Meet Authors & Illustrators

Lois Ehlert

   Lois Ehlert brings a distinctive collage style to children's books. She joined a group of other illustrators at an event hosted by the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC (September 2003) which provided those in attendance an opportunity to attend lectures and panel sessions, as well as hands-on demonstrations by the illustrators of the various techniques that they use.

   Her work in children's books began in the 1980s with Eating the Alphabet. Lois loves the world of color, nature and form. Often her work starts out quite complex, but she told the audience that her editor is patient and often encourages her to produce another version, which according to Lois is really positive. "There is something good about having another set of eyes (editor) look at what you have created."

   Lois begins with the art and then adds the words until "they are dancing together." The text and art are complementary and do not say the same thing. For Lois, the subject must be of interest and she is drawn to objects and animals that exhibit plenty of color such as butterflies. She thinks in fragments--sometimes it may just be a feeling that gets her creative juices flowing. In her talk she noted that the initial idea is often both a tortuous as well as joyful process. She likened it to swimming among fish and seaweed and referred to her thinking process as "blue skying." Once she has latched onto a concept and gets working, she wants to share her excitement with others. The ideas and feelings become more concrete. Sometimes she uses a diecut technique--for example, a leaf may change color as the pages of a book are turned. Each book is unique and she said that it is often helpful for her to create the book as it would appear when bound.

   When asked about how she got interested in art, she made the comment that "art chose her. She can't remember when she wasn't drawing and writing." Also she loved books as a child; they "made her quiver" when she was in the library. She grew up in a small town and to this day is not sure how she ended up in art school. She also told her audience that she enjoys going to museums more than looking at other children's books-because she has a subconscious fear of stealing something from another artist.

Contributor: Marilyn Coutot

For more on Lois Ehlert, go to her web page at www.rif.org/art/illustrators/ehlert.mspx

 

Reviews

Angel Hide and Seek
Ann Turner
Illustrated by Lois Ehlert
   This picture book with free verse poetry and cut paper illustrations invites readers to look for angels in nature. Shapes of flowers, shadows, clouds, and leaves remind the poet of angels' faces or wings or of angels in flight. The poet also describes how she arranges angel shapes out of rocks, shells, and vegetables. The dust jacket suggests the book for children ages four to eight, but the text and angel imagery are too abstract to satisfy young children, and this book might be more effective for an older audience. As usual, Ehlert includes artist's notes for each of her beautiful illustrations that provide some clues about where to look for angels. The book features natural angels from all seasons and could be used as springboard for art classes or nature walks with older children. 1998, HarperCollins, $14.95. Ages 6 up. Reviewer: Eileen Hanning (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, June 1998; Cahners; United States
ISBN: 0-06-027085-3
ISBN: 0-06-027086-1

Chicka Chick Boom Boom
Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
Illustrated by Lois Ehlert
   Alphabet books abound, and consequently the competition for becoming memorable is keen. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom attracts attention for its unusual qualities. It emphasizes the letters of the alphabet themselves, relates an original story, and uses a designer's palette. Unlike the typical alphabet book with a single letter on a page with accompanying objects, this book portrays the twenty-six letters as actors in a scene. Each one attempts to climb toward the top of the coconut tree in alphabetical order, only to tumble down again as the tree bends with their weight. The rhythmic text reads like a skipping rope chant, and is self-sufficient. Chicka chicka boom boom Will there be enough room? Here comes H up the coconut tree Even the conclusion hints that the episodes will be reenacted. With the coconut tree as the unifying element, the letters appear as a different design on each double-page spread. They are large and wide, visible by children in a group setting. Orange and fuschia clown dots alternate for the border colors, while the flat cut-out-shaped colored letters and tree are placed with thought. Subtleties such as the bandaged f and "stubbed-toe e" will not pass over even young children. Authors Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault collaborated before with White Dynamite and Curly Kidd and Knots on a Counting Rope, both selected as "Best Books of the Year" by School Library Journal. Lois Ehlert, the designer and illustrator, received attention with her Growing Vegetable Soup and Planting a Rainbow. 1989, Simon & Schuster, $13.95. Ages 2 to 6. Reviewer: Karen Nelson Hoyle (The Five Owls, January/February 1990 (Vol. 4, No. 3)).
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Children's Choices, 1990; International Reading Association; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Kentucky Bluegrass Award Winner 1991 Grades K-3 Kentucky
   Parent's Choice Award Gold 2003 Best 25 Books in 25 Years United States
ISBN: 0-671-67949-X

Color Farm
Lois Ehlert
   Ehlert has great talent for creating books that are deceptively simple, yet challenging and rewarding for young children. Color Farm, has been issued in a board book format. It features farm animals in a series of die-cut pages that reveal a progression of animal faces by changing shapes and colors. A die-cut square creates an image of a rooster; turn the page and the rooster is now a duck. The book has three sets of die-cut pages that progress through a series of three animals and then a final page with all the shapes creating a pattern. My favorite series is "cat, cow, pig". A companion book is Color Zoo. The original 1997, HarperFestival, $6.95. Ages 1 to 5. Reviewer: Kristin Harris (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K-Grade 6, Tenth Edition, 1993; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children, 1990; National Science Teachers Association; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   National Association of Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Winner 1991 Baby/Toddler United States
ISBN: 0-694-01066-9

Color Zoo
Lois Ehlert
   Ehlert has great talent for creating books that are deceptively simple, yet challenging and rewarding for young children. Color Zoo has been issued in a board book format. It features animals in a series of die-cut pages that reveal a progression of animal faces by changing shapes and colors. The book has three sets of die-cut pages that progress through a series of three animals and then a final page with all the shapes creating a pattern. A companion book is Color Farm. 1997, HarperFestival, $11.95, $11.89 and $6.95. Ages 1 to 5. Reviewer: Kristin Harris (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K-Grade 6, Tenth Edition, 1993; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   Randolph Caldecott Medal Honor Book 1990 United States
ISBN: 0-397-32259-3
ISBN: 0-397-32260-7

Crocodile smile: 10 Songs of the Earth as the Animals See It
Composed and performed by Sarah Weeks
Songbook illustrated by Lois Ehlert
   Humorous presentation of a serious environmental issue through ten songs and a 48 page picture book. Each song is from a different endangered animal's point of view, such as the tufted-eared marmoset, giant panda and Galapagos tortoise, performed by Weeks who will be quickly recognized from her Sesame Street appearances. Ehlert collage art has won her Caldecott Honors. 1994, HarperCollins, $24.95. Ages All. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
   In the soon-to-be classic category comes a tape-book combination called Crocodile Smile. Beautiful full-page illustrations by award-winning artist Ehlert accompany ten songs of the "earth as the animals see it" that are written and sung by Weeks. 1994, HarperCollins, $24.95. Ages 4 to 9. Reviewer: Susie Wilde (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K--Grade 6, 1997; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   School Library Journal Book Review Stars, November 1994; Cahners; United States
ISBN: 0-06-022867-9

Cuckoo: A Mexican Folktale/Cucú: un cuento folklórico mexicano
Lois Ehlert
Translated into Spanish by Gloria de Aragón Andujar
   Even though Cuckoo was admired for her lovely voice and bright feathers, a little goes a long way when one is also vain and lazy. "Even the sweetest song can turn sour--Pero aun la canción más dulce se puede amargar." One day while the other birds were asleep, Cuckoo noticed flames threatening to destroy a season's supply of seeds. Flying with one seed at a time in her beak, Cuckoo carried seeds "from the fiery fields to the cool woods" and dropped them into Mole's tunnel. The next day a raspy cry, "Cuckoo," was the only sound Cuckoo could muster, and her feathers were scorched black. All of the creatures agreed, "You can't tell much about a bird by looking at its feathers--Todos estaban de acuerdo al final que no se puede juzgar a un pájaro por su plumaje." The type-face for both languages is large, and the brief text is easy to read. Ehlert's stunning Pre-Columbian palette has a strikingly contemporary appearance. In short notes written at the end of the tale for interested older readers Ehlert writes that "the illustrations were inspired by a variety of Mexican crafts and folk art, including cut-paper fiesta banners, tin work, textiles, metal milagros, clay "tree of life" candelabra, and wooden toys and sculptures." Her mixed media assemblages were photographed skillfully, given the illusion of three dimensions. Young readers met Mole's Peruvian "cousin" in Moon Rope (Harcourt, 1992) and his Woodland Indian "cousin" in Mole's Hill (Harcourt, 1994). CCBC categories: Folklore, Mythology and Traditional Literature; New Editions of Classic Literature; Picture Books; The Arts. 1997, Harcourt Brace, 36 pages, $16.00. Ages 3-9. Reviewer: CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 1997).
Best Books:
   Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature, 1997; Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP); United States
   The Best Children's Books of the Year, 1998; Bank Street College of Education; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Editors' Choice: Books for Youth, 1997; American Library Association-Booklist; United States
   Kaleidoscope, A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K-8, Third Edition, 2001; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of the Social Studies, 1997; National Council for the Social Studies NCSS; United States
   Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts, 1998; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 1998; National Council for the Social Studies NCSS; United States
   Outstanding Books by Wisconsin Authors and Illustrators, 1998; United States State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Michigan Reader's Choice Award, 2001; Nominee; Michigan
ISBN: 0-15-200274-X

Día de marcado: Una historia contada a través del arte popular
Lois Ehlert
Translated by F. Isable Campoy and Alma Flor Ada
   This marvelous book, winner of a New York Times Book Review award, offers a treat not only to children through its story and illustrations, but also to those who appreciate artwork from around the world. While the tale told is simple, the book's magic lies in its design. Using pieces of art from many different nations the author creates illustrations to accompany a tale about a family traveling from the countryside to the village in order to sell their foods at a market. Along the way, the family passes sheep grazing the field, fish and frogs swimming in the water, birds in the trees and snakes sunning themselves. All of the illustrations are actual pieces of artwork from various countries. There are birds from Africa, India, and the United States, butterflies from Peru and Panama, dolls from Mexico and Bolivia, chickens and turkeys from Guatemala and much more. A special page at the end of the book lets readers know where every piece of artwork used in the book comes from and the materials used to make it. 2000, Harcourt, $7.00. Ages 3 to 7. Reviewer: Ramirose Ilene Attebury (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-15-216814-1

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z
Lois Ehlert
     All too frequently, teachers tell me that colleagues strike alphabet books from their upper-grade library's order list. That's sad, for the best alphabet books are for everyone. For example with Ehlert's book you can share it as 1) a simply beautiful alphabet book, 2) a sampling of edible plants elementary grade youngsters can categorize (i.e. leaf or root, crunchy or slurpy, yellow or green), whose origins can be pinpointed on a map, or whose preparations reflect cultural similarities or differences, 3) a collection of fine watercolor collages, anyone can try, 4) an information book with glossary entries that are models of tightly constructed, information laden, two-to-four sentence paragraphs. 1996 (orig. 1989), Harcourt, $15.00, $6.00, $19.95 and $5.95. Ages All. Reviewer: Dr. Beverly Kobrin (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K-Grade 6, Tenth Edition, 1993; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States
ISBN: 0-15-224435-2
ISBN: 0-15-224436-0
ISBN: 0-15-200902-7

Feathers for Lunch
Lois Ehlert
     This most recent of Ehlert's works reminds me a bit of an opera star singing a pop song: the dominance of technique over subject matter creates a virtuoso performance. Although she provides four pages where "the lunch that got away" is shown with the sizes, food preferences, habitats, and geographical distributions, this is hardly the book I would pick up to take on a birdwalk. For the very young, however, it may be an attractive beginning because the artist has captured the visual essences of her subjects in her simplified forms. What is tangibly evident is a striking sequence of pages (beginning with the glossiest red endpapers ever) on which the cut paper shapes tell their story against white backgrounds. It's a tall vertical format so the double-page spreads form squares, a shape comfortable for the clipped black, boldly typographed lines of verse that are the narrative, plus the rather small black bird and plant names, red sound effects, and, of course, the actors. Once again Lionni's influence appears in the prepared papers used to cut the anatomical parts. The hues are intense, purely applied as in a woodpecker's red head or modulated as in the brownish-greenish-grays of a tree trunk. Edges are sharply cut, unabashedly proclaiming the artifice of their shaping. But in the assemblage, the artist produces twelve believable and readily identifiable backyard birds, some ordinary flora (rather extraordinarily designed) and, to keep us a little anxious, a hungry pussycat whose bell always jingles just in time. The loosely metered verses point out the feline's objective and the birds' skill in providing him only "feathers for lunch." Yet, despite the reality of this hunting scenario, we always sense the ultimate safety of these esthetically designed feathered friends. Ehlert's design sense seems to improve with age. The red-winged blackbird page is simply stunning in its juxtaposing of curvalinear shapes. And the cardinal's brilliance is matched in bravura fashion by cat's eyes and splashy blossoms. The best of hers yet. 1990, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, $13.95. Ages 3 to 8. Reviewer: Kenneth Marantz (The Five Owls, November/December 1990 (Vol. 5, No. 2)).
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K-Grade 6, Tenth Edition, 1993; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts, 1990; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children, 1990; National Science Teachers Association; United States
   Teachers' Choices, 1991; International Reading Association; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   ABC Children's Booksellers Choices Award Winner 1991 Picture Books United States
   Redbook Children's Picturebook Awards Winner 1990 United States State and Provincial Reading Lists: Kentucky Bluegrass Award, 1992; Nominee; Kentucky
ISBN: 0-15-230550-5

Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On
Lois Ehlert
     When it's time for kids to count off, connect them to books by the creative artists whose numerical excursions are as satisfyingly aesthetic as they are arithmetic. For example...en route from one to ten, the littlest counters--and friends of any age--will be enchanted by Lois Ehlert's vibrant collages. With each flip of the page, a plain pilot fish leads the way to bigger-by-one schools of brilliantly colored, dayglo-accented fish, whose die-cut eyes cleverly add another dimension to the journey. Ms. Ehlert's stylized images depict fish both real and imaginary. Newly issued as a board book for younger kids, this edition works for those who just find it interesting to look at the fish as well as for those who are ready to learn to count to 10. 2001 (orig. 1990), Harcourt, $6.95. Ages 6 mo. to 3. Reviewer: Dr. Beverly Kobrin and Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002; California Department of Education; California
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books of the Year Winner 1990 United States
ISBN: 0-15-216281-X

In My World
Lois Ehlert
     This 8 1/2 inch square book has an intriguing cover. A small, cutout hand centered on a royal blue background is filled with a kaleidoscope of shapes and colors. As the cover is opened it becomes obvious that the colors and shapes are formed by layers of intensely colored pages--die-cut like stencils through which colored slices of succeeding and preceding pages appear. The text opens with "My world is made of things I like" and, along the bottoms of the pages, words are printed. On some pages the names of objects such as bugs, worms, sun, butterflies are found; sometimes it is a description of action such as fluttering, dancing, drifting. Especially effective is the page full of small round holes which is called "splashing rain" on the front and "glittering stars" on the reverse. The inside back-cover sheet is a rebus of the words and shapes that appear in the book. As the pages are turned the appeal of the book diminishes. The colors and shapes that appear in the cut-out spaces could have been given more consideration as to overall design and application to the shape they are filling. 2002, Harcourt, $15.00. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Eleanor Heldrich (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   The Best Children's Books of the Year, 2003; Bank Street College of Education; United States
   Choices, 2003; Cooperative Children's Book Center; United States
ISBN: 0-15-216269-0

Market day: A Story Told with Folk Art
Written and designed by Lois Ehlert
     It's Market Day, time for the farm family to do their chores, load the truck, and go to the town square. There is buying and selling, lots to see and do there before they head home. Simple rhymed couplets printed in large type tell the basic tale. Most of the materials used for illustration come from the artist's international collection of "folk" objects. The last two pages give the sources. She has arranged them with a few pieces of her own making into somewhat complex scenes that immediately attract the eyes, then hold them while they study the interaction of the objects. The text just offers the opportunity to demonstrate the diversity and appeal of such objects as clay figures from Mexico, carved wood from Guatemala and Africa, a clay truck from Colombia, etc. The sharp, clear photographs present them most attractively. 2000, Harcourt Brace Inc., $16.00. Ages 3 to 6. rvv Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, May 2000; Cahners; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books of the Year Winner 2000 United States
ISBN: 0-15-202158-2

Mole's Hill: A Woodland Tale
Lois Ehlert
     Set in the Wisconsin woodlands, fox, skunk, mole and raccoon are fast friends who have a falling out when mole's home blocks their proposed path to the pond. Fortunately the clever mole finds an ingenious way to save her home. The flora and fauna indigenous to the region are illustrated using ribbon applique and sewn beadwork in this adaptation of a Seneca tale. 1994, Harcourt Brace, $15.00. Ages 3 to 8. Reviewer: Susie Wilde (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K--Grade 6, 1997; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Outstanding Books by Wisconsin Authors and Illustrators, 1995; United States
   Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, February 1994; Cahners; United States
ISBN: 0-15-255116-6

Moon Rope: A Peruvian Folktale/Uno lazo a la luna: una leyenda peruana
Lois Ehlert
Translated into Spanish by Amy Prince
     In this interpretation of a Peruvian folktale, Ehlert uses her signature bright colors to tell the story of a fox and a mole who want to climb a rope of grass to the moon. Fox, who keeps his eyes on the goal, is successful, but Mole, who is more interested in worms, slips and returns to earth where he hides his embarrassment by digging a tunnel. In this large format book, Ehlert uses brilliant colors and simple cutouts with Peruvian motifs to tell an endearing story. The text is provided for the reader in both English and Spanish. 1992, Harcourt Brace, $17.00. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Debra Briatico (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K-Grade 6, Tenth Edition, 1993; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Editors' Choice: Books for Youth, 1992; American Library Association-Booklist; United States
   Kaleidoscope, A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K-8, 1994; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Notable Books for Children, 1992; American Library Association-ALSC; United States
   Outstanding Books by Wisconsin Authors and Illustrators, 1993; United States
ISBN: 0-15-255343-6

A Pair of Socks
Stuart J. Murphy
Illustrated by Lois Ehlert
     An unmatched sock attempts to find its mate. This story teaches beginning math concepts such as recognizing different patterns through matching patterns of socks to create a pair. There are additional activities at the back of the book. As always, Caldecott award winner, Lois Ehlert, has created vibrant illustrations; a visual kaleidoscope of patterns and colors. 1996, HarperTrophy, $14.95, $14.89 and $4.95. Ages 3 up. Reviewer: Leila Toledo (Children's Literature)
Best Books:
   Annual Best Children's Science Book List, 1996; Science Books & Films; United States
ISBN: 0-06-025879-9
ISBN: 0-06-025880-2
ISBN: 0-06-446703-1

Pie in the Sky
Lois Ehlert
     Our young narrator puzzles over Dad's statement that their tree is a "pie tree." What grows on it first are buds that burst into bloom in the spring. Then something else is growing there that makes the birds very excited. "It's a cherry feast!" It's time to pick the cherries and make a pie. The very simple text in large type continues with instructions for making the pie, which is a treat for all, including the birds. Along with the story text are, in small print, descriptions of all the items to be found in each double-page collage, along with added baking instructions. How Ehlert's masterful collages are made is detailed at the end of the book. They make attractive scenes while representing the birds and plants with naturalistic care. The photographs of these illustrations as printed have an intriguing three-dimensional quality, adding to their value as teaching resources. There are involving half-pages to turn, while holes in the jacket and cover reveal the red underneath forming the cherries for the pie the birds are pecking. A natural history lesson with a reward at the end. 2004, Harcourt, $16.00. Ages 3 to 7. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-15-216584-3

Planting a Rainbow
Written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert
     Spring is the time of year when the earth is soft and the plants that have lain dormant begin to sprout. This board book opens with the fall and the time when a girl and her mother are busy planting a variety of bulbs. When they bloom they will create a colorful array--orange tiger lilies, red tulips, yellow daffodils, blue hyacinths and purple crocus. In addition to the bulbs planted in the fall, they also go to the garden center to get seeds and seedlings to plant in the spring. Then they care for the plants and watch their rainbow grow. In the cut pages that conclude the book all the colors of the rainbow are shown along with some appropriate plants that are brightly displayed and named. A delightful book for budding gardeners and kids who just want to know more about plants, their colors, and their names. 2003 (orig. 1988), Harcourt Brace, $6.95. Ages 2 to 7. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   The John Burroughs List of Nature Books for Young Readers Winner 1988 United States
ISBN: 0-15-262609-3
ISBN: 0-15-262611-5
ISBN: 0-15-262610-7

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf
Lois Ehlert
     Lois Ehlert's new book is an interest hybrid of fact, image, and story. Its bracing colors and close perspectives remind me of her other books, such as Growing Vegetable Soup, yet this one is distinctive. The facts concern the process by which a maple tree is sprouted in the forest, moved to a nursery, and finally given a permanent home. The images are leaves, seeds, twigs, and roots that Ehlert has assembles from paper and bits of actual trees. These, in turn, are combined with tape, paper clips, fabric, wire, string, ribbon, and other sundries into collages. As for the story, this is achieved with a child's voice explaining how the tree came to stand outside the window, an object of love in all seasons. ("Each spring I look for signs that my tree is growing.") I appreciate this book much more as food for the senses than as an introduction to science. The several pages of information that close the book and seem intended to extend its content are too condensed to be really useful. I wonder what most six-year-olds will make of the statement that "leaves use water, energy from sunlight, and carbon dioxide from the air" or how the directions for planting, wrapping, and staking a tree will be followed without major assistance from adults. But the figurative language (trees are "born") and the child's point of view help to make this book a work of imagination, perfect for reading out loud. Young listeners will delight in touching the raised shape of a leaf on the book's jacket and poking their fingers through the cutaway (again, shaped as a leaf) on the title page spread. The textures of burlap and other materials are so vividly pictured that children will be primed to make collages of their own. 1991, HBJ, $14.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Mary Lou Burket (The Five Owls, September/October 1991 (Vol. 6, No. 1)).
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Fanfare Honor List, 1991; Horn Book; United States
   Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children, 1991; National Science Teachers Association; United States
   Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002; California Department of Education; California
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   ABC Children's Booksellers Choices Award Winner 1992 Picture Books United States
   Elizabeth Burr Award Winner 1992 United States
ISBN: 0-15-266197-2

Snowballs
Lois Ehlert
     Making snowballs and snowmen seems so natural with all of those beautiful flakes piled high on the ground. Ehlert, with her distinctive collage artwork, creates a snow family using familiar objects from inside and outside the house. When the sun arrives, the family begins to melt away. Good ideas for decorating and creating a snow family are imaginatively displayed in vertical form on two-page spreads. 2001 (orig. 1995), Red Wagon/Harcourt, $6.95. Ages 6 mo. to 3. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K--Grade 6, 1997; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Outstanding Books by Wisconsin Authors and Illustrators, 1996; United States
   Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, October 1995; Cahners; United States
   Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002; California Department of Education; California
ISBN: 0-15-216275-5

Thump, Thump, Rat-a-Tat-Tat
Gene Baer
Illustrated by Lois Ehlert
     A band gets off its bus and approaches, the sounds get louder and the band members grow larger until they fill the page. Now the marchers and the sounds of their instruments begins to fade as they head back to their bus. The story is repeated visually in the size and placement of the text and figures which increase and decrease as the band approaches and heads away. A clever book whose Rat-A-Tat-Tat and Thumping will surely please little ones. This is a new board book edition of the 1989 book. 1996 (orig. 1989), HarperFestival, $6.95. Ages 6 mo. to 3. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 0-694-00813-3

Top Cat
Lois Ehlert
     Ehlert returns to the few-word, large type, rhymed fun of Feathers for Lunch (Harcourt, 1990) to tell a story of how confrontation yields to cooperation when a new kitten arrives in the household of an established cat. In her medium of choice, collage, she uses a wide range of brightly colored materials. She represents her animals by abstracting key body parts and combining them into evocative poses. Her clean-cut, boldly patterned and textured, almost geometric shapes still convey "cat." 1998, Harcourt Brace & Company, $16.00. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
   Top Cat is in charge. He guards the house and rules the roost and doesn't like it when a small gray-striped interloper threatens his status. First he makes sure the kitten knows who is boss and then he instructs the little cat in household behavior. Lessons are given in all those habits that feline pets indulge in and which drive their owners to distraction. Habits which are annoying, yet somehow endearing at the same time, such as eating plants until they are bare, drinking from the sink when visitors are watching and leaving hair all over the sofa. This is typical kitty behavior and the kitten is a good student. A humorous story, cleverly illustrated, providing a light-hearted approach to the issue of new baby jealousy experienced by an older sibling. Top Cat is a delightful book that is sure to coax a chuckle from anyone who has ever had a cat, or two, around the house. 1998, Harcourt Brace, $16.00. Ages 3 to 7.
Reviewer: Carolyn Mott Ford (Children's Literature)
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States
ISBN: 0-15-201739-9

Under My Nose
Lois Ehlert
Photographs by Carlo Ontal
     Lois Ehlert, the exuberant illustrator of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom; Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf; Eating the Alphabet; and numerous other colorful picture books explains how she came to be an illustrator in this entry in the excellent "Meet the Author" series. Aimed at those who are still enjoying or have recently enjoyed her picture books and would like to know more, the book serves two purposes. It gives the reader insight into the way this illustrator/author works in collage and paint and it gives children an insight into how a person's childhood passions and interests grow into a successful career. Full color photographs show the artist in her studio and around the neighborhood, a dummy of one of her picture books, the colorful objects and items she has collected from which to draw inspiration, and the author's yellow legal pad drafts as she saves words to choose from later. She also mentions how she gets herself "unstuck" from artists' or writers' block, and how she is continually learning. An excellent addition to the elementary school teaching shelf, to the understanding of the artistic and writing process, and a fine read-aloud for fans and newcomers alike. 1996, Richard C. Owen Publishers, $14.95. Ages 6 to 10. Reviewer: Susan Hepler, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   Outstanding Books by Wisconsin Authors and Illustrators, 1997; United States
ISBN: 1-5727-4027-2

Waiting for Wings
Lois Ehlert
     In brief, simple verses and large type, Ehlert traces the life cycle of the butterfly, from egg through caterpillar and chrysalis to glorious emergence and flight to the garden. There they "dip and sip" and find a place to lay their eggs for another cycle. The artist's cut papers, as forecast on the cover, are brilliantly colored, in keeping with the subjects of butterflies and flowers. In the beginning, graduated half-pages tell the story of the caterpillars on the stems of unchanging flowers. Then large white pages are flooded with Ehlert's interpretations of blossoms and wings. The masses of petals plus the stunning butterfly wing patterns dazzle the eyes. This visual tribute to nature's handiwork is supplemented with facts about butterflies and flowers, plus information about how to grow a butterfly garden. 2001, Harcourt, $17.00. Ages 3 to 7. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
   A book of unusual shape, 12" high by 10" wide, with the book title running down the forward edge of the cover, this is a book about butterflies, their life cycle, what they eat and how to look for them. Told in simple rhyming couplets, the author who is also the artist has illustrated the various-sized pages with vivid representational images of flowers and leaves, butterfly eggs and caterpillars and, finally, the beautiful butterflies themselves! In the back of the book there are several pages of information about butterflies, including how to plan a garden to attract them. 2001, Harcourt, $17.00. Ages 3 to 7. Reviewer: Eleanor Heldrich (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
   The Best Children's Books of the Year, 2002; Bank Street College of Education; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2002; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Los Angeles' 100 Best Books, 2001; IRA Children's Literature and Reading SIG and the Los Angeles Unified School District; United States
   Notable Books for Children, 2002; American Library Association-ALSC; United States
   Outstanding Books by Wisconsin Authors and Illustrators, 2002; United States Parent's Guide to Children's Media, 2001; Parent's Guide to Children's Media, Inc.; United States
   Publishers Weekly Best Children's Books, 2001; Cahners; United States
   Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, April 2001; Cahners; United States
   Reading Magic Awards, 2001; Parenting; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
   ABC Children's Booksellers Choices Award Winner 2002 Non-Fiction United States Society of School Librarians International Book Awards Honor 2001 Language Arts - Picture Books United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
   Virginia Young Readers Program, 2003-2004; Nominee; Virginia
   Young Hoosier Book Award, 2004; Nominee; Indiana
ISBN: 0-15-202608-8

 

Added 12/30/04

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