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March 11, 2002
French (The Thistle Princess) brings a fresh, warm delivery to a familiar premise. It is the day before Mother's Day, and Stanley, a winsome feline shown outfitted with overalls, rumpled whiskers and untied shoelaces, has yet to find a present. He questions his older siblings about their gifts and, when his brother reports that he will be giving flowers, Stanley rushes off to pick some; but by the time he returns, the petals have blown away. Further plans to duplicate his siblings' ideas fail until Stanley arrives at his own, very well-received solution: a cardboard box full of kisses. French's use of detail gives her story its individuality. When Stanley looks for money, for example, his piggy bank falls open, and "it was empty except for one piece of a jigsaw puzzle. `Oh, no,' said Stanley, and his whiskers quivered." Kubick (Something's Coming!) evokes the sweetness of an earlier era with elements reminiscent of Mary Engelbreit: rounded, stubby bodies, props of traditional furniture and clothing, bright colors and inventive composition. Taking the place of Engelbreit's heavy patterning, though, is a healthy dose of white space and rhythmically deployed vignettes, so that the characters get all the attention they deserve. Ages 3-up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Booklist May 1, 2002

Ages 2-4. A toddler learns about gift giving and discovers his own power in a gentle picture book about a cat family. Stanley's big brothers and sisters all have fine presents for Mother's Day, but when Stanley tries to copy them, he makes a mess. He picks flowers, and all the petals fall off. His bank is empty, so he can't buy anything. He can't make a cake, even a mud one. Finally he finds the best gift of all--a huge box of kisses that last forever and ever. Kubick's pictures in watercolor, gouache, and pencil show Stanley as a combination of kitten and eager child, and preschoolers will enjoy his bumbling, messy failures as much as the final triumphant encircling embrace in Mom's arms. As in Rosemary Wells' Bunny Cakes (1997), the youngest outdoes his older siblings and finds his own way. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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   Book Reviews, Advice for Writers and Publishers, and Resources
   for Book Lovers

With just one day before Mother's Day, little Stanley, the youngest of four, wants to find Mom a special gift.
Stanley consults his brother and two sisters and likes the presents they have decided upon. Alas, he has too few skills--or too few coins in his bank--to duplicate their efforts.
So the whole family is surprised when Stanley comes down the next day carrying a big cardboard box with a red bow. What could he have put in that big box, they wonder. Only something a creative, caring son would come up with!

The vibrantly colorful, clean illustrations, done in watercolor and pencil, highlight the humor of Stanley's antics and the poignancy of his situation.

The FreepFeaturesBooks
Authors celebrate bond between moms and kids, April 28, 2002


Mother's Day is just two weeks away. One of the joys for moms is reading to their children. Here are some new titles that celebrate moms and their love.

"A Present for Mom" by Vivian French ($13.99) is about a kitten named Stanley who is looking for just the right gift for Mom. The older cats in the family all have good ideas. Finally, Stanley comes up with a gift that warms Mom's heart. Dana Kubick’s illustrations are reminiscent of some ‘50s children’s books.

March 1, 2002

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, young Stanley feverishly attempts to find the perfect present for his dear old mum. After all, his three older siblings have already found their ideal gifts. Yet somehow, their offerings aren’t the right choice for Stanley: his handpicked flowers quickly shed their petals, a raid on his bank box elicits a lone puzzle piece, and his mud cake turns into a mud slide. Forlorn, the kitten retires to bed with dreams of elusive gifts flitting through his head. A little advice from his oldest sister sets Stanley in the right direction and he learns that a gift doesn’t have to be costly or elaborate—just full of good intentions. When Mother’s Day dawns, Stanley’s box of kisses turns out to be the best present he could give. French's (Oliver’s Mild Shake, 2001, etc.) simple tale rings true for little ones, reminding them that their love is truly the most precious gift of all. Kubick's (Cats, Cats and MoreCats, not reviewed) watercolor and gouache illustrations are precisely drawn and vividly hued, filled with pattern and detail. Whimsical touches are freely scattered throughout the pictures, from the cat motif of the upholstery to the feline-shaped teapot perched on the kitchen shelf. Little Stanley, with his sooty ears and crumpled whiskers, is bound to work his way into readers' affections. (Picture book. 3-7)

      April - June Book Reviews 2002

      Ratings:   **** Excellent    *** Good     ** Average     * Poor
****   A Present for Mom   Vivian French, Illustrator: Dana Kubick
Grade: pre-school to 2nd
A present for Mom is truly a sweet story. Stanley doesn't know what to get mom for Mother's Day. He gets ideas from his brothers and sisters but they never work out quite right for him. The flowers he picks are beautiful until he finally gets them into the house, his piggy bank is empty except for a puzzle piece so he can't buy her candy, and the mud pie cake is perfect until he trips. Poor Stanley, he goes to bed with no gift for Mom. He doesn't sleep very well at all but in the morning he has the perfect gift!! A delightful story full of love. The perfect gift for mom on her special day.
(Reviewer's name: Dale R. Sampson , West Branch/Library)
Date of review: 4/17/02

28 March 2002


May 2002

PeSchool-Grade 2-This charming Mother's Day story depicts family togetherness and love in a single-parent household. Stanley, the youngest of four kittens, can't decide on a gift for his mother. Stumped, he asks each of his siblings what they are giving. His brother says he will give their mother flowers. "`Good idea,' said Stanley" and he rushes off to pick some flowers from the garden. But "by the time he got back inside, all the petals had fallen off." Stanley then goes on to ask his two older sisters for advice but comes up with no ideas. Troubled, the kitten tosses and turns all night, worrying about what to do. The next morning, his siblings gather in Stanley's room to offer last-minute advice, triggering an idea for the perfect present. The illustrations, done in watercolor, gouache, and pencil, dominate the book, showing the dejected kitten as his ears droop, whiskers quiver, and tail drags with each failed effort to produce a gift. One very nice touch is the progression of family photos on the endpapers and title pages. The bright colors and expressive characters combined with the heartwarming story make this a noteworthy addition to picture-book collections. Children will identify with Stanley , his quest, and his ultimate triumph.
Heather E. Miller, Homewood Public Library, AL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Reading Time,
Reading Time is the quarterly journal of The Children's Book Council of Australia
                                   Reading Time Volume 46 No 3 August 2002

   Welcome to Washington

Celebrating Mothers
by Mary Quattlebaum

Celebrate Mother's Day by sharing a book that explores the mother-child bond or focuses on strong females dealing with tough times in history.

In A Present for Mom (Candlewick, 2002, ages 3 to 6, $13.99), Stanley searches for the perfect Mother's Day gift. After consulting with his older siblings, he tries picking flowers and making a mud cake; but each effort meets with disaster. Finally, Stanley hits upon just the right thing: a beautifully wrapped box full of kisses. Vivian French's gentle story speaks to the spirit of young children, who often wish to give and not just receive. Dana Kubick's watercolors depict the world of creative youngsters busily fixing bikes and whipping up kitchen concoctions. Instead of the usual blankness, Kubick decorates front and back pages with "photos," showing Mom's specialness throughout the year and rounding out this portrait of a loving family.

    To Mum With Love/A Present for Mom
Vivian French and Dana Kubick are quite a duo in their fun, light-hearted, and unique picture books for children.

A Present For Mom reflects the youngest cat sibling being perplexed about what to get Mom for Mother's Day. His brother and sisters all have something in mind, but Stanley does not.

Will Stanley ever find the perfect present for Mom? Find out in this cute tale.

From the Publisher
Stanley learns that he and Grandpa have a special connection in this heartwarming companion to A PRESENT FOR MOM.

Grandpa has come to stay for the weekend, and Mom is off to work. Stanley's brothers and sisters want to play soccer or jump-rope or bouncing, but Grandpa and Stanley aren't too good at those games. What they do have a special talent for is snuggling, as they discover when Stanley sings Grandpa a song, and they both fall asleep. No wonder Stanley loves his grandpa the best of all!

Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D. - Children's Literature
As Mother left for work, she told the three older children to look after Stanley. When Stanley asked who he could look after, she told him to take care of Grandpa. Grandpa tried to join his grandchildren in their games. Rex wanted to play soccer, but Grandpa missed the ball and Stanley fell over it. Queenie got tangled up in the rope she was trying to jump because Grandpa and Stanley could not swing it high enough. Flora brought out the jumping ball. Grandpa was too big to make it jump and Stanley was too small. All of this activity wore Grandpa out. He sat down in a lawn chair. Stanley climbed in his lap and sang him a song. When Mother returned home, she found Grandpa and all four of the children sleeping. Large colorful pictures depict a loving family of cats dressed and acting like people. A cozy story for sharing with young children. 2004, Candlewick Press, Ages 3 to 6.

PreS-Gr 2-Stanley, the adorable star of A Present for Mom (Candlewick, 2002), returns in this loving story about a feline family. Grandpa is visiting for the weekend, so when Mom leaves for work, he stays to look after the rather active kittens. The older siblings draft him into playing soccer, jumping rope, and bouncing on a large ball, but his strengths do not lie in these areas. After Grandpa sits down with a tired sigh, Stanley, the youngest, snuggles close and sings a soothing tune about his love for his grandfather. Before long, the whole group dozes off. Later, a newly refreshed Grandpa takes everyone to the playground. Complete with black-and-white family "photos" scattered across the endpapers, the exuberant cartoon illustrations work perfectly with the endearing text. A delightful choice for reading aloud or for family sharing.-Andrea Tarr, Corona Public Library, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

When Grandpa comes to spend the weekend, Mom goes off to work, leaving Rex, Flora, and Queenie to look after Stanley, their younger brother. Stanley's job is to look after Grandpa. Each child has an idea of how to spend the day, but Grandpa and Stanley (who just wants to go to the playground) can't play their games. The siblings go off to play by themselves, leaving Grandpa and Stanley to make do. Noticing that Grandpa is tired, Stanley tells him he will look after him and sing him a song, just like Mom does for him. Curled up together on a chair, Stanley sings everyone to sleep with a sweet song about loving his Grandpa. When Mom returns, Grandpa rewards Stanley for taking such good care of him by taking him to swing-at the playground. Kubick's illustrations gently portray a lovable cat family and by adding details and drawing out facial expressions, she has extended the story for those who are careful observers. A wonderful selection for the littlest one in any family and for the grandpa that is special in his or her life. (Picture book. 3-7)