Books by Yoko Tanaka

Released: Feb. 11, 2020

"Stunning. (Picture book. 3-6)"
In this wordless picture book, a dandelion becomes a dandy lion before he goes to seed. Read full book review >
PRINCESSLAND by Emily Jenkins
Released: Feb. 7, 2017

"Although not the princess corrective some parents may wish for, the book's little lesson is one worth sharing: what's in the mind's eye is often more lavish and sweet than the real thing could possibly be. (Picture book. 4-8)"
A fantasy world of perfect princesses gives a young girl a respite from a bad mood. Read full book review >
DEAD BOY by Laurel Gale
by Laurel Gale, illustrated by Yoko Tanaka
Released: Sept. 29, 2015

"A stinky, creepy tale for anyone who's ever felt like an outsider. (Fiction. 8-11)"
Crow can't sleep and won't eat. But he's not dead-tired, he's dead—and his taste buds rotted off a long time ago. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 29, 2013

"Despite the touch-and-go artwork, the book can offer copious comfort to children with the suggestion that their closest childhood friends have found second lives elsewhere. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Where do old toys and blankets go? Their own private island, it seems. Read full book review >
THE WITCH'S CURSE by Keith McGowan
Released: March 19, 2013

"Extraneous elements, rampant psycho-symbolism and multiple point-of-view switches turn this into a loosely woven grab-bag, but the resolution does provide some satisfaction. (Fantasy. 11-13)"
Having narrowly avoided becoming dinner in The Witch's Guide to Cooking with Children (2009), sibs Sol and Connie face another folkloric fate in this equally gothic sequel. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 16, 2011

"It would be nice to have more control over the pace of the story, but the overall presentation is so spectacular it's worth lingering over. (iPad storybook app. 3-10)"
A stunning iPad adaptation showcases the story behind the popular ballet. Read full book review >
ONE MOON, TWO CATS by Laura Godwin
Released: Aug. 30, 2011

"Overall, though, cat fans will enjoy this sleeping and waking tale that starts and finishes on the end papers. (Picture book. 2-5)"
A city cat and a country cat prowl beneath the same dusky moon. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2009

In this mordant contemporary remake of "Hansel and Gretel," 11-year-old Sol and his little sister Connie find out the hard way that their next-door neighbor is a centuries-old witch. Readers know what's in store for Sol and Connie right from the riveting opening line, which is taken from the witch's deliciously detailed diary: "I love children. Eating them, that is." She never goes hungry either, because there are always misbehaving children being "donated" by weary parents—or snagged by one of the witch's secret allies, of which the town librarian is one. Though evidently unfamiliar with the traditional tale, Sol, a genius with electronic gear, and his even more clever little sib quickly figure out that something's wrong and launch an investigation. Not that that keeps them out of the witch's clutches…. McGowan doesn't follow the traditional plot very closely but he does include some folkloric elements. He sets up a credible chemistry between the children and gives the witch her say through her diary, which punctuates the narration. Tanaka's occasional full-page views of grim, heavy-lidded figures add a suitably gothic tone. Yum. (Fantasy. 11-13) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2009

Ten-year-old Peter Augustus Duchene goes to the market for fish and bread but spends it at the fortuneteller's tent instead. Seeking his long-lost sister, Peter is told, "You must follow the elephant. She will lead you there." And that very night at the Bliffenendorf Opera House, a magician's spell goes awry, conjuring an elephant that crashes through the ceiling and lands on Madam Bettine LaVaughn. Reading like a fable told long ago, with rich language that begs to be read aloud, this is a magical story about hope and love, loss and home, and of questioning the world versus accepting it as it is. Brilliant imagery juxtaposes "glowering and resentful" gargoyles and snow, stars and the glowing earth, and Tanaka's illustrations (not all seen) bring to life the city and characters from "the end of the century before last." A quieter volume than The Tale of Despereaux (2003) and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (2006), this has an equal power to haunt readers long past the final page. (Fantasy. 8-13)Read full book review >
SPARROW GIRL by Sara Pennypacker
Released: Feb. 17, 2009

In this sober tale based on Mao Zedong's 1958 edict to eradicate China's sparrows to prevent crop damage, a compassionate little girl follows her heart instead of her Leader. When Ming-Li learns of Mao's plan to eliminate the sparrows by creating noise for three consecutive days, she prophetically fears the terrible din will kill all birds. As mindless mobs beat drums, clang gongs, crash cymbals and explode firecrackers, Ming-Li's worst fears are realized, but not before she hides seven sparrows, which she feeds and tends in secret. When spring arrives and shocked farmers watch helplessly as locusts decimate their crops, Ming-Li reveals her secret and saves her village from famine. Tanaka's quiet, simple illustrations in subdued tones match the somber mood. In her red suit, Ming-Li's solitary figure stands out from the villagers in their uniform blue jackets, reinforcing her individuality. Moving images, such as a double-page spread of dead sparrows falling like "teardrops" while a weeping Ming-Li cradles a limp bird, send a powerful message that one small person can make a big difference. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >