A winter illness left Lotus, a little girl, without a voice and without friends. A hunter's bullet left Feather, a crane, injured and unable to fly. As Lotus nurses Feather back to health, their bond grows. Soon Feather is following Lotus everywhere, even to school! The bird dances to the girl's reed whistle, much to the delight of the other children. One day, when the village floods, Feather helps raise the alarm as Lotus and her grandfather urge their neighbors to get to high ground. Feather is a true friend to Lotus, but the time comes when Lotus must be a true friend to him--by encouraging him to migrate with the rest of the cranes. The next spring, Feather miraculously returns, and that's not all, he has brought new life to the nearby lake. Inspired by the true story of a crane that rescued a Chinese village, and graced with sensitive watercolor illustrations, this lovely book about respecting nature offers deep emotion and delightful surprises.
School Library Journal, "K-Gr 2–Lotus lives near a lake with her grandfather, a basket maker. While the setting is unspecified, the students’ red scarves suggest China during the Cultural Revolution. The protagonist has been ignored by her classmates since a “winter illness” rendered her speechless. Her grandfather mourns another kind of solitude: the absence of animals in their wetlands habitat, which has been “ruined by greedy fishermen and hunters.” A single crane, and the offstage hunter who wounds it, transforms everything. The girl’s ability to communicate in other ways reveals her resourcefulness, as when she pounds on a pail to scare the gunman away. Downing’s watercolors are atmospheric: muted blue-grays, greens, and purples blend, creating a foggy, mystical backdrop. Varying page designs manipulate focus or indicate passing time. The color red (in the child’s clothing and the bird’s crown) visually connects the girl and the animal. Lotus carries the wounded crane home, where he is tenderly nursed back to health. Feather becomes a beloved companion, following her to school and dancing to her reed whistle in the falling snow—to the delight of the students. His crowing warns the sleeping family and then the villagers, saving everyone from rising floodwaters caused by a distant earthquake. Because a wild creature must heed the call of migration, there is an inevitable parting, but a stunning finale shows the crane’s return, his family and flock descending upon the water. According to the jacket flap, this book is based on actual events. VERDICT Elegant storytelling and arresting compositions combine for a deeply satisfying emotional and aesthetic experience. Best shared one-on-one or in a small group so that children can pore over the lively and engaging artwork."
Scarlet and Igor
By Jane Feder, Illustrated by Julie Downing
Scarlet is a feisty little Vampire, and her best friend, Igor, is a roly-poly little Mummy. Together, they star in three humorous, heartwarming stories about two friends who never agree on anything. That is -- until they discover different ideas can become even better ideas when they cooperate!
Starred Review: Kirkus Reviews, "Vampire Scarlet and mummy Igor are very good friends. 'The trouble was, they could never agree on anything.' In the first chapter, the two friends' interests rarely mesh. 'If Igor wanted to read, Scarlet wanted to sing. If Scarlet wanted to nap, Igor wanted to dance. / When Igor made a tall tower, Scarlet made it short.' It comes as no surprise that they want different kinds of sandwiches when it's time for a snack. Alternating shouts for 'gooseberry jelly' and 'chestnut butter' grow increasingly louder until the friends hit upon the obvious solution. The second chapter finds them heatedly debating what name would be perfect for their pet cat's new kitten. When they discover a litter of eight, all the names they have come up with are put to good use. The final chapter is one of artistic differences. After an art duel that produces colorful shapes and a 'tree with branches,' they arrange their separate pieces to form a lovely display that has one last blank spot. Readers will cheer when they see how the two buddies have filled it. Feder masterfully employs repetition of the more challenging words throughout the perfectly paced text, while Downing charmingly captures every mercurial emotion in the detailed ballpoint pen, watercolor and digital illustrations. Move over, Frog and Toad, to make room for this delightful new title."
School Library Journal, "This is a great selection for those looking for delightful rather than frightful Halloween books, titles on friendship or general early-reader collections."
By Beverly Gherman and Julie Downing
Did you know that Thomas Jefferson's mother ran a plantation by herself, or that Abraham Lincoln's mother was a wrestler? James Madison's mom called him "Jemmy" and made his shirts while he went to college, and Woodrow Wilson created Mother's Day to celebrate all mothers--especially his. Join Beverly Gherman and Julie Downing in this celebration of the women behind the White House. Gherman delightfully dishes fun facts about each mother, and Downing's lively illustrations are sure to enthrall and entertain.
Publishers' Weekly, “Craftily mining the personalities of each woman, Downing contributes watercolor and colored pencil portraits of the mother s on their home turfs, humorously underscoring their many diverse eccentricities.”
School Library Journal, “Young readers will enjoy perusing this engaging and utterly browsable collection of quick facts about these little-known, but very important women.”
When Felix gets in trouble for playing ball in the house, his mother takes the ball away for the rest of the day. So Felix decides to take something away from his mother—hugs. “No hugs till Saturday!” he declares. But then Felix finds out Saturday is a whole week away, and both he and Mama soon realize that just one day without a hug can be a very long time.
This is a terrific way to introduce young children to the names and order of the days of the week, and Julie Downing’s wonderfully expressive dragon characters capture all the tenderness, humor, and everyday drama of life with a preschooler.
School Library Journal “...The soft-edged paintings show a lovable green dragon and humorously depict his antics. Featuring a believably childlike protagonist, a cozy parent-child relationship, and a satisfying resolution, it is a delightfully warmhearted choice.”
By Liz Rosenberg, Illustrated by Julie Downing
When they decide to fix breakfast together, Nobody suggests chocolate meat loaf, but they settle on pancakes, and cook up a storm . . . and a mess. Eventually order is restored, and pancakes are served. And Nobody eats more than anybody. Filled with clever wordplay that tells a story true to so many children’s experience, Nobody will soon have many friends.
School Library Journal, “Color pops off the page with playful illustrations done in watercolor, colored pencil, pastels, and china marker. Downing cleverly contrasts Nobody in black and white. The visual impact is strong but simple and underscores the tightly written text, and the facial expressions are priceless. Perspective is creatively used, particularly in a spread where George and Nobody are exploring the contents of the refrigerator. Kids and their parents will love this one.”
The Firekeeper's Son
By Linda Sue Park, Illustrated by Julie Downing
Set in 19th-century Korea, this story centers around an actual bonfire signal system. Every night, when Sang-hee's father sees that the ocean is clear of enemies, he climbs the mountain to light his fire, setting in motion a chain reaction of blazes that eventually reaches the peak closest to the palace and assures the king that all is well in the land. When Father breaks his ankle, his son must ascend alone into the darkness with a bucket of burning coals. During a dramatic pause, he contemplates the consequences of inaction and his secret desire to see the king's soldiers.
Publishers Weekly, Starred: "Suspenseful...Assured, empathetic storytelling involves readers in Sang-hee's inner conflict...Downing amplifies the tension with dramatically composed watercolor-and-pastel illustrations ...fascinating"
APAAL Best Illustrated Book 2004-2005 Irma Black Silver Medal Bank Street College 2005 CCBC Pick of the Lists 2008 Nominee Monarch Award
A Ride on the Red Mare's Back
By Ursula LeGuin, Illustrated by Julie Downing
Publishers Weekly, "Text and artwork of extraordinary beauty highlight this stirring tale of a girl who rescues her brother after he is captured by trolls.
School Library Journal, This story is a real gem that demonstrates the value of determination and that one's sense of satisfaction in a task completed is reward enough. Bravo to such a creative work".
CCBC Pick of the List Parents Choice Award Best Books for Girls, Parenting Magazine NY Public Library Best Books
Don't Turn the Page
Like most children, Sami puts off going to bed for as long as possible. But reading a story about Little Bear's bedtime ritual inspires Sammy, just as the young reader will be inspired by this soothing story and clever book-within-a-book concept. A bedtime book that both parent and child will relish reading one more time, Don't Turn the Page! features a surprise ending that reinforces the sense that it's bedtime for everyone.
"A charming, metafiction good night." — Kirkus Reviews
"Downing’s (Spooky Friends) illustrations shift between cozy scenes in Sami’s tree-trunk home and equally snug images of the mother bear and cub in the book. There’s more: Sami has a toy bear, the bear in her book has a stuffed hedgehog, and both animals are reading the same book that (human) readers are holding. That final touch is an oft-seen visual Easter egg, but in this case, it underscores a reality-bending connection between reader and text, especially after the last pages reveal that the bear family may not be fictional after all. Gentle yet clever stuff." Ages 3–8. (June) — Publishers Weekly