can you guess?—candy galore, and Halloween is saved. Jane's rhymes flow and read well, and the tale will appeal at holiday story times, but it's Rosenberry's (Who's in the Garden, p. 337, etc.) colorful, goofy monsters that are the most expressive, as are the erstwhile stew ingredients. Yum. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2001

Why do you need to go to the dentist if all your teeth are going to fall out anyway? No mom really has a good answer to that age-old question, but a little preventative maintenance never hurt anyone. Little Vera is faced with her first visit to the dentist along with her bigger sisters, and at least it means that she's getting bigger! While her cowgirl skirt bolsters her sense of courage, nothing prepares her for the terror of . . . of . . . the dentist's whirring tooth polisher. Vera bolts and everyone chases her around the block. But a little knowledge goes a long way, and she is convinced to return to the chair, and is rewarded with a set of bright, shiny teeth. Rosenberry's fourth, funny installment of the Vera stories (Vera Runs Away, 2000, etc.) takes away the fear of the unknown of that first trip to the dentist. The gouache illustrations are detailed enough so that little children and their folks can pick out all the machines and other utensils they'll see in the modern day dentists' lair, er, office. Unlike Vera, they'll know just what to expect and have the extra reward of another first-time adventure from the indefatigable heroine of this series. Now we know why God invented dental hygienists, seat belts, and tic-tac-toe. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
THE BUG CEMETERY by Frances Hill
Released: April 1, 2001

Bug funerals are one thing, but when a family pet has to be buried, the children in this tale learn to take pleasure in those still living as they experience their first loss of a loved one. When the narrator—a little ragamuffin, as are so many of Rosenberry's children—finds a dead ladybug, he and his sister, Wilma, decide to give it proper funeral. Well, the headstone is real enough, if the gnashing teeth and wailing are more Hollywood. Actually, it's kind of fun, and before you know it, a host of neighborhood kids have joined in, becoming professional mourners for the resident bug population. Then one of the boys loses his cat, Buster, to the wheels of a passing car. The children bury the cat along with all their bugs, though this funeral has real tears instead of the crocodile variety. The kids quickly learn the difference between playing at grief and the genuine article, and shortly thereafter, their cemetery is converted into a garden, wherein Buster II is soon cavorting and the children find solace in his antics. Newcomer Hill never tries to soft-pedal the burn of death, but she goes a long way toward giving young readers a sense of balance in celebrating life while the Grim Reaper goes about his work. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
WHO IS IN THE GARDEN? by Vera Rosenberry
Released: March 15, 2001

Rosenberry's three recent books (Vera Runs Away, 2000, etc.) about an irrepressible little girl named Vera have an undeniable charm with a unique main character, believable illustrations, and strong plot lines. Unfortunately, Vera isn't present in this latest offering, replaced by a nameless little boy who lacks Vera's spunk, and in fact, lacks much personality at all. The boy tours his backyard garden, observing and describing ordinary animals and insects camouflaged in their own particular environments. On the last double-page spread (and on the cover), the boy himself is camouflaged in a pole tent of green bean vines, providing a mildly surprising answer to the question posed in the title. The uninspired text plods through the garden on flat feet, alternating between straightforward descriptions of the garden inhabitants and rather confusing second-person commands to continue exploring in different ways. Rosenberry plays with unusual perspectives in her illustrations, which result in the boy sometimes looking two feet tall and two years old. Her watercolors of flora and fauna are pretty, but the little boy's age, facial features, and hair are not uniform throughout the book. The boy also looks rather bored, an effect that is likely to be shared by children listening to this story. Wait for Vera's next adventure. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
VERA RUNS AWAY by Vera Rosenberry
Released: Nov. 1, 2000

Running away to escape an unappreciative family is a nearly universal developmental stage of four- or five-year-olds. Pack your essentials (the favored stuffed animal, extra socks, a few special treasures) and hit the road to find a better family. Rosenberry (Vera's First Day of School, 1999, etc.) returns to her own childhood memories for her series of picture books about common childhood experiences. In this well-told tale, little Vera is thrilled with her first report card with all A's, but Mom and Dad are far too occupied with a flooded toilet to give her more than a quick compliment, and Vera's big sisters are nonchalant about A's in first grade. Vera strikes out for greener pastures with a bandana-wrapped bundle hanging from a rainbow-striped umbrella, providing an endearing hobo-style escape to the calming charms of a secret hideaway in the forest. When hunger pangs strike, Vera returns home to find her family in an uproar over her disappearance, proving to her that they do indeed care about their second-to-youngest daughter. Rosenberry succeeds in both her story and her illustrations, capturing the emotions of a young child who feels unappreciated and unrewarded for a job well done. Her bright gouache illustrations are a refreshing delight with lots of amusing details, and unusual because none of the four daughters in the family (or Mom, either) is pretty in a traditional sense. Vera is a spunky little heroine, with plenty of pluck left for more childhood adventures in a winning series. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
WHEN VERA WAS SICK by Vera Rosenberry
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

In a picture-book memoir about a terrible case of spots (chicken pox, measles), Rosenberry tells about little Vera. She looks positively ghoulish_gaunt and persecuted_as does her mother and her doctor. Vera is sent into internal exile_the spare room of the house_for the duration. The room is dim, funky, and lonely, and Vera can think of nothing but scratching. Family members make fleeting visits, but mostly the sounds of normal life float up to her from downstairs_muted clatters, tinkles, and laughter. Gradually Vera recovers and rediscovers an interest in crayons, Chinese checkers, and custard. Later still, she gains her release. It is hard to imagine children being consoled by this story. Even though the text is sound, the illness is as drawn out as children believe it is, and the ending is reassuring, the illustrations make the experience frightening and endless. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
SAVITRI by Aaron Shepard
Released: March 1, 1992

A smooth retelling of a tale from The Mahabharata, ``India's great national epic,'' first transcribed about 2000 years ago after a long life in the oral tradition; an excellent note suggests that it ``arises from a time when...women [were] far more independent than later Indian culture allowed.'' The wise and beautiful princess Savitra, seeking a husband of her own choice, selects the impoverished son of a conquered king, despite a prophecy that the son will die in just a year. When Yama (death) appears, she outwits him with a series of ingenious bargains in which she not only regains her beloved husband's life but restores her father-in-law's kingdom. Rosenberry's delicately drawn illustrations strike a good balance between bright, stylized scenes that recall Indian art and more realistically expressive characters that will appeal to a contemporary audience. (Folklore/Picture book. 6-10) Read full book review >
THE OUTSIDE INN by George Ella Lyon
Released: Aug. 1, 1991

``What's for breakfast? Ants with ketchup. What's to drink? Puddle ink....'' An interracial quartet of kids is puckishly depicted no larger than the little creatures they joke about eating for their picnic; in a last double spread, the birds and beasts who really feast on worms and insects come out in full force. The deftly phrased text—capitalizing on one of childhood's perennial sources of glee—is paired with lighthearted but meticulous illustrations, each moth and slug shown in loving detail. Offbeat, but definitely worth a try. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >