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Gershator, Phillis 1942-

Gershator, Phillis 1942-

Personal

Born July 8, 1942, in New York, NY; daughter of Morton Dimondstein (an artist) and Miriam Green (an artist); married David Gershator (an author) October 19, 1962; children: Yonah, Daniel. Education: Attended University of California, Berkeley, 1959-63; Douglass College, B.A., 1966; Pratt Institute, M.L.S., 1975. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, gardening, cooking.

Addresses

Home—P.O. Box 303353, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands 00803-3353. E-mail—phillis@gershator.com.

Career

St. Thomas Public Library, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, librarian, 1974-75, 1988-89; Enid M. Baa and Leonard Dober Elementary School libraries, Brooklyn, NY, children's librarian, 1977-84; Department of Education, St. Thomas, children's librarian, 1984-86. Has also worked as a secretary and in library promotion for various New York City publishers. Reading Is Fundamental volunteer in St. Thomas, 1984—; secretary of Friends of the Library, St. Thomas, 1985-95.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, American Civil Liberties Union.

Awards, Honors

Cooperative Children's Book Center of the University of Wisconsin choice book, Children's Book of the Year, Bank Street's Child Study Children's Book Committee, American Children's and Young Adult literature Award commended title, Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs, and Blue Ribbon Book, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, all 1994, all for Tukama

Tootles the Flute; Best Children's Book of the Year designation, Bank Street's Child Study Children's Book Committee, 1994, for The Iroko-Man, 2001, for Only One Cowry, and 2005, for The Babysitter Sings; National Council of Teachers of English Notable Trade Book in the Language Arts, and Best Black History for Young People designation, Booklist, both 1995, both for Rata-pata-scata-fata; Bulletin of the Center for Chil-dren's Books Choice designation, 1999, for When It Starts to Snow; Anne Izard Storyteller's Choice Award, 2000, for ZZZng! ZZZng! ZZZng!

Writings

FOR CHILDREN

Honi and His Magic Circle, Jewish Publications Society of America (Philadelphia, PA), 1979 revised edition published as Honi's Circle of Trees, illustrated by Mim Green, 1994.

Rata-pata-scata-fata: A Caribbean Story, illustrated by Holly Meade, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1994.

(Reteller) Tukama Tootles the Flute: A Tale from the Antilles, illustrated by Synthia St. James, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1994.

(Reteller) The Iroko-Man: A Yoruba Folktale, illustrated by Holly Kim, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1994.

Sambalena Show-off, illustrated by Leonard Jenkins, Macmillan Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1995.

(With husband, David Gershator) Bread Is for Eating, illustrated by Emma Shaw-Smith, Holt (New York, NY), 1995.

Sweet, Sweet Fig Banana, illustrated by Fritz Millevoix, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1996.

(With David Gershator) Palampam Day, illustrated by Enrique O. Sánchez, 1997.

Sugar Cakes Cyril, Mondo (Greenvale, NY), 1997.

(With David Gershator) Greetings, Sun, illustrated by Synthia St. James, DK Ink (New York, NY), 1998.

Zzzng! Zzzng! Zzzng!: A Yoruba Tale, illustrated by Theresa Smith, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1998.

When It Starts to Snow, illustrated by Martin Matje, Holt (New York, NY), 1998.

Tiny and Bigman, illustrated by Lynne Cravath, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 1999.

Only One Cowry: A Dahomean Tale, illustrated by David Soman, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Someday Cyril, Mondo (Greenvale, NY), 2000.

(With David Gershator) Moon Rooster, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2001.

The Babysitter Sings, illustrated by Melisande Potter, Holt (New York, NY), 2004.

(Reteller) Wise and Not So Wise: Ten Tales from the Rabbis, illustrated by Alexa Ginsburg, Jewish Publication Society (Philadelphia, PA), 2004.

(With David Gershator) Kallaloo!: A Caribbean Tale, illustrated by Diane Greenseid, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2005.

(With David Gershator) Summer Is Summer, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2006.

Sky Sweeper, illustrated by Holly Meade, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2007.

(Adaptor) This Is the Day!, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2007.

Listen, Listen, illustrated by Alison Jay, Barefoot Books (Cambridge, MA), 2008.

Old House, New House, illustrated by Katherine Potter, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2008.

OTHER

A Bibliographic Guide to the Literature of Contemporary American Poetry, 1970-1975, Scarecrow Press (Metuchen, NJ), 1976.

Contributor of poems, stories, and book reviews to periodicals, including Cricket, Highlights for Children, Ladybug, Spider, Home Planet News, and Caribbean Writer.

Author's works have been translated into Japanese, French, and Spanish.

Sidelights

Phillis Gershator is the author of award-winning picture books that are often grounded in the folkloric traditions of such places as the Caribbean and Africa. Her works range from original tales, as in Rata-pata-scata-fata: A Caribbean Story and Sky Sweeper, to retellings of folk tales and songs, as in Tukama Tootles the Flute: A Tale from the Antilles and This Is the Day!, the latter an adaptation of a century-old popular song.

Having spent her entire life surrounded by books, it is not surprising that Gershator's career path eventually led her to become an author. "[My] family was in the book business in New York," she explained in a Junior Library Guild article, adding that she often received books as gifts. In fact, the young Gershator read so much that her mother often had to insist that she go outside to play and get some exercise. After graduating from Douglas College, she worked in a library on the island of St. Thomas, where she and her husband, writer David Gershator, moved after leaving New York City in 1969. The sun-filled skies around Gershator's Caribbean home have inspired for many of her books, including Rata-pata-scata-fata, and Tukama Tootles the Flute.

Returning to the United States, Gershator earned a degree in library science, then working for several years at libraries and publishing companies in New York City. She and her family returned to St. Thomas in 1988, and continue to make their home there. Gleaning much satisfaction through her library work and as a Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) volunteer, she wanted to contribute even more to children by writing her own stories. Although career and family kept Gershator from spending much time on her writing, she published her first book, Honi and His Magic Circle, in 1979. It was not until the mid-1990s that her career really took off, however. In 1993 and 1994 she published three very successful books, Rata-pata-scata-fata, Tukama Tootles the Flute, and The Iroko-Man: A Yoruba Tale, all of which have won awards.

In Rata-pata-scata-fata a young St. Thomas boy named Junjun tries to avoid household chores by chanting gibberish in the hope that his tasks will be completed by magic. Although luck, not magic, smiles on Junjun and grants all his wishes, the boy attributes everything to his gobbledygook. A Kirkus Reviews critic called Rata-pata-scata-fata "an engagingly cadenced story that will be just right for sharing aloud." "Gershator has a light and lively sense of language," declared Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books contributor Betsy Hearne, the critic adding that the author's prose possesses "a storytelling rhythm that shows experience with keeping young listeners involved."

In a vein similar to Rata-pata-scata-fata, Tukama Tootles the Flute is about another St. Thomas boy who is unreliable in his chores. In this yarn, young Tukama loves to play his flute so much that he does not help his grandmother as he should, even when she warns him that his disobedient ways might one day cause him to wind up in the stomach of a local two-headed giant. The elderly woman's words prove prophetic when the boy is captured by the giant, but he manages to escape by playing his flute for the giant's wife. The frightening experience teaches Tukama a lesson, however: thereafter he postpones his playing until his chores are done. Pointing out the similarities between this story and "Jack and the Beanstalk," School Library Journal reviewer Lyn Miller-Lachman commented that Tukama Tootles the Flute "offers an opportunity to observe similarities and differences in folklore around the world." Like the Caribbean children in these early stories, Gershator considers herself to be very lucky. "Wishes do, once in a while, "come true," she wrote in her JuniorLibrary Guild article, "so I don't consider Rata-pata-scata-fata a fairy tale, and oddly enough, that little boy seems very familiar."

Gershator tells a love story in Tiny and Bigman. Miss Tiny is a large woman who is told by the men of her Caribbean island home that she is so strong that she makes them feel weak. However, when the frail Mr. Bigman arrives on the island, he finds Miss Tiny to be perfect and the unlikely pair gets married. When a hurricane hits the island just as Tiny is going to give birth to their child, Mr. Bigman must fight to keep the roof from blowing off the couple's house. Shelle Rosenfeld, writing in Booklist, called Tiny and Bigman "an inventive, appealing love story," while a critic for Publishers Weekly described it as a "sunny picture book."

In Only One Cowry: A Dahomean Tale Gershator turns from the Caribbean to Africa in recounting the tale of a miserly king who wishes to only pay one seashell as a dowry for a bride. Yo, the king's clever assistant, goes in search of a family willing to allow their daughter to marry the king in exchange for such a small dowry. Along the way, he manages to trade the seashell for more useful and valuable items, eventually assembling an amount worthy to be a king's dowry. When the bride Yo locates learns that her royal suitor adjudged her worth at only a single seashell, she exacts her own price for the match. Grace Oliff, reviewing Only One Cowry in School Library Journal, wrote that "Gershator brings her considerable storytelling skills" to the story. Writing in Booklist, John Peters predicted that "young readers and listeners will laugh" at the tale and Horn Book critic Jennifer M. Brabander admired "Gershator's thoughtful attention to the story's oral roots."

Gershator takes readers to Japan in Sky Sweeper, in which a boy named Takeboki works as a gardener at a Zen temple. Although his family complains that the job is not worthy, and the monks take his work for granted, Takeboki dedicates his life to the task of keeping the monastery grounds orderly and beautiful. After death he rises to create a new garden in the night sky, whereupon all appreciate his efforts. Although Booklist critic Gillian Engberg described Sky Sweeper as a "complex, challenging story" due to its themes about "sense of purpose and personal reward," the critic also praised Gershator's gentle message and "philosophical themes." Praising Holly Meade's "pleasing" collage and watercolor illustrations, Margaret Bush added in School Library Journal that Sky Sweeper would be a good choice for story times due to its "satisfying progression" and themes that "might prompt reflective discussion." "Infused with a Buddhist sensibility" and enhanced by Gershator's "clear, minimalist" text, the book presents "an original fable not to be missed," in the opinion of a Kirkus Reviews writer.

Gershator drawing readers back into a more familiar world in picture books such as When It Starts to Snow, Listen, Listen, and The Babysitter Sings. A little boy asks a number of different animals to describe their reactions to the year's first snowfall in When It Starts to Snow. A bear explains that snow means that it is time for him to go to sleep; a mouse says that it is time for him to hide in a house to escape the cold; and a fish describes how he must lie at the bottom of his pond to stay warm. Noting that the book features "words that roll off the tongue, pictures of charming woodland inhabitants and a dash of science," a Publishers Weekly critic added that When It Starts to Snow "will have readers raving to go on a snow quest of their own."

Animals and nature are also the focus of Listen, Listen, as Gershator captures the sounds and sights of the seasons in a rhyming text. The lazy buzz of the bumble bee in summer, the crisp crackle of fall leaves, and other music emanating from a country village are evoked in engaging folk-art-style paintings by Alison Jay, creating a picture book that Linda Ludke praised in School Library Journal for "provid[ing] … a smooth transition between the seasons. Gershator's "rhyming, onomatopoeic text wraps around the busy scenes," Ludke added, creating a warmhearted "ode to the seasons." In Booklist Jesse Karp noted the strong balance between art and text, citing Gershator's "simple, evocative rhyming imagery" and Jay's "stylized pictures," which possess "the texture of ancient frescos." Listen, Listen is a "jewel of a book," concluded the critic.

In a scenario familiar to many young children, The Babysitter Sings finds a baby crying because his parents have left for the day. The infant's desperate babysitter sings a variety of songs based on traditional lullabies from the Caribbean and Africa in an effort to quiet the unhappy child. The baby finally stops crying and falls asleep just in time for his parents' return. According to Lauren Adams in Horn Book, in The Babysitter Sings "Gershator smoothly integrates bits of traditional lullabies … into original verse in this tribute to babysitters." "The text's reassuring tone and the dazzling artwork make this offering a gem to share with little ones," Ajoke T.I. Kokodoko wrote in School Library Journal, and a Kirkus Reviews critic praised The Babysitter Sings as a "reassuring rhythmical tale."

In This Is the Day! Gershator teams up with award-winning illustrator Marjorie Priceman to produce what School Library Journal contributor Martha Simpson described as a "cheery adaptation" of a song about infant orphans who are bundled off to loving new homes. As the days of the week fly by, so do young babies, one on Monday, two on Tuesday, and so on, their departure "creat[ing] a lyrical, joyous, and somewhat silly mood," according to Simpson. Gershator's retelling "retains a buoyant musical quality" that is in keeping with her story's roots, noted a Kirkus Reviews writer, and in Booklist Jennifer Mattson wrote that the author's "fanciful verses" pair well with Priceman's "effervescent paintings." Another whimsical story is served up by Gershator in Old House, New House as a young child enjoys a summer in the country in a rambling house where the frisky mice that enliven the place make up for the lack of modern conveniences.

In addition to her original stories, Gershator has collaborated with husband David Gershator on several picture books. In Kallaloo!: A Caribbean Tale, they team up to present an island version of the classic folk tale "Stone Soup," as an elderly woman announces that she has discovered a magic shell that can make a popular Caribbean gumbo called Kallaloo. In Moon Rooster the couple present what School Library Journal contributor Susan Hepler described as a "humorous, tongue-in-cheek" tale about a rooster that believes that its nocturnal crowing calls forth the waxing moon. Summer Is Summer, the Gershators' picture-book celebration of that most favorite season, features warm-toned artwork by Sophie Blackall that brings to life the activities of four children enjoying each fun-filled day. The coauthors' "rhyming text is bouncy and brief," wrote Marge Loch-Wouters in her School Library Journal assessment, the critic adding that Summer Is Summer "captures the exhilaration of … seemingly endless days and opportunities for fun." "The simple, joyful sounds and sunny artwork will appeal to young listeners," concluded Hazel Rochman in her Booklist review of the picture book.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 15, 1994, review of Rata-pata-scata-fata: A Caribbean Story, p. 1541; May 1, 1994, review of Tukama Tootles the Flute: A Tale from the Antilles, p. 1603; May 15, 1994, review of The Iroko-Man: A Yoruba Folktale, p. 1676; November 15, 1998, John Peters, review of When It Starts to Snow, p. 595; October 15, 1999, review of Tiny and Bigman, p. 452; October 15, 2000, John Peters review of Only One Cowry, p. 442; April 15, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of Summer Is Summer, p. 51; March 15, 2007, Gillian Engberg, review of Sky Sweeper, p. 53; November 15, 2007, Jesse Karp, review of Listen, Listen, p. 46; February 15, 2008, Jennifer Mattson, review of This Is the Day!, p. 84.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 1994, Betsy Hearne, review of Rata-pata-scata-fata, p. 257; April, 1998, review of Greetings, Sun, p. 279; December, 1998, review of When It Starts to Snow, p. 130; January, 2001, review of Only One Cowry, p. 181; September, 2007, Deborah Stevenson, review of Sky Sweeper, p. 25.

Horn Book, May-June, 1994, Mary M. Burns, review of Tukama Tootles the Flute, p. 326; September-October, 1994, Ellen Fader, review of Rata-pata-scata-fata, p. 574; November, 2000, Jennifer M. Brabander, review of Only One Cowry, p. 764; May-June, 2004, Lauren Adams, review of The Babysitter Sings, p. 313; May-June, 2007, Joanna Rudge Long, review of Sky Sweeper, p. 264.

Junior Library Guild, April-September, 1994, interview with Gershator, p. 14.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1994, review of Rata-pata-scata-fata, p. 629; April 15, 2004, review of The Baby Sitter Sings, p. 393; May 15, 2006, review of Summer Is Summer, p. 518; March 1, 2007, review of Sky Sweeper, p. 221; September 1, 2007, review of This Is the Day!

Publishers Weekly, January 10, 1994, review of Tukama Tootles the Flute, p. 60; April 4, 1994, review of Rata-pata-scata-fata, p. 79; November 9, 1998, review of When It Starts to Snow, p. 75; October 11, 1999, review of Tiny and Bigman, p. 75; May 14, 2007, review of Sky Sweeper, p. 53; September 24, 2007, review of Listen, Listen, p. 71; October 29, 2007, review of This Is the Day!, p. 54.

School Librarian, November, 1994, review of Rata-pata-scata-fata, p. 145.

School Library Journal, April, 1994, Lyn Miller-Lachman, review of Tukama Tootles the Flute, p. 118; July, 1995, review of Rata-pata-scata-fata, p. 27; September, 1995, Marcia W. Posner, review of Honi's Circle of Trees, p. 194; September, 2000, Grace Oliff, review of Only One Cowry, p. 216; December, 2001, Susan Hepler, review of Moon Rooster, p. 102; July, 2004, Ajoke T.I. Kokodoko, review of The Babysitter Sings, p. 75; January, 2005, Teri Markson and Stephen Samuel Wise, review of Wise … and Not So Wise: Ten Tales from the Rabbis, p. 109; June, 2006, Marge Loch-Wouters, review of Summer Is Summer, p. 112; April, 2007, Margaret Bush, review of Sky Sweeper, p. 106; November, 2007, Linda Ludke, review of Listen, Listen, p. 92, and Martha Simpson, review of This Is the Day!, p. 106.

Teacher Librarian, November, 1998, Shirley Lewis, review of When It Starts to Snow, p. 49.

ONLINE

Phillis Gershator Home Page,http://phillis.gershator.com (March 21, 2008).

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Gershator, Phillis 1942-

GERSHATOR, Phillis 1942-

Personal

Born July 8, 1942, in New York, NY; daughter of Morton Dimondstein (an artist) and Miriam Green (an artist); married David Gershator (an author) October 19, 1962; children: Yonah, Daniel. Education: Attended University of California, Berkeley, 1959-63; Douglass College, B.A., 1966; Pratt Institute, M.L.S., 1975. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, gardening, cooking.

Addresses

Home P.O. Box 303353, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands 00803-3353.

Career

St. Thomas Public Library, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, librarian, 1974-75, 1988-89; Enid M. Baa and Leonard Dober Elementary School libraries, Brooklyn, NY, children's librarian, 1977-84; Department of Education, St. Thomas, children's librarian, 1984-86. Has also worked as a secretary and in library promotion for various New York City publishers. Reading Is Fundamental volunteer in St. Thomas, 1984; secretary of Friends of the Library, St. Thomas, 1985-95.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, American Civil Liberties Union.

Awards, Honors

Cooperative Children's Book Center of the University of Wisconsin choice book, Children's Book of the Year, Bank Street's Child Study Children's Book Committee, American Children's and Young Adult literature Award commended title, Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs, and Blue Ribbon Book, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, all 1994, all for Tukama Tootles the Flute: A Tale from the Antilles; Best Children's Book of the Year designation, Bank Street's Child Study Children's Book Committee, 1994, for The Iroko-Man: A Yoruba Folktale, 2001, for Only One Cowry, and 2005, for The Babysitter Sings; National Council of Teachers of English Notable Trade Book in the Language Arts, 1995, and Best Black History for Young People, Booklist, 1995, all for Rata-pata-scatafata: A Caribbean Story; Bulletin of the Center for Childrens Books Choice designation, 1999, for When It Starts to Snow; Anne Izard Storyteller's Choice Award, 2000, for ZZZng! ZZZng! ZZZng!

Writings

FOR CHILDREN

Honi and His Magic Circle, Jewish Publications Society of America (Philadelphia, PA), 1979 revised edition published as Honi's Circle of Trees, illustrated by Mim Green, 1994.

Rata-pata-scata-fata: A Caribbean Story, illustrated by Holly Meade, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1994.

(Reteller) Tukama Tootles the Flute: A Tale from the Antilles, illustrated by Synthia St. James, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1994.

(Reteller) The Iroko-Man: A Yoruba Folktale, illustrated by Holly Kim, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1994.

Sambalena Show-off, illustrated by Leonard Jenkins, Macmillan Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1995.

(With husband, David Gershator) Bread Is for Eating, illustrated by Emma Shaw-Smith, Holt (New York, NY), 1995.

Sweet, Sweet Fig Banana, illustrated by Fritz Millevoix, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1996.

(With husband, David Gershator) Palampam Day, illustrated by Enrique O. Sánchez, 1997.

Sugar Cakes Cyril, Mondo (Greenvale, NY), 1997.

(With husband, David Gershator) Greetings, Sun, illustrated by Synthia St. James, DK Ink (New York, NY), 1998.

Zzzng! Zzzng! Zzzng!: A Yoruba Tale, illustrated by Theresa Smith, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1998.

When It Starts to Snow, illustrated by Martin Matje, Holt (New York, NY), 1998.

Tiny and Bigman, illustrated by Lynne Cravath, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 1999.

Only One Cowry: A Dahomean Tale, illustrated by David Soman, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Someday Cyril, Mondo (Greenvale, NY), 2000.

(With husband, David Gershator) Moon Rooster, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2001.

The Babysitter Sings, illustrated by Melisande Potter, Holt (New York, NY), 2004.

(Reteller) Wise and Not so Wise: Ten Tales from the Rabbis, Jewish Publication Society (Philadelphia, PA), 2004.

(With husband, David Gershator) Kallaloo: A Caribbean Tale, illustrated by Diane Greenseil, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2005.

OTHER

A Bibliographic Guide to the Literature of Contemporary American Poetry, 1970-1975, Scarecrow Press (Metuchen, NJ),1976.

Contributor of poems, stories, and book reviews to periodicals, including Cricket, Ladybug, Spider, Home Planet News and Caribbean Writer.

Author's works have been translated into Japanese, French, and Spanish.

Work in Progress

Summer Is Summer Is Summer, with David Gershator, for Holt; Who's Awake?, with Mim Green, for Holt; This Is the Day We Give Babies Away, for Houghton Mifflin, 2006; Sky Sweeper, for Farrar Straus, 2006; Listen, Listen, for Barefoot Books, 2007.

Sidelights

Phillis Gershator is the author of award-winning picture books often grounded in the folkloric traditions of such places as the Caribbean and Africa. Her stories have been either original works, like Rata-pata-scata-fata: A Caribbean Story, or retellings, such as Tukama Tootles the Flute: A Tale from the Antilles.

Having spent her entire life surrounded by books, it is not surprising that Gershator's career path eventually led her to become an author. "[My] family was in the book business in New York," the author explained in a Junior Library Guild article, and she often received books as gifts. She read so much that her mother often had to force her to go outside to play and get some exercise. As a graduate student, Gershator majored in library science. Her first job as a librarian was on the island of St. Thomas, where her family had moved after leaving New York City in 1969. The Caribbean eventually became the setting for Rata-pata-scata-fata and Tukama Tootles the Flute.

After working for several years at libraries and publishing companies in New York City, Gershator returned to St. Thomas in 1988. Gleaning much satisfaction through her library work and as a Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) volunteer, Gershator wanted to contribute even more to children by writing her own stories. Career and family kept her from spending much time on her writing, though she published her first book, Honi and His Magic Circle, in 1979 and had been composing poems and short stories since the early 1970s. It was not until the mid-1990s that her career would really take off, however. In 1993 and 1994 she published three very successful books: Rata-pata-scata-fata, Tukama Tootles the Flute, and The Iroko-Man: A Yoruba Tale, all of which have won awards.

Rata-pata-scata-fata is about a young St. Thomas boy named Junjun who tries to avoid household chores by chanting "Caribbean gobbledygook" in the hope that his tasks will be completed by magic. Although luck, not magic, smiles on him to grant him all his wishes, Junjun attributes everything to his gobbledygook. A Kirkus Reviews critic called the tale "an engagingly cadenced story that will be just right for sharing aloud." "Gershator has a light and lively sense of language," declared Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books contributor Betsy Hearne, "along with a storytelling rhythm that shows experience with keeping young listeners involved."

In a similar vein to Rata-pata-scata-fata, Tukama Tootles the Flute is about another St. Thomas boy who is unreliable in his chores. In this yarn, young Tukama loves to play his flute so much that he does not help his grandmother like he should, even when she warns him that his disobedient ways might one day cause him to wind up in the stomach of the local two-headed giant. Tukama's grandmother's words prove unsurprisingly prophetic when the boy is captured by the giant, but he manages to escape by playing his flute for the giant's wife. The frightening experience teaches Tukama a lesson, and thereafter he postpones his playing until his chores are done. Pointing out the similarities between this story and "Jack and the Beanstalk," School Library Journal reviewer Lyn Miller-Lachman commented that Tukama Tootles the Flute "offers an opportunity to observe similarities and differences in folklore around the world." A Publishers Weekly critic favorably remarked that the "text pulses with the rhythms of island dialect and is laced with the casual asides of an oral storyteller." Like the Caribbean children in these stories, Gershator considers herself to be very lucky. "Wishes do, once in a while, "come true," she wrote in her Junior Library Guild article, "so I don't consider Rata-pata-scata-fata a fairy tale, and oddly enough, that little boy seems very familiar."

A little boy asks a number of different animals to describe their reactions to the year's first snowfall in Gershator's When It Starts to Snow. A bear explains that snow means that it is time for him to go to sleep; a mouse says that it is time for him to hide in a house to escape the cold; and a fish describes how he must lie at the bottom of the pond to stay warm. "With words that roll off the tongue, pictures of charming woodland inhabitants and a dash of science," the critic for Publishers Weekly noted, "this one will have readers raving to go on a snow quest of their own."

Gershator tells a love story in her 1999 story Tiny and Bigman. Miss Tiny is a large woman who is told by the men on her Caribbean island home that she is so strong, she makes them feel weak. But when the frail Mr. Bigman comes to the island, he finds Miss Tiny to be perfect. The unlikely pair get married. But a hurricane hits the island just as Tiny is going to give birth to their child, and must fight to keep the roof from blowing off the couple's house. Shelle Rosenfeld in Booklist called Tiny and Bigman "an inventive, appealing love story," while a critic for Publishers Weekly described it as a "sunny picture book."In Only One Cowry: A Dahomean Tale Gershator turns from the Caribbean to Africa, recounting the tale of a miserly king who wishes to only pay one seashell as a dowry for a bride. Yo, his clever assistant, goes out to find a family willing to have their daughter marry the king for such a small dowry. Along the way, he manages to trade the seashell for more useful and valuable items, eventually assembling a kingly amount for the king's dowry. But when the bride he locates discovers the king himself was satisfied with paying a single seashell, she exacts her own price from him. Grace Oliff in the School Library Journal believed that "Gershator brings her considerable storytelling skills to this tale." Writing in Booklist, John Peters predicted that "young readers and listeners will laugh" at the tale while Jennifer M. Brabander in Horn Book admired "Gershator's thoughtful attention to the story's oral roots."

The Babysitter Sings is the story of a baby who is crying because his parents have left for the day. His desperate babysitter sings a variety of songs based on traditional lullabies from the Caribbean and Africa to quiet him down. The baby finally stops crying and falls asleep just before his parents return. According to Lauren Adams in Horn Book, "Gershator smoothly integrates bits of traditional lullabies . . . into original verse in this tribute to babysitters." "The text's reassuring tone and the dazzling artwork make this offering a gem to share with little ones," Ajoke T. I. Kokodoko wrote in the School Library Journal. The Kirkus Reviews praised The Babysitter Sings as a "reassuring rhythmical tale."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 15, 1994, p. 1541; May 1, 1994, p. 1603; May 15, 1994, p. 1676; February 15, 1995, p. 1094; November 15, 1998, John Peters, review of When It Starts to Snow, p. 595; October 15, 1999, review of Tiny and Bigman, p. 452; October 15, 2000, John Peters review of Only One Cowry, p. 442.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 1994, Betsy Hearne, review of Rata-pata-scata-fata: A Caribbean Story, p. 257.

Horn Book, May-June, 1994, Mary M. Burns, review of Tukama Tootles the Flute: A Tale from the Antilles, p. 326; September-October, 1994, Ellen Fader, review of Rata-pata-scata-fata: A Caribbean Story, p. 574; November, 2000, Jennifer M. Brabander, review of Only One Cowry, p. 764; May-June, 2004, Lauren Adams, review of The Babysitter Sings, p. 313.

Junior Library Guild, April-September, 1994, interview with Gershator, p. 14.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 1994, p. 142; May 1, 1994, review of Rata-pata-scata-fata: A Caribbean Story, p. 629; April 15, 2004, review of The Baby Sitter Sings, p. 393.

Publishers Weekly, January 10, 1994, review of Tukama Tootles the Flute: A Tale from the Antilles, p. 60; April 4, 1994, p. 79; November 9, 1998, review of When It Starts to Snow, p. 75; October 11, 1999, review of Tiny and Bigman, p. 75; October 15, 2001, review of When It Starts to Snow, p. 74.

School Librarian, November, 1994, p. 145.

School Library Journal, April, 1994, Lyn Miller-Lachman, review of Tukama Tootles the Flute: A Tale from the Antilles, p. 118; July, 1995, p. 27; September, 1995, p. 194; September, 2000, Grace Oliff, review of Only One Cowry, p. 216; December, 2001, Susan Hepler, review of Moon Rooster, p. 102; July, 2004, Ajoke T.I. Kokodoko, review of The Babysitter Sings, p. 75.

Teacher Librarian, November, 1998, Shirley Lewis, review of When It Starts to Snow, p. 49.

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