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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 25, Number 8 August 2015 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Social Issues Shelf Fashion Shelf
Science Shelf Agriculture Shelf Sports Shelf
Multicultural Shelf Picturebook Shelf Board Book Shelf
Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf Audiobook Shelf
Music CD Shelf DVD Shelf Activity Shelf
Environmental Shelf Autism Shelf Counting Shelf
African-American Shelf Health Shelf American History Shelf
Christian Shelf Judaic Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Art Shelf Fiction Shelf Easy Reader Shelf
Books in Series Donovan's Bookshelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Bobby and Mandee's Too Safe for Strangers, Children's Safety Book
Deputy Sheriff Robert Kahn, author
Sue Lynn Cotton, illustrator
Future Horizons, Inc.
721 W. Abram Street, Arlington, TX 76013
9781885477750, $6.95,

"Bobby and Mandee's Too Safe for Strangers" is from a series of Children's Safety Books written especially for children to help them protect themselves from abduction attempts. Written by a Deputy Sheriff and credited with preventing or obstructing 22 child abductions, "Too Safe for Strangers" addresses children calmly but specifically, warning them not to trust, answer, or speak to strangers who approach them when no adult or parent is present. Beginning by defining a stranger as someone the child does not know or has only met a few times, the book continues instructing children to say "No!" loudly and run away, seeking a trusted grown-up if they are approached by a stranger, offering candy, toys, or free pets, or requesting help in finding a pet. The book also warns children never to get into a car with a stranger unless their mother or father has given permission for them to go with the person. If a stranger attempts to touch or grab, children are told to scream, bite, kick, fight, and get away. Children are encouraged to make a list of their parents' safe, trusted adult friends, and also to remember a special code word to help identify a parent's trusted friend. An additional list of other grown ups who can be trusted to help in an emergency is given, with the number one rule emphasized being: Always tell your parents where you are going. Additional safety tips are given in 911 Tips For Parents and Bobby & Mandee's Safety Test. A final blank list invites safe names to list and a black and white illustration of Bobby and Mandee for kids to color. Other illustrations are colored, perky, and easy for kids to identify with. "Too Safe for Strangers" is an excellent teaching tool to help children learn ways to protect themselves from abduction by strangers.

Forty Fun Fables: Tales that Trick, Tickle and Teach
Martha Hamilton & Mitch Weiss, adaptors
F. Baird Hoffmire, illustrator
August House
3500 Piedmont Road, NE, Suite 310, Atlanta, GA 30305
9781939160775, $8.95, 95pp,

Animals only talk when they appear in fables to tell us about our very human selves. Collaboratively compiled and adapted by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss, "Forty Fun Fables: Tales that Trick, Tickle and Teach" is a classic collection of whimsical stories is told simply with wit that appeals to children of all ages. In reading these tales, the lessons of many cultures are passed along and wisdom is shared. Young readers will be highly engaged and entertained by the fools, tricksters, and clever characters who appear in these timeless stories. These mostly Aesop-based stories comprising "Forty Fun Fables" is organized into four major sections: Starter Stories; Next Step Stories; Challenging Stories; and Most Challenging Stories. Enhanced with the inclusion of an opening commentary (Why Fables?), "Forty Fun Fables" also includes "For Teachers and Parents: How This Book Can Help Children Meet The Common Core State Standards". "Forty Fun Fables: Tales that Trick, Tickle and Teach" is ideal for use by home schooling parents and is very highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections.

The Peace Tree from Hiroshima
Sandra Moore, author
Kazumi Wilds, illustrator
Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
9784805313473 $14.95

The Peace Tree from Hiroshima is a children's picturebook that takes only the slightest creative license with the true story of a bonsai tree that has come to symbolize peace. The story is told from the perspective of the tree itself, which was a seedling in 1625, and faithfully trimmed by generations of the Yamaki family in Japan for hundreds of years. 1945, the bonsai tree miraculously survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. In 1976, the Yamaki family donated the bonsai to the National Arboretum in Washington as part of a gift of bonsai trees that represented the bonds of peace and friendship that had grown to connect two nations. An author's note about the real-life tree that inspired the picturebook, a brief glossary, and a handful of fascinating facts about bonsai trees round out this story of hope.

Grandma Lives in a Perfume Village
Fang Suzhen, author
Sonja Danowski, illustrator
NorthSouth Books
600 Third Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10016
9780735842168 $19.95

Grandma Lives in a Perfume Village is a children's picturebook about a Chinese family, but its subject matter of family love and loss is universal. When young Xiao Le visits his grandmother in remote Perfume Village, she isn't feeling well; a neighbor named Aunt Zhou is taking care of her. Xiao Le helps Grandma take some medicine, and he and his mother enjoy spending time with her. This is destined to become their final visit with Grandma; later, Xiao Le learns that Grandma has passed on. "His mom said, 'Grandma has left Perfume Village and moved into heaven.' 'Where in heaven?' asked Xiao Le. 'It might be another Perfume Village. Your grandma loved living there.' Xiao Le believed that the Perfume Village in heaven must be farther away and couldn't be reached by train, for his mom often stared into the sky while shedding tears. Xiao Le knew that his mom was missing her mom." Beautiful, realistic color illustrations add a timeless touch to this heartfelt storybook, which is also ideal for bridging difficult discussions with young children about losing loved ones.

The Social Issues Shelf

Not for Hurting
Alan M. Weber, author
Ashley Pate, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781496950079, $19.99 28 pages,

"Not for Hurting" is a sensitive children's book about war. Told from the viewpoint of Olivia, a girl in day care, the title refers to a saying by the girl's day care teacher: "Hands are for helping, not for hurting." Another saying from day care is "We use our words, not our fists." Olivia is a girl who is upset by fighting or quarreling between others. Her favorite story book is "The Story of Ferdinand," by Munro Leaf, about a bull who refuses to fight other bulls. Olivia's family experiences a serious trauma together: They receive news from soldiers in uniform that their older son, Joe, away fighting in a war, has been killed. None of them will see him again alive. This news devastates all the family, both Olivia's parents and also her brother Jimmy. Healing from that painful news is a life long process. Olivia is comforted by her grandfather, who also eventually dies, but of natural causes. Even Grandpa was unable to explain a reason for war to Olivia. Her family eventually decides to adopt another baby from far away. Olivia knows this baby can't replace Joe, the brother she lost. As a young woman, grown up, Olivia dreams of writing a book about war to help people end all wars. "Not for Hurting" is very sensitively written and beautifully illustrated in pastel colors on sepia backgrounds. "Not for Hurting" is an excellent resource book to begin to explain the reality of war to children.

Planting My Values
Lynn Powell, author
Imagery by Thinkstock
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781480809642, $22.99,

"Planting My Values" is a story of a young boy's search for establishing roadmarks of right and wrong, good and bad. Written in narrative verse, "Planting My Values" calms and reassures a young reader's doubts with faith in goodness, and encouraging acts of kindness and deeds of honesty to grow. Manners, empathy, integrity, thoughtfulness, respect, being responsible, loyal, showing gratitude and courage - these are all values that are demonstrated and defined, in child behavioral terms. The boy is encouraged to tend a garden of positive values as he grows "values that help me to judge and decide. Each day I can choose any value I need. My actions grow bigger and better, indeed!" Even more inspiring are the words that follow: "I will know in my head. I will know in my heart. I will make good choices. I will know how to start. I will make some new friends! I will hold open doors! I won't exclude anyone! I will do my chores!" This is the way, the boy learns, to encourage good values to blossom in his heart. "Planting My Values" is an inspirational book for school age readers.

The Fashion Shelf

Design Line: History of Women's Fashion
Sanna Mander, illustrator
Natasha Slee, author
Big Picture Press
c/o Candlewick Press
89 Dover St., Somerville, Massachusetts 02144
978076367962, $17.99,

"Design Line: History of Women's Fashion" is a foldout sturdy book that depicts western women's fashion examples from the 1300's to 2013. It can be read either as a continuous 6 and a half foot foldout chart or page by page. Fashions are drawn in color, in jaunty cartoon style poses. On the backside of the chronologically arranged fashion line are detailed, dated paragraph descriptions of each specific outfit or accessory. In addition to the foldout chronological costumes, there is an informative introduction on Fashion Trends, with a condensed timeline of fashion silhouettes from the 1300s to the 1900s. Finally, the lineup ends with a list of Ten Things that started new fashion trends, again, arranged chronologically: The Industrial Revolution (1760-1840), the Ballets Russes and Paul Poiret (1910), World War I (19-14-1918), the Jazz Age and flapper fashions (1920s), Chanel (1920s-1930s), World War II (1939-1945), Rock 'n' roll and the teenager (1950s), Mary Quant miniskirt (1960s), Punk (1970s-1980s), and the Internet (1990s-2000s). From the Gibson Girl to the Land Girl, from the Flapper to the hippy, from Balenciaga to Alexander McQueen, contrasting fashion trends are represented in authentic detail. Shoes, hats, jewelry and accessories are included for further detailed embellishment in this fabulous foldout "Design Line: History of Women's Fashion."

The Science Shelf

What Makes a Rainbow?
Ross Van Dusen
Rio Grande Books
925 Salamanca St NW, Los Ranchos De
Albuquerque, NM 87107
9781936744329 $19.95

What Makes a Rainbow? is a children's picturebook that teaches young readers about how rainbows are made, using singsong rhyme and cheery color illustrations. "Now, when the sun / hits that tiny drop, / and hits it just right, / the drop acts as a prism / and splits up the light. // With the top being redder / and the bottom more blue, / the drop reflects those colors, / and guess what they do." At once both playfully entertaining and educational, What Makes a Rainbow? is an excellent choice to read aloud to curious young children ages 3 to 8.

The Agriculture Shelf

Big Tractors
Holly Dufek, author
Paul E. Nunn, illustrator
Octane Press
809 Lamar Blvd., Unit 327, Austin, TX 78704
c/o PR by the Book
9781937747534 $14.95

Part of an series designed to help introduce young people to fascinating world of modern farming and farm equipment, Big Tractors with Casey & Friends is all about how tractors are used for demanding jobs on the farm. Side notes about how tractors work and how they're used to do things like plow fields makes Big Tractors as educational as it is entertaining, and may even teach adult readers a thing or two! For example, AFS (Advanced Farming System) uses satellite technology to help a big red tractor drive an optimized course through the farm's fields. "AFS works by passing information between the team's AFS boxes and satellites in space. And Casey receives the team's AFS messages through cellular signals - the same way a cell phone works." Full-color photography of tractors on the job enriches this agriculture celebration, which is also available in a Kindle edition.

The Sports Shelf

Nick's Very First Day of Baseball
Kevin Christofora
Clarens Publishing
9780986349300 $12.99

First in a series intended for young people ages 3-7, Nick's Very First Day of Baseball is an educational children's picturebook that teaches readers the basics of baseball, incorporating real coaching techniques. The story follows young Nick and his friends on their first day together as a team, engaging in exercises, practice, learning from their coach, and trying out their new uniforms. A short quiz at the end rounds out this colorful and upbeat glimpse into how much fun team sports can be! Nick's Very First Day of Baseball makes an excellent gift; though it's not primarily a consumable book, young readers are encouraged to write in answers to the quiz questions, and there is a final page reserved for autographs of famous baseball players.

The Multicultural Shelf

Papa Gave Me a Stick
Janice Levy, author
Simone Shin, illustrator
Star Bright Books
13 Landsdowne Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
9781595723420 $16.99

Papa Gave Me a Stick is not a bilingual picturebook, but does incorporate several simple Spanish words and phrases into its English text (all of the Spanish phrases are defined in a glossary at the end). The story follows Antonio, a young Hispanic boy who is fascinated by the local mariachi band. He asks his father for a "guitarra" like the band members play, but his father doesn't have the money for such an extravagant thing. Instead, Antonio's father gives his son a simple stick. "What good is this?" Antonio asks. The stick can't be played like a guitar, but it is the perfect tool to help an animal in need. Antonio learns that the most mundane items can be used to spread kindness, and help those who need it most. And what goes around comes around! Gentle, heartwarming, and expressively brought to life with simple yet colorful artwork, Papa Gave Me a Stick is a delight to read aloud and share.

A Ticket Around the World
Natalia Diaz and Melissa Owens, authors
Kim Smith, illustrator
Owlkids Books Inc.
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781771470513, $16.95,

As promised in the title, "A Ticket Around the World" is a fun and fact-filled whirlwind tour of 13 countries with a young boy who joyfully globe trots his way around the world. Each country he visits presents exciting diverse experiences in local food, culture, language, geography, weather, and scenic landmarks . The boy also meets a young friend his own age in each country who is introduced as part of a host family. Each country is described with an introductory paragraph and depicted with a small map spread in contrasting colors, with important features illustrated and noted. The table of contents pages show all 13 of the countries visited on a world map, with a page number inserted for handy reference. Countries featured include France, Greece, Morocco, Jordan, India, Botswana, China, the Philippines, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Brazil, and the United States. Inviting, realistic but stylized illustrations portray each country and persons with authentic charm and attention to detail. Written for children ages 5-8, "A Ticket Around the World" educates and entertains effortlessly, while offering the armchair globetrotting tour of the year. A brief quiz at the end cinches the many lessons learned in the places visited. "A Ticket Around the World" has been described as "the perfect introduction to the diversity of our world for children ages 5 to 8."

All About the Philippines
Gidget Roceles Jimenez, author
Corazon Dandan-Albano, illustrator
Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759
9780804840729, $16.95,

"All About the Philippines: Stories, Songs, Crafts and Games for Kids" is a treasure trove of history, custom, traditions, activities, and culture of the islands known as the Philippines. There is a section on language that teaches ways to say "thank you" in Filipino, Pampangan, Pangasinense, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray, Maranao, and Ifugao. In fact there are over 170 ways to say "thanks you" in the Philippines. The book begins with greetings from three children who are cousins, Mary, Jaime and Ari. They are descended from some of the many different peoples who make up the Philippines: Malayo-Polynesians, Chinese, South Asian, Arab and indigenous peoples. Throughout the book, the three friends present favorite holidays, foods, games, and customs in their historical traditions. Colorful illustrations communicate some of the joyous spirit that pervades much of the culture of the Philippines. Ending with a chapter on weddings titled A Royal Reunion, "All About the Philippines" is a fun-filled fact finder book with loads of culture, traditions, and celebrations to share. The richness of it heritage is fully suggested in this intriguing collection of all things Filipino for children.

The Picturebook Shelf

Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That
Victoria Allenby, author
Tara Anderson, illustrator
Pajama Press
112 Berkeley St., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5A 2W7
9781927485521 $19.95

Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That is a charming picturebook that will especially appeal to young cat lovers. Nat the Cat sleeps all day long in the most unlikely positions - in a basket, in dresser drawers, or maybe upside-down in someone's favorite chairs. But then night falls and a spritely black-and-white kitten wants to play! A delightful not-quite-ready-for-bedtime story with exuberant color illustrations, Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That is delightfully fun to read aloud and share.

Maureen Fergus, author
Dusan Petricic
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9781770496132 $19.99

InvisiBill is a picturebook about an oft-overlooked middle child. Bill's mother is a busy woman with an important job; Bill's father is an important man with a busy job. His hard-working parents, his bookish brother, and his sport-loving sister just seem to overlook him time and again. In one family dinner, Bill asks his family to pass the potatoes - and no one notices him! This is the final straw; Bill decides to leave a goodbye note, and then... he turns invisible! How will his family react to his sudden disappearance? A hectic story with a heartwarming ending, InvisiBill has a strong positive message about the importance of family bonds and staying mindful of loved ones.

Veggie Rhapsody
Ray Anthony James, author
Sommer Jackson, illustrator
Privately Published
9780578155203 $19.99 hc / $1.99 Kindle

Veggie Rhapsody: I Want You In My Lunch is a rhyming children's picturebook meant to for parents to read aloud and share with little ones. The singsong lyrics with a recurring chorus are about how tasty and fun it is to eat crunch vegetables with every meal, or maybe even in bed! "Crunch! Crunch! Crunch! I want you in my lunch! // Give me something ORANGE or give me something GREEN. That green-looking thing must be a BEAN." Simple illustrations of happy children and anthropomorphic vegetables round out this delightful book. Veggie Rhapsody cannot guarantee that little ones who share in its rhyming fun will eat more veggies, but in a world saturated with sugary and processed foods, parents need to take every opportunity to teach kids healthy eating habits!

Are We There Yeti?
Kerry Morris, author
Taylor Freshley, illustrator
Mascot Books
560 Herndon Parkway, #120, Herndon, VA 20170
9781620869741 $14.95

Brought to life with beautiful, sweeping color artwork, Are We There Yeti? is a picturebook about a brave Tibetan Mastiff named Hoss, who discovers a lost, lonely baby yeti. Hoss promises to take the yeti home, and the two begin a tremendous journey to the top of the tallest mountain in the Himalayas! On the way they will meet and learn amazing facts about an incredible variety of animal species, from gray langurs to yaks to a beautiful snow leopard and more. Are We There Yeti? is educational as well as entertaining; its text is fairly detailed, making it an excellent choice for young readers who are just about ready to transition to chapter books. Highly recommended.

Night Buddies Go Sky High
Sands Hetherington, author
Jessica Love, illustrator
Dune Buggy Press
3 Deerwood Court, Greensboro, NC 27410
9780984741731, $17.99, 144pp,

Young John Degraffenreidt and his red crocodile buddy, Crosley, show up at the Pineapple Cheesecake Factory and find Big Foot Mae lying on the floor, staring up at her Great Star Puzzle on the ceiling. Crosley only wants a new supply of pineapple cheesecakes, but what Mae points to on her ceiling will start the Night Buddies on a totally new fantasy adventure. A suspicious white dot has passed through the Corkscrew Constellation and is now moving underneath the Hound Dog Stars. Across the Borough, Crosley s brother Crenwinkle sees the same curious speck in the sky. It looks to be a long night for sleepyhead John, but thanks to the time spreader dingus with its sleep retardant setting, he gets right into their next escapade. Nicely illustrated by Jessica Love, "Night Buddies Go Sky High" is another rollicking great fantasy that is exceptionally well written by author Sands Hetherington. An ideal and certain to be popular addition to school and community library collections for young readers ages seven to ten, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Night Buddies Go Sky High" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

The Birthday Elephant
Walter Williams, author/illustrator
Fernwood & Hedges Books
7612 Fountain Avenue, West Hollywood, CA 90046
9780989069878, $6.99,

"The Birthday Elephant" is a funny story about an elephant who was not like other elephants, content with splashing water with their trunks. This young elephant wanted more. He wanted to sit on chairs, to ride bicycles, to ride in boats and cars! But alas, they were not big or strong enough for him. One day he followed a boy on a bicycle leaving trail of dust. This boy understood the elephant: "You need someone to help you. To make things that are strong." Elated, the young elephant nodded and lifted her trunk. The boy proceeded to invent a chair, a boat, even a car that was strong enough for an elephant! The boy and elephant were absorbed in each other, they ignored their families. But one day they both returned to their families, missing their times together. So they said goodbye to each other. Much later the elephant returned, with elephant children of his own, to the place (marked by remnants of a huge chair, bicycle, and car) where he and his friend the boy inventor had so much fun together. "The Birthday Elephant" is a whimsical coming of age story about learning to follow your dreams. Decorated with visionary illustrations of imaginative line figures against brilliant splashes of color and patterns, "The Birthday Elephant" is both nostalgic and fresh, always new and inviting.

Mommy Is a Worrywart
Jenni Kaye, author/illustrator
Daring Ink Press
905 Ranch View Road, Santa Cruz, CA 95064
9780988491427, $9.99,

First book in a new series about The Hedges, "Mommy Is a Worrywart" explores a mommy's many fears about the safety of her offspring in multiple tenuous situations. A humorous dip into the seas of parenting, "Mommy Is a Worrywart" catalogs mythical mommy worries with casual abandon, from the offspring's point of view. Original minimalist-color illustrations highlight the simplistic, dramatic, and funny nuances in a badger/panda-like furry child's mommy and her many fears. "Mommy Is a Worrywart" explores in dry verse narrative exactly what defines a legitimate worry for a mommy, while her blissful child skips gaily through a life fraught with hazards large and small. Gently poking fun at herself, combining parental love with constant hovering, "Mommy Is a Worrywart" crosses boundaries from infancy into childhood safely, with sanity somewhere in tow.

Rainbow of Friendship
Joni Kelin-Higger, author
Eileen Goldenberg, illustrator
Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
12430 Tesson Ferry Road, # 186, Saint Louis, MO 63128
9781616336158, $9.95,

"Rainbow of Friendship" is a charming children's story in verse that explores the advantages of opening to new experiences, particularly in color. Its refreshing color illustrations add notes of whimsey and fun to a vivid experience. A little red girl who lives in a town that is only red asks the question, "Is it safe to play with colors different from you?" The red girl meets Blue Betty, Pink Patty Puff, Brown Bobby Bongo, Green Goober Gruff, Yellow Yasmina and Orange O'Shea. Although the girl is a little afraid, she finds Rainbow Row City (where rainbows are made) a place of enchantment and delight. Here is the enriching thought that she had: "I finally realized that people are more /Than colors they wear, yes now I am sure./ We each have a gift if we're red, blue, green,/ Or we're small, or we're tall, or we're round, square, or lean./ Our differences make us unique, but combined.../ We're a rainbow that glistens with friendship so fine./ My rainbow of friendship is perfect, you see/ And now is forever a big part of me./ Each color has added its own special hue/ To color my life in whatever I do". "Rainbow of Friendship" is suggested for readers of all colors from ages 2-8.

Mice & Spider & Webs... Oh My!
Sherrill S. Cannon, author
KJ of Kalpart, illustrations
Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co.
9781631359491, $13.00,

Seventh in a series of successful educational books for children, "Mice & Spider & Webs... Oh My!" is a rhyming story about learning to be a good listener. Rosemary is a school child who tells her mother she is afraid to go to school because the teacher told her she would have a mouse. Not only that, but Rosemary was also fearful of spiders, which she was sure would be in the classroom because her teacher was talking about webs. Oddly enough, this was all to be only for females. So Rosemary's mom talked to Mrs. Eddy her teacher, only to discover that she was telling her class about a new surprise, computers that speak, and have RA M and ROM. The mouse is a computer mouse, used to select, and the web is the internet, where the class would wirte news on the web's school page. The "only for females" information Rosemary mis-heard was supposed to be "e-mail," another listening glitch. Integrated into the illustrations of "Mice & Spider & Webs.... Oh My!" are pictures of some of the author's other books. The last page of special notes also repeats special computer terms used, and asks the reader, "Are you a good listener?" "Mice & Spiders & Webs... Oh My!" is a winner for children age 6 and up, with plenty of humor and action to keep attention riveted.

A Blanket Quite Rare
Lisa Geotus Ikegami, author/illustrator
Neptune Press
3519 Exeter Court, Orlando, FL 32812
9780982809891, $12.00,

"A Blanket Quite Rare" is a story in verse about a special blanket made carefully for a special boy, full of stripes of bright colors and so warm it made the boy feel safe in the night, even during thunderstorms. The boy soon learns that the blanket's rainbow colors are an echo of the brilliant colors of the world about him, from flying birds to wild raccoons, turtles, flowers, and even a snake! "All around the trees sparkling dragonflies flew. There were ladybugs, tree frogs, and bumblebees too. He saw so many colors as he looked high and low. "Where did they come from?" he wanted to know. Finally the boy sees a beautiful rainbow, after a thunderstorm, and although he doesn't quite fully understand, he is grateful and happy to love his blanket forever, because it showed him the miracle of the rainbow. Specially created illustrations with strokes of crayon color offer vibrant backdrop to this charming verse story for children ages 6-10.

Mad Dogs
I. B. Gumnut, author
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452504506, $10.95,

Red and Blue are the two sheepdog heroes of this Down Under series in rollicking narrative verse. Colorful illustrations paint the sheep station life of hard working Red and Blue, the mischievous pair of brown sheep dogs. One jolly day they discover a shiny new motor bike unattended behind an inviting, open garage door. What follows is an amazing adventurous ride through the Outback by two funny canine friends. Encountering kangaroos, galahs, an emu, and the mob (herd of sheep), the two rascal dogs ride the wild ride until their petrol runs out. Arriving back home, Red and Blue celebrated their amazing exploit with a dish of water and a juicy bone for supper, shared equally, of course. As bedtime descends, Blue dreams of an open shed and motorcycle rides in the Outback with Red. "Mad Dogs" is a great treat to read, sure to appeal to young readers with its Australian images and creatures.

Island Birthday
Eva Murray, author
Jamie Hogan, illustrator
Tilbury House Publishers
12 Starr Street, Thomaston, Maine 04861
9780884484257, $16.95,

Riley is an impatient boy island dweller who fears the mail will not arrive in time to help him celebrate his birthday as he wishes. Riley's mother comforts his complaints and querulous fears by sending him to visit Harvey, a neighbor who carves driftwood into benches and paints. Everyone is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the mail seaplane. It has not been able to visit the island because of stormy uncertain weather. "Island Birthday" takes the reader on a gorgeous visual tour of the beautiful Maine island, as Riley visits favorite people and places, grumpily complaining and also remembering many special experiences living on the island. Finally the weather shifts, a plane engine is faintly heard, and Riley and all the island dwellers cheer enthusiastically for, the mail plane, a Cessna 206, is coming! A closing portrait of Riley and neighbors and friends celebrating his birthday at beach twilight makes the whole wait worthwhile, as Riley declares, "Now we can celebrate - island style."

Happiness Is...
Marcus Pfister, author/illustrator
Rebecca Morrison, translator
NorthSouth Books Inc.
600 Third Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10016
9780735841796, $17.95,

"Happiness Is...." is a lively volume from the creator of the well known children's Rainbow Fish series. Using expressive illustrations of two friendly mouse characters depicted in "a rainbow of colors and textures," the story explores thoughts of describing the essence of happiness. Mouse friends Zoe and Leo trade ideas of experiences that capture the essence of happiness for each of them. The friends compare and contrast experiences with joy. Is happiness being kissed on the nose by a warm sunbeam, or shuffling through a thick carpet of autumn leaves? All the experiences of happiness are presented in words and pictures that enhance the multisensory awareness of the world around us. At the end of a sunny philosophical discussion, the two mouse friends agree the "happiness is flying a kite with your best friend," and scamper off through the meadow together. "Happiness Is..." is an inviting reading experience for young children, opening their senses to all kinds of wonderful experiences every day.

The Pea Patch Jig
Thatcher Hurd, author/illustrator
Creston Books/ Publishers Group West
PO Box 9369, Berkeley, CA 94709
9781939547217, $16.95,

"The Pea Patch" is a delightful children's story about a family of mice who dwell quietly in a lovely garden patch tended by Farmer Clem. Incredibly delicate, expressive water color illustrations bring the exuberant Mouse family to life in their vegetable patch home. There are exciting moments (Baby mouse crawls away to sleep in a lettuce, ending up in Farmer Clem's salad basket), dramatic moments (a fox appears to raid the Mouse family in the garden at night), and festive moments (the Mouse family has a garden party, with dancing, vegetable costumes, music, and moonlight) galore. "The Pea Patch Jig" dances merrily through pages of fabulous illustrations, vibrant vegetables, and one courageous Baby Mouse who saves the day with her pea shooting skills. "The Pea Patch Jig" has an accompanying song which can be found on the album Vassar Clements, John Hartford, Dave Holland (vinyl and cassette) or streaming online at "The Pea Patch Jig" was originally printed in 1986 by Crown Press and is reprinted here with permission for new generations of young readers' special enjoyment.

The Adventures of Chloe Zoe Young: Chloe's Surfing Adventure
Carol Young, author
Thinkstock, imagery
WestBow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson/ Zondervan
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47483
9781494846125, $13.95,

Written in catchy rhyme embellished with colorful illustrations of beaches and surfers, "The Adventures of Chloe Zoe Young: Chloe's Surfing Adventure is a quick-paced story for young readers who love action, adventure, and interaction. A challenge to readers which also helps keep attention focused on story development is the hunt to find a hidden sea turtle in each page of illustration. Chloe is an Australian Shepherd dog who wants to learn to surf and join in the fun with her human friends at the beach. One day a boy offers to teach her and she is off on her surfing adventure. The pace of the verse narrative is inviting and exciting, like the rhythm of the waves, and young readers will be intrigued to see Chloe learn to hang ten as the sun sets on a true surfer girl (dog). Seeking the hidden sea turtles in each picture is a parallel interactive reading activity that helps keep children excited about this charming beach story.

The Disappearing Dolphins
Jennifer Kelman, author, with Jordan & Kyle Kelman
Michael Swaim, illustrator
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478747796, $13.95,

"The Disappearing Dolphins" is a delightful child's beach story that teases the edge of belief, with the elusive disappearing dolphins in the ocean. Kevin and sister Jackie are playing on the beach with sand castles. Kevin is certain he sees a dolphin, jumping and playing far out in the waves. But sister Jackie is not quick enough to catch a glimpse of the trickster dolphin. Kevin begins to wonder if he really did see a dolphin, when once again he sees the dolphin jump far out in the waves. Again sister Jackie does not believe in the mythical jumping dolphin, but later there are three dolphins playing, and even later five, doing tailstands! Finally Jackie is able to admire the dolphin water show, and the twins make plans with their mother to ride out in a boat with fish treats for the dolphin clowns. "The Disappearing Dolphins" ends with a satisfying encounter between boy and girl and dolphin friends, and a feeling of closeness to magic is reaffirmed when Kevin secretly sees a dolphin wink at only him. What an unforgettable day! Unusually expressive colored illustrations portray dashing, winking dolphin faces and baffled blonde children on the beaches of their endless imaginations.

The Very Worried Sparrow
Meryl Doney, author
Gaby Hansen, illustrator
Lion Children's Books
c/o Lion Hudson plc
Wilkinson House, Jordan Hill Road, Oxford OX2 8DR, England,
9780745965802, $8.99,

"The Very Worried Sparrow" is a children's classic story of one sparrow's lonely fear and anxiety, finally healed by a growing awareness of the surrounding love of the Great Father. Illuminated by sensitive, expressive portraits of each sparrow experiencing joy and fear in their life's challenges, the story unfolds in tender narrative. The Very Worried Sparrow cannot enjoy the experiences of each day like his cheeping nest mates. He is always worried and afraid, saying "Meep, meep." He fears falling while flying, he fears hunger while eating, he fears the danger of the swooping sparrowhawk above all. Despite the Very Worried Sparrow's fears, he thrives, finds a mate, builds a safe nest, and begins to raise a family of baby sparrows. Still he is paralyzed by worry and fear of the danger of the cat and the sparrowhawk. Finally the Very Worried Sparrow meets the gentle dove, who tells him once again the stories of the Great Father who made us all and who cares about every sparrow. "So as the sun went down, the dove gathered all the birds around her, and told the stories of long ago and far away of the Great Father who made the world and everything in it, of how the day begins, and where the wind comes from, and all the little things that every creature knows. She spoke of the seasons and the years, of how things grow and new life comes. She told how the Great Father knows each creature and its time on the earth. The next day, the whole world sparkled in the morning light." Finally the Very Worried Sparrow is able to smile at the hatching of his four tiny chicks, and to lay aside all his many worries and rejoice, singing "Cheep, cheep, cheep," with happiness. "The Very Worried Sparrow" is a fable of wonderful healing power that every child will understand.

Jonell Patricia Murphy, author
Rohit Kumar, illustrator
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478740742, $17.95,

"Pull" is a curious story about a curious group of dog friends who are intrigued by a mysterious challenge: A huge, strange-looking boulder with something like a teacup handle that is labeled "Pull and Prizes." All the different dogs try to pull alone unsuccessfully. The boulder handle does not budge. Then Brighton decides to tackle the problem. Although he makes preparations in secret, he finds all his friends present as onlookers during his first attempt. From big to small, all his friends warn him he will not be able to pull the boulder and get the prizes. Many discouragingly unsuccessful attempts are observed by Brighton's friends, Calandra, Dante, Eduardo, Flex, and Abagail. But as the friends watch Brighton pull and pull, a new idea emerges. Finally the friends decide to work together, coordinating their efforts by counting one, two three! to pull the stone. This amazing effort, arrived at only through trial and error, finally succeeds! It is amazing! Prizes galore pour out of the opened boulder. Little Abagail, pulling inside the teacup handle, is recovered from the lake where she was hurled by the cracking boulder. There are enough prizes to be shared with everyone, Brighton announces, and even more to take home to share. "Pull" emerges as an unusual story of community cooperation to overcome incredible obstacles. Children will enjoy pitting their imaginations against the conundrum of the boulder with Brighton and his friends to gain a hard won resolution and many prizes for all!

My Rules for Being a Pretty Princess
Heath McKenzie, author/illustrator
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
c/o Sourcebooks Inc.
P.O. Box 4410, Naperville, IL 60567
9781492615200, $16.99,

"My Rules for Being a Pretty Princess" is a hilarious fable that examines some of the traditional concepts of components of pretty princesses through a special lens of humor. A young girl dreams of becoming a pretty princess, only to have her dream made painful reality by a genuine pretty princess/fairy godmother figure. The trouble is all the manifestations of her pretty princess rules and requirements are very uncomfortable for little girls! The dress is too tight and too clumsy, the perfect makeup is boring, and the tea party is a feast of forbidden treats for hungry little girls. Dancing must only be done gracefully, and the waiting for a handsome prince is endless! (Also boring, and culminates in near disaster!) The little princess in training scampers away from all this courtly advice and promptly begins fashioning her own revised rules for being a princess: Always wear fabulous princess dresses (that are amusing and comfortable), always have amazing hair and makeup, attend delicious parties, and dance (not gracefully, but for fun)! The crossed out words tell the story best of all, as do the exuberant, imaginative colorful illustrations. On the final page it is suggested that the girl can be her own imaginary prince/hero figure too, with horse, helmet, and badminton racket,... no more waiting for a handsome prince! "My Rules for Being a Pretty Princess" is ideal for parents who like to see their children question stale stereotypes of conforming gender roles, and for princesses who want to have fun.

Grant and Tillie Go Walking
Monica Kulling, author
Sydney Smith, illustrator
Groundwood Books
c/o Publishers Group West
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781554984466, $18.95,

"Grant and Tillie Go Walking" is a lovely children's book inspired by the life of Grant Wood, famous painter of the American Gothic style. Delicate illustrations made with water color, ink, and toothbrush present the background in a style based on Grant Wood's American Gothic, a slightly more whimsical version, attractive to children. The story begins with Grant taking a walk with Tille, his sweet faced Brown Swiss cow, who is happy and contented with her life. Despite the rural beauty of his surroundings, Grant was not happy and contented. Instead of being a farmer, he wanted to be an artist. So he drew what he saw, chickens, cows, barrows and barns. Under a friendly applet tree, Grant told Tillie he was leaving for Paris the next day, to learn to paint as the French artists did. This did not please Tillie. Grant went to Paris and lived the life of an artist in residence. Tillie, back in Iowa, missed Grant. Her appetite and her milk production suffered gravely because of her unhappiness at missing Grant. In Paris Grant painted with fellow artists, but his painting was not appreciated, or taken seriously. He was urged to paint faster, to be more productive, but that just was not his way. Meantime, Tillie also missed Grant back in Iowa, and did not know how to take daily walks by herself. Grant painted "une vache," a painting of Tillie, a cow. Grant dreamed of taking a train westward, home to Iowa and his beloved Tillie, who pined for him. Happily back with Tillie, Grant took daily walks with her again, restoring both their health and happiness. Then Grant discovered a white farmhouse with an arched window, and he asked the owner, a dentist, to pose in front of the window along with Grant's sister, Nan. The painting was titled "American Gothic," and became one of the most famous paintings by Grant Wood, an artist who always took his time and was happy with his friend Tillie with his work. "Grant and Tillie Go Walking" is a work of fiction, but Grant wood did say that all his really good ideas came to him while he was milking a cow, providing the perfect inspiration for this fictional work of a famous American artist written for children ages 4-8. The sensitive illustrations are key to this lovely fictional biography bit about Grant Wood.

Sunday Shopping
Sally Derby, author
Shadra Strickland, illustrator
Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Ave., Suite 1205, New York, NY 10016
9781600604386, $17.95,

"Sunday Shopping" is a charming book about imaginary paper Sunday shopping expeditions taken by a girl and her grandmother together as a Sunday night bedtime ritual. Evie and her Grandma prepare by getting dressed for shopping in their nightgowns (and Grandma's hat), gathering up their purse of play shopping money, not forgetting the newspaper ads, scissors, and tape. It is to be a virtual, paper shopping experience, with all the accessories to help imaginations. Evie and Grandma examine and clip the ads for groceries, furniture, clothes, and more, using shopping money with different colors for different denominations to pay for purchases. Stunning, swirling illustrations portray a young African American girl, her grandmother, and a picture of her mother in soldier's uniform, who is gone in the army, all surrounded by fantastic cutout figures of shopping items, clerks, stores, jewelry boxes, and various embellished collages of great intricacy and style. Narrative text is sometimes displayed in curved, moving lines, and sometimes in straight paragraphs. Imagination is paramount. "Sunday Shopping" is perhaps a story about the satisfaction of flexing a rich imagination in full panoply. It is also a story about warm family attachments and caring relationships. "Sunday Shopping" will appeal to young readers, especially those with a parent in the armed services.

Tobby's Day at the Beach
Izabella Charlet, author
PO Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705
9781627091350, $18.95,

"Tobby's Day at the Beach" is a children's story about overcoming fear of water, presented through the first seaside experiences of a young kitten named Tobby. On Tobby's first trip to the beach he is terribly excited, but also afraid. He doesn't know how to swim. What if there are sharks or sea monsters in the ocean, as his older brother has told him in scary stories. Once at the beach with his family, Tobby meets a new friend, Max. He has a fine time learning to build a sand castle with Max, overcoming his disappointment when a younger kitten stomps and destroys their elaborate sand castle. Max encourages him to begin entering the water, just up to his knees, with a swim ring to help him. All goes well despite Tobby's fears until something moving through the water touches him and frightens him. Yelling "Shark! Sharks!" Tobby leaves his swim ring in the water and rushes for shore. Finally Tobby discovered that it was only his neighbor, Oliver, swimming underwater that startled him. "Tobby's Day at the Beach" presents a new series of experiences in patterns of a few steps forward, a few steps back. Along with the overall positive emphasis of the fun and goodness of the day at the beach, this allows young children to accept and deal with their own fears in a similar situation. The comic juxtaposition of kittens going to the beach provides an undertone of humor as well in this bright and colorful beach adventure book.

The Tea Party in the Woods
Akiko Miyakowhi, author/illustrator
Kids Can Press
3250 Military Road, Tonawanda, NY 14150
9781771381079, $16.95,

"The Tea Party in the Woods" is a delicate winter fantasy, brought to visual life in illustrations of charcoal, pencil, and color ink in shades of black, white, and gray, carefully accented with tiny splashes of crimson red and light yellow. "The Tea Party in the Woods" explores the wonder of a quiet winter walk in the woods, with heroine Kikko, who is off to visit her Grandma's house with a pie, following her retreating father into the woods to Grandma's house. Imagine Kikko's surprise when she peeks through a window at the distant figure, arrived at a strange house, showing himself hatless and coatless as ..... a big bear! Then a kind lamb in another coat invites Kikko to attend the tea party inside which all the animals are celebrating. To Kikko's surprise, all the animals, dressed so correctly with glowing eyes looking at her, give her a good welcome. Kikko explains she was on her way to take her Grandmother a pie when she fell, and spoiled the nice pie surprise. All the animals kindly say: "If it's pie you need, we have plenty to share!" Then they each contribute a different piece of pie, made from seeds, nuts, and fruit gathered in the woods, to replace Kikko's ruined pie for her Grandmother. As Kikko thanks them for their thoughtfulness, ready to depart for her Grandmother's, all the animals including a wonderful band of animal performers follow her on the way, providing an amazing musical accompaniment to their glee. When Kikko reaches her Grandmother's house, her father is there to welcome her in. They are amazed that she traveled through the woods all alone to deliver her gift. Kikko looked around, sure that all her animal friends were still there, but they had vanished. Still Kikko smiled, saying to her Grandmother: "You're never alone in the woods." The final page is a delightful illustration showing the adults' joy as they behold the unwrapped box of a surprise, multi-piece pie, the gift from all the animal guests at the tea party in the woods. There is a magical hush throughout "The Tea Party in the Woods," conveyed through the lovely illustrations and gentle text. The quiet bounty of a winter day walk in the woods is a lovely gift to share.

The Wishgranter's Babies Tucca and Tucco
Kiru Allwell-Brown, author
Sean Winburn, illustrator
9781505673425, $9.55,

"The Wishgranter's Babies: Tucca and Tucco" is a whimsical tale about where babies come from, for curious children who are at an earlier awareness level in their queries about the origin of life. The Wishgranter's job is to send wishbabies to the parents who want them most. Her servants are Rain Wind, and Hail. One human, Prisca, was so dogged in her request for one or two babies that the Wishgranter could not get any rest. Finally she resolved to send Prisca a pair of quarrelsome twins, Tucca and Tucco. Being together on Earth would give them the chance to bond and get along with each other, finally, the Wishgranter hoped. All befell as wished for, but the adventure of Tucco and Tucca in sharing their new mother's womb is only a beginning. It is strongly hinted that further challenges lie ahead! Kids will enjoy this story of where babies come from, and wonder about a sequel.

Rudy Toot Toots And His Cowboy Boots
Paul Scholz
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781480808560 $22.99 hc
9781480808546 $12.99 sc

Also available as an ebook, Rudy Toot Toots And His Cowboy Boots is a children's picturebook about a young boy who loves to wear cowboy boots. He has a different colored pair for every day of the week, including a respectful black pair for church on Sunday! Does he even wear cowboy boots when he goes to bed? Bright colors, rhyming sentences, and exuberant artwork characterize this playful, read-aloud story, which also helps teach young children about colors and days of the week.

Julie Bayless
Running Press
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 W. 57th St., Suite 1500, New York, NY 10107
9780762457502, $16.95, 32pp,

It is nighttime in the savanna, which means that it is time to play for one rambunctious lion cub! The cub tries to make new friends with the hippos and the giraffes, but roaring at them only chases them away. The young lion is about to give up, but when a rabbit accidentally mistakes the cub's tail for a carrot, the lion realizes she might have met her match, in all the right ways. "Roar!" by Julie Bayless is an ideal picture book entertainment for children ages 3 to 7 and very highly recommended for preschool, grade school, and community library picture book collections for young readers grades preschool through second grade.

The Thunder Egg
Tim J. Myers
Wisdom Tales Press
PO Box 2682, Bloomington, IN 47402
9781937786397, $15.95,

The Thunder Egg receives fine drawings by Winfield Coleman and requires good reading skills from ages 5 and up as it presents a 28-page story of a terrible drought threatening Stands-by-Herself's people. When she finds a strange egg-shaped rock, she has hopes it can solve all their problems - but will it? A lovely Native American saga is presented in a gentle read about a girl's efforts to help her Cheyenne tribe.

c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020

Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez produce What About Moose? (9781481404969, $17.99), a lively story for ages 4-8 that tells of Fox and her friends, who are building a tree house. Moose has his own ideas of what should be done - and unfortunately they are detrimental to the project. Now they've built a dilemma around Moose: what can be done? A fun story with an unexpected twist emerges. Joel Jenson, Joseph Matsushima and Amy Matsushima's Tiny Hamster is a Giant Monster (9781481451109, $17.99), based on the YouTube internet video that has gone viral with over 17 million views. Images from the video are included in this story of Tiny Hamster's ingestion of some mad scientist material that turns him into a giant, Godzilla-like hamster monster.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003

The pizzeria portrayed in Karen Barbour's Little Nino's Pizzaria (9780544456082, $26.99) may be small, but the oversized format of this book is not - and while it may prove a shelving challenge for a slim paperback to appear in a 17x17 format, this book is not meant to disappear on a shelf, but stand tall and proud on display. When a little pizza business expands to become a chaotic, busy production, little Tony seems to have no role in the job. When he helped at Little Nino's, when it was small, it was more his style. Amazing colors and oversized drawings make this a standout in more ways than one, perfect for read-aloud and library displays alike. Also oversized and vivid is Linda Urban's Mouse Was Mad (9780544456075, $26.99), which focuses on how different creatures express anger. Henry Cole provides the winning illustrations in a story that tells of a mouse who tries being hopping mad (but looks ridiculous compared to a kangaroo), stomping mad (but a bear can do it better), and screaming mad (too bad a bobcat has a winning style on this expression! The fun stories have poor mouse landing in a mud puddle much of the time, making for an engrossing and whimsical tale of anger. Maria Gianferrari's Penny & Jelly: The School Show (9780544230149, $16.99) receives fine illustrations by Thyra Heder as it tells of a big show at school that invites Penny to find her perfect talent. The only trouble is - she's failing miserably at locating talents that can lend to a school show. Can she and her dog Jelly come up with a winning combination? Helen Lester and illustrator Lynn Munsinger join forces in yet another Tacky the Penguin saga: this one involving some northern spirits in Tacky and the Haunted Igloo (9780544339941, $16.99). It's Halloween in Nice icy Land but when trick-or-treaters appear at the igloo, it's Tacky's task to find a celebration that works. A fun, zany story of hunters, penguins, and missing treats evolves. Audrey Vernick's First Grade Dropout (9780544129856, $16.99) receives fun drawings by Matthew Cordell and tells of an unusually young school wanna-be dropout - from first grade. The young protagonist has been a lot of things in his short life - but he's been embarrassed and mocked at school, and drums up a host of possibilities that might keep him from returning. A zany story evolves, perfect for young school newcomers tackling their own educational obstacles.

Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144

Simon Puttock's Mouse's First Night at Moonlight School (9780763676070, $16.99) receives warm drawings by Ali Pye as it tells of shy Mouse's first night at Moonlight School. Mouse plays hide and seek with Miss Moon and her nocturnal classmates, but will this game help her overcome shyness? Parents will find this a delightful read-aloud for young newcomers to school. Jennifer K. Mann's I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson's Blackboard (9780763665142, $16.99) tells of Rose, who longs to get a star on the blackboard, but doesn't always perform in a manner to earn stars. When it's time to make thank-you cards for a visiting artist, Rose makes an exceptional card - but covers herself with paint. Will Mrs. Benson recognize her achievement nonetheless? A fun story of school mishaps emerges. Juliette MacIver's Yak and Gnu (9780763675615, $14.99) tells of two different beasts who are friends. One has a kayak, the other a canoe. They think they have special navigational skills - until a host of other animals appear, on a variety of watercraft, to put an end to the whimsical song they've made up to celebrate their water skills. Funny, simple rhymes accompany lively color drawings by Cat Chapman in a pleasant read aloud recommendation.

The Board Book Shelf

Kristy Kurjan, author
Tyler Parker, illustrator
KPO Creative LLC
P.O. Box 1759, Traverse City, MI 49685
9780986075001, $7.95,

"Nap-a-Roo" is a brilliant board bedtime book for preschoolers. Winner of multiple awards (2014 silver Moonbeam Award for Best Board Book, 2015 Silver IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Picture Book), "Nap-a-Roo" deserves its spot at the head of the Social Media list of the top 10 ways to coax a baby to NAP! (Hint: Readers might want to check the list for other helpful bedtime routine suggestions, because "Nap-a-Roo" fans are likely to request repeat performances.) Part of the catchy naptime charm of "Nap-a-Roo" is its lilting, singsong versed narrative, with each page's line ending in a rhyme with "roo." "It's time for a nap-a-roo, just like the kangaroo... That lives in the zoo.... In Timbuktu... With a dog named Lou... And a cow that says "moo." Coo Ka Choo So let's take a nap-a-roo, because... I love you!" The second juicy layer of naptime joy in "Nap-a-Roo" is the fantastic, imaginative, one of a kind colorful illustrations that seem to absolutely grow into being out of the text. Tots and toddlers will love tracing the silly details of every bright page until their eyes get heavier and heavier.... and it's another successful naptime for "Nap-a-Roo."

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Shantideva: How To Wake Up a Hero
Dominique Townsend, adaptor/author
Tenzin Norbu, illustrator
Wisdom Publications
199 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9781614290582, $22.95,

"Shantideva: How To Wake Up a Hero" is an illuminated retelling of one of the traditional Tibetan tales of the famous Buddhist monk, Shantideva, especially for children. It begins with a story of Shantideva's teaching about practicing kindness, and wisdom, like the bodhisattvas, superheroes of supreme kindness and wisdom, extending both even towards their enemies. Sometimes the best medicine for anger or sadness is remembering that feelings are always changing. Bodhisattvas learn to watch their anger disappear, with patience. " Bodhisattvas know that the best medicine for our feelings is wishing others to be happy (p. 12)." All these ideas were taught by Shantideva to a crowd of mocking people who were amazed that he understood so much. Another beautiful quotation is in How to Stay Awake: "A bodhisattva thinks like this: May I be a bridge for everyone who wants to cross the water. May I be a lamp for everyone who is afraid of the dark and a comfy bed for everyone who needs a nap. May I be a fire for everyone who feels cold and a cool drink for those who are hot and thirsty. May I be a magic tree that never stops growing everyone's favorite fruit. Like a blind beggar who has stumbled upon a priceless jewel, I have found this wonderful way of thinking. It is like a bottomless treasure chest (p.16-17)." This collection of jewel like Tibetan wisdom tales is beautifully presented for reading to children. So many beautiful stories and teachings about cultivating kindness, patience, and wisdom are delicately framed and presented. It is a true treasure teaching the cultivation of supreme kindness, wisdom and compassion, attributes of the greatest kind of superhero, the bodhisattvas. Traditional Tibetan style color illustrations set the mood perfectly for these timeless treasures of wisdom teaching.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

The Complete Chi's Sweet Home Part 1
Konami Kanata
Vertical, Inc.
451 Park Avenue South, 7th floor
New York, NY 10016
9781942993162 $24.95

The Complete Chi's Sweet Home Part 1 is a heartwarming manga (Japanese graphic novel) that will appeal to cat lovers of all ages. The simple, cartoony drawings, enriched with gentle pastel colors, follow the adventures of the excitable, optimistic kitten Chi and the family who adopts her. A lively sense of humor fills collection, which includes the entirety of the original volumes 1, 2, and 3 as well as three bonus cat comics. Anyone who has ever lived with a kitten will identify with the beleaguered family's attempts to keep up with Chi's energetic antics! Highly recommended.

The Audiobook Shelf

Puck of Pook's Hill
Rudyard Kipling, author
Read by Peter Kenny
Naxos of America, Inc.
1810 Columbia Avenue, Suite 28, Franklin, TN 37064
9781843798989 $34.98

Puck of Pook's Hill is an unabridged audiobook performance of Rudyard Kipling's classic adventure for all ages. When two children stumble across an ancient shrine, they awaken a mischievous sprite named Puck, who also goes by "Robin Goodfellow". Puck takes them on a magical tour through history - their visits include Roman Britain and the legion guarding Hadrian's Wall, the thirteenth-century court of King John, and Old England from the era of William the Conqueror. Incredible battles, mysterious cults, acts of piracy and endeavors of heroism enliven this wondrous adventure, enriched with passages of Kipling's memorable poetry. Highly recommended, especially for public library children's audiobook collections. 5 CDs, 5 hours 53 min.

The Boxcar Children: The Movie Star Mystery
Created by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Narrated by Tim Gregory
Oasis Audio
289 Main Place, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781613755013 $9.99

The Boxcar Children: The Movie Star Mystery is the unabridged audiobook adaptation of the 69th installment of the classic, long-running Boxcar Children mystery series for young adults, created by Gertrude Chandler Warner (1890-1979). In The Movie Star Mystery, the Boxcar Children (so named because the four of them once lived on their own in a boxcar) must uncover just why so many odd things keep happening during the filming of Tate Radison's latest movie. Could someone be out to ruin Tate's career? Tim Gregory's smooth performance brings the timeless, upbeat adventure to life! 2 CDs.

The Music CD Shelf

Josh & the Jamtones
JamHouse Records
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)

Rocksteady is the third family-friendly album of Josh & the Jamtones, featuring special guests Jesse Peter Wagner, Grammy-nominated Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, and Father Goose. Cast the atmospheric style of broadcast radio, Rocksteady has mock DJs and pretend "channel surfing" transitions between its songs, which range from reggae and ska to doo-wop harmonies, hip-hop, and guitar solo. The exuberant lyrics add an extra touch of whimsy to Rocksteady's broad-based appeal. Highly recommended, especially for car trips or parties with children! The tracks are "The Saga Continues!", "Race U", "WJAM Live & Direct", "I Heart UR Face", "U and I", "Rocksteady", "", "Sloop John B.", "I Love You (JZ Remix)", "WJAM - Money Market Update", "RUDE BOIZ", "Katmandu", "WJAM - Request Lane", "Monkeyman", "Sarcasm", "L-O-V-E", and "Tailfeather".

Odds & Ends
Andrew & Polly
Palindrome Records
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)

Performing duo Andrew & Polly, well-known for their songs on Nickelodeon's "Wallykazam!", present their latest album of upbeat pop tunes for all ages, Odds & Ends. Enriched with a medley of performing instruments from synthesizers to theremin, marimba, accordion, and kazoos, Odds & Ends expresses the pure delight of music. Parents and children alike will enjoy the tongue-in-cheek clever lyrics! The tracks are "Little Bitta You" (2:21), "Critters" (2:26), "Fruitphabet" (2:07), "Grapes" (2:46), "Mama Slow Down" (3:19), "Forever Young" (2:37), "Please Be Mine" (2:28)", "Ghostbusters" (4:01), "Two Little Birds" (3:03), and "Here Comes The Sun" (2:45).

Kimbo Educational
PO Box 477, Long Branch, NJ 07740
$15.95 each

Two new CDs from Kimbo Educational are excellent resources for encouraging young people to get up, exercise, dance, and enjoy themselves. "Preschool Workout: Fitness for 4's and 5's" offers catchy music and enthusiastic encouragement to participate in activities that range from warm-ups and stretching to jumping, running, coordination, finger play, and more. "Multicultural Movement Fun" has a medley of folk dance activities drawing upon music traditions from around the world, including special rhythm stick activities, bean bag activities, and parachute activities. Both CDs come with a handy guide offering suggestions for using them with children, and extra learning opportunities. "Preschool Workout" and "Multicultural Movement Fun" are enthusiastically recommended both for fun at home and for pre-K, kindergarten, and elementary school library music collections.

The DVD Shelf

Cat Power!
Music by James Coffey
TM Books & Video
PO Box 9228, Michigan City, IN 46361

Cat Power! is not a DVD about felines, but rather about the trademarked Caterpillar (a.k.a. "Cat") brand of yellow construction machines. Featuring close-up shots of Cat loaders, bulldozers, excavators, graders, scrapers, and more at work, Cat Power! shows these machines at work. Original music by award-winning singer/songwriter James Coffey enhances this exciting machine-action DVD, created to educate and entertain viewers of all ages. Highly recommended! 40 min.

The Activity Shelf

Pierre the Maze Detective
Hiro Kamigaki and IC4Design
Laurence King Publishing
c/o Chronicle Books
680 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
9781880676663, $19.95,

Pierre the Maze Detective: The Search for the Stolen Maze Stone provides a lively, oversized book consisting of fifteen full-spread illustrations of mazes and presents Pierre the Maze Detective's latest investigation into a stolen stone which has the power to turn cities into mazes. He and his friend are tasked with finding their way through each maze to stop the perp - and young readers are equally tasked with not only tracing their way through these full-page mazes, but enjoying other tasks and challenges. A page of answers offers the routes through each maze and solutions to the problems, making for a fun and well detailed puzzle book for ages 8 and older.

The Environmental Shelf

Tino the Tortoise: Adventures in the Grand Canyon
Carolyn L. Ahern, author
Erik Brooks, illustrator
Alaska Northwest Books
c/o Graphic Arts Books/West Winds Press
P.O. Box 3225, Durango, CO 81302
9781941821459, $16.99,

"Tino the Tortoise: Adventures in the Grand Canyon" is the first volume in a series that takes young readers to visit scenic sites at national parks. Tino the tortoise, a desert tortoise, is a friendly guide, with his friend Rudi, the jumping Jeroba (a desert kangaroo mouse), who begin a mission to help their friend Penny the Kaibab squirrel. Penny had grown weary of eating pine cone seeds, and asked readers of recipes to vary her boring diet. First Tino and Rudi have to navigate with a map of the Grand Canyon to find a likely home of Penny, Arizona's National Kaibab National Forest. Tino and Rudi set off to find Penny's home, taking a train to the end of the line at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. There the two friends too a shuttle bus to the lookout at Mather Point, a huge, scenic set of canyon walls with layers and stripes of different colored rocks and sediment. At the Visitors Center the friends find that they must take a mule ride down to the ponderosa trees on the other side of the canyon, where Penny, the tassel-eared squirrel lives. The mule trip down the canyon was exciting and scary, with petroglyphs on the walls and zigzagging switchbacks for the sure footed mules. On their trek through the Grand Canyon, Tino and Rudi encounter many desert inhabitants, including a snake, a roadrunner, a rabbit, an owl, and more. The friends even take a thrilling raft ride on the rapids of the Colorado river, with a lizard guide. Finally the got to the Bright Angel Lodge and the North Rim of the canyon. At the Grand Canyon Lodge it was much greener than it had been in the canyon floor below. Finally Rudi and Tito came to the ponderosa pine, home of penny, the tassel eared squirrel. They graciously gave her Rudi's recipe for roasted pine seeds and honey and offered to cook supper. All the new friends had a fine feast around a fire of honey roasted pine seeds. After many adventures and a night under the stars and ponderosa pines, Tino and Rudi were ready to return home to the Mojave Desert. Arresting, sand- colored illustrations display majestic scenic vistas of sites in the Grand Canyon and Kaibab National Forest Parks, contrasted with cheery, friendly faced portraits of Tino the tortoise and his desert friends. Several maps of the Grand Canyon Park areas described help young readers locate the pathways explored by the desert duo on their mission to help Penny the tassel-eared squirrel. "Tino the Tortoise: Adventures in the Grand Canyon" is an excellent educational juvenile series on our famous national parks. A portion of the proceeds of its sales will be donated to the Grand Canyon Natural History Association.

The Autism Shelf

I am an Aspie Girl
Danuta Bulhak-Paterson, author
Afterword by Tony Attwood
Illustrated by Teresa Ferguson
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Inc.
400 Market Street, Suite 400, Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781849056342 $15.95

I am an Aspie Girl: A Book for Young Girls with Autism Spectrum Conditions is a children's picturebook about what it can be like to be a young girl with (high-functioning) autism. There are quite a few books about autism-spectrum boys, but not as many about girls on the spectrum, who are often different from their male counterparts in significant ways. Girls with autism may be skilled at mimicking social behavior, to the extent that their autism is often misdiagnosed. I am an Aspie Girl is told from the perspective of Lizzie, an autism-spectrum girl with a close friend at school. She isn't good at reading people's faces, and sometimes feels overwhelmed by certain colors, loud noises, or offensive smells. Blending in at school takes its toll, and she often needs some time by herself to unwind after a long day. The last few pages of I am an Aspie Girl are addressed to parents and professionals, and filled with practical advice for raising or working with girls on the autism spectrum. Highly recommended, especially for public and school library picture collections. I am an Aspie Girl is also an excellent tool for parents interested in teaching their children to better understand how their autism-spectrum friends and classmates experience the world.

Growing Together Across the Autism Spectrum
Elizabeth Marks
AAPC Publishing
11209 Strang Line Road, Lexena, Kansas 66215
9781942197089, $19.95,

Growing Together Across the Autism Spectrum provides an unusual kid's guide to living with and learning from a parent with autism, and provides a truly unique discussion aimed for young readers but addressing key facets of understand ASD. It uses an interactive approach to engage youngsters of all ages and discusses common ASD family dynamics, from handling a parent's sensitivity to noise to handling a ASD parent's focus on correctness. The result is a powerful first-person primer that can be used as a parental read-aloud for younger readers and as a primer for family discussion and behavioral insights by those in grades 2-5.

The Counting Shelf

Ten Zany Birds
Sherry Ellis, author
Charu Jain, illustrator
Justin George, designer
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781497404588, $12.99 pb, $2.99 Kindle e-book,

"Ten Zany Birds" is a lavishly colorful number songbook featuring imaginary birds of fantastic rainbow hues, beautifully portrayed in bright water color pages of illustrations. The song of the "Ten Zany Birds" is in a familiar limerick -like format: "Ten Zany birds/ singing in a tree, dance at a party, happy as can be. Five with stripes, Four with spots, One with purple polka dots. A big bumblebee wants to come and play, but zooms when a black bird chases it away." The carefree, happy-go-lucky zany birds are perfectly captured in the painstakingly silly illustrations. Each bug, web, leaf, twig, and berry is as carefully drawn and painted as the unlikely, goofy striped breast feathers of the ten zany birds. "Ten Zany Birds" is a perfect counting, and basic subtracting skills teacher for young readers, as well as underlining concepts of classification rules. Plus the whimsical songs, rhymes, pictures, and lyrics are just fun and so unforgettable. "Ten Zany Birds" is a one of a kind counting songbook that also feels familiar. It is destined to be read and loved by many happy children.

The Ship Captain's Tale: A Counting Adventure
V. A. Boeholt, author
Jeff Yesh, illustrator
Little Five Star
c/o Five Star Publications
P.O. Box 6698, Chandler, AZ 85246
9781589852129, $13.95,

"The Ship Captain's Tale" is a wonderful counting adventure with a special nautical theme, and many extra learning opportunities for young readers. Inviting brightly colored illustrations of a white uniformed old man beside a dark blue sea begin the story. "Ahoy, Mateys!" The ship captain greets a group of children on a beach, beginning his story, which is a special counting adventure set on a ship. What ensues is an entertaining voyage both forwards and backwards through counting from numbers one through twelve, embedded in a highly amusing cruisers' tale. The Queen of the Sea was a huge, happy ship, as it set off to sea with all its crew and passengers. However, an unusual problem arises, while the captain is napping with earplugs to overcome a headache. The noon whistle blows (loudly) on time, and will not stop! Then the counting begins: 1 (one) activity director ended the games. 2 (two) passengers stood still. 3 (three) guitarists stopped strumming. 4 (four) sailors stopped swabbing....etc. all the way up to 12 (twelve) birds scattered overhead. Each number is written in contrasting color with the number word in matching color highlighted text. Suspense and drama build, with everyone on board becoming involved and concerned. Luckily, the ship's captain is awakened and finally manages to discover a solution! Hooray! Everyone celebrates, and the dozen things returned to normal, in backwards sequence. The matching, jubilantly riotous illustrations of each different number of objects/animals/people are funny and descriptive, drawing attention to the concepts of cause and effect and before and after. Finally the day on The Queen of the Sea ends quietly, with everyone happy again. Following the uniquely presented counting adventure is a Resource Guide for teachers, parents, and librarians, listing story concepts, reader and listener tips, and reader and listener connections. There are even two pages devoted to learning to count in different languages, presenting symbols and words for numbers 1 through 6 in English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swahili. Each language has correct and phonetic spellings of the number names, in corresponding (matching by number) rainbow colors. "The Ship Captain's Tale" provides excellent education and entertainment in one sleek, inviting book which kids age 5 and up will love.

The African-American Shelf

Aisha the Navigator Trains a Leader!
Amir Makin, author
Thomas Hilley, illustrator
A. I. C. Publications
PO Box 181467, Arlington, TX 76002
9780979946424, $9.99 40 pages,

"Aisha the Navigator Trains a Leader!" is an exciting new title from a vocational series aimed at young African-Americans from A.I. C. Publications. The publisher's initials are inspirational, they stand for : Attain the knowledge, Innovate for success, and Command their future. Aimed at a readership of children ages 7-9, this exciting new vocational series inspires through the example of Aisha, a young African-American girl who loves to read, and learned to design her own craft business, creating and selling jewelry using techniques begun in Africa long ago. Aisha intervenes on the playground to comfort a girl who was excluded from jumping rope with older girls because she was too small. Aisha uses her special navigator bracelet to take her friend Emily on an imaginary journey to Africa long ago, where women, children, and men worked together to help make the community better. On their tour Emily noticed a young girl who was jumping rope quite well, even though she was smaller than Emily. Aisha encouraged Emily not to allow herself to be limited by the negative comments or actions of others, but to use her games and playground experiences as tools to help her to achieve her goals. When Aisha dials her bracelet to return Emily to the playground of the present, she immediately began to create new, positive, fun games and learning experiences for herself and her friends. She also led the others in setting a standard of courteous behavior towards others at all times. Aisha the navigator has set a new leader on her path! Colorful, vibrant illustrations enact story moments, making "Aisha the Navigator Trains a Leader" a visually stunning, inspirational hit. This series has a festive feeling that life is worth celebrating! Accompanying "Aisha the Navigator Trains a Leader!" is another highly recommended inspirational title directed towards young African-American male readers: "Ali the Inventor Saves the Garden!" (9780979946417, $9.99).

Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street
Rita Williams-Garcia, author
Damian Ward, illustrator
Marimba Books
c/o Just Us Books
P.O. Box 5306 East Orange, New Jersey 07019
9781603490306, $16.95,

"Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street" is a vibrant tribute to the talent of hungry young street artists in New Orleans, who jam bottle caps into their tennis shoe soles and perform energetic, rhythmic street tap dances that are filled with joy. Tip boxes of cardboard are set out and sometimes guarded by older family members for onlookers to contribute. "Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street" describes in rhyme and imagery the amazing talent and energy of these young dancers. Two brothers, Rudy and Randy, dig into their bottle cap dance -off with verve and skill, dancing for the coins and dollars that will rain delicious treats of special New Orleans cuisine into their hungry hands. "Pralines and beignets, soft and sweet/ Jambalaya and red beans to jump for joy/ A hot Lucky Dog, now that's a treat/ And po'boys for poor boys,/ We can't be beat!" Wildly exuberant, colorful illustrations give the illusion of the bottle cap boys dancing off the pages, and for those unfamiliar with New Orleans culture, a Reader Tip Box lists unique vocabulary words that enrich the story of "Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street." This excellent black interest book for young readers will enliven any library experience for kids age 5 and up.

The Health Shelf

Maddy Patti and the Great Curiosity
Mary Bilderback Abel and Stan Borg, DO, FAAFP, authors
Lorraine Dey, illustrator
Small Horizons
c/o New Horizons Press
PO Box 669, Far Hills, NJ 07931
9780882824901, $ 9.95,

"Maddy Patti and the Great Curiosity: Helping Children Understand Diabetes" is an educational book for children about diabetes. Set as a farm visit between a girl and her grandfather, a doctor retired to be a farmer, the story gently unfolds through friendly interactions between Maddy Patti and her friend Gideon, along with her animal friends, Abby the dog, and other wise animals living on the farm. Maddy learns from her dog Abby that her friend Gideon has a high blood sugar. This was discovered because of Abby's sensitive nose, which could smell the blood sugar level inside Gideon's body. Although Gideon did not want to discuss his disease, Maddy's grandfather, Pop-Pop invited him to learn more about diabetes as a curiosity (first receiving his parents' permission). Maddy Patti wanted to help Gideon, and the children enjoyed learning what healthy foods diabetics should seek and eat, by looking for foods the colors of the rainbow. Although a few sweets or cookies as an occasional treat may be allowed, it is best for diabetics not to eat too many of them. Diabetics do best following a meal plan, balancing carbs with insulin and exercise, and choosing healthy foods like vegetables and fruits for snacks. Gideon began to feel better about dealing with his diabetes. Gideon learned to eat carefully, exercise, and even hit two home runs on his baseball team. In another encounter, Gideon rode his horse Stony Pony through a rising creek to rescue a silly goat named Pickles from a disappearing island. Maddy Patti and Gideon also learned that animals can be diabetics too, like her pony, Skeeter. The Doctor and the veterinarian taught that humans and animals can live a healthy life even if they are diabetics, as long as they eat healthy meals on a regular schedule, exercise, and take medicine as directed. "Maddy Patti and the Great Curiosity" ends with Tips for Children, Tips for Parents and Tips for Educators. All these stress the importance of accepting and understanding your feelings, and learning for sure that having diabetes is no one's fault. There are also helpful suggestions for handling teasing or adverse reactions from others because you are a diabetic. "Maddy Patti and the Great Curiosity" is a trusted resource in juvenile education about diabetes, as well as a book that can become a friend.

The American History Shelf

American Fun Facts
J. E. Bright, author
Medhi Dewalle, illustrator
Auzou Publishing
24-32, Rue des Amandiers, 75020 Paris - France
9782733832387, $14.95,

"American Fun Facts" is a fascinating trivia collection of unusual fun facts about American history and culture. Filled with quirky color illustrations, amusing questions and amazing bits of information, "American Fun Facts" is a wonderful voyage through American history and culture that kids age 8 and up will devour. Each section is color coded, and information is presented in a stimulating question and answer format. Facts are grouped in categories of culture and entertainment, history and government, sports, nature, buildings and man-made structures, business, food and drinks, and challenge, the final section which is a fun quiz for readers. A total of forty unusual facts are gathered and explained in this highly entertaining encyclopedia of American fun facts. Some random examples are; Which state has the most tornadoes in the world? How was Mickey Mouse created? What was the first sport played in America? Who is the only American woman to appear on paper money? For fun and effortless education, read on!

The Christian Shelf

Whisper, Whisper: Learning About Church
Mary J. Moerbe, author
Martha Aviles, illustrator
Concordia Publishing House
3558 South Jefferson Avenue
Saint Louis, MO 63118-3968
9780758649010 $9.99

Whisper, Whisper: Learning About Church is a picturebook designed especially to help Christian and especially Catholic children learn what to expect in church and how to participate. Ideal for teaching children age 1 and up, Whisper, Whisper is reader-friendly, reverent, and relevant. "Whisper, whisper, make a cross: (Hold index finger of each hand to make a cross.) / Forehead, tummy, side, across. (With two fingers, touch each spot.) / Whisper, Whisper, sing along; (Make an open hymnal with your hands; then point to one palm.) / Then, confess how we've been wrong. (Thump a thumb to your heart.)" The last three pages are filled with advice for parents and caregivers to helping children adjust to church practices and share in worship. Highly recommended especially for churchgoing families and Sunday School library collections.

Waldo, Blue, and Glad Max Too!
Donald W. Kruse, author
Donny Crank, illustrator
Castle Keep Press
c/o James A. Rock & Company Publishers
1937 W. Palmetto Street #6, Florence, SC 29501
9781596638754 $12.95

Waldo, Blue, and Glad Max Too! is a softcover picturebook for Christian children about outreach and compassion. Waldo is an old man who resides in an ancient, creepy house with his cat Glad Max and his three-legged dog Blue. The local community shuns all three, believing that they are dangerous and not to be trusted. But when Waldo sees the unhappiness of the children at the local orphanage, he takes it on himself to improve their lives for the better. Waldo knows that the orphans deserve to experience more than endless chores every day - they also need time to play, and time to learn from the Bible about God's love and the mercy of Jesus Christ! The singsong, rhyming text lends itself naturally to being read aloud, in this children's story about redemption for everyone.

The Judaic Shelf

Kayla and Kugel
Ann D. Koffsky, author/illustrator
Apples & Honey Press
c/o Behrman House and Gefen Publishing
11 Edison Place, Springfield, NJ 07081
9781681155029, $9.95,

Join Kayla and her dog Kugel as they prepare for a special Shabbat meal with the family in an exuberant story about practicing hiddur mitzvah, the use of beauty to enhance a religious practice, as well as the Jewish value of sh'lom bayit, or creating peace in the home, in this case, through celebration of Shabbat. Vivid, brightly colored illustrations decorate the pages of this special Shabbat preparation, while Kayla and Kugel spread out the bright white table cloth, shimmery glittery candlesticks, tasty toasty twisted challahs, and even a jeweled Kiddush cup. There are fancy shmancy plates, shaky, tasty salt, and delicious smelling flowers. Kugel's help is chaotic but heartfelt, and Kayla rejoices in her Shabbat preparations, but as the background darkens to purple twilight, they realize something is missing. What could it be? Of course, family! "Shabbat is best when we share it with family." "Kayla and Kugel" comes with a downloadable set of free activity pages for decorating your home and table for Shabbat at, "Kayla and Kugel" is an ideal storybook for preschool children ages 3-6, who will respond joyously to its vibrant appeal.

Hanukkah Cookies with Sprinkles
David A. Adler, author
Jeffrey Ebbeler, illustrator
Apples & Honey Press
c/o Behrman House and Gefen Publishing
11 Edison Place, Springfield, NJ 07071
9781681155005, $17.95,

"Hanukkah Cookies with Sprinkles" is a religious educational preschool story that teaches the true meaning of giving tzedakah, or assistance to people in need. Filled with jubilant, "breathing' color illustrations that lift the action off the page, "Hanukkah Cookies with Sprinkles" begins hopefully with the excitement of a young girl eagerly awaiting Hanukkah. Looking out her apartment window on a fall city landscape, she notices an old man who finds a spoiled discarded apple and eats it. Why would he do that, she asks her Grandma. Grandma answers, "That man is probably poor and looking for something to eat." The girl thinks of the hungry man through out her day, and she saves a cookie for her mother to leave for the hungry man next day on her way to work. The girl watches through the window as the man collects his cookie in a bag and joyously spins it on his fingertip before eating it. The girl continues to talk about this man to her teacher, where she learns about tzedakah, or giving to someone who has less than you do. The next day the girl helps assemble a lunch bag of cookies, juice, and a sandwich to leave for the man. The girl continues studying at school, preparing for Hanukkah. She crafts a beautiful menorah of tiles, bottle caps, paint and glue. At home, the girl helps make latkes and Hanukkah cookies, and plays dreidel with Grandma. The cookies are in the shapes of menorahs and dreidels, and covered with sprinkles. Because the girl already has a beautiful menorah from last year, she decides to make tzedakah and share her new menorah and cookies with the hungry man. Later, the girl asks her mother to invite the man to dinner, because he cried with joy at the beauty of her gift. Even though the family does not know this man, their rabbi does. He introduces Mr. Morris Berger to the family, and the girl's mother invites Mr. Berger to Shabbat and Hanukkah dinner. What a glorious time the girl and her family have with Morris, who teaches the girl to juggle. Traditions of Hanukkah are interwoven with this charming story of giving tzedakah for children ages 4-8.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Seriously Wicked
Tina Connolly
Tor Starscape
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765375162, $17.99,

Seriously Wicked takes the story of Little Witch (an old-time classic for elementary-level readers) and elevates it to an older audience in telling of Camellia's adopted mother, who wants cam to grow up to be a wicked witch just like her. There's only one problem: Cam is devoted to good, and has been stopping her mother's schemes for years. But when a demon is loosened and gets into the new cute boy she's been eying at school, all hell breaks loose, involving zombie friends, a dragon tired of hiding, and a phoenix set to explode on dance night. Seriously funny is this story of a teen's special challenges juggling too many potentially wicked situations.

One Witch At a Time
Stacy DeKeyser
McElderry Books
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781481413510, $16.99,

One Witch At a Time tells of a new magic which permeates a Brixen summer, which begins when a foreign girl tries trading some beans for Rudi's cheese and butter. Rudi knows better than to accept the proposition, but Susanna sells his family's cow anyway, for magic beans which prove nothing but trouble. When you have an entire neighborhood of witches and magic, no good can come of the most simple transaction, as Rudi finds when he plants one bean that leads them straight into trouble. A delightful takeoff on 'Jack and the Beanstalk' evolves.

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Delacorte Press
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780385743051, $16.99,

Bloodkin is a recommendation for high school readers and revolves around sixteen-year-old Kadee, a member of the Obsidian guild whose members refuse to bow to vampires, shapeshifter royals, or anyone else that controls their world. Kadee was taken from her real father when she was just a sick human child but she's committed to protecting her obsidian family, until charges surrounding a crime against the world of Midnight involves her in a quest and a journey that involves confronting past and present alike. This complex saga makes for an involving read with several unpredictable twists and a satisfyingly uncommon setting.

The Art Shelf

Jake Makes a World
Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, author
Christopher Myers, illustrator
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
11 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019-5497
9780870709654 $18.95

Historian Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts and award-winning illustrator Christopher Myers present Jake Makes a World: Jacob Lawrence, a Young Artist in Harlem, a children's picturebook inspired by the 1930's childhood of artist Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000). At an after-school arts center, young Jake uses paint, glue, and other materials to express himself; when he sees an old mask from Africa, he draws inspiration from the item, from within, and from the world around him. A final page offers more details about Jacob's life; he arrived in Harlem as the cultural transformation of the Harlem Renaissance came to fruition, and was able to express his talent among other artists even in the midst of the Great Depression. The brilliantly colorful and expressive artwork, crafted in homage to Lawrence's signature style, distinguishes this beautiful picturebook about creative discovery.

Affordable Art Projects For Kids
Amanda Feterl
Crystal Productions
1812 Johns Drive, Glenview, IL 60025-1581
CP7242, $30.95, 72pp,

In a spiral bound format, "Affordable Art Projects For Kids" is a 72 page do-it-yourself guide that features step-by-step instructional photos of 26 traditional and modern art projects and activities that will stretch the elementary school art room budget for students grades K-6. The focus is on the artistic process, which will allow teachers and students to add their own creative touches to the projects. "Affordable Art Projects For Kids" is thoroughly 'kid friendly' and highly recommended for both school and home-parenting art projects curriculums.

The Fiction Shelf

The Misadventures of Edgar & Allan Poe: The Pet and the Pendulum
Gordon McAlpine
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780670784929, $16.99,

The Misadventures of Edgar & Allan Poe: The Pet and the Pendulum provides Book Three in a series (prior books not seen by this reviewer) and presents the final misadventure in a trilogy that began in The Tell-Tale Start and Once Upon a Midnight Eerie. This time, the twin Poes find themselves in a mansion outside of Baltimore facing much danger. Secrets, hilarious encounters, and creative problem-solving mark a stand-alone trilogy conclusion that will attract middle school newcomers to the series as well as prior fans, spicing all with black and white illustrations by Sam Zuppardi.

Sorry I'm Not Sorry
Nancy Rue
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781400323722, $9.99,

Sorry I'm Not Sorry joins others in the 'Mean Girl Makeover' series in providing a middle-grade novel about the effects of bullying from an unusual perspective: the bully herself. In this case tweens are offered biblical solutions to bullying using a trilogy approach that takes on each different character's viewpoint, from the bully (here) to the victim and bystander (in previous books). Here the bully explains her viewpoint and biblical solutions are offered in the course of following the life of Kylie, who has been expelled for bullying and forced to attend counseling. The juxtaposition of different perspectives encouraging understanding, paired with a religious focus, makes this a special recommendation for Christian collections seeking enlightening materials for tweens on how to overcome common obstacles and understand one's adverse condition.

The World Within
Jane Eagland
Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
97805454392959, $18.99,

The World Within provides teen readers with a novel about Emily Bront‰, and tells of how Emily loves her sisters, her home, and her creative writing - until the family patriarch becomes ill and Emily's carefree life seems to end. Charlotte is sent away to school, big brother Branwell has become self-absorbed and distant, and Emily alone is left with her fears. A powerful story of a young writer who struggles with family changes to discover her own power and voice makes for a compelling story that will be even better when paired with teen familiarity with Emily's writings.

Imagination According to Humphrey
Betty G. Birney
G.P. Putnam's Sons
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780399257971, $15.99,

Imagination According to Humphrey provides another Humphrey the Hamster story for young readers and tells of what happens in Mrs. Brisbane's class, where Humphrey finds himself too comfortable to get out and explore the world. He's perfectly happy staying in his safe classroom listening to stories Mrs. Brisbane reads aloud and entertaining his friends, but his vivid imagination is certain to get him into trouble - except when he tries to write things down. A fun story evolves, perfect for grades 2-4.

Escape from Baxter's Barn
Rebecca Bond
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544332171, $16.99,

Escape from Baxter's Barn tells of Burdock, a barn cat who sneaks into a farmhouse for some warmth, only to discover that all of the farm animals are threatened and need to escape. An approaching big storm leaves them with no options except pulling together and coming up with a unique solution in this story of friendship and teamwork which pairs lovely pen and ink drawings with a chapter book filled with warmth and fun in the process of exploring danger.

Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999

Lindsay Eyre's The Best Friend Battle (9780545620277, $16.99) provides black and white drawings by Charles Santoso as it tells of Sylvie, who dislikes Georgie for a number of reasons; not the least of which is because he's now trying to steal away her best friend by giving her a big birthday present. Sylvie determines to make her gift even bigger and better - and a funny competition emerges over friendships that hold a touch of realism along with a fantastic journey kids will find compelling and unpredictable. Another Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot series addition makes its appearance with Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. The Uranium Unicorns from Uranus by Dav Pilkey (9780545631235, $15.99), illustrated in full color by Dan Santat and replete with action-packed adventure enticing even reluctant readers to enjoy a story packed with visuals. Can a small mouse and a big best friend robot thwart an evil plan to trap the Mighty Robot to take over the Earth? Another planetary power struggle emerges in a easy reader especially recommended for reluctant readers who love science fiction.

The Easy Reader Shelf

Drive: A Look at Roadside Opposites
Kellen Hatanaka
Groundwood Books
c/o House of Anansi Press
110 Spadina Ave., Suite 801
Toronto, ON, Canada, M5V 2K4
9781554987313 $16.95

Also available as an ebook, Drive: A Look at Roadside Opposites is a picturebook that introduces beginning readers to the concept of opposites. The brightly colored illustrations show a vacation-baggage-laden car on the road; as the car travels, it passes by naturally opposite places and things. The text consists of single words describing the opposites, such as "Big" next to a big dog and "Small" next to a small dog. Other showcased opposites include "Wet" and "Dry", or "Day" and "Night", or, in a special fold-out section, "Worm's-Eye View" and "Bird's Eye View". Drive: A Look at Roadside Opposites is a simple, engaging book perfect for sharing with the youngest of children.

Books in Series

Felicia Law, author
Paula Knight, illustrator
Norwood House Press
P.O. Box 316598, Chicago, IL 60631
9781599537122, $22.60,

From the Patchwork series for emerging readers, "Feelings" is a lovely illustrated collection of nine short poems that help young children identify experiences and feelings reflected in vibrant verse. Short poems like "Hungry," "Upset," and "She Loves Me" encourage the reader to center, identify and explore his/her own feeling experiences. Cheery primary colored illustrations add to the empathy experience. Concepts of time are childlike, a moment can be forever, an afternoon away can be a tragic farewell to a beloved pet, as in "A Sad Goodbye." "Night Fright," "It's Mine," and "Shopping Tantrum" focus on scary, sad, or selfish behavior and feelings, while "Look at Me," "Resting on the Rug," and "Hooray for Presents" celebrate positive experiences, such as being the center of attention, delight in surprises and presents, and savoring the not quite asleep part of naptime. At the End of "Feelings" there is a vocabulary list of 25 concept words which the child will learn through individual reading experiences. "Feelings" is a wonderful book with vocabulary and behavior rehearsal components integrated to teach children more about their own experiences. Also highly recommended are the following titles by the same author/artist duo from the Patchwork series: "Alphabet" (9781599537153, $22.60), "Family" (9781599537115, $22.60), "Numbers" (9781599537108, $22.60), "Shapes" (9781599537146, $22.60), and "Size" (9781599537139, $22.60). This series is ideal for reading to young children of preschool age, 3-5 years).

Crabtree Publishing Company
350 Fifth Avenue, 59th Floor, New York, NY 10118

Crabtree's series titles offer high value for the money and are recommendations for elementary-level collections, offering primers perfect for leisure browsing and study alike. The 'Poet's Workshop' series by JoAnn Early Macken, for example ($27.60 each), consists of books of some 32 pages each for grade 4 readers, with each book covering a different kind of poem and how to produce and understand it. Each subject includes details on reading, writing and reciting the poem as the books focus individually on CONCRETE POEMS (97807787196362), HAIKU (9780778719649), LIST POEMS (9780778719656) and CINQUAINS (9780778719625). Five new books add to the growing 'Cultural Traditions in My World' series ($26.60 each), with books geared to grades 2-3 including 32 pages each of details on different countries. GERMANY (9780778780601), KENYA (9780778780632), JAMAICA (9780778780625), IRAN (9780778780618), and SWEDEN (9780778770649). The books focus on cultural celebrations and festivals and use these events to explore beliefs, traditions, and the peoples of each country, with contemporary color photos inviting browser interest. Megan Kopp's Text Styles: How to Write Science Fiction (9780778716570) surveys the basics of how to identify facets of science fiction, differentiate them from other genres, and how to use this in their own writing and joins the 'Text Styles' series of similar explorations, while three new additions to 'The Word Wizard' series: BOOK OF ADVERBS (9780778713067), BOOK OF NOUNS (9780778712909) and BOOK OF VERBS (9780778712923) provide young learners with 24 pages each discussing 'Word Wizard' tricks and tips in a very lively approach young readers will appreciate. All offer excellent value and approaches highly recommended for elementary school reference collections.

Donovan's Bookshelf

Elizabeth's Landing
Katy Pye
Pyewacky Press
P.O. Box 265, Mendocino, CA 95469
9780989097314, $13.99,

Port Winston has a beach, shopping, and a pleasant atmosphere; but to teen Elizabeth, who's been moved mid-school year to Texas, it contains little of interest and much to avoid - including her judgmental, fisherman grandfather, who thinks she's nothing but trouble.

At first glance, Elizabeth might seem the last person to take an interest in endangered wildlife, but when she stumbles on an injured, nesting sea turtle, she finds new purpose and new conflicts as she fights to save the Landing, the turtles' critical nesting beach. It's one thing to fight against family, including its secrets: it's another to take on corporations and the results of the Deepwater Horizon's damaging oil slick.

It's rare to find an environmental story folded into a young adult read about a teen's angst and coming of age; but by incorporating the two under one cover, Elizabeth's Landing becomes so much more than the usual story of a moved teen's struggle to adjust. Bigger-picture thinking lends a social and political aspect to the story that succeeds in examining issues of a teen's power, awakening to the world around her, and movement from 'troublesome' to 'engaged'.

Add psychological insights and a first-person approach to understanding ("Thanks," I say, thrilled to hear terrific, perfect, and you in the same sentence.") and you have a moving story that succeeds on many levels. This award-winning book is recommended for middle school to high school audiences.

Diane C. Donovan, Senior Reviewer
Donovan's Literary Services

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
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