March 01, 2011

Author Spotlight: Janet Stevens

Janet Stevens made me bark like a dog in front of hundreds of teachers at the 2011 SCCRC Asilomar Reading Conference!

Stevens was giving a presentation to the group, and got around to a book of hers called "Help Me, Mr. Mutt: Expert Answers for Dogs with People Problems." Lots of confused, barking dogs in this one. Stevens suddenly pointed to the person seated directly before her to get up & do the "heavy barking." That was me. She had no idea she was calling up a professional--and I never told her!

Curl up in a comfy place when you open a book by Janet Stevens, because you (and your child, if you're sharing) will both want to take your time to explore the intricate, witty illustrations on each page. Hidden surprises abound. Janet's artwork has enhanced works by authors including Eric Kimmel and Coleen Salley, and Stevens herself has penned many books, both alone & with her sister, Susan Stevens Crummel. Here are just a small handful:

Tops & Bottoms
The star of this book is a hare who once “lost a risky bet with a tortoise.” Now he has to get his food by tricking a lazy bear. Kids can laugh along with this trickster tale, and learn a little bit about their veggies at the same time.

My Big Dog
Merl the cat seemed very happy to have his home & his family all to himself—so obviously a dog had to come into the picture. Colorful illustrations are integrated with real photographs, and a very cute puppy.

Fans of the Little Red Hen will be interested to learn that great-grandson is a baker, as well. Rooster has a lot of help—but it is not necessarily helpful help. The story is funny, there are a lot of lessons about kitchens & cooking along the way, and there’s a tasty recipe at the end.

The Great Fuzz Frenzy
This book is the true story of how Janet's dog, Violet the Golden Retriever, dropped her ball down a prairie dog hole—and the fantastical imagining about what may have happened next. You’ll turn the book, fold out pages—and maybe even want to set about puzzling some prairie dogs, yourself!

Plaidypus Lost
A little girl gets a very special homemade plaid friend from her grandmother, and what’s the first thing she does? She loses it! And she gets it back. And she loses it again. Everybody should recognize the pattern, even if they have no idea what a platypus (or plaidypus) is!

The Dish Ran Away with the Spoon
Where did dish & spoon go? Little Dog isn’t laughing—it’s time to round up a search party! Everyone gets involved: Little Boy Blue, Little Miss Muffet’s Spider—even the Big Bad Wolf!

That should be enough to get you started.  You can also visit the author's web page to view a larger list of titles, download coloring sheets, learn about her art process, and more.

Check out Janet Stevens, and let me know what you think!

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