Lisl H. Detlefsen Off-Topic Reads

May 5th, 2018




 Lisl H. Detlefsen is the author of a growing number of picture books. Her first, Time for Cranberries (Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press, Fall 2015; illustrated by Jed Henry) was a Junior Library Guild selection, a 2016 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, and the 2017 Wisconsin Ag in the Classroom Book of the Year. Lisl also has three forthcoming picture books, If You Had a Jetpack published with Penguin Random House, Right This Very Minute, the launch title for Feeding Minds Press, the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s new children’s book publishing venture, and 3, 2, 1 JUMP!, a humorous book about swimming lessons, coming out on Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press in the Spring 2019. Lisl H. Detlefsen will discuss If You Had a Jetpack on Saturday May 12th, at 10:30am, at the 57th Street Books. 

Meet Woof and Quack, by Jamie A. Swenson, illustrated by Ryan Sias

George and Martha, by James Marshall

The Louds Move In! by Carolyn Crimi, illustrated by Regan Dunnick

Bink & Gollie, by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile

Stories from Bug Garden, by Lisa Moser, illustrated by Gwen Millward




About Meet Woof and Quack: "Friendship" is an understandably common theme for children's books, and there are a great many wonderful easy readers that explore this topic with both heart and humor. I have let many a bedtime come and go with my own children while enjoying "just one more" story about Frog and Toad, and loved hearing them devour the Elephant and Piggie books when they were first learning to read. (The personal favorite of this highly allergic individual is "Pigs Make Me Sneeze!" much because of the way Piggie responds to Gerald's enthusiasm over having a cold.) But from the first draft I saw of my own friend's Woof and Quack books, I knew Jamie was bringing a delightful dessert to the easy-reader-friendship table. Woof is a dog who does NOT like to fetch, though his new friend, a duck, is more than happy to do so. Jamie's unique brand of silliness hits kids in all the right spots--watch a new reader giggle with glee as he or she guesses what will happen when Quack asks Woof to throw a lovely cake to be fetched. To paraphrase Woof, these are my kind of books.

About George and Martha: Even before I could hold a pen, I dictated James Marshall fan-fiction to my extremely patient mother. Marshall's stories are wise and wonderful and deceptively simple. What's more, they have held up over the years, and it's quite possible I enjoy these characters even more as an adult. George and Martha are two flawed--but charming--friends who have misunderstandings, tease each other, and support each other through life's little adventures, including pots and pots of split pea soup, tightropes, and practical jokes. I find it nearly impossible to pick a favorite, but both the very first one, "Split Pea Soup," and the very last, appropriately titled "The Last Story," are both definitely in the running.

About The Louds Move In!: If one of the most telling signs of a favorite book is the state of the binding, then my family's tattered copy of "The Louds Move In!" says it all. As in this funny picture book, sometimes the friends who teach you the most are the ones you initially dislike. When the very loud (and well-named) Loud family moves to Earmuffle Avenue, the quiet neighbors are quite put out. But when the Louds go on vacation, the neighbors soon discover they miss the slamming of car doors and THUMP THUMPITY THUMP of basketballs and invitations to parties with jokes, laughter and dancing. With lots of onomatopoeia, this book is a delight to read and will please even the most persnickety young listeners.

About Bink & Gollie: Not exactly picture books OR easy readers OR chapter books, this genre-defying series is another lovely example of friendship. Happy-go-lucky Bink proves to be the perfect foil and friend for dramatic Gollie. Even while Gollie feels annoyed and a little displaced by Bink's new goldfish, Fred, in "Give a Fish a Home," she is there to save him when a "longing for speed" turns into a roller-skating disaster. In the end, summer or winter, Bink and Gollie prove to be marvelous companions to each other.

About Stories from Bug Garden: This warm and cozy picture book, also told as a series of stories, includes a delightful cast of bug characters who ultimately are each other's friends AND family in an old, forgotten garden. Among others, there's the not-so-lady-like Ladybug, Horsefly and Butterfly (who are not horses or butter), the Dragonfly who does NOT breathe fire, and--my personal favorite--Roly-Poly. Roly-Poly's story moves me and makes me smile every time I read it, for it strikes me as a metaphor for the writing life: it's a long, difficult, time-consuming uphill climb, but the ride down the hill is so exhilarating that we're willing to do it over and over again.


Posted in: