Steve Metzger is the bestselling author of over seventy children’s books, including Detective Blue, The Turkey Train, and Pluto Visits Earth!, a 2012 American Booksellers Selection. Steve loves visiting schools and sharing his stories with young children. As a former classroom teacher, he understands the needs of children and tailors his presentations accordingly. Steve’s lively presentations feature the reading of 2-3 picture books that he’s written, a PowerPoint program about the process of making a picture book, a Q&A period, and (time permitting) some storytelling. The importance of reading and writing (or dictating stories) is stressed throughout his presentation. Steve will do three 30-40 minute presentations per school visit. After a recent school visit, a young child was heard saying, “I want to be a writer, too!”
Will Princess Isabel Ever Say Please?
Illustrated by Amanda Haley
Princess Isabel does not say “please” and therefore loses three opportunities to marry a prince. In the end, a light-bulb moment finally saves her when she is lost in the forest and the fourth prince rides up to her. She trades in her rudeness and asks, “Will you help me, please?” Her politeness gains her the prince’s heart and a proposal for marriage. Steve Metzger fractures a few fairy tales in this story. The first two princes who are repulsed by Isabel’s rudeness go out and eventually marry Cinderella and Snow White, and the third prince, the frog prince, finds a more polite princess to kiss and marry. Students who are not familiar with those fairy tales might be left out of the humor and irony in the story. However, all readers would benefit from the lesson on politeness. The plot is fairly appealing and creative, and the illustrations by Amanda Haley bring the story to life with lots of color and whimsy through colored pencils, gouache, and acrylic paint. I recommend this story as an additional book on manners to libraries and as nice introduction for a lesson on manners to teachers. 2012, Holiday House, $16.95. Ages 6 to 11. Reviewer: Karen J. Wanamaker (Kutztown University Book Review, Fall 2012).
Detective Blue Little Boy Blue
Iillustrated by Tedd Arnold
Metzger takes us on a fun and pun-filled romp as the former Little Boy Blue, now a detective, searches for the missing Miss Muffet. Character after character from nursery rhymes enters the story. Blue starts his day cleaning up the caper of the dish that ran away with the spoon, and then catching Mary’s little lamb before it gets into school. Alerted by Jack Spratt, Blue examines the tuffet, the curds and whey; “UGH!” Then, as he searches, he encounters Little Bo Peep, Humpty Dumpty, three blind mice, and Jack Horner, who sends him to Old King Cole’s castle. There the mystery of the missing Miss Muffet is cleverly solved. Arnold sets the stage on the jacket/cover, where Blue and the other characters stare at the mysterious tuffet and the spilled bowl. Created by pencil and finalized by Photoshop, the cartoon-y participants with their wide-open round eyes accentuate the tale’s puzzle. As visualized in varied size framed vignettes containing bits of text supplemented with speech balloons, there is enough detail to enhance the comic parody. The “CASE CLOSED” file on the rear end pages brings the fun to a fitting end. There is an added challenge to readers to find the references to the twenty-four Mother Goose rhymes in the story. 2011, Orchard Books/Scholastic, $16.99. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature).
Pluto Visits Earth!
Illustrated by Jared Lee
The recently demoted planet Pluto is the hero of this fantasy, which offers bits of astronomical information amid its whimsy. When Pluto is informed by a passing space rock that he is no longer a real planet, he is enraged. He recalls being named after a Roman god, and decides to go to Earth and demand to be changed from a dwarf planet to a real one again. On the way, he asks the other planets for reinforcement. But Neptune is too busy with his thirteen moons; Uranus is too frightened; Saturn too vain; Jupiter too bossy; and Mars too distracted. Reaching Earth, Pluto asks astronomers why they made him a dwarf. They claim that he is too small, not even much larger than his moons. But then a young boy tells him that he will always be his favorite. Finally feeling special, Pluto speeds back happily to his orbit. Use of a Rapidograph pen helps project nervous movement to the objects in the black sky. Colored dyes add attractiveness to the comic scenes. The end pages showing rocket ships, comets, stars, and even a few humans in space suits reinforce the fantasy. A note clarifies the discovery of Pluto and its recent demotion. 2012, Orchard Books/Scholastic, $16.99. Ages 4 to 7. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature).
Reading of 2-3 of Steve’s picture books, PowerPoint discussion of writing process, Q&A, storytelling. Time: 30-40 minutes.
Fees: $500 per visit.
To learn more about Steve Metzger and his publications please visit www.stevemetzgerbooks.com.