Tony Johnston

Books by This Author

Alien and Possum: Friends No Matter What

Illustrated by: Tony DiTerlizzi
Age Level: 3-6
When a spaceship crashes nearby, Possum goes to explore and discovers Alien, a cautious creature in a nicely rounded space suit, who overcomes his initial suspicions to become Possum's pal. A springy pace, lively dialogue, and Alien's silly sound effects make this an ideal read-aloud.

Any Small Goodness: A Novel of the Barrio

Age Level: 9-12

Meet Arturo and his spirited family as they integrate themselves into a tough L.A. neighborhood. Their story is sprinkled with the good and bad, from the former NBA star that shows up at basketball practice to the menacing gang that keeps appearing on the sidewalks of the neighborhood. Arturo and his family (including feisty Abuelita and their cat, Huitlacoche) meet each moment with resilience, warmth, and humor as they each learn to appreciate "any small goodness" that they find.

Day of the Dead

Illustrated by: Jeanette Winter
Age Level: 6-9

"Above a small town in Mexico, the sun rises like a great marigold." So begins one family's preparation for El día de los muertos. The children are eager to try just a taste of this and that, but everyone says they must wait until the family is ready to take their offerings to the cemetery for a night of celebration and remembrance. The warmth of this story about one of Mexico's most important traditions shines through the text and illustrations.

Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea: A Fairly Fabricated Story of a Pair of Pants

Illustrated by: Stacey Innerst
Age Level: 3-6
Early miners' pants couldn't hold up as they dug for gold when the California gold rush started — until a man named Levi Strauss headed west with a "DANG!" good idea! This tall tale version of how Levis (jeans) came into existence is told with verve and humor in both textured illustration and lighthearted text, ideal for reading aloud. It fills in what little is known about the real man.

My Abuelita

Illustrated by: Yuyi Morales
Age Level: 3-6

"Abuelita's hair is the color of salt. Her face is as crinkled as a dried chile. She booms out words as wild as blossoms blooming. She stuffs her carcacha — her jalopy — with all the things she needs: a plumed snake, a castle, a skeleton, and more. Her grandson knows he has the most amazing grandmother ever — with a very important job. What does Abuelita do? Readers will enjoying guessing in this story sprinkled with Spanish and infused with love." — Amazon Review

My Mexico

Illustrated by: F. John Sierra
Age Level: 6-9

"Sensitive, soft but bright illustrations in pencil over watercolor depict Mexican scenes in 16 double-page spreads. Printed over the backgrounds are 18 poems in both English and Spanish…The poems are mostly free verse, although there is some use of rhyme. They deal with everyday subjects such as cockroaches or corn, or historical topics such as the Nahuatl language or the disappearance of the Aztecs." — School Library Journal

The Tale of Rabbit and Coyote

Illustrated by: Tomie dePaola
Age Level: 3-6
Coyote howls at the moon because of a small, smart, and very tricky rabbit. This lively retelling of an Oaxacan (Mexico) tale has familiar elements like rabbit becoming stuck on a farmer made of sticky beeswax. The energetic tale is complemented by illustrations reminiscent of folk art.

Uncle Rain Cloud

Illustrated by: Fabricio Vanden Broeck
Age Level: 6-9

When Tío Tomás speaks in Spanish and tells his nephew Carlos ancient stories from Mexico, he is animated and happy. When he has to speak in English, however, his bad mood makes him look like a rain cloud. Eventually the two of them find a solution that will allow them to know "twice as much as everyone else!" This realistic story provides an authentic look at the frustration many recent immigrants feel when they are struggling to learn a new language, as well as the opportunities that being bilingual provides.