Children’s Books

One of the luckiest and best things that have happened in my life is meeting Kate Hall in 1978 and marrying her. Not only has she been a wonderful and loving companion and a great mother to our daughter, Leigh, she is also a funny, imaginative writer of children’s books.

At first I resisted illustrating the tests she wrote because of a very early, notso- great experience I had in children’s books. But along with helping to raise Leigh and read books to her (and the inevitable competitive urge to try my hand at the category) and the attraction that Kate’s witty and slightly acerbic stories had for me, I began to collaborate with her. Our first book, The Noisy Giants Tea Party, was, as they say, a succès d’estime—Maurice Sendak loved it more than the parents shopping at Barnes and Noble. I had influenced the story of the Noisy Giants with my own and my daughter’s anxieties about nighttime noises but I realized after the commercial failure of the book that I could participate as a kind of in-house editor for Kate’s writing but I should leave the stories to her lively and basically upbeat sensibility.

What made it possible for me to enjoy illustrating Kate’s writing was that her optimism was leavened with a sharp edge of ironic naughtiness. Also, for our next book she found a subject, a garbage truck, that in its vehicular toughness (no kid’s book cuteness) suited us both. I Stink!, a monologue by a garbage truck, was a great success, selling hundreds of thousands of copies over the years, becoming a kind of classic and, with our other truck books that followed, inspiring the animated series on Amazon, The Stinky and Dirty Show. The series now numbers eleven books, the last about a pickup truck, I’m Tough!

We have produced other, more romantic non-vehicle books, like the two inspired by our daughter’s study of ballet, Nutracker Noel and Noel, the First and our latest, a commemoration of our beloved, now deceased, French bulldogs, As Warm As The Sun.

Among the titles on the list, two of my favorites are Hey, Pipsqueak! and Papa’s Song; the latter gave me the chance to paint some river landscapes that are like deep, memory landscapes for me.

As Warm as the Sun

Toby, a French bulldog, loves all the warm spots in his house—his morning sun puddle, his owner’s lap, his special spot just in front of the fireplace. But those warm spots don’t last forever. What Toby wants more than anything is to find something as warm as the sun that never fades or fizzles.

Then, one day, Pinkie comes along. Pinkie loves those warm spots, too . . . so much that she starts hogging all of Toby’s  favorite places, and he soon feels alone and forgotten.

Will Toby ever find his own special something as warm as the sun?

Hey, Pipsqueak!

Uh-oh! A Troll has taken over the bridge – the very bridge Jack has to cross to deliver his present to the party.

“Hey, pipsqueak!” yells the Troll. “I’m the  boss of this bridge. Nobody crosses unless I say so.” But maybe he’ll say so – if Jack gives him the present.

Jack can’t let the Troll have his way. Armed  only with the toys in the back of his truck, he decides to put up a fight and manages to outwit the big bully with an even bigger surprise.


Know what I do at night while you’re asleep? Eat your trash, that’s what! See those bags? I smell breakfast!

With ten wide tires, one really big appetite, and an even bigger smell, this truck’s got it all. His job? Eating your garbage and loving every stinky second of it!

And you thought nighttime was just for sleeping.



That’s T. rex: really BIG, really BAD, and really, really HUNGRY.

So freeze, fuzzies—take cover, critters—‘cause Kate and Jim McMullan’s ravenous reptile has just one thing on his mind: dinner.



I’m not the BIGGEST TRUCK in the parking lot… but when my cargo bed’s PACKED and STACKED, I’ve got what it takes to HAUL IT ALL! You can count on me—I’ll get the job done! ‘Cause guess what—I’M TOUGH!

Nutcracker Noel

A backstage story of Christmas dreams more than coming true. 

When Noel hears that everyone in her ballet class is going to get a part in The Nutcracker, she imagines herself in a starring role. But her teacher, Miss Olga, has other ideas. She casts stuck-up Mia as the dancing cookie doll and announces: “Noel will be a tree.”

Noel tries every trick in the book to wrangle a better part for herself, but nothing works. Then, on opening night, one of life’s little surprises intervenes, and it’s Noel the tree who helps Mia discover the true meaning of “show biz.”

Papa’s Song

It’s way past bedtime, but
Baby Bear is wide awake.
Who knows just the right
lullaby to send this little
cub floating off to sleep?

Not Granny Bear.
Not Grandpa Bear.
Not Mama Bear.
What about Papa Bear?

This book is a lovely
lullaby in its own right,
demonstrating with
aplomb how sometimes
fathers really do know best!

The Earth is Good

The sun is good.
The earth is good.
The trees
and birds
and bees
are good.

The tiny mouse, the majestic whale, the mountains, and the moon… all are good.  “And,” as the last page announces, “you are good.”

This original chant teaches young children to appreciate the earth and all its gifts. And most important, it teaches them that they, too, are among the earth’s treasures.

Michael DeMunn, a prominent conservationist, has written a simple but powerful text that is accessible to young children and wonderfully optimistic.

The illustrations are beautifully designed and composed: by subtly integrating the landscape into the boy’s anatomy, Jim McMullan underscores the subtext of mankind’s oneness with nature.

The Noisy Giants’ Tea Party

The Noisy Giants’ Tea Party is an exhilarating, zany, and totally original urban lullaby. This is a most impressive picture-book debut for a remarkable artist.
— Maurice Sendak

Andrew’s been tucked in for the night, but outside his window the city is still wide awake. Taxis roar by, a garbage truck is crunching trash, fire engines wail. Amid all the racket, Andrew tosses and turns, never suspecting that the Noisy Giants are about to invite him to the weirdest tea party ever, where party crashers really crash and musical chairs are anything but musical.

As one of the Noisy Giants says: “Mice are quiet, my boy. We are loud!”

2023 © James McMullan