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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 4 April 2006 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Music Shelf Biography Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Video/DVD Shelf Language Studies Shelf
Audiobook Shelf Picturebook Shelf American History Shelf
Religion/Spirituality Shelf Fiction Shelf Books in Series

Reviewer's Choice

Pompeii: Lost And Found
Mary Pope Osborne
Knopf/Random House
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019
0375828893 $16.95

Frescoes by Bonnie Christensen accompany a lively history of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 70, which changed the world of one of the richest towns in the Roman Empire. Pope recreates life in early Pompeii pre-eruption and artist Christensen illustrates each scene with frescoes using the same colors and style as the ancient wall paintings unearthed at Pompeii: together they recreate a bygone era, using archaeological evidence as the foundation for discovery.

Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012

Four new titles provide kids with great leisure choices and variety. Kristiana Gregory's contribution to the 'Royal Diaries' series is Catherine: The Great Journey (04-39253853, $10.99): set in Russia in 1743, it provides the story of Catherine, selected to be the future king's fiancιe. Catherine's diary charts her uncertainty and fate in this lively historical story of a true figure in early Russian history. Elizabeth Kay's novel Jinx On The Divide (0439724554, $16.99) provides a conclusion to the Divide trilogy: Felix is back in school but when the class bully gets hold of the magical lamp and accidentally frees the djinn inside, the bully is trapped. What seems to be a problem becomes even more so when Rhino the bully discovers new powers inside the lamp. Suzanne Collins' Gregor And The Curse Of The Warmbloods (0439656230, $16.95) provides Book 3 of the Gregor encounters in the 'Underland Chronicles'. Here Gregor's mother stands in the way of his return to the Underland to help fight a plague – until a rat assures the family Gregor won't be there long. Gregor's mother insists on coming along – and together they confront biological warfare in this charged fantasy. Kathryn Lasky's Portraits: Dancing Through Time (043971009X, $9.99) introduces 18th century Paris and Sylvie, a pupil at the Paris Opera Ballet who hopes to become a prima ballerina – until war breaks out. Can a ballerina hope to achieve her goals even in the face of a national crisis?

Every Kid Needs A Marshmallow Launcher
Richard & Candice Elton
Gibbs Smith
PO Box 667, Layton, UT 84041
1586857088 $19.95

Not for library lending but very much recommended for home fun is Every Kid Needs A Marshmallow Launcher: A Project-Oriented Guide To putting together PVC pipe to make a launcher. A wide range of launcher models and options are revealed, offering kids plenty of options, while tips on loading, launching and customizing offer ideas and games and targets too. Highly recommended: a unique, fun idea book for active kids and active parents.

Anthony And The Magic Picture Frame
Michael S. Class
Magic Picture Frame Studio
PO Box 2603, Issaquah, WA 98027-0119
0974926906 $35.00 1-425-222-7562

Anthony And The Magic Picture Frame is an informative exploration for children into the history of America and the world. Anthony And The Magic Picture Frame offers young readers an incredible depiction and encouraging read for many of the great historical markers of America's history as twelve-year-old Anthony travels the world, and even to the moon. Included are the first lunar landing, Charles Lindbergh's first New-York to Paris flight, WWI and WWII, Edison's first electric lamp, and so much more specifically designed and deftly written in a child-friendly and educational format. Anthony And The Magic Picture Frame is very strongly recommended -- especially to all parents wishing for an accurate and expansive education of American history for their children.

Children's Book Press
2211 Mission Street, San Francisco CA 94110

Two lovely new titles are top picks from this publisher. Uma Krishnaswami's The Closet Ghosts (0892392088, $16.95) tells of a move to a new home where resident closet ghosts threaten. It's a job for the Hindu monkey god all right – and Anu is happy when he answers her call for help – until she realizes he too may be powerless against this new home's threat. Lovely drawings invite kids in grades 3-5 to enjoy. Anthony D. Robles' Lakas And The Makibaka Hotel (0892392134, $16.95) presents an unusual bilingual English-Tagalog story set in the US as a musical with decidedly modern overtones. Lakas' new friends face a crisis when their beloved hotel home is bout to be sold. They have only 30 days to leave – unless they can join forces and neighborhood sentiments to make a different. Carl Angel's lovely and zesty colorful paintings spice a pleasing tale based on a real San Francisco event.

Crabtree Publishers
350 – 5th Ave., #3308, NY, NY 10118
$19.95 each

Ages 6-8 seeking guided reading chapter books will find the 'Go Bananas' stories most accessible: each holds about 43 pages of story and combines fun activities with facts and story lines. Kasthryn White and Ruth Rivers' Snowshoe The Hare (0778726770) tells of worried a worried white rabbit who fears melting in the snow (weather facts and activities abound), William Bedford and Sophie Joyce's The Glowworm Who Lost Her Glow (077872-6304) tells of a glowworm who searches for her lost glow (activities provide facts on light and dark), Sue Mayfield and Garry Parsons' The Four Franks (0778726-290) tells of a special birthday present toy which is lost (activities relate to the story), Pippa Goodhart and Philip Hurst's Fire Cat (0778726754) is set in 1666 when London is on fire and accompanies facts about the Great Fire of London, Nicola Moon and Mark Oliver's Margarine And Marbles (0778726762) tells how two boys use margarine and marbles to solve a tricky problem (a bowling game project included here), Julia Donaldson and Liz Pichon's Spinderella (0778726282) tells of a spider who can't count the goals in soccer to win (counting and dividing instructions included), Franzeska Ewart and Mark Oliver's Speak Up, Spike! (077872-722X) tells of a scary shadow and a boy's fear of the dark (shadow facts included), Richard Moverley and David Dean's The Reluctant Rajput (0778727238) tells of a boy who has the chance to defeat the entire Mughal army (India facts and food story included), Susan Ashe and Robin Lawrie's Cuda Of The Celts (0778727-203) tells of Cuda's aid to a frightened Roman boy and his desire to help her in return (facts on Roman and Celt times included), Malorie Blockman and Deborah Allwright's Sinclair Wonder Bear (0778-726312) tells of a bear who spends the night helping people out (activities cover different materials), Helen Dunmore's Tara's Tree House (0778727211) tells of a bored girl who finds delights in a garden (World War II facts included), and Chris d'Lacey and Thomas Taylor's Franklin's Bear (077872676) tells of Ben Franklin and his bear, inventors (electricity facts included). In blending an appealing, easy story with facts supported by activities, the 'Go Bananas' series holds strong educational and entertainment appeal.

Farrar Straus Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003

Satoshi Kitamura's Pablo The Artist (037-4356874, $16.00) provides a fun new tale from the Hoof Lane Art Club which aspiring young artists will love. Palo dreams of having a picture in the exhibition: but nothing he paints is good enough for him to enter. Will his self-criticism keep him from doing what he loves best? A fine story of painting and self-confidence evolves. Emily Arnold McCully's Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became An Inventor (0374348103, $16.00) is based on the true story of a female inventor around the turn of the century, but reads like fiction and thus is featured here. Mattie loves to make things at an early age and loves to invent whenever a challenge comes up – but she lives during a time when women are believed to be unable to understand mechanical concepts. Her battle for recognition brought her all the way to the patent office and makes for a lively story of one girl's determination to succeed against all gender odds.

The Music Shelf

Spin Your Web
Mary Kaye
Mary Kaye Music
5 Old Mill Rd, South Berwick, ME 03908
MKM3117 CD $15.00

Spin Your Web featuring the musical talents of child inspiringly gifted and original artist Mary Kaye is an impressively produced collection of encouraging and intimate songs. Introducing its young listeners to an entertaining confluence of lyrics and musical rhythm, Spin Your Web inspires as it stimulates the minds and imaginations of its young listeners. Included in the tracklist of Spin Your Web are the songs B.B. Dickinson (2:48), Shadow (2:08), Pig Party (2:13), Porcupine Path (2:25), Child (3:09), The Skeleton Song (2:17), Let's Get Dressed (1:51), Ten Robins (2:05), Waiting (2:50), Building A Ladder (2:57), Soup (3:17), Blueberry Dreams (2:52) and the track title Spin Your Web (2:51). Total Running Time: 34:30.

Best Friends: Songs From The Heart
Maya & Miguel
Madacy Entertainment Group
528 West 49th Street, Miami, FL 33140
MLT251862 $7.98

Best Friends: Songs From The Heart from Madacy Latino and PBS KIDS GO!'s Maya and Miguel is an outstanding album themed with fourteen popular songs pertaining to friendship and relationships. Exploring the values of friends and family, Best Friends: Songs From The Heart acts as an introduction to the truths of intimacy, as well as an impressively entertaining collection of songs that have touched the hearts of many. The playlist is comprised of: Beautiful Life; Blowin' in the Wind; Bridge Over Troubled Water; Graduation (Friends Forever); Happy Together; I Wanna Be With You; I'd Like to Teach the World To Sing; Imagine; Lean On Me; Stop! in the Name of Love; We Are Family; and You've Got A Friend.

Reggae Playground
Putumaya Kids
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas (publicity)
5505 SW Illinois St., Portland, OR 97221
P246-A $14.99

Showcasing upbeat reggae style songs from the Caribbean and around the world and performed by some of the best artists drawn from Jamaica, Trinidad, and elsewhere, Reggae Playground is comprised of Rootsman Dread (Johnny Dread); Turning World (Eric Bibb); Le Vieil Elephant (Alain Schneider); Let's Dance (Judy Mowatt); Mon Petit Bonhomme (Mousta Largo); Pat Gulipat (Tony Q Rastafara); Here Comes the Sun (The Burning Souls); Mouse in the House (Marty Dread); Ying Yang (Jessica); As Meninas dos Meus Olhos (Kal dos Santos); Reggae Lullaby (Asheba); Harambe (Rita Marley); and Take Me Home Country Roads (Toots and the Maytals). Reggae Playground is welcome and much appreciated contribution to children's CD music collections for young listeners and their families!

Moving Rhymes For Modern Times
Jim Gill
Jim Gill Inc.
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas (publicity)
5505 SW Illinois St., Portland, OR 97221
Music CD $15.00

Drawn from the mastered works of early childhood development specialist Jim Gill, Moving Rhymes For Modern Times is a lively and eclectic collection of music focused on giving children a time to play and potentially explore a more intuitive and thought provoking media. Loaded with fun and inspiring songs, Moving Rhymes For Modern Times enables children to have a good time listening to music that will enable them to learn a more natural perspective of modern media for that which cannot be taught. Moving Rhymes For Modern Times includes a track list of Hello, I Must Be Going (1:21), Swing Your Partner (3:03), Tromboning (1:59), Jump Up, Turn Around (2:28), Face The Facts (1:59), Jim Gill's Groove (2:44), California (3:01), Sliding, Rolling and Jumping (2:22), Rhythm in My Fingers (3:28), Strollin' Down The Road (3:06), Delay on the Freeway (4:39), Drumming in the House (3:30), and Backwards Day (3:29), Family Goodbyes (3:37).

Divirtamonos Aprendiendo con Hap Palmer
Hap Palmer
Hap-Pal Music
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas
5505 SW Illinois St. Portland, OR 97221
HP115 $14.95

Divirtamonos Aprendiendo con Hap Palmer (Let's Have Fun Learning With Hap Palmer) by Hap Palmer is an easy-to-follow 66 minute introduction and exploration of the Spanish language for English speaking children ages 4 to 10 (and the English language for Spanish speaking children within the same age bracket ) just beginning to learn, as well as those children wishing to retain their current knowledge of the language. With a wide understanding and coverage of youth Spanish/English, Divirtamonos Aprendiendo con Hap Palmer covers both fun and educational aspects of each language with a track set consisting of La arana pequenita (The Itsy Bitsy Spider), Creciendo (Growing), Que milagro (What a Miracle), Doy gracias (Things I'm Thankful For), Sammy/Soy feliz de ser como soy (Sammy/I'm Glad I'm Glad I'm Me), Veamos a los colores moverse (Colors in Motion), Un Reloj feliz (Jolly Clock), ΏComo te llamas? (What is Your Name?), Pon las manos arriba (Put Your Hands Up in the Air), Cinco monitos (Five Little Monkeys), La bolsita de frijoles (The Beanbag), Saliendo a la ciudad (Stepping Out on the Town).

What A Way To Play!
Debi Derryberry
4River Records
Waldmania! (publicity)
PO Box 2726, Toluca Lake, Ca 91610
67735-701762 $12.00

Debi Derry berry is the voice of the popular cartoon character Jimmy Neutron. Drawing upon her many years of experience and expertise playing music, Debi Derryberry's debut CD of children's music which incorporates an eclectic blend of rock, jazz, blues and country, is an ideal, toe-tapping, hand-clapping entertainment for preschool and kindergarten kids. The pieces comprising this highly recommended and deftly recorded collection include: My Dog's My Buddy (2:08); The Wheels on the Bus (3:45); Baby Banana (2:45); What a Way to Play (1:58); Lollipop Tree (3:29); Nose (3:46); Itsy Bitsy Spider (2:30); Raisin Fingers (3:13); Pippity Pop (1:51); The ABC Song (2:02); This Land is Your Land (2:59); and Little Cowboy (3:08).

Come And Make A Circle 2
Susan Salidor
Peachhead Productions
c/o Waldmania!
130 Maywood Drive, S.F., CA 94127
CD $15.00

Children's performer and musician Susan Saildor has showcased twenty lively tunes for young listeners in her latest CD album, Come And Make A Circle 2. Included are songs to sing with, songs that teach, including these old favorites and new compositions: The Wheels on the Bus (3:31); Vocal Warmup (1:10); Hello Children! (1:31), Bom Bom Biddy (2:15), The Baby in the Cradle (0:59), One Little Hanukah Candle (1:15), Five Little Tulips Bulbs (1:13), Here's a Little Bird (1:19), I Saw Five Fish (2:32), One Potato, Two Potato (1:19), You're a Poet (2:17), I've Got Peace In My Fingers (1:38), I Have a Dream (2:00), When I Only Have a Minute (1:00), Mary Had a Little Lamb (3:21), Shortenin' Bread (2:14), Miss Lucy Had a Baby (1:54), Home on the Range (4:25), Before You Were Born (3:22), Shalom Chaverim (2:44).

The Biography Shelf

Paul Cezanne: A Painter's Journey
Robert Burleigh
115 W. 18th St., New York NY 100111
0810957841 $17.95

Paul Cezanne grew up in a rural town and received no family encourage to pursue his art, but despite this he was committed to painting and pursued his art with a steadfast vision. Paul Cezanne: A Painter's Journey follows his achievements and life, offering kids in grades 4-6 a little over thirty pages of detail on his life and times. Supplementing this biography are examples of his paintings from all stages of his career, with period photos and works by contemporaries offering strong contrast and background detail. A highly recommended pick for any collection offering kids an opportunity to learn about famous painters.

Robert E. Lee
Earle Rice Jr.
Morgan Reynolds Inc.
803 South Elam Avenue, Greensboro, NC 27403
1931798478 $24.95

Robert E. Lee: First Soldier Of The Confederacy is a biography for young adults about the famous Confederate general of the American Civil War, Robert E. Lee. From his early childhood, to the education he sought at West Point Military Academy in order to spare his impoverished mother the expense of paying for his tuition, to his difficult military career and his fateful decision to serve the Confederate army, to the late years of his life, Robert E. Lee: First Soldier Of The Confederacy chronicles the facts about Lee's contribution to history. Biographer Earle Rice Jr. also offers a glimpse into Lee's personality through chosen quotes, such as Lee's admonishment to a young man who thought his time in the army was wasted: "However long you live and whatever you accomplish, you will find that the time you spent in the Confederate army was the most profitably spent portion of your life." Black-and-white as well as color photographs and illustrations add a visual touch to this faithful and highly accessible chronicle of Robert E. Lee's life.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Awesome Ospreys
Donna Love
Mountain Press
PO Box 2399, Missoula, MT 59806
0878425128 $12.00

Paperbacks tend to lack the durability of library hardcover binding and generally aren't recommended for vigorous lending at the school level, but there are always exceptions and Awesome Ospreys: Fishing Birds Of The World is one of them. Joyce Mihran Turley provides realistic and gorgeous color drawings in a series of magnificent full-page displays complimented by osprey facts. Relatively little is written about ospreys for either children or adults, making Awesome Ospreys of interest to both audiences – and a highly recommended collection acquisition.

Boa Constrictors Up Close
Carmen Bredeson
Enslow Publishers
PO Box 398, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
0766024989 $21.26

Kids ages 6-8 in grades 1-3 will find this elementary primer on boa constrictors adds to Enslow's 'Zoom in on Animals' series with a little over twenty easy pages of bright information. Opening with an unusual 'words to know' page, chapters quickly discuss parts of the boa snake, its life cycle, and its actions, supplementing many colorful, dramatic close-up photos with facts. A perfect choice for kids who love dramatic pictures and clear facts.

The Video/DVD Shelf

Math Challenge
Schlessinger Media
7 East Wynnewood Road, Wyneewood, PA 19096-0580
DVD $19.95 each

Deftly presenting mathematics essentials to children, "Math Challenge" is a superbly produced DVD series featuring Matt Mattics, a Top Secret Agent on a mission to protect the world from the evil scientist known as Dr. Strangeglove. This entertaining educational series includes Number Patterns; Multiples And Factors; Integers; Fractions; Doubles And Halves; Decimals (Adding Subtracting And Comparing); Decimals; and Percentages, each of which is deftly presented in child-friendly ten to fifteen minute lessons which comprehensively explore the details and facts of its own particular subject area. "Math Challenge" is a definitive and effective presentation of every fundamental principle of an early and basic mathematical education in a fun and engaging format for children in grades 4-6, and is very strongly recommended to teachers, parents and librarians for their education and reference DVD collections.

Twenty Trucks
Hammershark Media
411 Video Information (publicity)
8606 North Woodland Court, Scottsdale, AZ 85258
DVD $14.95

Twenty Trucks is a fun and inventive new DVD video for children ages 1 to 8, presenting an informative and entertaining exploration into the world of trucks and the diverse purposes for which they were created to serve. Introducing its young viewers to twenty interesting trucks ranging from the commonplace to the highly unusual, Twenty Trucks entertains and amuses all ages of young viewers and includes world famous trucks, as well as the vacuum truck, grapple truck and so many more. Twenty Trucks is very strongly recommended for its engaging content from which parents will be delighted to see their children's anticipation and eagerness to display their recognition of all twenty trucks.

What Do You Do With The Mad That You Feel?
Family Communications
c/o Anchor Bay Entertainment
1699 Stutz Dr, Troy, MI 48084
DVD $14.98

Very highly recommended viewing for young children, What Do You Do With The Mad That You Feel?: Life Lessons: Self-Control, Expression And Healthy Outlets features Mister Rogers and his Neighborhood in an informative and fun exploration of emotions and anger management, which is ideal for teaching young viewers preventative and helpful understandings of how to deal with stressful problems or situations, and just how best they might assess the issues and stresses that make them angry. What Do You Do With The Mad That You Feel? offers an entertaining, non-threatening, and progressive explanation of the unknown hostile feelings and the control that children have over such feelings, engaging and teaching its viewers in an active and fun way with 57 minutes of rich entertainment. Enhanced with a booklist and care giving tips including things that can be done when children are angry, developing self-control, using words to express feelings, and finding constructive outlets, What Do You Do With The Mad That You Feel? is strongly commended for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library DVD collections.

Hip Hop For Kids
Jumping Fish Productions
Andrea Blain (publicity)
66 Compo Mill Cove, Westport CT 06880
DVD $24.95

Also available in a VHS format ($19.95), Hip Hop For Kids: Pop! Lock! And Break! from Jumping Fish Productions is an active and fun 60-minute DVD introduction to the wonderful hobby of hip-hop dancing for children. Teaching its viewers of the different techniques and progression of break dancing. Enhanced with a "Special Performance" by professional breakers Roger G, GG, Poker and Ms. Twist; and "Audition Combo" showing the dances performed at the audition for this outstanding DVD; "In Rehearsal" providing a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the DVD; "Pop Challenge" showcasing an advanced popping combination; and "Nutrition" for some get-smart tips for eating right; and a CD Soundtrack for dance party fun; and the dance soundtrack and the dance song "The Harlem Shake", Hip Hop For Kids is very highly recommended for young viewers ages 7 to 16 who are searching for a new hobby or fun activity.

The Language Studies Shelf

Mommy Teach Me Spanish
Jeanne Keene
Fiesta Friends Productions
17 Meadow Ridge Lane, Purvis, MS 39475
DVD $14.99 each

Mommy Teach Me Spanish: Learn Volume 2 "Que Duermas Bien - Sweet Dreams from producer and director Jeanne Keene, and featuring narrations by Zack Hurst is a superbly produced and presented 31 minute DVD formatted introduction for young children to the interesting language of Spanish and its culture. Hosted by Fuerte the Chihuahua and his amigo Fuego, a chili pepper, Mommy Teach Me Spanish takes its viewers on an adventurous exploration of any nine year old's daily life, while informing and educating its viewers of the Spanish descriptive wordings, commands, phrases, numbers, nursery rhymes, numbers 1-20, bedtime routine and other popular sayings. Mommy Teach Me Spanish is commended to all parents with a desire to teach their child (age nine or below) Spanish as a second language. Also highly recommended is Mommy Teach Me Spanish: Volume 2 - "Tengo Hambre - I Am Hungry!" (DVD, $14.95)

Mom, Dad And Me Aprendemos Espanol
Gloria Novak
La Manzana Roja
1920 Fox Hollow Circle, Southlake, TX 76092
DVD $18.99 1-817-793-7939

Mom, Dad And Me Aprendemos Espanol, deftly presented by la manzana roja company, is an invaluable educational explorative collection of teachings for the Spanish language, based on Gloria Novak's wonderful and tactful approach to teaching linguistics. Enhanced with the easy-to-follow format for children and parents alike, Mom, Dad And Me Aprendemos Espanol opens with an introduction followed by Aprendemos Espanol (let's learn Spanish), Los colores (colors), Vamos a jugar con pelota (let's play ball!), Los numeros (nubers), Los pollitios (the little chicks), El abecedario (the alphabet), Las partes del cuerpo (parts of the body), La arana chiquitica (the itsy-bitsy spider), mandatos (commands), Los elefantes (the elephants), Veinte burbujas (twenty bubbles), and creditos (credits). Mom, Dad And Me Aprendemos Espanol is a fun and informative introduction and in-depth education on the Spanish language for parents an children alike, very highly recommended for its easily followed mapping of its content, and such the informative and irreplaceable lessons it teaches.

The Audiobook Shelf

The Truth About Magic
Daver Luckett
Bolinda Audio
40 Oxford Woods, Falmuth, ME 04105
1740937473 $40.00 1-888-235-2019

When the usually very nice wizard Mr. Tipkins from the Department of Wishes arrives in the village of Widdershins to bestow a wish upon a newborn baby he is in a foul mood. And it doesn't help that the baby smells, the weather is awful, and he had to ride on a smallish magic cushion instead of a nice and roomy flying carpet. His uncharacteristic burst of bad temper begins a chain reaction with consequences no one can foresee! The Truth About Magic introduces young listeners ages 9 and up to a wonderful world of wizards, magic schools, elves, and a lot of other fantasy elements in the first book of Dave Luckett's "School of Magic" series. This complete and unabridged, flawless recorded, 5 hour 15 minute, 5 CDs audiobook superbly narrated by Stanley McGeagh will enchant children and leave them looking eagerly toward the next adventure in this outstanding fantasy series.

Ulysses & Moore: The Door To Time
Brilliance Audio
PO Box 887, Grand Haven, MI 49417
1423313186 $24.95 1-800-854-7859

In an old house in England there's a door two twins discover which is locked and secret – prompting their curiosity. They seem designated to find the key – and when they do, they discover a road through time that leads to high adventure. Michael Page's expert narration of Ulysses & Moore: The Door To Time brings the action and tension to life in a vivid reading the entire family will enjoy. This is a solid, involving listening experience.

The Railway Children
Edith Nesbit
Tantor Media, Inc.
114 Mill Rock Road East, Old Saybrook, CT 06475
1400101891 $29.99 1-877-782-6867

Renee Raudman excellent narration provides a spirited and involving reading of Edith Nesbit's 1906 classic The Railway Children is certain to find appreciative listeners among those who first read the book decades ago as well as a whole new generation of children. A false accusation places a father in jail, leaving his wife and three children on their own. When all have to leave their London life to live near a train station in the country, a magical new world changes their lives.

The Picturebook Shelf

Shadow Play
Leah Pearl Shollar, author
Pesach Gerber, illustrator
Hachai Publishing
762 Park Place, Brooklyn, NY 11216
1929628218 $11.95

Shadow Play: A True Story Of Tefillah is a picturebook rendition of an ancient, true Jewish story, retold from original sources, about the secret of tefillos, or prayers. When a terrible drought threatens the land of Eretz Yisroel, two messengers come to the great tzadik to ask for his help in prayer to bring rain. Upon meeting the rabbi, the two messengers find his actions inexplicable at first - he refrains from greeting them normally, takes off his shoes on a rocky path, puts on his shoes when crossing a stream, and lifts his garments so that his legs are scratched when he walks among thorns. When at last the time comes to pray for rain, the messengers learn the reasons behind all the rabbi's unusual actions and moreover, the secret of prayer - that compassion to fellow human beings is answered in turn by the compassion of the divine. The gentle color illustrations complement this ancient and respectfully told tale in honor of the powers of faith and kindness.

Grandma Drove The Garbage Truck
Katie Clark & Amy Huntington
Down East Books
PO Box 679, Camden, ME 04843-0679
0892726989 $15.95

In Grandma Drove The Garbage Truck by Katie Clark, Grannie isn't a rocking-chair woman: she is sick of all the trash piled up in town and she decides to do something about it before the big Fourth of July parade. Lovely drawings by Amy Huntington mark a lively story line in which Grannie takes charge when a sick garbage man threatens her favorite day.

Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431

Perfect for read-alouds by parents is Sheldon Oberman's retellings of Jewish folktales in Solomon And The Ant And Other Jewish Folktales (1590783077, $19.95). Peninnah Schram introduces and provides commentary to these rich stories of over forty religious, wisdom and puzzle tales, each of which demonstrates wisdom and understanding as King Solomon learns lessons from birds and ants, and other protagonists receive valued wisdom. While large print will lend to reading for those who already have skills, it's the read-aloud experience which is so highly recommended here: the entire family can discuss and enjoy. Jane Yolen's Count Me A Rhyme: Animal Poems By The Numbers (15907-8345X, $17.95) pairs gorgeous photos by Jason Stemple with Yolen's unique counting book, a companion to her Color Me A Rhyme which she and her son Jason also published together. A gorgeous, unique collaboration results in eye-catching displays of animals in multiples, accompanying swinging rhymes which reinforce learning. John Micklos Jr.'s No Boys Allowed: Poems About Brothers And Sisters (1590780515 $15.95) features Kathleen O'Malley's compelling drawings as it tells of fighting, loving, play and bonds between brothers and sisters. These poems come from a range of contributors and when turned out with O'Malley's lovely watercolors, makes for a hard-hitting set. Karima Grant's Sofie And The City (1590782739, $15.95) receives Janet Montecalvo's fine drawings as it tells of little Sofie, who doesn't like her new city home. There are too many people, too many strangers, and her parents work all the time. If this is life in America, she'd rather return to Senegal – until a conversation with her grandmother sparks new ideas… Peter Lourie's First Dive To Shark Dive (159078068X, $17.95) provides a photo display and story of the author and his twelve-year-old daughter, who fly to the Bahamas for a Caribbean adventure. Suzanna wants to learn to scuba dive to swim with the sharks there – and so begins a father/daughter adventure which celebrates an unusual scuba diving adventure and comes spiced with color photos of the experience, throughout. Miriam Aroner's story Clink Clank Clunk! (1590782704, $15.95) is paired with Dominic Catalano's fun and zany drawings as it tells of Rabbit, who drives to town in his car and picks up a host of friends along the way. Each time he stops to offer a ride, another car noise develops. Will they make it to town in one piece? Stephen R. Swinburne's Wings Of Light: The Migration Of The Yellow Butterfly (1590780825, $15.95) receives Bruce Hiscock's warm drawings as it follows the yellow butterfly's migration from his Yucatan rain forest home to as far north as New England. Lovely drawings compliment and celebrate the event.

345 Hudson St., New York NY 10014

Dennis Haseley's The Invisible Moose (0803728921, $16.99) receives Steven Kellogg's warm illustrations as it provides a picturebook romance for the very young. What chance does a shy boy-moose have to win the love of the most beautiful girl-moose in Canada? He's content to love from afar – until the terrible Steel McSteal captures his love: it's time to stop being shy! A clever story of magic and romance evolves with a strong lesson in self-confidence. Leslie Helakoski's Big Chickens (0525475753, $15.99) tells of four big chickens who see a wolf sneaking near their home. They run into the woods to hide – but danger is everywhere and they imagine bigger and bigger troubles as they wander the woods. Hilarious drawings by Henry Cole accent an even more hilarious story of real chickens. Grandfather Buffalo (0399241698, $16.99) by Jim Arnosky tells of an old bull who leads his herd but is becoming fragile and slow with old age. Still, he watches over his herd even when a lively new calf puts him to many tests. The calf learns quickly; and one of the most important lessons is that even though grandfather buffalo is slowing down – he's still the most important in the herd. A wonderful story for grandkids and grandparents to share.

The Falling Flowers
Jennifer B. Reed
Shen's Books
40951 Fremont Blvd., Fremont, CA 94538
1885008287 $16.95

Ages 4-8 will love Dick Cole's warm and realistic drawings in The Falling Flowers, a celebration of a child and grandmother's urban trip and relationship. The two take a train to the heart of Japan to see something special, but Grandmother won't say what it is until they get there: when they do, Mayumie discovers something special in the very heart of modern-day urban Japan.

Pasta, Fried Rice, And Matzoh Balls
Loretta Frances Ichord
Millbrook Press
241 1st Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401
0761329137 $25.26

Pasta, Fried Rice, And Matzoh Balls: Immigrant Cooking In America will prove an exciting, eye-opening blend of history and culinary comparison to any young picturebook reader who likes to cook. Jan Davey Elis provides lively and fun drawings to accompany the recipes and history, which use traditional immigrant dishes – Swedish Meatballs, German Potato Salad, Portuguese Sweetbread and more – to spice interest in immigrant food traditions. Text requires good reading skills but kids in grades 3-5 will find this unusual and intriguing.

Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of Americas, NY, NY 10020

In Stephen Krensky's Milo The Really Big Bunny (068987345X $14.95) Milo just wants to be like the other bunnies, but he's the biggest bunny any bunny has ever seen and he just doesn't fit in. Plus, he's purple. Milo feels badly, until the Easter Bunny announces he needs a helper…and he's determined to be that helper, no matter what! Hilarious adventures are enhanced by zany drawings by Melissa Suber in this winner. Tad Hills writes and illustrates Duck & Goose (037583611X, $14.95), the zany story of a duck, a goose, and a strange-looking egg. Both lay claim to the egg and trouble begins – but both agree it's beautiful. Despite the proliferation of warning signs and attempts to lay claim, duck and goose maintain a fairly smooth relationship as they wait for their prize to hatch results – until a little bluebird reveals an unexpected insight. A hilarious, different story with a refreshingly realistic, fun perspective evolves.

Paula Gerritsen
Front Street
862 Haywood Rd., Asheville, NC 28806
1932425667 $15.95

When fall arrives Mouse decides to gather nuts from a distant nut tree she has spotted from her home – it's so distant she must cross fields and dangerous open places to get to it. Mouse isn't afraid, and she ignores the warnings of her friends and braves the elements only to find the nuts aren't what she expects. It seems she must return home empty-pawed – where an unexpected surprise awaits her. Simple yet appealing drawings illustrate the gentle story of a mouse who finds just what she needs at home.

Sky Boys
Deborah Hopkinson & James E. Ransome
Schwartz & Wade/Random House
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
0375836101 $16.95 1-800-726-0600

Celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Empire State Building's construction is Sky Boys: How They Built The Empire State Building. While vintage black and white photos from the era greet the eye on the inside and back cover pages, the book is loaded with color illustrations which bring to life the builder's experience. The journey to Depression-era Manhattan and a boy who watches its construction brings the promise, hope and allure of the Empire State Building to life.

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

A rhino with wings, a book-reading bunny? Nonsense! Funny rhymes blend with lovely paper-cut illustrations in a compendium of animal and human demonstrations of what 'nonsense' really means. Sally Kahler Phillips's Nonsense! (0375833064 $14.95) is a fun story filled with simple sentences and large drawings evolves. Bonnie Worth's I Can Name 50 Trees Today! (0375822771, $8.99) uses the 'Cat in the Hat' character to bridge the gap between preschool and early readers. Here the cat's wacky rhymes and characters include real facts about trees, encouraging kids to learn new ideas through fun reading. Chris Wormell's George And The Dragon (0375833153, $16.95) tells of a terrible dragon which wrecks havoc because he's really afraid. What could scare a mighty invincible dragon? A new neighbor in the cave next door finds out. Megan McCarthy's Aliens Are Coming! (03758-35180, $16.95) re-creates the 1938 Orson Wells broadcast but adds new and funny dimensions to the War of the Worlds in the process. Excerpts from the radio broadcast uses lovely bright art and zany cartoons while it explains the world of the 1930s and why the broadcast affected so many with a believable story.

The Journey That Saved Curious George
Louise Borden
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10003
0618339248 $17.00

Curious George is beloved and known by adults and kids around the world – but few have heard of the history of his creators, Hans and Margret Rey, who had to flee their Paris home as the Germans invaded. Their journey on bicycles with their children's book manuscripts among their few possessions is recounted here with pictures, flare and drama. Borden uses primary resources, including Rey's own pocket diaries, to tell their tale in The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape Of Margret And H.A. Rey, with Allan Drummond's drawings and vintage black and white photos throughout enhancing the biography and action.

The American History Shelf

Tonya Bolden
Knopf/Random House
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019
0375827951 $19.95 1-800-726-0600

The post-Civil War era in the U.S. was a time of many changes when slavery ended and borders began rapidly expanding. Cause: Reconstruction America 1863-1877 surveys the political and social climate which fueled and fostered these changes, considering the major influences and social issues of the times, and providing a liberal amount of vintage black and white photos to spice the presentation. A recommended, narrowed view of post-war changes, Cause will fit in well with any middle school Civil War history curriculum.

The Religion/Spirituality Shelf

Miriam's Journey
Robin K. Levinson
Gali Girls
48 Cranford Place, Teaneck, NJ 07666
0977367304 $12.00

Miriam's Journey: Discovering A New World by Robin K. Levinson is an encouraging and inspirational tale of young Miriam Bloom as she and her sisters make their way across the Atlantic to their father in America, the New World. Young readers will be enthralled as the family struggles to remain in America as their stay is threatened to return to the Old World. Miriam's Journey: Discovering A New World is highly recommended for all Jewish girls above the age of 7 as an informative and encouraging read to help them identify better with their faith.

The Fiction Shelf

Guitar Highway Rose
Brigid Lowry
St. Martin's Press
175 – 5th Avenue, New York NY 10110
0312342969 $8.95 www.stmartin'

A teenager, Rosie is ready for adventure: she's been an obedient girl most of her life but now longs for action. Asher is a new boy in school with dreadlocks and an attitude to match: Rose is instantly attracted. An accusation of theft leads to a hitchhiking adventure that will change her life and decisions. Romance and action blend in a satisfying story which teens will relate to.

Off The Crossbar
David Skuy
The Writer's Collective
c/o Gulotta Communications
341 Lexington St, Newton, MA 02466
1594111057 $13.50

Off The Crossbar: One Shot That Made The Difference by David Skuy is a motivating and inspiring telling of Terrence Falls High School's new kid Charlie Joyce and his struggle for acceptance in his new environment. Depicting the young man's decision to stand up for himself and accept the challenge to join the school's hockey team, Off The Crossbar brings its young readers through an emotional and encouraging time all a result of determination on Charlie's behalf. Very highly recommended to all young readers athletically inclined or fanatics of hockey, Off The Crossbar is a truly inspirational story of a young man's defeat of the many barriers he persistently encounters. Highly recommended and entertaining reading!

Honey Bea
Kim L. Siegelson
114 – 5th Avenue, NY, NY 10011-5690
0786808535 $15.99

Beatrice is growing up on a Louisiana sugar plantation in the time of slavery and enjoys the protection of a great-aunt who can communicate with the spirits. While their favored position keeps them from contact with those who consider them witches, Beatrice can find no refuge against her own blossoming powers – and her master is taking a special interest in her. Is she sole heir to a power that really will change her life? Honey Bea is a warm story of slave days evolves with a fine personal touch and supernatural twist.

Knopf/Random House
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019

Five new titles are top picks for middle to high school leisure readers, offering superior plots and diverse scenarios. Tobias Druitt's Corydon & The Island Of Monsters (037583382X, $15.95) is set on an island in an old world here the son of Zeus leads an army, Medusa and the Sphinx prepare for battle, and a lonely shepherd is in the middle of it all. His actions will change a world as he bonds to monsters. William Durbin's El Lector (0385746512, $15.95) tells of a teen who dreams of being a lector like her learned grandfather who reads novels and news to workers as they roll their cigars; but life during the Depression is one of hard work and Bella must work in a factor instead of going to school. It takes a factory strike to change her life in this story of Florida in the early 1930s. Tanya Lee Stone's A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl (0385747020, $14.95) tells of three very different girls who meet the same desirable bad boy. Add an unusual poetry-like presentation and you have a very readable plot without the complex phrasing of most young adult reads. Laura & Tom McNeal's Crushed (0375831053, $15.95) tells of three best friends who arrive at high school from the one-room private school where they spent their career performing Gilbert and Sullivan musicals. The attention of a handsome new boy leads to trouble not only in their close circle but when an underground school paper threatens to expose a dangerous truth. Suspense and romance blend well in an absorbing story filled with twists and turns. Cassandra Golds' Clair De Lune (0375833951, $15.95) tells of a girl who loves to dance. She's mute, but when she dances her body language speaks. When she meets an extraordinary mouse who dreams of founding a dancing school for mice, the two pair up to explore different worlds. A gentle story of dancing and dreaming proves absorbing.

Books in Series

2700 Drake Rd., Farmington Hills, MI 48331-3535

Reaching into high school grade levels with its important survey of issues is the 'Current Controversies' title addition Immigration (0737727802, $23.70), offering over 200 pages of detailed issues using primary sources to represent all sides in the debate on immigration. Among the debates: why immigration might affect public health, why immigrants may or may not be treated fairly in this country, and methods for controlling immigration. Robert Winters edits The Right To A Trial By Jury (0737719370, $32.45), an addition to the 'Bill of Rights' series which provides 142 pages of detail on how juries operate in this country. From the origins and evolution of the jury concept to various court involvements and constitutional rights, The Right To A Trial By Jury is also suitable for both research and classroom debate. Another addition to the series is Kristin O'Donnell Tubb's Freedom From Cruel And Unusual Punishment (07377-19257, $32.45), which explores the death penalty, and what kinds of punishment are deemed 'cruel and unusual'. Again, pro/con debates on key issues lend to classroom debates and discussions as well. 'At Issue's Alternatives To Prisons (073772-6946, $19.95) discusses a range of pro/con arguments on prison management, providing perspectives ranging from eyewitnesses and journal accounts to government officials.

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Rd, Tarrytown NY 10591
$18.95 each

Five lovely new titles in the second group of 'Hands-On History' titles by David C. King and Marian Broida will reach kids in grades 4-6 with wonderful subject-oriented projects. David C. King's Projects About The Spanish West (0761419829) and Projects About The Woodland Indians (0761419799) each blend 'you are there' history and cultural insights with projects which range from making masks and rattles to putting together a party pinata. Three books by Marian Broida offer different crafts by themes also: Projects About 19th Century European Immigrants (0761419802) provides projects and history for early immigrants and second and third wave immigrants between 1800-1899, Projects About 19th Century Chinese Immigrants (076141-9780) provides cooking and crafts projects to support details on Chinese immigrant experiences, and Projects About The American Revolution (0761419810) surveys life in the early colonies, supporting this information with projects such as making a liberty flag. In cultivating an 'imagine this' and 'you are feeling' atmosphere the books encourage more than just a review of dry facts.

Crabtree Publishers
350 – 5th Ave., #3308, NY, NY 10118

Crabtree's curriculum-oriented picturebook titles for kids in grades 2-5 are top picks for libraries seeking materials which will see repeat lending and report usefulness. Take their 'In the Footsteps of Explorers' series ($17.94 Each), for example: each lovely coverage of 32 pages packs in appeal and information, from eye-catching color covers to chapters of history, concluding with a glossary and index. Sieur De Salle: New World Adventurer by John Zronik (0778724131) surveys LA Salle's great explorations and troubled encounters, Adrianna Morganelli's Samuel De Champlain: From New France To Cape Cod (077872414X) tells how the founding father of 'New France' established his colonies, Katharine Bailey's Ferdinand Magellan: Circumnavigating The World (0778724166) follow Magellan's world explorations and lasting legacy of trade and discovery; R.A. Beales' James Cook: The Pacific Coast And Beyond (0778724158) reveals his Pacific region adventures and discoveries; Rachel Eagen's Ponce De Leon: Exploring Florida And Puerto Rico (0778724123) covers his founding of early Spanish settlements in America, and Alexander Zelenyj's Marco Polo: Overland To China (0778724176) discusses his travels from medieval Europe through the Orient and beyond. Speaking of 'medieval', Crabtree's 'The Medieval World' series ($23.92 Each) provides the same age range with excellent thematic coverages perfect for school assignments. Medieval Myths, Legends And Songs (0778713598) surveys Medieval literary legends and music, Manners And Customs In The Middle Ages (077-8713571) discusses concepts of chivalry, birth and death rites, and seasonal holiday celebrations; Medieval Projects You Can Do! (077871361X) reinforces history with projects ranging from learning to weave a medieval dress to creating a personal coat of arms; Famous People Of The Middle Ages (0778713563) presents biographical sketches of religious and political leaders, scholars and artists, and notable peasants alike, Medieval Medicine And The Plague (077871358X) discusses early medicine and the threat of illness; and Medieval Law And Punishment (0778713601) surveys crimes, legal systems, prisons and punishment. Four new additions to Bobbie Kalman's Native Americans series of picturebooks provide young learners with 32 pages each of detail, including an index, glossary, and color illustrations throughout. Nations Of The Northeast Coast (077870386X) covers coastal nations, from different regional tribes to travel, trade, and daily life; Native North American Wisdom And Gifts (0778703843) surveys foods, clothing, language, and sources of inspiration and spirituality; Nations Of The Southeast (0778703851) surveys the Creek, Chickasaw, Powhatan, Calusa and Seminoles and their lives and cultures; and Native North American Foods And Recipes (0778703835) surveys foods and recipes of various North American tribes. Three titles on Iran by Bobbie Kalman are picks for elementary-grade collections strong in Middle East history. Iran The Land (077-879315X), Iran The People (0778793-168), and Iran The Culture each provide 32 pages of facts covering each aspect of Iran. Bright contemporary color photos throughout, a glossary and index, and eye-catching covers make these especially recommended picks for grades 3-5. Crabtree's selections are perfect choices for elementary-level collections: they hold a little over thirty pages of bright illustrations and color photos, dividing subjects by chapter for quick reference and study. Koalas And Other Marsupials (0778721-620), Monkeys And Other Primates (077-8721655), Dolphins And Other Marine Mammals (0778721647) and Guinea Pigs And Other Rodents (0778721639) each pack bright photos to supplement the facts in fine overviews. Life cycles are the focus of the 'Life Cycle of A' series, which includes Bat (0778706710), Polar Bear (0778706680), Ant (0778706702), and SHARK (0778706699): each book examines physiology, life cycles, and follows the creature from birth to death. Seals And Sea Lions (0778713016), Wonderful Whales (0778713024) and Skates And Rays (0778713032) each hold a glossary, index, plenty of animal facts and are suitable for classroom reports and leisure reading alike. All are of the Crabtree titles are excellent references students will appreciate and top picks school libraries will appreciate.

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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