Dragon (illus Jos A. Smith)

"From every part of the sky the dragons came flying, turning, banking... they were all colours and shapes and sizes: there were red dragons or green, silver or gold or steely grey; there were dragons with spiny iron claws, or dragons feathered soft as rainbows. For these, Matthew realised, were all the dragons ever put into the world of story."
(from Matthew's Dragon)

Little Joe isn't afraid of the water, but he can't swim. He only splashes around. This makes him sad because everyone in his family swims easily and well -- and Joe longs to.

One day, a very small frog from a nearby pond hops over and right into the pool. Joe watches him swim back and forth, kicking hard with his strong back legs. Joe's brother and sister try to grab Frog or chase him out. Joe's dad brings a net to scoop up Frog. Even Joe's mother joins in. Joe just watches. But when his family grows tired of the chase, Joe manages to rescue the tiny frog. Then he looks at the pool. If he imitates the frog, will he finally be able to swim? 

(with Jane Browne)


Jethro and the Jumbie Cover (illus Ashley Bryan)

Jethro had turned into a bag of bad temper. He would be eight next week and his big brother had promised to take him deep sea fishing when he was that old. Now Thomas said he was too small to go! Jethro stomped away up the hill, though the trail was supposed to be haunted by spirits of the dead called jumbies. He didn't care. He didn't believe in jumbies. But meet one he did - and though he was scared, he was still too mad to believe in that jumbie. The poor jumbie grew dimmer and smaller until Jethro struck a bargain with him. If the jumbie would make brother Thomas keep his promise, Jethro would believe in him.

(with Ashley Bryan)

Susan Cooper's Caribbean island is Great Camanoe, in the British Virgin Islands, where she and her family built a holiday house many years ago. During summers there and winter vacations, she worked on the books in her The Dark Is Rising sequence. Living on the island, she became enchanted by the local speech, which she has used in Jethro and the Jumbie. "Adults have Sean O'Casey's plays and V.S. Naipaul's novels to remind them of the music and vitality of regional language," she says. "I'd like children to have more reminders too. Yes, they need 'standard' English - but not at the cost of their own bright idiom."


From Wales comes this tale of young Huw, whose lilting harp music enchants the Tylwyth Teg, the magic people of Llyn Barfog, The Bearded Lake. From the depths of the black lake comes the gift of a beautiful silver cow; and the cow is magic, for its milk is three times as rich as the milk of an ordinary cow, and she gives three times as much.

Huw's father is a selfish and greedy man, and his wealth makes him greedier than ever. Huw tries to make his father see the magic, but he scoffs at the Tylwyth Teg... until they seek their revenge.

(with Warwick Hutton)

Silver Cow Cover (illus Warwick Hutton)

Selkie Girl Cover (illus Warwick Hutton)

An elegant retelling of the legend of a young crofter and his seal bride. Captivated by the beautiful selkie girl he sees on the rocks, Donallan wants nothing more than to have her for his wife. He succeeds in stealing her skin and marrying her, but he never truly captures her heart. Warwick Hutton's water-colours capture the simple lives of the crofters and the vast beauty of the lonely sea and the shore.

 (with Warwick Hutton)

Matthew is ready to go to bed, but the green glow coming from the book about dragons intrigues him. When he opens the book, the dragon on the last page grins up at him. Since neither of them is ready to sleep, they take off on a magical adventure.

 (with Jos A. Smith)

Matthew's Dragon (illus Jos A. Smith)

Tam Lin Cover (illus Warwick Hutton)

Tam Lin is the retelling of an old Scottish ballad. Margaret, a princess who tires of sewing and waiting for marriage proposal, decides to visit the haunted forest of the Carterhays. There she meets the handsome and kind Tam Lin, a human captive of the Elfin folk. On Midsummer's Eve, when the Elfin folk ride out, Margaret bravely defies the Elfin Queen and frees Tam Lin from his imprisonment.

 (with Warwick Hutton)


After Steve punches Danny in the nose over whether the kings were more important than the shepherds in the Christmas play, their teacher settles the issue calmly, saying, "My old granny even used to say that those Three Kings are still travelling the world, carrying presents." Feeling guilty for the punch, Steve gives Danny, whose mother can't afford a Christmas tree, a little tree from Steve's yard. Unfortunately, the tree is smashed by a truck while Danny is dragging it across the highway. Though they give Danny a ride home and take his family to school for the play, the truck driver and his two friends can't stay for the performance. When Danny, his mother, and brother return home, a lovely tree awaits them.

 (with Jos A. Smith)

Danny and the Kings Cover (illus Jos A. Smith)