Barrett, Judi 1941-
Judi Barrett 1941-
(Full name Judith Barrett) American author of picture books.
The following entry presents an overview of critical commentary on Barrett's work through 2001.
Barrett has been recognized as an author of imaginative and unique children's works, including the award-winning Benjamin's 365 Birthdays (1974) and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (1978). Her picture books have been noted for their well-composed, whimsical texts and bold illustrations. Despite their frequently absurdist storylines, Barrett's narratives emphasize both the educational and developmental needs of children.
Barrett was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1941. She studied advertising design at the Pratt Institute, earning a B.F.A. in 1962. Upon leaving Pratt, she worked as a freelance designer for advertising agencies. In 1968 Barrett began teaching art and woodworking to young children. During the next few years, Barrett both studied and taught at a variety of institutions, including taking graduate courses on early childhood education at the Bank Street College of Education, studying painting and pottery at the Brooklyn Museum, and teaching painting to children at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Barrett married Ron Barrett, an illustrator who created pictures for several of Barrett's children's works, including Old MacDonald Had an Apartment House (1969; published in the U.K. as Old MacDonald Had Some Flats, 1970), Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing (1970), and Benjamin's 365 Birthdays. Barrett has also reviewed children's books for the New York Times for over thirty years.
In Barrett's first children's work, Old MacDonald Had an Apartment House, a New York apartment superintendent converts his building into a four-story farm complete with animals. The title character in Barrett's Benjamin's 365 Birthdays also lets his passion get the better of him—he loves opening presents so much that he wraps and unwraps every object in his house, eventually wrapping the house itself. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, the author's most recognized work, is a tale about the land of Chewandswallow, where wonderful food falls from the sky three times a day. When the weather turns severe, more food falls than the town can possibly consume, and soon life grinds to a halt amid piles of spaghetti, a horrible fog of pea soup, and a tomato tornado. As the piles of food get larger and larger, the residents—not knowing what else to do—build boats of giant peanut butter sandwiches and travel to a new land, where food comes from grocery stores. In Pickles to Pittsburgh: The Sequel to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (1997), the citizens of Chewandswallow return, equipped with forklifts and cargo planes, and ship the vast quantities of food to the hungry people of the world. While Barrett's stories are entertaining, they also inform young readers about the world around them. I Hate to Take a Bath (1975) and I Hate to Go to Bed (1977) teach children to adapt to daily routines. Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing emphasizes the individual characteristics of animals through humorous illustrations, such as a giraffe wearing seven neckties, an opossum sporting his clothes upside down, or a snake struggling to keep his pants up without hips to hold them. I'm Too Small, You're Too Big (1981) features twelve comparison pictures of a small boy and his father each performing their daily activities. Several of Barrett's works are additionally interactive in nature. The Things That are Most in the World (1998) offers the reader imaginative answers to superlative questions, such as what are the quietest, silliest, or smelliest things in the world. In I Knew Two Who Said Moo: A Counting and Rhyming Book (2000), each number from one to ten is presented with an illustration where everything comes in sets of that number, along with a poem full of words that rhyme with the number. For example, the page-spread for the number three shows three birds playing three musical instruments "sitting in a tree / all drinking tea / and eating macaroni / while playing a symphony." Besides the obvious threes, there is also an audience consisting of three caterpillars as well as three musical notes. The rhyming words are printed in colored type and placed at the end of lines, giving children a guide for pronouncing such potentially unfamiliar words. Which Witch Is Which? (2001) displays a variety of witches—all animals in pointy witch hats—performing in nonsensical situations as the author asks the reader rhyming questions. Using clues, the young reader must distinguish different elements in order to determine the correct witch.
Barrett's books have received mixed reviews from critics, with some arguing that young readers will fail to understand the author's series of puns and allusions to the world of adults. Conversely, her supporters have argued that Barrett's zany and brash storylines are both captivating and engaging to children. Such reviewers have acclaimed I Hate to Take a Bath and I Hate to Go to Bed for providing readers with a humorous perspective on responsibility and behaving oneself. However, many critics have derided Barrett's commentaries for children, labelled them as ineffective and unoriginal. Joan W. Blos, in a review of I Hate to Go to Bed, has commented that, "[t]he basic flaw here is that the book almost entirely depends on seeing that good can be found with bad, a subtle concept seldom within the grasp of children younger than seven."
Barrett received the 1973-1974 American Institute of Graphic Arts Book Show Award for Benjamin's 365 Birthdays and again in 1979 for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. In 1974 Benjamin's 365 Birthdays also won the Children's Book Showcase Award from the Children's Book Council.
Old MacDonald Had an Apartment House [illustrations by Ron Barrett] (picture book) 1969; published in the United Kingdom as Old MacDonald Had Some Flats, 1970
Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing [illustrations by Ron Barrett] (picture book) 1970
An Apple a Day [illustrations by Tim Lewis] (picture book) 1973
Benjamin's 365 Birthdays [illustrations by Ron Barrett] (picture book) 1974
Peter's Pocket [illustrations by Julia Noonan] (picture book) 1974
I Hate to Take a Bath [illustrations by Chas B. Slackman] (picture book) 1975
I Hate to Go to Bed [illustrations by Ray Cruz] (picture book) 1977
The Wind Thief [illustrations by Diane Dawson] (picture book) 1977
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs [illustrations by Ron Barrett] (picture book) 1978
Animals Should Definitely Not Act Like People [illustrations by Ron Barrett] (picture book) 1980
I'm Too Small, You're Too Big [illustrations by David Rose] (picture book) 1981
A Snake Is Totally Tail [illustrations by L. S. Johnson] (picture book) 1983
What's Left? (picture book) 1983
Pickles Have Pimples and Other Silly Statements [illustrations by Lonni Sue Johnson] (picture book) 1986
Pickles to Pittsburgh: The Sequel to Cloudy with aChance of Meatballs [illustrations by Ron Barrett] (picture book) 1997
The Things That are Most in the World [illustrations by John Nickle] (picture book) 1998
I Knew Two Who Said Moo: A Counting and Rhyming Book [illustrations by Daniel Moreton] (picture book) 2000
Which Witch Is Which? [illustrations by Sharleen Collicott] (picture book) 2001
OLD MACDONALD HAD AN APARTMENT HOUSE(1969)
Jeraline Nerney (review date 15 October 1969)
SOURCE: Nerney, Jeraline. Review of Old MacDonald Had an Apartment House, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. Library Journal 94, no. 18 (15 October 1969): 3809.
PreS-Gr 2—In this [Old MacDonald Had an Apartment House ] modern variation of the familiar song, Old MacDonald is an apartment house superintendent and his farm is in the city. To allow more sunlight to reach his wife's droopy, potted tomato plant, MacDonald cuts down the hedge blocking his windows. He plants vegetables outside in place of the hedge and, inspired, goes on to decorate a newly vacant apartment in "Late Vegetarian," with mushrooms in the closet and carrots and cabbages carpeting the floor. The carrots push through to the ceiling of the apartment below, which triggers the first of many tenant exoduses. MacDonald, undaunted, adds cows and chickens to what by now is his four-story farm, and Mr. Wrental, the deprived-of-rent-money building owner, is angry until he sees a way to capitalize on the venture. "Wrental and MacDonald's Fruits and Vegetables—Fresh Milk and Eggs Hourly" is born, and even in winter things continue to grow "on the steam-heated farm." Amusing black-and-white line drawings, occasionally and effectively touched with color, depict with whimsy the activities of the modern-day MacDonald, his wife, Wrental, and their human and animal tenants.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (review date January 1970)
SOURCE: Review of Old MacDonald Had an Apartment House, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 23, no. 5 (January 1970): 75.
K-2. A nonsense story [Old MacDonald Had an Apartment House ] with some inspired moments of illustration and a rather placid text that develops one idea: the superintendent of a city apartment building uses more and more of the space to grow produce, and eventually turns the building into a farm. At first the tenants are dismayed by animals and roots growing through the ceiling, then they move; the landlord threatens, then decides he may as well turn the whole thing into a profit-making enterprise. The people are slightly grotesque, the scenes of verdant burgeoning in the steam-heated apartment house pleasantly silly, with all of the humor in illustrative details and none in the writing—save for the basic concept.
Spectator (review date 5 December 1970)
SOURCE: Review of Old MacDonald Had Some Flats, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. Spectator, no. 7432 (5 December 1970): R17.
Old MacDonald Had Some Flats written by Judith Barrett illustrated by Ron Barrett. The production of an American husband and wife team, he an art director, she with a master's degree in Early Childhood Education, should after all be a clever hit. My children were not remotely interested in the story of a caretaker of a block of flats who drives out his tenants by growing carrots in bedrooms and harbouring cows in bathrooms until he has a complete farm in the middle of the city. I, however, was mildly seduced by a double page illustration of the block of flats overflowing with animals and vegetables, predominantly black and white with small patches of colour, as though painted in later with a box of watercolours.
John Fuller (review date 5 March 1971)
SOURCE: Fuller, John. "Images." New Statesman 81, no. 2085 (5 March 1971): 314.
Ron and Judith Barrett (she wrote, he drew) have the greater licence of fantasy inOld MacDonald Had Some Flats but it is the kind of fantasy that by being linked coolly to credible personalities achieves a logical charm. The caretaker's mania for growing vegetables inside his block of flats is put to good use by the owner, whose own mania for making money doesn't blind him to the greater potential of farm produce over accommodation. Fat Mr. Wrental may, in the end, be financially placated, but the MacDonald view is that good vegetables make good neighbors, and our last view of the tenement is of burgeoning lit windows in an icy street, chickens nesting in drawers, vines in sockets and carrots rooting through the ceiolings; a fine green world for the child to contemplate.
Saturday Review World (review date 4 May 1974)
SOURCE: Review of Old MacDonald Had an Apartment House, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. Saturday Review World (4 May 1974): 50.
Funny, funny story [Old MacDonald Had an Apartment House ] about a super who grows vegetables in vacated apartments, finally forcing all the tenants out: carrots growing down through the ceiling like stalactites, cows munching hay from bathtubs. The landlord, Mr. Wrental, finds out, blows up, then decides to convert the house into a market.
ANIMALS SHOULD DEFINITELY NOT WEAR CLOTHING (1970)
Patricia Vervoort (review date 15 September 1970)
SOURCE: Vervoort, Patricia. Review of Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. Library Journal 95, no. 16 (15 September 1970): 3037.
PreS-Gr 1—This bold, bright picture book [Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing ] reveals the troubles clothing would cause various animals, and in so doing emphasizes the animals' outstanding characteristics. For example, the sheep in a woolen sweater is too hot, the kangaroo's coat is useless since she needs no extra pockets, the giraffe's long neck sports seven neckties, the goat eats his clothing for lunch, the pig messes up his shirt and tie, the opossums wear their clothing upside down, etc. The extremely humorous illustrations in orange, green, and brown face pages on which the text, printed in large, wide typeface, runs in one long sentence—e.g., as in Rosie's Walk. The vocabulary may be difficult for beginners to read themselves, but it captures the humor of the situations. The book evokes speculation about the problems clothing would create for other animals, or about what more appropriate attire would be for these animals—e.g., the hen, wearing figured slacks, who is having difficulties laying an egg. The entirely unobtrusive, thoroughly pleasurable "message", if there is one, is that animals by themselves grow the best suit of individually styled clothing that they could possibly find.
Booklist (review date 1 November 1970)
SOURCE: Review of Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. Booklist 67, no. 5 (1 November 1970): 225.
Laughable pictures [inAnimals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing ] illuminate the troublesomeness and absurdity of clothing for animals—a sheep, shown perspiring in a sweater, scarf, and cap, might find clothing terribly hot, a giraffe, shown decked out in a coat and seven collars and neckties, might look sort of silly, a moose, pictured with trousers half on and suspenders caught on his antlers, could never manage, and so forth. The colored drawings in this diverting picture book are uncluttered and the brief text, printed in almost inch-high type on different colored pages, is amusing and imaginative in concept. Ages 3-6.
Anne Padel (review date February 1971)
SOURCE: Padel, Anne. Review of Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. Childhood Education 47, no. 5 (February 1971): 265.
In a book [Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing ] that is good fun and nonsense, the author and the illustrator give fourteen reasons to support their statement. The difficulties they describe are sure to produce giggles. Ages 6-8.
Times Literary Supplement (review date 3 November 1972)
SOURCE: Review of Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. Times Literary Supplement, no. 3687 (3 November 1972): 1327.
Animals give rise to some friendly laughter in Judi and Ron Barrett's comic fantasy,Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing. The reasons for this proposition are laid out page by page in large print, each of them accompanied by its own beautifully explanatory picture. Small children will be delighted by the sweltering sheep, the snake wriggling away from its trousers and the kangaroo bewildered by the acquisition of an extra pocket.
School Library Journal (review date May 1979)
SOURCE: Review of Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. School Library Journal 25, no. 9 (May 1979): 39.
Preschoolers have short attention spans and cannot sustain a single idea unfolding through loops and turns over many colorful pages. They are attracted by a single spread, such as Sylvester's parents having their picnic on a rock which is also their son in Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig. But the sophisticated, contrapuntal style of Ellen Raskin's highly humorous Nothing Ever Happens on My Block which develops to a conclusion many pages later, or the long-delayed punch line of Judith Barrett's cleverAnimals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing (1970) is likely to be missed. Barrett's book in fact turns out to be not singly, but doubly flawed. Not only is the punch line delayed, but when it appears, it plays on something meaningless to very young children. To represent why animals should never wear clothing, an elephant wearing a dress and flowered hat confronts a lady who is wearing the same dress and hat. Adults may see this as embarrassing, but the child who likes to wear the same thing as her friend will hardly find it funny. Nor will it crack up a three year old who can barely comprehend that there are such things as many copies of the same book or identical pairs of boots.
AN APPLE A DAY (1973)
Kirkus Reviews (review date 1 July 1973)
SOURCE: Review of An Apple a Day, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Tim Lewis. Kirkus Reviews 41, no. 13 (1 July 1973): 679.
An apple a day almost does keep the doctor away in this disarmingly unpretentious literal twist to the old adage [inAn Apple a Day ]. It seems that Jeremy "hate[s] apples more than anything else in the world," though his mother gives him one for dessert every evening. Thus Jeremy takes the apples uneaten to his room, where they pile up until, after many months, the room is so crowded that he forces himself to eat some just so he can move around. When a stomach ache results, the doctor can't get through the door because of the apples holding it shut—but he does manage to view the scene from the window, and the next evening Jeremy has a pear while his parents eat applesauce. Forced hilarity would be fatal here, but Barrett's deadpan exaggeration is scaled to a preschooler's sense of humor, Lewis' comic pop red and green pictures avoid aggressive zappiness, and even the book's physical proportions are becomingly modest. 4-5
Publishers Weekly (review date 20 August 1973)
SOURCE: Review of An Apple a Day, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Tim Lewis. Publishers Weekly 204, no. 8 (20 August 1973): 86.
(5-8) The dashing reds and greens in this wee book [An Apple a Day ] (it's only about five by five inches) make it visually exciting, and the story will warm the cockles of the hearts of small readers with problems like Jeremy's. His mother insists he eat an apple a day and he hates apples. He hides them all in his room and keeps his mother from discovering them by telling her to stay out, as he has an experiment underway which he wants to keep secret. With the room bursting with fruit, the boy tries to eat it all. He finds that one apple a day may keep the doctor away, but too many all at once bring the medic posthaste. Mom gets the message, and the ending to this engaging book is a pleasant surprise for hero and readers.
Suzanne Christensen (review date 15 October 1973)
SOURCE: Christensen, Suzanne. Review of An Apple a Day, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Tim Lewis. Library Journal 98, no. 18 (15 October 1973): 3135-36.
K-Gr 2—Jeremy hates apples, so every night when his mother gives him one, he hides it in his room [in An Apple a Day ]. The only way to get rid of the overflow is to eat seven per day (which is ridiculous since his aversion to apples is the reason he's in this predicament). Jeremy gets sick and, when the doctor arrives, he has to climb in the window. Jeremy's mother then realizes that the boy would prefer pears. Children might enjoy the nonsense, but the book as a whole does not click: the writing is uneven, and parts of the story aren't logical.
BENJAMIN'S 365 BIRTHDAYS (1974)
Booklist (review date 15 April 1974)
SOURCE: Review of Benjamin's 365 Birthdays, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. Booklist 70, no. 16 (15 April 1974): 935.
Benjamin loves birthdays [inBenjamin's 365 Birthdays ] so much that the thought of waiting a whole year after his ninth till his next one makes him weep and then inspires him to rewrap his presents, one each day, and go on to wrap everything in his house; this makes for a series of pictures which, without any text, elicit expectant comments and mounting giggles from children. When Benjamin's tenth birthday arrives, his friends find him on the roof atop a house that has been entirely gift-wrapped. Henceforward ". . . everything around him was a present and always would be." The illustrations in yellow and purple are funny but not flamboyant, the party details satisfying ("He served grape jelly sandwiches, chocolate milk, strawberry ice cream and cupcakes with candles.") A lovely unbirthday present for preschoolers. Ages 4-6.
Kirkus Reviews (review date 15 April 1974)
SOURCE: Review of Benjamin's 365 Birthdays, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. Kirkus Reviews 42, no. 8 (15 April 1974): 417.
Barrett caters to a familiar post-party letdown in the story [Benjamin's 365 Birthdays ] of a dog named Benjamin who has a lovely birthday party (his ninth, though he looks middle-aged) and lots of "really wonderful presents," but regrets when it's over that he has to wait 365 days for more. His solution is to rewrap one gift each night to open in the morning, and when he has gone through them all he begins wrapping up ordinary "things in the house," concluding when his next birthday comes round "that he would never want another present again, since everything around him was a present and always would be." Ron Barrett's drawings on yellow paper of Benjamin unwrapping his curtains, TV, bathtub and so on reflect both the oddness of his behavior and the doting fondness of the conclusion—although it is just that combination of sentiment and strangeness that makes the ambiguity of Benjamin's age (nine dog years, as his flabby, drooping figure and baggy suspendered trousers suggest, or nine people years as his gifts of roller skates, puzzle and model airplane indicate?) unsettling. 4-5
Patricia Berglund (review date 15 May 1974)
SOURCE: Berglund, Patricia. Review of Benjamin's 365 Birthdays, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. Library Journal 99, no. 10 (15 May 1974): 1464.
Gr 1-4—Benjamin likes opening his birthday presents so much [inBenjamin's 365 Birthdays ] that he rewraps and opens them again on succeeding days. When he runs out of presents, he gift-wraps and reopens everything he can find: chairs, stove, the TV, even the drapes. On his next birthday, he wraps his whole house so he will have the world's largest birthday package. The conclusion—"Benjamin felt that he would never want another birthday present again, since everything around him was a present and always would be."—will bewilder primary graders who would otherwise enjoy the pictures of dogs in human clothing against bright yellow backgrounds.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (review date September 1974)
SOURCE: Review of Benjamin's 365 Birthdays, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 28, no. 1 (September 1974): 1.
K-2 Delighted by all his birthday presents, nine-year-old Benjamin (a bear) decides he'll re-wrap them so that he can enjoy them all over again [inBenjamin's 365 Birthdays ]. Thus primed, he proceeds to wrap a different object in his home each day (a chair, the bathtub, his pillow) and enjoy them, too. On his tenth birthday, Benjamin is finally discovered by his guests on the roof of his house. They all climb up there for a party and find the house itself is wrapped, the ultimate birthday present. The end: "Benjamin felt he would never want another birthday present again, since everything around him was a present and always would be." The idea is fresh and amusing, the style light and bland; the illustrations are adequate but have a static quality. The ending, so much more fanciful than the rest of the story, weakens the book. As a boy-in-bear-form, Benjamin has been believable up to this point: the housetop party is not convincing.
Leah Hawkins (review date September 1993)
SOURCE: Hawkins, Leah. Review of Benjamin's 365 Birthdays, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. School Library Journal 39, no. 9 (September 1993): 195.
PreS-Gr 1—This read-along version of Judi and Ron Barrett's book [Benjamin's 365 Birthdays ] 1974, 1992) will provide an enjoyable reading experience for pre-readers and beginning readers. Benjamin enjoys opening presents at his ninth birthday party so much that he can't wait another whole year to open them again. The next day he rewraps and then reopens one of his presents. He then proceeds to re-wrap one present each day until he runs out of presents, at which time he wraps other favorite items so that he has one present to open every day for 365 days until it is time for his tenth birthday party. Pleasant music accompanies the male narrator, and interesting sound effects are used. One side of the cassette provides page turn signals (the actual sound of a page turning), while the other side does not. Both sides provide adequate pauses—some of them quite lengthy—for the purpose of examining all the illustrations.
PETER'S POCKET (1974)
Kirkus Reviews (review date 15 July 1974)
SOURCE: Review of Peter's Pocket, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Julia Noonan. Kirkus Reviews 42, no. 14 (15 July 1974): 735.
The home-sewn pockets Peter wears [inPeter's Pocket ] pinned to his favorite dungarees and polo shirts provide handy personalized carrying space for his finger puppets, crayons, crumbled cookies and miscellaneous junk of all descriptions, and Julie Noonan's careful pencil renderings of Peter's diversified loot are likely to awaken pack rat instincts even where they have previously been dormant. Needless to say, having the actual pockets would be better than having the book, and a clever Momma could steal the idea and save herself $4.95. Satisfying as the drawings are, it is questionable whether they justify inflating this Woman's Day sort of notion into a transgenerational project. 3-6, and mothers of same
Publishers Weekly (review date 23 September 1974)
SOURCE: Review of Peter's Pocket, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Julia Noonan. Publishers Weekly 206, no. 13 (23 September 1974): 156.
(2-5) At age three and one-half, Peter has a problem common to small boys—not enough pockets for the myriad of things he has to carry around [inPeter's Pocket ]. But Peter has an uncommon mother; she is sympathetic to his needs and she invents a handy device: portable pockets. No matter how many balloons, keys, pretzels, play dollars, crackers, crayons and other impedimenta the boy gathers, there is a place for all. Peter has a pocket on his hat, one on each sleeve, extra ones on his jeans and on every pinnable surface. The pictures and the text are not only fun but a suggestion for other mothers. A pattern for the portable pocket will be appreciated when it shows up at the end of the lively story.
Kristin E. Hammond (review date 15 October 1974)
SOURCE: Hammond, Kristin E. Review of Peter's Pocket, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Julia Noonan. Library Journal 99, no. 18 (15 October 1974): 2730.
PreS-Gr 1—Peter doesn't have enough pockets for all his paraphernalia [inPeter's Pocket ], so his mother sews some extras and pins them to his clothes. Pencil drawings show Peter's pockets bulging with crayons, coins, a baseball, etc., and Barrett tells how "Cookies made them crumby."; "Toy cars made a lot of little bumps."; etc. Directions for pocket making appear at the end of this pleasantly illustrated but extremely slight story.
I HATE TO TAKE A BATH (1975)
Kirkus Reviews (review date 15 July 1975)
SOURCE: Review of I Hate to Take a Bath, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Chas B. Slackman. Kirkus Reviews 43, no. 14 (15 July 1975): 773.
First the reasons for, then those against taking a bath—each point illustrated [inI Hate to Take a Bath ] with a different Ray Cruz-like kid demonstrating such discomforts as dribbling curls or fingers puckered like raisins, then such pleasures as splashing, swimming, sailing toy ships, etc. The conclusion is a complete turnaround—"I think what I hate most about taking a bath is that I have to get out"—which obviously suggests this as a bubble-coated soft sell for reluctant bathers. 3-4
Publishers Weekly (review date 11 August 1975)
SOURCE: Review of I Hate to Take a Bath, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Chas B. Slackman. Publishers Weekly 208, no. 6 (11 August 1975): 116.
The pros and cons of cleanliness are dealt with realistically and humorously [inI Hate to Take a Bath ] by talented Ms. Barrett and the artist's pictures of human little kids (boys and girls) add to the exuberance of a small book for small hands. A girl with hair reaching down to her knees wants to avoid the tub because "My mother might decide to wash my hair"; a yowling boy protests against having both ears washed and one little fellow says, logically, that a bath "washes off all the good dirt." But, once in the tub, all these rebels have so much fun with bubbles, invented games, splashing and playing that we find the reason they hate baths is that they have to get out of the water too soon.
Judith S. Kronick (review date October 1975)
SOURCE: Kronick, Judith S. Review of I Hate to Take a Bath, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Chas B. Slackman. School Library Journal 22, no. 2 (October 1975): 88.
PreS-Gr 1—Judi Barrett's brief picture book [I Hate to Take a Bath ] discusses an experience familiar to all young children. In the first half of the 28 page book, children tell—in one short sentence each—why they Hate to Take a Bath. (Their reasons are all mildly humorous, e.g., "It makes my fingers look like raisins."; "It washes off all the good dirt."). The second half, however, catalogs some enjoyable aspects of bathing ("I can pretend I'm my pet turtle."). Realistic sketches in soothing blues, pinks, and grays discreetly picture children from the waist up—except for one bare backside. Pleasant but about as punchy as a wet washcloth.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (review date January 1976)
SOURCE: Review of I Hate to Take a Bath, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Chas B. Slackman. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 29, no. 5 (January 1976): 73.
4-6 yrs. Slight but amusing, this should evoke recognition on almost every page. The book [I Hate to Take a Bath ] is divided into parts: "I hate to take a bath because. . . ." and "But if I have to take a bath . . ." and ends with, "I think what I hate most about taking a bath is that I have to get out." Reasons pro: blowing bubbles, singing loudly, playing with toys; reasons con: it takes off all the good dirt; it makes fingers look like raisins, it means that both ears must be washed. There's just a touch of cuteness on some pages, but there's the appeal of the familiar, some humor, and the clean look of pages with little print and pictures that are stripped to essentials.
I HATE TO GO TO BED (1977)
Publishers Weekly (review date 19 September 1977)
SOURCE: Review of I Hate to Go to Bed, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ray Cruz. Publishers Weekly 212, no. 12 (19 September 1977): 146.
The author ofI Hate to Take a Bath and other disarming children's books explores another childhood bugaboo here. Barrett's story [I Hate to Go to Bed ] gets a noble assist from [Ray] Cruz. His lively drawings illustrate first the trials of bedtime and then its comforts. We see boys and girls of various races as they deliver manifestoes such as "I'm the youngest and I have to go to bed first." "I'm still wide awake and not sleepy at all." Cold sheets, monsters lurking in the dark and other nighttime vexations are discussed but then the same little kids admit going to bed does have a few advantages. Finally, the chief spokesman admits that the worst feature of going to bed is getting up, the next morning. (5-8)
Joan W. Blos (review date October 1977)
SOURCE: Blos, Joan W. Review of I Hate to Go to Bed, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ray Cruz. School Library Journal 24, no. 2 (October 1977): 98.
PreS-1—The prose in this sequel [I Hate to Go to Bed ] to the author'sI Hate to Take a Bath (1975) is first-person drone. The pictures fail to make clear that different "I's" are talking in the text which begins by listing reasons why "I hate to go to bed" and then about-faces ("But if I have to go to bed . . .") with a list of explanations of why it's not so bad after all. It all ends adultomorphically: "I think what I hate most about going to bed at night is that I have to get up in the morning." The basic flaw here is that the book almost entirely depends on seeing that good can be found with bad, a subtle concept seldom within the grasp of children younger than seven.
Betsy Hearne (review date 15 November 1977)
SOURCE: Hearne, Betsy. Review of I Hate to Go to Bed, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ray Cruz. Booklist 74, no. 6 (15 November 1977): 546.
Instant replay for collections where Barrett's last bookI Hate to Take a Bath was popular. Here [inI Hate to Go to Bed ] different children recite their complaints and objections ("I have to stop having fun and put all my toys away"), then capitulate with some saving graces ("But if I have to go to bed . . . I can read under the covers") until the final contradictory quip: "I think what I hate most about going to bed at night is that I have to get up in the morning." [Ray] Cruz' cross-hatch drawings are overlaid with bright colors. Ordinary but operative. Ages 3-6.
Mary M. Burns (review date December 1977)
SOURCE: Burns, Mary M. Review of I Hate to Go to Bed, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ray Cruz. Horn Book Magazine 53, no. 6 (December 1977): 651.
A gallery of small malcontents presents all the familiar excuses for prolonging daytime pleasures [inI Hate to Go to Bed ] through a felicitous blending of simple text with expressively detailed, colorful illustrations which add a visual dimension to all complaints—from the familiar "I'm still wide awake and not sleepy at all" to the more imaginative plea that "there might be monsters hiding in the corners." As a counter to these arguments, the second half of the book depicts the adjustments of the youthful pragmatists to reality in their enumeration of such bedtime delights as sipping warm cocoa or reading under the covers—coming full circle to the conclusion that the most difficult part of going to bed is having to get up in the morning. Small in size, gently humorous in content, the book offers a realistic interpretation of childhood.
THE WIND THIEF (1977)
Kirkus Reviews (review date 15 April 1977)
SOURCE: Review of The Wind Thief, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Diane Dawson. Kirkus Reviews 45, no. 8 (15 April 1977): 421.
There is conventional picture book possibility in Barrett's blustery wind [inThe Wind Thief ], who gets cold and decides to steal a little boy's stocking hat. And the wind stirs up a decent commotion when, seeking to dislodge one hat, it blows so hard that everyone's hat is off and flying, finally settling down with a new owner. [Diane] Dawson, too, does her best, steering a circus parade through town at the windiest moment and further filling the pages with crowds of hatted spectators. The result is a teeming confusion reminiscent of Kellogg, but without Kellogg's robust humor. And the pale turquoise and tan color scheme, while pleasant enough, lacks the force that's required to carry this off. 4-5
Booklist (review date 1 May 1977)
SOURCE: Review of The Wind Thief, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Diane Dawson. Booklist 73, no. 17 (1 May 1977): 1343.
The chilly wind [inThe Wind Thief ] isn't dressed right for his blowing and decides that what he needs is a hat to keep the top of his head warm; he gets it by mustering a gust sure to blow an eye-catching striped stocking hat right off of a little boy's head. The high-powered woosh wins the wind not only the hat he covets but hundreds of others as well, and when he looses them on the waiting townsfolk below, anger turns to laughter as the hats fall to the heads of the wrong owners. The disappointed little boy whose hat is still missing pricks the wind's conscience; the thief is ready to return his prize until he sees the boy's grandmother busy on a new hat: now, "neither of them would ever be cold when the wind blew." [Diane] Dawson depicts the roguish blusterer in sweeping wavy pen lines washed over in light blue; busy scenes of bustling town and countryside activity invite the same kind of scrutiny often expended on Steven Kellogg's similarly compulsive linework. Ages 4-7.
Ann A. Flowers (review date August 1977)
SOURCE: Flowers, Ann A. Review of The Wind Thief, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Diane Dawson. Horn Book Magazine 53, no. 4 (August 1977): 429.
Illustrated by Diane Dawson. The wind felt cold and decided he needed a hat to keep himself warm [in The Wind Thief ]. He saw just the thing on a boy's head—a long, skinny stocking cap with rainbow colored stripes; so he gave a great "WHOOOOOOOOSH" and scooped up everyone's hats. After the wind had chosen the hat he wanted, he let all the others fall, but nobody got his own hat back. The mix-up was accepted with great good humor, and the boy's grandmother knitted him a new hat just like the old one. The illustrations for this simple, gentle tale are full of inventive detail in the style of Stephen Kellogg: There is not only a circus in town but an opera company with performers in Wagnerian costumes as well as various citizens and innumerable animals—all exhibiting a remarkable assortment of hats.
Cynthia Percak Infantino (review date September 1977)
SOURCE: Infantino, Cynthia Percak. Review of The Wind Thief, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Diane Dawson. School Library Journal 24, no. 1 (September 1977): 100.
PreS-Gr 2—A lighthearted tale [The Wind Thief ] of the wind's attempt to find a hat for himself. Jealous of a boy's striped stocking-cap, he blows it off the youngster's head, meantime creating such a furious breeze that everyone's hat flies into the air. Realizing his error, the wind "holds his breath," and allows the myriad hats to drift back down to earth. Naturally, no one ends up with his own. [Diane] Dawson's lilting pen-and-ink illustrations capture the humor in the situation, as the August-looking wind benevolently swirls through the book. The oversized pages, filled with miniscule drawings, are a virtual cornucopia of detail, making this suitable for browsing.
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS (1978)
Carolyn K. Jenks (review date September 1978)
SOURCE: Jenks, Carolyn K. Review of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. School Library Journal 25, no. 1 (September 1978): 102.
K-Gr 2—A Saturday pancake breakfast inspires Grandpa to tell a story [inCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs ]: in the tiny town of Chewandswallow everything is usual except the weather, which brings food from the sky three times a day. In case readers cannot imagine this situation through words alone, the line and watercolor cartoons complete the picture: eggs, sunny side up, hang on trees, soda drizzles, a molded Jello sets in the west, and so on. The townspeople think this is a fine way to live, until undesirable food begins to fall. The Chewandswallow Digest carries the headline "Spaghetti Ties Up Town!" and "Traffic Snarled on Lower Intestine Street." The people begin to leave for another settlement, where they make temporary houses out of stale bread and live "normal" lives, buying food at the supermarket. This is enough to make some readers throw up; but perhaps it is just a matter of taste.
Kirkus Reviews (review date 1 December 1978)
SOURCE: Review of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. Kirkus Reviews 46, no. 23 (1 December 1978): 1303.
A flying pancake at breakfast triggers Grandpa's bedtime story set in the far-off land of Chewanswallow, where the food comes out of the sky and "whatever the weather served, that was what they ate." Most of the book [Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs ] consists of nothing more than elaborations on this conceit, with running menu information decked out in weather report terminology, but Judi Barrett's examples are nutty enough so that kids won't tire of the gag—even though Ron Barrett's flippy pop cartoons are too literal to enlarge it. The plot thickens with the maple syrup, and at last the portions grow so large that the people are being bombarded and buried by food—and so they all sail off on peanut-butter sandwiches to a land where food is purchased at the supermarket. A dubious improvement perhaps, but Grandpa's imaginings are very close to a little kid's funny bone—which everyone knows is located somewhere along the intestinal tract. 4-6
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (review date January 1979)
SOURCE: Review of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 32, no. 5 (January 1979): 73.
K-2 Told as a tale-within-a-tale, this [Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs ] has an amusing concept but one that is over-extended. As a bedtime tall tale, Grandpa tells of the town in which all the food came from the sky, a situation that was pleasant until the thrice-daily showers of food and drink turned into storms and tornadoes of food, driving the residents away to search for a new place to build. The idea of skyborne food is amusing, and there are some nice illustrative expansions (a television weather chart showing meatball clouds with soup moving in from the west) but both pictures and text become repetitive before the tale shifts to bad weather and the resultant emigration.
Virginia Makins (review date 20 June 1980)
SOURCE: Makins, Virginia. "Blithe Spirits." Times Educational Supplement, no. 3340 (20 June 1980): 44.
You could hardly say thatCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, by Judy Barrett is about ordinary children. But—as good or even better, in the eyes of many young children—it is about ordinary (American) food.
It is a Grandfather's story about a place where food simply arrives, like weather: "Dinner one night consisted of lamp chops, becoming heavy at times, with occasional ketchup. Periods of peas and baked potatoes were followed by gradual clearing, with a wonderful jelly setting in the west." Then the weather goes wrong. The pictures, by Ron Barrett, add a tangy sauce to the story, and children laugh a lot when they read or hear it.
Gabrielle Maunder (review date December 1980)
SOURCE: Maunder, Gabrielle. Review of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. School Librarian 28, no. 4 (December 1980): 369.
The humorous book is the most disaster prone in the literary field. To recommend one is rapidly to discover the unpredictability of even those nearest and dearest to you. Imagine then the problem of the writer, with only an imagined reader in mind, and the publisher, with an eye to the sales figures. Legend has it that children like 'funny' books, stories, songs. My knowledge of them leads me to believe that the adult view of childhood nonsense is misapprised, and that children lean rather towards sophistication and extreme vulgarity, neither of which are acceptable in the eyes of their 'elders and betters'.
This book [Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs ] concerns the juxtaposition of the familiar 'telly weather' ('Rain in places, becoming showery') with a fantasy of food, with food taking the place of the natural phenomena. Perhaps now the title makes sense. The problem is that it is too clever by half. There are phrases which strike one as highly pleasing: 'Dinner one night consisted of lamb chops, becoming heavy, with occasional ketchup'; but the whole book, text and illustrations, is presented at gale force. I longed for a calm, an interlude between shrieks. It is hard to know whether to say 'Buy it', or 'Keep away', but I would warn any teacher with an eye to purchase that it demands a close knowledge of the language of weather forecasting if the joke is to be clear, and I wonder how many junior children attend to the details of form and style sufficiently to see the point.
ANIMALS SHOULD DEFINITELY NOT ACT LIKE PEOPLE (1980)
Kirkus Reviews (review date 1 September 1980)
SOURCE: Review of Animals Should Definitely Not Act Like People, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. Kirkus Reviews 48, no. 17 (1 September 1980): 1157.
A successor, of course, toAnimals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing (1970) [isAnimals Should Definitely Not Act Like People ]. And again the ludicrous situations—"it would be preposterous for a panda" to take a toy panda to bed, "a worm would be worn out" trying to lift a barbell—will elicit quick laughs from kids. But, as those two examples indicate, there's no consistent basis for the silliness here: sometimes it comes from a turnabout ("it would be foolish for a fish to fish"), sometimes it comes from sheer outlandishness ("a hippopotamus would have to have a heap of help" to get into a bathtub); sometimes, too, the message is spelled out, sometimes—to best effect, probably, in a group—kids are left to figure it out from the pictures ("it would not pay for a pigeon," for instance, to take a plane). But the look is bright and crisp and broadly humorous, and the final turnabout—animals shouldn't put people in cages and gawk at them "because we wouldn't like it"—brings the assorted goings-on to a single, chorus-line conclusion. 3-5
Barbara Elleman (review date 15 September 1980)
SOURCE: Elleman, Barbara. Review of Animals Should Definitely Not Act Like People, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. Booklist 77, no. 2 (15 September 1980): 112.
In an extension of theirAnimals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing, the Barretts concoct another group of funny situations [inAnimals Should Definitely Not Act Like People ] in which animals are ludicrously thrust into human positions, with complementary graphics showing the infeasibility of it all. Using a similar format of large black type against bright blue, orange, or white background, alternating with a page of line-and-color illustration, the author-artist team depicts 14 misdirected animals, among them a worm trying to lift a barbell, a hippopotamus stuck in a bathtub, a pigeon in an airplane, a dog walking a pet dog, a turtle with an umbrella, and a ladybug carrying a heavy bag of groceries. Though the humor is stretched a bit (an ostrich with its head in the floor watching television), children will find most of the incongruities astonishing and amusing. Ages 4-6.
Hara L. Seltzer (review date October 1980)
SOURCE: Seltzer, Hara L. Review of Animals Should Definitely Not Act Like People, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. School Library Journal 27, no. 2 (October 1980): 132.
K-Gr 3—The pictures [inAnimals Should Definitely Not Act Like People ] show the reasons why ". . . it would be foolish for a panda . . ." to act like a person; the illustration shows the bear in bed with a toy panda. The "outrageous" octopus plays outfield; the silly sheep sits under a hairdryer in curlers; the foolish fish goes fishing; the pigeon pays to fly in an airplane (with earphones for the stereo sound). The text, on one page, is in big block letters; the illustrations are carefully detailed pen-and-ink drawings with wash; they are funny, but cold. However, it's an enjoyable sequel toAnimals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing (1970).
Reading Teacher (review date October 1981)
SOURCE: Review of Animals Should Definitely Not Act Like People, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. Reading Teacher 35, no. 1 (October 1981): 53.
A delightful book [Animals Should Definitely Not Act Like People ] for beginning readers to develop comprehension skills by "reading" the pictures and the large type text. Also a good book to develop oral language by talking about the pictures. This was a favorite for teachers to read aloud to small groups of children, who laughed loudly when they "figured out" the illustrations.
I'M TOO SMALL, YOU'RE TOO BIG (1981)
Publishers Weekly (review date 6 February 1981)
SOURCE: Review of I'm Too Small, You're Too Big, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by David Rose. Publishers Weekly 219, no. 6 (6 February 1981): 373.
Author ofCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and other buoyant stories, Barrett here [inI'm Too Small, You're Too Big ] zeroes in on situations that sometimes vex kids. Rose's color pictures star an attractive duo, a small boy and a mustachioed adult, showing graphically and merrily the child's claims of tit for tat. "I'm too small to wear your shoes. But you're too Big to Wear my Dracula Costume. I'm too small to go to work. But you're too Big for Kindergarten." The fulminations accumulate until the boy gets off his best shot: "Someday I'll be as big as you are. Maybe Even Bigger." Giving readers extra giggles are portrayals of titillated onlookers including gangs of boys and girls, a dog and a cat. (3-7)
Kirkus Reviews (review date 15 April 1981)
SOURCE: Review of I'm Too Small, You're Too Big, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by David Rose. Kirkus Reviews 49, no. 8 (15 April 1981): 497.
In small type [inI'm Too Small, You're Too Big ], a little boy laments all the things he's "too small" to do ("I'm too small to climb a mountain"; "I'm too small to play in the Big Leagues"); IN LARGE TYPE, on the facing page, he revels in the corresponding things that his father, pictured, is "TOO BIG" to do ("YOU'RE TOO BIG TO CLIMB MY JUNGLE GYM"; "YOU'RE TOO BIG TO PLAY IN THE LITTLE LEAGUES"). And, of course, "someday I'll be as big as you are. MAYBE EVEN BIGGER." Finis. Now and again you might think that Barrett is also taking a poke at parents who act like kids—partly because the father looks pretty silly playing house or blindman's bluff—but the pattern is not sufficiently consistent to support that interpretation. So it's just the disadvantages of being small offset, in each case, by an advantage—and capped by the prospect of maybe even out-growing Dad (whose inability ever to be a child again isn't so much as mooted). A perfectly pleasant little lesson—as pictured, too—but static and mechanical. 3-4
Carol Hurd (review date November 1981)
SOURCE: Hurd, Carol. Review of I'm Too Small, You're Too Big, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by David Rose. School Library Journal 28, no. 3 (November 1981): 71-2.
PreS-Gr 1—"I'm too small to go to work. But you're too Big to go to Kindergarten." There are 12 of these contrasts [inI'm Too Small, You're Too Big ], picturing a boy and a man who are presumably father and son. They are all statements of the obvious, but the side-by-side illustrations make the presentation pleasant. The artwork is humorous without being zany. Particularly good is the boy too young to stay in the house alone, surrounded by shadows and faces in the woodwork. The man on the opposite page, who is too big to have a babysitter, holds a teddy bear and is being sent off to bed. The final entry states that ". . . someday I'll be as big as you are. Maybe even Bigger." Admirers of Barrett'sBenjamin's 365 Birthdays (1974) andAnimals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing (1971) will be disappointed. By comparison, this book is too small in content and imagination. However, it will have too big an appeal to a limited audience to be overlooked entirely.
A SNAKE IS TOTALLY TAIL (1983)
Kirkus Reviews (review date 1 November 1983)
SOURCE: Review of A Snake Is Totally Tail, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by L. S. Johnson. Kirkus Reviews 51, no. 21 (1 November 1983): J-184.
So it is [inA Snake Is Totally Tail ]—and "A toucan is basically beak," while "A giraffe is noticeably neck." (One would not quite say, however, that "An elephant is essentially ears.") At least as much fun as the word-play are the playful pictures: a bristling porcupine—edged with cactus plants; a toucan drinking, with a hinged straw, from a can. Or, a likely children's favorite: the giraffe as a passenger—ogled from above and below—in a sun-roof car. The visualizations will remind you a little of Remy Charlip—in style (thin line, luscious color), as well as in imaginative extension. Insofar as picture books are for seeing things anew, this does very nicely. 4-6
Jody Risacher (review date February 1984)
SOURCE: Risacher, Jody. Review of A Snake Is Totally Tail, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by L. S. Johnson. School Library Journal 30, no. 6 (February 1984): 56.
PreS-Gr 2—The concept of characteristics is introduced in a friendly, humorous fashion in this alliterative picture book [A Snake Is Totally Tail ]. Single sentence pages express the predominant characteristics of a variety of creatures from bees to giraffes. Alternating pen-and-ink and watercolor, the illustrations often show the creatures in fanciful settings that complement the brief text and sometimes add a story of their own. Brief enough for preschool story hour, this delightful book may inspire some creative and artistic excursions into the natural world.
WHAT'S LEFT? (1983)
Publishers Weekly (review date 4 March 1983)
SOURCE: Review of What's Left? by Judi Barrett. Publishers Weekly 223, no. 9 (4 March 1983): 99-100.
Barrett has writtenCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and other popular stories, and now she bows as an illustrator as well [inWhat's Left? ]. The pictures are big, boldly colored and enticing. They are bound to please tots whose parents will find the book's brief, carefully thought-out text ideal for amusing their children while simultaneously introducing conceptions of empty and full. "What's left after you get out of bed in the morning?" "A warm spot." "What's left after you take off all of your clothes?" "Your birthday suit." "What's left after you finish crying?" "A few tears." Good and not-so-good instances occur, winding up with "And what's left after someone kisses you?" "A nice feeling." And that's what Barrett gives to her audience, both grown-ups and little ones. (2-5)
Denise M. Wilms (review date 1 April 1983)
SOURCE: Wilms, Denise M. Review of What's Left? by Judi Barrett. Booklist 79, no. 15 (1 April 1983): 1026.
Ages 2-3. "What's left after you've eaten your chocolate chip cookie? Cookie crumbs. What's left after it rains? Lots of puddles." These and succeeding questions and answers offer toddlers their first sampling of riddles [inWhat's Left? ]. Barrett's illustrations are crisp and contemporary, relying on lots of pure, flat color with spare patterning for accent—the flowers on a tablecloth or the contrasting stripes of a shirt and belt, for example. The mood throughout is light and humorous with a nice dash of warmth: "And what's left after someone kisses you? A nice feeling."
Kirkus Reviews (review date 15 April 1983)
SOURCE: Review of What's Left? by Judi Barrett. Kirkus Reviews 51, no. 8 (15 April 1983): 455.
[What's Left? is] a concept book—without the inherent relationships that make a concept book valid. The basic idea, and its most felicitous illustration, is as follows: "What's left after you've taken your bath?" "A ring around the bathtub." Some of the other questions, however, have mundane answers: "What's left after you drink all of your milk?" ("An empty glass"); "What's left after you've licked up all of your lollipop?" ("The stick"). Others of the questions have arbitrary, unguessable answers: "What's left after you get out of bed in the morning?" "A warm spot." Still others, in the emotional realm, could be called insensitive: "What's left after you finish crying?" "A few tears." All of this is illustrated in flat colors and a few, simplified, poster-like forms—ugly forms when, occasionally, children (like the crier) are shown. The book doesn't provide the satisfactions of anticipation, in sum, nor the pleasures of recognition—and, unlike minimalist works by other artists, it isn't particularly attractive or interesting to look at. 2-4
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (review date September 1983)
SOURCE: Review of What's Left? by Judi Barrett. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 37, no. 1 (September 1983): 1.
2-5 yrs. Large-scale paintings, cleanly shown on spacious pages, are paired [inWhat's Left? ]; one page asks a question (yellow recto page) and then the page is turned and the answer is on a white verso page. The text deals in concepts: what's left over when something is over, or taken away, or consumed? A nice idea, the one weakness of the book being that the concepts are not always literal; although this may stretch understanding for some children, it may be a handicap to those more literal to pair "What's left after you've eaten your chocolate chip cookie?" (Cookie crumbs) with "What's left after you go to sleep at night?" (Your dreams) without confusion.
Hannah Pickworth (review date October 1983)
SOURCE: Pickworth, Hannah. Review of What's Left? by Judi Barrett. School Library Journal 30, no. 2 (October 1983): 145.
PreS-K—What's Left? is a concept book in which preschoolers are asked to look at 14 common situations and think about what remains after the situation is changed. The answer and another illustration can be found by turning the page. The stylized illustrations are uncluttered though flat, the text is minimal and the type-face is clear and easily readable. Nevertheless the potential of this book is never realized. For the imaginative youngster, the one answer to a question is confining. Some indication that a multitude of answers or results is acceptable would open up more avenues of creativity. Of all the possible questions that could have been included, "What's left after your birthday party is over?" is an unfortunate commercial choice, with the stated answer being "presents."
THE THINGS THAT ARE MOST IN THE WORLD (1998)
Publishers Weekly (review date 20 August 2001)
SOURCE: Review of The Things That are Most in the World, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by John Nickle. Publishers Weekly 248, no. 34 (20 August 2001): 83.
"Nickle brushes on five-alarm acrylics to set the stage for Barrett's energetically loony look at superlatives," wrote PW. "The resulting delicious absurdities [in Things That are Most in the World ] should inspire both giggles and creativity in readers." Ages 3-7.
WHICH WITCH IS WHICH? (2001)
Kirkus Reviews (review date 15 July 2001)
SOURCE: Review of Which Witch Is Which?, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Sharleen Collicott. Kirkus Reviews 69, no. 14 (15 July 2001): 1021.
A rhyming seek and find makes this book [Which Witch Is Which? ] a sure bet for a cozy read-aloud. On the right-hand side, [Sharleen] Collicott's (Toestomper and the Caterpillars, 1999, etc.) animal witches fill the page, each unique and with its own witchy hat. They are hard at work, acting, eating, sewing, playing . . . and making trouble. On the left-hand page, Barrett (I Knew Two Who Said Moo, 2000, etc.) presents a mystery—"Which witch is learning to stitch?" and four rhyming questions to help the reader pinpoint the correct witch in the illustration—"Is it the one wearing socks? / Is it the one eating lox?" While in many cases it is obvious which witch it is, the questions give the reader other details to look for in the pictures. And a good thing, too, since many of the activities will be unknown to children on the first reading. The text has the added bonus of highlighting all the rhyming words in colorful fonts, as well as introducing new ones—lean, glum, smug, lox, and nook, among others. Children will delight in the detailed drawings—new things will appear with each reading, and with the text as a model, they will get better and better at describing what they see. A clever and fun book that will have kids learning without even knowing it. (5-8)
Shara Alpern (review date September 2001)
SOURCE: Alpern, Shara. Review of Which Witch Is Which?, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Sharleen Collicott. School Library Journal 47, no. 9 (September 2001): 182.
K-Gr 2—Barrett uses cartoon animals dressed as witches to help children distinguish different elements in the pictures [inWhich Witch Is Which? ]. The rhyming text prompts readers to find the witch "trying to hitch," "about to pitch," or "learning to stitch." However, young children trying to decipher these busy illustrations are likely to become frustrated. The combination of unfamiliar vocabulary (jig, glum, smug, ghoul) and a difficulty in matching text and picture, such as "Is it the one who is LEAN . . . Or is it the one who is clean" (the lean one looks just as clean as the others), detracts from any enjoyment that the book might offer.
Publishers Weekly (review date 10 September 2001)
SOURCE: Review of Which Witch Is Which?, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Sharleen Collicott. Publishers Weekly 248, no. 37 (10 September 2001): 92.
Specific questions and elaborate illustrations complicate this hide-and-seek game [inWhich Witch Is Which? ], whose "witches" are animals in pointed hats. Every spread presents five queries opposite a detailed full-bleed image. For instance, "Which witch looks radiantly rich?" refers to six white rabbits having tea. All wear billowy gowns, but one drips with jewels. The answer may be evident, but more questions take the investigation further. "Is it the one feeling hot?" (A sweaty rabbit fans herself.) "Is it the one stirring a pot?" (A rabbit in a patched hat tends a teakettle.) "Is it the one eating an apricot?" (The bejeweled rabbit nibbles an orange fruit.) Barrett, author ofI Knew Two Who Said Moo, tirelessly repeats the title's formula on each new page, rhyming the homonyms "which witch" with "itch," "switch" and "glitch." [Sharleen] Collicott's (Toestomper and the Caterpillars) appropriately weird gouaches feature look-alike groups, from polar bears to newts to chameleons, in creepy swamps or decadent interiors. Her near-identical witches wear patterned garments and make subtle movements; a lion palms a gold coin in "Which witch is a sneaky snitch?" The puzzles lose their luster as they are solved, but Barrett's numerous clues and Collicott's intricate visuals delay that inevitable fading. Ages 4-8.
Connie Fletcher (review date 1 November 2001)
SOURCE: Fletcher, Connie. Review of Which Witch Is Which?, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Sharleen Collicott. Booklist 98, no. 5 (1 November 2001): 481.
Ages 4-8. Barrett, who wrote the classicCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (1982), again skews reality with fantastic situations and jokey wordplay [inWhich Witch Is Which? ]. Barrett is aided and abetted by illustrator [Sharleen] Collicott, whose eye-popping gouache paintings deliver just the right kind of creepy-crawly landscapes—jam-packed with creatures, some cute, some mildly menacing. Each double-page spread asks a question that focuses on identifying the correct witch in an illustration, for instance. "Which witch has an itch?" Multiple-choice answers are offered: "The one on the rug? The one who looks smug?" The rhymes on witch get more and more ridiculous, while the paintings sustain interest with pointy-hatted animals—domestic, wild, and completely made-up—and a landscape that offers all sorts of weird surprises: hills with glowering faces, interiors packed with sumptuous draperies and foods. Not just a Halloween romp, this offers year-round involvement and fun.
Briggs, Julia. "The Followers of Fashion." Times Literary Supplement, no. 4018 (28 March 1980): 359.
Presents a critique of the storyline and illustration style of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
Dill, Barbara. "Picturely Books for Children." Wilson Library Bulletin 50, no. 2 (October 1975): 172.
Evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of I Hate to Take a Bath.
Kuskin, Karla. Review of Benjamin's 365 Birthdays, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. New York Times Book Review (5 May 1974): section 7, p. 46.
Commends Barrett's narrative in Benjamin's 365 Birthdays.
Review of Benjamin's 365 Birthdays, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. Publishers Weekly 205, no. 16 (22 April 1974): 75.
Offers a positive assessment of Benjamin's 365 Birthdays.
Review of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. Reading Teacher 33, no. 1 (October 1979): 39.
Compliments Barrett's achievement with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
Rice, Harold C. K. "A Potpourri of Picture Books." New York Times Book Review 85, no. 45 (9 November 1980): 49.
Discusses several children's picture books, including Animals Should Definitely Not Act Like People.
Smardo, Frances A. "Using Children's Literature to Clarify Science Concepts in Early Childhood Programs." Reading Teacher 36, no. 3 (December 1982): 267-68.
Describes how Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs can be used in a science classroom.
Additional coverage of Barrett's life and career is contained in the following sources published by the Gale Group: Contemporary Authors, Vol. 103; Literature Resource Center; Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, Ed. 2; and Something about the Author, Vol. 26.