Tuesday, March 27, 2012


As I work frantically on more books, I wanted to mention mine that will be out soon. Here are some reviews for Obstinate Pen. Horn Book has given it a starred review, and I think there is another star somewhere for the book, but I can't think for the life of me where it is. Anyway, enjoy!!

From the Horn Book: (starred review)

Writers and artists sometimes feel that their materials and tools are uncooperative, even hostile, but Uncle Flood has this problem in spades. His new pen is insulting, subversive, and anarchic. Uncle Flood tries to write, “The following story is all true,” and what appears on the paper is “You have a BIG nose.” When the pen falls into the hands of police officer Wonkle as he’s trying to write a ticket, things look bad, but the pen turns out to be a bit of a romantic and matchmaker. In act three the pen ends up with Mrs. Norkham Pigeon-Smythe. She is determined to write a memoir of her “very lush life,” but the pen has other ideas. Finally, the obstinate pen comes to rest with Uncle Flood’s nephew Horace and in this congenial company finds its true purpose in life. Dormer’s skinny-limbed, dot-eyed characters inhabiting a world of merry chaos are reminiscent of Quentin Blake and share his energy and warmth.

From Publishers Weekly:

The eponymous pen—both magical and stubborn—isn’t content to be the instrument of just any old human’s creativity. When a grownup possesses it, the pen will only write insults (instead of writing “The following story is all true,” for its first owner, the pen scribbles, “You have a BIG nose”) or unwanted advice (“Kiss her, banana head!” it instructs a police officer about to issue a citation to a smitten citizen). But when young Horace gets his mitts on the pen and begins drawing, it turns as docile as a kitty, allowing him to scribble as many drawings as his imagination can muster. The world of this book is more fleshed out and colorful than that of Dormer’s Socksquatch (2010), but it’s still goofily offbeat: rich people ride in enormous convertible limos, policemen dress like Gilbert and Sullivan characters, and topiary abounds. Dormer’s gift for understated whimsy shows no evidence of abating, and adult readers may even detect a little bit of William Steig in his amusement at (and affection for) the follies of humanity. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)

From the March School Library Journal:

DORMER, Frank W. The Obstinate Pen. illus. by author. unpaged. CIP. Holt. Apr. 2012. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8050-9295-0. LC 2010031794.

K-Gr 3–One day, a rather grouchy man buys a new pen. After yelling at his nephew Horace to leave the room so he can write in silence, Uncle Flood discovers that the pen will only let him write tactless, declarative statements like, “You have a big nose” instead of his intended story. Frustrated, he throws it out the window and its journey begins. The pen gets passed from person to person, causing trouble and insulting everyone along the way with its uncanny ability to uncover painful but amusing truths. Eventually, the pen ends up in Horace’s possession and finally works “correctly” when the boy begins to draw pictures. Colorful cartoon illustrations add to the lighthearted tone of this quirky story. Children will enjoy the warm humor and silly-but-smart writing in this book, which would be suitable for both reading aloud or independently. –Rita Meade, Brooklyn Public Library, NY

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