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Ros Asquith Biography - Sidelights

pig books review babies

Ros Asquith contributes a regular cartoon feature, Doris, to England's Guardian. Many young readers in Great Britain know her better, however, for her lively "Teenage Worrier" books that realistically explore the many anxious moments facing teens, and how to solve them with humor and self-reliance. Asquith covers some of the same ground in her fiction, particularly the "Trixie Tempest" books aimed at the "tween" market of readers between the ages of nine and twelve. Although Asquith is better known in the United Kingdom, where her "Teenage Worrier" series includes some bestsellers, she is becoming more visible in the United States as the author of read-aloud books for the very youngest audience: babies and toddlers. These dual interests in simple picture books and humorous commentary for teens have been a part of the author's publishing profile since early in her career.

An honors graduate of Camberwell Art School, Asquith worked in graphic design and mural painting before moving into cartooning in the 1980s. She has also served as a theatre critic for several English periodicals. By 1990 she was well established as a cartoonist, author, and illustrator, with many projects running simultaneously. The "Teenage Worrier" series, for instance, has run into a dozen volumes, many of which were published in the same years that she wrote other fiction or picture book titles. Additionally, the artist/author herself told SATA that she has lost count of the number of covers she has designed for books by other writers.

Among Asquith's popular titles in America are My Do It!, Babies, and Mrs. Pig's Night Out. All three of these books aim at a preschool audience and reflect actions and adventures common to all young children. In My Do It!, a toddler insists on accomplishing tasks that his mother wants to do for him. Readers are invited to lift a flap to help the enterprising toddler along. Olga R. Barnes in School Library Journal found My Do It! "enjoyable," particularly for Sam Williams's "simple, uncluttered illustrations."

Babies, also illustrated by Williams, celebrates the many facets of babyhood and the wide variety of baby appearance and behavior. The final double-page spread, a Mylar mirror, invites a youngster to see himself or herself as part of the book. "Young children and their parents will find this short, simple picture book irresistible," predicted Carolyn Phelan in Booklist. In School Library Journal, Blair Christolon praised Babies for its "cozy rhyming text" and "colorful illustrations."

A cluster of piglet siblings run amok in Mrs. Pig's Night Out. As Mrs. Pig prepares to go out without her children, they weep and wail for her—until she leaves. Then the youngsters manipulate their weary father, despite his protests that it's time for bed. Pillow fights and extra television-watching ensue, and eventually it's Father Pig who goes to sleep. A mad scramble for bed at Mrs. Pig's return does not fool the wise mother: She notes that the piglets are in bed in their daytime clothes. Nevertheless, she is good-natured about it, praising her husband for a job well done. A Publishers Weekly critic noted of the title: "The premise may be an oldie, but this team turns it into a goodie." Be Astengo in School Library Journal felt that both parents and children "will recognize and laugh at the ruses of the clever piglets over their domestically incompetent father."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 1, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of Babies, p. 999; May 15, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of Mrs. Pig's Night Out, p. 1668.

Publishers Weekly, December 16, 2002, p. 65; May 12, 2003, review of Mrs. Pig's Night Out, p. 65.

School Library Journal, October, 2000, Olga R. Barnes, review of My Do It!, p. 110; March, 2003, Blair Christolon, review of Babies, p. 176; August, 2003, Be Astengo, review of Mrs. Pig's Night Out, p. 122.

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