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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 4 April 2005 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Science Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Folktale/Folklore Shelf Bilingual Shelf
American History Shelf World History Shelf Photography Shelf
Music Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf Preschool Shelf
Books in Series    

Reviewer's Choice

The Easter Island Statues
Deborah Underwood
Thomson Gale
Box 9081, Farmington Hills, MI 48333
073773065X $23.70

Adding to the 'Wonders of the World' series is a special focus on the mysterious Easter Island statues, a topic generally not given complete coverage for this grade group of 3-5. 48 pages discuss Easter Island history, the investigations into the statues, and theories about how the islanders moved them into place. An appealing title packed with visual backup.

Look At My Book
Loreen Leedy
Holiday House
425 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10017
0823415902 $16.95

Look At My Book: How Kids Can Write & Illustrate Terrific Books by experienced children's author Loreen Leedy teaches young people how to write their own books: brainstorm ideas, get ready to do research, the design and illustrate a fantastic new book. The colorful artwork is crisp and clean, clearly illustrating various steps of the process. Offering tips for coming up with characters, settings, the perfect title, making revisions, choosing art supplies, binding the pages of one's new book and more, Look At My Book is a picturebook that truly stimulates creativity and imagination. Highly recommended.

85 Main St., Watertown, MA 02472

April Pulley Sayre's The Bumblebee Queen (1570913625, $14.95) takes a look at the lifestyle of the lowly bumble bee, combining facts with a format which reads with the drama and action of a novel. Patricia J. Wynne provides exceptionally realistic, colorful drawings to compliment Sayre's inviting story line. Anna Harwell Celenza's Bach's Goldberg Variations (1570915105, $19.95) is set in 1937 and tells of a young orphan taken under the wing of musician Bach when his master discovers his talent. Employed as a servant, Goldberg practices playing at night secretly, until Count Keyserlingk discovers his talents. An audio cd included in the package makes this especially recommended for parents teaching music to their kids.

Search For The Golden Moon Bear
Sy Montgomery
Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02116
0618356509 $17.00 1-800-225-3362

It's unusual to see a specialize blend of science and adventure which has the potential to reach all the way into adult audiences, but Sy Montgomery's Search For The Golden Moon Bear is such a title, detailing a hunt for a rare golden bear. Montgomery doesn't just use third party references; she travels herself in search of the bear, entering jungles of Asia and conducting her own quest. A lively travelogue and natural history adventure results for readers in grades 5-7 and beyond, backed by Montgomery's prior background as a reporter and naturalist for kids and adults alike.

Pitch And Throw, Grasp And Know
Brian P. Cleary & Brian Gable
Carolrhoda Books/Lerner Pub. Group
241 First Avenue, Minneapolis MN 55401
1575057964 $14.95 1-800-328-4929

Energetically illustrated in a colorful cartoon style by Brian Gable, Pitch And Throw, Grasp And Know: What Is A Synonym? provides young readers with informative and entertaining explanations and illustrations of just what synonyms are. Also highly recommended for school and community library collections (and ideal for use by home schoolers) are the other outstanding and thoroughly "kid friendly' titles of the Carolrhoda Books series on the English language: Dearly, Nearly, Insincerely: What Is An Adverb?; Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What Is An Adjective?; I And You And Don't Forget Who: What Is A Pronoun?; A Mink, A Fink, A Skating Rink: What Is A Noun?; To Root, To Toot, To Parachute: What Is A Verb?; Under, Over, By The Clover: What Is A Preposition.

Color, Color, Where Are You?
Mary Koski
Trellis Publishing
PO Box 16141, Duluth, MN 55816
1930650353 $14.95

How does nature provide us with examples of all the colors of the rainbow in plants and animal life? Janeen Mason's gorgeous, brilliant art drawings pairs with Koski's rollicking rhymes to create the perfect rhythm and color exploration, packing each color page with examples of reds, yellows, blues, blacks and more, all from nature. A wonderful, appealing visual treat makes Color, Color, Where Are You recommended far and above any competing beginner's surveys of color in nature.

The Science Shelf

Everglades Forever
Trish Marx & Cindy Karp
Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016
1584301643 $17.95

Everglades Forever: Restoring America's Great Wetland by Trish Marx is impressively presented for young readers augmented by photojournalist Cindy Karp's vivid photography. In Everglades Forever, children will learn of a class study by the students of an elementary school class on the majestic wetlands in Homestead, Florida. They will learn of the negative effects of pollution and disrupted water flow, and how people, environmental agencies, and governments seek to control such damage. And they will learn of the Everglades Restoration Plan, an ecological intervention designed to restore and preserve the natural water flow, plants, and animals of the Everglades. A highly edcuational and conscientious-minded introduction to one of Earth's environmental wonders, is especially recommended for school and community library Environmental Studies collections for children.

Roaring, Boring Alice
P. K. Merski & Mark Weber
Skeezel Press
2624 Lakeside Drive, Erie, PA 16511
0974721700 $16.95

Roaring, Boring Alice written by P. K. Merski and illustrated by Mark Weber is the picturebook story of the Aurora Borealis told in a rhyming verse by a little house mouse. The charming tall tale introduces readers to the ungrateful Alice, whose loud voice changes into the Northern Lights - until an odd little person offers her the choice to be nice, so that her normal voice will return. An afterword explains the scientific phenomenon of the aurora borealis, noting that the colorful lights do indeed have a voice - swishing, crackling, spark-like sounds that have been recorded by scientists. A vivid and just plain fun storybook.

The Picturebook Shelf

The Purim Costume
Peninnah schram
URJ Press
633 - 3rd Ave., NY, NY 10017-6778
0807408743 $13.95

Many girls have longed to play the part of Queen Esther at the Purim celebration - but she's not the only heroine, and kids ages 5-8 with good reading skills or parental assistance will learn about the other heroines of Purim in The Purim Costume. A modern child chooses a different heroine and must defend her choice to the local costume contest judges in Peninnah Schram's unusual story, with inviting drawings by Tammy L. Keiser.

Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor
New York, NY 10020

Three titles are recommended leisure reads for picturebook enthusiasts seeking something different. Anne Bustard's Buddy: The Story Of Buddy Holly (0689866674, $16.95) reads like a story, but includes plenty of facts about the musician's life and inspirations. Kurt Cyrus' realistic drawings illustrates a tale for ages 5-9 about a Texas boy who found his love of guitar an early impetus for achievement. Tony Johnston's Chicken In The Kitchen (0689856415, $15.95) presents Eleanor Taylor's whimsical drawings as it tells of a funny restless chicken who flaps her way through the kitchen looking for interesting things to peck. A rollicking rhyme provides the fun. Gibbs Davis' Wackiest White House Pets (0439443733, $16.95) outlines some of the stranger pets of presidents, from a pet alligator in the East Room of the White House to two pet grizzly bears kept by Thomas Jefferson. Good reading skills required to absorb these true tales which read like stories with action and drama.

What Marion Taught Willis
Brook Berg & Nathan Alberg
Upstart Books
Box 800, Ft. Atkinson, WI 53538-0800
1932146334 $16.95 1-800-448-4887

Delightfully illustrated by veteran children's artist Nathan Alberg with anthropomorphic characters, What Marion Taught Willis by Brook Berg is the picturebook story of a "Career Day" in Mr. Owne's class of young students. Each student has to choose a profession, learn as much as he or she can about it, and share his or her findings with the class. Marion the hedgehog decides to research being a librarian, and teaches her friend the basic categorizations of the Dewey Decimal System, and how to use it to look up books by subject! An educational picturebook excellent for helping very young people become familiar with libraries and how to use them.

Happy Bees
Arthur Yorlinks & Carey Armstrong-Ellis
Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
100 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10011
081095866X $15.95 1-800-759-0190

Energetically illustrated by Carey Armstrong-Ellis, Happy Bees! by Arthur Yorinks is a picturebook that comes with a bonus CD of ten festive bee songs. Young readers are treated to the dilemma that a swarm of bees presents, causing havoc among humans at a picnic, chasing a bear after their honey, or just playing tag. The exuberant color pictures have a hidden ladybug in each spread, and the very simple text encourages beginning readers to sound out their first words. A rollicking fun read-aloud story.

Knopf/Random House
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019

Three fun titles from Knopf provide whimsical tales kids will relish. Chris Wormell's The Big Ugly Monster And The Little Stone Rabbit (0375828915, $15.95) tells of the most horrible, ugly monster in the world who defies all living things - until his loneliness leads him to build stone friends. Can anyone love him? Maya Gottfried's Good Dog (0375830499, $15.95) presents memos from a range of dog breeds who want to be good dogs to their owners. Each memo receives a facing page of a breed and each contains fun reflections on the characteristic of that breed. While some will delight adults even more, who will readily recognize breed peculiarities, kids will get a kick out of this. Natasha Anastasia Tarpley's Joe-Joe's First Flight (0375810536, $15.95) receives E.B. Lewis' warm drawings as it tells of a young black boy raised in a time of segregation who longs to be a pilot. His dreams assume an uncommon reality when he decides to take his goal into his own hands in an engaging first-person narrative.

Wanda And The Wild Hair
Barbara Azore & Georgia Graham
Tundra Books
PO Box 1030, Plattsburgh, NY 12901
0887767176 $15.95 1-800-788-1074

Marvelously and energetically illustrated in full color by Georgia Graham, Wanda And The Wild Hair is the debut picturebook story of Barbara Azore for the enjoyment of preschool children ages 3 to 6. Wanda And The Wild Hair is about a young girl who loves the wild look of her hair dearly, even though her mother nags her to wash it and her teacher threatens to have the principal cut it off. A series of accidents and messes leave Wanda's hair in worse shape than usual, with twigs and branches in it - it's almost a bush! She has to get it cut and styled, but whispers to herself, "don't worry, it will grow again". Humorous chalk pastle illustrations bring hair out of control to exuberant life, practically popping off the page in cartoony splendor.

Will You Carry Me?
Heleen van Rossum
Peter van Harmelen
Kane/Miller Book Publishers
PO Box 8515, La Jolla, CA 92038-8515
1929132743 $15.95 1-800-968-1930

Enhanced throughout every page by Peter van H armelen's intricate pastel artwork, Heleen van Rossum's Will You Carry Me? is the picturebook story of a toddler who is too tired to walk but too big to be carried. When he asks his mother, "Will you carry me?" she comes up with inventive solutions - if he's too tired to walk, then the two of them can jump, swim, fly, or run home together! The warm and cheerful illustrations set alight the charm of this playful read-aloud story.

It's Quacking Time!
Martin Waddell
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140
0763627380 $15.99

Jill Barton's zany and comical story, It's Quacking Time!, tells of a young duck who sees his mother lay an egg and discovers the magic of egg origins. Everyone who views the egg receives a lesson in life in Waddell's funny tale of a young duck's discoveries.

My Teacher For President
Kay Winters
Dutton/Penguin Books
345 Hudson St., New York NY 10014
0525471863 $14.99

Denise Brunkus illustrates a story of why a teacher should be president, in the eyes of Oliver: the teacher is used to being followed, attends lots of meetings, and gets people to pay attention Oliver's imagination comes to life in a fine story celebrating teacher talents.

A Team Of One
Ila Wallen
Golden Books/Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
0375827056 $16.95 1-800-726-0600

Robert Sauber's drawings nicely enhance Ila Wallen's gentle story A Team Of One, which tells of sharing and the conflicts which can evolve from friendships. The story begins around a campfire as a father tells a bedtime story about a great scavenger hunt which involves treasure and loneliness.

Jitterbug Jam
Barbara Jean Hicks & Alexis Deacon
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
0374336857 $16.00 1-888-330-8477

Alexis Deacon's distinctive artwork offers an impressive visual context for Jitterbug Jam, Barbara Jean Hicks' original story about Bobo, a young monster who is afraid of what is under his bed at night. Bobo is sure there is a boy lurking underneath his bed, with "pink skin and orange fur on his head where his horns should be". Bobo's brother chastises him for being a scaredy-cat; Bobo's grandpa, Boo-Dad, knows exactly how to scare the fearful creature away. Yet after being frightened for such a long time, Bobo considers taking matters into his own paws and discovering if the creature under the bed really is that terrible! A charming and wonderful story about how new friends could be just around the corner.

Hurray For The Yoder Barn!
Catherine Celli Kurchinski
Moon Pie Press
53 Faye Drive, Smithfield, VA 23430
0976174405 $9.95

Nicely written and engagingly illustrated by Catherine Celli Kurchinski, Hurray For The Yoder Barn! is the charmingly presented picturebook story of the Yoder family, their dairy business, and the barn they own. Simple color illustrations that resemble those drawn by a child add a warm touch to this flat-spined storybook, which tells of the barn's destruction in a fire, its rebuilding, and its new role to feed the hearts and souls of the people long after big dairy business eclipses its functionality. A delightful story about changing times and ways.

The Princess And The White Bear King
Tanya Robyn Batt & Nicoletta Ceccoli
Barefoot Books
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140
1841483397 $16.99

The Princess And The White Bear King is an impressive retelling by Tanya Robun Batt of an old fairytale. Enhanced with the superlative artistry of Nicoletta Ceccoli, young readers are provided with the picturebook story of a princess who has a strange encounter with a great white bear, who takes her to live in his castle. Yet when she fails to pay attention to a warning, disaster strikes, and she must set out on a journey east of the sun and west of the moon in hopes of restoring her chance at happiness and love. A truly imaginative and uplifting fantasy.

A Simple Brown Leaf
L. J. Davis & Lisa Victoria
Abovo Publishing
PO Box 1321, Bonita, CA 91908
0976200783 $17.95

What could well become a classic children's picturebook for young readers ages 4 to 8, A Simple Brown Leaf is the collaborative effort of author L. J. Davis and illustrator Lisa Victoria. This is the story of an old autumn leaf caught by a squirrel preparing for winter's onslaught. The leaf's journey reveals that its life has more than one purpose. When it was young and green, it was part of the tree; when it turned brown and fell, the squirrel needed it to survive the bitter cold of winter. A moving story about discovery and finding meaning. "You are meant to do something wonderful! Someone loves you! Someone needs you... just like the squirrel needed the simple brown leaf."

The Big, Blue Lump
Yetti Frenkel
Snow Tree Books
294 Lynn St., Peabody, MA 01960-6533
0974900605 $16.95

Wonderfully written and superbly illustrated by author/artist Yetti Frenkel, The Big, Blue Lump is the picturebook story of a tiny blue bug with a peaceful heart. Though he might appear tasty to animals such as a hungry yellow chick, he has a unique defense... it isn't a good idea to swallow the blue bug or one just might get swallowed up in turn. The simple artwork adds a touch of charming whimsy, reinforced when expected behaviors such as a chick swallowing a bug give way to unusual situations such as a pig swallowing a dog! An easy-to-read story especially suitable for young people making the transition from the simplest picture books to slightly more wordy ones.

Cassie's Sweet Berry Pie
Karen B. Winnick
Boyds Mills Press
Carol Fass (publicity)
815 Church St, Honesdale, PA 18431
1563979845 $16.95 1-877-512-8366

Author/illustrator Karen B. Winnick's original picturebook, Cassie's Sweet Berry Pie: A Civil War Story is the tale of a young girl during the American civil war. Her father is away fighting in the army, and her mother works in the hospital tending to wounded soldiers. When Union troops raid her house for supplies, she must come up with a clever ploy to protect her family's food store, proving that huckleberries can be used for more than sweet pies! The gentle color artwork perfectly complements this tale about resourcefulness - not to mention help from the most unlikely places.

So Happy!
Kevin Henkes & Anita Lobel
1350 Ave of the Americas, NY, NY 10019
0060564830 $15.99 1-800-242-7737

Written in a throughly engaging prose poem style by Newbery Honor Book author Kevin Henkes, and strikingly illustrated by Anita Lobel, So Happy! is the picturebook story of a boy, a rabbit, a magic seed, and a book (which the reader is holding in his hands). The seed grows into a beautiful flower, the boy wanders looking for something to do, and the curious rabbit explores until he is lost... but happiness awaits at the end of a long day, when the rabbit comes home to sleep cozily, and the boy finds the flower that the seed became - it's the perfect gift for his mother! A warm-hearted picturebook intended for ages 2 and up.

The Only One Club
Jane Nailboff & Jeff Hopkins
Flashlight Press
c/o Independent Publishers Group
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
0972922539 $15.95 1-800-888-4741

Engagingly written by Jane Nailboff and nicely illustrated by Jeff Hopkins, The Only One Club is the story of a young girl named Jennifer, who is the only Jewish student in her first-grade class. When the other first graders are making Christmas decorations, the teacher tells jennifer that she can make Hanukah decorations instead, and be the first to hang them on the classroom windows. Happy to be singled out, Jennifer creates "The Only One Club". When her classmates want to join her exclusive club, she resists at first - then realizes each of her friends is also "the only one" at something, and makes badges for everyone, celebrating each person's unique qualities. The friendly illustrations emphasize an upbeat and positive message about the value of differences and the importance of tolerance and acceptance.

Popsi, The Daughter Of Mother Nature
Geraldine B. Lewis & Randy Jennings
GBL & CL jr. Publishing
PO Box 3034, San Clemente, CA 92674
0975388428 $16.99

Although a children's picturebook for ages 5 to 10, Popsi, The Daughter Of Mother Nature written by Geraldine B. Lewis and illustrated by Randy Jennings has a charmingly told environmental message that would be of interest to readers of all ages. When Mother Nature wants to create a daughter, Popsi, from a rag doll, but she can't do it alone. A wizard brings Popsi to life, warning her that she must prove herself useful to Mother Nature in three days or whe will revert to being a rag doll forever. Aided by a trusty caterpillar, Popsi sets out to find her purpose, though at first she becomes distracted with playing. Eventually she learns the value of recycling and keeping land clean, and teaches other children how to turn garbage into beautiful things. A charming, brilliantly illustrated story with a meaningful and upbeat message.

The Mysterious Collection Of Dr. David Harleyson
Jean Cassels
Walker & Company
104 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10011
0802789161 $17.95 1-800-289-2553

Specifically written and illustrated by Jean Cassels for young readers ages 4 to 8, The Mysterious Collection Of Dr. David Harleyson is an amusing mystery picturebook. The world-renowned painter Dr. David Harleyson has disappeared, and his nephew must find him by tracing clues on the backs of Dr. David's most recent paintings. The artwork amazingly renders animal favorites from classic rhymes and tales such as the Itsy Bitsy Spider, one Bill Goat Gruff, the Cat (and the Fiddle), and much more. Various notes and clues piece together a story in this inventive and original picture book sure to stimulate young minds. Highly recommended.

Cyril The Mandrill
Francesca Greco
Star Bright Books
42-26 28th Street, Suite 2C, Long Island City, NY 11101
193206592X $16.95 1-800-788-4439

With a thoroughly "young reader friendly" text and watercolor illustrations by writer/artist Francesca Greco, Cyril The Mandrill is an upbeat allegorical tale. Cyril isn't like other monkeys at the zoo; he is a mandrill with unique facial coloring and markings. Everyone wants to see Cyril at the zoo, but other animals make fun of him and his strange face. Yet when winter comes and the animals are moved indoors, the monkeys quickly realize that Cyril's colors are a vibrant reminder of the outside world, and learn to appreciate his differences. A simplistic, childlike quality to the artwork contributes to the endearing quality of this cheerful tale.

Little Tom Turkey
Frances Bloxam & Jim Sollers
Down East Books
PO Box 679, Camden, ME 04843
0892726717 $15.95 1-800-685-7962

Award-winning artist Jim Sollers' superbly executed illustrations for Frances Bloxam's Little Tom Turkey will enable young readers ages 3 and up to thoroughly enjoy this original story of the youngest of ten wild turkey chicks. While his mother tries to teach her brood important survival lessons about finding food and avoiding danger, Little Tom can't stop thinking about what he really wants to do - walk tall and proud like the Big Gobbler. But Little Tom is small and doesn't yet have a long tail, striking red, white and blue colorations on his head, or a handsome "beard". When he tries to strut like the great birds do, he just topples over! Little Tom doesn't realize yet that that all these things come with time and nature, and he should just concentrate on learning what young turkeys need to know. A delightful read-aloud tale, with an underlying theme of learning courage and patience.

The Cookbook Shelf

Cooking For Beginners
Usborne Cooking School
EDC Publishing
PO Box 470663, Tulsa, OK 74146-6515
0794507344 $7.95 1-800-475-4522

The newest addition to the "Usborne Cooking School" school series, Cooking For Beginners take young children step-by-step through the preparation of easy-to-prepare, palate pleasing, appetite satisfying recipes with thorough and easy-to-follow explanations of what to do and how to do it. Along with sections on "Before you begin" and "Cooking hints", the individual dishes range from Cheesy Beef Burgers; to Crusty Bread Pizzas, to Shrimp and Pepper Curry, and so many more! Other titles in this outstanding, inexpensive, fully illustrated, and thoroughly "kid friendly" cookbook series are Pasta And Pizza; Cakes And Cookies; and Vegetarian Cooking For Beginners.

The Folktale/Folklore Shelf

Elephant Prince
Amy Novesky & Belgin K. Wedman
Mandala Publishing
17 Paul Dr., San Rafael, CA 94903
1886069166 $16.95 1-800-688-2218

Elephant Prince: The Story Of Ganesh will serve to entertainingly introduce the elephant headed Hindu god to young readers ages 4 to 8. Belgin K. Wedman's superb illustrations are a perfect story-telling showcase to talented children's author Amy Novesky's story set in the Himalayas during a time of gods and goddesses. Elephant Prince does not recount the commonest version of Ganesh's origin, in which Parvati creates a child from earth and her husband Shiva is so surprised by the stranger he cuts the boy's head off; instead, Elephant Prince draws upon a classic Indian text entitled "Brahma Vaivarta Purana" to present a version in which Parvati wishes for a child and to her delight has her wish granted, yet tragedy strikes when the god Shani (Saturn) accidentally destroys the child's head, for whatever powerful Shani gazes upon is instantly obliterated. The merciful god Vishnu brings the boy back to life with the aid of a wise old elephant, who chooses to sacrifice himself so that the child may be restored. And so Ganesh lives again with the head of an elephant, and becomes skilled at writing down stories. The elephant will live forever, and Ganesh lives and is loved by all - especially his mother. The stunning watercolor artwork with gold leaf highlights was deliberately created in style of the Kangra school of painting, developed in India during the 16th century. Highly recommended.

Grandma Lena's Big Ol' Turnip
Denia Lewis Hester & Jackie Urbanovic
Albert Whitman & Company
6340 Oakton Street, Morton Grove, IL 60053-2723
0807530271 $15.95 1-800-255-7675

Grandma Lena's Big Ol' Turnip is a soul-food picturebook adaptation of an old Russian folktale which is wonderfully illustrated by the fetching artwork of Jackie Urbanovic. A grand tall tail about woman who takes good care of her garden; the biggest turnip in it is so humongous that Grandma Lena, Uncle Isadore, Aunt Netty, and the dog can't make it budge! Who will make the difference? Exuberant color pictures add a whimsical touch to this cheerful tale with a positive message: "Anything worth doing is worth doing right".

The Bilingual Shelf

My Name Is Celia
Monica Brown & Rafael Lopez
Rising Moon/Northland Publishing
PO Box 1389, Flagstaff, AZ 86002
087358872X $15.95 1-800-346-3257

The debut title in Rising Moon's "Luna Rising" series of bilingual Latino storybook-biography series for young readers, My Name Is Celia: The Life Of Celia Cruz/Me llamo Celia: La vida de Celia Cruz is written by Monica Brown and colorfully illustrated by Rafael Lopez honoring Cuban-born salsa queen Celia Cruz. Tracing her life from her early childhood in Havana to her musical achievement and worldwide fame, My Name Is Celia tells her story in rhythmic verse, and the artwork practically leaps off the page from sheer enthusiasm. A bright and energetic picturebook that is just plain fun to read aloud.

The American History Shelf

Shelley Tanaka & David Craig
Hyperion Books
77 West 66th St., NY, NY 10023-6298
0786818824 $16.99 1-800-759-0190

The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 usually is written up for older audiences, so it's nice to see a picturebook coverage of one of the most famous disasters in American history, for kids in grades 2-4. In Earthquake! , all of the color drawings and black and white photos provide eye-catching detail of the events.

O Say Can You See?
Sheila Keenan
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
043942450X $16.95 1-800-242-7737

The many symbols of American liberty are part of our culture but rarely receive clear explanation for youngsters under one title, so choose Sheila Keenan's O Say Can You See? A fine survey of American historic symbols is provided, from an explanation and history of why the Liberty Bell is cracked to early designs for the US flag and why the current design was chosen. Color drawings throughout enhance /sgeuka Keenan's informative survey.

The World History Shelf

Knights & Castles
Alex Martin
Two-Can Publishing
c/o Creative Publishing International
Media Masters (publicity)
18705 Lake Drive East, Chanhassen, MN 55317-9384
1587284413 $19.95 1-800-328-0590

Part of the impressive "Picture That!" series for young readers, Knights & Castles utilizies paintings from famous European artists such as Jean Fuquet, Pieter Bruegel the Young, and Paolo Uccello to illustrate Alex Martin's informed and informative text about life in the mid-fourteenth century. Describing the life of a knight in 1350, Knights & Castles goes into fascinating historical detail about jousting, courting a lady, hunting deer, and more. Sidebars offer tidbits of information about the artists who created the classical works used to illustrate daily life nearly seven hundred years ago. Fascinating reading for the young and old alike, and highly recommended.

Ancient Egyptians
Fiona MacDonald
Collins/Trafalgar Square
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, North Pomfret, VT 05053-0257
0007153767 $17.99 1-800-423-4525

While Fiona MacDonald's Ancient Egyptians was originally designed to accompany a British TV series, it needn't only be considered for British viewers alone: kids around the world will appreciate this visual treat, packed with color illustrations throughout and providing a survey based on major themes in the history of Ancient Egypt. From temple murders to buried treasure and desert tombs, history comes to life in an unusual manner blending contemporary approaches and images with historical fact.

The Photography Shelf

Eyewitness: Photography
DK Publishing
375 Hudson St., New York NY 10014
0756605423 $19.99

DK's best-selling Eyewitness series for kids republishes classics with new covers and eight pages of brand new material to extend the content, but Eyewitness Photography isn't one of these reprints: it's an entirely new addition to a popular series, offering a history of photography from its roots to modern digital camera phones. Experiments, insights, and pages packed with color make Eyewitness Photography another winning addition to the series.

The Music Shelf

Silly Critter Talk
Schoolhouse Records
201 South Second Avenue, Suite 22, Highland Park, NJ 08904
SHR 0025-2 $10.98

With original compositions by the multi-talented artist Dawnie who provides an energetic and thoroughly "kid friendly" performance for each of her songs, Silly Critter Talk is an enthusiastic, entertaining, educational, and interactive CD recording supported by a blending of rich vocals, catchy guitar riffs, lively rhythms, and melodic keys. The selections comprising this highly recommended, professionally album for young children and engaged parents include Little Caterpillar; Adventures of Chipee Chipmunk; Teeny Tiny Tadpole; Catch Me If You Can; Ouch! Don't Pet The Bumble Bees; Dorothy Dolphin; Dawnie Says; and Silly Critter Talk.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Smart Apple
1980 Lookout Dr, N. Mankato, MN 56003

Two fine new "Looking After Your Pets" guides by Claire Hibbert combine very bright, contemporary color photos with practical advice on how to care for pets. Cat (1583404317, $27.10) tells the basics of how to own a cat and care for it; Dog (1583404309, $27.10) discusses vacations, breeding, and more. All use photos of pets and their families for added emphasis.

Zoo Album
Richard Morecroft & Alison Mackay
Karen Lloyd-Diviny, illustrator
Enchanted Lion Books
115 West 18th Street, 6th floor, New York, NY 10011
1592700322 $17.95 1-888-330-8477

Karen Lloyd-Diviny's artwork illustrating Richard Morecroft and Alison Mackay's informative text about the kinds of animals a visitor to the zoo would be apt to encounter is of museum quality work. Zoo Album takes the reader on a tour of various amazing real animals living in zoos. The animals' keepers offer insightful comments about a Komodo dragon so fearless that the keeper could simply take it for a walk to its new cage rather than ship it in a box, and the tasmanian devil who loves to scavenge, a talent her keepers encourage by dragging the food around her living area and putting it in a different hiding place every time. A fact-filled picturebook introducing young readers to amazing facts about truly fantastic animals.

The Preschool Shelf

ABC: Letters In The Library
Bonnie Farmer & Chum McLeod
Lobster Press
1620 Sherbrooke Street, West, Montreal, Quebec, H3H 1C9, Canada
1894222873 $15.95 1-800-565-9523

In Bonnie Farmer's ABC: Letters In The Library, childeren ages 2 to 7 will enjoy the cheerfully colorful illustrations of Chum McLeod as they explore the alphabet, narrated in sentences with library themes: "A: Aisles of authors are arranged alphabetically / B: Beautiful books dazzle browsing bookworms / C: Humming computers collect countless call numbers". The vibrant images by award-winning Ontario native Chum McLeod add a visually compelling touch to this free-spirited introduction to the alphabet.

The 1, 2, 3 Bees
Nicole Wheldon & Diana Zourelias-Noro
Acmon Blue Publishing
PO Box 475, Tujunga, CA 91043
0974479217 $17.95

Conceived and written by Nicole Wheldon, with illustrations by Diana Zourelias-Noro for preschoolers, The 1, 2, 3 Bees: A Counting Book is a whimsical poem that teachings young ones about counting from one to ten. The sprightly color pictures of little bees waking up and buzzing about their daily routine add an appealing touch to the simple rhyme. A cheery introduction to numbers and counting.

My Grandma Could Do Anything
Ric Dilz
Rein Designs, Inc.
2450 Central Avenue, Suite C, Boulder, CO 80301
0975870408 $6.95 1-800-432-7346

Written and illustrated by Rick Dilz (and preschool tested for entertainment value!), My Grandma Could Do Anything is a 6 inch by 6 inch, 30 page, brightly colored, whimsically funny storybook that provides a child's perspective on the wide ranging abilities of Grandma. Ideal for reading to a toddler child at bedtime or anytime.

The Alphabet Dance
Pauline Guy
Golden Eagle Publishing House
9201 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 205, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
0975353373 $15.99

Brightly illustrated and written for toddlers and preschoolers in a rhyming prose by Pauline Guy, The Alphabet Dance makes the letters come alive. Images show dancing letters along with creatures embodying a sample word starting with the letter: "A is for Apple / B is for Bear / C is for cuddly Cat sitting on the chair". The Alphabet Dance is just plain fun to read aloud, and a toe-tapping rhythmic treat to help little people learn their ABCs.

A Touch of Passover
Ari Sollish
Merkos Publications
291 Kingston Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11213
$8.00 Each

Ari Sollish's A Touch Of Passover holds the unusual distinction of being a board book presented in both English (0826600-212) and, separately, in Spanish (0826600-220): the 'touch and feel' format of each board book provides tactile reinforcement to the visual survey of Passover rituals. Boruch Becker provides the realistic drawings, from shiny wine cups with sticky red wine drops to the realistic feel of leather in a father's Haggadah book. An outstanding hands-on set of early impressions teaches the important foundations of Passover.

Books in Series

Enslow Publishers
PO Box 398, 40 Industrial Road, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922-0398
$18.95 Each

Three new series biographies blend history with facts to provide full-faceted biographical sketches of major figures. New to the 'Explorers!' series for grades 3-4 is Sandra Kachurek's Francisco Pizarro: Explorerer Of South America (0766021785) and Arlene Bourgeois Molzahn's La Salle: Explorer Of The Mississippi (0766-021416): each providing 48 pages including an index, bibliography and glossary. New to the 'Famous Inventors' series is Patricia J. Murphy's Grace Hopper: Computer Whiz (0766022730) tells of a woman concerned about making computers easier for people to use. The 'Great Minds of Science' series ($26.60 each) will appeal to older readers in grades 4-10 with 128 pages of biographical and scientific facts: here, choose Mary Gow's Robert Boyle: Pioneer Of Experimental Chemistry (0766025012) or John Blankston's Stephen Hawking: Breaking The Boundaries Of Time And Space (0766022811): each covering the scientists' lives and major discoveries. All promise lasting reference value.

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Rd, Tarrytown NY 10591

It's multi-volume reference sets for grades 4-6 where Cavendish really shines, providing references promising lasting value to libraries careful with budgets and lasting research applications. Take their Explorers And Exploration set (11 volumes, 07-61475354, $329.95): because each book holds 80 pages of facts, it's most accessible to this age group without being overwhelming in appearance. Kids are always assigned reports: each volume has a segment of the A-Z alphabet covering selected explorers. Volume 1, for example, covers explorers from Alexander the Great to Gertrude Bell. And each explorer receives 3-4 pages which include either black and white or color photos, maps, illustrations, charts, and overviews with enough detail to begin a report. Or take Peoples Of Eastern Asia (0761475478, $329.95): this 11-book set offers 48-page references for grades 3-5, with each volume covering 1-3 countries in Asia and each country listing including several maps, history, cultural coverages, and color photos. It's rare to see such color combined with practical overviews for this age group. There's also something for the middle school and high school readers which can extend into public library holdings in the 11-volume Gods, Goddesses And Mythology set (0761475591, $459.95): almost 150 pages to each coverage is perfect for this audience. Each listing in the A-Z set comes packed with color photos and sidebars of information, and each includes a number of in-depth, detailed pages of history and overviews of beliefs. Also for this audience/age group is the extensive 17-volume Encyclopedia Of Family Health (076147-4862, $499.95): this appearing in its third updated edition to reflect the latest facts and research. Each volume offers definitions of major diseases, illnesses and conditions, causes, diagnosis and treatment. The entire family will want to use this; making it a solid home reference - but most probably an essential library reference, as few families will afford its price tag. Also for high school and into college-lvel audiences is the 3-volume set History Of World War II (076147482X, $249.95): over 300 pages per volume accompany in-depth articles discussing military and social issues during the war. The volumes divide into topics: Origins And Outbreak, Global War, and Victory And Aftermath. The three topics allows for excellent discussions accompanied by maps and b/w vintage photos throughout.

Benchmark Books/Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Rd, Tarrytown NY 10591

Benchmark provides high-quality sets promising lasting library references to kids in grades 4-6, and these new arrivals represent some top pick 'musts' for discriminating school libraries. The 'Drugs: Facts About' series ($26.95 each) titles each hold a little over a hundred pages of facts which blend history, cultural and social insights, and medical facts about drugs. A few black and white photos pepper each title but it's the text, filled with terminology explanations and facts, which are the meat of these coverages. New additions include Ted Gottfried's Marijuana (0761418067) and Alcohol (07614180509), Suzanne LeVert's Steroids (0761418083) and Ecstasy (0761418075), and Francha Roffe Menhard's Inhalants (0761418091). The 'Supreme Court Milestones' series ($25.95 each) offers an unusual approach to placing legal and social issues in the hands of a young audience than is usually seen for the topic. Susan Dudley Gold has three winner: Roe V. Wade: A Woman's Choice? (0761418393), Brown V. Board Of Education: Separate But Equal? (0761418423) and Pentagon Papers: Natl Security Or The Right To Know (0761418431), and Corinne J. Naden and Rose Blue have two: Marbury V. Madison: Court's Foundation (0761418407) and Dred Scott: Person Or Property? (0761418415). Each provides a healthy overview, from background U.S. history and culture to legal precedents and the lasting ramifications of each decision.

Ozark Publishing
PO Box 228, Prairie Grove, AR 72753

Ozark's character development books represent something new for very early readers: each book uses animals and stories to emphasize a character-building point, juxtaposing a color drawing-enhanced story with a basic lesson for grades 2-3. The 'Colorado Cowboy' series by Dave and Pat Sargent enjoys drawings by Jane Lenoir and provides cowboy adventures with the character lesson sentence printed on the cover of each book. Thus character-building stories are offered in Buying Heifers (1593810962, $16.80) with the lesson 'don't give up, Broken Cinch (159-3810946, $16.80) about staying neat; Breaking Horses (159381092X, $16.80) with the lesson on sticking to the job; Branding Time (1593810180, $16.80) about teamwork; The Fire (1593811047, $16.80) on giving second chances; The Drought (1593811020, $16.80) on having faith; Colorado Blizzard (1593810261, $16.80) on perseverance; The Chuck Wagon (1593810989, $16.80) about stubbronness; Cattle Rustlers (1593811004, $16.80) about stealing; and Calving Time (1593810202, $16.80), covering lessons. Any youngster interested in cowboys will readily absorb the lessons while learning more about cowboy jobs. This isn't the only character-building series by Ozark, however. Dave and Pat Sargent's 'Young Animal Pride Series ($9.95 each) are realistically and engaging illustrated by Elaine Woodward and are intended for grades K-1 with very simple one-line sentences illustrating animal habits and easy character-building messages, again featured on each cover. Thus, choose from Young Peggy (1567638872) about a young porcupine who wanders off; Young Tunnel King (156763883X) telling of a gopher's perseverance, Young Amy (156-7638910) about an anteater who needs to pay attention; Young Bandit (1567638-899) about a weasel who helps others; Young Bobby (1567638813) offering a lesson on following others; Young Chrissy (1567638759) teaching the importance of obeying parents; Young White Thunder (1567638732) about leadership; Young Dawn (1567638775) on a deer's friendships; Young Sammy (1256763891) about a skunk who smells; and Young Big Jake (1567638856) about a curious baby mouse overly confident. Nor do the publisher's offerings stop here: Daina Sargent and illustrator Jane Lenoir work together on the 'Double Trouble' stories of twins Matt and Liz who travel through time to early states and learn lessons on teamwork in Missouri (1593811268) and on conquering fear in Kansas (1593811241); Pat L. Sargent and Janet Lenoir provide The Cheetah (1567639739, $18.50) for older grades 2-4 which has only black and white drawings but covers a cheetah's confrontation; and the publisher's 'Story Keepers Stories' ($9.95 each/$226.00 for 10/vol set) teaches learning skills in 42-page books for grades 2-4 using Native American stories with Dave and Pat Sargent and Sue Rogers (illustrated by Jane Lenoir)'s Fierce Warriors (1567639151) to teach character development; showing respect Truth, Power And Freedom (1567639-399); being responsible Bundle Keeper (1567639372), being giving Tattoos Of Honor (1567639356), compassion Summer Milky Way (156763933X), learning lessons Rays Of The Sun (1567639313), using talent On The Banks Of The Wallowa (1567639275), being curious Ladder At The Door (1567639216) and being helpful Valley Oak Acorns (1567639410). Excellent lessons go beyond the usual moral story alone to embed the message in stories which teach skills or cultural lessons as well.

Gareth Stevens
330 W. Olive #100, Milwaukee, WI 53212
$17.50 Each

Various writers re-tell the works of major authors in the new Gareth Stevens 'Great American Short Stories series, placing each of them in an unusually easy format to make them accessible to elementary-level readers in grades 4-6. It's refreshing to see a collection for this grade level, which will set the foundation for a later introduction to the complete, unedited work. Each title opens with a brief biography of the author, three re-done selected major short stories, and a fine 'for further thinking' section of questions which invite kids to reflect on the stories. Washington Irving (0836842537) presents Rip Van Winkle and two other classics, Mark Twain (0836842553) presents 'The Jumping Frog' and four others, Edith Wharton (0836842561) holds The Pomegranate Seed and one other, Edgar Allan Poe (0836842545) provides 'Tell-Tale Heart' and three others, Willa Cather (0836842-510) holds 'Paul's Case' and two others, and Nathaniel Hawthorne (0836842529) presents 'The Birthmark' and two others. The length of the stories depends on how many are included in each collection.

Greenhaven Press/Gale San Diego
10911 Technology Place, San Diego, CA 92127

The Greenhaven "Contemporary Issues Companion" series of nonfiction discussions holds plenty of detailed arguments and discussions perfect independent study and highschool classroom curriculum enrichment. Muslims In America (0737723-157, $34.95), for example, surveys the history and social experiences of Muslim men and women in this country. The diverse articles are written from different perspectives thereby offering very different viewpoints. Joan Brodsky Schur's The Arabs (0737721480, $34.95) covers a century of Arab immigration to this country and tackling such contemporary and important issues as regional neighborhood experiences, anti-Arab discrimination before and after 9/11, and more. Bradley Steffens' The Free Speech Movement (0737711566, $34.95) surveys the promise, limits and potentials of free speech, with articles discussing both civil rights and social liberties issues and the rights of states and regions to determine free speech issues. Readers concerned about drugs and mental disorders have three to choose from: Club Drugs (073771607X, $28.70) which surveys the dangers of recreational drug use; William Dudley's Antidepressants (0737719516, $34.95) which joins others in the 'History of Drugs' series covering who antidepressants were initially slow to catch on but now are everywhere; and Melissa Abramovitz's Bipolar Disorder (1590185897, $28.70), adding to the 'Diseases and Disorders' series in surveying an increasingly common disorder.

Crabtree Books
350 5th Avenue, #3308, NY, NY 10118
$16.95 Each

Four new series batches of titles are recommended for discriminating elementary-level library holdings seeking curriculum-based materials for grades 3-5. Three new Native American titles provide regional focus and histories: Nations Of The Eastern Great Lakes (0778703819) contrasts Great Lakes tribes, from the Wendat to the Eries, providing a focus on an area not typically contrasted. From village life and trading to contact with the Europeans and conflict, the structure and interactions of these nations receive solid focus. Life Of The Powhatan (0778703800) outlines the lives of the tribe of the Delaware area, revealing their lives, habits, and leaders. A rare glimpse at West Coast tribal life - something sorely needed in Native coverages which tend to focus on the East and Midwest, is Life Of The California Coast Nations (0778703827), telling of village groups, clans, and lives. Each volume holds plenty of realistic color drawings throughout to maintain attention. The 'Life in Ancient' series expands with some wonderful focuses on various ancient old-world countries and their histories. Paul Challen's Life In Ancient Egypt (0778720381) and Life In Ancient China (0778720373) employ plenty of colorful sidebars and numerous eye-catching drawings per page to discuss science, language and daily life in Egypt and China, Lynn Peppas' Life In Ancient Mesoamerica (077872039X) and Life In Ancient Greece (0778720357) surveys daily life, early belief systems, and the evolution of culture in both ancient regions; Shilpa Mehta-Jones' Life In Ancient Mesopotamia (0778720366) and Life In Ancient Rome (0778720349) each cover the early arts, culture and lifestyles of the peoples of each region. The books excel in eye-catching color drawings and illustrations along with facts suitable for reports. If it's Medieval and Middle Ages times kids are studying, make sure they don't miss the Medieval series Life In A Medieval Monastery (0778713520), Medieval Towns, Trade And Travel (0778713504) and Life On A Medieval Manor (0778713539) these add to a growing series of narrowed focus titles, each holding 32 pages including an index and glossary. Pages covering life reveal the lifestyles of both peasants and lords, court life and farming life, and religious life in a monastery. Four new Middle Ages focuses are Science And Technology (0778713547), Food And Feasts In The Middle Ages (0778713-482), Children And Games In The Middle Ages (0778713490), and Arts And Literature (0778713555): each offering chapters of focus on major trends, discoveries, issues, and peoples of the times. Adding to the 'Land, People and Culture' sets focussing on different countries is the most timely Iraq: The Culture (0778793206), The Land (0778793184) and The People (0778793192). Each offers the standard 32 pages of facts, color photos, and geography material suitable for reports. Again: exceptional color and eye-catching graphics makes all of these most appealing.

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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