Laurence Pringle

Children's Books and School Author Visits

Click on a title below, and read the story behind the book!

"Another winner in a long series of engaging, informative invitations to explore the natural world." --Kirkus Reviews Starred Review
"Beginning on a snowy afternoon in February and ending in early autumn, this book centers on a fox named Vixen as she explores her habitat, hunts, runs from danger, and starts a family. This intimate and personal view into Vixen's life is chronicled through a beautifully cohesive relationship between text and illustration...A rich reading experience awaits those who pick up this title..."--School Library Journal STARRED REVIEW
A "picture-book equivalent of watching a nature documentary."--School Library Journal
"Budding arachnologists will find this an enlightening introduction."--Kirkus programs about writing in schools
"A coolly fascinating, nostalgic glimpse into life as it was over a century ago." --Kirkus Reviews
"A must-have addition to science collections." --Booklist
"intelligent..eye-catching..readable lodestone for researchers." Starred review, School Library Journal
Paperback--the most unusual dinosaur book ever published!
The most comprehensive children's book about these amazing insects! "Smoothly written, beautifully illustrated"--School Library Journal author meets students in elementary schools
"An amazing nonfiction children's book"--Midwest Book Review
"A especial treat for young dragon lovers." --Midwest Book Review
"Words and stirring pictures focus on the role of the powerful black man on the thrilling journey...he is hailed as a national hero." -- Booklist author visits in schools
"Pringle's succinct text provides an engaging overview of penguin life...even penguin fans will find something new." -- Booklist
"Even readers fearful of snakes may find the subject a little less strange, a little more wonderful." -- Booklist
"Presented with respect for the subject and for the audience, this is one of the best of the many bat books, especially for a somewhat younger audience." --Booklist programs about writing for kids in schools
"The lucid text and elegant illustrations march in perfect step, creating an attractive fusing of art and information." --School Library Journal
"An exemplary nature-study book--accurate, explicit, and satisfyingly complete." School Library Journal
"Full of adventure and excitement, this book contains a wonderful mix of intriguing stories and historical facts."
--Childhood Education
elementary school author visits
"A poetic text...A wonderful choice to share with children before a summer vacation or to use as an introduction to an ecology unit." --School Library Journal
"A superb, well-researched book that finds extraordinary science in the everyday life of a butterfly."
--Kirkus Reviews
school author visits
Picture Book Fiction
"A likable book that's sure to start kids romping, and maybe their parents, too."--Kirkus

Octopus Hug and Bear Hug

The Story Behind the Books

My own father roughhoused very little with his children, yet to me it seemed a natural and--judging from the kids' response--important way to play with my own five kids, and others. It started with basic dandling and horsey-back rides, and evolved, as the kids grew, into more wild and inventive physical play. Wow, did we have fun!

Parents have to keep the play from getting too rough and from becoming just another way to exercise parental power. (Tickling, for example, may seem like fun but emphasizes the power and control of the tickler.) One important element, I learned, is giving children opportunities to outsmart and overpower the parent. Dumb Dad!

I learned some of this psychological background after years of roughhousing, and after writing the first draft of Octopus Hug. In 1990 Dr. Gwen Brown, director of education at the University of Delaware, said that kids "love the adult to play the victim." Children have to do so many things we say that "you can see why kids like it when they get to roughhouse and push adults around a little." Also, children need to play hard and often don't get enough chances to do so. And roughhousing, Dr. Brown concluded, "helps let out not-so-nice feelings, which children don't have an opportunity to release much of the time."

Perhaps this explains why Jesse and Rebecca especially liked pretending to be robotic "bad-manners dolls," which I could not turn off!

My first version of Octopus Hug was more of a string of roughhousing games than a story, but publisher Kent Brown passed along a suggestion that helped tie things together. Then Kate Salley Palmer's illustrations captured the spirit of what transpired countless times, not just with Jesse and Becky, but with my other children, their half-siblings, Heidi, Jeffrey, and Sean.

Octopus Hug leaves me feeling both joyful and a bit sad. Not many fathers get to celebrate their special roughhousing times in a book. On the other hand, those times are long past. The little kids who played those games are all grown up and, in fact, could have children of their own. Where are those grandchildren?

Through the years I've received some warm, wonderful compliments for Octopus Hug, and have learned how it has been used to foster good connections between dads and their kids. For example, the Minnesota Humanities Center has a program called "Dads and Kids Book Club--Octopus Hug," in which the book can be used as encouragement or inspiration for positive father-child relationships.

I loved Kate Salley Palmer's work on Octopus Hug and so wrote Bear Hug. Several details are based on family camping trips to Upper Sargents Pond in the Adirondack Mountains. We saw those tame frogs, the feisty red squirrels, the bats at night, and heard the haunting calls of barred owls. Again, a very personal book.