Jennifer Armstrong

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Once Upon a Banana

Once Upon a Banana
Illustrated by David Small
Available in hardcover from
Simon & Schuster
Official press release
Q & A

Kirkus said, "In a tour de force of visual sequencing captioned only by a set of rhyming street and shop signs, Small sets up a hilarious chain of events along a busy city street. The action starts on the front endpapers as a street performer's monkey snatches a banana from a fruit stand and tosses the peel onto the sidewalk. This sets off an escalating ruckus the moves around the block (and is actually mapped out on the rear endpapers), involving pedestrians, a painter atop a ladder, cars and trucks, dogs (lots of dogs), much flying through the air and a hurtling carriage with a delighted baby on board (for part of the way, anyway). Composed in fluent pen lines and watercolor brushwork, the scenes are chock full of comically dismayed characters, and surprisingly easy to follow despite the frenetic activity. In addition, for all its brevity, the text sets up a strong background rhythm- "4-Way Stop / Barber Shop / One-Way Street / NO BARE FEET"- that complements the breathless visual pacing. Ultimately, a disastrous encounter between a careening garbage truck and an entire shipment of bananas brings the tale back to where it began, whereupon all of the participants, human and otherwise, gather in a closing spread for an amicable banana fest. More fun than a barrel of...well."


The Snowball

The Snowball
Illustrated by Jean Pidgeon
Available in paperback from
Random House

Booklist said, "Gr. 1, younger for reading aloud. "I saw a snowball on a hill. / It rolled along and picked up Bill." As it rolls, it picks up a few more children, too, including the one who's telling the story. Okay, it might not sound funny, but with Pidgeon's pictures contrasting the idyllic, winter-wonderland contentment of anyone in the snowball's path with their astonishment, perplexity, or rage seconds later, this book would work even without the words. With the rhyming text, though, kids have the satisfaction of a story that's predictable in the best sense. When words still look like a foreign code, it's mighty reassuring to know what's coming and be in on the joke. This is one beginning reader that children will want to reread and even show their friends."


Sunshine, Moonshine

Sunshine, Moonshine
Illustrated by Lucia Washburn
Available in paperback from
Random House

School Library Journal said, "PreSchool-Grade 1. This brief, poetic, circular tale follows a boy throughout the course of his active day. From the early morning when the shining sun wakes him until the "Moon shines on my pillow, and says good night to me," the out-of-doors beckons and his summertime adventures are recorded. The full-color, full-page oil or acrylic illustrations evoke a serene and beautiful seaside setting. They are realistically rendered, and background details add to the spare text. Beginning readers will appreciate the large-type print and repetition, although some of the vocabulary (fireflies, among, mountains) may be challenging. Sunshine, Moonshine will also make a gentle bedtime story for toddlers and preschoolers."

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