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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 19, Number 8 August 2009 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Preschool Shelf American History Shelf
Audiobook Shelf Bilingual Shelf Music Shelf
Science Shelf Fiction Shelf Mythology/Folklore Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Biography Shelf
Picturebook Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf Easy Reader Shelf
DVD Shelf Religion/Spirituality Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

When It's Six O'Clock in San Francisco
Cynthia Jaynes Omololu, author
Randy DuBurke, illustrator
Clarion Books
215 Park Avenue South, New York NY 10003
9780618768271, $16.00

Randy DuBurke provides fine color illustrations to accompany WHEN IT'S SIX O'CLOCK IN SAN FRANCISCO: A TRIP THROUGH TIME ZONES. Each time zone is given two pages of drawings paired with brief discussion of what each young person living in the time zone is doing, making for a gentle story of cross-cultural experiences enhanced by pictures of clocks showing different times across the zones.

Food for Thought
Ken Robbins
Roaring Brook Press
175 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010
1596433434, $17.95

Ages 6-10 years will appreciate FOOD FOR THOUGHT: THE STORIES BEHIND THE THINGS WE EAT, a survey of the stories behind foods we consume every day. From what 'fresh-squeezed' really means to how the apple really led to the fall of Troy, FOOD FOR THOUGHT offers a fun, outstanding set of insights.

Wizards and Witches
Ann Kerns
Lerner Publications
241 First Ave. N., Minneapolis, MN 55401
9780822599838, $27.93

"Wizards and Witches" is a sampler book of chapters on witches and wizards in the west, magical people, witches and wizards in books, and Harry Potter and company. lavishly illustrated by artworks and photos from a vast variety of resources, "Wizards and Witches" is sure to assist juvenile readers in exploring the realm of magical fantasy with real literary and legendary character studies included. "Wizards and Witches" offers a broad overview of its topic, including some information on witches and wizards and shamanism in other Eastern and African cultural histories. Wizards and Witches" is presented in a dark- background, hardcover book with many aesthetic details in page presentation and print. 'Wizards and Witches" is sure to enchant young readers and will tempt them to read further in its Selected Bibliography, Further Reading, and Movies listings in the back. "Wizards and Witches" is a true catalog of classics for the young reader.

Fantastical Creatures and Magical Beasts
Shannon Knudsen
Lerner Publishing Group
241 First Ave. N., Minneapolis, MN 55401
9780822599876, $27.93,

"Fantastical Creatures and Magical Beasts" is a modern bestiary key for young readers. Colorful artwork from a variety of sources illustrate this hardcover Fantasy Chronicles latest publications. Chapters titled Meet the Monsters, Beasts of Ancient Greece, Beasts Around the World, and Beasts Still Scare Us provide basic information about mythological beasts and prehistoric (actual) monsters. A Selected Bibliography with suggestions for Further Reading and Websites and Movies and TV round out the volume's offerings. Sure to appeal to elementary and middle school ages, "Fantastical Creature and Magical Beasts" is designed to entice young readers to investigate further the realm of fantasy literature on dragons and other fantastic beasts and monsters.

The Lost Key
Melinda Thielbar, author
Tintin Pantoja, illustrator
Graphic Universe
c/o Lerner Publishing Group
241 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9780761338536, $29.27,

"The Lost Key: A Mystery With Whole Numbers" is the debut title of a new Manga Math Mystery series that uses whole numbers to solve a mystery confronting Kung Fu students Amy, Sam, Adam and Joy. Colorful Manga illustrations created by Tintin Pantoja, assisted by Yuko Ota and Der-shing Helmer keep the action-packed mystery moving along. "The Lost Key" is a fun approach to math and logic learning that will appeal to both elementary and middle school age children. learning whole number math problems and logical solutions to problems is guaranteed painless and hitch-free in this carefully created Manga. Many other admirable ideas are also presented, including inclusion of others, peaceful solutions, and earned trust rewarded. "The Lost Key" is an excellent resource for teachers and students that proves learning math can be fun!

The Secret Ghost
Melinda Thielbar, author
Yuko Ota, illustrator
Graphic Universe
c/o Lerner Publishing Group
241 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9780761338550, $29.27,

"The Secret Ghost: A Mystery with Distance and Measurement" is the third book in an outstanding Manga Math Mystery series and involves a "haunted" house where Sam and Michelle have moved to live with their dad. They receive help from Kung Fu friends Amy and Tom who help them use measuring tools to calculate distance, volume, and areas to enable them to solve the mystery of Michelle's secret ghost. Colorful Manga illustrations tell the story and keep interest high. Aside from teaching basic measuring and logical problem solving skills, "The Secret Ghost" contains some positive subtext suggestions, such as that children of different ethnicities can be closely related as well as good friends, and former bullies can become friends and heroes, and finally, children who are not ridiculed for having fears can be empowered to investigate and resolve their fears. "The Secret Ghost" will appeal to elementary and middle school age children, and will be a valuable resource to students, educators, and parents.

Coming Across Jordan
Mabel Elizabeth Singletary
Lift Every Voice
c/o Moody Publishers
820 North LaSalle Blvd., Chicago, IL 60610
9780802422590, $6.99

"Coming Across Jordan" is a story of how sixth-grader Melanie decides to try to help a special kindergarten student named Jordan and his brother Kevin. She is drawn to both boys as a friend and as a classroom assistant. What worries her is Kevin's friendship with Curtis, a boy whom trouble seems to find. The children become involved in a "Kids Helping Kids" art poster contest and many twists and turns of plot development allow for lots of interest and empathy. The children speak in familiar casual language that adds to their genuine appeal and vivid identities. "Coming Across Jordan" is a book which uses surprise to engrave hope and belief into the young mind. The issues of celebrating differences, both of racial background and differently abled minds, are sensitively explored. Readers of "Coming Across Jordan" will learn something about the definition of a miracle. "Coming Across Jordan" is aimed at a middle school age readership, but it may be appealing to older readers as well.

Wally the Walking Fish Meets Madison and Cooper
Gary Lamit
WalkingFish Books
3374 Hilary Dr., San Jose, CA 95124
9781439225417, $12.99

"Wally The Walking Fish Meets Madison and Cooper" is a delightful children's book about a special type of catfish who actually "walks" on land for up to days at a time. Wally meets young Madison and her yellow Labrador, Cooper and many more animal friends in the course of a pleasant summer afternoon at a wilderness cabin. Some of these encounters include Betty the beaver, a mudskipper, Frankie the flying fish, and wild mushrooms, which Madison warns Wally not to eat. Explanatory fact panels add information about species of flora and fauna encountered in the narrative. Author Gary Lamit's pastel paintings provide softly humorous illustrations of the details of the story. "Wally the Walking Fish" will provide pleasant, educational reading experiences to elementary school aged children.

The Taker and the Keeper
Wim Coleman & Pat Perrin
9902 Crystal Ct., #107, Laredo, TX 78045
9781935178033, $10.95,

"The Taker and the Keeper" is a Red Monocle series paperback that features middle-school protagonists and reluctant heroes Gregory Guest and Yolanda Torres. Through use of the red monocle, Gregory and Yolanda travel through time into the legendary court of King Arthur of Camelot, where with the help of Merlin an his apprentice they must outwit the enchantress Morgan le Fay to rescue parallel worlds, ancient and modern. Written to appeal to an audience age 8 and up, "The Taker and the Keeper" is part of an award -winning group of juvenile literature that promises to continue educating and enchanting young readers. The plot is tight, the writing is fluid, the action is packed, the suspense is palpable, and the novel ends with the three magic words "to be continued..." Three cheers and a heads up for the talented authors of the Red Monocle Series!

Bedtime with Rollo the Nightspryte
David and Seth Bier
Sweet Dreams Press
c/o AtlasBooks Distribution, dist.
30 Amberwood Parkway, Ashland, OH 44805
9780967723884, $14.95, 1-800-247-6553

"Bedtime With Rollo the Nightspryte" is an empowering bedtime storybook complete with adorable stuffed toy Rollo that is guaranteed to create "a monster-free room" for any reluctant young sleepyhead. "Bedtime with Rollo the Nightspryte" presents anxious kids with bedtime monster fears a viable tool to help them face their dilemmas in the field of dreams, so to speak. Written in rhyme, storyboarded with large, cartoon-like illustrations that keep the interest high, "Bedtime with Rollo the Nightspryte" is sure to fill a definite niche of need in juvenile literature. Appealing to ages 0-8, "Bedtime with Rollo the Nightspryte" gives kids a reasonable set of reactions to the age old problem of fear of the dark, or "There are monsters hidden under my bed!"

Understanding My Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Kara T. Tamanini
Strategic & Eloquent Book Publishing
PO Box 333, Durham, CT 06422
9781606931707, $14.50,

ADHD is a growing problem in every community school system for teachers, students, and parents. That's why writer and psychotherapist Kara Tamanini's twelve-page picturebook (illustrated by Kalpart Designs and lettered by Craig Becker) is such a timely and thematically appropriate choice for family, school, and community library collections. It's the story of a boy named Tommy who becomes quite upset now and then, and not knowing why he feels that way. When Tommy visits Mr. Timmons' toy store and finds himself becoming angry without any apparent reason once again, Mr. Timmons tells him a story about another child a lot like Tommy, and in doing so, Tommy realizes that by talking about his problems, he can better cope with those upset feelings when they happen. "Understanding My Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder" is especially commended to the attention of parents who seek to help their ADHD child come to terms with their disability and learn to deal with it at home, at school, and at play.

The Preschool Shelf

Kids Like Me... Learn ABC's
Laura Ronay, author
Jon Wayne Kishimoto, photographer
Woodbine House
6510 Bells Mill Rd., Bethesda, MD 20817
9781606130001, $12.95,

"Kids Like Me... Learn ABCs" is a thick -paged, sturdy educational book with one colorful photographed page per letter of a special object whose name begins with the featured letter of the alphabet. For example, the letter "N' is illustrated by two smiling children wearing fancy necklaces, and the word "necklace" is printed, plus a photo of the hand sign for "N" plus the upper and lower -case letter "N' is showcased at the upper right or left, depending on which page is facing the reader. The surprise thread of continuity and secret message is that "Kids Like Me" includes photos of children with Down's syndrome exclusively, thus conveying the important idea that all children can learn. "Kids Like Me... Learn ABC's" is a fresh and practical resource for parents and teachers of young children, with a variety of applications in different settings.

Kids Like Me ... Learn Colors
Laura Ronay, author
Jon Wayne Kishimoto, photographer
Woodbine House
6510 Bells Mill Rd., Bethesda, MD 20817
9781606130018, $11.95

"Kids Like Me... Learn Colors" is another sturdy, thick-paged book with one primary color illustrated on each page with a colorful photo of a child with Down's syndrome. Each color is also named and spelled in both English and Spanish, along with a geometrically shaped color patch for emphasis and clarity. The charming photos of smiling children are a sure magnet for young learners. "Kids Like Me... Learn Colors" is a practical and fun educational resource for young children and their teachers and parents.

Earth Day: An Alphabet Book
Gary Kowalski, author
Rocco Baviera, illustrator
Skinner House
25 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108
9781558965423, $12.00,

"Earth Day: An Alphabet Book" is a children's alphabet story that celebrates the immense variety of flora and fauna alive on earth from apricots and alligators to zucchini and zebras. Beautifully illustrated by spare, graceful paintings of creature and plant, each page presents one or two letters of the alphabet and gives examples from nature of words beginning with that letter. A tale of wonder unfolds, ending with simple gratitude for the existence of earth and its immense variety of life. Written by a Unitarian-Universalist minister, "Earth Day" will educate and appeal to the preschool audience.

First Look At Trucks
Laura Gates Galvin & Susan Eaddy
353 Main Ave., Norwalk, CT 06851-1552
9781592498611, $6.95,

A collaboration of Soundprints and the Smithsonian Institution, "First Look At Trucks" is a superbly produced board book for children that embellishes a deftly written text by Laura Gates Galvin with combinations of color photography and original artwork by Susan Eaddy. The result is sixteen pages of engaging introduction into various trucks and the work they are designed to do. "First Look At Trucks" is as fun as it is informative and highly recommended for family, school, and community library collections.

Star Bright Books
30-19 48th Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101 1-800-788-4439

Star Bright Books is a premier publisher of board books for preschoolers. Three of their newest titles by children's author Rena D. Grossman are especially deserving of attention. "Families" (9781595721761, $6.95) showcases beautifully photographed images of human and animal families affectionately caring for their young offspring. "Carry Me" (9781595721808, $6.95) is a charming introduction on how babies in different places around the world are carried by their parents in unique ways. "Eating The Rainbow" (9781595721747, $6.95) is perfect for teaching preschool children the names and colors of commonly encountered fruits, vegetables, and nuts. In all three of these outstanding board books (suitable for very young fingers!) the colorful photographs are accompanied by simple (often just one-word) captions. This is an ideal and entertainingly informative trilogy which is imminently suitable and enthusiastically recommended for family, preschool, daycare, kindergarten, and community library board book collections.

The American History Shelf

The American Revolution
Douglas Rife & Gina Capaldi
Dennis Lyall, illustrator
Innovative Kids
c/o Innovative USA, Inc.
18 Ann Street, Norwalk, CT 06854-2258
9781584766124, $16.99,

Superbly designed to appeal to children ages 8 years and older, "The American Revolution" is deftly co-authored by Douglas Rife and Gina Capaldi whose informative text is impressively illustrated throughout with the artwork of Dennis Lyall. A 'hands-on' history of the colonial rebellion against the British crown, "The American Revolution" is enhanced with the inclusion of letters, 'life-the-flaps', biographical inserts, and a one-page glossary. Although the physical construction of "The American Revolution" with its 'life the flap envelopes' and other 'pasted on the page' items decorated the pages of text precludes it from school and community library collections, it is an ideal choice for family bookshelves and highly recommended as a welcome gift for the personal collections of American history minded children.

The Audiobook Shelf

Women Of Wonder
Amy Friedman, et al.
Freidman & Danziger Publications
9780979086731, $18.95,

The third title in the original and entertaining children's 'Tell Me A Story' audio book series, "Women Of Wonder" is written by Amy Friedman, directed by Lori Ada Jaroslow and musically enriched by composer Laura Hall. Comprised of stories about heroines and goddesses, this collection of myths and legends include the British folk tale 'The Cleverest Tune' read by Bryce Dallas Howard; 'The Goddess and the Ogre' a Cambodian legend read by Jessica DiCicco; 'Whisper of the Lioness', an Ethiopian tale read by Margot Rose; 'The Lady and the Judge', a Turkish folktale ready by Wendy hammers; 'Reindeer Maiden', a Siberian legend read by Yvette Freeman; and an American tale, 'Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind' read by Paula Poundstone. With a total running time of 68:03 minutes, "Women Of Wonder" is a pure delight from beginning to end and a welcome addition to family, school and community library audio book collections for children. Also very highly recommended are the first two titles in the 'Tell Me A Story' series: "Timeless Folktales" (9780979086700, $18.95) and "Animal Magic" (9780979086717, $18.95).

Captian Nobody
Dean Pitchford
Penguin Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780739380291 $28.00 1-800-847-5515

Captain Nobody is the unabridged audiobook presentation of a novel for young adults by screenwriter and songwriter Dean Pitchford (author of the songs "Fame", "Footloose", and "Holding Out for a Hero"). Young Newt Newman yearns to be a hero, but when his football-star older brother Chris ends up in a coma during the biggest game of the season, Newt is at a loss for what to do. Halloween gives Newt the opportunity to put together a costume from Chris' old clothes, creating the identity of Captain Nobody, defender of the little guy. Newt's new identity brings him the confidence to become an unlikely champion, but how can he to best help his brother? A quirky and enjoyable story with an everyman young adult hero, Captain Nobody is highly recommended for school and public library audiobook collections. 4 CDs, 4 hours 34 min.

The Bilingual Shelf

The Case of The Pen Gone Missing
Rene Saldana, Jr.
Pinata Books
c/o Arte Publico Press
University of Houston
452 Cullen Performance Hall, Houston, TX 77204-2004
9781558855557, $9.95

"The Case of the Pen Gone Missing: A Mickey Rangel Mystery" (El Caso De La Pluma Perdida: Coleccion Mickey Rangel, Detective Privado) is a bilingual mystery that showcases fifth-grade private detective Mickey Rangel as the wisecracking sleuth who attempts to rescue a beautiful classmate from accusations of stealing a classmate's father's prized President's pen. Even though Toots Rodriguez, the damsel in distress, normally has no attention or time to spare for Mickey, she requests his help because he is a Web-licensed detective, and also he has helped her achieve a good grade on group science projects in the past. The mystery tests Mickey's sleuthing skills, and clues point to Toots and her former (?) boyfriend Bucho. But Mickey is a little blinded by his client's beauty and charms. Once again Mickey receives a helpful secret letter from his "Angel" that points him in the right direction but allows him the finishing glory of experiencing a full solution that fits the case. "The Case of the Pen Gone Missing" provides lots of homey detail to elaborate a neat mystery that will appeal to elementary and middle school ages. The paperback is written in both Spanish and English to facilitate bilingual and bi-cultural learning.

Cynthia Weill
Cinco Puntos Press
701 Texas Avenue, El Paso, Texas 79901
9781933693569, $14.95

"Opuestos: Mexican Folk Art Opposites in English and Spanish" by Cynthia Weill (beautifully illustrated with wood sculptures from Oaxaca by Quirino and Martin Santiago) is a charming educational book that teaches opposites through pictures of colorful Oaxacan animal wood carvings. Each page presents a carefully photographed figure or figures to illustrate the opposite concept, which is a word written in both English and Spanish. Humorous animal expressions and brilliant use of color and detail heighten the impact of each page. "Opuestos" is cultural immersion education philosophy at its most creative level. Designed for preschool to kindergarten age levels, "Opuestos" will appeal to a wide variety of interests and tastes.

Once Around the Block/ Una Vuelta A La Manzana
Jose Lozano
Cinco Puntos Press
701 Texas Avenue, El Paso, Texas 79901
9781933693576, $16.95,

Written and illustrated by Jose Lozano, "Once Around the Block: Una Vuelta A La Manzana" is a creative alphabet story with a delightful Latin twist. A page is dedicated to each letter that tells a story in both English and Spanish using as many important words beginning with the featured letter as possible! The story takes the reader for a vivid stroll around the neighborhood of Latin American ethnicity. An example of a letter's tale might be: "X is for Xochitl who plays the xylophone in the school band. Roxanne, Xochitl's mother, invited everyone on the block for a tamale party. 'I bet your mother uses cinnamon and nutmeg in her sweet tamales,' Xavier told Xochitl. 'You must have x-ray vision,' she laughed. 'I'll get her to Xerox the recipe from her Old Mexico book.'" There is even a mention of Los Otros, N, LL, & CH, letters that are used in Spanish but not in English. "Give them time and soon they'll be part of our happy block." "Once Around the Block" is a delightful bilingual ABC book with warm, vivid illustrations of happy faces and places. Its charm is only exceeded by its originality.

The Music Shelf

Hot Peas 'n Butter: Best of the Bowl
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street, Portland, OR 97221

The fifth album by Hot Peas n' Butter, Hot Peas 'n Butter: Best of the Bowl is a newly recorded mix of some of the most popular songs by this widely beloved band, perhaps best known for their popular appearances on Nickelodeon/Noggin TV. Some songs are in English and others are in Spanish; all ring true to the band's Latin American roots and heritage. A delightful blend of traditional Latin American music, Afro-Caribbean rhythms, jazz, folk, and pop-rock, Hot Peas 'n Butter: Best of the Bowl is sure to appeal to parents as well as children and makes for a great gift. The tracks are "'Round the World", "Somos Familia", "Pollito Chicken", "Baila/Dance", "Rayos Diferente", "Tocando", "Sambalale", "Mi Cuerpo", "Que Llueva", "Campo", and "Que Bonita Bandera".

Robot Dance
Mr. Leebot
c/o Kindie Rock PR

Robot Dance is a high-energy music CD intended especially to appeal to children - or the child within, particularly the child within those who have a passion for 80's-style synthesizer music. Featuring tributes to the flair of "Kraftwerk", "Talking Heads", and "Devo", Robot Dance blends wild songs and pumping rhythm into an enthusiastic whole. A treat especially recommended for playing at children's parties! The tracks are "Robot Dance" (1:44), "It Wasn't Me" (1:56), "Twirl! Twirl! Twirl!" (2:02), "Green Family" (1:51), "Rumbling Tummy" (2:00), "Paper Airplane" (1:55), "No Whining" (1:58), "Bouncing Off the Walls" (2:24), "Learn to Rock" (2:43), "100's Day" (2:08), "Protect Your Nog" (2:11), "Gibberish" (1:47), "Letters and Numbers" (1:52), "Broken Robot" (1:58), "It's Your Birthday" (0:36) and "Robot Dance Extended Data Mix" (2:28).

Somersault Season
Laura Freeman
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois St, Portland, OR 97221
CD, $16.00,

A rhythmic, toe-tapping, foot-stomping musical romp for children ages 2 to 6, "Somersault Season" by musical composer and performer Laura Freeman showcases sixteen original songs organized into four seasonal groupings of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. It should be noted that "Somersault Season" is thoroughly 'environment friendly' being packaged with certified green components using all vegetable inks and recycled cardboard. Of special note are Laura's 'Flower Dance' (3:22); 'Look in a Book' (2:12); and 'I Hear the Music' (4:00). Expertly recorded, "Somersault Season" is welcome and popular addition to family, preschool, daycare center, elementary school, and community library CD music collections.

Songs To Heal Our Planet
Save The Whales
1192 Waring Street, Seaside, CA 93955
CD, $12.98, 1-800-766-2273

Save The Whales is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the plant Earth for the benefit of future generations. That's why they've produced "Songs To Heal Our Planet", a superbly produced music CD for children comprising sixteen original songs to raise awareness of a variety of environmental issues and learn more about the natural world. The songs are performed by 11-year old Maggy May Trout and feature a forty-second introduction followed by Earth Day (2:42); Save The Whales (2:28); Whale Rap (1:22); Endangered Species (1:46); Condor, Condor (1:30); The Pollution Solution (3:01); Whales Are Chubby (1:08); Trees (1:57); People Want Peace (1:07); Our Wonderful Oceans (1:54); We Need Whales (0:46); Save Our Planet (1:54); Our Beautiful Planet (2:00); Keep It Green (2:17); Save The Whales Chorus (1:03). "Songs To Heal Our Planet" concludes with a bonus feature: Ocean Spirit from Rhythms of Breath (8:16). As entertaining as it is inspiring, and with a total running time of 39 minutes 20 seconds, "Songs To Heal Our Planet" is very highly recommended for both school and community library CD music collections for children of all ages.

The Science Shelf

Science Dictionary for Kids
Laura E. Westphal
Prufrock Press
5926 Balcones Drive, Suite 220, Austin, TX 78731
9781593633790, $12.95

The "Science Dictionary for Kids: The Essential Guide To Science Terms, Concepts, and Strategies" is a 144 -page paperback resource that has been titled the #1 Science Homework Helper for students in grades 4-9. It contains, standard science definitions with illustrations, a handy reference section complete with tables, charts, and formulas in common use. A variety of data charts and formulas are presented in clear and easily understandable formats. From weather maps and symbols to elemental tables and genetics studies with Punnett squares, the "Science Dictionary for Kids" has a wealth of information easily available to students with pressing science homework assignments. There is even a part to explain how to use lab equipment and how to graph research data, as well as a complete explanation of the scientific method. Parents, teachers, and students will welcome this practical accessible resource for budding scientists.

The Fiction Shelf

Hannibal's Elephant Girl
Ariion Kathleen Brindley
176 Dillon Road, Seymour, MO 65746
9781442167650, $8.95,

"Hannibal's Elephant Girl" is a historically based tale of Liada, a girl of twelve years who lived in 229 BCE in the time of Hannibal between the first and second Punic Wars. Liada is saved from drowning by Obolus, one of the elephants 17-year-old Hannibal is training to prepare for battle in Iberia. The tale unfolds in action-packed scenes filled with detailed adventures. Designed to appeal to young adults. "Hannibal's Elephant Girl" will also attract the interest of middle school age and adult readers. Just enough romantic interest and prolonged suspense color the fast turning pages of this gripping story. At a length of 367 pages, it is a fine "bridge" experience novel to entice young readers to read more. "Hannibal's Elephant Girl" is highly recommended for historical detail attention as well. It brings history to full life.

Evacuation Day
Stanley Harris
Critical Choices
2706 Gateway Court, Harrisburg, PA 17110
9780615277622, $12.95,

How does a twenty-first century child fare in rescuing someone from the redcoats? "Evacuation Day: A Boy's Trip Through Time to George Washington's First Victory" tells the story of Charles Miller and his journey to rescue his friend's father from a prison in Boston back in 1776. The saga of an arduous task fraught with the risk of time paradox, "Evacuation Day" is a fun read that also teaches young people about American history.

The Mythology/Folklore Shelf

The Great Smelly, Slobbery, Small-Tooth Dog
Margaret Read MacDonald, author
Julie Paschkis, illustrator
Little Folk
c/o August House
3500 Piedmont Road NE, Suite 310, Atlanta, GA 30305
9780874838084, $16.95,

"The Great Smelly, Slobbery, Small-Tooth Dog: A Folktale from Great Britain" is an imaginative retelling of a Beauty and the Beast British folk tale originally collected and retold in "A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales" by Katherine M. Briggs. Filled with brilliant tapestry-like full color illustrations, the children's tale moves swiftly to the sticking point. The familiar tale has fresh appeal in this version and the central message of the liberating nature of compassion overcoming the deception of appearances always enchants. Of particular interest in this book are the beautiful explanatory pictures of flowers and their meanings, on the inside pages and covers. Every beautiful illustration seems filled with luminous meaning "The Great Smelly, Slobbery, Small-Tooth Dog" is an artistic and literary triumph!

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Jack W. Regan
Sweatshoppe Publications
9781442114593, $10.95,

Young Max Ransom's father was murdered by marauding phantors who swept through T'Aragam spreading death, destruction, and terror. Under the command of the evil wizard Zadok and narrowly escaping with his life, thirteen-year-old Max is propelled into an adventure wrought with danger, memorable characters, unexpected plot twists, and a riveting action/adventure fantasy of the first order. In "T'Aragam", author Jack W. Regan demonstrates the skills and imaginative originality of a true master storyteller. Highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library fantasy collections for young readers.

Pond Punkies/ Book One: The Arrival
Lisa Riebe & Cynthia Nunn, authors
Eric Scott Fisher, illustrator
Ravine Publishing LLC
100 W. Commercial Street, Suite 1C #158, Morris, IL 60450
9780981949338, $15.95

"Pond Punkies" is that unusual creation a science fiction work for middle grade readers. It is the first book in a series and also a forerunner of an exciting new Pond Punkie Trading Card Game which promises to entertain young fantasy fans even more. The plot elaborates a tale of young Blaze, a Pond Punkie from the moon of Neptune called Larissa. Through an accident of an erupting geyser, Blaze and the evil Tritonians are blasted to earth. Blaze has a buddy named Ace from a rival Clan with different special powers. A prophecy on Earth suggests Blaze may be a chosen one, even though he is only eleven moons old. The action and dialogue move quickly and imagination is given full play in the unfolding saga. Slightly spooky black and white illustrations embellish the book with just the right touch of science fiction/fantasy/gothic flavor, with a bit of humor for good measure. "Pond Punkies" is an unusual work in a small but fast -growing area of interest. A safe prediction is that "Pond Punkie" interest will rise and further books will result.

The Sorceress
Michael Scott
Delacorte Press
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780385735292, $17.99,

In Paris in another world Dr. John Dee has torn the city apart in his efforts to grab the immortal Nicholas Flamel and Sophie and Josh Newman, while Nicholas watches Paris' destruction and observes that the twins increasingly show signs of being the promised twins of legend. Prior readers of the Nicholas Flamel saga will relish this new addition to a complex fantasy series perfect for young adult collections.

World's End
Erica Verrillo
Random House
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780375839504, $16.99,

Elissa has finally gotten a father and a kingdom - but she finds the fulfillment of her wishes only part of the equation when she discovers underlying politics at the castle are ruining her dreams and include a dreaded arranged marriage. Elissa longs to escape, but finds herself on a dangerous journey facing both enemies and a mysterious prophecy in this riveting fantasy adventure, perfect for pre-teens and teens alike.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Closed for the Season
Mary Downing Hahn
Clarion Books
215 Park Avenue South, New York NY 10003
9780547084510, $16.00

The Magic Forest is closed for the season, but when boys investigate the old amusement park, they find it actually hasn't been open for years, and looks quite dangerous. When they go inside to solve the mystery of who killed Myrtle Donaldson, they find even more danger in this riveting story of courage and discovery.

The Biography Shelf

Michelle Obama: An American Story
David Colbert
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
222 Berkeley St., Boston MA 02116
9780547249414, $16.00

Michelle Obama's family moved from slavery to the White House in just a few generations, and Michelle Obama: An American Story recounts her family story for any young reader in grades 5-8. Her lively story blends family heritage with her road to the White House and provides an inspirational biography for any young reader.

The Picturebook Shelf

Riki Solves the Problem
Chana Tager, author
Mirel Goldberg, illustrator
Feldheim Publishers
c/o Stuart Schnee PR
10 Haportzim, Jerusalem, Israel
9781598262858, $12.99,

"Riki Solves the Problem" is a delightful, educational, funny book for kids who complain of summer boredom. Charmingly illustrated with colorful cartoons and drawings of kids, plants and animals having fun in summer, "Riki Solves the Problem" tackles the thesis with both hands. At first, Riki can only imagine the fun things she could be doing if it were not raining (which it is, a "mabul," or a downpour, or flood). She could be playing hide-and -seek with Sarah, or in their tree house, or planting seeds in the garden, or swinging, climbing bars or jumping rope. However, when Riki is encouraged by her mother to think of other things she could do on a rainy day, she comes up with a variety of fun ideas, including, "I could just sit and imagine." She decides to make a list of all the things she can do and to help her mother make chocolate chip cookies. Guess what? Riki decides she is having a good day after all! Accompanying Riki through her rainy day adventures are a pair of commentators, a little frog and a turtle. Their remarks help underscore the thinking that Riki is learning to do to make her boring rainy day a great opportunity for new experiences. Tiny details in all the pictures make it clear that Riki lives in a Jewish home with many traditional family activities in her life. "Riki Solves the Problem" is an entertaining book with a worthwhile mission, educating ourselves and opening our eyes to our own potential.

Polo and Lily
Regis Faller
Roaring Brook Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781596434967, $9.95

Written and illustrated by Regis Faller, "Polo and Lily" is a whimsical children's book told entirely through colored cartoon pictures of Polo the tree-island dwelling pup and his cloud -traveling trickster rabbit visitor, Lily. Young readers will enjoy telling the story to themselves as carefully drawn in the sequence of pictures detailing Polo at home, gardening, fishing, cooking, setting the table, enjoying a meal, washing up, and serving cocoa to an unexpected visitor. "Polo and Lily" is the latest in a series of Polo stories, and readers are encouraged to travel to Polo's world by visiting Just when you think all the surprises are done, Polo receives a phone call from Lily after she says goodbye to him and embarks on her cloud again. "Polo and Lily" will appeal to young readers age 7-10.

Runt Farm Under New Management
Amanda Lorenzo, author
Mark Evan Walker, illustrator
Itasca Books
c/o BooktiMookti Press
3501 Highway 100 South, Suite 220, Minneapolis, MN 55416
9780980095203, $12.95 800-901-3480

"Runt Farm" is a charming, imaginative tale about a renegade kitten (and fledgling duckling) who inherit a deserted farm and proceed to invent a wacky lifestyle that incorporates two wandering super-intelligent mice named Cletus and Tooth from NAARF (the Nightshade Association Animal Research Facility). Fortunately, Kitten does not eat or hunt live mice, so the operation continues on a canned goods supply shoestring-style. It is amusing to read about the educational efforts of the mice to build the vocabularies of Kitten and Peep, and the random species sampler encounters its share of challenges both from predatory neighbors (weasel), and NAARF Gestapo types. "Under New Management" is the first book in a "Runt Farm " series and it promises many rollicking pages of adventure to come. Whimsical black and white illustrations enhance the text, designed to appeal to a juvenile audience ages 6-10.

Runt Farm: Beatrice and Blossom
Amanda Lorenzo, author
Mark Evan Walker, illustrator
BooktiMookti Press/ Itasca Books
3501 Highway 100 South, Suite 220, Minneapolis, MN 55416
9780980095210, $12.95 800-901-3480

In the second Runt Farm book of the series, "Beatrice and Blossom," new members are recruited for the Runt Farm pack, now including Kitten, Peep, two inventor mice named Cletus and Tooth, and Beatrice, a bunny, and Blossom, a soggy squirrel. A kind of raggle-taggle gypsy band dynamic develops, and each member of the troop contributes their own special assets or talents and a remarkable story ensues. The antics of the eccentric characters are hilarious and spontaneous. A very cozy group dynamic is further explored in this second book of the Runt Farm series. Playing marbles and teaching baby frogs to share lily pads was never so unpredictable and so much fun!

14 Cows For America
Carmen Agra Deedy, author
Thomas Gonzalez, illustrator
Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah, collaborator
Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781561454907, $17.95,

"14 Cows For America" is a beautifully illustrated children's picture book for young readers ages 6 to 10 and based upon a true story. On September 11, 2001, whil visiting the United nations headquarters in New York on that fateful day, Maasai tribesman and Stanford University student Kimeli Naiyomah was deeply affected by the events that cost the lives of so many Americans. Kimeli went back to his home in a Western Kenya village so remote that his tribe had not heard of the attack on America until he told them. The village reacted to Kimeli's sorrow and decided to do something for America. The Maasai people, being nomadic cattle herders, determined to gift as a gift to America fourteen of their best cattle because, to the tribe, the cow equals life. With the help of Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah, Carmen Agra Deedy's retelling of this story and its humanitarian message is so perfectly enhanced throughout with the full-page color artwork of Thomas Gonzalez, makes "14 Cows For America" a truly wonderful and enthusiastically recommended addition to school and community library picture book collections for children.

Pennies for Elephants
Lita Judge
c/o Hyperion Books
114 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011-5690
9781423113904, $16.99,

Written and illustrated by Lita Judge, "Pennies for Elephants" is a charming hardcover children's book that tells the tale of Molly, Tony and Wady, three trained elephants in Boston that are rescued from being sold to the circus by a children's penny-raising campaign coordinated by Dorothy and Henry. The kids have only two months to collect $6000 for their elephant rescue project, and the race is on for creative fundraising by and for kids! All the children of New England play a part in this effort, and many shared moments of joy and suspense ensue. The wonderful story is beautifully illustrated by full page delicate rainbow-hued paintings of the children and their elephants and activities. A running total report of small amounts of money donated from many separate donors keeps the suspense high, and the final result is victory for the children and the elephants. "Pennies for Elephants" is a nostalgic-tinged story that will remind adult readers of days long gone by, while engaging children age 0-8. "Pennies for Elephants" is based on actual events that happened in 1914, a fact that ads to the joy of the story.

The Green Green Pear
Manjula Naraynan
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781438969572, $14.49,

Engagingly written and colorfully illustrated by Manjula Narayan, "The Green Green Pear" is a children's picture book story about a green pear that really doesn't think much about himself, believing that he's really rather ordinary not worthwhile. But he embarks upon a journey of discovery and observation to ultimately discovery concluding with his learning to love himself. A lovely little story with a lovely little underlying message for young readers, "The Green Green Pear" is highly recommended for family, day care center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library picture book collections for ages 3 to 6.

No, Never!
Sally O. Lee
Lee Publishing
35 Locust Street, Unit 5, Danvers, MA 01923
9781439239087, $17.99,

The goal of a child's picture book is first and foremost to entertain. To have that picture book also teach an underlying moral message is even better. Such is the case with "No, Never!" which is both written and illustrated by Sally O. Lee. This is the utterly charming and original story of Daisy the Dalmatian who, when asked by her mother to clean up her room, or take a bath, or eat her vegetables, says not because she feels she has more important things to do. But her mother teaches Daisy that small goals are every bit as important as big ones, and that includes doing one's chores and helping out. "No, Never!" is highly recommended reading for children and a welcome addition to family, school, and community library picture book collections for young readers.

Druscilla's Halloween
Sally M. Walker, author
Lee White, illustrator
Lerner Publishing Group/ Carolrhoda books
241 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9780822589419, $16.95,

"Druscilla's Halloween" is a children's Halloween tale designed to appeal to ages 5-9. Its unlikely heroine is an eccentric old witch whose creaky knees keep giving her away on her special holiday when she is supposed to tiptoe through town and scare each child (only as much as they want to be scared). The hilarious activities of Druscilla and her cat Drizzle, not to mention her uncooperative donkey and feather-donating chickens make for a fascinating story of the invention of the magic flying boomstick! "Druscilla's Halloween" is a combination of practicality and magic, of belief and persistence, and Druscilla's determination demonstrates that valuable talents can be hidden in very strange packages. "Druscilla's Halloween" is a delightful October tale. The colorful and humorous illustrations add verve and flair to an already bewitching story.

Good Night Grandma
Sandi Washburn, author
Yvonne Fetig Roehler, illustrator
Growing Art Press/ Baker and Taylor
419 NW 16th Street, Corvallis, Oregon 97330
9781934367094, $17.95,

"Good Night Grandma" is a children's picture book that uses art, literature, and music to express some of the hardest concepts to internalize, how to handle the loss of a loved one. Three daughters ask their mother to share a bedtime story about their Grandma, whom they miss since she died. The mother helps them remember Grandma's special song she sang to them and to their cousin:

"One elephant went out to play
Out on a spider's web one day.
He had such enormous fun;
He called for another elephant to come."

The three sisters and their mother also sing the Elephant song to Grandma to comfort her when she is tired of suffering from her illness of cancer. They wonder if Grandma can hear them sing the Elephant song now, up in heaven. Hanna and Ahni and Chloe decide if they all sing, she'll hear them, and maybe sling too "And then we'll all feel better!" "Good Night Grandma" is beautifully and sensitively illustrated with delicate pale pastel paintings that somehow impart the dust of enchantment to the real heart of the story. This book also does not minimize the pain of loss even for young children. It gives them tools or suggestions for ways to accept and integrate some of the most difficult of life experiences.

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591

OLD HOUSE NEW HOUSE by Phillis Gershator (9780761453864, $17.99) tells of a little girl who moves into an old country house one summer and enjoys the animals and environment there. But when Fall comes, it's time to pack up and move again to a new house in a new place. A fine story of two very different environments lends to an appealing picturebook for any child familiar with moving. In Gennady Spirin's GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS (9780761455967, $17.99), Gennady Spirin's bears are dressed in Renaissance clothing and have unique chairs and beds for their country home - so it's no wonder Goldilocks wants to sample their food and enter their house! A whimsical twist on the Goldilocks story, this provides fun for any young fan of fairy tales.

Blue Sky
c/o Scholastic
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012

Rob D. Walker & Leo & Diane Dillon's MAMA SAYS; A BOOK OF LOVE FOR MOTHERS AND SONS (0439932084, $16.99) uses words and paintings to capture the bond between mothers and their kids. Lovely embellishments in languages from around the world make for an outstanding presentation perfect for parent/child read-alouds. Shana Corey's MERMAID QUEEN (0439698359, $17.99) receives Edwin Fotheringham's lovely drawings as it tells the true story of little known athlete Annette Kellerman and her freestyle approach to life. Swimming and diving fills her with joy - and she even makes her talents look artistic in this appealing fictionalized biography.

Cora Cooks Pancit
Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore
Shen's Books
1547 Palos Verdes Mall #291, Walnut Creek, CA 94597
188500835X, $17.95

Cora loves being in the kitchen be she's always stuck licking the spoon or performing menial tasks. One day when her older siblings head out, Cora gets the chance to be her mother's assist chef, and together they make pancit, her favorite noodle dish. Filipino heritage comes to life in this gentle tale, which enjoys Kristi Valiant's warm drawings.

Random House/Knopf
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019

Stephanie Blake's I DON'T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL! (9780375856884, $12.99) features Simon the rabbit, who is determined NOT to go to school. Simon's favorite admonition is "no way!" but he learns to face his fears in this fine easy reader. Mini Grey's EGG DROP (9780375842603, $16.99) tells of an egg that wanted to fly. Unfortunately the egg is young and has no idea of possibilities or how to go about flying! A surprising, hilarious ending makes for a zany story. Eileen Spinelli's PRINCESS PIG (9780375845710, $16.99) enjoys Tim Bowers' fine drawings as it tells of a parade princess's sash that gets caught in the wind and lands on a little pig. Pig is now Princess Pig - and decides to do everything perfectly .Sandra Day O'Connor's FINDING SUSIE (9780375841033, $16.99) enjoys Tom Pohrt's warm drawings as it tells of Sandra, surrounded by all kinds of animals and wishing one to be her best friend. From a bunny to a turtle to a bobcat - which wild animal would make a good pet? Justice O'Connor's fine story uses her childhood desire to fuel an outstanding story.

David McPhail
Roaring Brook Press
175 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010
1596432888, $16.95

Repeated only three times, No. No? No! may be the only word in the book but it provides a fine wordless drama of conflict and offers alternatives within oil painting representations and fun images. Any children's collection focusing on wordless picture images will find this a compelling story.

Mother Goose in California
Doug Hansen
Heyday Books
Box 9145, Berkeley, CA 94709
9781597141017, $16.95

Kids ages 4-8 will find this a lovely collection of Mother Goose rhymes with a different - exploring the Golden State in a reworking of the classic setting. Doug Hansen's fine drawings accompanies stanzas set in California history, and with additional notes on featured animals, plants and places of the state, MOTHER GOOSE IN CALIFORNIA becomes a pick for any California children's book collection.

Big Rabbit's Bad Mood
Ramona Badescu
Chronicle Books
680 - 2nd St., San Francisco CA 94107
9780811866668, $16.99

Big Rabbit has a mood - a bad mood with an attitude that won't leave him alone. He can't seem to shake this bad mood either. Delphine Durand provides the whimsical drawings to highlight this gentle story of a good rabbit's big bad mood and how he finally conquers it. Highly recommended.

175 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010

Aaron Reynolds' SUPERHERO SCHOOL (1599901668, $16.99) receives Andy Rash's warm drawings as it tells of Leonard, who can battle lava monsters and bend steel beams with his hands--and so is sent to Superhero School, where ordinary school subjects rule his day. Only when ice zombies capture his teachers do Leonard and his classmates get to really exhibit their super powers. Julianne Moore's FRECKLEFACE STRAWBERRY AND THE DODGEBALL BULLY (1599903164, $16.99) receives LeUyen Pham's fine drawings as it tells of a girl who loves going to Early Bird at her school - with its time for play fun. But when it rains there's indoor play and dodgeball - which is scary and NOT fun at all - not when it's in the hands of a bully. How can she outwit a bully?

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

The Frog Scientist
Pamela S. Turner
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South, New York NY 10003
9780618717163, $18.00

Andy Comins provides the fine color photos to accompany THE FROG SCIENTIST, a survey of a field scientist whose interest in amphibians led to his work with all kinds of frogs. Striking color photos lend excitement to this 58-page picturebook survey which comes complete with an index and bibliography including websites of interest.

Armadillo Trail
Stephen R. Swinburne, author
Bruce Hiscock, illustrator
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church St., Honesdale, PA 18431
9781590784631, $16.95

ARMADILLO TRAIL: THE NORTHWARD JOURNEY OF THE ARMADILLO pairs drawings by Bruce Hiscock with the gentle story of the birth of one armadillo in Texas who gives birth to four female pups. Armadillo facts are woven into the format of a fictional story to make for an outstanding, fun survey.

The Easy Reader Shelf

Gullible Gus
Maxine Ros Schur
Clarion Books
215 Park Avenue South, New York NY 10003
9780618927104, $15.000

Gus believes everything the other cowboys tell him - all their tall tales and lies - and their teasing makes him sad. But Doc Hickory knows a cure for gullibility and it begins with a visit to Fibrock, a town full of liars. Can the biggest fibber teach Gus the difference between fact and lie? Andrew Glass provides a fine set of color drawings for this excellent chapter book.

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking and Other Natural Disasters
Lenore Look, author
LeUyen Pham, illustrator
Schwarz Wade Books
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780375857058, $15.99,

LeUyen Pham's fun drawings accompany ALVIN HO, an easy reader for ages 6-10 that tells about Alvin's fear of the great outdoors. On a camping trip Alvin has everything he needs, from night-vision goggles to lots of toilet paper - but he can't plan for everything in this fun story of camping setbacks, perfect for light leisure reading.

Wild River
P.J. Petersen
Delacorte Press
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780385737241, $14.99,

When pre-teen Ryan agrees to join his older brother on a camping trip, he never imagines it'll become a dangerous journey when his brother is badly injured in a kayaking accident. Ryan is left alone, the only person who can save his brother's life - and is forced to move from an indoors game-watcher to taking charge in one of the most dangerous adventures of his life. A vivid outdoor survival adventure.

Roaring Brook Press
175 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010

SAXBY SMART, PRIVATE DETECTIVE: IN THE CURSE OF THE ANCIENT MASK AND OTHER CASE FILES by Simon Cheshire (1596434740, $14.95) is an outstanding first-person saga of a wise-cracking genius detective who goes to school on the side. Three bizarre cases mark this story and invite readers to help solve the mystery. Chris Mould's SOMETHING WICKEDLY WEIRD: THE SILVER CASKET (9781596433861, $12.95) tells of one Stanley, who meets even more angry pirates searching for artifacts. Stanley knows where the treasure lies but he wont' give in. A vivid, swashbuckling adventure makes for solid leisure reader action. David Rabe's MR. WELLINGTON (1596433280, $16.95) tells of a young gray squirrel who slips and falls out of a tree and finds adventure in another world of mystery when a boy rescues him. Mr. Wellington is told in alternating chapters from squirrel and boy viewpoints in this fine story of wild animal friends.

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Pains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591

Elvira Lindo's MANOLITO FOUR-EYES: THE 2ND VOLUME OF THE GREAT ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MY LIFE (9780761454700, $15.99) receives fine drawings by Emilio Urberuaga and provides the second book in this story of a ten-year-old from Spain. Here his family and zany friends are presented in a comical and fun set of adventures perfect for pre-teen readers. Patricia Hermes' EMMA DILEMMA AND THE CAMPING NANNY (9780761455349, $15.99) tells of Emma's favorite nanny - who suddenly has a boyfriend and is now choosing to spend all her time with Bo. Emma's former best friend is also choosing to spend all her spare time away from Emma. Can she solve both dilemmas? A fine story evolves.

The DVD Shelf

Infield Team Play & Strategies
Youth Sports Club
9 Florence Court, Valley Cottage, NY 10989
9780978945176, $24.99,

Little League Baseball is one of the most popular team sports played by kids today. A superbly produced instructional DVD, "Infield Team Play & Strategies" uses specific situations occurring in ordinary play to demonstrate the correct option that defensive infield players need to be successful on the field. This includes defending the steal, bunt situations, wild throw backups, pickoffs, rundowns, communication techniques, defense by position, and more. Ideal for young players ages 7 to 12, "Infield Team Play & Strategies" is highly recommended to the attention of coaches and involved Little League parents, and is a seminal addition to school and community athletic program reference and resource collections.

Learning ZoneXPress
PO Box 1022, Owatonna, MN 55060
DVD, $49.95 each

Two closed-captioned, educational DVDs from Learning ZoneXpress are ideal for showing to young people in grades 4 through 10. "Character: Self-Esteem Basics" (1571757538, 12 min.) teaches young adults the importance of healthy self-esteem and why how we see ourselves impacts how we are so heavily, along with tips for improving one's own self-esteem. "Character: Communication Basics" (157175752X, 16 min.) includes tips for effective verbal communication, as well as advice from professional actors concerning the importance of body language and nonverbal communication. Additional information about how to use nonthreatening "I" messages instead of an excess of accusatory speech, the skill of active listening, and how to effectively communicate through technological venues. Both are top picks for school library collections and homeroom viewing, especially in today's modern era when good social skills (which require both good communication and healthy-self-esteem) are more invaluable than ever.

c/o Andrea Blain Public Relations
9750 Crawford Ave., Skokie, IL 60076

Lionsgate is a premier producer of both adult and children's DVD entertainment for the home. Three of their new titles specifically for preschool children are especially recommended as wholesome entertainment. In "Book Fair" (DVD SRP, $14.98, book/DVD combination) everyone's favorite purple dinosaur takes children on a storybook adventure demonstrating how reading can help their imaginations engage in such diverse activities as building a make-believe rocket, putting on a circus, or creating books of their own! From the popular 'Thomas & Friends' series comes "Percy and the Bandstand" (DVD SRP, $14.98, 46 minutes) that invites preschoolers along with Thomas, Toby, Duncan, Percy and all the other engine friends to accompany Sir Topham Hatt for a hot-air balloon ride, a top-secret birthday party, a special bandstand surprise, and more! "Percy and the Bandstand" is enhanced for solid fun and entertainment with the inclusion of such special features as a 'Songs of Sodor' game and three 'Read Alongs'. "Bob The Builder: Built For Fun" (DVD SRP, $14.98, 46 minutes) is comprised of five wonderfully imaginative stories where Bob and his Can-Do Crew build a radio station, design greenhouses out of recycled material, and more. In addition to the special features of a 'Build with Bob' game and a 'Building Buddies' read-along, "Bob The Builder: Built For Fun" also comes with a special plastic toy truck. All three of these superbly produced DVDs are highly recommended and will provide viewing fun and playtime entertainment over and over again.

The Religion/Spirituality Shelf

Kids' Bible Dictionary
Jean Fischer
PO Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
9781602602960, $12.95,

The Bible is a big and complicated book which may overwhelm younger readers. "Kids' Bible Dictionary: The Most Important People, Places, and Things from A to Z" is a guide for children to better understanding the concepts of the Bible, which may be daunting at times. Defining commonly used terms and explaining the values put forth in the scripture, "Kids' Bible Dictionary" is a fine gift for the young and eager Bible reader.

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

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