Art by Gail de Marcken
When Ali turns seven, he goes to work with his father, the Keeper of Pigeons for the wicked Sultan of Cairo. There, Ali learns the most important rule about pigeons. Never, never overfeed them, or they will surely become spoiled and selfish. But Ali disobeys. He overfeeds his greedy pigeon, who in turn ruins a bowl of the Sultan's rare cherries. The cherries come from the snowy mountains of Syria, and it takes two weeks to get there. Ali is given only three days to replace them--or his father will be thrown into the Sultan's oubliette. What is an oubliette? A deep, dark, scary hole. And nobody wants to find out what's at the bottom of it!
Junior Library Guild Premier Selection, Book Links Lasting Connection of 2006
California Collections (Elementary), 2009
"This beautifully written story is a treat for the eyes and ears."-Blair Christolon, School Library Journal
"Forget all of Nancy Farmer's honors. One only need read this slim story to realize she is a consummate writer.... and the whole is illustrated with wonderful thought and grace by Gail de Marcken's lovely watercolor pictures and Arabic marginal notations. It is a beautiful book."--Children's Literature
"De Marcken's jewel-like watercolors adorned with Arabic calligraphy and mosaic patterns are well suited to this sweet and gently humorous tale." (Picture book. 4-6)--Kirkus Reviews
Casey Jones's Fireman: The Story of Sim Webb
Art by James Bernardin
Casey Jones, the famous railroad engineer, has a fine whistle for his train, the Cannonball Express. In a saloon one night he meets a man with a flushed face and bristly red hair who offers him an even better whistle, made from the angel Gabriel's trumpet. The stranger rakes his fingernails across the quills and lets Casey hear its heavenly music. Casey is enchanted and takes the whistle. Sim Webb, his fireman, warns him that there's a deadly danger in using such a thing but Casey won't listen. Sim has to stop Casey from blowing them all to kingdom come.
"Farmer's fully realized portrait of a little-known figure from African-American history will fascinate readers.... Children will want to proceed full steam ahead to the dramatic finale."--Publishers Weekly
"Children will relish this little-known piece of railroad lore, with its echoes of an epic battle being waged, and won. (Ages 4-8)--Kirkus Reviews
"This is dramatic stuff and Bernardin's vivid, painterly illustrations do it justice, with larger-than-life heroes, and the mythic Cannonball hurtling through the night landscape."--Kate McClelland, School Library Journal
"Farmer eloquently interweaves history and myth into a suspenseful, engrossing drama, enhanced by well-developed characters, particularly Sim, an ordinary man challenged by extraordinary circumstances. Bernardin's lush, vibrant paintings are lovely and mystical."--Shelle Rosenfeld, Booklist
Art by Jos. A. Smith
Mrs. Runnery has a well-stocked granary, but one morning she notices a lot of the grain is missing. Something big has been eating it--but what? And how can she scare away the thieves? Her daughters tell her to try spiders, then cats, but the grain keeps disappearing. Then Granny comes up with a plan...
Short stories for Younger Readers
"Ticket to Ride." In Firebirds Soaring: An Anthology of Original Speculative Fiction. Ed. Sharyn
November. Firebird. 2008.
"Castle Othello." In Troll's Eye View. Ed. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Viking.
"Bella's Birthday Present." In Can You Keep a Secret ed. Lois Metzger. Scholastic. 2007.
"Remember Me." In Firebirds: An Anthology of Original Fantasy and Science Fiction. 2003.
"Falada: the Goose Girl's Horse." In A Wolf At the Door. Ed. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Aladdin. 2000.
"Tapiwa’s Uncle.” In Cricket. February 1992.
Short Science Fiction
"The Mole Cure," in Fantasy and Science Fiction. August 2007.
"Origami Mountain," in Fantasy and Science Fiction, February, 1992. Reprinted in Ellen Datlow’s The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. St. Martin’s Press. 1993.
"The Mirror." in Writers of the Future, Vol. 4. Bridge Publications. 1988.
AWARD: Writers of the Future Gold Award
Foreword. Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. Aladdin, 2004.