Marta Dansie is a writer in Salt Lake City who keeps a blog called Marta Writes. I often like the stuff that Marta writes about, and today that trend continues, as she wrote about Everything Goes. There's a swell review of the book, some lovely photos of her son Benji finding the good stuff, and a little tiny interview with me.
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November 16th, 2011
Filed under: childrens books, Everything Goes, headlines, press
October 25th, 2011
A small slew of reviews showed up today for Everything Goes, and I thought I'd share them with you. The reason for this is threefold. If you've read the book and you like it, then you can nod your head and know that you were cool back when. If you've not seen it yet, you can safely go get it now that you know it's liked by the establishment. And if you read it but didn't like it, you can see here clearly how wrong you are. So there.
School Library Journal
As they travel from their suburban home through busy city streets to pick up Mom at the train station, Henry and his dad observe bikes, cars and vans, motorcycles, RVs, service vehicles, and finally trains. This oversize book’s double-page cartoons bustle with visual pep. Following the busy street scenes, Dad explains a type of vehicle in depth. Henry learns basically how a motor works and what amenities an RV offers. There’s a continuing game for readers to find a bird wearing a hat. Fun and learning are ideally balanced in this engaging trek that will be revisited umpteen times before every tidbit of labeling, conversation, and oddity is discovered in this wealth of urban wheels.–Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA
With pages crammed full of enough bumper-to-bumper street scenes to make even the most traffic- hardened commuter claustrophobic, this cheerful picture book takes a boy and his father on a crosstown trek to pick up Mom. The boy gapes out the window at all the different sorts of cars, trucks, buses, RVs, bikes, motorcycles, trams, and trains crowding the streets of a bustling city, asking Dad all about what goes into getting around. The street scenes alternate with close-ups that provide cartoony schematics that label different parts of each class of vehicle, and Dad pleasantly explains how things like car batteries and subway systems work. The bubblelike cars and Weeble-shaped people that populate Biggs’ Scarry-like compositions lend the book a kind of retro timelessness. It is busy as all get-out, but kids will be rewarded for lingering over the pages with oodles of minijokes and side stories, and they will learn enough about what is on the other side of the car window to jabber away through even the longest car rides.
— Ian Chipman
And my favorite one:
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
First, the short description of the opening title in Biggs’ new Everything Goes series: a little boy and his dad leave their quiet suburban home and step into their sedan for a trip into the city.
Creeping through the insanely congested streets, the father and son converse about the types of vehicles; they pick Mom up at the train station and drive home. Now, what the fun is all about: Biggs cleverly directs the zany cartoon traffic so that each spread features a particular type of vehicle—e.g., truck, motorcycle, train, RV—in an eye-boggling array of iterations. Several models get a double-page spread cutaway-diagram treatment, with important parts (brake lever, gas tank, exhaust pipe) and goofy extras (nice socks, Miss Kitty) duly labeled. Numbers from one to one hundred are hidden within the deliciously jammed compositions; also a multitude of birds sporting hats are hidden, Waldo-style, in plain view. If this level of intricacy in the artwork isn’t sufficient, viewers can try to correlate ads with businesses throughout the book or carefully inspect motorists and pedestrians for visual gags: the panicky White Rabbit rushing for the subway, the health-food vendor with no business, the tentacled alien on the trolley. Still not enough? How about a double foldout of about a half-mile of cityscape? Once you embark on this wild interactive journey, don’t expect to get home for quite a while.
Filed under: childrens books, Everything Goes, press
August 1st, 2011
Another review of Everything Goes popped up last night. This one at Publisher's Weekly. I'm a little more than thrilled to see Scarry, Handford, and Crumb all thrown out in one small paragraph. What a good start to a Monday.
Illustrator Biggs's first solo outing launches a transportation-based series with a cartooned survey of vehicles that populate the roads and rails. Using the framing device of Henry and his father driving to pick up Henry's mother at the train station, Biggs (the Brownie & Pearl series) creates a series of bustling landscapes full of vehicles, real and whimsical, which provide conversation fodder for father and son. Every few pages, Henry's questions prompt Biggs to break from the journey and zero in on a specific vehicle's components and capabilities, providing just enough detail to satisfy budding gearheads ("When you turn the key in the ignition, the battery sends a jolt of electricity to the motor that starts the car"). While it's too early to declare Biggs the next Richard Scarry or Martin Handford, this series has plenty of potential: Biggs has a cheery cartooning style that's reminiscent of R. Crumb and ideal for populating his oversized pages with a multitude of players and detail. With running visual jokes and mini-narratives adding to the fun, Biggs gives readers lots to take in and enjoy.
Just a few more weeks til the book is out…
Filed under: childrens books, Everything Goes, press
July 29th, 2011
I got a nice note last night that Kirkus has given Everything Goes: On Land a terrific review. This is the first real review that I know of and it's a good start…
In a visual feast for fans of wheeled vehicles large and small, Biggs presents a series of high-density street scenes done in an amiably rumpled cartoon style.
Driving in from the 'burbs to a generic metropolis, a lad and his dad gloss each big, double-page spread-" 'Do trucks work the same way as cars?' /
'Many of them do. Trucks also have jobs, like cars' "-as they glide through heavy traffic, past a construction site and under an elevated highway. They wait for fleets of bikes and motorcycles to pass and park at last near a train station to pick up Mom. Along with sparely labeled close-up or cutaway views of a car, a bicycle, a big truck, a subway station, an RV and other specimens, the author sets up the family reunion at the end with a giant double-gatefold aerial view of an entire neighborhood packed with traffic, pedestrians, local businesses and signs, each one individually distinct.
Jokey side conversations (one firefighter tells another, "There's no fire. It's just a cat"; his companion asks, "Should we get some milk?") play off more serious and informative dialogue. A diagram of a car is accompanied by a disquisition on the relationship between a car battery and the motor, as well as the fact that "[a]n electric car uses batteries and electric motor. No gas!"
A glory ride for young car, truck, train, bus and trolley devotees.
You can see it here if you're a Kirkus subscriber. If you're not, they only give you a snippet.
Filed under: childrens books, Everything Goes, press
November 30th, 2009
Publisher's Weekly posted a review today of the first book in the Brownie & Pearl series, written by Cynthia Rylant. It's a very good review and happily makes a point of mentioning Brownie's stockings. It's the fourth review down on this page. In case you're wondering, Brownie & Pearl Step Out will be published in very early January.
Here is the text:
Brownie & Pearl Step Out Cynthia Rylant, illus. by Brian Biggs. S&S/Beach Lane, $12.99 (24p) ISBN 978-1-4169-8632-4\
A birthday party (“Cats are invited”) is the outing spotlighted in Newbery Medalist Rylant's sweet snippet of a story, first in a planned series, which introduces a happy if a bit timid girl (Brownie) and her similarly sanguine cat (Pearl). As they arrive at their destination, a front stoop festooned with balloons, Brownie has second thoughts: “Uh-oh. Brownie feels shy. Maybe she'll go home.” But Pearl leaps through the cat door, forcing the issue (“Now Brownie has to knock”). She's warmly welcomed and enjoys games, cake, and ice cream. Short, snappy sentences (“Look! Pearl went in the kitty door!”), a bold font, and spot-on themes for this age level—birthday party, spunky pet, and the rewards of overcoming shyness—tailor this for girls just beginning to read on their own. Bubblegum pink and lime green pop from Biggs's (the Roscoe Riley Rules series) digitally rendered cartoon art, which features such endearing flourishes as Brownie's mismatched striped socks and floral dress, as well as the pink flowers she and Pearl wear in hair and fur. Cheerful from start to finish. Ages 3–5. (Dec.)
Filed under: childrens books, headlines, press
August 21st, 2007
One Beastly Beast, the book by Garth Nix that I illustrated, got a nice review in the August 6 Publishers Weekly…
One Beastly Beast (Two Aliens, Three Inventors, Four Fantastic Tales)
Garth Nix, illus. by Brian Biggs. HarperCollins/Eos, $15.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-06-084319-9
Successfully training his sights on a middle-grade audience, the acclaimed Nix (the Abhorsen trilogy) presents a quartet of wacky yarns set in fantasy-laced worlds and topped off with plenty of wordplay. In the first, Peter is on his way to return DVDs to the rental store when four rats dressed as pirates steal them. (â€œWe be video pirates, and those there discs will fetch us a pretty sum.â€) A crew of Navy rats escorts the boy down the sewer to â€œthe Neverworld,â€ where he helps defeat the bread-wielding pirate Blackbread. The second caper stars a bored princess, daughter of a former â€œfull-time warrior maidenâ€ and a wizard, whose quest for adventure brings her inside a â€œmagical clockwork monsterâ€ that she erroneously expects is planning to attack her kingdom. A third tale introduces a boy living in an orphanage who finally finds his parents after escaping adoption by pirates and the reach of a pair of â€œhideously squidgy, lumpy, slimy, sweaty, yellow-tentacled, bulbous-eyed aliens,â€ and the final story centers on one of 17 sisters who helps her town face a sea serpent that is damaging boats, capturing girls and turning them into â€œpenguinmaids.â€ Biggs (the Shredderman series) renders even the most monstrous creatures as ludicrous rather than gruesome in his lighthearted cartoons, laid out here with wit and a good eye for visual rhythm. Ages 7-11. (Aug.)