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Alison Bartlett Biography - Sidelights

review oliver book frogs

Alison Bartlett's career as a children's book author and illustrator started in the early 1990s and met with immediate success. Bartlett has adorned the pages of numerous children's books, including Growing Frogs, the popular "Oliver" series by author Vivian French, and Over in the Grasslands by Anna Wilson, just to name a few. Bartlett's use of bright colors and her simplistic drawing style promise picture-book afficionados plenty of excitement peppered with an air of mystery.

Bartlett has collaborated most frequently with children's author Vivian French. Part of French's "Oliver" series, Oliver's Fruit Salad follows picky protagonist Oliver, as he expands his pallet beyond his staple diet of French fries. Prompted by fond memories of helping his grandfather tend to his fruit garden, Oliver now admits an interest in helping his mother to make a fruit salad. While Oliver may not initially want to actually eat fruit, he enjoys helping his mom with shopping and salad-making. When the time comes to taste the fruits of his labor, Oliver realizes fruit salad is not half bad. Praising "Bartlett's sturdy, unbordered double-page-spread paintings"—colored with "srawberry red, lemon yellow, lime green, and more"—Booklist contributor Stephanie Zvirin described the illustrator's style as "so unaffected that it resembles children's own artwork."

Bartlett once again captures readers with her vibrant illustrations for French's Growing Frogs. In this quirkily titled book, a young girl studies the development and growth cycle of frogs with her mother. Collecting eggs from a nearby pond, the two monitor the metamorphosis from tadpole to frog, as it takes place before their eyes. Readers share in watching the change take place with the help of Bartlett's detailed illustrations, as intense hues of greens and purples help communicate the amphibian transformation. Jody McCoy, writing in School Library Journal, called Growing Frogs a "hopping-good collaboration," and commented that the illustrations "are just right for a first encounter with tadpole mysteries." A reviewer for Horn Book complimented Bartlett's use of color: vibrant hues are used in depicting the discovery period, while more subdued colors are utilized when developmental changes slow. Bartlett's "use of multiple frames showing tadpole and frog development paces the action well while allowing enough detail for readers to see small, but important, changes," added the Horn Book contributor.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 1, 1997, Carolyn Phelan, review of Cat among the Cabbages, p. 994; June 1, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of A Cow, a Bee, a Cookie, and Me, p. 171; June 1, 1997, Julie Corsaro, review of Charlie's Checklist, p. 1719; October 15, 1998, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Oliver's Fruit Salad, p. 426; August, 1999, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of Paddiwak and Cozy, p. 2063; August, 2001, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of Oliver's Milk Shake, p. 2129.

Horn Book, May, 2000, review of Growing Frogs, p. 332.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2001, review of A Story for Hippo: A Book about Loss, p. 1130.

Publishers Weekly, March 24, 1997, review of Charlie's Checklist, p. 83; July 24, 2000, review of Over in the Grasslands, p. 247.

School Library Journal, September, 2000, Bina Williams, review of The Caterpillar That Roared, p. 203; May, 2000, Jody McCoy, review of Growing Frogs, p. 161; November, 2000, Gay Lynn Van Vleck, review of Over in the Grasslands, p. 138; June, 2001, DeAnn Tabuchi, review of Oliver's Milk Shake, p. 114; November, 2001, Kathy M. Newby, review of A Story for Hippo, p. 133; May, 2002, Shawn Brommer, review of Cock-a-Moo-Moo, p. 111.*

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