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"Trash to Treasure" series
Green Kids Press, LLC
23 'I' Street, N.W., Washington DC 20001-1008
$17.99 each, www.greenkidspress.com
The "Trash to Treasure" series - Recycling Creatively With L.T. features a recycling hero whose efforts to save the environment result in not only creative thinking, but adventure - and two children's picture books featuring this young protagonist require only good reading skills from kids (or parental read-aloud assistance) to set forth the basic concepts of recycling and one boy's unique vision of saving his world.
The fun begins with The Bicycle Fence (9781939377500, 32 pages), illustrated by Brandon Fall with large-sized colorful drawings, and it presents the start of L.T.'s entry into the concept of recycling when he outgrows his bicycle and his father builds him a replacement from recycled parts which are not the spiffy new wheels he'd envisioned.
He's embarrassed to ride it to school and initially views his 'new' bike as a liability to be replaced by something shinier someday, but his father's teachings kick in and he finds a way to be proud of his recycled bike without having it look like 'trash' - and even expands upon the concept of recycling a bicycle!
This story is based on the author's real-life experiences and addresses concerns of recycling, public appearances, and a young boy's pride (although, depending on the child, the angst over 'used materials' could be greater than L.T. experiences!)
That The Bicycle Fence comes from an artist with an eye to creative problem-solving makes it even stronger. Another note: all the protagonists are smiling widely. A positive perspective on the recycling experience is thus reinforced on every page.
The adventures continue in Noll's Selling Eggs (9781939377576, 40 pages), also recommended for readers ages 3-8, which further explores the recycling adventures of L.T.
This time L.T. is excited about his family's venture into small-scale chicken farming, envisioning all the pocket money he'll gain from selling eggs. When troublesome, needy chicks arrive, L.T. begins to understand just what is involved in caring for them - and how to use recycling concepts in the process. Brandon Fall works with illustrator Kimiyo Nishio in this production, which also features big grins on all its protagonists and chicks sporting funny, winning expressions on their faces.
There are some nearly unbelievable points (as when his chicks outgrow their recycled homes and L.T. teaches them to ride on the handlebars of his bike); but this just lends whimsy to the overall story of how recycling fits into daily life challenges and even into animal management.
These two titles are fun reads, reinforcing recycling's benefits. More importantly, they show how creative thinking about 'junk' results in problem-solving and new ideas of art and practical recycling applications.
Young readers attracted to large-sized drawings, cheerful faces, and realistic insights about recycling will find these winning reads serve up much food for thought on the process of not just repurposing 'junk', but finding attractive, unique ways of living with such products.
Goldminds Publishing, LLC
1050 Glenbrook Way, Suite 480, Hendersonville, TN 37075
ISBN (print): 9781942905035, $14.99 168 pages
ISBN (eBook): 9781942905165, $6.99
Drew is a builder: a geek who loves making things from junk - which is why he can commonly be found dumpster diving for spare parts and new ideas. Free parts is the reason why he can afford to build a robot. It's also part of the reason why he's friends with Hope, a Hispanic girl with busy, wealthy parents who like Drew for his unique interests.
It's unusual enough to find a friendship between two people from distinctly different economic circles, much less different cultures - but their mutual attraction and friendship is further solidified by a dilemma when an evil scientist gets wind of Drew's amazing robot and decides to robotnap it.
In the course of their organized resistance and battles, the two bond and learn valuable lessons about friendship, adversity, and sticking together.
Speaking of 'sticking' - the robot's name is Sticky, and there are many insights into not only the protagonists' personalities and motivations, but the world around them - even including animals and robots: "He gets confused when Sticky moves. He really hates him - especially when the bot's eyes are glowing," Drew said. "I guess a fake humanoid just doesn't smell right to him. To a dog, things are either alive or not alive. Sticky fits into an in-between world that Hershey might someday get used to, but will never really understand."
As a spy mission evolves and danger quickens, so advanced elementary to middle-school readers receive a story line that also incorporates many details designed to aid in understanding interpersonal relationships, families, and even outside political purposes: "Drew, be careful. There are people out there who would do anything to get their hands on an invention like this. Can you imagine how much money would be involved if you really find a way to use solar power more efficiently for travel? A robot like Sticky could be a threat to the oil industry and a golden egg to people looking to make a fast buck."
Intrigue, adventure, conflict, and evolving relationships: add a healthy dose of skunk scent (...and you'll just have to read the story to find out why) and what you have here is an outstanding story of robots and intrigue, with more psychological depth than either the classic young investigators Encyclopedia Brown or Danny Dunn can offer.
Escape in Time
9722 Whitley Park Place, Bethesda, MD 20814
ISBN, softcover: 9780990843030
ISBN, e-book (epub): 9780990843047
ISBN, e-book (mobi): 9780990843054
Paperback: $9.99 ebook: $6.99 176 pages
Leora Frankel translated this novel from the Hebrew and Laurie McGaw added fine duotone illustrations throughout, so it's evident that Escape in Time, Miri's Riveting Tale of Her Family's Survival During World War II is not a singular endeavor, but a long cooperative effort to bring this story to English audiences. And, as young readers ages 12 and older will discover, it's one well worth reading.
Miri Malz was in the Holocaust, and a survivor, and is now a cheerful grandmother who has kept the secret of her past from her grandchild. But when Nessya overhears school officials talking about inviting her grandmother to speak as a Holocaust survivor, a whole hidden world opens up - and when she confronts her grandmother, the answers she receives are difficult and strain their relationship.
One might wonder at the need for yet another YA read about a Holocaust survivor - but given the unprecedented nature of genocide and its lasting aftermath, it would seem that new stories should appear every few years as fresh reminders of the lasting impact of events, lest future generations forget, or the classic, widely-distributed writings of such as Anne Frank become overly familiar.
A packet of wartime letters, a young girl's curiosity about her heritage, a grandmother's experiences of ghetto routines, and a child's perspective of the war are supplemented by the gorgeous works of Laurie McGaw throughout (it cannot be emphasized too much that these images are realistic, lovely, and striking embellishments to the story line).
More so than most Holocaust accounts, this presentation examines the concepts of anti-Semitism from a preteen's perspective as she learns about the past's effects on her present world and family's future; and it draws important connections between family relationships and world politics, exposing an atmosphere where even a relationship with a doorman can become important.
How does an entire family survive in a world gone mad? How do they stay together, and how to they weather an increasing climate of hatred? From interacting with peers who develop into advocates of Hitler's anti-Semitic viewpoints to becoming survivors who must swallow their pride and heritage to emerge from Nazi control intact, events are relayed through letters, diary entries, and the perspective of youth.
Little miracles, sadness and delights, and the changing atmosphere of a world at war make for vivid scenes, all enhanced by a personal tone and feel that provide a 'you are there' feel to political and social changes.
In the end, that's what makes Escape in Time such a standout: a blending of the Anne Frank diary format of personal experience with observation of the changing, wider social and political world holds an ability to involve not just characters, but the reader.
Escape in Time is truly riveting, is recommended for ages 12 and older, and is especially recommended as a classroom assignment to pair off quite nicely with Anne Frank's classic Diary. There are miracles here for everyone: the miracle of survival, the lasting impact of change, and lessons for the future that make such accounts not just stories but outlines of inhumanity, hope, and survival.
Rupert's Parchment: The Story of the Magna Carta
560 Herndon Pkwy, Suite 120, Herndon, VA 20170
9781620869840 38 pages $17.95
Rupert's Parchment: The Story of the Magna Carta tells the story of the historic Magna Carta from the viewpoint of young Rupert, who enjoys a ringside seat at the historic event at Runnymede in the year 1215.
Illustrator Doris Ettlinger adds colorful visual embellishments to this picture book saga, which requires good reading skills (or parental assistance) but will appeal to kids who have the reading basics well in hand and who are interested in lively stories based on real facts.
It's unusual to see a picture book treatment of a subject usually broached in middle school and older history courses as a dry fact. In contrast, this presentation adds life, color, and personality to events, emphasizing to a younger audience why the historic Magna Carta signing was so important.
From the fine art of papermaking (which twelve-year-old Rupert is learning from his father) to politics between royalty, land barons, and the populace, Rupert's Parchment deftly captures the tone and timber of its times: "We heard news of the King's soldiers riding to fight the noble barons," said Father. "Will there be war? The King's sheriffs have even seized horses of townsfolk." "Uncle's carts were taken," said Rupert. "This year of 1215 has seen much trouble," said the clerk."
The result does require both good picture book reading skills (there are sometimes numerous paragraphs of text per page) and an interest in historical events; but those with such abilities will find here a lively treatment of historical fact - fictionalized, to be sure; but filled with the background information to make for an accurate, lively read.
Add a concluding discussion of principles, casts of characters, a glossary, and an overview of the basic principles of the Magna Carta and its amendments and you have a unique treatment that grades 3-6 will relish.
Open the Doors to You
Casey Rislov Books
P.O. Box 4008, Casper, WY 82604
9780692369678 32 pages $15.95
It's rare to see a picture book about love that begins with easy admonitions that focuses on how to identify acts of love in the world and how to 'pay it forward' - but Open the Doors to You is such a read, and is so well done that it lends to both parental read-aloud and pursuit by picture book readers who already have basic reading skills under their belts, and the maturity to understand the wider concept of understanding generosity and giving.
It wouldn't be an exceptional picture book without superior illustrations, and Open the Doors to You packs its pages with watercolor works that are realistic, colorful, and welcoming throughout; capturing the young reader's eye with a delightful visual embellishment to a story that emphasizes giving love and finding success in the world.
At times the story line becomes more of a series of admonitions, teaching young readers about the basic elements of happiness and success which, after all, are the foundations of love: "Most things in life take time to learn. So walk through the door and take your time to get it right. Persistence means try, try again! You might excel in math but need to try harder in something else. You might prefer to learn as you go. Games are fun to play in gym class. Art is a blast when messes become part of the creation
Every open door (whether it be sports, art, or exploring the outdoors) becomes an opportunity for fun, growth, and success under Rislov's hand: "The door to outside opens to fun in every season." Every door leads to other doors.
A positive attitude and enthusiasm towards life is best cultivated early: start with Open the Doors to You. Despite its propensity for admonishments, the total result of this picture book is a positive, upbeat tone that encourages kids to explore the world with positive results in mind. The colorful format enhances the message and assures it will be delivered to an interested audience.
Diane C. Donovan, Senior Reviewer
Donovan's Literary Services
The Education Shelf
35 Stillman Street, Suite 121, San Francisco, CA, 94107
9781936976683, $12.99, 288pp, www.amazon.com
We live in an era of misinformation, much of it spread by authority figures, including politicians, religious leaders, broadcasters, and, of course, apps and websites. With so much bogus information coming from so many sources, how can anyone be expected to discover the truth? In "Debunk It!: How to Stay Sane in a World of Misinformation", author John Grant uses modern, ripped-from-the-headlines examples to clearly explain how to identify bad evidence and poor arguments. He provides a roundup of the rhetorical tricks people use when attempting to pull the wool over our eyes, and even offers advice about how to take these unscrupulous pundits down. So if you're tired of hearing blowhards spouting off misinformation about climate change, history, evolution, medicine, and more, "Debunk It!" is the book for you. "Debunk It" is the ultimate guide for young readers seeking a firmer footing in a world that's full of holes. A "must" for every school and community library collection, "Debunk It!" is a critically important read for critically important thinking in an age of pervasive internet-based misinformation, political and corporate propaganda. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Debunk It!" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
The Psychology Shelf
The Monster Under My Web
Charlene Gresham, author/illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781496919731, $17.99, www.authorhouse.com
"The Monster Under My Web" is a story of taming one's terrors, told from the point of view of Annabel Arachnid, a ballerina spider who lived happily in Jimmy's room until the day he received a terrifying present in a box. Annabel hears noises, smells smoke, and sees confusing commotion below around the terrifying new monster. Annabel is so fearful, she hides, cowering in a corner, afraid to sleep, eat, scream, or enjoy her spider life. Finally Annabel decides to confront her worst fears. At night, she dressed in black and lowered herself down to look at the monster. At first it is quiet. Then Jimmy entered the room and flipped a switch and the monster began to move and roar. But when Annabel got brave and took a closer look, what did she find? "It spun in circles. It followed a track. It had a whistle. It had a smoke stack." In fact, Annabel found her monster was just a toy train, nothing to be afraid of at all! So then Annabel resumed her happy, eccentric spider life, coming down to take a joy ride once in a while on her favorite toy train! "The Monster Under My Web" uses humor, light verse, and reverse identification to teach children some bits of helpful tactics for dealing with fearful experiences. Creative illustrations depict an amazing spider heroine overcoming her most paralyzing fears.
The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf
Pine and the Winter Sparrow
Retold by Alexis York Lumbard
Wisdom Tales Press
PO Box 2682, Bloomington, IN 47402
9781937786335 $15.95 www.wisdomtalespress.com
Pine and the Winter Sparrow will reach ages 4 and up with a light-hearted fable illustrated by Beatriz Vidal and telling of an act of kindness, and recounts a Cherokee Indian legend of why pine trees stay green through winter. It's all because of an injured sparrow and an act of generosity, and parents will find this story lends to a lovely read-aloud experience and early discussion of giving. The gentle drawings are lovely embellishments to the story.
The Tortoise and the Hare, An Aesop Fable
Bernadette Watts, narrator/illustrator
600 Third Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10016
9780735842076, $17.95, www.northsouth.com
"The Tortoise and the Hare" is a fresh retelling of the old Aesop Fable so much beloved by past generations of young readers. Spilling over with the delicate, bewitching finery of flower, tree, and creatures engaged in delightful activities, "The Tortoise and the Hare" presents the story of the overconfident Hare, racing ahead of the plodding Tortoise with an intimate gallantry. The delicate light shining out of each page suggests the progress of the sun throughout the day, which measures the pace of the agreed upon race between the Tortoise and the Hare. While the Tortoise trudges slowly towards his goal, not distracted by discomfort or weariness, the Hare indulges in snacks, naps, and visits with friends. When the Hare finally awakens from his too late afternoon nap, the Tortoise is nowhere in sight, but he hears faint cheering in the distant finish line area. Fortunately, the Hare is a well mannered loser, for he congratulates the Tortoise, saying "Well done!..You have won because you went steadily along and did not waste time. I can run much faster.... so I took it easy. I even fell asleep! It was my own fault that I lost." "Well, let that be a lesson to us all," said the wise old Badger. Then the tired animals packed up their bags and picnic baskets and went home." For a vivid retelling of an ever-fresh fable, read "The Tortoise and the Hare" retold and illustrated by the inimitable Bernadette Watts.
The Six Swans
The Brothers Grimm, authors
Gerda Raidt, illustrator
600 Third Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10016
9780735841727, $17.95, www.northsouth.com
"The Six Swans" is a magically illustrated reframing of the traditional Grimm fairy tale about a devoted sister who silently sewed six magical swan shirts of starflowers to rescue her six brothers from the enchantment of an evil stepmother. Her silence was necessary for the time it took her to complete the task, and the years of work nearly cost her life. Exquisite new pastel illustrations, with deep forest greens and winking hidden starflowers reveal this somber traditional tale in its full splendor. "The Six Swans" is a study in perseverance and long lasting trust and devotion, still transfixing in its complex unfolding for children and adults.
The Legend and Adventures of Bob Wire
Sam Skinner, author/illustrator
1931 Woodbury Ave., #182, Portsmouth, New Hampshire 03801
9780986214974, $9.99, www.mindstirmedia.com
"Shrouded in Mystery and hearsay, the beginnings of Bob Wire are told more ways than a campfire casts shadows on the walls of Palo Duro Canyon..." So begins "The Legend of Bob Wire," a collection of tall tales with dusty flavors of the Old West. Begun among the Texas oilfield roughnecks and boot and saddle makers, tales of Bob Wire and his larger than life adventures are filled with wild deeds, crazy stunts, and just plain showing off. Bob Wire is a traditional hero of the wildcat oil field culture . Perhaps he is a modern descendent of Pecos Bill. "The Legend of Bob Wire" tells each tale fragment with authenticity and gusto, using larger than life fancy print, and dashing black silhouettes of Bob Wire against desert color backgrounds and outlines of the massive geography of the great state of Texas. Time was when Bob Wire learned hot to tame thunderbolts and started riding them everywhere. This led to a heap of trouble, but not without some fun. From Odessa, Texas, to Houston, Bob Wire rode his favorite thunderbolt, Lightning, about whom he had said: "That thunderbolt can do everything except speak Spanish!" For entertaining folk myth with true grit in its heart, treat youngsters to this heroic Texan tall tale series. Look for the second title in the Bob Wire Series, coming out soon.
The Picturebook Shelf
You Nest Here With Me
Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple, authors
Melissa Sweet, illustrator
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431
9781590789230 $16.95 www.boydsmillspress.com
You Nest Here With Me is a charming children's picturebook by award-winning children's author Jane Yolen and her daughter Heidi E.Y. Stemple. As a mother helps her little one settle down for the night, she tells how all sorts mama and papa birds nest with their babies: pigeons, owls, swallows, grackles, eagles. Every refrain ends with "...you nest here with me". The final pages offer some fascinating educational facts about the bird species mentioned. You Nest Here With Me makes an excellent giftbook or bedtime story.
125 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023
9781423103714 $16.99 www.disneyhyperionbooks.com
My Pen is a children's picturebook that captures the unlimited wonders of the imagination. Author and illustrator Christopher Myers uses surreal black-and-white artwork to demonstrate that, with a simple sketchbook and pen, one can create virtually anything! "There are a million pens in the world and each one has a million worlds inside it. / So if you have a pen, see what you can do - let those worlds inside your pen out!" Highly recommended.
Work and More Work
Linda Little, author
Oscar T. Perez, illustrator
c/o House of Anansi Press
110 Spadina Ave., Suite 801
Toronto, ON, Canada, M5V 2K4
9781554983834 $18.95 www.groundwoodbooks.com
Work and More Work is a charming children's picturebook set during 1840, and a supplement at the end is filled with fascinating facts about how people worked and lived back then. Tom is a young boy who lives outside of Liverpool, England; he wants to see more of the world, even though is father warns him that "There's nothing there but work and more work." Undaunted, Tom sets out on journey that will take him across the seas, to other nations; everywhere, he sees people working hard at different jobs, making all sorts of beautiful things. The postscript offers more detailed information about the things Tom witnesses - as how tea, dye, and cinnamon were made and traded during the era. As educational as it is entertaining, Work and More Work is highly recommended.
Seaver the Weaver
Paul Czajak, author
The Brothers Hilts, illustrators
c/o Mighty Media Kids
1201 Currie Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403
9781938063572 $15.95 www.mightymediapress.com
Seaver the Weaver is a children's picturebook about a young spider that, unlike his conformist brothers and sisters, weaves a dazzling array of wonderful shapes into his webs, inspired by the night sky. Undaunted by his siblings' criticism, Seaver continues to make his unique webs - which turn out to be very effective at catching insect "guests" for dinner! Seaver's siblings eventually come to see the value of Seaver's beautiful and functional webs, and ask him to teach them to weave new styles, too. The simple, bold illustrations add just the right touch to this storybook celebration of dreams, creativity, and independence.
Tator's Swamp Fever
Apple Pie Publishing
PO Box 1135, Rockwall, TX 75087
9780692208472 $17.99 www.applepiepub.com
Tator's Swamp Fever is an award-winning picturebook in the "Apple Bunch Books" series, about a group of anthropomorphic animal friends. The story follows young Tator the alligator, whose mother has fallen ill. Fred, Perdie, and Cabbit work with Tator to help his mom see a doctor, and gather ingredients for the medicine that will help Tator's mom feel better! A postscript of fascinating alligator facts rounds out this warmhearted children's book, brought to life with cheery color cartoons.
Lizzie and the Last Day of School
Trinka Hakes Noble, author
Kris Aro McLeod, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
Suite 200, 315 East Eisenhower Parkway
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781585368952 $15.99 www.sleepingbearpress.com
Lizzie and the Last Day of School is a picturebook about a young girl in first grade who enjoys school so much, she is sad when school lets out for summer. Young Lizzie loves reading, learning, and making friends, both with her classmates and her teacher! What will she do when school is out all summer, leaving her alone with her baby sister? Fortunately, she has the opportunity to attend summer school! (But Lizzie still makes time to play with her baby sister). A fun-filled picturebook created to remind young people that school can be fun and stimulating all year 'round, Lizzie and the Last Day of School is an excellent addition to public and elementary school picturebook collections.
The Teacher Who Would Not Retire Loses Her Ballet Slippers
Sheila & Letty Sustrin, authors
Thomas H. Bone III, illustrator
Blue Marlin Publications
823 Aberdeen Road, West Bay Shore, NY 11706
9780988529540 $17.95 www.bluemarlinpubs.com
The Teacher Who Would Not Retire Loses Her Ballet Slippers is the latest in the whimiscal Teacher Who Would Not Retire picturebook series. When Mrs. Belle, the beloved teacher of Laurelville, loses her special ballet slippers (which the children love as much as she does!), what can she do? Fortunately, the entire town turns out to search! Cartoony color illustrations bring this silly story to life. Recommended for ages 4-100; the text is involved enough that the littlest of beginning readers may need assistance from an adult, but older picturebook readers should be fine on their own. Also choice picks are the previous picturebooks in the series: "The Teacher Who Would Not Retire", "The Teacher Who Would Not Retire Goes to Camp", "The Teacher Who Would Not Retire Discovers a New Planet", and "The Teacher Who Would Not Retire Becomes a Movie Star."
A Fine Dessert
Emily Jenkins & Sophie Blackall
Schwartz & Wade Books
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780375868320 $17.99 www.randomhouse.com/kids
A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat is a children's picturebook about a dessert called Blackberry Fool, made with blackberries (other berries can be used), sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream. The story traces how families made and shared this delicacy in England in the year 1710, South Carolina in the year 1810, Massachusetts in 1910, and California 2010. The book shows how gathering the ingredients changed over the years (in modern times, most people don't obtain their cream by milking cows!), but one thing always stays the same - the dessert is so good that children want to lick the bowl clean! A simple recipe for Blackberry Fool rounds out this charming storybook. Historical accuracy is a paramount feature of A Fine Dessert; the story does not shy away from references to slavery, as once practiced in the antebellum American South. America. Highly recommended.
Spots in a Box
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9780763675974 $16.99 www.candlewick.com
Spots in a Box is a rhyming children's picturebook about a guinea fowl (drawn in a realistic style) who longs to have spots like his other avian friends. But when he orders his own set of spots, the package is not what he expected! Creative use of holes cut in paper, shiny paper, and other fourth-wall effects distinguish this whimsical story. "So the best spots to choose / if it's friends that you seek, / are the spots that you find / put a smile on your beak."
125 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023
9781484708750 $16.99 www.disneyhyperionbooks.com
Wish is a charming children's picturebook about family love. Two parent elephants were together by themselves for a long time, but their wish for a baby elephant to join them has at last come true! A simple yet wonderful little read-aloud story for parents and children to share, Wish features minimal yet emotional artwork, showing the arrival of the long-awaited baby in a shower of color and joy.
A Lullaby for Little One
Dawn Casey, author
Charles Fuge, illustrator
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9780763676087 $12.99 www.candlewick.com
A Lullaby for Little One is a charming children's picturebook about a father rabbit who sings a "lullabaloo" lullaby to his child. The beautiful, sunny day artwork of the young rabbit's forest frolicking with a mouse, a bear cub, and an owlet give way to the soothing, deep blue of nightfall. A Lullaby for Little One is a warmhearted and wonderful read-aloud story, ideal for bedtime.
Jane Bahk, author
Felicia Hoshino, illustrator
Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Ave., Suite 1205, New York, NY 10016
97816000608537, $17.95, www.leeandlow.com
" Juna's Jar" is described as a child's exploration of the healing powers of imagination in understanding unexplained loss of a dear friend. Juno has special kimchee jar adventures with her dear friend Hector until one day she discovers he has gone to live in a house with his parents far away. He tried to say goodbye to her, but she was not home. This made Juna very sad. Her brother Minho tried to cheer her up by buying her a fish, which she placed in her jar to swim. That night Juna dreams of diving into the water with her fish and searching for her friend Hector. Juna has other jar adventures while continuing her search for Hector, exploring a growing seedling like a miniature rain forest, shrinking herself to a tiny pilot to ride the back of a pet cricket, until finally Juna dreams she finds Hector asleep dreaming happily, near the kimchee jar she has given him. Each new jar exploration allows Juna's imagination to bring her closer to her friend Hector, until the final page, when her empty jar of dreams leads her to a new friend with a green inchworm. Poignant pastel illustrations express the hope, sadness, and dreams of this young girl who is savoring a remembered friendship while growing towards a bright future.
Leopardpox! Sadie Is Having the Funniest Sick Day Ever!
Orna Landau, author
Omer Hoffmann, illustrator
c/o Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544290013, $16.99, www.hmhco.com
"Leopardpox!" is the amazing illustrated adventure of Sadie's transformation from a sick girl into a little leopard cub leopardpox! She is very mischievous and naughty while transformed into a leopardpox cub, confounding her poor mother and three brothers even the pediatrician, who informs Mama and the boys that they must take the leopard (Sadie) away immediately. So the family tries to take Sadie to a veterinarian. The veterinarian is also puzzled, though delighted by Sadie. He wonders why Mama wants to transform a very cute special leopard cub back into a little girl. Running out of ideas, the family takes Sadie to the zoo to meet a leopard family. But the little cub Sadie wailed unhappily, clinging to the bars of the leopard cage. Sadie's Mama became quite unhappy and roared at the zookeepers, "A leopard should stay with her own won mother!" Back home Mama and the boys debated treatments for Sadie, ultimately rejecting all except just being extra nice to her until the leopardpox went away by itself. Mama fed Sadie chicken soup and petted her while she watched the Nature channel. Slowly, Sadie began to transform back into a little girl, a very tired little girl. As Mama and Sadie snuggle to sleep, she says "I'm so happy you got over the leopardpox,....but... I fell kind of funny..." The story of "Leopardpox!" is compellingly delivered with humorously illustrated pages of leopardpox pouncing and other hilarious events. A wonderful experience of identity swapping with a frisky, feisty leopard cub turns out to be the best sick day ever for kindergarten age Sadie and her Mama.
How To Bake a Book
Ella Burfoot, author/illustrator
P.O. Box 4410, Naperville, IL 60567
9781492606512, $16.99, www.jabberwockykids.com
"How To Bake a Book" is a unique approach to the creative literary process appealing to kids with strong, active imaginations. Using a magical combo of amusing versed lyric narrative and humorous literal fantasy illustrations, "How To Bake a Book" tackles the premise that a successful story recipe can be followed as easily as mixing up the dough to bake the cookies. The marriage of story components is described blithely: "Feelings, colors, sounds, a picture, all add flavor to my mixture!" A supremely confident little girl paddles through oceans of words, stacks of bottles of special ingredients, and bags and bottles of mixed words to pull together her story dough for cookie cutout characters. Let us not forget the need for punctuation, since "Each sentence will taste much better if I add periods and capital letters." Finally the creation is left to bake, and the resulting pie/cake/cookie story is so tasty; it is indeed a delicious book! "I turn the pages and I can see that my recipe has turned out tasty. I've done everything as the cook.... To make my story a delicious book!" The starring, springing, swelling, ebullient fantasy illustrations of monsters, witches, knights, elephants and princesses swirl with toys and fairies and pets and planets to complete the charm of this award-attracting author/artist's magnificent, toothsome opus.
The Tweedles Go Online
Monica Kulling, author
Marie Lafrance, illustrator
c/o House of Anansi Press
110 Spadina Ave., Suite 801, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5V 2K4
9781554983537, $16.95, www.groundwoodbooks.com
"The Tweedles Go Online" is a companion volume to the earlier book, "The Tweedles Go Electric," featuring an eccentric, old- fashioned family with mixed attitudes towards the benefits of modern communication and technology. The Tweedles are all excited because they are about to go "online," by which they mean they are considering installing a telephone. It is a good day to make pickles. Mama is attracted by the idea of having a telephone to order groceries, but concerned that it might be a mixed blessing. Despite her reservations, she announces to the family at supper they are going "online." Daughter Frannie is so happy she dances a jig. Papa Tweedle is concerned about a loss of privacy. Frankie would rather their electric car, which he named Zippy. Gradually the Tweedles family learn to adjust to the new-fangled telephone with its interrupting ring of command, and its endless fascination. The eccentric, old-fashioned Tweedles are delightfully depicted in stylish (for turn of the century) old fashioned dress and hairstyles, in amusing, witty illustrations with an unwritten commentary of self directed fun. "The Tweedles Go Online" is a funny and incisive look at the juxtaposition of modern techno-gadgetry vs. hands -on living off the grid. This is trendy alternative lifestyle before it was considered 'alternative," with home board games like cokinole for amusement, home canned pickles, and homemade cake for treats for visitors. Perhaps face to face visiting is better, or perhaps the Tweedles are just discovering that like all shiny new technological tools, the telephone must be integrated with care, and occasionally ignored if not disconnected. "The Tweedles Go Online" is sure to spark intergenerational conversations about then and now, and to tweet or not to tweet.....
Nonna Tell Me a Story: Lidia's Egg-citing Farm Adventure
Lidia Bastianich, author
Renee Graef, illustrator
c/o Perseus Books Group
2300 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Roslan & Campion Public Relations
9780762451265, $16.95, www.runningpress.com/rpkids
Third volume in an innovative, family-based series with a theme of healthy, farm fresh traditional (Italian) foods, "Lidia's Egg-citing Farm Adventure" is based on the author's memories of farm life with her grandparents in Istria, near Italy on the Adriatic Sea. All the grandchildren are having a sleepover at Nonni Lidia's telling scary stories, when someone is called a 'chicken.' This leads to a wonderful discussion of how EGGS-traordinary chickens really are from the memories of Nonni Lidia growing up with her Nonna Rosa. Chickens were a very important part of the life of the farm. In the spring twenty eggs were set aside for hatching, with the brooding hens doing their job of keeping the eggs warm and safe. The children love the story, with no scary foxes, and in the morning they enjoy a delicious frittata made with fresh eggs and ricotta cheese for breakfast. Nonni Lidia takes the grandchildren to a family organic poultry farm to find fresh eggs. There they see many exotic kinds of chickens and one rooster walking around and eating free range supplements plus their own special chicken food. On a tour of the Hobbs Family Organic Chicken Farm the children find and gather many different sizes and colors of eggs from the different kinds of chickens. Farmer Hobbs also gave Nonni Lidia a bag of fresh chicken parts, including the feet and the neck. On the way home the group purchases free range organic eggs from Farmer Hobbs' Farm in a store and the cooking is set to being in Nonni Lidia's kitchen. A wonderful chicken cappellini with vegetables and cheese is prepared and served festively outdoors on a mild evening filled with stars. All the grandchildren and their parents are happy together, remembering all they had learned about how egg-stra special chickens are. "Lidia's Egg-citing Farm Adventure" ends with shared recipes for eggs and chickens that children can help prepare with adult supervision, including Ricotta Frittata, Sausage, Egg, and Peppers Sandwich, Baked Stuffed Shells, Roman 'Egg Drop' Soup, Traditional Rice and Chicken, Chicken Parmigiana, Zabaglione with Berries, Ricotta Cookies, and more. Every recipe has lists of ingredients and step by step instructions, with a bottom highlighted Kids Can: section for special ways kids can participate in cooking. All the pages of this series volume are warmly illustrated in pastel tints revealing a sunny farm full of happy chickens and children, making "Lidia's Egg-citing Farm Adventure" an ideal book for intergenerational sharing, appealing to children age 4 and up.
Monty's Magnificent Mane
Gemma O'Neill, author/illustrator
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, Massachusetts 02144
9780763675936, $15.99, www.candlewick.com
"Monty's Magnificent Mane" is a delectable story about the balance between friendship and vanity, or the danger that can be avoided by listening carefully to loyal friends. Monty is a most magnificent lion, with a mane he is proud of, in which his friends the little meerkats like to play and hide. Unfortunately this had annoying consequences for Monty, who impatiently shook the feathery braids and decorations out of his mane left by the apologetic meerkats. Although they tried to warn him, he left without listening to look at his reflection in the water. A most intriguing interaction with a mysterious water creature ensued. Monty discovered the danger of heedless self admiration as soon as the crocodile climbed out of the water and took a bite out of his mane. But most spectacular of all was the way Monty stood up for his friends the meerkats when the crocodile followed him home and threatened to eat them for a snack! There is a full page splashy illustration of a dramatic moment when Monty roared at the crocodile, defending his friends the meerkats. Monty is loyal to his friends the meerkats, even when he is afraid, and his crocodile-bitten mane is the perfect place for them to play! "Monty's Magnificent Mane" is a true teaching tale, told in fantastically expressive pictures that young children will adore.
Sarah S. Brannen, author/illustrator
Albert Whitman & Company
250 South Northwest Highway, Suite 320, Park Ridge, IL 60068
9780807549056, $16.99, www.albertwhitman.com
"Madame Martine" is a heart-touching story of a lonely Parisian lady, fixed in her habits, who has her life changed by an encounter with a small abandoned dog. Madame Martine rescues the cold wet little dog, and begins to heal her loneliness by the growing, daily comfortable relationship with him. Then one fateful Madame Martine is taken on the climb of her life, up the elevator and many stairs of the Eiffel Tower, in pursuit of her canine friend, Max. Although she had lived in its shadow most of her life, she had never climbed it before. Max and Madame Martine are astounded at the lovely sight of Paris at night spread out beneath them. In a central encounter, a guard asks her, "How did you bring that dog up here? Dogs are strictly forbidden." Madame Martine answers: "I didn't bring him up here....He brought me." The two fast friends seal their relationship by honoring an unvarying daily/weekly routine together: "Madame Martine and Max took the same walk every day. They wore the same coat. The sat in the same cafe. Then they went to Rue Cler and bought chicken on Monday, scallops on Tuesday, mushrooms on Wednesday, beef on Thursday, and fish on Friday. Every Saturday they tried something new. That was how they liked it." Tender, expressive illustrations and gentle narrative make "Madame Martine" a book to be treasured by young readers and those who love them.
Nanny and Me
Florence Ann Romano, author
Sydni Kruger, illustrator
560 Herndon Parkway, #120, Herndon, VA 20170
9781620867880, $14.95, www.mascotbooks.com
"Nanny and Me" is a warm presentation of a child's experiences of being cared for by a special person when her mother and father both go away to work. Presented through the viewpoint of a young girl and her younger brother, "Nanny and Me" explores many positive aspects of the secure relationship between young children and their Nanny. Large, lush illustrations present the family pictures in warm hues of gold, brown, rust and earth/flesh tones. With her Nanny, the girl enjoys having fun adventures, like going to the zoo, playing in a park, swimming, having a lunch, reading a story, and taking a nap filled with dreams of marshmallow clouds, stars, and sailboats to the moon. At the end of the day, Mommy and Daddy come home, but Nanny says: "Our time has come to part, but until tomorrow, you are in my heart!" "Nanny and Me" is a reassuring story that can help smooth the way to new child care experiences for young children.
Maripat Perkins, author
Molly Idle, illustrator
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30318
9781561458165, $16.95, www.peachtree-online.com
"Rodeo Red" is a fun, fast, bouncy picture book for young children with a cowgirl heroine, Rodeo Red and her hound dog, Rusty. These two fast friends play cowboy games together happily until one day Sideswiping Slim sneaks in and manages to steal Rusty. What is a brave cowgirl to do? The flamboyantly delicate, expressive illustrations convey the truth which is, Sideswiping Slim is a new baby sibling, beloved of the parents of Rodeo Red, the Sheriff and her Deputy. At first Slim is quiet, not disturbing Red except with her cries, but gradually she moved more, invading Red's territory and playing with her toys. Slim did not pay attention to toy fence borders that Red tried to set up, nor did he respect her boundaries. One day Red could not find Rusty, her stuffed hound, anywhere. Late at night, Red snuck into Slim's camp (bedroom) and found him asleep holding on to Rusty. Reclaiming Rusty, Red unfortunately work Slim up and much loud bawling ensued. This brought Deputy Dad to intervene, and Red was forced to leave Rusty with Slim. After much unsuccessful plotting to recapture her beloved hound dog, Red was ready to give up when a package arrived by stagecoach! It was a late surprise birthday gift from Red's Aunt Sal, a fancy stuffed kitty. A crafty idea dawns on Red, and she imagines a way to exchange her new, silly stuffed kitty for her beloved dog, Rusty. Rodeo Red uses craft and guile to make the exchange with Slim, and in the end the trade is good. Red and Rusty end their day riding the rocking horse, "happier than two freckles on a sunny cheek." The humor in the outrageous Western bombastic narrative is perfectly complemented by the ebullient, ballooning illustrations, telling the true story of Rodeo Red and Sideswiping Slim.
Chasing the Moon
Tyler James Massey, author
Somnath Chatterjee, illustrator
Bill Scollon, editor
241 4th Ave., #2, Venice, CA 90291
9781505904512, $15.00, www.amazon.com/Chasing-Moon-Tyler-James-Massey
"Chasing the Moon" is a delicate narrative poem about the heavenly dance of the moon and the sun through the skies. Filled with vibrant illustrations of the beauty of the day and the night, "Chasing the Moon" is a fable about learning to accept yourself and appreciate your gifts. The moon chases the sun in an endless round of darkness and light, but the moon longs to live in the day's greater radiance, forsaking the shimmering silvery shadows of night's beauty. The kind sun reassures and charms the moon, telling him he too plays a very important role, providing a unique respite of night's beauty. The moon accepts his role, listening to the sun who says: "The night is lost without you, Darkness is all there'd be. Think of all that would be lost if you stay here with me." A sense of calm, turning, balance, and celestial beauty pervades "Chasing the Moon," a new fable teaching an old wisdom.
HippoDuck - Trouble At the Airport
Sandra Magura, author
Gaston Haufiller, illustrator
465 Westview Avenue, Englewood, NJ 07631
9781564924124, $16.95, www.laredopublishing.com
"HippoDuck - Trouble at the Airport" is the inspiring tale of a unique toy made of two stuffed animals sewed together, Hippo, who loves adventure, and Duck, who is shy and likes to stay at home . HippoDuck belongs to Charlotte, who was preparing to travel by plane to Grandma's house for summer vacation. HippoDuck was sewed together so neither precious toy would get lost. Charlotte and HippoDuck liked to do everything together. While going through the airport's check in, HippoDuck went through a conveyor belt with shoes and luggage and other belongings of Charlotte's family. Then a strange thing happened: HippoDuck fell off the suitcase clip and lost Charlotte! HippoDuck has many explorations and adventures looking for Charlotte in the airport, but finally a special guard managed to reunite the animals with Charlotte. "HippoDuck - Trouble at the Airport" is an excellent story to prepare young children for sights and experiences common to air travel. The charming, expressive pastel colored illustrations of the unusual stuffed animal help make some of the scary aspects of travel a manageable adventure.
Charlie's Birthday Wish
Rene Micka, author
Scott Sauer, illustrator
6434 W Dixon St - Milwaukee, WI 53214
9781612252773, $9.99, www.pagesofwonder.com
"Charlie's Birthday Wish" tells a birthday story of Charlie, a boy who was afraid he had no friends to invite to his birthday party. Although his mother has asked him for a list, he delays explaining to her that he has said or done unkind things to every single friend he had. He is very sorry, but he is afraid no one will come to his birthday party. Finally, Charlie writes a special birthday invitation to all his friends: "I am sorry for being such a fool, I never should have treated you the way I did at school. I thought I was showing you that I was somewhat cool. My actions, I now realize, were actually, rather cruel. Now, to be a good friend to you, I have the perfect tool. In friendship, I promise to use the Golden Rule. Now, as you have been good to me, I promise to be a good friend to you. Come to my party and we can make our memories new." In an amazing moment of suspense, Charlie realizes that he will get his best birthday wish, the gift of friendship and forgiveness. "Charlie's Birthday Wish" is a powerful kids story teaching the best way to have a friend is to be a friend.
I Love You Very Muchly
127 East Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781633065635, $9.99, www.amazon.com
An exceptional 28 page picturebook written for young children preschool through third grade, "I Love You Very Muchly" by Rick Marino is enhanced with the inclusion of a free audio download. Full page cartoon-style colored pictures by illustrator Contento enriches Marino's charming story is about a family dog named Nika who needs surgery to repair her liver. On the day before she goes to the veterinarian, she is told how much she is loved. The next morning, instead of breakfast as usual, she gets a ride in the car to a pet hospital where she is taken to a white room to have surgery. After she wakes, she has a big scar and is tired, but it's all over and done. Two days later, Nika starts eating again. By the third day, she misses her family and is yearning to go home. When she finally is home, her family tell her they love her, making her happy and contented. "I Love You Very Muchly" is especially recommended for children's whose own pets require veterinary services. Exceptionally well written and presented, "I Love You Very Muchly" is strongly recommended for family, school, and community library children's books collections.
The Perfect Raisin & Pretzel Cousins Club
Catherine Sistrunk Tobin, author
Ellie Sullivan, illustrator
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781499063554, $21.99, www.Xlibris.com
"The Perfect Raisin & Pretzel Cousins Club" is a new story of a blended family experience. A club of friends begins calling itself the Perfect Chocolate Covered Raisin Cousins Club." Soon this number and the concept of the cousins club begins to grow. Emma and Julia, the first two members, eventually expand to a club of seven, all cousins, some raisins, some pretzels, some chocolate covered, and some not. Every new addition brings a fresh outlook and set of challenges to the cousins' ideas of what is a perfect club. What each new member teaches everyone in the club is that all the differences, likes, talents, looks, etc. help to make the club of cousins perfect. "The Perfect Raisin and Pretzel Cousins Club" models a nonthreatening way for kids to learn to think critically about new ideas.
The Backwards Birthday Party
Tom Chapin and John Forster
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor
New York, NY 10020
9781462467989 $17.99 www.kids.simonandschuster.com
The Backwards Birthday Party enjoys lively drawings by Chuck Groenink and comes from two songwriters who bring to life the story of a zany birthday party attended by penguins and animals, where everything is backwards. Therefore - the cake is eaten first, and a blindfolded donkey pins the tail on participants. The whimsical, fun story line will delight kids familiar with birthday rituals and offers a fun remake of a classic party theme.
A Surprise for Giraffe and Elephant
125 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023
A Surprise for Giraffe and Elephant tells of Elephant, who has a lot to say about surprises that include alpine horn serenades and surprise parties. Giraffe, on the other hand, doesn't have much to say - but what he says is meaningful. How can two such different friends get along when they have very different goals in mind? And can a horn and a toboggan ruin a friendship? A fun story evolves, perfect for young readers seeking something different.
Flowers are Calling
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
9780544340121, $16.99 www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com
Rita Gray's FLOWERS ARE CALLING pairs gorgeous flower drawings by Kenard Pak with a presentation that reads like fiction but uses rhyming poetry to share the story of how flowers and animals are connected. The realistic artwork really shines in a presentation that teaches how plants work to create their own natural history in a lovely story that will invite young picture book readers to imbibe.
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Inc.
400 Market Street, Suite 400
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Melissa Moses' ALEX AND THE SCARY THINGS (9781849057936, $17.95) tells of Alex the Alligator who has experienced frightening things in his life, and who experiences emotions ranging from sadness to anger, as a result. Alison MacEachern contributes fun, whimsical animal drawings to enhance a story to help kids who have experienced something scary. Camille Gibbs' A SKY OF DIAMONDS (9781849056229, $19.95) is a story about loss and grief, and requires good reading skills as it provides the first-person account of a mother's death and a child who remembers 'every single second of it'. The sudden death of her mother in an auto accident brings forth all kinds of pain, described here and accompanied by simple drawings. Alice Hoyle's PRETEND FRIENDS (9781849056243, $14.95) is illustrated by Lauren Reis and provides a story about schizophrenia and other illnesses that can cause hallucinations. It's designed to support families and professionals in their discussions with kids about mental illness, and it provides a picture book story of a girl who lives in a pretend fantasy world. Kids receive a lively account that supports understanding and acceptance.
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
Susan Hood's MISSION: NEW BABY (9780385376723, $16.99) provides "top secret info for big brothers and sisters", is illustrated by Mary Lundquist, and assigns young readers the tasks of being 'special agents' with the mission of training the family's new arrival. Discussions of what can be done with a new baby in the house make for a chatty, whimsical presentation designed to impart an atmosphere of fun to proceedings, making this a recommendation for any expecting a new addition to the family. Dev Petty's I DON'T WANT TO BE A FROG (9780385378666, $16.99) is illustrated by Mike Boldt and tells of the plight of the poor frog, who wants to be any other animal but what he is. Whether pig, or owl, or cat, or rabbit, the poor frog sees nothing useful about being a frog in this warm saga of change.
99 Dover Street
Somerville, MA 02144
Timothy Knapman's SOON (9780763674786, $16.99) tells of Raju and his mother, elephants who set out on an adventure and a long journey. Raju's mother keeps him safe, but all Raju wishes to do is return home - and his mother can only promise "soon" to his inquiries. As the mother/son elephant outing continues, Raju learns a few things about the scary world and its inhabitants - and his mother's powers. Patrick Benson's lovely color drawings enhance an appealing, involving saga young picture book fans will relish. Lana Krumwiede's JUST ITZY (9780763658113, $15.99) tells of a little spider who is sick of being small. On his first day of spindergarten Itzy decides to prove he's a big spider and can catch his own lunch, but there's always something preventing him from actually catching a fly to prove his point in this hilarious remake of a series of nursery rhymes from a fly's viewpoint. Greg Pizzoli provides whimsical, fun embellishment to the story. Sean Taylor's HOOT OWL: MASTER OF DISGUISE (9780763675783, $15.99) may sound like nonfiction, but it's a actually a fiction tale as it tells of a owl who uses his camouflaging skills to trick his prey. The only problem is, Hoot Owl's prey keeps escaping. How can he win? An unusual first-person owl's-eye view is supported by fun, large-size drawings by Jean Jullien. All are fine picks for young picture book readers.
The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
The Guardian Dragon
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781492979272 $8.49 www.createspace.com
The Guardian Dragon is a magical novella for young adults, about a spellcaster-princess determined to save her kingdom and prevent a terrible war. Princess Zaara of Zahandra must take a stand again an evil alliance of witches and wizards who kidnap her parents; fortunately, she has the support and guardianship of Verdas, the wise dragon king. With the aid of her friends, Zaara must obtain an alliance with the neighboring kingdom of Bestonia, and stop Bestonia's border dispute with Zahandra from escalating into war! Black-and-white illustrations enliven this brief yet captivating high fantasy adventure.
A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans
Laurence Yep & Joanne Ryder
Crown Publishing Group
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780385392280 $15.99 www.crownpublishing.com
The debut collaboration of two-time Newbery Honor author Laurence Yep and Laura Ingalls Wilder Award winner Joanne Ryder, A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans is a quixotic modern fantasy for young adults. The classy Miss Drake and the young artist Winnie think of each other as an intelligent pet! Determined to train Winnie to be an ideal companion for a responsible dragon, Miss Drake introduces Winnie to the magical creatures of San Francisco. Winnie draws her fantastic new friends in her sketchbook - but then Winnie's sketchlings come alive and run rampant in the streets! Can Miss Drake and Winnie calm down the madcap mayhem? Will they learn the value of respecting one another as friends, rather than "pets"? A delightful adventure from cover to cover, A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans is highly recommended for dragon fans of all ages.
9780989774413 $10.99 www.amazon.com
Also available as a Kindle ebook, Saving Mim is a fantastic adventure for readers age ten and up. Young Charlie Kadabra was abandoned as a baby in a world without magic; now, he learns that he is the last of the Magicians who were the guardians and protectors of Mim. The wicked Dr. Pi has exterminated the other Magicians; he wants to destroy Mim and magic, leaving only chaos in all known universes. Charlie's quest to find the jewels of power for his father's staff is a daunting, arduous task; fortunately, he has the help of spirited and loyal magical friends. Highly recommended!
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive
Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616149864 $17.99 www.pyrsf.com
Covenant's End: A Widdershins Adventure tells how thief Widdershins and her 'personal god' Olgun return to their home city after adventuring, only to find an adversary has also returned with newfound powers that dwarf Widdershins and Olgun's special abilities. Add a distinct lack of friends and schemes that threaten to destroy Shins' world and old friendships and you have an engrossing story with a difference: a plucky magical girl and her god.
The FunGkins: The Battle For Halladon
C. Raymond Gray, author
Melanie R. Mason & Kastinna Hayes, editors
Word Slinger Publicity
9780615921570, $15.99, 346pp, www.amazon.com
With the evil Leprechauns (The Shangaar), hot on their trail, who would ever guess that the fate of the littlest people would fall on the shoulders of a 10-year-old human girl named Clara Gooday? Her unwavering belief in the Littlest People may be the very thing that saves The FunGkins and all of Halladon from a fate worse than death. But first, she will have to deal with the evil Mr. Mustashio; he is one hundred and fifty years old but doesn't look a day over forty. Working for the evil leprechauns, he has moved into the funeral home next door, masquerading as an undertaker. But why have he and his sly talking dog Snodsty come to town? Clara is sure Mr. Mustashio is evil and is out to capture the FunGkins. With her trusty magic telescope in hand; she can become invisible at will. Armed with her bag of tricks it's her plan to watch every move, the seven foot tall skinny man and his talking dog make. Clara Gooday lives in Pirate's Cove a small town on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The town has strangers living there. With their bird-like features, they are even stranger looking. Some are good while others are pure evil. They all came to Pirate's Cove the day Clara was born. But for what reason are they there? Who is Clara really? What secret does she hold? What if she's part of the legend foretold? Clara has many questions, but when she meets two FunGkins she and her Aunt Tilly are shrunken down to size, and whisked off to the magical world of Mushroom Valley. There all of her questions will be answered. Accompanied by her Aunt Tilly a school teacher. Clara's journey will take you on a roller coaster ride of adventure. One where there are so many twists and turns that there are just too many to mention here. Specifically written and highly recommended for young readers ages 8 to 14, "The FunGkins: The Battle For Halladon" is a superbly crafted fantasy adventure that will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library collections. Certain to be a thoroughly enjoyed read from beginning to end, it should be noted that "The FunGkins: The Battle For Halladon" is also available in a Kindle edition.
Nirvana The Angel Dream, Book 1
Nicole Suzanne, author
Sheridan Johns, illustrator
c/o Hay House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452518077, $16.95, www.nirvanabooks.com
"Nirvana: The Angel Dream" is Book 1 of the Nirvana fantasy series which begins the tale of the meeting of Elias and Zaria, two angels from different worlds peopled by fairies, dwarves, talking trees, and magical fantastic beings, even a flying Pegasus named Luwiann. In these magical realms, all beings are happy and think happy thoughts, creating joy and beauty all around, with sprinklings of angel glitter and fairy dust. "Nirvana: the Angel Dream Book" unfolds gently, with the longing of Elias to meet his beloved Zaria, of whom he has dreamed. Smaller beings, such as Flynn the dwarf, and Maya, the messenger fairy, and Luwiann, the flying Pegasus intervene to help Elias and Zaria come together, for Elias must use his angel wings to fly down a deep well on Earth to rescue Zaria, who had fallen and injured her wing. All ends well with the rescue, and Zaria and Elias pledge their undying love in a special promising ceremony ending with sprinklings of fairy dust, rainbows, and magical fireworks in the sky. Thrilling colored illustrations bring the world of Nirvana to life, and musical interpretations of Nirvana are available in "Nirvana - The Angel Dream Audiobook" narrated and performed/written by Niall, available at, www.niallmusic.com. "Nirvana: The Angel Dream" is recommended inspirational reading for young tweens and middle school students age 11 and up.
Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo's Saturn Surprise
Oneeka Williams M.D., author
Valerie Bouthyette, illustrator
560 Herndon Parkway, #120, Herndon, VA 20170
9781620865569, $14.95, www.mascotbooks.com
"Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo's Saturn Surprise" is the third volume in an exciting educational science fiction series for kids ages 6-12. Aligned with common core curriculum, this exciting series features a talented young black girl with advanced medical skills allowing her sew, tie and cut in miraculous space surgery. With her companions Kyle and Lukas, plus her faithful Marky Medicine Bag plus personal surgical instrument friends, Dr. Dee Dee is called to a mission to rescue Saturn from the potential rebellion of its rings. Tired of being rings, the seven ribbons of rotating fragments are proposing to create their own identity by reforming into a moon. Luckily, Dr. Dee Dee is able to use acute observational skills, plus some creative negotiation and super space surgical treatment to persuade and reconstruct all seven of Saturn's rebellious rings. Dr. Dee Dee is also able to encourage Titan, the largest of Saturn's 62 moons, to be patient and wait perhaps billions of years to become a new Earth -like planet with life of its own. "Dr. Dee Dee's Saturn Surprise" ends with a glossary, vocabulary, Mommy Dynamo's Discovery Questions and Math Challenge, and resource guide for further information about Saturn, the ringed planet. Inclusion of song lyrics and dance step instructions for Do the Saturn Dance, embellished with dazzling animated illustrations in rainbow color help present the data in memorable fashion for young readers. This delightful, educational planetary series scores soundly on multiple levels with kids ages 6-12.
Monster Squad: The Iron Golem
New Generation Publishing
9781785071515, $12.99, www.amazon.com
Dark forces are converging on the sleepy town of Autumn's Hallow. Monsters in the woods, mad scientists on the loose and sinister minions lurk. Four young friends must band together to uncover a secret plot that threatens them, the town they live in and the people they love. It's up to Blaine Davis, Daschle Gaunt, Shelley Merry and Drake Harker, heirs to fantastic powers to stop an evil that threatens to consume the world. Can the Monster Squad thwart the evil Victor von Frankenstein in time? "Monster Squad: The Iron Golem" is the first title in author Christian Page's new series and offers young readers a 296 page full length fantasy action/adventure thriller that will engage and hold their attention from beginning to end. A solid entertainment, "Monster Squad: The Iron Golem" is very highly recommended for school and community library Fantasy Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Monster Squad: The Iron Golem" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).
The Magic Stones
Grandma Nor/Randi McKinnon, author
Jan Michael Vincent-Sy, illustrator
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781465385215, $21.99, www.amazon.com
"The Magic Stones" is a magical children's fantasy tale based on the author's memories of childhood tales from Norway. "The Magic Stones" takes a young boy named Pete and a girl named Molly on a mysterious journey exploring a cave high in mountains over looking their valley home. Little do they know that they will not remember their magical experiences inside the mysterious cave, but it will change their lives. Affirming the values of respect for others, sharing, and caring for each living creature, "The Magic Stones" weaves a complex tale of awe and wonder. The children enter the cave and make many amazing discoveries, but the protective enchantment they experience will cloud their memory of exactly what they saw inside the mysterious cave. Encountering magical flowers, fairies, a real dragon skeleton, and more, Molly and Pete eventually find their way back to the cave entry, amazed by what they had seen and learned. The long lasting effects of the gifts of the fairies gradually become revealed when Molly finds two special stones in her pocket. "The Magic Stones" has both color illustrations and colored text of narrative to tell this special story. Children age 8 and up will enjoy reading "The Magic Stones," or having it read to them by adults.
Donkey's Kite: A Horse Valley Adventure
Liana-Melissa Allen, author/illustrator
Author Marketing Experts
9781505604610, $12.95, www.lmabooks.com
The second volume in a fresh horse fantasy series for mid grade readers, "Donkey's Kite: a Horse Valley Adventure" tells the entertaining story of three horse brothers and their friend Donkey who are excitedly creating homemade kites for kite flying day at Horse Meadow Park. Max, Lax, and Jack are all busy creating beautiful home crafted kites. Poor Donkey is just sad because his clumsy efforts at kite making were definitely second best. All four friends trotted off to the picnic grounds and set up to enjoy flying their kites. Donkey was sad because he was unable to get his kite to fly no matter how he tried, but his friends were just too busy to notice. Max was concerned with eating picnic foods, Lax was busy bragging about his kite to his friends, and Jack was touching up the colors of his kite. As a result, Donkey felt lonely, gloomy and sad, because no one would help him or encourage him, or even listen to him. To make matters worse, Donkey met a rude goose who made fun of him and bullied him. That hurt Donkey, partly because he used to be a bully himself. A large white goose named Gusty comes to Donkey's rescue and tries to help him with his kite design. Gusty uses his own feathers and flying ingenuity to really help Donkey make up a better kite. Gusty even flaps his wings to make gusts to send the kite flying high. The story takes a surprise turn or two here, but in the end, Donkey's horse friends apologize for ignoring him and failing to help him with his kite and the new group of friends works to create and sail a wonderful kite together. Cheery, expressive horse and donkey figures present slightly anthropomorphic equine characters in color who learn more about being good friends together and looking out for each other. "Donkey's Kite" is an excellent fable for mid-grade students age 8 and up, laced with humor, charm, and a bit of the Golden Rule.
Willy Maykit in Space
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
9780544313514 $13.99 www.hmhco.com
Fourth grader Willy Maykit is heading for space on a school field trip, to Planet Ed, and they'll blast off in the afternoon and be home in time for supper. Unfortunately, Willy wanders away from his class and is left behind along with his classmate Cindy. Can he and his alien friend avoid the planet's hungry monsters until rescue arrives? This isn't a serious space saga, but a hilarious, funny story of mishaps and misunderstandings that invites fourth graders to enjoy. Black and white illustrations lend to a fun tale!
The Self-Help Shelf
Billy the Bully
Lacretia Palmer, author
Romney Vasquez, illustrator
560 Herndon Parkway, #120, Herndon, VA 20170
9781620869406, $14.95, www.mascotbooks.com
'Billy the Bully" is a creative approach to deal with the problem of bullying through nutrition, while raising awareness and teaching children concepts of acceptable and unacceptable behavior, or the difference between right and wrong. Billy begins his day by waking up for his mom, then dashing off to school with no breakfast. By lunchtime, Billy the Bully was so hungry he proceeded to bully all his classmates for their lunch foods. Nutritious Nancy counseled him that this was not acceptable behavior, even though he had done it before. Billy the Bully did not really listen to Nutritious Nancy. Then later, Billy's younger brother Bobby came home from school crying because another kid had taken his lunch away all week. Billy began to understand why bullying kids for their lunches was wrong. He resolved to do better. He confessed to his parents about his bullying and invited all the kids whose lunch he had stolen to a picnic in the park on Saturday. Though his parents were surprised he was a bully, they helped him prepare the picnic lunch. At the park lunch, Billy served everyone and told the story of his brother being bullied for his lunch, adding "I am no longer a bully!" A final illustrated question page encourages young readers to internalize the message of "Billy the Bully," a teaching story with strong appeal for elementary age children.
Is There an App for That?
Bryan Smith, author
Katia Wish, illustrator
Boys Town Press
14100 Crawford Street, Boys Town, NE 68010
9781934490747, $10.95, www.BoysTownPress.org
"Is There an App for That?: Hailey Discovers Happiness through Self-Acceptance" is an appealing kid's approach to coming to terms with yourself, all fitted out in spunky prose about special magical apps for changing yourself (or apps for self-improvement). Hailey is a short girl in fourth grade who is determined to change herself to become smarter, taller, faster, or more popular. Her mother tries to persuade her that changing herself is not the answer, but she is determined to "Pick One App to Change Yourself for One Day!" At first Hailey chose to click the Ruler App and immediately grew two feet taller, with amazing consequences. Fortunately Hailey's Mom limited her App experiments to one week, because all the magic apps turn out to be mistakes for Hailey! She uses all the apps until there is only the Happy App left, and the morning she clicks that, there is no change! Now the truly remarkable thing is, the Happy App lets Hailey be and enjoy just who she really is, just like her mother tried to tell her! The best App of all is the Happy App, because it is all about Hailey discovering Happiness through self acceptance! The delightful illustrations highlight humorous self acceptance of differences throughout the pages of "Is There an App for That?" Learning to like and even love yourself just the way you are is the best App of all for Hailey.
The Health Shelf
The Rootlets: Super Rootabilities
Vicki Marquez, author
Jeremy Russnak, illustrator
9780990721604, $12.99, www.therootlets.com
Specially created to infuse young readers with enthusiasm for nutritious vegetable consumption, "The Rootlets: Super Rootabilities" is a vivid tale of the superhero origins of fantastic vegetable friends. Meet the Rootlets - Brocc, Carrotina, Cornelius, and Kaley, who live on Planet Planted in the town of VeggieVille. Basil is their dog and Yammy Grammy is their caretaker. Every Rootlet is on a wonderful quest to discover their special Rootability, such as brain power for Brocc, strength for Cornelius, Carrotina has special vision, and Kaley has super skin. All the Rootlets are eager to grow and learn more about their special Rootabilities, and they enjoy their healthy roasted vegetable soup and their good nights' rest. An exciting adventure begins as the Rootlets discover just how cool it is to be beginning veggie superheroes. Bright, quirky illustrations of the Rootlets' adventures follow mysterious clues to their exciting conclusion, which leads to even more plans for super hero Rootabilities' development. "The Rootlets: Super Rootabilities" is the spinoff of an exciting nutrition series that will enchant children ages 4-9, making vegetable consumption glamorous to all!
Bear Hugging & Cancer Crushing
Anna & Eric Gilcris, authors
Steve Hogan, illustrator
Lulu Publishing Services
9781483419909, $17.99, www.cancercanknot.com
"Bear Hugging & Cancer Crushing" is the inspiring story of a boy's discovery that his father has brain cancer. Based on the authors' experience with their son, "Bear Hugging & Cancer Crushing" is written in inviting verse, conveying through words and images the myriad of questions and concerns felt by a boy who learns his father has brain cancer. Warm vibrant colored images show a boy and his father enjoying so many active moments of fun and play. The boy wonders if his father will be able to do these things with him now that he has cancer. The boy's mother reassures him that his Daddy will feel sick for a while, but he will still enjoy the laughter and smiles of his son. His son can help him become the Cancer Crusher, by giving him good bear hugs to make him strong. "Bear Hugging & Cancer Crushing" is an inspirational explanation of some of the realities of brain cancer for young children. A portion of the profits from the sale of "Bear Hugging & Cancer Crushing" will be donated to cancer research.
The Green Box League of Nutritious Justice
Dr. Keith Kantor, N.D., Ph.D., et. al.
9780988316317 $38.95 www.amazon.com
Also available as a Kindle ebook, The Green Box League of Nutritious Justice is a fitness and nutrition guide created especially for children and young adults. The contributors have impeccable credentials: Dr. Keith Kantor has a Ph.D. in nutritional science and is the CEO of nutrition company Green Box Foods; Peter Lawrence Crouth is an executive chef; Dana yarn is a holistic registered dietitian and ACE-certified personal trainer; and Karen DeFiore Kantor is a registered nurse. The Green Box League of Nutritious Justice interleaves information about healthy foods and sample recipes with adventurous, read-aloud stories and whimsically colorful illustrations. Intended for families and caretakers as well as children, The Green Box League of Nutritious Justice is packed with suggestions for a better lifestyle!
The Mystery/Suspense Shelf
The Nantucket Lightship Basket Mystery
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781482660029, $6.99, 138pp, www.amazon.com
Soon after Erin and her best friend, Jacob, arrive for a vacation on Nantucket, someone steals the heirloom lightship basket Erin's mother left to her before she died. The suspect in the robbery has bushy blond hair and hairy toes, but searching for someone like that on Nantucket can lead to swimming in the Nantucket Boat Basin, uncovering a still-simmering family feud, and stealing stolen diamonds. Will Erin and Jacob find the lightship basket before it's gone forever ... or could they be gone forever, too? A delightfully written and thoroughly 'kid friendly' chapter book story for young readers ages 7 to 10, "The Nantucket Lightship Basket Mystery" is very highly recommended for both school and community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Nantucket Lightship Basket Mystery" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).
The Fiction Shelf
I Was Here
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451471475 $18.99 www.penguin.com
When Cody's best friend Meg dies alone in a motel room after ingesting a deadly cleaner, Cody is shocked that there was no warning, no signs, and no time to prepare. Her journey to Meg's college town to pick up her things becomes a search for the truth as she learns much she didn't know about Meg's world and about the secrets that surrounded not only her, but her friends. The result is not only a powerful saga of friendship and loss: it's a tale of secrets kept and revealed, and what suicide does to survivors, and it will engross many a teen reader.
No Worse Sin
Harvard Square Editions
2152 Beachwood Terrace, Hollywood, CA 90068
9781941861011, $22.95, www.harvardsquareeditions.org
In "No Worse Sin", two teens in love must make the ultimate sacrifice to avert global disaster - First-period English class is the last place 17-year-old Laena expects to have her entire existence thrown into a tailspin. But when Cree, a jaw-droppingly gorgeous boy, mysteriously appears in her classroom, Laena knows nothing will ever be the same. Before Laena can decide who Cree really is or whether anything he says is true, she falls for him. Hard. Cree claims he has seen the future, and it is devastating. Working frantically to avert impending disaster, the two teens plunge into a battle between science and faith that threatens everything Laena has ever known. Surviving high school is tough. But it's even tougher while fighting for your life, the boy you love, and the fate of the planet. As riveting a read as it is entertaining, "No Worse Sin" will have special appeal to teenage and young adult adventure novel enthusiasts. "No Worse Sin" documents author Kyla Bennet as an exceptionally talented writer who is able to deftly craft a complex, original, and deeply engaging story. Very highly recommended for school and community library YA Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "No Worse Sin" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Max & Voltaire: Getting to Know You
Mina Mauerstein Bail, author
Gabriel Choquette, illustrator
Sigrid MacDonald, editor
TotalRecall Publications, Inc.
1103 Middlecreek, Friendswood, Texas 77546
9781590951514, $16.95, www.TotalRecallPress.com
Volume one of an entertaining exploration series, the story of Max and Voltaire begins in a wonderful French bakery, where Max, a kitten, has been adopted by Madame Cupcake and her husband. Unfortunately, their dog, Rambo, is not too friendly to Max, so consequently he is invited to spend his days and nights in the bakery, where he will not be chased or bullied by Rambo. The charming story of the meeting between Max and Voltaire, and the many subsequent adjustments and adventures, including a new family home for Max with Madame Rosemarie and her other cats, Zoa, Tish, and Say What, along with Voltaire, the white dog who is a friend to his cats. Max & Voltaire tackle unusual situations, and learn tolerance and ways of getting along with others. Twelve chapters of adventures (in two parts) are embellished with colorful cartoon-influenced illustrations that add to the appeal of this animal adventure tale in the village of Ferney-Voltaire, France. A helpful glossary with definitions and pronunciations of French terms is included in the beginning of "Max & Voltaire: Getting To Know You." This delightful chapter book is excellent reading for children age 8 and up.
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
345 Hudson Street, 13th floor, New York, NY 10014
Goldberg McDuffie Communications
9781602862722, $16.00, 304pp, www.amazon.com
Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, Sunshine Griffith and her mother Kat move from sunny Austin, Texas, to the rain-drenched town of Ridgemont, Washington. Though Sunshine is adopted, she and her mother have always been close, sharing a special bond filled with laughter and inside jokes. But from the moment they arrive, Sunshine feels her world darken with an eeriness she cannot place. And even if Kat doesn't recognize it, Sunshine knows that something about their new house is just ... creepy. In the days that follow, things only get stranger. Sunshine is followed around the house by an icy breeze, phantom wind slams her bedroom door shut, and eventually, the laughter Sunshine hears on her first night evolves into sobs. She can hardly believe it, but as the spirits haunting her house become more frightening (and it becomes clear that Kat is in danger) Sunshine must accept what she is, pass the test before her, and save her mother from a fate worse than death. "The Haunting of Sunshine Girl" by Paige McKenzie is based on the YouTube web series phenomena and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library YA fiction collections. For teen personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Haunting of Sunshine Girl" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
9780991611812, $10.95, 290pp, www.amazon.com
A lonely girl learns to play the trombone. An abused stallion learns to trust. Together, they save their world. Eleven-year-old Josey Miller knows two things: it's her fault Mama left, and she will do anything to coax her back. When Mrs. Casey, the new music teacher, starts a band at Bennett Springs Middle School, Josey sees it as her chance to finally belong to something and convince Mama to visit for her concerts. The only problem: there's no money for a clarinet, what with Dad laid off and fighting to keep their farm. But things start looking up when Grandpa Joe gives Josey an old trombone to play, and Mr. McInerny starts boarding his high-dollar Arabian stallion with Dad. Nobody can train horses like Josey's father. And that's good because Chief is dangerous. When her father and the stallion go missing during a 50-mile endurance ride in the Ozark Mountains, can Josey bring them safely home? Annet Drake's "Bone Girl" demonstrates the author's impressive storytelling talents and ability to deftly create memorable characters that engage the reader's full attention. Very highly recommended for school and community library fiction collections for young readers, it should be noted that "Bone Girl" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99), and as an Audible download ($13.08).
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces
Cinco Puntos Press
701 Texas, El Paso, Texas 79901
9781935955948, $17.95, 208pp, www.amazon.com
Author Isabel Quintero's debut novel for teens and young adults, "Gabi, A Girl in Pieces" is the story of Gabi Hernandez who chronicles her last year in high school in her diary including college applications, Cindy's pregnancy, Sebastian's coming out, the cute boys, her father's meth habit, and the food she craves. And best of all, the poetry that helps forge her identity. Award winning and exceptionally well written, "Gabi, A Girl in Pieces" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library YA Fiction collections. It should be noted that "Gabi, A Girl in Pieces" is also available in a paperback edition (9781935955955, $11.95), in a Kindle edition ($7.99), and in Audible download format ($28.18).
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
Dianna Dorisi Winget's A MILLION WAYS HOME (9780545667067, $16.99) tells of Poppy Parker, whose grandmother and guardian is in the hospital, placing Poppy in an orphanage while things get sorted out. She seems to have good plans for success when she becomes a witness to a terrible crime and the police department devises an unusual 'witness protection program' where Poppy will stay with a detective's mother. For the first time in a long time she's in a regular home environment, making friends and enjoying a lovely dog - but can she maintain her goals and achieve something different than she dreamed? A warm story evolves. Maggie Stiefvater's BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE (9780545424967, $18.99) represents Book Three of the 'Raven Cycle', and prior familiarity with the other books will lend to a wonderful story surrounding Blue Sargent, who has friends she can trust for the first time when The Raven Boys adopt her as part of the gang. The problem is: their endorsement of her doesn't translate to stability: things can change, and with them, friendships. Readers of the prior books will find this holds the same level of complexity and depth as the prior books, blending in insights into ethical and spiritual encounters in the course of providing an evocative, compelling saga. Christopher Paul Curtis's THE MADMAN OF PINEY WOODS (9780545156646, $16.99) provides a fine companion to the Newbery Honor book Elijah of Buxton, and tells of Benji and Red, who are acquaintances bound together not by friendship, but by circumstance. When they discover they've both encountered a strange presence in the forest, watching them, they become involved in the legend of the Madman of Piney Woods - and in a saga that rests squarely on legend, cooperation and change. A riveting story evolves, especially recommended for prior fans of Curtis who will find his penchant for drama doesn't disappoint, here.
Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1
New York, NY 10019
Jordan Stratford's THE WOLLENSTONECRAFT DETECTIVE AGENCY (9780385754408, $16.99) blends history, science and mystery in a fun middle school detective series that here centers around Mary Shelley (the author of Frankenstein) and Ada Lovelace (the world's first computer programmer) who meet as girls and form a secret detective agency. Because not only their cases but their agency is a secret, their efforts are cloaked in secrets: it's a takeoff on Holmes and Watson but with teen girls in mind in a fun, engrossing read middle school girls will relish. Cathleen Davitt Bell's I REMEMBER YOU (9780754552, $17.99) tells of seventeen-year-old Lucas, a hockey player who has plans to join the marines when high school is over, and Juliet, who has long been on the college course. Their very different worlds collide when romance evolves between them; but this is no typical teen story, because Lucas claims to know the future - because he's already lived it. Should Juliet pay attention to his contentions? An excellent, moving story evolves. Alison DeCamp's MY NEAR-DEATH ADVENTURES (99% TRUE!) (9780385390446, $16.99) for ages 8-12 is a hilarious story of a hero who decides to find his father, and consists of scrapbook entries and some 200 illustrations. The subject is a pre-teen who wants many things in life, all of them exciting - but nothing more wanted than his missing father, who must be an absent hero or a manly adventurer. It's up to Stan to find him in this fun blend of Michigan history and adventure.
125 West End Avenue
New York, NY 10023
Melissa Landers' INVADED (9781423169499, $17.99) tells of Cara, who works with her L'ehir boyfriend to mend the broken alliance between earth and the planet L'eihr. With the two in very different places, Cara is left to struggle in a new school on a different world surrounded by hostile alien clones; but when she's appointed as a human representative to a panel preparing for a human colony on the planet, things seem to look up. She isn't the only one facing difficulties, however; on Earth Aelyx is also struggling to improve human-L'eihr relationships, facing different struggles. Can the two separately achieve something that it turns out both worlds will need to survive? A fine story of social change emerges. Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman's EDISON'S ALLEY (9781423148067, $16.99) is Book Two of the 'Accelerati Trilogy' and tells of teen Nick, who has learned that the strange antiques in his attic were left there by inventor Tesla as part of his Far Range Energy Transmitter. When the objects seem to take a hand in leading Nick and his friends to their current owners, a secret society of physicists, the Accerati, become involved, and a deadly plot emerges. The result is a wonderfully complex mystery/science fiction blend to delight teens looking for something more than a casual read.
New York, NY 10012-3999
Book Five of Tui T. Sutherland's 'Spirit Animals' series AGAINST THE TIDE (9780545599757, $16.99) tells of four friends who have journeyed around the world looking for powerful talismans to keep them from the enemy. Pursuers always follow them - and always seem a step ahead. Why? Against the Tide tells why: one of them is a traitor - but who? The process of unlocking a mystery will lead them to fresh danger and some likelihood of success in this engrossing saga. Patrik Henry Bass's THE ZERO DEGREE ZOMBIE ZONE (9780545132107, $16.99) tells of Bakari Katari Johnson, who is facing down a class bully and a bossy girl. When he finds a magic ring, his troubles seem to vanish - replaced by new ones caused by his shyness and his fears. Now he's facing down intruders, and even his best friend can't help him keep the ring safe. A fine story of courage and fantasy evolves. Kevin Sherry's THE YETI FILES: MEET THE BIGFOOT (9780545556170, $8.99) tells of Blizz Richards, a Yeti with a big heart, a family man, a good friend, and always misunderstood. He and his fellow mystical creatures have promised never to be seen by the outside world - but an evil man is out to prove his existence. Can Blizz and his team save their Bigfoot friend? A fun story evolves. Beth Ain's STARRING JULES (THIRD GRADE DEBUT) (9780545443586, $14.99) offers a transitional story between second and third grade, using the first person to transmit the story of a girl who finds third grade an unexpected challenge, between a difficult new teacher, homework, and a TV show that thwarts her abilities. Can Jules succeed in third grade, or will she face an overwhelming failure? All are fine leisure reads!
The Biography Shelf
Juliette Kinzie: Frontier Storyteller
Kathe Crowley Conn
Wisconsin Historical Society Press
816 State Street, Madison, WI 53575
9780870207013, $12.95, 123pp, www.amazon.com
Juliette Augusta Magill Kinzie (September 11, 1806 - September 15, 1870) was an American historian, writer and pioneer of the American Midwest. "Juliette Kinzie: Frontier Storyteller" by Kathe Crowley Conn is part of the Wisconsin Historical Society Press series 'Badger biographies' and tells the story of how in 1830, a young woman named Juliette Magill Kinzie moved from her fancy home in Connecticut to a rustic log cabin in what would later be called Wisconsin. Juliette lived there with her husband, John, who worked as an Indian agent at Fort Winnebago, one of Wisconsin's earliest settlements. While living at the fort, Juliette came to know the Indian communities that called the land home, as well as the non-Indian settlers who were moving in. She later wrote a best-selling book about her experiences, Wau-Bun: The 'Early Day' in the Northwest, an important first-person account of life on the frontier. Enhanced with the inclusion of black-and-white historical photos, this deftly written biography is specifically designed for children in grades 4 to 6. Very highly recommended for both school and community library Children's American Biography collections, it should be noted that "Juliette Kinzie: Frontier Storyteller" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).
The Christian Shelf
The New Catholic Illustrated Bible
Saint Benedict Press
PO Box 410487, Charlotte, NC 28241
9781618900029 $24.95 www.SaintBenedictPress.com
The New Catholic Illustrated Bible is a rendition of both the Old and New Testaments distinguished by strikingly beautiful artwork throughout. The full-color art vividly portrays key scenes from biblical history. The New Catholic Illustrated Bible will prove particularly accessible to young adults, but readers of all ages will treasure this unforgettable presentation. Highly recommended, especially for Catholic youth and church library collections. "Then John saw a new heaven and a new earth. God was making his home with his people. They are his people and he will be with them. He will wipe away every tea from their eyes. There will be no more death, crying, grief, or pain. God said, 'Write this down, because it is true! See, I am making all things new. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last. To everyone that is thirsty, I will give a drink of the water of life without cost. If you are victorious you will have these things. I will be your God and you will be my people.'"
Ishmael: The Shepherd Boy of Bethlehem
Joelle d'Abbadie, Etienne Lelievre, & Odile Haumonte
c/o Ignatius Press
PO Box 1339, Fort Collins, CO 80522
9781586179878 $14.99 www.ignatius.com
Ishmael: The Shepherd Boy of Bethlehem is a picturebook based on the Biblical story of the birth of Jesus Christ. The thirteen-year-old shepherd boy Ishmael is among many other shepherds, their families, and their flocks coming to Bethlehem in response to a census ordered by Emperor Augustus. But shepherds are not always welcome in villages. Could news of a miraculous baby defuse a potential conflict? A story about the healing power of forgiveness, brotherhood, and peacemaking, Ishmael: The Shepherd Boy of Bethlehem has fairly detailed text (as picturebooks go). Older children will be able to read Ishmael on their own, but younger children may need read-aloud help from an adult to fully appreciate this gentle take on an eternal parable. An appropriate prayer from Pope Benedict XVI concludes this welcome contribution to Christian and church picturebook libraries.
The Catholic Children's Prayer Book
Saint Mary's Press staff, authors
Nathan Hale, illustrator
Saint Mary's Press
Christian Brothers Publication
702 Terrace Heights, Winona, MN 55987
9781599827889, $4.95, www.smp.org, www.amazon.com
"The Catholic Children's Prayer Book" is a faithful illustrated listing of the following traditional prayers in simple language (English) for Catholic children: Mass prayers, everyday prayers and practices, and rosary prayers, including the mysteries of the rosary. It contains an illustration of the rosary with assigned prayers for each bead and symbol, following the listings of the rosary prayers. "The Catholic Children's Prayer Book" is a fitting confirmation gift and record of a child's journey of faith, with a dedication page with blanks for inscriptions and names as well as significant dates, including the date of baptism, date of first Reconciliation, and date of first Eucharist.
The Judaic Shelf
Bracha - Do You Know, A Lift the Flap Book
Ariella Stern, author
Patti Argoff, illustrator
527 Empire Blvd., Brooklyn, NY 11225
9781929628766, $9.95, www.hachai.com
Filled with witty rhyming Bracha riddles and brightly colored cheery illustrations with lift the flap Bracha answers to versed queries, "Bracha - Do you Know?" is a Lift-the-Flap book, designed to encourage interactive learning. The hidden flap answers reveal special brachos or blessings to make for eating different kinds of foods. Thus children with learn to make the correct bracha for each food, a way of thanking Hashem for all good foods. Breads, fruits, vegetables, grape juice, dairy foods and meat, all have their own special bracha or blessing to learn and say, found under the flap. The final flap tells the proper response to each bracha, "Amein." "Bracha Do You Know?" is a delightful treat to discover while practicing and learning to make bracha in thanks for food and drink gifts from Hashem.
The Art Shelf
My First 10 Paintings
Bright Connections Media
c/o World Book, Inc.
233 North Michigan Ave, Suite 2000
Chicago, Illinois 60601
9781622670277 $18.95 www.worldbook.com
My First 10 Paintings is a picturebook designed to introduce children to classic artworks by legendary artists. It's also a counting book; the reader first sees one, two, three, or more highlights of a painting through circular cutouts in a cover page, then turns the cover page to witness the entire painting. For example, one sees two eyes through two circular cover page cutouts, with the text "Two eyes, / not large nor small, / not green, nor blue, nor gray: / two hazel eyes that follow me. / What mystery! Who looks through these eyes?". Turning the cutout page reveals the entire Mona Lisa painting! The other showcased artworks are Portrait of Louise Vernet as a Child, The Meal, Discs, Spring, Landscape with Yellow Birds, The Sea at Le Havre, Footballers, The Snake Charmer, and Starry Night. An imaginative way to encourage young people to experience the majesty and wonder of great art, My First 10 Paintings is highly recommended.
Painting for Peace in Ferguson
Carol Swartout Klein, author/artist
Layla Dog Press
c/o Blank Slate Communications
9780989867153, $15.95, www.paintingforpeacebook.com
"Painting for Peace in Ferguson" is the stunning result of a native artist's compassionate response to the boarded up storefronts of Ferguson that resulted from the violence and racism of 2014. "Painting for Peace in Ferguson" shows the amazing results that stem from members of a community, black and white, coming together to create a new, vibrant, healing vision expressed through art, painted on the blank storefronts. A citywide Paint for Peace effort left all the blank storefronts transformed into dazzling, inspiring works of art with messages of peace, love, and racial harmony. The narrative poetry text of "Painting for Peace in Ferguson" explains the central message: Empowerment, or, out of chaos and fear comes joy, love and transformation, a community determined to rebirth itself with healing love for differences at the core. The rainbow and black and white art works are amazing, overwhelming, full of hope. "We must each do our part," no matter how small. Funds from the sale of "Painting for Peace in Ferguson" will go to the Greater St. Louis Community Foundation, to benefit North County area youth and art programs and business and employees affected by damage and loss of business.
Get Into Art: Telling Stories
Susie Brooks, author/artist
Kingfisher Children's Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780753471838, $14.99, www.kingfisherbooks.com
"Get Into Art: Telling Stories" is a cool introduction to creation of specific art projects that tell stories, modeled on famous or historic works of art, interpreted by the individual in a modern art project. Appealing to children ages 7-14, "Get Into Art" lists more than 12 story telling art projects centered around a known work of art as an example. For example, there is a needlework project inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, silhouette project of character cutouts based on a scene from Cinderella, a winter count project based on Lone Dog's Winter Count, a diorama project based on the Battle of San Romano, and more. Ideas for getting started, picturing a story, choosing paints or materials, and additional art words and info, plus a project checklist for each project are helpful additions to the twelve full page color illustrated foldout pages of the artworks and projects suggested. Artwork quoted or featured includes the work of Jan Steen, Matisse, Diego Velasquez, Edward Hopper, Diego Rivera, Lone Dog, and more. "Get Into Art: Telling Stories" is an exciting journey through the immediate experience of art/story immersion, a thrilling exercise in creativity.
The Poetry Shelf
Dragons and Hot Sauce and Other Imaginations
Mike Moore, author
Andy Young, illustrator
9781505391398, $12.00, 48pp, www.amazon.com
"Dragons and Hot Sauce and Other Imaginations" is a whimsical collection of singable poems embellished with fantastic freelance comic illustrations, with vast appeal for kids. Just imagine Suzie Snoozealot, a hibernating bear, or Giraffe, who hated to take a bath, or fearful meditations of a fearful Rubber Duck, and so many more. The humor is everywhere, creeping through the cracks. The real inspiration for "Dragons and Hot Sauce" was the impending birth of a daughter to songwriter author Mike Moore, and fellow artist, soon -to -be father to a daughter, Andy Young. Here are a jolly cavalcade of fantastic songs, rhymes and poems, perfectly pictured as fantastic creations of a very gleeful mind. Here is a quote from the poem, Imagination: "They told me not to dream/ But there's so much I can be/ And with my imagination/ I'll do anything I please." All fathers (and mothers) of daughters (and sons) should treat themselves to this amazing confabulation of fun and freedom that is not just for kids.
The American History Shelf
The Pullman Porter
Vanita Oelschlager, author
Mike Blanc, illustrator
3875 Embassy Parkway, Suite 250
Akron, Ohio 44333
9781938164002 $15.95 www.vanitabooks.com
The Pullman Porter: An American Journey is a nonfiction picturebook about a group of African-American employees who were ultimately instrumental in the rise of the American civil rights movement. In 1857, a Chicago man named George Pullman revolutionized railway travel with the invention of the Pullman Sleeping Car - a train car that wealthy passengers and their families could dine and sleep in, as they traveled. After the Civil War freed America's slaves, Pullman hired the most diligent and the brightest ex-slaves to work in the Pullman train cars as porters. The work was demanding; Pullman porters were separated from their families for up to weeks at a time, had to follow very strict rules, often slept in four-hour shifts, and were paid low wages - most of their income came from tips. In 1925, a courageous African-American named A. Philip Randolph helped the Pullman porters attempted to form a union for better pay and working conditions - an endeavor that would take them twelve years to accomplish (their union was the "Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters"). The Pullman porters and A. Philip Randolph helped start the civil rights movement; it was a Pullman porter (E.D. Nixon) who asked Rosa Parks and others to refuse to move to the back of the bus, and it was the Pullman porters who searched church after church for a great leader capable of uniting the effort to change America for the better. A. Philip Randolph eventually handed leadership of the civil rights movement to martin Luther King, Jr. after hearing King's immortal "I Have a Dream" speech. Color illustrations in a realistic style add a vivid touch to this incredible and fascinating glimpse into the lives of men who worked not only to provide for themselves and their families, but also to make America a better place for all. Highly recommended, especially for public and school library children's collections.
c/o Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431
9781620915974, $16.95, 192pp, www.amazon.com
Mary Mallon (September 23, 1869 - November 11, 1938), better known as Typhoid Mary, was the first person in the United States identified as an asymptomatic carrier of the pathogen associated with typhoid fever. She was presumed to have infected 51 people, three of whom died, over the course of her career as a cook. She was twice forcibly isolated by public health authorities and died after a total of nearly three decades in isolation. "Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary" is the first middle-grade trade book that tells the true story of the woman who unwittingly spread deadly bacteria, the epidemiologist who discovered her trail of infection, and the health department that decided her fate. This gripping story follows this tragic disease as it shatters lives from the early twentieth century to today. Enhanced with the inclusion of a glossary, a time line, a list of well-known typhoid sufferers and victims, a further resource section, author's notes, and source notes, "Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary" is written for young readers ages 10 and older. Also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99), "Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary" is very highly recommended for both school and community library collections for young readers.
The World History Shelf
Eileen Cameron, author
Doris Ettlinger, illustrator
560 Herndon Parkway #120, Herndon, VA 20170
c/o Smith Publicity
9781620869840 $17.95 www.mascotbooks.com
Rupert's Parchment: Story of Magna Carta is a historical fiction picturebook about a landmark turning point in the history of Great Britain, during the Middle Ages - the signing of the Magna Carta, a cornerstone enshrining human rights and freedoms, used (and modified) as a model for the Western world. The story about young Rupert, the son of a local parchment maker, is an imagined framing narrative, but the amazing origin of the Magna Carta itself - a document originally created to settle differences between warring factions and King John, as well as safeguard the liberties of free men in England - is accurate. A supplementary section offers more facts about the Magna Carta, a glossary, and a fascinating comparison between certain clauses of the Magna Carta (written in 1215) and specific amendments of the Bill of Rights appended to the U.S. Constitution (written in 1791). Highly recommended, especially for school and public library picturebook collections.
The Potato King
Christoph Niemann, author/illustrator
Owlkids Books Inc.
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781771471398, $17.95, www.owlkidsbooks.com
"The Potato King" is a brief, witty story about King Frederick of Prussia, who introduced a new food for planting and consumption from South America, the potato. Colorful potato stamp illustrations enhance this true story about a heroic and visionary king. Although King Fritz tried very hard to promote planting and eating potatoes, his subjects were stubborn and reluctant to eat this new food. Craftily, the clever king ordered his soldiers to march to the recalcitrant village and guard the potato field. This action intrigued the interest of the reluctant villagers. Instructing the soldiers to guard the potatoes lightly at night, King Fritz soon found that the locals were stealing the potatoes for their own gardens. The people discovered that potatoes were nutritious, tasty, and versatile food. To this day, people of Prussia honor King Fritz by putting potatoes on his grave. Thanks to his devious strategies, the potato became a trusted staple of nutrition in the European diet, far from its Incan/South American roots. "The Potato King" is capped by a Brief History of the Potato, injecting education into entertainment. "The Potato King" is excellent reading for children age 4 and up.
Dirty Rotten Vikings: Three Centuries of Longships, Looting and Bad Behavior
J. M. Sertori and Jonathan Clements, authors
Mauro Mazzara, illustrator
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781783252091, $8.99, www.amazon.com
"Dirty Rotten Vikings" is a magnificent, lavishly illustrated large historical work on the Northmen and their European invasions. An illustration style that combines photographs and illustrations seems to weave historical reality with imagination and immediacy. Third book in the series titled Dirty Rotten, "Dirty Rotten Vikings" uses comic book illustrations to paint fervor in this most vivid and violent of epochs. 64 action packed pages present a surprising sampling of Norseman history and lore, including topics such as Brynhildr and the Valkyries, Loki, Going Berserk, the Norse Creation Myth, Twilight of the Gods, Relics of the Vikings, and more. A Glossary completes this Barnum and Bailey volume filled with vivid Viking memorabilia, suggesting a violent history with exciting impacts. "Dirty Rotten Vikings" is written for children ages 8-12 in grades 3-7.
The ABC Shelf
Bucket Filling from A to Z: The Key to Being Happy
Carol McCloud and Caryn Butzke, authors
Glenn Zimmer, illustrator
c/o Nelson Publishing & Marketing
366 Welch Road, Northville, MI 48167
9781938326134, $9.95, www.nelsonpublishingandmarketing.com
"Bucket Filling from A to Z" is an unusual alphabet story with an emphasis on bucket-filling, a technique for creating happiness in boys and girls everywhere. Written in jaunty verse, the narrative presents choices available to all children to create happiness and joy in others. Lavishly illustrated in star-studded cartoons of children of different races playing together, "Bucket Filling from A to Z" presents 26 different ways to increase happiness, or keep your bucket full. Thus we have A is for Ask, B is for Be, C is for Cheer, D is for Donate, E is for Excited, and so on. Every letter leads to a special happiness-increasing or bucket filling action. Some of the tips are for dealing with bucket dippers, or children who try to make others unhappy, such as: "Q is for Quit. Quit any bucket dipping. It's very mean to do. Bucket dipping always hurts and dips your bucket too." Another interesting concept is the lid for the bucket. "W is for Watch. Watch out for bucket dipping. It's a time to use your lid. It will protect your bucket from a bucketdipping kid." This innovative rainbow-studded alphabet book ends with a benediction: "Be kind and be a bucket filler. Be careful not to dip. Use your lid to protect your bucket. Share these bucketfilling tips!" "Bucket Filling from A to Z" can be enjoyed by children ages 5 and up.
The Board Book Shelf
c/o Sasquatch Books
1904 Third Ave, Suite 710, Seattle, WA 98101
$8.99 each www.sasquatchbooks.com
Two board books from Sasquatch's "Little Bigfoot" imprint are accessible to the youngest of readers - and have a distinctly Alaskan flavor! Cherie B. Stihler's "Wiggle Waggle Woof 1, 2, 3" (9781570619786) is a one-to-twelve counting book featuring twelve hardworking Alaskan sled dogs in harness. Arlene Laverde's "Alaska's Three Little Pigs" (9781570619748) retells the classic children's fable - but with a hungry grizzly instead of a wolf, and with the three little pigs taking refuge in a the third pig's sturdy igloo! Both feature vibrant, cartoony color illustrations and are excellent read-aloud fun for inquisitive young minds.
Do Your Ears Hang Low?
Lucy Bell, author
Andrea Doss, illustrator
142 Second Avenue North, Franklin, Tennessee 37064
9781486703579, $8.99, www.flowerpotpress.com
"Do Your Ears Hang Low?" is a new release board book from the "Record Spins" series for early readers that presents familiar childhood song lyrics and illustrations with a fresh twist. It begins with familiar nonsense verse words to a popular tune, then gradually evolve into something quite different from the original verse, For example, the lines "Can you use them to go spying? Can you flap them and go flying?" are accompanied by a priceless picture of a bunny aloft by helicopter ears, accompanied by a brave mouse with a striped blue umbrella. Every little child will respond to the adventure of the ridiculous that is presented in "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" Whoever knew that ears could be like toys? Parents and children are encouraged to read together, sing together, and laugh together with this exciting board book series.
Lynn Stone, et. al., photography
PO Box 5630, Helena, MT 59604
9781560376279 $8.95 www.farcountrypress.com
Barn Babies! is a board book that will tug at the heartstrings of adults as well as children. Adorable color photography of baby farm animals decorate every two-page spread! "Find fluffy chicks playing hide-and-seek. // Baby donkey says he won't peek!" Pure delight to read aloud and share, Barn Babies! is highly recommended especially for the littlest of beginning readers.
The Easy Reader Shelf
612 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Suite A2
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
9781628554496 $17.95 hc
9781628554571 $9.95 pbk www.arbordalepublishing.com
Also available as a Spanish paperback (9781628554656, $9.95), as an English or Spanish eBook, or as an interactive eBook with audio, dual language text and auto-flip pages, Clouds: A Compare and Contrast Book is an easy reader picturebook featuring captivating photography of the different types of clouds that can appear in the sky. "Some clouds are colorful. / Others are dark with rain. / Storm clouds tell us a storm is coming; / or that a storm has passed." Enhancing the book is a four-page "For Creative Minds" section at the end, featuring more extensive information about the different types of clouds, simple water cycle experiments, and more. As educational as it is beautiful, Clouds makes an excellent giftbook for inquisitive young minds.
Plants Feed Me
425 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780823425266 $16.95 www.holidayhouse.com
Plants Feed Me is an easy-reader picturebook about how humans depend on plants for food. "I eat fruits. Some grow on trees. / First flowers bloom. Then come the fruits. / Fruits have seeds. / A seed can grow a new plant." Colorful illustrations with realistic depictions of plants enhance this educational title, accessible to the youngest of beginning readers. Highly recommended!
The Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Here in the Garden
Kane/Miller Book Publishers
c/o EDC Publishing
4901 Morena Blvd., Suite 213, San Diego, CA 92117
9781610673488 $11.99 www.kanemiller.com
Award-winning author and illustrator Briony Stewart presents Here in the Garden, a children's picturebook about remembering a beloved pet that has passed on. A young boy misses his lop rabbit; he remembers the joyful times he shared with his rabbit in the garden, and as he plays in the warm sunshine, he wishes his friend could be here again. Heartfelt color illustrations add a poignant touch to this gentle storybook, especially recommended for parents to share with children who are learning to accept the loss of a treasured animal companion.
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781613749494, $15.95, www.amazon.com
Birdwatching, or birding, is a form of wildlife observation in which the observation of birds is a recreational activity. It can be done with the naked eye, through a visual enhancement device like binoculars and telescopes, or by listening for bird sounds. Birdwatching often involves a significant auditory component, as many bird species are more easily detected and identified by ear than by eye. Most birdwatchers pursue this activity for recreational or social reasons, unlike ornithologists, who engage in the study of birds using formal scientific methods. Superbly enhanced by the full color photography of Kevin Byron, "Birdology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Birds" by Monica Russo is a 128 page instructional guide to birdwatching that is exceptionally well written and organized for young readers ages 7 to 14. Including such activities as starting a bird sketchbook, designing a model bird, and keeping a bird observation journal, and creating a juice cartoon feeder for birds, "Birdology" also includes applicable information on bird migration and those who work with birds creating sanctuary habitats and more. Enhanced with the inclusion of a Glossary, Bird orders, Common and Scientific Names, a list of Resources, a Teacher's Guide, a Bibliography, and a useful Index, "Birdology" is an especially appropriate and very highly recommended addition to family, school and community library Pets & Wildlife instructional reference collections. It should be noted that "Birdology" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Good Morning Loon
Elizabeth S. Varnai, author
Kate Hartley, illustrator
Vista Court Books
P.O. Box 277, New Hope, PA 18938
9780926842238, $17.99, www.vistacourtbooks.com
Winner of the National Outdoor Book Award in the children's category of 2014, "Good Morning Loon" takes the reader on an early morning canoe paddle on a misty lake in the north woods. The mother and her excited child experience the hushed magic of all the creatures living on the lake awakening to seek breakfast. They see a red squirrel and a wood frog on the wood path to the canoe. But their highest hopes are to see a loon on the lake. They paddle out, sighting a merganser family, and a beaver swimming near its lodge, warning them away with a loud slap splash from its tail. A knocking sound alerts them to a pileated woodpecker, pecking holes to find ants to eat. An osprey brings a fish to its fledglings on an island tree nest in the lake. A great blue heron hunts for breakfast in the shallow lake reeds near a big rock. The pair meet a fisherman who has heard a loon, but not seen one. A twelve-spotted skimmer dragonfly lands on the canoe, and a trout splashes. Finally a loon call is heard. It dives, looking for fish. The child greets the emerging wet loon, saying "Good morning loon, good morning!" Then it is time to paddle back for their own breakfast. "Good Morning Loon" is filled with detailed, lively action painted illustrations, washed with light and moving creatures. A Tell Me More section focuses on individual animal portraits with more information about each lake creature encountered. Further books and websites are suggested, in addition to the resource of audio loon calls at, www.loon.org. "Good Morning Loon" is a magical experience for young readers that can only be matched by an actual excursion on an early morning lake canoe paddle.
A Noisy Bird Sing-Along
John Himmelman, author/illustrator
12402 Bitney Springs Rd., Nevada City, CA 95959
9781584695134, $16.95, www.dawnpub.com
Third volume in a series including bird, bug and frog calls, "A Noisy Bird Sing-Along"
introduces specific songs or distinctive sounds made by twelve different species of birds, with the call or sound outlined in contrasting color text against a lifelike full color portrait of the bird in its natural habitat. Thus young readers will learn about the songs or sounds of American Robins, White-throated Sparrows, Yellow Warblers, Barred Owls, Black-capped Chickadees, Eastern Whip-poor-wills, Mallards, American Woodcocks, White-breasted Nuthatches, Anna's Hummingbirds, House Sparrows, and Downy Woodpeckers. In addition to many fascinating details and facts about each bird, the end of "A Noisy Bird Sing-Along" has suggestions for bird related activities, other resources for young birders, and a list of other nature awareness books from Dawn Publications. "A Noisy Bird Sing-Along" includes an idea for a great game birders can play called "Big Day," in which the participant tries to identify as many birds as possible seen or heard while sitting for 24 hours in one spot. This fascinating and educational bird observation book is excellent reading for children ages 4-9.
Over On a Mountain: Somewhere in the World
Marianne Berkes, author
Jill Dubin, illustrator
12402 Bitney Springs Rd., Nevada City, CA 95959
9781584695189, $16.95, www.dawnpub.com
"Over on a Mountain: Somewhere in the World" is a fantastic counting sampler world survey of 20 different animals in a beloved, familiar, versed song form. Here are amazing wombats from Australia, mountain gorillas from Africa, Pandas from Asia, llamas from South America, snow leopards from the Himalaya Mountains, eagles and mountain lions from Alaska in North America, yaks from Asia, and emperor penguins from Antarctica, and more. Each continent is represented and a color cued global map summarizes the counted animals' locations, but there are even more animal surprises to find and count. In the creative colored collage/multi media illustrations, there is one hidden mountain animal species on each continent. Additional information about the "hidden" mountain animals is found at the handy illustrated key at the end, following the section on Fact or Fiction and Mountain Facts. To further encourage the natural interest of young readers ages 3-8, there is more information about the other animals in the story, plus tips from the author and illustrator to do more mountain animal nature study. "Over on a Mountain: Somewhere in the World" is a fabulous example of STEM storytime experiences with young children.
Susan Hand Shetterly, author
Rebekah Raye, illustrator
Tilbury House Publishers
12 Starr Street, Thomaston, Maine 04861
9780884483540, $16.95, www.tilburyhouse.com
"Swimming Home" is a beautiful, lushly illustrated book about the mysterious swimming migration of alewives, from the Tilbury House Nature Book series for young readers. Following the water odyssey of a matron fish named Pesca, a school of alewives make their way to a freshwater lake named Lily Lake to spawn, laying their eggs on the bottom. The alewives make a silvery flood in the ocean as they track the smell of the waters of Lily Lake in the larger sea currents. The battle to reach their destination is a difficult one, as they have both animal, fish and human predators, as well as unusual snow melt currents to fight. It is a dangerous, tiring, and courageous journey. The alewives do not eat until after they reach their spawning destination. They clear a beaver dam, wild bird predators, but a difficult jump to a pipe placed under a new road stops their progress. A young boy and his grandfather watching Pesca and her shoal attempt the leap to the high pipe decide to help the alewives in their determined journey. The heartwarming story ends with the grandfather and boy planning ways to organize more help for the migrating alewives, to help this beautiful species return and thrive in their original habitat. "Swimming Home" is both a tribute and an inspiration to young generations who hope to learn more about how to support threatened species such as alewives. "Swimming Home" ends with an Author's Note of added information about alewives historically and current efforts to support the return of alewives' in fish runs along the coast of Maine.
612 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Suite A2
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
9781628554465 $17.95 hc
9781628554540 $9.95 pbk www.arbordalepublishing.com
Also available as a Spanish paperback (9781628554625, $9.95), as an English or Spanish eBook, or as an interactive eBook with audio, dual language text and auto-flip pages, Animal Eyes is an amazing book about how the eyes of wild animals have evolved to help them survive. Striking, full-color photography on every page accents simple text about why prey animals such a chipmunks have eyes on the sides of their heads (to spot and evade predators), while raptors have excellent binocular vision (to facilitate hunting their prey), and much more. Animal Eyes can easily be incorporated into Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards lessons for grades K-3, and a 15-30 page teaching activities guide is available on the website Arbordalepublishing.com. Highly recommended, especially for grade school and public library children's nonfiction picturebook collections.
612 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Suite A2
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
$17.95 each hc
$9.95 each pbk www.arbordalepublishing.com
Three excellent Arbordale picturebooks use storytelling (or poetry) to teach children about amazing animals and the natural world. ANIMAL PARTNERS (9781628554489) is filled with short, whimsical poems about the beneficial or parasitic relationships different species of animals have with one another. "Sea Turtle's Lament: Barnacle, o barnacle, / where'd you come from, barnacle? / Were you born or were you hatched? / How'd we come to be attached?" THE GHOST OF DONLEY FARM (9781628554519) is a storybook about a hawk's encounter with an owl, whose keen vision, skillful hunting ability, and white feathers against the moonlight have given it a reputation as a ghost! LITTLE GRAY'S GREAT MIGRATION (9781628554526) is a story about the long journey to the sea that a little whale and its mother must undergo. All three storybooks feature a postscript of four pages of educational information and activities, and all three are additionally available as Spanish paperbacks, English or Spanish eBooks, or as interactive eBooks with audio, dual language text, and auto-flip pages.
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
Kids in grades K-8 will appreciate MIND MUDDLERS: WHAT YOU SEE IS NOT WHAT YOU GET (9781783252442 $9.99), which packs in a colorful discussion of optical illusions and trick photography. It's a fine gathering of images achieved from distortion and special effects that shows kids how visual paradoxes are created, and it will entertain many an adult with its fun, mind-challenging puzzles. SHARK WARS: CREATURES OF THE DEEP GO HEAD-TO-HEAD (9781783251483, $12.99) documents the Earth's ocean predators and provides a compendium of some of the most deadly underwater encounters, from sharks to jellyfish. Colorful sidebars of information pair with full-page color photos to capture these amazing creatures in a display that will attract young leisure readers and natural history buffs who like eye-catching, colorful scenes. These books should be chosen for their high entertainment value as well as their educational qualities.
The Bilingual Shelf
Ming's Adventure with Confucius in Qufu, A Story in English and Chinese
Li Jian, author/illustrator
Yijin Wert, translator
c/o Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759
9781602209893, $16.95, www.amazon.com
From a bilingual series about Ming's adventures, "Ming's Adventure with Confucius in Qufu" is an exciting illustrated time-straddling travelogue of a modern Chinese boy named Ming. Ming's parents learned he was studying the teachings of Confucius (Master Kong), and decided to take him on an exciting tour of the Temple of Confucius and Kong family mansion and grounds, in Qufu. These sites were perhaps 3,000 years old, and the famous beginning sources of the most esteemed Chinese philosopher, Confucius. Ming had an exciting mysterious journey back in time while in Qufu, arriving at the time of the life of Confucius, so he could ask questions and receive special lessons from the master. Ming is taught lessons in the six arts, which included rites (courteous, respectful behavior), music, archery, chariot driving, calligraphy, and mathematics. In addition to receiving lessons in the six arts, Ming exchanged information from the modern era related to each area of study. Ming and the students of Confucius were mutually amazed by this exchange. Finally the day came to an end and Ming found himself awakening in the modern day garden of the Kong Family Mansion. What an exciting experience he had to share about learning the six arts which were deeply revered in the time of Confucius, in addition to the earliest teaching of the Golden Rule. Filled with updated stylized colored illustrations of Confucius and Ming, and parallel narratives on each page in English and Chinese characters, "Ming's Adventure with Confucius in Qufu" is exciting reading for children of many cultures, ages 4-8. An added bonus is the page of Cultural Explanation which explains many details of the story's authentic illustrations, plus some famous teachings of Confucius called the Analects.
The Travel Shelf
Travels with Gannon & Wyatt: Ireland
Patti Wheeler & Keith Hemstreet, authors
Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, Texas 78709
9781626341951, $12.95, www.gbgpress.com
From the award-inspiring middle grade travel adventure series Travels with Gannon & Wyatt comes a new volume of exploration: "Ireland." In this exciting chapter book series, twin teens explore different exotic countries around the world, keeping running journals of their adventures and observations. With a vibrant theme of conservation of nature's resources, plants and animals, "Ireland" takes Wyatt and Gannon to see some of the famous sights of Ireland, including a working vacation stay at Shamrock Farm, a working Irish farm with a reforestation project on it. Soon the twins are hard at work on the farm in the rain, wondering when Mr. O'Leary's daughter Grace, who is their age, will return. With grace and style and commitment to environmental concerns, the twins become involved in an issue of environmental pollution by a wealthy owner's industrial beef factory, testing waters to prove that serious pollutants are sourced in animal packed complexes of Kilgore Maloney's force fed animal factory. Wyatt and Gannon are no strangers to struggles for truth and protecting the earth's environment. Despite adult precautions and other obstacles, the twins use all their skills to amass hard evidence of the pollution suspect, encountering danger and outdoor survival adventures on the way. A characteristic of the Travels with Gannon & Wyatt series is a planned exposure to the culture, geography, history, and sites of historic interest, along with grass roots contacts with local folks and some language immersion, which will be the Gaelic in "Ireland." An exciting book to read, "Ireland" features all of the anticipated characteristics of a Wyatt and Gannon travel adventure with lots of suspense, music, sleuthing, and fun, including consumption of traditional Irish foods and attending a fantastic Irish celebration. Best of all, the traveling twins are able to support the cause of reforestation and protection of the natural environment in an unforgettable, poetic place. "Ireland" includes black and white photographs of famous sites, a world travel map, a list of English Irish Gaelic translation of common phrases, and more. "Ireland" delivers A Bunch of Blarney, A Quest for Truth, and the Luck of the Irish in just 172 pages, possibly a pleasant afternoon of reading. "Ireland" ends with an invitation to join the Youth Exploration Society, just like Gannon and Wyatt, to travel and explore world geography, cultures, and wildlife. To find out more, go to, www.youthexplorationsociety.org. The final pages are left blank with lines for journal notes of future explorers. This is a wonderful series, educational, entertaining, and enlightening for middle grade readers.
The Audiobook Shelf
The Boxcar Children: The Firehouse Mystery
Created by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Narrated by Tim Gregory
289 Main Place, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781613754849 $9.99 www.oasisaudio.com
The Boxcar Children: The Firehouse Mystery is the unabridged audiobook rendition of an story in the beloved Boxcar Children series for young adults. In "The Firehouse Mystery", Greenfield's town council plans to demolish a historic firehouse that has stood for over one hundred years. The Aldens hope to change people's minds by fixing up the building, which is a treasure trove of valuable firefighting antiques. But someone keeps attempting to sabotage their efforts! Smoothly narrated by Tim Gregory, The Boxcar Children: The Firehouse Mystery is a high-spirited adventure, and a choice pick for gift-giving or children's libraries. 2 CDs.
The DVD Shelf
Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction
Viz Media LLC
1355 Market Street, Suite 200
San Francisco CA 94103
Based on the popular Pokemon X and Pokemon Y video games, Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction is an epic animated adventure that puts Ash and his friends in the crossroads between Legendary pokemon, and the thieves who seek to steal their treasures! In the underground Diamond Domain, the pokemon Diancie serves as ruler, but the Heart Diamond that sustains the land is beginning to disintegrate, and Diancie is not yet strong enough to create a new one. In her quest to seek the aid of the Legendary pokemon Xerneas, Diancie becomes the target of thieves; it's up to Ash, Pikachu, and their friends to protect Diancie and the Diamond Domain. Diancie's search takes a dangerous turn when she approaches the resting place of one of the most fearsome Legendary pokemon in existence - Yveltal, the embodiment of merciless destruction! Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction is an action-packed adventure that will appeal to viewers of all ages; no prior familiarity with the Pokemon series of cartoons or video games is necessary to fully enjoy the story. 90 min., English language.
The Multimedia Shelf
I'm a Big Girl
Greg Pope, author
Lea Wells, illustrator
9781486702312 $16.99 www.amazon.com
I'm a Big Girl: A Story for Dads and Daughters is a children's picturebook with an accompanying audio CD recorded by author and Nashville singer-songwriter Greg Pope. The story is about the wistful reflections of a father as he realizes his baby girl is growing up - she no longer needs him to carry her to bed. But she's still grateful that her beloved Daddy tucks her in! "'She's a big girl now' her daddy though, 'and I guess that is okay.' / 'But she's still my little princess, and that will never go away.'" The warm color illustrations add the perfect touch to the wonderful read-aloud storybook created especially for fathers and daughters to share.
Tomorrow Is a Chance to Start Over
The Secret Mountain
3816 Royal Avenue, Montreal, QC, Canada, H4A 2M2
9782924217290, $16.95, www.amazon.com
In "Tomorrow Is a Chance to Start Over" by Hilary Grist, is the story of Ira and Isabelle, who live in a little red house by the sea, and decide one night to escape the sound of the city's beeping cars by sailing off to a faraway land where they learn from a new friend (a robin with a soft voice) that dreams really can come true. "Tomorrow Is a Chance to Start Over" contains an audio CD that features the narrated story as well as 10 original heartwarming dream songs, and an ethereal rendition of Johannes Brahms' classic "Cradle Song". Beautifully produced, fully engaging, and thoroughly 'child friendly', "Tomorrow Is a Chance to Start Over" is impressively entertaining and highly recommended as an enduringly popular acquisition for family and community library collections.
David Pastor, composer
Elodie Nouren, illustrator
The Secret Mountain
9782924217245, $16.95, www.amazon.com
Composed by David Pastor, performed by L'Ensemble Agora, and illustrated by Elodie Nouren, "Sleep Softly" is a 36 page compendium showcasing a superbly presented selection of sixteen beloved melodies from some of the world's more revered composers, including Brahms, Schubert, Ravel, Satie, and Debussy. Each piece of music is specifically designed to lull babies into a sweet, blissful sleep. Along with the whimsical, dream-like illustrations, "Sleep Softly" is a storybook with accompanying CD of sleep inducing music orchestrated for a wind quintet and harp. A brief commentary accompanies each featured musical work. Featured with individual running times are: 1. Barcarolle 2.22 Jacques Offenbach; 2. Apres un reve (After a Dream) 3.08 Gabriel Faure; 3. Von Fremden Landern (Of Foreign Lands) 1.30 Robert Schumann; 4. La boîte à Joujou (The Toybox) 1.16 Claude Debussy; 5. Gymnopedie No. 1 3.24 Eric Satie ; 6. La poupee (The Doll) 2.07 Georges Bizet; 7. Sandmannchen (The Little Sandman) 2.31 Johannes Brahms; 8. Wiegenlied (Lullaby) 0.56 Johannes Brahms; 9. Solveig's Song 3.16 Edvard Grieg;
10. Schlafe, mein Prinzchen, schlaf ein (Sleep, My Little Prince, Fall Asleep) 0.48 Bernard Flies; 11. Standchen (Serenade) 4.17 Franz Shubert; 12. Gute nacht (Good Night) 2.48 Franz Shubert; 13. Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant (Sleeping Beauty's Pavane) 1.46 Maurice Ravel; 14. Feuillet d'album (Album Leaf) 1.46 Emmanuel Chabrier; 15. Dors, ami (Sleep, my friend) 0.52 Jules Massenet; and 16. Brezairola (Lullaby) 1.51 Traditional. With its flawless production values, "Sleep Softly" is very highly recommended for family, day care center, and community library collections.
The Activity Shelf
The Paper Playhouse
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
400 First Avenue North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1722
9781592539802 $22.99 www.quarrybooks.com
The Paper Playhouse: Awesome Art Projects for Kids Using Paper, Boxes, and Books comes from an artist who shares her techniques for working with kids and basic materials, from sculpture and prints to collage, and encourages families to get involved by presenting attractive art ideas using simple materials and step-by-step instructions. Now, this kind of art is typically regulated to paper products that are fairly predictable, but Rodabaugh's specialty is thinking outside the box, and thus there's a focus on using everything from junk mail envelopes and maps to shipping boxes to create such fun items as VW buses, paper monsters, and costumes. The result is more than another book of basics: it takes the idea of paper crafting a step further and embellishes it with bright ideas and equally compelling methods and results to encourage families to play together.
Cook's Coloring Book: Simple Recipes for Beginners
Rachel Lewis, author/artist
P.O. Box 667, Layton, Utah 84041
9781423638452, $12.99, www.gibbs-smith.com
Containing 60 fun, fresh and fabulous simple recipes for young cooks to make and illustrate, "Cook's Coloring Book" combines skills and learning in cooking and art activities. Recipes for young creative artists are organized into categories of breakfast, salads and sides, main courses, and sweet treats. Every recipe has a facing page with black and white illustrations of each ingredient labeled with amount and item, and the opposite page (titled What to Do) lists numbered steps of simple cooking instructions. This is meant to be a hands-on, positive creative culinary/artistic experience cookbook with successful completion of simple dishes a given for kids age 8-10 and up, with adult standby supervision as needed. "Cook's Coloring Book" is all about having fun with making nutritious foods and decorative art. Here are illustrated (in color book black and white) recipes for Italian Bean and Olive Salad, the ever-popular Pancakes, Oatmeal Chocolate Pecan Muffins, Chicken Parmigiana, Spicy Rice, Perfect Pork Chops, Lemon Cake Squares, Peach Cobbler, Spaghetti Bolognese, and more. There is even a recipe for Banoffee Pie, a traditional English/Irish dessert that features bananas, caramel, cream and a crunchy pecan graham crust. Young cooks will love cooking and coloring and serving these recipes, to the culinary delight of their families and friends.
Chicken in the Car... and the Car Can't Go!
Howard Schrager, author
Sarah Madsen, illustrator
530 Larkin Street, Monterey, California 93940
9780964484641 $14.95 www.lmntreepress.com
Chicken in the Car... and the Car Can't Go! That's How You 'Spell' Chicago! is a book of "riddle rhymes". Each singsong turn of phrase (paired with a whimsical black-and-white sketch) obliquely refers to a famous American city - but which one? For example, one riddle is "We'll walk a mile along Waikiki. That's how you spell..." and the answer is "Milwaukee". A few fascinating facts about cities followed by a quiz on these facts rounds out this enjoyable resource ideal for travel games or children's parties. Also highly recommended is the first book in the Riddle Rhyme trilogy, "A Knife and a Fork and a Bottle and a Cork: That's How You 'Spell' New York", and the third book "Here's a Little Riddle for the Kids on the Block: That's How You 'Spell' Little Rock" is forthcoming.
The Multicultural Shelf
In a Village By the Sea
Muon Van, author
April Chu, illustrator
Creston Books LLC
PO Box 9369, Berkeley, CA 94709
9781939547156, $16.95, www.crestonbooks.com
"In a Village By the Sea" offers truly hypnotic illustrations and a quiet, singing narrative to draw readers into the seaside life of a fisherman's family, waiting for him to return from the sea with his catch. Inspired by the author's memories of her father and An Bang, a village in Central Vietnam, "In a Village By the Sea" touches the heart directly, through images so beautifully detailed, charming, and soothing the soul. In a small house perched precariously atop cliffs on the sea, a young wife prepares delicious soup for her small child while awaiting the return of her fisherman husband. A fascinated dog observes the meal with fascinated interest, while a hidden artist cricket creates a painting of a storm-tossed boat on the sea, carrying an anxious fisherman who hopes to return home to his wife and child in a village by the sea. This book is perfect for culture studies and expanding global awareness for children ages 4-10.
The Science Shelf
Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
9780547959092 $16.99 www.hmhco.com
Egg: Nature's Perfect Package discusses animal eggs, and considers how different animals produce eggs in different colors, shapes and sizes. From how an animal develops inside an egg to egg protection, packaging, and getting outside of an egg, the pictures in Egg provide a wide variety of birds, reptiles, fish and more, and discusses all aspects of egg production and consumption in the animal kingdom. The result is a winning, attractive book sure to entice any young picture book readers with an interest in natural history.
The Literary Shelf
What Flowers Say
The Feminist Press
365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9781558618572, $15.95, 224pp, www.amazon.com
Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin (1 July 1804 - 8 June 1876), best known by her pseudonym George Sand, was a French novelist and memoirist. "What Flowers Say: And Other Stories" is a 224 page anthology of her short stories that are highly recommended for children ages 8 to 12, and appropriate for students grades 2 thorough 7. Brought back into print by The Feminist Press and illustrated by Molly Crabapple, "What Flowers Say" features The Bug-Eyed Fairy; The Talking Oak; The Castle of Pictordue; The Talking Statue; The Veiled aLady; The Young Lady of Pictordu; Little Bacchus; The Lost Face; Looking for the Face; The face Rediscovered; The Collapse; Return to Pictoradu; The Statue's Speeck; and the title piece, What Flowers Say. A true classic of Children's Literature, "What Flowers Say: And Other Stories" is strongly recommended for family, school, and community library collections.
Alice in Wonderland Down the Rabbit Hole
A Modern Retelling by Joe Rhatigan & Charles Nurnberg
Illustrated by Eric Puybaret
Original story by Lewis Carroll
c/o Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781623540494 $17.95 www.imaginebks.com
Also available as an ebook, Alice in Wonderland Down the Rabbit Hole is a picturebook retelling of Lewis Carroll's beloved children's novel, "Alice in Wonderland", a classic passed down the generations for 150 years. The brilliant color illustrations make the quixotic fantasy world that Alice stumbled into come alive. She meets the most extraordinary animal creatures, and eats things that make her shrink to tiny size - or grow bigger than a house! Perfectly capturing the "Curiouser and curiouser" sentiment of the original, Alice in Wonderland Down the Rabbit Hole is a joy to read aloud and share, and will hopefully encourage young readers to experience Carroll's timeless novel firsthand.
The Social Issues Shelf
Love Is Forever
Casey Rislov, author
Rachael Balsaitis, illustrator
Casey Rislov Books
9780615884059 $15.95 www.caseyrislovbooks.com
Love Is Forever is an award-winning children's book about coping with the loss of a loved one. The illustrations of a family of owls, including a young owl who misses his deceased grandfather, complement the poetic verses about the timeless quality of love itself. "Remember as you share, laugh, and learn, my love will always be right there beside you." After the story's end, additional pages of resources from experts (pediatrician Robert Vigneri, MD and Rev. Cynthia Dobson McBride) discuss handling such issues as how to talk with one's children about death, and whether children should attend funerals. A list of more suggested books and website resources round out this excellent choice for helping little ones mourn and adjust.
Love Will See You Through
Angela Farris Watkins, PhD
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor
New York, NY 10020
9781416986935 $17.99 www.kids.simonandschuster.com
Love Will See You Through: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Six Guiding Beliefs (as told by his niece) features warm drawings by Sally Wern Comport and a story that focuses not so much on King's life as on the beliefs that guided it. This different focus helps the book stand apart from the many King biographies already on the market, showing how he lived his principles throughout his life, and how they worked in real-world encounters. The result is a standout for any civil rights picture book collection.
The Autism Shelf
Tomas Loves...A Rhyming Book about Fun, Friendship - and Autism
Jude Welton, author
Jane Telford, illustrator
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
400 Market St., Suite 400, Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781849055444, $15.95, www.jkp.com
"Tomas Loves..." is a beautifully illustrated verse book about autism that encourages young children to recognize the similarities between themselves and a child with autism. "Tomas Loves..." begins with charming illustrations of the favorite activities of Tomas, a boy with autism. This leads to descriptions of what might make Tomas feel insecure, or act differently, such as flapping his hands when he is stressed or upset. Tomas' mother helps him prepare for his day by drawing pictures of the days' scheduled activities. She warns him ahead of changes in his routine the morning of each day. Tomas loves his special friend, a dog named Flynn. Filled with gentle, nonthreatening illustrations of Tomas and his family, "Tomas Loves..." is an excellent introduction to the autism spectrum for young children.
The Metaphysical Shelf
Real Stories About Werewolves
Lake 7 Creative
c/o Adventure Publications (publicity)
820 Cleveland Street South, Cambridge, MN 55051
9781940647135 $9.95 www.AdventurePublications.net
Real Stories About Werewolves is a fascinating account of thirteen legends, inexplicable reports, and bloody evidence of werewolf activity throughout history. A handful of black-and-white illustrations embellish this spooky collection of canine savagery. Did these stories come from human imagination in the wake of animal attacks, or could there really be such a thing as werewolves? Readers are left to decide for themselves! Although Real Stories About Werewolves is written especially to be accessible to young adults, werewolf fans of all ages will find it enthralling from cover to cover!
The Agriculture Shelf
Stanley the Farmer
Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
Stanley the Farmer is a simple children's book that teaches young people about the hard work that farmers do every day to grow food. "The first thing to do is plow the field so Stanley can plant some wheat. He pulls the green plow with a red tractor." The story shows Stanley, and anthropomorphic hamster (or guinea pig?) as he sows, waters, and harvests his crops, with the aid of farm machinery and his mole assistant Shamus. Stanley has a strong work ethic! Other titles in the Stanley series include "Stanley the Builder", "Stanley's Diner", and "Stanley's Garage"; all are highly recommended.
The Environmental Shelf
Planting the Wild Garden
Kathryn O. Galbraith, author
Wendy Anderson Halperin, illustrator
Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781561457915 $7.95 www.peachtree-online.com
Winner of the Parents' Choice Gold Award as well as the Growing Good Kids Book Award from the American Horticultural Society, Planting the Wild Garden is a softcover children's picturebook about how plants spread in the wild. A wild meadow doesn't have a farmer to sow its seeds; instead, birds, mammals, and sometimes even people spread its seeds through their everyday life. Some animals eat the fruits; others bury acorns; still others have seeds catch on their fur (or clothing, in the case of people) and travel with them. Realistic color illustrations add a beautiful touch to this wonderful glimpse into nature's incredible workings. Highly recommended.
The Pier at the End of the World
Paul Erickson, author
Andrew Martinez, photographer
Tilbury House, Publishers
12 Starr Street, Thomaston, ME 04861
9780884483823 $17.95 www.tilburyhouse.com
Filled with captivating color photography throughout, The Pier at the End of the World is a children's picturebook about the amazing variety of marine life that flourishes beneath an abandoned pier. Twenty-four individual animal species are named and shown undergoing the daily struggle for survival. As educational as it is enthralling, The Pier at the End of the World is a choice pick for grade school and public library children's collections.
The Math Shelf
Hungry for Math
Kari-Lynn Winters, Lori Sherritt-Fleming, and Peggy Collins
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
195 Allstate Parkway
Markham, Ontario, Canada L3R 4T8
9781554553075 $17.95 www.fitzhenry.ca
Hungry for Math: Poems to Munch On is a whimsical children's picturebook of math-themed poetry. Wild-and-crazy color artwork vivaciously illustrates these zany ditties about counting, shapes, patterns, and more. "The Shape of Things: Find them all. / Name and compare. / 2-D shapes are everywhere. // In the wild - / hey, why not? / Triangle tooth and / trapezoid spot. // Up in trees? / There's a sight! / Hexagon treat and rhombus kite." A playful way to celebrate thinking about numbers, Hungry for Math is a welcome addition to school and library children's picturebook collections.
Books in Series
Race Ahead with Reading series
Crabtree Publishing Company
350 Fifth Avenue, 59th Floor
New York, NY 10118
$20.70 each www.crabtreebooks.com
Five new books in the 'Race Ahead with Reading' series provide ages 5-8 with a superb set of stories. Each book is 32 pages in length and appears in full color to entice kids to move up from a straight oversized picture book format to a format that's closer to an actual leisure read. Laura North and Neil Chapman's The Boy with the Sweet-Treat Touch (9780778714613) tells of Jack's birthday and what happens when he wishes for super-powers and gets them. Like a miniature Midas, everything he touches turns into a sweet treat - and like Midas, there are lessons to be learned from too much greed. North works with Joelle Dreidemy in Cinderella: The Terrible Truth (9780778713265), which maintains that the traditional Cinderella tale was just a cover-up for what really happened on the night of the ball. Maggie Pearson and Steve Stone's Rumpelstiltskin Returns (9780778713326) tells of an odd little man's rescue and how a promise to perform his rescuer's work backfires. A.H. Benjamin and Fabiano Fiofin's Wanted: Prince Charming (9780778713135) tells of Princess Reverie, who is always waiting for her prince to arrive. It never occurs to her to be proactive, so will she ever find love? Adam and Charlotte Guillain and Charlie Alder's Zak's King Arthur Adventure (9780778713159) tells of Zak, who discovers a golden sword handle that 'probably' belonged to King Arthur. The quest it provokes will change his life. All are winning retellings of classic fairy tales but offer very different perspectives: perfect for kids looking for easy readers.
Robin Koontz, author
Rourke Educational Media
P.O. Box 643328, Vero Beach, FL 32964
9781627176408, $25.64, 24pp, www.rourkeeducationalmedia.com
"Binoculars" is a reader-friendly, low word count juvenile nonfiction series volume about binoculars, a useful vision aid. From the early reader educational series How It Works, "Binoculars" shows clear color photographs demonstrating how binoculars work to make objects appear closer than they are. Binoculars are used for looking into space, to view the night sky, to watch animals and birds in nature, or even to spy on other people. Lenses are explained and demonstrated, as well as prisms. A photo glossary helps further understand and pronounce terms, and additional websites to visit for information about binoculars are listed. In addition to the information about binoculars, this Level E book includes an introductory section on Before & After Reading Activities to extend and build comprehension, background information, and academic vocabulary. "Binoculars" is accessible to readers age 6-7 and up. Additional titles in the How It Works Series that are also highly recommended include: "Airplanes" (9781627177719, $25.64), by Kelli Hicks, "Bluetooth" (9781627177672, $25.64), by Christie Reed, "The Internet" (9781627177658, $25.64), by Meg Greve, "TV Remotes" (9781627177641, $25.64), by Robin Koontz, "Speakers" (9781627177665, $25.64), by Meg Greve, "Escalators" (9781627177696, $25.64), by Kelli Hicks, "Microwave Ovens" (9781627177689, $25.64), by Christie Reed, "Computer Mouse" (9781627177634, $25.64), by Robin Koontz, and "What Happens When You Flush" (9781627177702, $25.64), by Kelli Hicks.
Gray Wolves: Howling Pack Mammals
Rebecca E. Hirsch, author
241 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9781467755771, $26.65, 32pp, www.lernerbooks.com
From the juvenile nonfiction series Comparing Animal Traits comes "Gray Wolves: Howling Pack Mammals," an exciting color photo -illustrated book of introduction to the gray wolf, with chapters of information on what they look like, where they live, pack life, and the life cycle of the gray wolf. Stunning natural portrait photos of gray wolf families in the wild stud the pages of this elementary nonfiction series. Simple comparative trait charts help students to compare the gray wolf species with other mammal species including the manatee, giant panda, African lion, the moose, and the dwarf mongoose. A gray wolf trait chart offers further categorized comparisons to the coyote, red fox, and snowshoe hare, in addition to the manatee, giant panda, African lion, moose, and dwarf mongoose. A glossary defines specialized vocabulary along with a selected bibliography and Further Information section, and further educational resources are found on, www.lerneresource.com. A color coded world map shows gray wolf habitat areas and special extra bites of information are highlighted in sidebars with additional fine nature portrait photographs. "Gray Wolves: Howling Pack Animals" is attractive reading for students age 7-11. Also recommended are the following titles from the Comparing Animal Traits series: "Humpback Whales: Musical Migrating Mammals" (9781467755795, $26.65), "Platypuses: Web-Footed Billed Mammals" (9781467755818, $26.65), and "Vampire Bats: Nighttime Flying Mammals" (9781467758796, $26.65), all also by Rebecca E. Hirsch.
Experiment With What a Plant Needs to Grow
Nadia Higgins, author
241 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9781467757300, $26.65, 32pp, www.lernerbooks.com
"Experiment With What a Plant Needs to Grow" is part of the Lightning Bolt Books series of plant growth experiments for elementary students in grades 2-6. Here are four different simply structured experiments to discover answers to questions like, What will a plant do to find light? Does fertilizer help marigolds grow? Can seeds get too much water? And how do leaves get air? Bright colored photographs and illustrations provide clear models of experiment procedures, and additional sections on Measuring Like a Scientist, Fun Facts, a Glossary, and Further reading are included for extra learning reinforcement. Further free educational resources about what plants need to grow are available at, www.lerneresource.com, an additional exciting tool for learning more about applying the scientific method to learning about what plants need to grow. Additional highly recommended, innovative nonfiction titles in the Lightning Bolt Books series include the following: "Experiment with Photosynthesis" (9781467757324, $26.65), "Experiment with a Plant's Roots" (9781467757294, $26.65), and "Experiment with a Plant's Living Environment" (9781467757317, $26.65), all by author Nadia Higgins.
Ian F. Mahaney, author
c/o Rosen Publishing
29 East 21st St., New York, NY 10010
9781499400878, List, $23.60 / Library/School, $17.70, www.powerkids.com
From the exciting juvenile vocational choices series The Best Job Ever, "Author" is a powerful impetus to young readers to investigate the field of writing as a vocation. Designed to appeal to a middle school audience age 10 and up, "Author" presents compact summaries of skills, interests, tasks, the life of a writer, and other information about jobs related to being an author. Twenty four pages cover an author's career, learning to write, author benefits, reading and writing, landing a job, getting published, and more. Studded with color photographs of authors and associates with brief author bios in shaded oval sidebars, the narrative features highlighted terms (such as blog, research, or fantasy) which are further defined in the Glossary at the end. Additional information is available on websites which can be linked through, www.powerkidslinks.com/bje/auth. "Author" makes a good beginning case for budding writers of the modern era. Also highly recommended are the following titles by Ian F. Mahaney from the same series, The Best Job Ever: "Animator." (9781477592330); "Chef," (9781499401097); "Fashion Designer," (9781499401042); "Movie Star," (9781499401011); and "Pop Star," (978499401073).
Shamans, Witch Doctors, Wizards, Sorcerers, and Alchemists
Dorothy Kavanaugh, author
PO Box 100097, Pittsburgh, PA 15233
9781619000698, $32.95 list/, $26.95 school/library, www.eldoradoink.com
From an educational series for students age 14 and up titled The Supernatural, "Shamans, Witch Doctors, Wizards, Sorcerers, and Alchemists" provides an informed brief summary of the history of beliefs about magic, and different practitioners of magic from different cultures. Human history is studded with powerful holy or wise figures who were able to practice magic, according to prevailing beliefs. Such figures have been both scorned, feared, and used by other humans desiring such power, or powerful protection or blessing. This ambitious book tackles the history and definition of magic, the varied roles of shamans, witch doctors, wizards, sorcerers and alchemists, and the figuring of magic in popular culture and fantasy literature today. Careful study of the concurrent historic study of magic and the early emergence of the scientific method are presented. Related color photos of ancient records and modern fantasy images (including J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter books and movies and Tolkein's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy) are displayed frequently, with informative captions. A chronology table traces the history of magic through known events from 495 BCE to 2015. Also included is a glossary, further reading suggestions, and list of internet resources. Each page is darkly shaded around the edges to represent an ancient piece of paper or scripture, making the reading experience more exciting for the young reader. Additional titles from the Supernatural series, highly recommended for readers age 14 + include the following: "Angels, Demons & Religious Beliefs," by Audrey Alexander (9781619000650), "Haunted Places & Ghostly Encounters" by Daniel E. Harmon (9781619000667), "Legendary Creatures" by Patrice Sherman (9781619000674), "New Orleans Voodoo" by Carol Ellis (9781619000681), "The Undead" by David Petechuk (9781619000704), "Unexplained Monsters and Cryptids" by Holly Lynn Anderson (9781619000711), and "Witches and Wicca" by Audrey Alexander (9781619000728).
Valerie Bodden, author
The Child's World
1980 Lookout Drive, Mankato, Minnesota 56003
9781631437540, $28.50, www.childsworld.com
Filled with detailed illustrations from the Codex Mendoza and other authentic sources about Aztec life, "Aztec Warriors" provides a discerning overview of the role and attributes of a classic Aztec warrior, within the context of Aztec historical background from 1325 to 1521, displayed upon the chronological Timeline on page 30. The Aztec warrior is described, both in outer appearance and costume and in mind frame before battle and inner attitudes, as well as flexibility in filling dual roles, such as soldier and farmer. Battle tactics, clothing and weapons, and the rise of the Spanish Conquest are outlined. Narrative language is simple but sophisticated. An interesting feature that encourages learning through emotional identification contrasts accepted Aztec practices, written in white type against a dark gray background, with an alternative presented as Another View, in white print against a deep tan background. Another View sidebars generally end with a question such as "How do you think Aztec boys felt about becoming warriors?" This vivid comparative thinking technique skillfully presents contrasts in attitudes towards the cultural conflict that grew between the Aztec warriors and ruler and the Spanish explorers. Excellent art works, such as a mural by Diego Rivera showing the Spanish battling Aztec warriors, are shown in part to tell the story of the warriors of Tenochtitlan. Ending with a Timeline of significant events from 1325 to 1521 A.D., a glossary, and suggested resources and web sites to learn more, "Aztec Warriors" is an excellent nonfiction resource for students ages 9-10 and up. Also highly recommended are the following additional titles from this exciting series on ancient warriors: "Samurai Warriors" by Lois Sepahban (97816314375950, $28.50); "Roman Gladiators" by Sheri Dillard (9781631437588, $28.50); "Ninja Warriors" by Jody Jensen Shaffer (9781631437571, $28.50); "Mongol Warriors" by Lois Sepahban (9781631437564, $28.50); "Spartan Warriors" by Lois Sepahban (9781631437601, $28.50); "Medieval Knights" by Molly Jones (9781631437557, $28.50); and "Viking Warriors" by Sheri Dillard (9781631437618, $28.50).
Big Cats, Little Cats
Sindy McKay, author
Treasure Bay Books
P.O. Box 119, Novato, CA 94948
9781601152763, $5.99, www.WeBothRead.com
"Big Cats, Little Cats" is a level PK-K We Both Read book that encourages emerging reading skills by using the interactive format of taking turns reading using a parent's page and a child's page. "Big Cats, Little Cats" is filled with full color portraits of many big cats, often followed by the question, "Can you pet this cat?" The child's page is a warning portrait of the big cat growling, titled "No!" A final pair of pictures of domestic cats has a different answer for the child's page response. We Both Read books encourage a parent and child to interact and take turns reading text, learning valuable reading skills. Also recommended from the We Both Read series is "The Ant and the Pancake," by Paul Orshoski and Dave Max, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler (9781601152725), level K-1.
Beyonce: Hip-Hop Biographies Series
Saddleback Educational Publishers
3120 -A Pullman Street, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
9781622509270, $10.95, www.sdlback.com
Filled with exciting action color photographs of talented hip-hop star Beyonce in performance, "Beyonce," tells the fascinating tale of the star studded career of Beyonce from her early days as an emerging performer, to her years at the center of Destiny's Child, songwriting and performing, to her many solo and performance efforts. Beyonce is also a successful actor, winner of 6 Grammys, and much more. An initial Timeline displays significant milestones and dates from 1981 to 2014 for Beyonce. Her commitment to feminine empowerment is a common theme through all of her work, and her business sense is formidable. "Beyonce" ends with a chapter titled "Who Runs the World?" on her taking over managing her own career, ending her father's involvement as her business partner. Beyonce Knowles-Carter remains committed to honoring her roots, helping charity projects at her home church in Houston, St. John's United Methodist. Endued with a strong work ethic, she believes in the need for women to accept and embrace their power and beauty, and she is a responsible role model for women, especially black women, everywhere. Her many philanthropies and supportive performances continue to orchestrate her undying commitment to a life fully lived, embracing the best. A Vocabulary section at the end offers special terms and definitions, and photo credits are offered for Getty Images, Rex Features, Shutterstock, and Associated Press. "Beyonce" is an excellent mid grade hip-hop biography for readers age 11 and up. Also highly recommended are the following titles from the Hip Hop Biographies series: "Sean Combs" (9781622509294, $10.95), "Pharrell" (9781622509263, $10.95), and "Dr. Dre" (9781622509287, $10.95).
'Text Styles - How to Write' series
Crabtree Publishing Company
350 Fifth Avenue, 59th Floor
New York, NY 10118
$26.60 each www.crabtreebooks.com
Three 32-page coverages on how to write in different genres encourage kids to put pen to paper and try out different kinds of stories, and are highly recommended picks for grades 3-5. HOW TO WRITE A DRAMA (9780778716532), HOW TO WRITE REALISTIC FICTION (9780778716563) and HOW TO WRITE A FANTASY STORY (9780778716549) each consider the elements that make for different genres, the choice of prose, poetry or drama which is the first decision a child can make, and discussions of characters, building dialogue and plot, themes and viewpoints, and more. With each book offering a specific approach to the different genres, kids receive clear instruction that will help them differentiate between the writing options and approaches. They should be in any children's creative writing library.
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
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