June 21, 2016
Mystery Beans Make Magical Squash!
Back in 2006, I came across a short article in The Park Slope Courier about...
• Bank Street Children’s Book Committee – Building Blocks Selection for Children Five & Under
Playground songs and classroom songs, silly songs and sweet songs, wake–up songs and bedtime songs… Everyday, children, parents, friends, brothers, and sisters sing songs to one another.
Nina Crews brings her energetic style of illustration to this collection of thirty-four perennial favorites. From “Miss Mary Mack” (watching fireworks from her balcony) to “London Bridge” (built by a brother and sister in the living room) to “Skip to My Lou (in a rolling green park), the songs make this companion to the acclaimed The Neighborhood Mother Goose a treasure for every child in the neighborhood.
Kirkus Reviews – “A collection that begs to be sung in all neighborhoods—city stoops or country front-porch swings alike.” (Picture book. 3-6)
It is summer and it is HOT. Dogs pant. Women carry umbrellas for the shade. But the running, dancing narrator is busy. Drawing. Teasing her shadow. Eating Popsicles.
Here is a perfect book for all seasons: If you are cold, it will warm you, and if you are hot–well, the sky is darkening, and the big drops are ready to fall. Nina Crews makes a stunning debut with a book bursting with emotion, truth, and beauty.
Horn Book July/August 1995 – “Her black hair carefully braided and beaded, an effervescent city child dances through a hot summer day until a thunderstorm brings welcome relief. Executed in collages made from color photographs, the illustrations are an intriguing combination of realistic images imaginatively redefined in unexpected juxtaposition – as in the multilayered interpretation of four simple lines: ‘Dogs pant. / Hydrants are open. / Women carry umbrellas / for the shade.’
In this context, the camera is a much a painter’s tool as palette and brush, manipulating reality to suggest texture, sensations, and emotions. A wonderful concept book, grounded in ordinary events yet touched with magic, that will strike a familiar chord with preschool audiences while enlarging their perceptions. An auspicious debut!”
Jack receives beans from his neighbor and – lo and behold! – those beans lead him up a beanstalk and into the company of giants. How will he ever get back home? In her innovative photo-collage style, Nina Crews freshens up a beloved children’s tale for today’s young readers.
Kirkus – A contemporary urban version of the ancient tale of beans and boy, with spiky parts rounded off. This Jack gets a jar of brightly colored beans for doing chores for his neighbor, and he plants them beneath his bedroom window right away. Overnight, it grows into a splendid leafy ladder up the side of his apartment building, and after checking it for sturdiness Jack climbs up until he can see the whole city (“WOW!”). Above the clouds, the scent of chocolate-chip cookies lures him to a castle, where he finds a giant admiring himself while his giant wife gives him a pedicure (“I look good. I smell good”). The giants immediately put Jack to work, and after a long day he races down the beanstalk with the golden-egg-laying hen under his arm. When he chops down the stalk, giant and wife tumble down—and lo! They were under a curse, which Jack has broken, and they are just ordinary-sized folk. The images are quite keen, photographs and the occasional line drawing manipulated and layered to shape the story. Mrs. Giant has a fabulous ’50s-print apron with roosters and pots, as well as lots of jewelry, and Mr. struts in boots and vest, with a red bandanna in his pocket.
Crews’ fans will be delighted; others will be drawn in by the nifty mix of folktale and photo-collage. (Picture book/fairy tale. 5-9)
• ALA Notable Book 2007
• Junior Library Guild Selection 2006
• Read On Wisconsin book of the month December 2006
Jack and his action figure Guy have many adventures together, and the tall, narrow staircase in Jack’s house provides the perfect setting. Jack and Guy climb mountains, visit cities, and explore forests. But one day Guy falls down a hole in the stairs, and it’s up to Jack to rescue him. What is going on below the stairs?
Only Guy knows.
Publisher’s Weekly – “This fanciful look at play will likely hit high notes with young readers.” (Ages 3-6)
• ALA Notable Book 2005
• Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts (NCTE)
• Texas Library Association 2×2 Reading List 2005
• New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2004
• CCBC (Cooperative Children’s Book Council) Choice 2004
• Capitol Choices Noteworthy Books for Children
• School Library Journal Best Books 2004
• Kirkus Reviews 2004 Editor’s Choice List
• Parenting Magazine Books of the Year 2004
• Cuyahoga County Public Library Children’s Books to Read and Own
Every day, children the world over sing, shout, and celebrate Mother Goose rhymes. And now there’s a new reason to cheer: Nina Crews has added her own remarkable, jazzy style of illustration to a collection of forty-one favorite verses.Whether it’s Jack jumping over a candlestick (atop a cupcake), Georgie Porgie kissing the girls (at the playground), or a fine lady riding a white horse (on the carousel), this exuberant treasury is sure to be read and enjoyed over and over again.
“A fresh and welcome contribution.” — School Library Journal (starred review)
“Brimming with infectious joy.” — Horn Book (starred review)
The moon! There it is, outside the window, shiny as a new quarter. The child narrator imagines building a ladder to outer space, going up and up, until she can hold the silver circle in her hands. And what a magical time they have together!
School Library Journal – The book has striking visual images and while there is no strong story line, it does capture and convey a child’s power to imagine and wonder. May 1996
Whether they’re trekking to a magical island to hunt dinosaurs or saving a city from destruction, Jack and his action figure Guy have exciting adventures. Sometimes Jack’s little brother, Gus, joins them. But when Guy gets caught in a branch while skydiving, Jack and Gus must launch operation rescue!
School Library Journal – “Jack starts out thinking of himself and Guy as the perfect team, but learns that including Gus in adventures is more fun for everyone. Children will relate to the brothers’ plight and enjoy the story’s positive message.”
The weather report says “Snow.” Yet there is no sign of it on Monday, or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday. But oh, when it comes, it is as thick and white and wonderful as the young narrator dreamed. Zip up your jacket and come outside. It’s snowing!
Kirkus – A spirited companion to Crews’ debut, One Hot Summer Day (1995)…Every scene is fresh and unpredictable, and the model’s face perfectly reflects the exclamations of the caption-like text. It’s a short tale entirely from a child’s-eye view—from a child’s heart—and a celebration of snow play and city. October 1, 1997