Starred Review from School Library Journal for "The Door By The Staircase"Kelly Murphy's new book for Disney-Hyperion, The Door By The Staircase, written by Katherine Marsh, received a second starred review, from School Library Journal:
"It's a delightful mash-up of stories and traditions; imagine Little Orphan Annie crossed with Russian folklore, plunked down in the spiritualist community of Lily Dale, NY, with a dash of Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away on top.
Perhaps not a story for reluctant or struggling readers-it's relatively demanding in terms of length and vocabulary-but for those willing to tackle a rich and layered text, there's much here to enjoy."
The Door By The Staircase will be out in stores January 5th, 2016.
—Amy Holland, Irondequoit Public Library, NY
Starred Review from Kirkus for "The Door By The Staircase"Kelly Murphy's new book for Disney-Hyperion, The Door By The Staircase, received a starred review from Kirkus:
"Will bravery, kindness, and perceptiveness be enough to earn 12-year-old orphan Mary Hayes a permanent home with Madame Zolotaya, the elderly woman who rescues her from a terrible Buffalo orphanage?
Even if readers don't know Baba Yaga, they will probably recognize that Mary's savior is a witch whose delicious meals are designed to fatten her up for the oven. "I am no one's mother" the wrinkled old woman says. Can she become one? is the underlying question, and the answer will be heartwarming to any reader. Madame Z lives in the woods outside Iris, a town full of people who profess to be masters of the occult: "con artists, fakes, and charlatans" she calls them. But there is real magic there, too, and Mary and her new friend, Jacob Kagan, son of a traveling illusionist, are determined to find it to ensure that they both will have permanent homes. There is suspense throughout and heart-stopping moments early on to draw readers into this immensely satisfying story. Woven into the traditional third-person narrative are intriguing details about magicians' secrets and mouthwatering descriptions of Russian foods: blini, mushroom and potato dumplings, kulich with farmer's cheese, and rye bread with holodetz, this last eaten on a peekneek.
Well-drawn characters, an original setting, and a satisfying resolution are the ingredients that make this carefully crafted middle-grade adventure a highly rewarding read."
The Door By The Staircase will be out in stores January 5th, 2016.
"The Miniature World of Marvin and James" reviewed by the Horn BookA lovely review of Elise Broach and Kelly Murphy's The Miniature World of Marvin and James, by The Horn Book:
"A new early chapter book series follows the friendship of beetle Marvin and human boy James of Masterpiece, for a younger audience. The sentences are shorter and the illustrations more prominent, but the amiable tone and the relatable characters (even the beetles) are just the same. Marvin helps James pack a suitcase for the boy's week-long trip to the beach. With James away, Marvin and his cousin Elaine have some adventures inside the house. A nice tension is created as Marvin and Elaine gleefully dive into some wood shavings to play in what the child reader will recognize as a (dangerous-to-beetles) electric pencil sharpener. New readers will be rewarded for the effort by this page-turning adventure, which is written throughout with emotional authenticity and illustrated with lively pen-and-ink illustrations in a brown and gray palette, ending with a very satisfying conclusion."
—Susan Dove Lempke
"The Miniature World of Marvin and James" reviewed by Publishers WeeklyA wonderful review of Elise Broach and Kelly Murphy's The Miniature World of Marvin and James, by Publishers Weekly:
"Broach and Murphy bring back James and his beetle best friend, Marvin-previously seen in 2008's acclaimed Masterpiece-in this first book in the Masterpiece Adventures series of chapter books. Their cross-species friendship is just right for a younger crowd, and so are the insecurities and frustrations Marvin is feeling as James prepares to go on a trip to the beach without him (...)
Murphy's pen-and-ink illustrations shift from glee to horror as she shows the bug-eyed beetles cannonballing into the soft pit of pencil shavings, only to have their escape route plugged by a pencil. Despite the simplicity of Broach's pared-down sentences, the story brims with both emotion and moments of quiet wisdom."
"The Miniature World of Marvin and James" reviewed by KirkusA glowing review of Elise Broach and Kelly Murphy's latest chapter book, The Miniature World of Marvin and James, by Kirkus:
"Murphy clearly revels in the Borrowers-style perspective of the beetles' miniature world: In their under-sink home, Marvin's drawing table is a die, and a propped-up birthday-cake candle dwarfs the family. The dramatic, blow-by-blow pencil-sharpener incident dominates the story, but it circles back to friendship. James really did miss Marvin after all, and a souvenir seashell (the perfect beetle hideout!) seals the deal.
This winsome series debut is both a sweet story of cross-species friendship and a sobering new way to look at pencil sharpeners."
"Anton and Cecil: Cats At Sea" reviewed in the New York TimesA splendid review of Kelly Murphy's latest chapter book, Anton and Cecil: Cats At Sea in the New York Times' Sunday Book Review:
"Kelly Murphy illustrates the story with occasional full-page black-and-white ink wash paintings. Though the restricted palette is disappointing after the subtle, rich hues of the book's colored jacket, the scenes depicted have their own drama: encounters with murderous rats and pirates, an iguana with feathers and Shakespeare-quoting dolphins. In keeping with the cat's-eye view of the world, Murphy's human figures look wooden - like marionettes or nutcrackers - while Anton and Cecil are all lithe grace and flashing eyes, leaping from dock to deck, or crouching behind wooden crates, ready to pounce on a fisherman's catch."
—Sarah Harrison Smith
Kelly Murphy's "The Mouse With The Question Mark Tail" reviewed by the Wall Street JournalThe Mouse With The Question Mark Tail, written by Richard Peck and Kelly Murphy, received a glowing review from the Wall Street Journal's Meghan Cox Gurdon in her article Mouse of Windsor:
"Children love the idea of tiny, hidden worlds–of pixie, fairy or animal societies that exist alongside our own. Richard Peck taps into this affection with The Mouse With the Question Mark Tail, a chapter book about a young mouse of mysterious origins in a world of dazzling hierarchy, illustrated by Kelly Murphy."
Starred review from School Library Journal for "The Mouse With The Question Mark Tail"The Mouse With The Question Mark Tail received a third starred review, from School Library Journal:
"Attractive mouse's-eye-view drawings help establish the relationship between these two halves of Victorian society."
"The Mouse With The Question Mark Tail" a Publishers Weekly Best New Book for the Week of July 1, 2013The Mouse With The Question Mark Tail is a Publishers Weekly Pick as one of the Best New Book for the Week of July 1, 2013.
"Alex And The Amazing Time Machine" on Bank Street College of Education's 2013 Best Books of the Year listAlex And The Amazing Time Machine was chosen by the children's book committee at the Bank Street College of Education in the Humor category of their 2013 Best Books of the Year list (ages Nine to Twelve).
Starred review from Publishers Weekly for "The Mouse With The Question Mark Tail"The Mouse With The Question Mark Tail received a second starred review, from Publishers Weekly:
"As endearing as Peck's Secrets at Sea, this companion novel, also set during the Victorian era and accompanied by Murphy's carefully detailed pencil illustrations, introduces a new cast of memorable mice born and bred in London... Readers will gleefully suspend disbelief as they trace Mouse Minor's exciting journey, which draws him to a life-altering revelation and surprise reunions with friends and foes."
Starred review from Booklist for "The Mouse With The Question Mark Tail"The Mouse With The Question Mark Tail received a starred review from Booklist:
"Murphy's black-and-white illustrations, with pulled quote captions, add charm in spades, and there's one tipped in full-color illustration in each of the book's three main parts."
Face Bug review by The Washington PostA wonderful review of Face Bug by The Washington Post.
"Frederic B. Siskind's wonderfully creepy full-color photographs and Kelly Murphy's cartoony black-and-white illustrations are abuzz with activity alongside J. Patrick Lewis's witty verses about insects and spiders."
Secrets At Sea on Bank Street College of Education's 2012 Best Books of the Year listSecrets At Sea was chosen by the children's book committee at the Bank Street College of Education in the Fantasy category of their 2012 Best Books of the Year list (ages Nine to Twelve).
Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters on 2012 Best Books of the Year listCreepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters was chosen by the children's book committee at the Bank Street College of Education in the "Under Five" category of their 2012 Best Books of the Year list.
"Despite their busy day, these monsters are not quite ready for bed. Colorful, mixed-media illustrations imbue each monster with personality. (2-4)"
Secrets At Sea on People Magazine's list of best books of 2011Secrets At Sea was featured in People Magazine's list of the ten best books for children in 2011, Picks for Kids:
"Fearful of a crumb-free life once their human hosts head for England, a mouse family stows away in the luggage. Delightful."
Secrets At Sea a Best Children's Book of 2011Secrets At Sea was chosen by Kirkus as one of their 2011 Best Books for Children, making 8 lists:
- 2011 Best Books for Children: Graphic Novels & Illustrated Chapter Books
- 2011 Best Books for Children: Graphic Novels & Illustrated Chapter Books
- 2011 Best Books for Children: Fiction
- 2011 Best Books for Children: Fantasy & Science Fiction
- 2011 Best Books for Children: Books to Make You Laugh
- 2011 Best Books for Children: Novels with Great Girl Characters
- 2011 Best Books for Children: Books for Animal Lovers
- 2011 Best Books for Children: Exploring the Past
- 2011 Best Books for Children: Adrenaline Rushes
Secrets At Sea a New York Times Notable Children's Book of 2011Secrets At Sea was chosen by the New York Times as one of their Notable Children's Books of 2011:
"...Rife with snappy asides and clever but never heavy-handed..."
Secrets At Sea review by the New York TimesSecrets At Sea receives a laudatory review in the New York Time's Sunday Book Review:
"...Readers will never again look at a thimble without wondering if it might have been used as a milk cup or ink pot by an industrious British mouse..."
Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters in 5 Fantastic Picture Books for Halloween List by KirkusCreepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters has been selected by Kirkus as one of their favourite picks for Halloween and is featured in their 5 Fantastic Picture Books for Halloween list.
Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters review in USA TODAYA wonderful Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters review in USA TODAY:
"...The biggest treats here are the details buried in Kelly Murphy's playful paintings of the monsters, more gentle, domesticated cousins of Maurice Sendak's classic wild things..."
Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters review by the New York Times
A glowing review (and slideshow) of the recently released Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters by the New York Times:
"...the narration benefits enormously from witty illustrations by Murphy ("Hush Little Dragon"), which abound in slithery, sinister asides: a stacking toy stacks on a bone; a Totoro-like ghost trails a larger figure. And googly-eyed monsters eat worm-ridden salad..."
Kelly Murphy Interview on Bookie WoogieA wonderful interview with Isaac, Grace, Lily, Elijah, Evangeline and their father Aaron Zenz on "BOOKIE WOOGIE: Some Kids and their Dad, Talkin' About Books" to discuss my illustration process and the newly released Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters. Such wonderful art by the Z-Kids!
Starred review by Kirkus for Secrets At SeaSecrets At Sea receives a starred review from Kirkus:
"...Whimsical language, sure characterization, unflagging adventure, even romance-all seen through Helena's relentlessly practical beady little eyes."
Kelly Murphy Interview about Secrets at Sea on Seven Impossible Things Before BreakfastI had the pleasure of being interviewed by Jules of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast to speak about the upcoming Secrets At Sea, written by Richard Peck. You will find plenty of artwork and making of drawings in this article.
Posted on September 14th, 2011See more press about Interviews and Features, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Starred review by Publishers Weekly for Secrets At SeaSecrets At Sea received a starred review from Publishers Weekly:
"...Readers-especially fans of Beatrix Potter-will revel in the detailed descriptions of mouse-sized joys, woes, and love connections, all beautifully depicted in Murphy's soft pencil illustrations."
Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters reviewed by KirkusA delightful Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters review by Kirkus:
"Murphy chooses a muted palette to illustrate the motley bunch of innocuous creatures sporting a horn or two, various numbers of eyes, an occasional tail or tufts of fur. Preschool monster fans are sure to pore over and giggle at Murphy's droll, detailed paintings executed in a mix of oil, acrylic and gel...There's plenty in this scary-sweet book to please children all year round."
Masterpiece wins a Children's Crown AwardKelly Murphy is the 2010-2011 winner of the National Christian School Association's Children's Crown Award as illustrator of Masterpiece.
Secrets At Sea a Top 26 Book at BEASecrets At Sea was chosen by Kirkus Reviews as one of the Top 26 Books at BookExpo America (BEA).
Kelly Murphy Interview on The Enchanted InkpotI had the pleasure of being interviewed by The Enchanted Inkpot's Grace Lin to discuss the Nathaniel Fludd series in general and the newly released The Unicorn's Tale in particular.
Over At The Castle a 2011 Best Children's Books of the Year
Over At The Castle was selected for Bank Street College's 2011 Best Children's Books of the Year list, in the "Under Five" category.
"Illustrators draw a crowd"A review of last weekend's artist talk featuring Christopher Bing, David Macaulay, Kelly Murphy and Matt Tavares at the Brush Art Gallery & Studios' Children's Book Illustrators Exhibition was published in today's print edition of The Boston Globe.
Haunted Houses review by School Library Journal'Haunted Houses (Are You Scared Yet?)' is reviewed in the September 2010 issue by School Library Journal:
"These 10 spooky stories include a classic Halloween scare: visitors get their admission fee of $25 back if they make it to the top floor of a haunted house-but can they? In another, the primary occupant of a dollhouse is a ghost of a child who needs help moving from one consciousness to another. San Souci also writes about an abandoned teahouse with ghosts, a Ouija board that foretells a confusing yet doomed future, and a mother's spirit who is searching for her missing son. The stories are well paced and satisfyingly startling. While some are better written than others, this book won't stay on the shelves for long. Murphy and Revoy's black-and-white illustrations heighten the fright factor, making San Souci's collection even more riveting."
-Patty Saldenberg, George Jackson Academy, New York City
The Basilisk's Lair review by School Library JournalA glowing review of The Basilisk's Lair by School Library Journal:
"Nate Fludd, budding beastologist, is back in an adventure even greater than his first. His Aunt Phil receives a telegram that a basilisk has escaped from the village of Bamako. The natives need her help, and soon Nate is racing on a camel, flying across the Sahara, and warding off crocodiles from a boat. Aunt Phil has two friendly weasels willing to do battle with the basilisk, and Nate's troublemaking pet, Greasle, accompanies him every step of the way. The basilisk is terrifying, with its deadly venom and scales, and Nate musters all his courage to fight it and continues to wonder who freed the beast and what happened to his parents, who disappeared in Flight of the Phoenix (Houghton, 2009). Children who enjoyed the first book will not be disappointed by the sequel, and those new to the series can easily pick up the story line. The action is nonstop, and the elements of fantasy, mystery, and humor will appeal to a wide audience. Murphy's spot art and occasional full-page drawings carry the action along nicely."
-Jane Cronkhite, Santa Clara County Library, CA
The Basilisk's Lair review by the Sacramento Book ReviewA great The Basilisk's Lair review by the Sacramento Book Review:
"In the second book of R. L. LaFevers' series, Nate once again finds himself in an adventure where he must save the day. Aunt Phil has undertaken Nate's education in beastology since his parents disappeared. In the middle of the Sahara Desert, they are met by Arab friends with a telegram: A basilisk has escaped from its lair in a remote part of the Sudan. Aunt Phil arranges to travel by plane, then by canoe, then by donkey, to save the Dhughani people from the escaped basilisk. To her displeasure, Nate's pesky, oil-eating, pet gremlin, comes along. On this trip, Nate is only supposed to observe and learn while his aunt captures and returns the basilisk to its lair. But Nate peeks in Aunt Phil's Book of Beasts and is not happy with what he discovers: a basilisk is the king of serpents, born of a cockerel egg, hatched by a serpent. Its breath is venomous, its scales poisonous; its glance kills from twenty feet!
Things don't go according to Aunt Phil's plan, and it becomes Nate's job (with the help of the pesky gremlin), to rescue Aunt Phil. Action-packed, with humorous illustrations, this is a delightful read for young children."
Masterpiece climbing on the New York Times Best Sellers ListMasterpiece climbs to number 7 on the New York Times Best Sellers List, Children's Bestsellers, Paperback Books List!
Posted on June 6th, 2010See more press about New York Times Best Sellers, Awards and Lists, Masterpiece
Masterpiece climbing on New York Times Best Sellers ListMasterpiece is back on the New York Times Best Sellers List, Children's Bestsellers, Paperback Books, rising to number 8!
Posted on May 30th, 2010See more press about New York Times Best Sellers, Awards and Lists, Masterpiece
Masterpiece on SSYRA Master ListMasterpiece has been chosen for inclusion on the 2010-2011 Florida Sunshine State Young Readers Award (SSYRA) master list of nominated titles.
The Basilisk's Lair review by BooklistThe Basilisk's Lair review by Booklist.
"Picking up immediately where Flight of the Phoenix (2009) finished, Nathaniel Fludd, Aunt Phil, and the gremlin Greasel pursue an escaped Basilisk, the highly dangerous king of the Serpents. Despite his previous success in the field, Nathaniel is an uncertain beastologist, although wise Aunt Phil finds ways to incorporate Nathaniel's preexisting skills, such as his artistic abilities, as he hones his new ones. Familiarity with Nathaniel's previous adventure is helpful though not necessary, and fans can look forward to a return to Batting-at-the-Flies as the trio investigates the disappearance of Nathaniel's parents in the forthcoming volume."
The Basilisk's Lair review by KirkusThe Basilisk's Lair review on Kirkus Reviews:
"When his Aunt Phil flies to the western Sudan to recapture an escaped basilisk, she takes Nathaniel Fludd along, reassuring him that he is only to "watch and learn." Instead, he and his gremlin friend, Greasle, play important roles. This satisfying middle-grade adventure features a hesitant, unskilled hero, a miniature sidekick straight from Where the Wild Things Are and an exotic setting in colonial British West Africa in 1928. The basilisk is appropriately scary, and straightforward storytelling leads to an exciting climax. Readers won't get and don't need the entire back story from Flight of the Phoenix (2009), the first in the Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series, but those who have read it will surely enjoy the return of the supposed orphan and his formidable aunt. Murphy has provided a full-page pen-and-ink illustration as well as several smaller sketches for almost every chapter, and Nathaniel contributes drawings, too. Sharp-eyed readers will realize that the chapter numbers are counted in animal bones. This story is complete in itself, but the ending promises more adventure to come." (Adventure. 7-10)
Masterpiece on the New York Times Best Sellers ListMasterpiece is on the New York Times Best Sellers List!
Posted on April 25th, 2010See more press about New York Times Best Sellers, Awards and Lists, Masterpiece
Brand-New Baby Blues starred review by School Library Journal
Brand-New Baby Blues received a Star review from School Library Journal:
"Through rhyme and three repeating stanzas, a child laments about the good ol' days and realizes, "Now everything is different,/everything is changed./I'm not the one and only./My whole life's rearranged." The normal emotions of sadness, disappointment, jealousy, and anger follow when her parents shower her new brother with attention, pass her stuffed bear down to him, and share the hugs that were once all hers. Then, with just the right words from Mom and Dad about her uniqueness, and some positive observations, her attitude changes. She looks forward to the days when her new sibling will not be a baby anymore, but instead be a brother she can play catch with and a game of hide-and-seek. Oil, acrylic, and gel are used to create gentle hues. What makes this telling of the new brother/sister theme stand out is how well the verses are in sync with the illustrations, layout, and the characters' facial expressions. Great for sharing with a group or one-on-one."
-Anne Beier, Hendrick Hudson Free Library, Montrose, NY
Posted on February 1st, 2010See more press about Awards and Lists, Reviews, School Library Journal, Starred Reviews
Brand-New Baby Blues review by KirkusA great review of Brand-New Baby Blues from Kirkus Reviews:
"A young girl is adjusting to life with her new baby brother. "[T]he good ol' days are over," sings the repeated refrain, "It's official, it's the news! / With my brand-new baby brother / came the brand-new baby blues!" Appelt's catchy, child-friendly text and Murphy's energetic, engaging pictures illustrate her woes, from the golden memories of her days as the only one to her mother's newfound busyness, her father's goofy attempts at entertaining the baby and the unfortunate fragrance of stinky diapers. Funny and concise, the rollicking rhyme bounces along, accepting the frustration natural to the situation, while gently allowing the girl's love of and appreciation for her brother, as well as her anticipation of a future playmate, to gradually shine through. The process is complemented by the illustrations, which modulate in palette from angry blues and greens to sunny yellows, while serene compositions replace off-kilter ones. Older brothers and sisters will easily identify with this jaunty heroine and profit from her realizations-an excellent choice for a new older sibling. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Kelly Murphy Interview on Ruby WinkleAn extensive interview on Ruby Winkle, discussing both my time as a student and faculty at RISD, the beginning of my career in children's book illustration and more.
The Flight Of The Phoenix review by School Library JournalThe Flight Of The Phoenix (Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist Series) review on School Library Journal.
"...The story is packed with adventure and mythological creatures. Children who love fantasy, myth, exotic settings, and even a little dose of history will relate to Nate as he discovers his inner hero and carries on the Fludd family tradition. The characters are strongly developed and the period illustrations done in line, including some of Nate's own sketches, enhance the tale. A quick and enriching read that will appeal to a wide variety of children."
-Jane Cronkhite, San Jose Public Library, CA
Hush, Little Dragon review on Bookie WoogieA great review of the newly released Hush, Little Dragon by the Z-Kids: Isaac, Grace, Lily and their father Aaron Zenz on "BOOKIE WOOGIE: Some Kids and their Dad, Talkin' About Books". Do take a look at the delightful art by the Z-Kids!
Kelly Murphy Interview on Seven Impossible Things Before BreakfastI had the pleasure of being interviewed on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Kelly Murphy.
Posted on September 24th, 2008See more press about Interviews and Features, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Masterpiece starred review by Publishers WeeklyMasterpiece received a Star review from Publishers Weekly:
"Broach (Shakespeare's Secret) packs this fast-moving story with perennially seductive themes: hidden lives and secret friendships, miniature worlds lost to disbelievers. Philosophy pokes through, as does art appreciation (one curator loves Dürer for "his faith that beauty reveals itself, layer upon layer, in the smallest moments"), but never at the expense of plot. In her remarkable ability to join detail with action, Broach is joined by Murphy (Hush, Little Dragon), who animates the writing with an abundance of b&w drawings. Loosely implying rather than imitating the Old Masters they reference, the finely hatched drawings depict the settings realistically and the characters, especially the beetles, with joyful comic license. This smart marriage of style and content bridges the gap between the contemporary beat of the illustrations and Renaissance art. Broach and Kelly show readers something new, and, as Marvin says, "When you [see] different parts of the world, you [see] different parts of yourself.""
Posted on August 25th, 2008See more press about Awards and Lists, Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Starred Reviews, Masterpiece
Hush, Little Dragon review by the San Francisco Chronicle
Regan McMahon, Chronicle Deputy Book Editor, gave a lovely review in the San Francisco Chronicle of Hush, Little Dragon this past weekend. I can't say that I could be any more thrilled about this spotlight for Boni Ashburn, Abrams Books for Young Readers, and myself!
"It's "Sweeney Todd" for the sandbox set."
Masterpiece starred review by School Library JournalMasterpiece received a Star review from School Library Journal:
"Broach combines discussion about the art of Albrecht Dürer with a powerful tale of friendship in a novel that is entertaining and full of adventure. Marvin is a beetle, and he and his family live in the Manhattan kitchen that belongs to the Pompaday family. When James receives a pen-and-ink drawing set for his 11th birthday, Marvin discovers that he is a bug with artistic talent. Although he can't speak to James, they soon bond in a true interspecies friendship, and their escapades begin. Because of Marvin's wonderful drawing, presumed to be James's work, the boy is recruited to create a fake Dürer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art to help trap an art thief. Marvin produces the forgery, but he soon realizes that the original artwork is in danger. Only by placing his life on the line and relying on James's help can he save the masterpiece. Broach's projection of beetle life, complete with field trips to the family's solarium and complex uses of human discards for furniture and meals, is in the best tradition of Mary Norton's The Borrowers (Harcourt, 1953) and similar classic looks at miniature life. Murphy's illustrations add perspective and humor, supporting the detailed narrative. A masterpiece of storytelling."
-Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI
Posted in 2008See more press about Awards and Lists, Reviews, School Library Journal, Starred Reviews, Masterpiece
Masterpiece review by BooklistA delightful Masterpiece review by Booklist:
"James lives an invisible existence in a grand apartment on the Upper East Side. His mother, busy with her new husband and baby and her climb up the Manhattan social ladder, has little time for him. By contrast, Marvin, a beetle whose overprotective, extended family resides behind James' mother's kitchen, gets more attention than he wants. The two find friendship when James' artist father gives him a pen-and-ink set, and Marvin discovers his talent for "drawing," crafting delicate, museum-quality miniatures with his legs. When Marvin and James find themselves embroiled in a plot to steal a Dürer drawing from the Metropolitan Museum, they must find creative ways to communicate to foil the thieves and protect the masterpiece. Murphy's own pen-and-ink spot art reflects the text's sweet insouciance. With suspense, art history, complex family relationships (human and arthropod), and a resonant friendship, this enjoyable outing will satisfy the reserved and adventurous alike. Grades 3-6."
Masterpiece review by Kirkus ReviewsA laudatory Masterpiece review by Kirkus Reviews:
"Delightful intricacies of beetle life . . . blend seamlessly with the suspenseful caper as well as the sentimental story of a complicated-but-rewarding friendship that requires a great deal of frantic leg-wiggling on Marvin's part. Murphy's charming pen-and-ink drawings populate the short chapters of this funny, winsome novel."
Fiona's Luck review by School Library Journal
Fiona's Luck review on School Library Journal:
"...Murphy's illustrations are richly toned and evocative. Some are spreads, full of color in a folk-art style; on other pages, the smaller spot illustrations highlight the details in the story. Each page is a harmonious blend of artwork and text, which makes the story an engaging read-aloud, and it's also accessible to young readers. Children will love this tale, particularly the facial expressions on Fiona and the small people who surround her, and they'll delight in the young woman's cleverness and quick thinking."
Fiona's Luck review by The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Fiona's Luck review on The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books.
"...This well-crafted original tale is both logical and fanciful; the abundance of luck followed by the shortage of luck provides a creative premise for a tale, and Fiona proves a resourceful heroine. Murphy's illustrations, rendered in acrylic, watercolor, and gel medium, contrast softly shaping landscapes with sharp, bright-eyed figures (though the leprechauns are rather stiff and doll-like). Shifts in color reflect the changing tone in the story and establish the verdant nature of the countryside without resorting to an unending panorama of kelly green..."
Fiona's Luck review by Kirkus
Fiona's Luck review on Kirkus Reviews:
"...Children will delight in the cunning way that Fiona triumphs over the leprechaun king, as well as in the rhythmic language of this well-told tale. Using acrylic, watercolor and gel medium, Murphy creates simple, angular figures and soft, right backgrounds, a combination that perfectly accentuates the folksy charisma of Bateman's story..."
Fiona's Luck review by Publishers Weekly
Fiona's Luck review on Publishers Weekly:
"...Murphy's (Boll Weevil Ball) textured mixed-media compositions, in a predominately dusky palette, keep pace with the action. Freckle-faced Fiona's changeable expressions hint at her scheming and the lively sweet-faced leprechauns flit across the pages."
Kelly Murphy featured in DPI MagazineA while ago I was contacted by Lulu Tzeng from DPI magazine, asking me to feature some of my illustrations in their design magazine. Today, my copies were in the mailbox! I could not have worked with a more amazing editor and design team. Although I know NO taiwanese, I can tell from the content and caliber of people working there, it's an amazing magazine. And as they say, "every designer has PC or MAC, and a dpi magazine!" For my own benefit, I will add that everyone have a Taiwanese dictionary too!
Dancing Matilda review by Kirkus
A Dancing Matilda review by Kirkus Reviews:
"Murphy's bouncy illustrations add considerable charm to the story with expressive kangaroo faces and small, humorous details for readers to discover. A little kookaburra bird appears on most pages, and Matilda is tucked into bed with her toy bear-a koala bear, of course. (Picture book. 3-8)"
Loony Little review by Kirkus
A Loony Little review by Kirkus Reviews:
"Murphy depicts a company of worried-looking creatures crossing wide, icy northern flats beneath greenish skies. Closing with notes about Arctic animals appearing in the tale, and the effects of seemingly small climatic changes, this artfully weaves an issue of contemporary concern into a favorite traditional tale-and makes the frantic messengers rather more than the usual brainless dupes. (Picture book. 6-10)"
The Boll Weevil Ball review by Kirkus
The Boll Weevil Ball review by Kirkus Reviews:
"A tiny beetle finds the perfect dancing partner in this endearing, if awkwardly written, debut. So short that only the top of his head shows in a family portrait, Redd nonetheless decides that he's going to the Boll Weevil Ball. Arriving "a little frazzled" after hitching a wild ride on a passing cricket, then almost getting squished on the dance floor, he sadly climbs onto a branch to watch-and meets Lily, a lightning bug just his size. She lifts him up, and the ensuing self-lit, aerial Weevil Waltz brings all of the earthbound dancers to a standstill. Though some lines aren't as well phrased as they might be-"Suddenly, legs and feet flew at him from all directions"; "Finally, Redd was as tall as his big brothers"-Murphy's stubby limbed, dot-eyed insects are brightly decorated and pose gracefully in romantically lit nighttime scenes. A pleasant take on the idea, which children are always receptive to, that size and success are not necessarily related. (Picture book. 5-7)"
The Boll Weevil Ball review by Publishers Weekly
The Boll Weevil Ball review on Publishers Weekly:
"Redd, a very little beetle-perhaps "the smallest beetle ever"-has been invited to a big event: the Boll Weevil Ball. But being a social butterfly is quite a struggle for such a tiny bug: just getting the invitation out of the mailbox makes scaling K2 look easy, and he nearly gets trampled on the dance floor. Yet when Lily, a pretty firefly, takes him for an illuminated whirl in the sky, Redd finds he has the sophistication and grace of a winged Fred Astaire: "Redd and Lily danced the Weevil Waltz flawlessly, high above a sea of antennae." Making her children's book debut, Murphy's text and paintings work in tandem to convey the action and emotion leading up to the ball. In a family portrait, for example, only Redd's eyes and antennae appear. A lovely understated humor animates the spot illustrations (in one, Redd nearly drowns in a punch cup), while full-page and full-spread paintings highlight a variety of perspectives (Redd being left behind by his siblings; a view of the dance floor from above). The hero's expressions and body language convey a winning vulnerability and quiet resolve, and the night scenes at the lantern-lit ball, rendered in deep blues and greens with splashes of yellow, evoke a painterly, romantic beauty. Ages 4-7."
The Boll Weevil Ball review by School Library JournalThe Boll Weevil Ball review on Publishers Weekly:
"When the Beetles head for the Boll Weevil Ball, Redd is left behind. He grabs hold of a cricket's leg and finally arrives at the party. He is so small that when he tries to drink a glass of punch, he falls off the table and lands in the middle of the dance floor where he is in danger of getting trampled. He manages to climb to higher ground on a tree branch and decides to watch the other guests, but his luck changes when he meets another small bug sitting on the branch. Her name is Lily, and she is a firefly. The two new friends dance in the night air high above the rest of the partyers. Splendidly done in watercolor, gel medium, and acrylic, each picture has a textured finish that encourages children to reach out and feel the pictures. The warm blues and greens and muted reds create the perfect ambience. Young children will identify with Redd's predicament and will laugh aloud as the little beetle tries to fit in at the dance."
-Kristin de Lacoste, South Regional Public Library, Pembroke Pines, FL