Tag Archives: picture books

Rosie and the Rustlers

By Roy Gerrard. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1989.

Where the mountains meet the prairie, where the men are wild and hairy/There’s a little ranch where Rosie Jones is boss. It’s a place that’s neat and cozy, and the boys employed by Rosie/Work extremely hard, to stop her getting cross.

The cadence of the words is enough to pull you in. But come on, don’t you already want to know what happens next? In a nutshell, Rosie’s men — including One-Leg Smith, Salad Sam, and Utah Jim who’s nice but dim — find themselves in pursuit of a gang of outlaws who tried to steal their steers. And so the “hazardous adventure” begins. Not to worry, it all ends well. The bandits (and their cabin) are lassoed, the townspeople applaud, and Rosie’s boys even get a reward from the sheriff. I would be remiss not to mention the enchanting, 80’s-era illustrations. The characters look like a sort of Wild West version of trolls, with overly round faces, wide eyes, and arms as short as a T-rex’s. But you just. Can’t. Look. Away.

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Princess Hyacinth: The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated

By Florence Parry Heide, Illustrated by Lane Smith

Schwartz & Wade Books, 2009

Princess Hyacinth had a problem. Well, you’re saying, everyone has a problem. But this was an unusual problem. Oh, she didn’t look unusual, that wasn’t it. She had two eyes, with a nose between them and a mouth under that — you know, the usual things in the usual arrangement…So what was the problem?

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Piggybook

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By Anthony Browne

Alfred A. Knopf, 1986

 

Mr. Piggott lived with his two sons, Simon and Patrick, in a nice house with a nice garden, and a nice car in the nice garage. Inside the house was his wife.

My mother, a school teacher for thirty-odd years, recently found this book in her vast collection and presented it to me. “You’ll like this,” she said. And I do — especially after a particularly long day where I have felt like a combination of referee/hostage negotiator/butler/waitress/washerwoman.  Although written by a man, Piggybook is decidedly feminist. Mrs. Piggott is so taken advantage of by her greedy, sloppy family that one day, she leaves. In her absence, her two sons and husband turn into grumpy pigs, and their house a filthy sty. Of course, Mrs. Piggott does indeed return home and accept their groveling apologies and promises that things will be different. And things are. What I find so impressive is how Browne’s narrative is deepened by the illustrations; not until the very happy conclusion of this book does Mrs. Piggott have facial features.

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The Seven Silly Eaters

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By Mary Ann Hoberman, Illustrated by Marla Frazee

Voyager Books, 1997

Creamy oatmeal, pots of it! Homemade bread and lots of it! Peeling apples by the peck, Mrs. Peters was a wreck.

Is it hyperbole to refer to Mary Ann Hoberman and Marla Frazee as the Robert DeNiro/Al Pacino of children’s literature? I see either of their names on a book cover, and I grab it up.  Seven Silly Eaters is a dream collaboration: detailed drawings you can pore over hundreds of times without getting bored and a fabulously funny rhyming narrative. The silly eaters of the title are a lovable, rambunctious brood of kids, but the star of this book is their devoted mother who picks, peels, strains, scrapes, poaches, fries and kneads to keep them happy. There’s also an Easter egg for parents: acknowledgment that no matter how much you love and adore your kiddos, they can freaking exhaust you. Fortunately, that exhaustion is always temporary. Only thing missing from this book: A recipe for Mrs. Peters’ accidentally delicious birthday cake. Pink lemonade, applesauce and bread dough? I’m intrigued (and a little grossed out.)

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