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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 17, Number 2 February 2007 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Mythology/Folklore Shelf Music Shelf
Art Shelf Christian Studies Shelf Early Reader Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Native American Shelf Science Shelf
Judaic Studies Shelf American History Shelf Books in Series
Picturebook Shelf Fiction Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf
Biography Shelf DVD Shelf Audiobook Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Hidden Treasures Vacation Fun
Liz Ball
Hidden Pictures
PO Box 63, Tipp City, OH 45371
0967815975 $5.95

Hidden Treasures Vacation Fun is a black-and-white, softcover picture-find activity book. Over 1300 hidden objects scattered among 56 pages make for great car trip, vacation, or rainy-day fun. The pictures themselves feature humans and anthropomorphic animals traveling, sightseeing, and enjoying themselves, and are perfect for budding young artists to color in.

The Knot Fairy
Bobbie Hinman, author; Kristi Bridgeman, illustrator
Best Fairy Books
1241 Chateau Green Ct., Bel Air, MD 21015
0978679105 $15.95

The Knot Fairy is a free-spirited fantasy picturebook, about a fairy that visits sleeping children to tie knots in their hair. The pink, purple, and sepia-hued color illustrations by artist Kristi Bridgeman add a delightful touch to this warm-hearted story meant to be shared with young people right before bedtime. "So, if your hair goes this way and that... / and you're thinking of hiding it under a hat... / just look in the mirror and shout with glee, / "It looks like the Knot Fairy visited me!" An audio CD of the story read aloud by author and educator Bobbie Hinman, as well as an original "Fairy Song", complements this fanciful title.

Drumbeat in our Feet
Patricia A. Keeler and Julio T. Leitao, authors
Patricia A. Keeler, illustrator
Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
158430264X $16.95

Julio T. Leitao founded an African dance troupe for children, and Patricia A. Keeler observed African dancers for weeks; together they wrote Drumbeat in our Feet, a picturebook meant to convey the richness of African dance culture to young readers. Drumbeat in our Feet is not a storybook per se, but rather an informational survey of the history of African dance tradition. From costumes and body painting associated with dance, to dances that honor spirits and ancestors, to types of musical instruments used, call-and-response songs, and much more, Drumbeat in our Feet surveys all aspects of African dance. Keeler's exuberant color illustrations bring to life the excitement of African dance in this wonderful, informative, and highly recommended picturebook.

Our Librarian Won't Tell Us Anything!
Toni Buzzeo, author; Sachiko Yoshikawa, illustrator
Upstart Books
c/o Highsmith Inc.
PO Box 800, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538-0800
193214675X $17.95 1-800-448-4887

Written by School Library Media Specialist Toni Buzzeo for children in grades 3-5, and illustrated by mixed media artist Sachiko Yoshikawa, Our Librarian Won't Tell Us Anything! is a wonderful picturebook about a school librarian who never answers questions directly - instead, she gives young people the tools to find out the answers for themselves! "I clicked SEARCH and got a long list of books. I chose a few titles and read more about them. Then, I wrote down the call numbers and titles of the books I wanted on the catalog slips she handed me. 'Okily dokily,' she said at last. 'Now use the shelf labels to find them!' 'Ummm, Mrs. Skorupski? I asked YOU to show me where they are.' She smiled. 'Yes. You certainly did.'" The cheerful, stylized color illustrations add the perfect touch to this upbeat picturebook about learning to discover things on one's own, and a corresponding "Library Lessons" booklet is filled with useful lessons and reproducibles, suitable for classroom or homeschooling education. Highly recommended.

Dr. DNA and the Anaconda Invasion
Lucas Miller, author;
Sherlock and Amy Watson, illustrators
BioRhythms Publishing
6306 Nasco Drive, Suite 101, Austin, TX 78757
0978913906 $15.95

Though bound and printed in the style of a picturebook, Dr. DNA and the Anaconda Invasion is actually a short, colorful, and wacky graphic novel for young readers, about a sudden invasion of South America's anacondas in Hollywood. The anacondas are unhappy because Hollywood portrays them as bad guys, but while they're away from home, the population of capybaras - their favorite prey - skyrockets! The capybaras are gobbling every bit of green in sight, Hollywood is panicking because of the snake takeover, and it's up to Dr. DNA, defender of nature and animals, to set things right! Using his amazing shapeshifting powers, Dr. DNA listens to the snakes' point of view in this whimsical and fun eco-adventure. The last few pages are devoted to real-life anaconda expert Dr. Jesus Rivas, who shares scientific facts about the world's heaviest snake with young readers. A "must-have" story for budding young herpetologists and zoologists, and just plain fun to read.

All Dried Out
WeWrite Kids; Troy Freeman, illustrator
WeWrite Company
11040 Alba Road, Ben Lomond, CA 95005
1576350630 $11.95

Sponsored by Ewing Irrigation, All Dried Out is a softcover chapter book for young readers about the importance of water conservation. Cartoony color illustrations every few pages add humor and charm of a story featuring talking food, from broccoli to a chicken leg. Occasional square boxes separate from the story draw attention to important water conservation facts, such as "Know when to water: Did you know that you can lose as much as 30 percent of water to evaporation by watering midday?" The latest in the WeWrite series, All Dried Out is a wholesome story created by children, for children, that deals directly with a serious environmental issue. Concluding the story are a gallery of drawings by the young authors, as well as their recommendations for conserving water. Especially recommended for elementary school and public library collections, All Dried Out is the perfect blend of education, social awareness, and fun.

Dinosaur Alphabet
Harry S. Robins
North Atlantic Books
1435 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
1583941673 $18.95 1-800-788-3123

Written and illustrated by renowned muralist Harry S. Robins, Dinosaur Alphabet is a marvelous ABC picturebook in which each letter of the alphabet corresponds to the name of a different dinosaur. An accompanying four-line poem and a colorful picture, both corresponding to the latest scientific knowledge about dinosaur species, bring the reptilian giants of the past to life for eager young readers. An extended section of supplementary notes at the end explains numerous details about dinosaurs that are only briefly mentioned in the poems. Many of the dinosaurs have long or difficult-to-pronounce names, so this is not a book that a young child still working on memorizing his or her ABCs will be able to read without help. Some illustrations also feature violence scenes of prey dinosaurs being attacked by carnivores. However, Dinosaur Alphabet is an excellent, scientifically accurate book especially for budding young dinosaur lovers and prospective paleontologists. "Deinonychus, with raptor squawks, / Pounces and slashes, tears and feeds, / Thinning the ranks of those she stalks- / Her great claw strikes down all she needs."

Castle: Medieval Days and Knights
Kyle Olmon
Orchard Books
c/o Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
043954324X $19.99

If you're looking for a high-quality pop-up book, look no further than the medieval 3-dimensional castle in CASTLE, which holds more than a dozen pop-ups to accompany facts about medieval times and life. While the nature of CASTLE makes it unsuitable for library lending, it will prove not only a perfect parent's or homeschooler's pick, but an excellent library display.

Wild West Trail Ride Maze
Roxie Munro
Bright Sky Press
340 South Second Street, Albany, TX 76430
193172167X $16.95 1-866-933-6133

Wild West Trail Ride Maze is not an ordinary picturebook - there is no story and no words; every two-page spread depicts a Wild West outdoor maze inhabited by cowboys, horses, Charlie the cook, and the occasional coyote. Young people are encouraged to study each maze and count the cattle, search for the hidden white horse, find the eight cowboys on the paths. An ABC game is also hidden in the pictures, in the form of a hidden letter shape - starting with an A on the first page and a Z on the last, as well as something sequestered within that page that starts with the appropriate letter. Solutions to the visual hunts are in the back of this engaging search-for-it picturebook.

Bunnicula In-A-Box
James Howe
Aladdin Paperbacks
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of Americas, New York NY 10020
1416934987 $14.99 1-800-223-2336

Any fan of James Howe will find this convenient boxed set of three books makes for a perfect gift or keepsake. While ample copies of Bunnicula, Howliday Inn and The Celery Stalks At Midnight exist, having them all in a fine slipcased package makes it a perfect gift, especially decorated by the lovely art of C.F. Payne.

The Mythology/Folklore Shelf

Hanuman's Journey to the Medicine Mountain
Vatsala Sperling, author; Sandeep Johari, illustrator
Bear Cub Books
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
1591430631 $15.95 1-800-246-8648

Based on classic Indian folklore, Hanuman's Journey to the Medicine Mountain is the picturebook story of Hanuman, the monkey son of the celestial nymph Anjana and the wind god Pavan, and helper of Ram, who is the earthly incarnation of Lord Vishnu and hero of the Hindu epic known as the Ramayana. When the demon king Ravana kidnaps Ram's wife Sita, Ram's army is blocked from rescuing her by a wide expanse of water - but magical Hanuman can cross the ocean in a single bound. Only with the assistance of the devoted Hanuman can Ram rescue his beautiful wife; Hanuman shrinks in size, grows as big enough to uproot a tree, and digs up an entire mountain to deliver its healing herbs to Ram's army. Indian-American Vatsala Sperling retells the parable about Hanuman's choices to side with good and slay evil in readily accessible prose, while illustrator Sandeep Johari brings the magical tale to life with watercolor and tempura paints, creating images in the style of classical Indian art. Hanuman's Journey to the Medicine Mountain is fairly text-heavy for a picturebook, and ideal for young readers who are almost ready to make the transition to chapter books. Highly recommended especially for school and public library collections.

The Music Shelf

Care Bears Sing And Play Piano Songbook
Brighter Minds Media, Inc.
600 'D' Lakeview Plaza Boulevard, Worthington, OH 43085
1577913000, $13.99

The Care Bears are an enduringly popular entertainment for young children preschool through kindergarten. Now youngsters ages 3 through 6 can join Cheer Bear, Bedtime Bear, Wish Bear, and all their other favorite Care Bears in learning to play the piano in the form of "Care Bears Sing And Play Piano Songbook", a colorful board book with a battery operated, built-in, three-mode piano keyboard. Children can follow the notes as they light up on the piano and either create their own tunes or use the playback feature to enjoy favorite songs. Enthusiastically recommended as providing children with hours and hours of 'kid friendly' fun, the "Care Bears Sing And Play Piano Songbook" features twelve classic children's songs with that very special Care Bear twist! The battery is very easy to replace as needed.

The Art Shelf

The Wonders of Nature Sketchbook
Colleen Monroe, author; Michael Glenn Monroe, illustrator
Storytime Press
427 W. Main St., Brighton, MI 48116
097549421X $15.00

The Wonders of Nature Sketchbook: Learn About Nature & How to Draw It! is a simple, step-by-step guide for young people to sketching animals. Each two-page spread covers an animal and offers guidelines for drawing it in pencil, as well as some basic facts about the creature's life cycle. Reducing a profile to its simplest shapes, basic shading, and detail work are covered, with each step illustrated in black-and-white in a separate sample sketch. From loons and turtles to wolves and bears, The Wonders of Nature Sketchbook is an ideal self-teaching guide especially recommended for budding young artists.

The Christian Studies Shelf

The Man and the Vine
Jane G. Meyer, author; Ned Gannon, illustrator
St. Vladimir's Seminary Press
575 Scarsdale Road, Crestwood, NY 10707-1699
0881413151 $18.00 1-800-204-2665

The Man and the Vine is a Christian picturebook, about a farmer and his young daughter who tend their vineyard together and offer the fruit of their vine to their Creator in Eucharistic celebration. The colorful, shaded illustrations by former gallery painter Ned Gannon trace the path of the grapes from field to wine press, wine cellar, and church, where they become the wine of Holy Communion, and the text by Orthodox journal columnist Jane Meyer skillfully explains the basics of the Eucharistic mystery: Grapes that come from the good earth and offered to the Creator as wine become drink infused with Jesus' Divine Life; through the True Vine, Jesus Christ, heaven joins earth, and the people once again find themselves in Paradise. A reverent and loving testimony of faith, especially recommended for children's libraries in churches. "There once was a man who planted a vine. / He dug in the earth, making room for the roots, / and the dirt smelled good and he watered the ground. / He sang a sweet song, a slow, slow song, / and he blessed the vine / and hoped for a grape, a red, sweet grape, / and the heavens sang along."

God Loved Me So Much He Created Me
Jeannie St. John Taylor
Kregel Publications
PO Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501
0825437091 $12.99 1-800-733-2607

Professional artist and former teacher Jeannie St. John Taylor presents God Loved Me So Much He Created Me, a Christian picturebook that teaches young readers how God made each child in His image, and loved them all since before the beginning of the world. The truly gorgeous color illustrations perfectly complement the spiritual text, in this ideal read-aloud picturebook for sharing thoughts of the divine with a child or helping children learn how to pray. "A long time ago the earth was a gigantic drop of water hanging in space, and everything was totally dark. God's Spirit moved over the water - thinking. And He thought about me. He knew right then, before He created anything, that Jesus would die on the cross to pay for my sins. But because He loved me so much, I was worth it to Him."

The Early Reader Shelf

Today is Tuesday
L. P. Chase, author; Vickie Froelich, illustrator
Whitmore Publishing
926 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
0874260698 $9.00

Written in large, spaced-out type for beginning readers, Today is Tuesday is a short storybook by counselor L. P. Chase about a young boy named Tommy who attends weekly therapy appointments. Afraid that his friends will think he's "crazy", or that his mom will find out what he talks about, Tommy resists his appointments and hides them from others. In time, though, Tommy learns that he's not the only one who needs to talk to a doctor, and his situation might not be so unusual. His Tuesday psychologist visits gradually help him become more comfortable, confident, and relaxed in life. A handful of simple black-and-white illustrations by Vickie Froelich intersperse this ideal introduction to understanding therapy visits for children who attend counseling sessions or who have family members or friends who go. Highly recommended.

Read-it! Readers; Gus The Hedgehog
Jacklyn Williams & Doug Cushman
Picture Window Books
151 Good Counsel Drive, Minneapolis, MN 556001 1-877-371-1536
1-4048-27880-9PI, $199.30 list; $149.50 school/library

Jacklyn Williams is an experienced educator and children's book author with more than twenty titles to her credit. Doug Cushman is a professional and award-winning children's book illustrator with more than 100 titles to his credit. Together they have created a series of ten 32-page early readers recommended for children ages 5 to 9 and students from kindergarten to the third grade. Each book features the delightful, anthropomorphic and entertaining adventures of Gus the Hedgehog and his animal friends that revolve around various holidays, celebrations, and problematic situations. The "Gus the Hedgehog" series includes; Happy Birthday, Gus!; Happy Easter, Gus!; Happy Halloween, Gus!; Happy Thanksgiving, Gus!; Let's Go Fishing, Gus!; Make a new Friend, Gus!; Merry Christmas, Gus!; Pick a Pet, Gus!; and Welcome to the Third Grade, Gus!. In addition to practicing their reading skills, children will find that these whimsical, fun stories will also instill a love of reading for pleasure and prepare them to expand their literary horizons. Although each individual book is available separately 9$19.93 list; $14.95 school/library), community library and elementary schools are recommended to acquire the entire series for the edification of their young patrons and students.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

The World Of Mammals
Sophie Lockwood, et al.
The Child's World, Inc.
PO Box 326, Chanhassen, MN 55317-0326
1592965040, $239.44 list; $167.60 library 1-800-599-7323

"The World of Mammals" is an eight volume series specifically designed, illustrated and written to introduce students in grades 3 through 8 to the physical and behavioral characteristics unique to diverse categories of animals, including accounts of their natural habitat and history. Written to conform to a fourth grade reading level proficiency, each individual title is profusely illustrated with full-color photographs and illustrations, is provided with a table of contents, informative sidebars, detailed maps, a glossary of key words and phrases, a comprehensive index, as well as sources for further research (including thematically appropriate websites). These enhancements make the series invaluable for supplementing a classroom or homeschool curriculum. "The World Of Mammals" series consists of Baboons (1592964974); Giraffes (1592964966); Kangaroos (1592964990); Polar Bears 91592965016); Rhinos (15929650240); Sea Otters (1592965008); Squirrels 91592965032); and Tigers (1592964982). The individual titles (available separately at $29.93 list; $20.95 library) are available, but school and community libraries are strongly advised to acquire the entire eight volume series for their Pets & Wildlife reference collections for young readers.

The Living Ocean
Bobbie Kalman, et al.
Crabtree Publishing Company
350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 3308, New York, NY 10118 1-800-387-7650

"The Living Ocean" is a four volume series designed to introduce children ages 7 to 12 and students in grades 3 and 4 to some of the fascinating fish and mammals that make their home in the seas and oceans of the world. Each of the 32-page, profusely illustrated books are also enhanced with a glossary of terms and an index. The series consists of 'Tropical Oceans' (0778713008, HC, $23.92; 0778713229, PB, $6.95) which showcases the diversity of animal life (and their food chains) in the tropical oceans, as well as how tropical oceans are interconnected with other seas and oceans. Of special note is the photographic and text revealing the colorful and bustling world of coral reefs. 'Skates and Rays' (0778713032, HC, $23.92; 0778713253, PB, $6.95) shows how these two fish species have skeletons made of cartilage, how they move through the water, how they hunt, what they eat, and how they protect themselves. 'Wonderful Whales' 90778713024, HC, $23.92; 0778713245, PB, $6.95) teaches children about the whale bodies, how they hunt and eat, how they move through water, and the important role the whale (a mammal) plays in oceans around the world. 'Seals and Sea Lions' (0778713016, HC, $23.92; 0778713237, PB, $6.95) focuses upon the bodies, behavior and habitats of two animals that live on both the land and in the water. In each volume the full color photography and illustrations combine perfectly with a thoroughly 'kid friendly' and informative text. "The Living Ocean" is a welcome and recommended addition to elementary school and community library Pets & Wildlife reference collections for young readers.

Kids Training Puppies in 5 Minutes
JoAnn Dahan, author; Walter George, photographer
Puppy Paw Press
c/o Atlas Books
30 Amberwood Parkway, Ashland, OH 44805
0977686108 $18.95

Written by veteran dog trainer JoAnn Dahan, Kids Training Puppies in 5 Minutes is a guide written to teach young children puppy training basics. Housebreaking, sitting or lying down on command, coming when called, and learning to stay or heel when told are all covered. The very simple instructions and color photographs make Kids Training Puppies in 5 Minutes quite easy to understand, and the accompanying DVD makes step-by-step instruction crystal clear. Enthusiastically recommended especially for young dog owners. "House Breaking: When you wake up, take your puppy outside. Once outside say, 'Hurry, Sam, hurry.' This will help your puppy go potty. When your puppy goes potty say, 'Good Sam.' (Remember to use your puppy's name.) A puppy will have to go potty shortly after you feed him."

The Native American Shelf

Tatanka and the Lakota People: A Creation Story
Donald F. Montileaux, illustrator
South Dakota State Historical Society Press
900 Governors Drive, Pierre, SC 57501-2217
0974919586 $16.95

Tatanka and the Lakota People: A Creation Story is a bilingual English/Lakota picturebook recounting a traditional creation story from the Lakota (also called Sioux) Indians. The striking and symbolic color paintings, deliberately created in a style to reflect the art created on buffalo hides by the illustrator's Lakota ancestors, add a vivid dimension to the tale. The story tells of the Trickster who fooled the Pte Oyate (Buffalo Nation) into leaving the Underworld, where they became the Ordinary People and needed help to survive. Tatanka, the holy man, provided that help by turning himself into a Buffalo and sacrificed his powers for the sake of the people. A profound tale, presented with great respect for Lakota culture.

The Science Shelf

Hands-On Ecology: Real-Life Activities for Kids
Colleen Kessler, author; Mike Eustis, illustrator
Prufrock Press
PO Box 8813, Waco, TX 76714-8813
1593632010 $19.95 1-800-998-2208

Gifted intervention specialist Colleen Kessler presents Hands-On Ecology: Real-Life Activities for Kids, a guide filled with activities for parents, babysitters, educators, and home schoolers meant to teach conservation and environmentalism to kids in grades 3-5. Featuring in-depth activities for Earth Day, some hands-on classroom suggestions include building a mini-woodland habitat, basic composting, crafting a milk carton birdfeeder, studying photosynthesis, and much more. Black-and-white illustrations and reproducible activity forms round out this excellent educational supplement.

Fundamental Physics
Gerhard Cheshire
Smart Apple Media
c/o Black Rabbit Books
PO Box 3263, Mankato, MN 56002
$205.50 list; $143.70 school/library 1-507-388-1609

"Fundamental Physics" by Gerhard Cheshire is a superbly illustrated series of six 64-page books written with an 8th grade reading level vocabulary that introduces basic concepts of physics to students in grades 7 to 12. Young readers will discover that physics is a factor in their daily lives involving electricity, colors, sounds, the motion and magnetism of the earth, and the movement of the planets of our solar system. The six titles comprising this informed, informative, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' series includes Electricity and Magnetism (978-1-58340-994-7); Energy and Matter (978-1-58340-999-2); Forces and Motion (978-158340-995-4); Light and Color (978-1-58340-996-1); Sound and Vibrations (978-1-58340-997-8); The Solar System and Beyond (978-1-58340-998-5). Each of these superbly presented texts are enhanced with the inclusion of a table of contents, an index, a glossary of terms, diagrams, and thematically appropriate (and educational) activities suitable for the classroom or as homework assignments. Each book is available individually ($34.25 list; $23.95 school/library) and are ideal for supplementing homeschooling curriculums, but the recommendation for school and community libraries are to acquire the complete "Fundamental Physics" series and add them to their Basic Science reference collections for the benefit of their students and young patrons.

Schlessinger Media
7 East Wynnewood Road, Wynnewood, PA 19096-0580
$39.95 each 1-800-843-3620

The new 'Space Science in Action' collection from Schlessinger Media is a standards based, ten volume, DVD series specifically designed for students in grades 9 through 12 and which provides core astronomically themed science information combined with a 'hands-on', inquiry-based approach as evidenced through experiments and investigation. Each individual 23-minute, full color DVD presents a laboratory technique from physics, chemistry, earth or life science, and makes it meaningful to the student viewers by explaining the theory behind the application through the skilled inclusion of graphics and real-life examples. Each individual program is closed captioned for the hearing impaired, includes both English and Spanish language tracks, a chapter select feature, and discussion questions. Free 'Teacher's Guides' are available on the Schlessinger Media website at This outstanding series consists of Astronomy; Earth; Earth's Atmosphere; Space Exploration; Moon; Planets & The Solar System; Stars; and Universe. While each program is available separately (and in a VHS format), school and community libraries should acquire the entire 10 volume set for their students. The 'Space Science In Action' series is also ideal as a home schooling curriculum supplement for teen viewers.

The Judaic Studies Shelf

The Place That I Love
R. G. Cohen, author; Alexander Levitas, illustrator
Hachai Publishing
762 Park Place, Brooklyn, NY 11216
1929628293 $10.95

The Place That I Love is a picturebook written especially for Jewish children, about the positive qualities of home. A glossary of Hebrew terms referenced by the text facilitates comprehension of the simple narrative about preparing kosher meals, learning about the Torah, celebrating occasions such as bar mitzvahs, and other activities that celebrate faith in Hashem (G-d) and bring happiness to Hashem and the family. Gentle, realistic-style color illustrations bring to life this unpretentious picturebook about the joy of hearth and home.

I Go Visiting
Rikki Benenfeld
Hachai Publishing
762 Park Place, Brooklyn, NY 11216
1929628331 $10.95

I Go Visiting is the latest title in the Toddler Experience series. Though written through the eyes of Jewish children and reflecting aspects of traditional Jewish culture, I Go Visiting teaches young readers of all backgrounds the basics of being a good guest. The simple, rhyming verse helps make the lessons about politeness memorable: "So many books and games to share, / We take turns because it's fair. / We play together with all the toys / If someone is sleeping, we don't make noise. / Being a guest is so much fun / I remember to clean up when I am done." The cozy color illustrations add a heartfelt touch to this friendly, read-aloud book especially recommended for parents preparing their young children for a visit.

Jewish Alphabet
Janet Clement, author; Albert G. Rodriguez, illustrator
Pelican Publishing Company
1000 Burmaster Street, Gretna, LA 70053-2246
1589804147 $15.95 1-800-843-1724

Written by quality childcare and early education advocate Janet Clement and illustrated by Jewish Day School facility operations manager Albert G. Rodriguez, Jewish Alphabet is an ABC book that also celebrates aspects of Jewish religion and culture. A brief, rhyming couplet accompanies each letter of the alphabet, and most entries are followed by a prose explanation of words or terms that may be unfamiliar to a child. The uncomplicated color illustrations complement the entries nicely. A list of the 26 letters of the alphabet is at the top of each page, with the current letter highlighted, to help young children better grasp where each letter comes in the alphabet. "Yy is for yarmulke, which sits on a Rabbi's head. / Some prefer to call this a kipa instead. // Yarmulkes are worn as a sign of respect, a reminder that God is above all."

The American History Shelf

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591
$20.95 Each 1-800-831-9881

Nearly 50 pages of information pack each book in Dennis Brindell Fradin's 'Turning Points in American History' series titles, making them perfect picks for elementary grades 3-4 who are teaching early U.S. history. JAMESTOWN, VIRGINIA (076142122X) tells of the first settlement to last in America, surveying the settlers' experiences and the Natives who aided them, THE MAYFLOWER COMPACT (0761421254) tells of the Pilgrims who sailed to the New World searching for religious freedom and how they signed a compact or promise to seek equality for all; THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE (0761421297) follows how the declaration came to be written; THE ALAMO (0761421270) considers the key elements and influences of a major battle which is remembered to this day; CUSTER'S LAST STAND (0761421246) tells of the Battle of Little Bighorn which represented changes not only for Natives but for whites, and THE ASSASSINATION OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN (0761421238) tells of the first murder of an American president and its lasting effects on race relations. Each book draws important connections between past events and modern history. Each comes with a timeline of events, glossary, and bibliography for further reading. No elementary-level collection should be without it.

Books in Series

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591
$359.95/Set 1-800-831-9881

Upper elementary to middle school grade levels will find this new 'Wildlife and Plants' reference set of repeated value: each book in the A-Z series offers over fifty pages of detail on wildlife and plants, including color photos, sidebars of key facts on range, habitat, appearance, and status, maps displaying natural range, and more. As an introductory set for browsing and further research it lends well to honing report subjects and gathering basic facts: reference libraries will find it of ongoing interest.

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591
$19.95 Each 1-800-831-9881

New to the 'American Heroes' series by Sneed Collard III are easy reading biographies of 40 pages each which all hold larger print, a glossary, bibliography, and index. Vintage photos and illustrations enhance overviews which focus on the bravery and changes brought by each selected individual. ROSA PARKS: THE COURAGE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE (0761421637) surveys civil rights history, SACAGAWEA: BRAVE SHOSHONE GIRL (0761421661) tells of an Indian girl's lasting influence on Native/white relations, ABRAHAM LINCOLN: A COURAGEOUS LEADER (0761421629) follows Lincoln's early years and evolution to a leader; JOHN ADAMS, OUR SECOND PRESIDENT (0761421599) reveals Adams' relationships and achievements, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: THE MAN WHO COULD DO JUST ABOUT ANYTHING (0761421610) surveys Franklin's challenges, and DAVID CROCKETT: FEARLESS FRONTIERSMAN (0761421602) follows the adventurer's explorations, politics and more. Kathryn Hinds' 'Life in Ancient Egypt' series ($22.95 each) goes beyond more general single-book explorations to provide specific in-depth focus suitable for reports. Kids in grades 4-6 will thus have plenty to review in THE COUNTRYSIDE (0761421858), RELIGION (0761421866), THE PHARAOH'S COURT (0761421831), and THE CITY (076142184x). Each holds nearly 70 pages of details, pairing attractive color illustrations with maps and in-depth discussions. The 'Projects About' series ($20.95 each) provides hands-on projects to emphasize history lessons, making them perfect acquisitions for grades 3-5. Marian Broida's ANCIENT GREECE (0761422595) provides opportunity to paint or make easy clothing; David King's ANCIENT EGYPT (0761422587) tells how to make homemade paint brushes and mummies; his ANCIENT AZTECS (0761422560) covers foods and natural dyes, among other projects; Ruth Bjorklund's ANCIENT CHINA (0761422579) surveys papermaking, early compasses and soup; Karen Frankel's ANCIENT ROME (0761422609) shows how to bake bread and build milestones. Each project reinforces historical facts.

The Picturebook Shelf

The Red Lemon
Bob Staake
Golden Books
c/o Random House Children's Books
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0375835938 $14.95 1-800-726-0600

Critically acclaimed illustrator Bob Staake presents The Red Lemon, a picturebook about a lemon farmer named McPhee, who grows bright yellow lemons. But among his fruits, one day there appears a red lemon! "Who'd squeeze this red thing in their afternoon tea? / Who'd buy a red lemon from Farmer McPhee?" Farmer McPhee throws the red lemon away to another island. But the red lemon's story does not end there - two hundred years later, the yellow lemon orchid is reduced to weeds, while the seeds from the red lemon have created a grove of red lemon trees beloved for miles around, because red lemons are six times as sweet! The style of illustration, in which people and objects are rendered as basic shapes, adds an unforgettable individual touch to this delightful read-aloud story.

Scared Silly
Sara Desmet
Red Cygnet Press
11858 Stoney Peak Drive #525, San Diego, CA 92128
1601080093 $17.95

Written and wonderfully illustrated by Sara Desmet, Scared Silly is a picturebook adventure about three animal friends in a dark and scary forest. They meet and play regularly, but one day the opossum decided to play a prank and scare his buddies! When he repeatedly startles them even though they ask him to stop playing tricks, they stop coming to visit. Is this the end of their beautiful friendship? Scared Silly is mildly text-heavy for a picturebook, and good for parents to read aloud, or for young readers who are almost ready to start reading chapter books. The wild and ever-so-slightly chaotic illustrative style is perfect for setting the spooky mode of this tale about learning to respect and be good to one's best friends. Highly recommended.

The Discontented Gopher
L. Frank Baum, author; Carolyn Digby Conahan, illustrator
South Dakota State Historical Society Press
900 Governors Drive, Pierre, SC 57501-2217
0974919594 $14.95

A short fairy tale written by L. Frank Baum, best known for his children's classic "The Wizard of Oz", The Discontented Gopher is the story of Zikky the Gopher, who amazingly wins a fantastic golden ball and with it a difficult choice - riches or happiness? Daring to choose riches, he travels through a dangerous world, and achieves the wealth he sought, but at a cost. By the time he returns home, injured and saddened, he has learned that contentment and happiness are more important than wealth and things, but he cannot bring himself to see his mother or play with other gophers again. A tragic parable, skillfully illustrated by "Cricket" magazine staff artist Carolyn Digby Conahan, The Discontented Gopher is a text-heavy story especially recommended for young readers who are ready to start reading chapter books. A word list at the end offers definitions for words such as "effaced" and "vainglory" that might be unfamiliar to young readers. Highly recommended.

I Hear the Wind
Greg Budig
Stemmer House Publishers, Inc.
4 White Brook Road, Gilsum, NH 03448
0880451645 $14.95 1-800-345-6665

Written and illustrated by Greg Budig, I Hear the Wind is a beautiful black-and-white softcover picturebook about the voice of the night wind, sometimes gentle, sometimes fierce, as heard by a young child. Each two-page spread features one or two sentences on the left, and a compelling grayscale scene of the nighttime world on the right. A recurring motif of leaves drifting in the wind complements this simple story, ideal for reading aloud before bedtime. "And I wonder if anyone else is awake and can they hear the wind just like me? Do they sit by their winter tight windows and wait for the wind dancing leaves?" Highly recommended.

Two Inch Hero
Peter Strunk
Smile Time Publishing
PO Box B, Del Mar, CA 92014
0978596102 $17.95

Written and illustrated by Peter Strunk, whose many real-life visits from little lizards inspired the story, Two Inch Hero: The Adventures of Lorenzo Lizard is a picturebook about the adventures of a newly hatched little lizard. Young Lorenzo discovers all sorts of exciting new things about himself, his talents, and how to overcome fear and handle tricky situations. Two Inch Hero alternates between a page full of text suited for readers up to fifth grade, and full-picture pages with just a few words for beginning readers. A wonderful multilevel reading adventure to share with young lizard lovers everywhere.

We Can Make It Happen!
Jane Taubenfeld Cohen, author; Bea Taubenfeld, illustrator
Kidzpoetz Publishing
PO Box 621, New City, NY 10956
0976022036 $14.95

We Can Make It Happen! is a children's picturebook written especially to help young people cope with suffering the loss of a loved one, but with a valuable lesson for all young people. Written by mother Jane Taubenfeld Cohen to tell the story of her beloved brother David Taubenfeld, We Can Make It Happen! is about a man who devotes himself to bringing happiness and friendship to others. When he becomes very sick and passes away, his children and his friends miss him, and in his memory, they do all the things they can to make their world a little better. "That's the way they showed that they loved him, even after he died." The uncontained, soft color artwork of We Can Make It Happen! perfectly suits the story's loving theme.

Grandma, How Do You Say I Love You?
Uzo Unobagha, author; Victoria Krassa, illustrator
Adonoke Books, Inc.
1427 Graffenburg Road, New Hartford, NY 13413
0977318001 $16.95

Featuring debut children's book illustrations by artist Victoria Krassa and text by award-winning author Uzo Unobagha, Grandma, How Do You Say I Love You? is a picturebook about Noni, an African-American girl who dislikes doing chores to help her parents. When Grandma Oma comes to visit from Nigera, she shows Noni that chores can be fun, and love is expressed through what one does for others. "We show our love by the help we give to the ones we love. Love is what you do." An inspirational story instilling for instilling positive family values and work ethics.

Buckamoo Girls
Ellen A. Kelley, author; Tom Curry, illustrator
Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
115 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
0810954710 $15.95 1-800-759-0190

Imaginative author Ellen A. Kelley and award-willing illustrator Tom Curry present Buckamoo Girls, a children's picturebook about a pair of ordinary cows who dream about being a "cowgirl" team in the Old West. A bouncy rhyme complements the exuberant, colorful illustrations of the Buckamoo Girls' exploits, from square dancing to rodeo rustling to singing by campfire and moonlight. A wonderfully upbeat and carefree picturebook. "Yer cowgirl ride / sets with the sun. / You were cowgirls / jest fer fun!"

Black Beauty's Early Days in the Meadow
Anna Sewell, author; Jane Monroe Donovan, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
c/o Thomson Gale
27500 Drake Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48331-3535
1585362964 $15.95 1-800-231-5163

Black Beauty's Early Days in the Meadow transforms the beginning of Anna Sewell's classic of children's literature into a gorgeous picturebook. Illustrated in soft colors by Jane Monroe Donovan, who studied horses at length to exquisitely capture their movements, the expansive artwork captures the essence of spring from the fresh grass of the meadow to the pastel hues of the sky. A wonderful introduction to a great humanitarian book for young people, and a superb book to read aloud at storytime or bedtime. The final lesson from Black Beauty's mother has an important lesson for youngsters of all species: "'I hope you grow up gentle and good, and never learn bad ways; do your work with a good will, lift your feet up well when you trot, and never bite or kick even in play.' I have never forgotten my mother's advice; I knew she was a wise old horse, and our master thought a great deal of her."

Mr. Finnegan's Giving Chest
Dan Farr
Shadow Mountain
PO Box 30178, Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0178
1590385551 $19.95

Featuring a main character, "Mr. Finnegan", based on legendary celebrity Dick Van Dyke, Mr. Finnegan's Giving Chest is a Christmas-themed picturebook about Maggie, a young girl who enjoys bullying others, even during the Christmas season. She unexpectedly meets the mysterious Mr. Finnegan, a toymaker who looks after the Giving Chest. The Giving Chest disburses gifts; its purpose is not to reward oneself, but rather to help others. Mr. Finnegan sends Maggie on an seemingly simple errand with the chest, and in the process, she learns more about holiday cheer and begins to feel the warmth of Christmas spirit. A delightful book about experiencing Christmas through a child's eyes, striking illustrated with smoothly rendered, three-dimensional digital art. Mr. Finegan's Giving Chest has a fair amount of text for a picturebook; an accompanying audio CD offers a read-aloud performance by Dick Van Dyke himself.

The Gum Chewing Rattler
Joe Hayes, author; Antonio Castro L., illustrator
Cinco Puntos Press
701 Texas Avenue, El Paso, Texas 79901
0938317997 $16.95

Award-winning author Joe Hayes and mural artist Antonio Castro L. combine their talents in The Gum Chewing Rattler, a picturebook about a tall tale of a young boy's encounter with a rattlesnake. When the middle-aged narrator was a kid growing up in Arizona, he used to love chewing bubblegum more than anything. He loved it so much that he kept it in his shirt pocket at all times, and when he forgot to take it out, it would leave a big, gunky pink stain when his mother washed the clothes. One day, the boy stepped on a rattlesnake's tail - but when the rattlesnake moved to bite him in the chest, its teeth became stuck in the gum in his shirt pocket! And when the snake worked loose, there was so much gum in its mouth that it blew a bubble! An upbeat and playful story, perfectly accentuated by the wry yet realistic art.

The Witch with a Twitch
Layn Marlow, author; Joelle Dreidemy, illustrator
Tiger Tales
PO Box 70, Iron Ridge, WI 53035
1589254007 $6.95

Written by Layn Marlow and cheerily illustrated in exuberant full color by Joelle Dreidemy, The Witch with a Twitch is a humorous, softcover picturebook about an unusual witch and her cat. Willa is a very twitchy witch, who startles easily at every little thing, which causes seemingly endless trouble for her black cat with a white-striped tail Kitch! But when Kitch is truly in danger, Willa learns the importance of prioritizing friendship over panic. A wonderful book about learning to overcome childhood fears, and highly recommended.

Dream Machine
Mark E. Hoog, author; Robert J. Aukerman, illustrator
Growing Field Books
c/o Sunflower Publishing
311 Belview Ct., Longmont, Colorado 80501
0977039110 $16.95

Written by Children's Leadership Institute executive director Mark Hoog, and illustrated by award-winning educational artist Robert J. Aukerman, Dream Machine is a positive-minded picturebook about what it takes to make one's fondest wishes come true. When three African-American children, Jazzmin, Bernquist and Jackson, discover a marvelous dream machine, each of them imagines a starstruck future wish for themselves, and asks the dream machine to make it true. But the dream machine has a special secret to granting wishes - the secret lies in the children's own hearts and determination! "'Work hard for your dreams,' Jazzmin read. 'Put yourself on your stage. The price is hard work, which by you must be paid.'" The enthusiastic, cartoon-style artwork perfectly graces this rhyming story about the importance of setting one's own goals and working to make them reality. Highly recommended.

There was a Coyote Who Swallowed a Flea
Jennifer Ward, author
Steve Gray, illustrator
Rising Moon
c/o Northland Publishing
PO Box 1389, Flagstaff, AZ 86002
0873588983 $15.95 1-800-346-3257

Award-winning author Jennifer Ward presents There was a Coyote Who Swallowed a Flea, a whimsical children's picturebook offering an outrageous take on a common children's nursery rhyme. Following the exploits of a hungry coyote who sets out to gulp down everything in sight - and the perplexed appetizers socializing in his tummy - There was a Coyote Who Swallowed a Flea blends the vibrant, cartoony art of Steve Gray and singsong rhythm to create a rollicking funny tale. "He swallowed the cactus to go with the chile. / He swallowed the chile to season the bird. / He swallowed the bird to catch the snake. / He swallowed the snake to catch the lizard. / He swallowed the lizard to catch the flea, / Plucked from his knee, that tickly flea. / Yippe-o-ki-yee?"

The Land of Caring Bou
Michael Coles and Donna Coles, authors
Timothy Banks, illustrator
August House Inc.
PO Box 3223, Little Rock, AR 72203
0874838142 $15.95 1-800-284-8784

Written by Michael & Donna Coles with assistance from Rob Cleveland and award-winning children's author Ric Reitz, The Land of Caring Bou is a picturebook about an assortment of animals learning to grow up and find their own way. For generations, the kind and noble Caring Bou have watched over the mountain ranges of Caribou Pass. When Big Bou announces that the herd is leaving, a snowshoe hare, snowy owl, black bear, bighorn sheep, and clown duck each undertake a quest to become more like the Bou, do what they do, and protect the pass. At first misfortune dogs their attempts, but with the help of Big Bou, each animal discovers their own special gifts and the importance of being themselves: "You already are part of our Caring Bou family and you just need to be you." The colorful illustrations blend beautiful natural scenery with just a touch of cartoon-like expression to soften the animals' faces in this wonderful picturebook with an important underlying message about being true to oneself and one's strengths.

Queen Bee's Midnight Caper
Simone Fairchild, author; Pamela Marie Key, illustrator
A Better Be Write Publisher
PO Box 1577, Millville, NJ 08332
097719714X $17.95

The second book in the "Queen Bee Trilogy", Queen Bee's Midnight Caper is a softcover picturebook written by award-winning author Simone Fairchild, about a charming anthropomorphic honeybee society. When the imperious Queen's beloved niece is kidnaped, only the brave Detective Brown with the aid of the Queen's firefly Ted and find and save her from a menacing spider! The charming and personable color illustrations by Pamela Marie Key add a highly personable touch to the rhyming adventure, and the last few pages feature a word search, a maze, a word scramble, and picture games for young readers to solve. Also highly recommended is the first book in the trilogy, "The Plight of Queen Bee" (0-976773236, $17.95).

The Potty Train
Dar Draper, author; Sarah Dawn Atkinson, illustrator
Webster House Publishing
PO Box 49428, Charlotte, NC 28277
0972539611 $14.95

Written by Dar Draper and illustrated by Sarah Dawn Atkinson, The Potty Train is a picturebook featuring a simple rhyming chat to help make toilet training fun for toddlers. The simplistic, colorful illustrations featuring toilet paper, trains, and children sitting on potties offer the perfect, child-friendly touch to this excellent read-aloud and share book. A checklist inside the back cover to mark off dates of toilet training achievements such as "Engineered the #1 engine (pee pee) on the Potty Train for the first time!" rounds out this fun supplement to teaching very young children to use the toilet all by themselves. "I'm here to stay. I'm in no rush. / I won't give up till time to flush! / I'm riding on the Potty Train! / I'll drink some water, drink some juice, / And sit right here on my caboose! / I'm chuggin' on the Potty Train!"

Grandpa Grouper
Don Arends & Neelam
Misson Manuscripts, Inc.
1000 Jorie Boulevard, Suite 206, Oak Brook, IL 60523
0976888009, $16.88

Veteran scuba diver Don Arends puts a novel twist on an original, entertaining, and character building picturebook story whose simple 'kid friendly' text is colorfully illustrated by Neelam. Presenting young readers with the tale of the fish called Grandpa Grouper and his undersea friends, the story is about what happens when Grandpa Grouper's mini-submarine is captured, he loses his king crown and glasses, and how his team of friends recover his possessions and, escaping the Blue Island Aquarium, finally make it back to Grandpa Grouper's coral reef home. Thoroughly charming and thoughtful, "Grandpa Grouper" is a very highly recommended addition for family, school, and community library picturebook collections.

The Patch
Justina Chen Headley & Mitch Vane
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
1580890490, $15.95 1-800-225-3214

"The Patch" is children's author Justina Headley's 32-page picturebook story about Becca, a little girl who must deal with a condition known as Amblyopia or 'lazy eye', and whose eye doctor prescribes new glasses and the wearing of an eye patch over her good eye to help her lazy eye grow stronger. The problem for Becca is that wearing an eye patch might make her friends think less of her. So she makes up wild stories about why she's wearing an eye patch. Is she a pirate, or a private detective, or a monster? Justina's wonderfully charming story is expertly enhanced with the matching illustrations of Mitch Vane who is able to expressively capture Becca's exuberance and light heartedness during her seeming adversity. A highly entertaining and recommended addition to both school and community library collections, "The Patch" is particularly recommended reading for any child ages 5 to 8 that must deal with a 'lazy eye' treatment themselves.

The Leaf that was Left
Kim Bryan-Brown, author; Cindy Curren, illustrator
Them Potatoes
1816 5th Avenue West, Seattle, WA 98119
0977256405 $16.95

The Leaf that was Left is both a picturebook and a thoughtful parable for parents to share with their children. Young Louella knows the love of her family, her friends, and her pet cat, and she owns many nice toys and things; yet she can't help feeling that something is missing in her life. She doesn't know what it is. Is it possible to be very lucky, and loved, and still be missing something? While Louella is still trying to figure out the riddle, she ventures out into the snow with her parents and sees the very last leaf of the season outlined in beautiful frost. Her dad offers to pluck the last leaf and give it to her, and she considers the leaf as a gift, with the private knowledge that she would be the very last person to see it on the tree. But she realizes there is greater value and satisfaction in leaving the last leaf there, so others can appreciate its beauty. Featuring truly beautiful color paintings, The Leaf that was Left is a humble, enthusiastically recommended story especially for parents who are trying to help their children understand that there is more to life than having and collecting things, despite constant pressure from advertising in a consumption-oriented society.

The Late Loon
Dean Bennett
Down East Books
PO Box 679, Camden, ME 04843
0892727306 $15.95 1-800-685-7962

Based on a true story, The Late Loon is the picturebook story of a young loon that hatched two months late. Normally, loons learn how to catch fish and how to fly during the summer, so they can flock to the temperate seacoast for the winter. But the late loon, younger and weaker than its brethren, has less time to rise to the challenge. A human family watches the loon from afar, and a friendly beagle named Jasper intercedes at key moments in the loon's life, such as barking a warning when a bald eagle is about to attack. Ultimately, though, it is the loon's own responsibility to grow up, tough it through bad weather, and learn how to fly. Written and illustrated by "Foreward" magazine's environmental category award winner Dean Bennett, The Late Loon combines a touching story with beautiful, realistic artwork and is highly recommended.

Alphabetland: The Story of O
Rick McAtee, author; Barbara Hammons, illustrator
Turning a New Page
PO Box 91603, Tucson, Arizona 85752-1603
0976203022 $14.95

The latest in the Alphabetland series, which designed to help young readers understand and remember the patterns and phonetics of letters found in words, Alphabetland: The Story of O is a charming, colorful picturebook that explains why "oo" does not have a long sound. In Alphabetland: The Story of O, the "oo" twins are fractious, unlike many other alphabet twins such as "ee" and "bb". The "oo" twins each look exactly alike, but want to be different, and their arguments almost get them expelled from Alphabetland. Wise old "Z" figures out the solution: "Since the oo twins are vowels and we already know vowels like to make different sounds, why don't we let the oo twins make different sounds? If o number 1 is in the lead, the oo twins will say 'oo' like in 'good.' If o number 2 is in the lead it will say 'oo' like in tool. When you meet the twins you will have to listen to what they say to know who is in the lead." Like all of the "Alphabet" series, Alphabetland: The Story of O is enthusiastically recommended for novice readers and especially for elementary school library and public library collections.

Mavis & Her Marvelous Mooncakes
Dar Hosta
Brown Dog Books
PO Box 2196, Flemington, NJ 08822
0972196722 $17.95

The first in the "Mavis, Henry & Jack" series, Mavis & Her Marvelous Mooncakes is a delightful picturebook featuring Mavis Sugar, a sprightly orange cat who knows a secret about the moon - it's not really made of cheese, but rather of sweet, delicious cake! Miss Mavis and her animal friends com to life during both day and night in the vivid color illustrations, and the simple story has a folksy, rhythmic charm. The final page features some basic facts about the moon and its phases. A wonderful bedtime book for young people.

First Grade Takes a Test
Miriam Cohen, author; Ronald Himler, illustrator
Star Bright Books
The Star Building, 42-26 28th Street, Suite 2C, Long Island City, NY 11101
1595720545 $15.95 1-800-788-4439

Written by Miriam Cohen, a defender of the emotional rights of children, and warmly illustrated by award-winning artist Ronald Himler, First Grade Takes a Test is a book for young children about keeping test-taking in perspective. When a lady from the principal's office brings a test to the first-grade class, the children have some trouble because none of the answers seem quite right. For example, one question says "Rabbits eat: [] lettuce [] dog food [] sandwiches", yet young George can't find "carrots" on the list - and he knows that if rabbits don't eat carrots, their teeth will grow too long and hurt them. When the test is over, Anna Maria goes to a special class because she did very well, which provokes unrest and even name-calling "Dummy!" among the other children. It takes the wisdom of their teacher to put the test results in their proper context. "The test doesn't tell everything. It doesn't tell all the things you can do! You can build things! You can read books! You can make pictures! You have good ideas! And another thing. The test doesn't tell you if you are a kind person who helps your friends. Those are important things." First Grade Takes a Test celebrates the importance of all types of learning - reading and math as well as social skills - and the importance of not reading too much into a rigorous but limited test, especially at a young age. Highly recommended.

A Child's Happy Heart
Susan Amundson, author; Brenda Geiken, illustrator
Teeter-Totter Books
6595 Edenvale Boulevard, Suite 155, Eden Prairie, MN 55346
1599840103 $15.95

A Child's Happy Heart is a cheerful picturebook about keeping track of what's really important in life: the gentle powers of wisdom and love that can make one truly happy. Following adventures of Khobi, a young native boy from the Arctic, and his best friend Hero, a white dog with a thick coat, A Child's Happy Heart shows Khobi and Hero discovering the strange new city with stoplights, friends... and bullies. Khobi and Hero have come to share the secret of a happy heart. When Khobi's new friends tell him about learns of the bullies who always seem to be angry even though they own so many things, Khobi explains that the bullies have angry hearts. "They don't understand. Things can't make you happy. There are many ways to be rich. My riches come from a happy heart." The joys of helping one another, learning to treat others as one would like to be treated, and discovering happiness through love and friendship are a central theme in this upbeat picturebook, with a message that desperately needs to be shared in today's overly materialistic society.

Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking?
Ruowen Wang, author; Wei Xu, illustrator
Kevin & Robin Books
344 Jarvis Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4Y 2G6
0973879807 $16.95

Canadian English as A Second Language teacher Ruowen Wang and award-winning Chinese artist Wei Xu present Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking?, a picturebook that uses a repetitive sentence-structure motif to help young readers build their vocabulary and word skills. A young daughter and her loving mother play a simple game together: "'Are you thinking of having a pretty dress?' / 'No. Try again.' // 'Are you thinking of having some ice cream?' / 'No. Try again.' // 'Are you thinking of picking up some groceries for dinner?' / 'No. Try again." The final paragraph spoken by the mother is especially soulful: "'Well a little bird tells me that you are unique, just like your fingerprints, and you are mine. I love you very much. And I'm thinking of painting my rainbows of love into your dreams. Shhhhhh, keep it a secret. Nighty night." Warmly illustrated with expressive colors against minimal backgrounds, Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking? is a wonderful read-aloud book for mothers and daughters everywhere.

Tale of a Great White Fish
Maggie de Vries, author; Renne Benoit, illustrator
Greystone Books
c/o Douglas & McIntyre Publishing Group
2323 Quebeck Street, Suite 201, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V5T 4S7
1553651251 $15.95 1-800-367-9692

Award-winning writer Maggie de Vries and prize-winning illustrator Renne Benoit present Tale of a Great White Fish: A Sturgeon Story, a children's picturebook about Big Fish, an ancient sturgeon nearly 177 years old who has dodged death many times, from drainage to disease to the threat of sports fishermen. Now laws protect her and her kind, and keep up hope that humans can help her species to survive. A fascinating tale about survival amid both natural and man-made dangers, Big Fish concludes with a handful of scientific and historic facts about sturgeon. A brief letter by Rick Hansen, chairman of the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society, rounds out this engaging fishy adventure spanning nearly two centuries.

Tic Talk
Dylan Peters, author
Zachary Wendland and Kris Taft Miller, illustrators
Little Five Star
c/o Five Star Publications
P.O. Box 6698, Chandler, AZ 85246-6698
1589850513 $14.95

Written by a 9-year-old boy who was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at age 4, Tic Talk: Living with Tourette Syndrome tells young Dylan Peters' story about day-to-day life with Tourette Syndrome in his own words. Simple, colorful illustrations by Dylan's best friend Zachary Wendland drive home this straightforward, tell-it-like-it-is story. "TS causes uncontrollable body movements or sometimes repeating words, sounds, or phrases over and over. These are called tics. The biggest bummer about having tics is that you can't make them stop no matter how hard you try, and believe me I have tried! It's like your brain has a mission to annoy you and make everyone around you notice these bizarre actions." A set of ten successful strategies for working with children with Tourette Syndrome and a list of additional resources round out this highly recommended picturebook for school libraries and for teaching young people everywhere about Tourette Syndrome.

Jadyn and the Magic Bubble: Discovering India
Brigitte Benchimol
East West Discovery Press
PO Box 2393, Gardena, CA 90247
0970165498 $19.95

The first of a series by early childhood educator Brigitte Benchimol, Jadyn and the Magic Bubble: Discovering India is a beautifully illustrated picturebook designed to help young children explore India and understand the land and culture better. Jadyn and the Magic Bubble features a fair amount of text - the story alone is approximately 50 pages long, though half of that consists of lively full-page illustrations, and the remaining text offers supplementary sensory activities and more - so very young children may need a parent's help to read through the entire story. From the majesty of the Taj Mahal - so expansive that there is a pull-out illustration to capture its glory - to the process of making silk, to an important quote by Mahatma Gandhi, "We must be the change we wish to see in the world," Jadyn and the Magic Bubble is a wholesome and wondrous introduction to a different way of life. An accompanying audio CD allows the reader to listen to Indian music and read along with the story. Highly recommended, especially for bright and inquisitive young readers.

In Arctic Waters
Laura Crawford, author; Ben Hodson, illustrator
Sylvan Dell Publishing
976 Houston Northcutt Blvd., Suite 3, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
0976882345 $15.95

Written by second-grade teacher Laura Crawford and illustrated by award-winning children's book artist Ben Hodson, In Arctic Waters is a playful children's picturebook that narrates an arctic water adventure among different native creatures in a "House that Jack Built" style poem. As the animals chase one another in the waters around an iceberg, suddenly a human hunter appears to change everything! The final portion of In Arctic Waters is an educational supplement that teaches young people more facts about the arctic and its native animals, as reviewed for accuracy by wildlife experts. Highly recommended.

New Clothes for New Year's Day
Hyun-Joo Bae
Kane/Miller Book Publishers
PO Box 8515, La Jolla, CA 92038-8515
1933605294 $15.95 1-800-968-1930

Written and illustrated by Hyun-Joo Bae, New Clothes for New Year's Day is a picturebook cherishing traditional Korean culture. Told through the eyes of a young Korean girl who looks forward to her wearing her special New Year's Day clothes, New Clothes for New Year's Day follows her as she puts on the colorful articles to give luck and celebrate the coming of the new year. A lovely and enjoyable picturebook, and also useful for demonstrating to a child how to put on a Korean-style New Year's Day outfit. "A New Year, a new day, a new morning. / New clothes. / We start the year with new things. / New things, for the year-older me. // Time to go... oh! // New snow for New Year's Day!"

17 Things I'm Not Allowed To Do Anymore
Jenny Offill & Nancy Carpenter
Schwartz & Wade Books
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
0375835962 $15.95

The debut children's book of author Jenny Offill, illustrated by award-winning artist Nancy Carpenter, 17 Things I'm Not Allowed To Do Anymore is a humorous picturebook about a mischievous young girl whose bright ideas cause one heap of trouble after another. The rhyming couplets follow how each of her ideas results in a personal ban: "I had an idea to staple my brother's hair to his pillow. / I am not allowed to use the stapler anymore. / I had an idea to order a different dinner from my mother. / I am not allowed to pretend my mother is a waitress anymore." But the precocious young girl gets the last laugh when she figures something out: "I had an idea to say the opposite of what I mean to trick everyone. ('I'm Sorry') / I am allowed to say the opposite of what I mean forevermore." Of especial note is the striking color illustrations that usually incorporate a photographic object, such as a stapler or a glue bottle, into the freehand-style, sketchy main pictures.

Blob's Odd Jobs
B. Patrick, author; Attilio Torre, illustrator
4N Publishing
44-73 21st Street, D-6, Long Island City, NY 11101
0974131938 $16.95

Blob's Odd Jobs is a truly creative picturebook. Presenting a stylized, colorful world almost like our own but not quite, Blob's Odd Jobs follows Blob Robertson, an ordinary green blob who feels underappreciated in his job as a fire hydrant cleaner - every time he cleans a fire hydrant, one of the blogs (creatures that look oddly like dogs) would just dirty it again. So he tries new jobs as a cloud watcher, an ink pen refiller, and a sock inside-out turner. But nothing seems to work out, until at last Blob learns that he really was and is needed in his old job after all. Italian-born illustrator Attilio Torre's extravagant artwork brings just the right cartoony quality to Blob Robertson's every-so-slightly surreal world, while author B. Patrick tells Blob's story with warmth, charm, and a dash of humor. Highly recommended.

The Different Dragon
Jennifer Bryan, author; Danamarie Hosler, illustrator
Two Lives Publishing
508 North Swarthmore Avenue, Ridley Park, PA 19078
0967446864 $10.95

Written by psychologist Jennifer Bryan and beautifully illustrated by animal lover and knitting wizard Danamarie Hosler, The Different Dragon is a softcover picturebook intended for children ages 3-8, about a boy who learns a lesson about character and expectations during storytime. When young Noah gets ready for bed, he wants to hear a bedtime story with a sailboat in it, as well as his beloved cat Diva, and best of all, a fierce and ferocious dragon! But as the story progresses, Noah feels that the dragon is crying, because the dragon just can't be terrifying anymore. "It's a lot of pressure to be fierce all the time. All that roaring and gnashing of teeth and snorting fire. It's a lot of work to scare people and be so mean. And nobody ever wants a dragon to be funny or sad or just regular. There's only one way for a dragon to be and that's that." Noah befriends the dragon, and shows him that he can do other things than be fierce and terrible - like play badminton or share ice cream. The Different Dragon is published by Two Lives Publishing, the only publisher of children's books expressly intended for kids in LGBT families; and so it happens that young Noah has two mothers, one who helps him get ready for bed (though he needs only a little help) and Go-Ma, who invents the tale about The Different Dragon along with him. Noah's family (consisting of two mothers, a younger sister, two cats, a gerbil, and some fish) are presented as simply a normal part of his life, and not the central focus of the tale. A soft-stated yet groundbreaking picturebook.

Sad Sam, Glad Sam
L. E. Rainey, author; Bill Megenhardt, illustrator
Shoe Tree Publishers, Inc.
PO Box 2122, Chandler, AZ 85244-2122
0978552105 $16.95

Written by grandmother L. E. Rainey and illustrated by award-winning artist Bill Megenhardt, Sad Sam, Glad Sam is the picturebook story about a young girl, Sam Morgan, who has trouble coping when she feels sadness. When her favorite toy is torn apart by the family cat, her mother uses a hand puppet to help Sam learn to manage overwhelming feelings. The vivid colors and rich, dark hues accentuate this simple tale about the importance of accepting and dealing with powerful emotions, without being controlled by them.

The Octonauts & the Only Lonely Monster
Vicki Wong & Michael Murphy
Immedium, Inc.
PO Box 31846, San Francisco, CA 94131
1597020052 $15.95

The Octonauts & the Only Lonely Monster is the debut picturebook story about the Octonauts, eight talented animals who seek undersea adventure, roaming the ocean from their "Octopod" base. The stunning, stylized color illustrations emphasizing simplicity, curves, and a "big head/small eye" anthropomorphic look gives Octonauts a unique appearance, while the story tells of their encounter with a lonely sea monster leading to an important lesson about the values of friendship and individuality. A wonderfully imaginative and enchanting tale.

Shadow The Curious Morgan Horse
Ellen F. Feld, author; Jeanne Mellin, illustrator
Willow Bend Publishing
PO Box 304, Goshen, MA 01032
0970900260 $15.95 413-268-3461

Author Ellen Feld and artist Jeanne Mellin present Shadow The Curious Morgan Horse, the latest in an award-wining series of children's books. Shadow The Curious Morgan Horse is a picturebook with warm color illustrations and a fair amount of text, especially suited for young horse lovers who are almost ready to make the transition to chapter books. When Shadow's curiosity leads her to explore the woods beyond her pasture, she encounters a wonderful variety of forest animals, but what is she to do when she becomes lost? A new canine friend saves the day in this gentle adventure recommended for young horse lovers.

Peef and the Baby Sister
Tom Hegg, author; Warren Hanson, illustrator
Waldman House Press
c/o Tristan Publishing
2300 Louisiana Avenue North, Suite B, Golden Valley, MN 55427
0931674670 $16.95

Peef and the Baby Sister is a children's picturebook about a young boy, a multicolored teddy bear, and the boy's baby sister - as told from the teddy bear's point of view! Peef the teddy bear is used to having fun with the boy, his Best Friend; when the baby sister enters their lives, they enjoy making her laugh with their magic tricks and shows. But when baby sister doesn't feel well due to the stress of teething, Peef and his Best Friend find a way the one way to make her feel better - by giving her Peef to have, hold, and keep. A delightful story with an important lesson about sharing joy through selfless giving, Peef and the Baby Sister is highly recommended.

Unicorn Races
Stephen J. Brooks, author; Linda Crockett, illustrator
Purple Sky Publishing
PO Box 12013, Parkville, MO 64152
0976901730 $16.95

Gloriously illustrated by award-winning artist Linda Crockett, Unicorn Races is a truly beautiful picturebook about a young girl who oversees an exciting unicorn race amidst the stars. The full color paintings perfectly catch the energy of multicolored unicorns racing through the sky, past the moon and the stars and a shining lighthouse. A delightful story about experiencing the thrill of a fantasy universe, blending prose and artwork into an unforgettable whole, Unicorn Races is a one-of-a-kind picturebook especially recommended as a gift for young girls and fantasy lovers.

The Airplane Ride
Howard White, author; Greta Guzek, illustrator
Nightwood Editions
c/o Harbour Publishing (marketer)
PO Box 219, Madeira Park, BC, Canada, V0N 2H0
0889712247 $16.95

The Airplane Ride is a peppy picturebook about the experience of riding on a commercial airplane, as seen from a young boy's point of view. The friendly, rhyming verse and the playful color pictures reinforce the wonders of flying as a brand new experience, to be cherished and enjoyed. Especially recommended as a read-aloud book for parents to share with young ones before undergoing their very first airplane flight. "Cars and trucks crawl like ants / Trees look like broccoli plants / Ships appear to lose all motion / On the flat, shining ocean. // Turning back over land / Forest appears on either hand / Wisps of cloud swish by, / Showing how fast they fly."

Simon Says: Seasons
Gilles Tibo
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
0887767931 $22.99 1-800-788-1074

Simon Says: Seasons is a simple picturebook following a young boy who follows the magic and wonder of changing seasons. Each season has its own medley of unique activities, perfectly captured by evocative and exuberant color illustrations. Highly recommended. "I love winter when the first snow begins to fall. / I try to count the flakes, but they fall too fast. / If I count the flakes that fall on a bird and then count all the birds... / How many flakes are in a snowman?"

Ambrose and the Cathedral Dream
Margo Sorenson, author; Katalin Szegedi, illustrator
The Liturgical Press
St. John's Abbey, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321-7500
0814630049 $16.95 1-800-858-5450

Written for the enjoyment of children ages 4-10, "Ambrose and the Cathedral Dream" is a wonderful picturebook about a small mouse with big dreams. Ambrose the mouse yearns to follow the traditions of his mouse family and help build a gorgeous cathedral, but his daydreams prevent him from practicing the somersaults that startle tired workers and help them stay awake. Ambrose's dream is no less than to help William the Master Builder find his dream. A lavishly illustrated story about inspiration, courage, and the wonder of seeing architectural beauty gradually take shape.

Mr. Ferlinghetti's Poem
David Frampton
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
255 Jefferson Avenue, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49503
0802852904 $18.00 1-800-253-7521

Illustrated with striking woodcuts by author David Frampton, "Mr. Ferlinghetti's Poem" is a children's picturebook about a sweltering summer day in historic Brooklyn. When the local firemen spray a group of bored city kids with cool water from their fire hoses, the children enthusiastically make the most of the moment, splashing about in their birthday suits. A simple tale of summer fun, suitable for beginning readers.

Blue Moon Mountain
Geraldine McCaughrean, author
Nicki Palin and Tomislav Tomic, illustrator
Simply Read Books
501-5525 West Boulevard, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6M 3W6
1894965566 $16.95

Award-winning children's author Geraldine McCaughrean presents Blue Moon Mountain, a fantastic children's picturebook about a special young girl who discovers the hidden land where mythological creatures dwell. The Wyvern, the Sphinx, the Roc, the Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk, and many more were unfairly depicted as villains in the fairy tales about them; they needed a place to live, and that place was the magical land of Blue Moon Mountain. For only once in years does a white moon path open and show the way to the mysterious land; young Joy, born during a blue moon, has the opportunity to travel there herself and meet the all the fabulous creatures, including the legendary unicorn, who misses his chance to return to Blue Moon Mountain and lives in a stable near Joy while waiting for the next blue moon. A delightful romp, wonderfully illustrated in full color.

Andy and Pancake
Judy Huebscher, author; Michaelin Otis, illustrator
Beaver's Pond Press
7104 Ohms Lane, Suite 216, Edina, MN 55439
1592981666 $17.95 1-952-829-8818

Illustrated with warm, personable watercolor paintings by award-winning artist Michaelin Otis Andy and Pancake is the picturebook story of a young boy and his new pet hamster, who turns out to be quite the skillful escape artist! The first in a series of adventures following the two best friends, Andy and Pancake is a delight to share at storytime and bedtime, and also touches upon the important responsibilities for taking good care of a pet. Highly recommended.

Making Heart-Bread
Matthew Linn, S.J., Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Dennis Linn, authors
Francisco Miranda, illustrator
Paulist Press
997 MacArthur Boulevard, Mahwah, NJ 07430
0809167271 $16.95 1-800-218-1903

Making Heart-Bread is more than a picturebook - it teaches young readers how to take in emotional and spiritual nourishment from grateful memories of the day, and how to trust in the love of one's family and caretakers. Told from the point of view of a young girl who learns to make both tummy-bread and heart-bread from her beloved grandmother, Making Heart-Bread recounts the grandmother's childhood, when a terrible war left her on her own, until kind people took her in and cared for her. "No matter how often the grown-ups tried to tell us that we were safe now, nothing seemed to help. When we ate our bread at supper, we were afraid each bite might be the last food we would ever have. One day, one of the grown-ups had an idea. He saved some bread from supper. At bedtime, he gave each of us a piece to hold. Holding our bread next to our hearts, we could finally sleep in peace. All through the night, the bread reminded us, 'Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.'" Making Heart-Bread is not specifically a religious book; the simple techniques that it offers to reassure oneself that "Today I was loved and I will be loved again tomorrow" are a wonderful blessing to children of all backgrounds, and especially recommended for children in families who have undergone recent changes.

Courage of the Blue Boy
Robert Neubecker
Tricycle Press
c/o Ten Speed Press
Box 7123, Berkeley, CA 94707
1582461821 $15.95

There was a blue boy who lived in a blue land where everything's blue – but he thinks life must be more colorful than this, so he and his best friend leave their blue land in search of more color. Their journey finds other lands of different – but same – colors until they arrive at a city where every color exists but one. A fine story of differences and home evolves.

The Happy Lion Roars
Louise Fatio
Alfred Knopf
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
0375838872 $15.95

This is a new edition of a classic story originally published in 1957 and provides a delightful, whimsical tale of a lion who longs for a friend of his own kind. Roger Duvoisin's engaging drawings grace a fun focus on evolving friendships: now adults have a new contemporary version to share, and libraries can update worn copies with a fine new edition.

Pirate Treasure Map
Colin and Jacqui Hawkins
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140
0763632058 $15.99

Kids ages 4-8 will find intriguing the cartoon-style of drawing paired with a lively treasure hunt plot in PIRATE TREASURE MAP: A FAIRYTALE ADVENTURE. A zany sailor who loves mac and cheese grub and tankards of dandelion invites his nephew on a treasure hunt – with fun results. Even reluctant readers will be motivated by the easy format and vivid adventures, making it a fine pick for grades 2-4.

Three Little Cajun Pigs
Mike Artell
c/o Penguin Publishing Group
345 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
0803728158 $15.99

Three Cajun brothers find themselves in trouble when their mother kicks them out of the house – and they must build their own strong homes. But with Claude the gator lurking around, the homes must be strong enough to withstand a strong tail whack. Hilarious rhymes lend to read-aloud and zany drawings by Jim Harris bring to life a vivid remake of a classic.

The Fiction Shelf

Nick & Slim: The Legend of the Falcon Mine
Pamela Henn
White Wolf Studio
PO Box 490, Windermere, Florida 34786
The Spizman Agency (publicity)
5280 Cross Roads Manor, Atlanta, Georgia 30327
0976065401 $19.95

Nick & Slim: The Legend of the Falcon Mine is a novel for young adults that blends fantasy and the Old West into a rollicking adventure. In the present day, a young Nick is framed for stealing a museum artifact - the journal of the notorious Slim Marano, hanged for murder more than one hundred years ago. An unexpected meeting with Slim's spirit shows Nick that he and Slim have something in common; both of them have been unjustly set up. Nick travels through time and becomes embroiled in a search to expose a dark and terrible conspiracy. Aided by spirits and mortals a like, Nick and Slim must discover the truth, prove their innocence, and rescue lives in the balance. A handful of black-and-white illustrations enhance this lengthy yet enthralling novel.

Dell/Delacorte/Random House
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019

A new addition to the 'Lady Grace' mysteries is FEUD (0385733232, $7.95) by Grace Cavendish, the sixth book which provides a fine mystery surrounding Lady Grace's investigation into the art world at the Queen's Court when a famous painter arrives to paint the Queen's portrait. Poisons are being used in some of the paints – and a family feud is suspected. But who's the poisoner? Mary Quattlebaum's JACKSON JONES AND THE CURSE OF THE OUTLAW ROSE (0385733496, $14.95) tells of Jackson, who can't get away from roses between his mother and a fellow gardener. But Mr. K. needs help obtaining some rare old-time roses that grow in cemeteries – and which may provoke a centuries-old curse. Can it be a string of bad luck – or has Jackson put himself and his friends in danger? An excellent mystery for ages 8-12 evolves. Karen Schwabach's A PICKPOCKET'S TALE (037583379X, $15.95) tells of a tough ten-year-old pickpocket in 1730s London who becomes an indentured servant to a Jewish family in New York City. Banished to America, Molly only wants to go home, even though her employers are good to her. History comes to life in a survey of their family's changes. Kelly Easton's AFTERSHOCK (1416900527, $16.95) holds explicit violence and underlying sexuality along with the story of a 17-year-old who is the sole survivor of a fatal car crash. How Adam puts together the pieces of a changed world makes for riveting reading. Carol Hughes' DIRTY MAGIC (0375831878, $17.95) tells of a strange girl who transports Joe to another world where two sisters and their armies battle in a bitter war. Joe's own sister is lost in this strange alternate universe, and it's up to him to find her in this engrossing adventure fantasy older teens will find enthralling. Micahel Harmon's SKATE (0375875166, $15.95) tells of siblings alone: Ian's been raising his brother without his mother's aid, and when trouble hits, Ian grabs Sammy and runs to the one relative they can think of, across the state of Washington in winter. Linda Collison's STAR-CROSSED (0375833633, $16.95) tells of a proper British girl who embarks on an unexpected life of adventure when she stows away on a ship bound for Barbados to claim her estate. When she's discovered she becomes part of the ship's crew, finds romance in an unexpected place, and faces her future in a wild, engrossing ride through possibilities. These will be wonderful leisure reading choices for young adult collections.

Stone Arch Books
7825 Telegraph Road, Minneapolis, MN 55438 1-888-517-8977

Stone Arch Books specializes in books for the struggling and reluctant reader. They publisher both graphic novels and traditional novels in a variety of genres. Some of their newest releases are especially adept at keeping the attention of a reluctant reader while the vocabulary levels are specifically designed to assist struggling readers in improving their basic reading skills. Highly recommended as supplements for both traditional classroom reading and homeschooling reading skill development curriculums are "Arf and the Metal Detector" (1598890859) by Philip Wooderson. When Arf is left with a package for his neighbor he just has to see what's in it. What's in it leads to his involvement with a buried treasure and a couple of crooks! (Also recommended are two earlier Arf novels, "Arf and the Three Dogs" (1598890212) and "Art and the Greedy Grabber" (159889022). Then there's "Hot Air" (1598890867) by Anthony Masters. A hot air balloon ride is a birthday present for Steve and a lot of fun – until his uncle collapses, loses control of the ropes, and they start drifing toward the ocean. Steve has to act fast before disaster strikes! "Backyard Bug Battle" (1598890549) by Scott Nickel is a science fiction adventure in which Buzz Beaker invents Super-Sticky Bug Goo to keep harmful insects away from plants. His dad invents a super-fast grow juice. When Buzz gets the two mixed up, their backyard becomes a zany zoo of gigantic bees and fleas! "Eek and Ack: Invaders from the Great Goo Galaxy" (1598890522) by Blake Hoena is SciFi adventure about two alien brothers from another galaxy who are driving their mother to distraction. When she tells them to go play in outer space, the brothers come up with the idea of passing the afternoon away by conquering Earth! All of these high-interest novels are ideal for attracting and holding the interest of problem readers. Concerned parents, classroom teachers, school and community librarians are encouraged to visit the Stone Arch Books website at for a complete listing of their high interest fiction titles for reluctant readers.

Ghosthunters and the Incredibly Revolting Ghost
Cornelia Funke
Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012
0439849586 $16.99

An ASG – Averagely Spooky Ghost – is hanging out in Tom's cellar – it's afraid because it too is being haunted, by a bigger ghost. This ghost uses its head as a bowling ball… curious antics and zany events ensue as Tom tries to get to the bottom of unwanted ghosts in this hilarious tale, perfect not just for seasonal Halloween reading but for year-round enjoyment for elementary-level libraries catering to grades 3-5.

Sophie Hartley, On Strike
Stephanie Greene
Clarion Books
215 Park Avenue South, New York NY 10003
0618719601 $15.00

Sophie's supposed to help around the house and that's bad enough; but when her mother develops a 'job chart' with more new chores, Sophie decides to rebel. It's time for a strike, as when her father went on strike when his beliefs were on the line – but Sophie must to things her way in this zany tale of family mishaps, perfect for grades 3-4.

Penguin Putnam/Dial/Dutton/Philomel
345 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014

Sarra Manning's LET'S GET LOST (0525476660, $16.00) tells of one Isabel, a girl who is the school bully. Even her teachers can't get through to her – and she likes the defense of her sharp edges; they keep people from discovering her secrets. When she meets Smith, though, the image begins to crack – and Isabel finds both friendship and help in unexpected places. Middle to high school readers will love it. Andrew Clements' THINGS HOPED FOR (039924350X, $16.99) tells of Gwen's father, who has vanished from their New York City home. He's left a message telling her nobody must know – but music student Gwen finds it a difficult secret to keep; particularly when snoopy family members and strangers keep trying to uncover the truth. THE HOUSE WHERE NOBODY LIVED by Brad Strickland (0803731485, $16.99) provides another Lewis Barnavelt mystery featuring a protagonist created by the late John Bellairs. Here Lewis and his best friend Rose Rita probe the secrets of an odd house, where something strange is always happening. An excellent, chilling ghost story thriller evolves which will satisfy middle school readers. Nikki Grimes' THE ROAD TO PARIS (0399245375, $15.99) tells of Paris, who has been moved from one mean foster family to another, never fitting. She expects no betters from her latest family the Lincolns – but they are different – perhaps even different enough to help her overcome the stigma of being a biracial girl in a white town. Scott Westerfeld's THE LAST DAYS (159514062X, $16.99) provides a modern-day possible end-of-the-world scenario. It's a hot New York City Summer and a plague is turning people into cannibals. Five teens are trying to focus on their new band – but find their own music is caught up in the uncertainties of their times. LAST DAYS continues and end-of-world saga begun in PEEPS, but no prior familiarity is needed to quickly become accustomed to plot and action. All are excellent titles middle to high school collections will find popular leisure reads.

Flora Segunda
Ysabeau S. Wilce
525 'B' Street, Suite 1900, San Diego, Ca 92101-4495
0152054332 $17.00

Flora Fyrdraaca lives in a house which has eleven thousand decaying rooms that shift around at random, making it a dangerous proposition to take a shortcut – but she's in a hurry, and her choice will bring her upon a great family secret and a banished butler who embark on a journey to restore him to his rightful heritage. It's magic at its best in a complex plot especially recommended for grades 8-11 who love solid fantasy faction.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Breaking Up
Aimee Friedman
Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012
0439748674 $8.99

This black and white graphic novel tells of a junior in a school noted for its trendy student body. Chloe's looking forward to a year of romance and adventure – but her experiments with love and friendship result in disaster, especially when she keeps an unexpected romance hidden from her friends. A fine story of breaking up and getting together comes to life in the graphic novel format.

The Biography Shelf

Martha Ann's Quilt for Queen Victoria
Kyra E. Hicks, author; Lee Edward Fodi, illustrator
Brown Books Publishing Group
16200 North Dallas Parkway, Suite 170, Dallas, Texas 75248
1933285591 $16.95

Written by passionate quilter Kyra E. Hicks and illustrated by Lee Edward Fodi, Martha Ann's Quilt for Queen Victoria is a picturbook biography recounting the amazing true story of Martha Ann Ricks, a black slave purchased out of slavery by her father at the age of twelve. Her family traveled to Liberia to begin a new life, and Martha Ann was grateful for the British navy that patrolled the Liberian coast to prevent slave catchers from kidnaping her family and friends. Over the course of her long life, she devoted herself to creating just the right thank-you gift for Queen Victoria of England, an exquisitely handmade quilt. When she was an old woman, she miraculously had the opportunity to visit the Queen and present her gift in person. A marvelous true tale about working toward and achieving one's dream, especially recommended for elementary school and public library picturebook collections.

The Soldier's Friend: A Life of Ernie Pyle
Ray E. Boomhower
Indiana Historical Society Press
450 W. Ohio Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202
0871952009 $17.95

Written by award-winning author and historian Ray E. Boomhower, The Soldier's Friend: A Life of Ernie Pyle is a biography for young adults about Ernie Pyle, columnist who wrote about the rigors of combat endured by ordinary G.I.'s during World War II. For his skillful and accurate reporting of a "worm's-eye view" of the war, Pyle received journalism's highest honor - a Pulitzer Prize - in 1944. Chapters cover Pyle's childhood, personality, friends, and retirement, but the main focus is on his career as a reporter at the front. Vintage black-and-white photographs on almost every page illustrate this absorbing life story of a distinguished newsman, especially recommended for middle and secondary school library collections.

Mapping the Wilderness
Tom Shardlow
Napoleon Publishing
178 Willowdale Avenue, Suite 201, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M2N 4Y8
0929141857 $16.95 1-877-730-9052

The latest in the "Stories of Canada" series, Mapping the Wilderness: The Story of David Thompson presents the amazing life story of one of Canada's greatest explorers, surveyors, and geographers. David Thompson (1770-1857) died penniless, but during his life he confronted natural hazards, harsh weather, hostile Indian tribes, and even negotiated peace with the Kootenay. He set up trading posts to compete with Americans, and single-handedly surveyed a continental area unparalleled in human history. Mapping the wilderness depicts Thompson's life in page-by-page chunks; each page features a main passage about part of Thompson's adventures, a black-and-white illustration (most of which are sketches by illustrator Chrissie Wysotski - there are no surviving portraits or photographs of Thompson himself), and a sidebar. A wonderful trailblazer's biography and glimpse of Canadian frontier history for young readers, especially recommended for elementary, middle school, and public library collections.

Julia Morgan Built a Castle
Celeste Davidson Mannis
Viking Press
345 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
0670059641 $17.99

At a time when most girls aspired only to marry and keep house, Julia Morgan dreamed of building a house – but in the late 19th century women just didn't become architects. She fought for her desires anyway, becoming the first woman to study architecture in Paris and becoming California's first licensed women architect. Julia Morgan Built a Castle holds gorgeous drawings by Miles Hyman and presents a lovely story of a young girl's dreams – it reads like fiction with high drama but is biography at its best.

Sigmund Freud
Kathleen Krull
Viking Press
345 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
0670058920 $15.99

Sigmund Freud wanted to be famous: he became a doctor and at one time traced the root of all problems – physical and emotional – to the nose. Despite his ironies, inconsistencies and nature, he still deserves as place as a 'giant of science' in this series, creating the field of psychoanalysis and inventing a new language to support it – and kids in middle grade levels assigned biography reports will find this a lively, fun and informative survey of Freud's life and times.

Akira to Zoltan
Cynthia Chin-Lee, author; Megan Halsey and Sean Addy, illustrators
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
1570915792 $15.95 1-800-225-3214

Akira to Zoltan: Twenty-Six Men Who Changed the World is combination picturebook, alphabet book, and biography for young readers. Each page corresponds to the name of a different man whose dedication left an indissoluble mark on history. A thumbnail biography, color illustration of each individual, and a notable quote outline the contributions of Cesar Estrada Chavez, co-founder of the United Farm Workers; soccer superstar Pele; builder of dreams Walt Disney; and many more. A wonderful international cross-section of visionary, trailblazing, and role models among men, especially recommended for young boys.

The DVD Shelf

He's Got The Whole World In His Hands
Kadir Nelson
Weston Woods Studios/Scholastic
143 Main Street, Norwalk, CT 06851
NDVD800, $59.95 1-800-290-7531

Original published as a popular picturebook deftly written and superbly illustrated for children ages 3 to 8, Kadir Nelson's "He's Got The Whole In His Hands" has now been transformed into a six minute DVD enhanced with music and vocals by Crystal Taliefero. Young viewers are taken through superbly presented landscapes and treated to loving images drawn from a traditional folk song celebrating family and nature. Enthusiastically recommended for school and community library collections, "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands" is also available from Weston Woods Studios as a closed-captioned video (NMPV800VCC, $60.00), a hardcover books/CD combination (NHCD800, $29.95), and a hardcover book/audiocassette package (NHRA800, $24.95).

Anchor Bay
1699 Stutz Drive, Troy, MI 48084
$14.98 Each

These DVDs arrived too late for more timely holiday mention but deserve ongoing recommendation for parents, teachers, and any who recall the magic of Christmas and childhood. ME, ELOISE (01313137549) brings to animated life the Eloise figure, displaying the six-year-old's special birthday celebration which seems perfect until a new Japanese violin prodigy tries to steal her thunder. An unusual friendship is formed. ELOISE: LITTLE MISS CHRISTMAS (01313145829) tells of a holiday show like no other, promising the best time the Plaza has ever seen. The voice and music of Harry Connick Jr. are featured in THE HAPPY ELF (01313132069), based on Connick's original song and providing an animated adventure about one of Santa's too-optimistic helpers who decides to bring holiday joy to a sad little town. All are excellent holiday choices.

The Audiobook Shelf

Greathall Productions
P.O. Box 5061, Charlottesville VA 22905
$14.95 Each 1-800-477-6234

Two excellent audio CDs by skilled storyteller Jim Weiss are fine, new, flawlessly recorded and superbly performed picks for school and community libraries seeking to add dramatic literature to their collections. TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA by Jules Verne and MASTERS OF THE RENAISSANCE each will appeal to ages 7 and older with vivid, memorable accounts: one a fine literary exploration of adventure and science fiction; the other an excellent set of nonfiction true stories.

Simon and Schuster Audio
1230 Avenue of Americas, New York NY 10020
$29.95 Each 1-800-223-2336

Two unabridged 'Peter Pan' audios bring to life the Peter Pan saga, with gifted narrator Tim Curry firing the imagination with a moving voice in both presentations. PETER PAN (0743564529) comes first, providing Barrie's classic story of a boy who refuses to grow up and the day Wendy enters his fantasy world. Geraldine McCaughrean's modern take-off PETER PAN IN SCARLET (0743564537) offers a new novel around the same characters as the original and resulted from a worldwide search to pair the right author for a centennial sequel. Here nightmares are leaking from Neverland into the Here and Now, and Wendy must return to Neverland to rescue Peter. Both are outstanding collection additions.

Curious George Adventures Deluxe Book and CD Gift Set
Margaret and H.A. Rey
Houghton Mifflin Company
222 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116
0618750428 $35.00

If you have a young newcomer to Curious George in the family, you can't go wrong with this special collector's edition which holds all seven original stories, a photographic history of the authors, and five cds with over three hours of unabridged story recordings complete with sound effects and music. Kids will learn how to read with the fun Curious George set and parents will find it an excellent and inviting lesson plan for fun.

Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116
$9.95 Each

Two excellent 'read aloud' CD audiobook packages are inviting ways parents can teach kids to read. Each set holds a paperback copy of a classic title and two recordings – one with and one without page-turn signals. Ages 3 and up will be attracted to Helen Lester's gentle story TACKY THE PENGUIN (0618737545) which enjoys Lynn Munsinger's warm drawings, while Virginia Lee Burton's classic MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS STEAM SHOVEL (0618737561) provides a bright story perfect for audio cd and picturebook read-alongs.

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

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