Teeny Tiny Toady

Sterling Childrens, 2016

Teeny’s world is rocked when her mama is toad-napped and put into a bucket. Panicky and terrified, the little toad rushes home to enlist the help of her seven big, strong brothers. But when their rescue efforts go awry, landing them in the bucket with Mama, Teeny is the only one left to save her entire family.



Kirkus (starred) –

“A triumphant reaffirmation of the truth that large hearts can beat in small chests, told in playful verse that gallops along with nary a stumble.”


*Kirkus Best Books of 2016 selection

*2016 Best in Rhyme Top 10 choice - Rhyme Revolution.




I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo!

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014

Nadine can talk a blue streak, and one day she tells a real whopper: she isn't afraid of anything--no siree! Then her friends call her bluff, and Nadine must enter. . .The Deep. Dark. Woods. Only the woods aren't so scary after all, until the sun sets, that is, and Nadine can't find her friends. What is this boastful bovine to do? Run around in blind terror? Plummet off a cliff? Crash into a stream? Check, check, and check. But is all lost? Doubtful. After all, she is cow, hear her MOOOOOOOOO!


*2015 Crystal Kite Award winner, Midwest Region, SCBWI

*Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Choices (Best of the Year List), 2014

*Louisiana Reading Assoc. Children’s Choice nominee, 2014-2015

*Picture Book Oscars - Best Female Character in a 2014 Picture Book:  Nadine


*2016-2017 Nebraska Golden Sower award nominee

*2015 White Ravens List

*Selected for Scholastic Book Clubs



Bureau of the Center for Children’s Books (Starred) -


   “A delightful, jaunty romp . . . both lyrical and funny.”


Tom's Tweet

Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2011

Tom is on the hunt for a tasty morning treat when he spies a flip-flapping, fluttery bird there for the taking. Hello, breakfast! But dagnabbit! The tweet is too skinny to eat. Tom doesn't want to get involved, but why does the little thing have to look so frightened...unhappy...alone? Consarn it! Just Tom's luck to get stuck with a tweet!



*Amazon's Best Books of the Month list

* Midwest Booksellers Choice Awards nominee

* Iowa’s Goldfinch Award nominee

* South Dakota’s Prairie Bud Award nominee




Kirkus -

"Esbaum's tweet tale will have listeners in stitches..."


School Library Journal -

"...a lot of fun and a joy to read."

I Hatched

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014

A baby chick bursts from his egg and into the world with hilarious enthusiasm, awe, and I-can't-help-myself energy, capturing babies' delight in new discovery and parents' joy in this amazing new person. Rompy, rhyming text evokes the zeal of a toddler who's eager for everything. And Jen Corace's gorgeous artwork is alive with critters and curiosities and surprises--the biggest of which? The hatching of a new baby sister, to the absolute delight of her now "expert" big brother!


*NY Times Editor’s Choice pick, Feb 21, 2014

*Wisconsin State Reading Association Picture This! list, 2015

*Bank Street College Center’s Best Children’s Books of 2014



Publisher’s Weekly -

"…Esbaum captures the egocentric worldview and inexhaustible energy of a bird toddler while presenting a refreshingly species-specific narrative….a charismatic young hero-in-the-making.”


Kirkus -

“Invigorating and ebullient."





Harcourt 2009

There's a slobbery thug in town, and his name is Stanza. He bullies everybody. He eats chicken pot pie. And . . . he writes poetry. On the sly. At night. Because he’s extremely afraid his bully brothers will find out. But Stanza doesn't let that stop him from entering one of his poems into a jingle contest. Does he win? Well, what if he did . . . not?


* Young Hoosiers Book Award Nominee 2012-2013


Click to Download the Jingle Jingle writing exercise sheet

To the Big Top

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2008

When the circus comes to Willow Grove, Benny and Sam are in for more excitement than they can shake a stick at:  elephants and acrobats, candied apples and a calliope, even a snake enchantress. They can't think of anything better than helping the circus men set up for the grand event - until the Big Top boss gives them two tickets for the show! But then Sam's ticket disappears, and it's up to Benny to save the best day ever.


* 2009 CCBC Choices List



 Publisher's Weekly (starred) -

     "Esbaum and Gordon whisk readers to turn-of-the-century days when a circus could take a small town by storm."


Kirkus Reviews -

     ". . . takes readers to Back Then, when midway and sideshow were the real deal."


School Library Journal -

     "An inviting slice of Americana."

Estelle Takes a Bath

Henry Holt, 2006

Estelle's been looking forward to a long, relaxing bath. But when a curious mouse gets a whiff of her peppermint-scented bath bubbles, he can't help himself; he has to get closer. When he and Estelle accidentally kiss, pandemonium follows.

Mary Newell DePalma's lively illustrations capture this wild romp in all its soapy glory.



Kirkus Reviews -

       "Colorful text dances along the pages just like Estelle, as she trips all over herself trying to catch the intruder. Young children will greatly enjoy the slightly naughty illustrations and the one uncovered fanny that DePalma allows. Prepare for a bunch of rowdy story-timers as they giggle over the never-quite-totally-nude Estelle."

Ste-e-e-e-eamboat A-Comin'!

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005

       "Ste-e-e-e-eamboat a-comin'!" The cry echoes down the street, and a sleepy river town springs to life. Townsfolk pour from every doorway, hurrying to the riverfront to witness the sights and sounds that accompany a visit from this floating palace.  Squawking chickens, shouting roustabouts, creaking drays, the reckless crush of passengers thumping down the gangplank...Twenty exhilarating minutes after its arrival, the steamboat paddles away, and the town settles back into its drowsy routine.

This book was inspired by a few paragraphs from Mark Twain's Life On the Mississippi. Adam Rex's gorgeous illustrations will transport you back to the 1860s, when a steamboat visit was an event unrivaled for noise, color, and excitement. Come along!


* 2006 IRA Notable Children's Book

* 1st place, Juvenile Literary category - Friends of American Writers

* Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year

* Kansas State Reading Circle 2006 Recommended Reading List

* PBS Teacher Source Social Studies Recommended Book



School Library Journal (Starred) -

     "Well-drawn details abound, making this an excellent resource for historical study. Whether as an introduction to the history of river travel or as background for a Twain classic, this salute to a bygone transportation era is sure to engage children as they, too, thrill to the sound of that once-familiar call, 'Ste-e-e-e-eamboat a-comin'!'"


Kirkus Reviews -

     "Esbaum captures the bustle and commotion attending a steam packet's arrival in a small river town. Rex depicts the hubbub with Norman Rockwell-esque realism. This makes a rhythmic, emphatic evocation of a scene from days gone by."

Stink Soup

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2004

       Annabelle and her little brother, Willie, are spending the week at Granny's. Annabelle is supposed to keep her brother out of trouble, which isn't easy when she's there to help Granny prepare tomatoes for home canning. Annabelle can't decide which is worse:  chasing after Willie or working with tomatoes. Even the smell of tomatoes makes her gag.

        Willie escapes his sister's surveillance to lasso chickens, pitch eggs, and torment the goat. Finally he goes too far, tangling with a skunk. But his devilishness just might save Annabelle from having to taste Granny's tomato juice. Or will it?



Kirkus -

        "Realistic illustrations salt-and-pepper the saucy tale with wry humor, comeuppance, and down-home flavor. Amusing."


School Library Journal -

        "Perfectly matched to the text in tone, the watercolor-and-graphite illustrations capture the action . . . pictures are large enough to share with a group, and independent readers will enjoy the humorous story on their own."


Publishers Weekly -

        "Roth's cheerful art echoes the energy and folksiness of the tale . . . .Whether fond of tomatoes or not, kids will find this a

flavorsome romp."


I Invited a Dragon to Dinner

and Other Poems to Make You Laugh Out Loud

Philomel, 2002

In this zany collection (by different authors whose poems were chosen in a nationwide contest), you'll find a mouse family overrunning a house, dining dragons, crazy mothers, a scary attic, an invisible guest, the biggest sandwich in the world, detestable vegetables, muddy glasses, a lady whose head screws off, the girl who swallowed a squirrel, and the tickle that went out of control. These 23 poems are guaranteed to tickle your funny bone!


* 2003 IRA Children's Choice selection


art by Chris L. Demarest