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I have written “Obsessed by Dress,” a meditation on fashion or–more broadly–clothes, and over two dozen books for children. You can find out more about these diversions from journalism by clicking on (what else?)

OBSESSED BY DRESS (Beacon Press, 2000; paperback edition 2001)

for hardcover edition

for paperback edition

Tobias, who is as attracted to the visual arts as to dance, has found a subject that fuses elements of both. Village Voice

“What a strange power there is in clothing.” With this quote from noted author Isaac Bashevis Singer, Tobias opens her little book, which is entirely composed of such gleanings from the literature of the Western world, all of them hovering in some manner around the topic of clothing. Arranged under dozens of topic heads, from “acquisition” to “animals in clothes,” and from decorum to dishevelment, those quoted consider dress, style, fashion, and self-presentation from all imaginable, and possibly many never-before-imagined, points of view, and they lead one on compulsively from page to page like the bread crumbs that beguiled Hansel and Gretel. Sized small enough to fit your purse, nightstand, or bathroom shelf, Obsessed by Dress may belong in your collection if words are as precious to you as shoes, buttons, or garments waiting to be released from captivity within your yardage collection. Threads

Tobias . . . has created a small book filled with quotes . . . about how clothes define people’s ideas regarding style and beauty, while also revealing other aspects of human nature, such as vanity, lust, envy, and greed. The quotes are juxtaposed so that the commentators seem to amplify or challenge one another’s observations. The Plain Dealer

These provocative quotes are organized by Tobias with a magical flair. . . . You don’t have to be a fashion aficionado to enjoy this little book with big ideas. It’s a first-rate job that makes a first-rate gift for yourself or a . . . friend.

We are all obsessed by dress, as . . .Tobi Tobias’s charming book illuminates. . . . This 171-page compendium of quotations ranges from the admonitory to the humorous, the descriptive to the analytical, yet surprisingly few have the ring of familiarity. . . . Packaged as a gift bookthe hard cover and binding are dressed in crimson accessorized in goldit’s a . . . delicious present for the holiday host or hostess. But like the Danish Bournonville ballets on which Tobias is an expert, Obsessed by Dress offers profundity as well as charm, depth as well as delight. Like a 19th-century steamer trunk, this collection is packed with felicitous quotations that reveal as much about ourselves . . . as our dress. An extraordinary amount of work, not to mention intelligence, has gone into this thorough compendium, which Tobias assembled among other reasons because “I quote others only the better to express myself.” Eugene Weekly

Tobi Tobias’s Obsessed by Dress is more than just a collection of quotations about fashion and all its many facetsacquisition, the erotic power of dress, and dress as depravity, to name a few. . . . With sophistication, humor, and ease (the same ingredients with which she spices her dance reviews at New York magazine), [Tobias] treats her reader with intelligence. That word is rarely used to describe fashion, but then, Obsessed is not normal fashion fare. It’s a closetful of riches. Time Out New York

This book will take you into the minds and wardrobes of the world’s greatest literary and fashion personalities. Elle

My most recent books for children are:

WISHES FOR YOU illustrated by Henri Sorensen (HarperCollins, 2003)

Expressed in very few words, the statements often distill complex emotions stirred by the love of a child. . . . This tender, never maudlin book gives expression to feelings too often left unsaid; it’s ideal for lap sharing. ALA Booklist

Sorensen’s art is filled with beauty and the innocence of childhood, and Tobias’s sentiments are those that adults would like to pass on to their children. . . . This book . . . will be cherished in quiet, thoughtful moments. School Library Journal

This book is great for all occasionsgraduation, retirement and anniversarynot just the birth of a new child or grandchild. The message is simple, direct, and perfect for all ages. Booksense (American Booksellers Association)

SERENDIPITY illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds (Simon & Schuster, 2000)

Serendipity is a rather scary word for those who are only knee-high. It is almost as big as they are, and it even sounds daunting. But author Tobi Tobias takes this nonsensical noun and makes it . . . well, delightful. Accompanied by whimsical illustrations, this little book relates a series of unexpected surprises; it is serendipity! Tobias reveals the meaning of the word through a string of easy-to-understand metaphors.Serendipity is putting a quarter in the gumball machine and having three pieces come rattling out instead of oneall red.” . . . This is a touching book that children will love. Bookpage

In this extended definition of the title word, readers learn that serendipity can make a good day even better . . . or it can be the saving grace for a kid in his darkest hour. Publishers Weekly

A WORLD OF WORDS illustrated by Peter Malone (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1999)

Readers will find a beguiling treasure trove of aural and visual delights in this abecedarian arrangement of excerpts from poems, letters and prose. Each spread presents one or two words, from Animal to Zoo, which thematically connect one, two or three quotationseach quote notable for the sheer pleasure in language it betrayspaired with a sumptuous portrait that integrates them all. As a compiler, Tobias (Pot Luck) goes beyond the light verse typical of collections for children (although Farjeon, Carroll and Lear appear here); her selections encompass a range both broad and diversefrom the King James Bible to canonical adult poets such as Hughes, Dickinson and Stevens, to anonymous Native American poems. Malone (The Magic Flute) uses a sure, deft hand to create gouache paintings that interpret, rather than simply illustrate the theme. For instance, Malone sets in context a Joel Chandler Harris quote for “Fire” “Youk’n hide de fier, but w’at you gwine do wid de smoke?” with a scene of Br’er Fox and Br’er Rabbit regarding Uncle Remus as he attempts to hide flames beneath a fire bucket. The artist’s pale foreground allows the fully realized characters to appear almost three-dimensional. Equally accomplished is the book’s design, with its elegant yet tactile body and display type, and clever spot illustrations which intertwine with the initial letter of each word. A book likely to appeal as much, if not more than, to adults as to children, but one that will be savored by anyone who takes pleasure in the sound of words and the images they inspire. All ages. Publishers Weekly

The power of words to conjure up images is splendidly viewed in this remarkable alphabet of quotations. A word is chosen for each letter of the alphabet (“Animal,” “Book,” “Circus,” etc.), and readers are treated to one or more quotes that feature that term. Poems and verses from famous writers such as Edward Lear, William Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Lewis Carroll are mixed with those from the Inuit and Native American traditions as well as the Bible. The visual worlds that Malone creates for each word (or, in some cases, two words) with his gouache illustrations are filled with fantastical details and interconnections, dreamscapes heightened by vibrant contrasting colors. The artist has an engrossing sense of humor; he seems to be just out of view waiting with a quirky smile and asking “Did you get it?” Resplendent, unexpected delights await the eye and the ear and invite repeated viewing and reading. School Library Journal

Malone’s thought-provoking gouache paintings ornament the equally thought-provoking quotations chosen by Tobias. These are not garden-variety ideas. They are meditations. George Herriman’s Krazy Kat begs ice cream not to melt, while e e cummings’ god creates the world as a circus, and D. H. Lawrence considers the selfishness of love. The ideas are big enough for both adults and children. Children’s Literature

This book is a sort of Baudelaire for childrenall correspondences and volupté. The New Yorker

THE QUITTING DEAL illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman (Viking,1975; paperback edition, Puffin Books,1975; reprinted in Ms. magazine, Stories for Free Children; Danish translation, ER DET EN AFTALE?, Høst & Søns Forlag, 1978), is now available as an e-book. There are two digital editions:

Microsoft Reader

Adobe Reader

All of the books listed above can be purchased by clicking on the title. Many of my other children’s books are available, new and used, through Amazon,,, and similar online sources.

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