Amandina published in 2008 by Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook Press.
“Ruzzier creates a haunting intimacy with his watercolors of a centuries-old Italian town (the theater is a tiny Umbrian jewel) and its strangely human-eyed animal citizens, as well as his unvarnished language (“Nobody had come. Sometimes these things happen, and nobody can say why”). Showing a magical insight into the imagination of small children, he allows Amandina an intense sweep of feeling before granting her no less—but no more—than her wish. The mood he casts will resonate, particularly with introspective readers.”
School Library Journal FUSE #8 Blog
“There is a very specific feeling you get from a picture book when the combination of text and image is pitch perfect. It’s a very hard thing to get, mind you. You might have a book where the words are lovely and the pictures exciting, but if the two don’t work in tandem then your end product is going to end up a merely okay bit of indistinguishable dribble. A hint of what might have been will hover over the reading experience. I mention this because I’m trying to find a way to explain why Amandina by Sergio Ruzzier is as delicately miraculous as it is. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it’s a Neal Porter book and Mr. Porter is known for helping to bring perfect little books into the world (see: Dog and Bear). Maybe it has to do with author/illustrator Sergio Ruzzier, whose previous books and collaborations have played effectively with tone and story. Maybe it’s the thickness of the paper or the shade of the watercolors. Maybe it’s everything altogether or maybe it’s none of this at all. Whatever the case, if you are looking for a story that is sweet but not saccharine and carries a lovely little message without beating you over the head with a didacticism stick, this is the book for you. A book designed to be the perfect gift for any 4-8 year old child.”
School Library Journal
“The artwork combines delicate lines and faded colors to create a fanciful stage for this likable character.”
“Quiet, precise, whimsical watercolor illustrations in subdued pastels enhance the surreal ambiance of Amandina’s solitary exploits. A subdued but charming tribute to determination and perseverance.”
Love You When You Whine written by Emily Jenkins. Frances Foster Books/FSG, 2006
Jenkins (That New Animal ) extols the limitless love of parents in her accounting
of the numerous patience-stretching antics of young children, which may appeal
more to the caregiver than the child. “Love you when you pour cereal on the floor.
And when you ask for every toy in the whole store,/ one after the other.”
This observant tally of misdeeds ranges from small annoyances, such as
interrupting, to larger misdemeanors like putting crayons in the dryer or
spreading jam on the computer. The same mother and child-two white, upright
cats with wide, deep-set blue eyes and outsize ears-feature in illustrations that
Ruzzier (The Room of Wonders ) fans will quickly recognize. His earthtone colors
and spare backdrops fill small, uneven portholes, surrounded by white space.
What the slightly offbeat paintings lack in the warm and fuzzy department is
made up for in the book’s reassuring message and wry humor (e.g., one spread
reads, “Love you when you paint the walls…”-a turn of the page reveals, “and the
dog”). The quirky art and missing first-person pronoun confer a subtly
avant-garde quality, while the tone evokes a parent heaving an exhausted sigh.
But the mother’s love never wavers and culminates with a big hug and
comforting tuck-in scene. “Love you, always. Yes, I do.” Youngsters will smile at
both the kitten’s tolerance-testing tricks and also the knowledge that a parent’s
devotion will withstand a bit of a whine and other transgressions. –Publishers Weekly
Hey, Rabbit! Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook Press, 2010
The twin powers of friendship and imagination are stunningly portrayed with utter simplicity. Rabbit, with big blue eyes and a suitcase to match, meets his friends one by one, and they ask, “Hey, Rabbit! Is there anything for me in your suitcase?” Toucan asks if there’s a leaf to remind him of home, Crab wonders if there is a shell with the sound of the sea, Cat wants a ball of twine to play with. As Rabbit opens the suitcase, a full two-page spread appears with what each friend was dreaming of, floating and expanding to fill the page. Cat sees a roomful of twine, Toucan a whole jungle paradise. The all-encompassing visions embody the joy of finding exactly what one’s heart desires. At the end, when Rabbit wonders if there is anything for him, his friends all appear holding their treasures and bearing a large and beauteous turnip. The colors are soft and clear; the line is vivacious and the little anthropomorphized animals are sweet. Their satisfied imaginations fill whole pages, and friendship emanates from every wriggle.
Instead of a magician pulling a rabbit out a hat, here we have a rabbit magically producing all sorts of things from a suitcase. An ode to gift giving, Ruzzier’s latest picture book showcases his charming illustrations without letting a complicated plot get in the way. […] Ruzzier’s animals are a very appealing group, sweet and expressive with adorable little bellies, and each wish leads to a colorful and lively scene. […]
School Library Journal
As a rabbit pushes a large suitcase, many animals inquire about the contents. A toucan wonders, “HEY, Rabbit! Is there anything for me in your suitcase? Maybe a leaf to remind me of home?” Expectations are exceeded when each creature peeks inside. For example, Toucan discovers a tropical paradise full of exotic flora and fauna. More fantasies come true: a dog finds a birthday cake made of bones, a cat discovers a room full of yarn, and a hungry mouse enjoys tasting stacks of cheese. Ruzzier’s delicate ink-and-watercolor illustrations have a quirky, dreamy quality. […]
The Room of Wonders Frances Foster Books, 2006
Why Mole Shouted and Other Stories written by Lore Segal. Frances Foster/FSG, 2004
A Parents’ Choice Gold Award
This read aloud, four stories in one book, about a mole who lives with his
grandmother is a sweet unassuming masterpeice. The relationship between adult
and child is endearing as any in children’s literature. The two get on quite nicely
even when Mole looses his much needed glasses, shouts loudly and frequently
asks “Why?” again and again and again and again. Even then, Grandmother
leans down and kisses him on the nose. When he is outside she gives him a
wooly scarf to wrap around his throat, makes sure he has his mittens, and that his
cap is pulled down over the place his ears would have been if he had ears outside.
As cold as it is, he is building a snowmole. In the house, Grandmother buttons
her wooly sweater all the way up, and puts another log on the fire.
Illustrator Sergio Ruzzier shows us a picture of her waiting there. The artist’s
tempo is simple. His muted colors are gentle. No line is wasted. All quietly
convey an extraordinary relationship that he skillfully makes appear ordinary.
Diana Huss Green ©2004 Parents’ Choice
”Why Mole Shouted and Other Stories,” by Lore Segal, runs in the tradition of
Arnold Lobel’s ”Frog and Toad” stories, or James Marshall’s ”George and Martha”
tales, those sweet, seemingly simple stories of great and abiding friendships.
Children may learn more of friendship from books like these than from years of
painful trial and error. Just as important, they learn that love takes all kinds of
forms, not merely the predictable or traditional ones. […]
Segal has written versions of fairy tales illustrated by no less a great light than
Maurice Sendak. Here she is accompanied by tender watercolors by Sergio
Ruzzier, in muted shades of blue, green, tan, brown, and orangey-red, with a
dash of lavender thrown in for spice. His pictures are not pretty in any
conventional sense; indeed, they are almost deliberately weird, and the creatures
are homely, if immensely likable. ”Why Mole Shouted” is quietly stellar: gentle,
warm, and witty. It’s a great book for reading aloud, and inviting enough for
early readers. This is another Frances Foster imprint book, which simply means
that the great editor has struck gold yet again. –The Boston Globe