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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 22, Number 1 January 2012 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Money Shelf Native American Shelf
Sports Shelf Bilingual Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Christian Shelf Buddhism Shelf Holiday Shelf
Audiobook Shelf DVD Shelf Chapter Book/Easy Reader Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fiction Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Multicultural Shelf Environmental Shelf
Dance Shelf Science Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Poetry Shelf Picturebook Shelf Music Shelf
Judaic Shelf Theatre/Cinema Shelf Gardening Shelf
Books in Series    

Reviewer's Choice

Which Side Are You On? The Story of a Song
George Ella Lyon, author
Christopher Cardinale, illustrator
Cinco Puntos Press
701 Texas Avenue, El Paso, TX 79901
9781933693965, $17.95,

"Which Side Are You On?" is the story of a historic song written by the wife of a miner, Florence Reece, whose husband, a union miner, home and children were attacked by company men because they wanted a union to protect the mine workers. 2011 marks the 80th anniversary of the song, "Which Side Are You On?" It also marks the need for further formal education of children in the history of the Labor Movement. Told from the viewpoint of Omie, the eldest daughter, "Which Side Are You On?" opens with the children all hiding under the bed in the coal-company owned home they live in. They are hiding from bullets shot by company men who are after their Pa because he is a Union man, who believes the only way miners' lives will improve is if they band together and strike if necessary to get the Company to listen to the miners' concerns. Ma has sent Pa away over the mountain because she heard the Sheriff was sending gun thugs to shoot Pa. While all the kids are hiding under the bed and trying to be brave, Ma lifts a calendar to write a song on, because she says they need a song. Then, amidst gunfire and danger all around, in the mountains of Kentucky, Florence Reece writes the first verse to her Union Song: "Come all you poor workers/ Good news to you I'll Tell? Of how the good old Union/ has come in here to dwell./ Which side are you on? Which side are you on?" The story proceeds with verses of the song telling the tale while beautiful woodcut engraving-style illustrations portray the family in danger. So "this is how the night goes: bullets through the walls, talk under the bed, words on the page. When the thugs finally quit shooting and we crawl out of hiding, we're sore and hungry, and our house is busted up, but Ma has written us a song." pa returns and is furious with the Company thugs threat to his family, but he listens to Ma sing her song and says: "We can use that. It'll bring folks together." The song does that, both in the past and in the present. "Which Side Are You On?" (the book) ends with a picture of Florence Reece on her 85th birthday, an author's note with added information about the history of unions and the Labor Movement, and a bibliography. "Which Side Are You On?" is first rate educational literature for children elementary age and older.

Frankie the Bunny, Newfound Friends
Dorothy Jasnoch, author/ illustrator
Owl About Books Publisher, Inc.
1632 Royalwood Circle, Joshua, TX 76058
9781937752002, $10.00,

"Frankie the Bunny, Newfound Friends" is part of an award-winning series titled "Frankie the Bunny and his friends." Teaching the value of using one's strengths and skills to help others, "Frankie the Bunny, Newfound Friends" follows the story of a wheelchair' bound bunny named Frankie who initially does not believe that he is capable of being an important or valued contributor. Fortunately Frankie meets open-minded new friends who are very encouraging to him: Ben the Bear, Blaze the Fox, Flutter the Butterfly, Hank the Hedgehog, Sophie the Caterpillar, Sandy the Spider, and the Runners (other bunnies) all have their own special gifts. What is Frankie's gift? How can he be a worthwhile friend even though he is wheelchair -bound? The answer may delight and surprise kids age 6 and up. as well as their parents. Fresh, rainbow-colored illustrations keep positive energy flowing from page to page. "Frankie the Bunny, Newfound Friends" is an electrical jolt to the positive heart. At the book's end, a series of miniature portraits encourage children to remember what they have read about each character. Also a list of fun facts about each of the animals adds to the interest generated by the story. "Frankie the Bunny, Newfound Friends teaches compassion for others who are different to children.

The Money Shelf

The Debt Monster
Mary Becker, author
Tim Williams, illustrator
Privately Published
9780983546504, $7.95,

"The Debt Monster" is a modern day fable that teaches kids to think twice before charging for things they don't really need. Although current media norms shape expectations so that both kids and adults are persuaded that buying more things that are not needed can create happiness and contentment, this is a scam that hurts families, personified by the cruel, green, scary debt monster. Told in jaunty rhyme with bouncy color illustrations, "The Debt Monster" encourages both adults and kids to take a step back and see credit risk for what it really is, a never-ending debt monster! Seven very useful tips are listed by Frugal Joe to consumers and shoppers. The I. O. Lots Family discovers that they too can use helpful strategies such as shop from a list, plan expenditures from a budget, and find alternate methods of family entertainment to shopping and consuming. "The Debt Monster" also has a handy Glossary at the end with words divided from Pre primer Level to Level 3. Like kids who will read this book to their parents, you too can S.T.A.N.D. against the Debt Monster: Spend Time And Not Dollars!

The Native American Shelf

Chikasha Stories: Volume One: Shared Spirit
Glenda Galvan, author
Jeannie Barbour, illustrator
Chickasaw Press
c/o University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9781935684, $25.00,

"Chikasha Stories" is the first volume in a planned series that is destined to "revive and maintain the storytelling tradition so vital to the roots of Chickasaw and Native culture." Re-told by revered Chickasaw storyteller and tribal elder Glenda Gavin, Here are traditional Shared Spirit stories told in both English and Chickasaw, including Crayfish and the Creation Story, Our Guardian, the Red-Headed Woodpecker, Duck Sings for Her Children, Why Skunk Smells So Bad, and How Poison Came to the Chickasaw and Choctaw. Each teaching tale is carefully illuminated by Chickasaw artist/historian Jeannie Barbour, using delicate detail, colors both bright and soft, and a gentle comic twist. In both the narratives and the pictures, many haunting similarities between the thoughts and actions of animals and humans emerge. There is a distinct tone of fun to be found here, along with appropriate threats of real danger, as in How Poison Came to the Chickasaw and Choctaw. Very importantly, each tale is written in Chickasaw as well as English, and a foreword explains that the tales are interpreted rather than translated from Chickasaw to English, retaining a form and a voice that reflects conventions of Chickasaw oral tradition. It is clear that these tales are meant to be enjoyed and savored by both children and adults, and represent a cultural sharing that transcends differences and connects to the heart.

The Sports Shelf

The Basket Ball
Esme Raji Codell, author
Jennifer Plecas, illustrator
115 W. 18th St., New York, NY 10011
9781419700071, $16.95,

"The Basket Ball" is a book that celebrates the determination of a young girl named Lulu to play basketball, even though the boys don't want her on their team. A mix of sparkly sequins and girls with astounding basket ball moves pervades the international event Lulu organizes, the first ever Basket Ball. Girls from all over the world attend and play their very best basket ball game ever, dressed up in high heel sneakers and sequined jerseys. "Lulu now loses her hoop skirt in lieu-lieu of her new hoop dream," which is to establish an international league for girls to play basket ball in every year. Children, especially girls, will love "The Basket Ball," a very empowering book for young women athletes to read. A glossary of basketball terms is included, and the jaunty rhyming narrative is spiced by the charming, glitter-sparkled pages of young hoop dreamers in action.

The Bilingual Shelf

Hugo the Happy Starfish Wants to Be Different
Susanne Lehmann, author/ illustrator
Happy Language Kids
P.O. Box 23814, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33307
9789781935997009, $15.95,

"Hugo the Happy Starfish Wants To Be Different" is a bilingual character education for kids picture book that teaches Spanish in embedded textual conversation while it teaches kids the beauty of self acceptance. Hugo is a cheery starfish who is sad because he thinks he is small and ugly and no one likes him. The Magic Manta grants Hugo 6 magic wishes to help make him happy. But oddly enough, after 5 magic wishes that alter Hugo's exterior appearance, he is still not happy when he sees himself. In fact, Hugo does not recognize himself at all! Hugo cries until the Magic Manta reminds him he has one more magic wish left. "I wanna be me, me, me! Quiero volver a ser yo mismo, yo mismo, yo mismo!" says the transformed Hugo. From then on Hugo learns a very important lesson: He is happy and appreciative just to be himself! Bright colored illustrations and pages full of fantastic ocean scenes bring Hugo's world to full like in this adorable Happy Language Kids book.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Elfin Tales: 5 Read-to-me Fantasy Stories
Francine L. Trevens, author
Maggie Cousins, illustrator
T 'n' T Classic Books
360 West 36 St., #2 NW, New York, NY 10018
9781886586161, $9.95,

"Elfin Tales" brings five little read-to-me stories about elves, leprechauns, fairies, sylphs, trolls, dogs, and also people, and kids. Each illustrated story has a special nugget of wisdom that children will relish discovering. From an enthralling series that promises more twinkling tales from magical beings, "Elfin Tales" weaves a special blend of traditional whimsey laced with pixie dust with matter-of fact narratives about three dimensional children and adults who are sometimes kind, sometimes not. It is a blend that works well to deliver a delicate message of the need for warmth and a compassionate heart. "Elfin Tales" will be eagerly listened to by children age 4-9, and/or read independently. This reviewer's favorite tale was Leprechaun or Can't, a morality fable and leprechaun travelogue that has little surprises sprinkled throughout. Fantastic little color illustrations add charm and appeal to these small tales.

The Cardboard King and The Sparkle Queen
Letty Zalme-Case, author
Ron Zalme, illustrator
936 County Road 619, Newton, NJ 07860
9781456588991, $12.99,

"The Cardboard King and the Sparkle" is an unusual tongue-in-cheek fantasy fable for children of all ages (that includes adults)! The quirky, colorful illustrations and tartly humorous text tell a tale of a thrifty Cardboard King (who collected cardboard instead of taxes) and his lovely Sparkle Queen (who decorated all his cardboard creations with sparkles and glitter). They live in the kingdom of Kebibble, which is not far from Zalloria, Caldronia, and Knutska. Although the Kebibblians loved their Cardboard King and Sparkle Queen, The Kebibblians have a problem with them. The cardboard castle's glitter coating shines so brightly that it hurt their eyes, and they couldn't see well enough to do daily tasks and chores. They were glitter-dazzled day after day. But amazingly enough, their nearby neighbors were intrigued by the Cardboard King's castle with its coating of sparkles and glitter, and tourism begins to grow. One day while being asked to loan his dark glasses to a passing tourist, The Prime Minister begins to imagine a crafty solution to the problem of survival for the glitter-dazed Kebibblians. For a unique approach to a persistent problem, read "The Cardboard King and the Sparkle Queen" to children and be prepared to laugh aloud at many hidden jokes and funny visual anecdotes in the extremely droll illustrations.

Kaptain Vamp
Joanne Lecuyer, author
Amy Rottinger, illustrator
Topsy Books (Livres Topsy)
9780986951749, $12.99,

Meet Allistaire, Arturius Doppelganger Varning the IV, who wants to become Kaptain Vamp, teenage superhero who exists to aid the human race! A member of a humanitarian "blended" (human plus vampire) vampire family, Enlisting the aid of his (human) best friend Rich, Allistaire sets out to establish himself as Kaptain Vamp, teen vampire superhero. The funny thing is, as his schemes to stop bullying and rescue helpless humans in danger, Allistaire notices his reputation grows almost independently of his deeds, whether staged good deeds or real ones. It's one of many interesting Vampire conundrums that will alternately charm, intrigue and mystify the young readership. In addition to its vampire thriller appealing aspects, "Kaptain Vamp" is an excellent manual about how to cast a glamour upon oneself. teens and young readers are all about what "Kaptain Vamp" is after. Comic, color cartoon-illustrations keep the tone light and the message clear. "Kaptain Vamp" is sure to be a hit with an adolescent audience, both boys and girls. The real plus about "Kaptain Vamp" is it makes doing good a notable, worthwhile, "cool" activity, always a big plus.

Bat Rider
Anthony Barton, author/ illustrator
Bulmer Press
Box 7, Site 3, RR 1, Carbonear
NL, Canada A1Y 1C6
9780986903830, $9.99,

"Bat Rider" is a creative illustrated chapter book of science fiction adventure fantasy for kids age 7-12 and curious adults. Part of a series of Bat Rider stories, "Bat Rider" takes readers to the world of Yumi, where a whole society depends upon giant trees for food, fibre, and clothing. Only bats are able to fly high enough to harvest the Yumi fruit, and only children are small enough to ride the bats and help harvest the fruit. Matthew John dreams of becoming a bat rider, but he must pass many obstacles and tests to qualify completely. Life is also complicated by the presence of an intriguing villain, Big Bad Bat, an unlikely character who enjoys his pogo stick and has a soft side, Matthew John and his bat Bulmer have many fascinating and unusual adventures, even enlisting the unlikely help of Kiri, a kitten who transforms into a tiger cub. The fantastic world of Yumi has enough parallels to the real world to be recognizable, but also enough exotic touches to completely change the viewpoint of the young reader. The whimsical, black and white drawings add to the suspense and the exploration of an unusual world. "Bat Rider" is appealing to young readers because of the action, setting, plot development, and heroic roles for children in the story.

Sir Princess Petra, The Pen Pieyu Adventures
Diane Mae Robinson, author
Samantha Kickingbird, illustrator
Tate Publishing
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781613462645, $7.99,

"Sir Princess Petra: The Pen Pieyu Adventures" is a maverick fantasy, illustrated chapter book for tweens. Princess Petra of the kingdom of Pen Pieyu requests an unusual birthday present from her parents the king and queen: to become a knight! Although her request alarms her parents, they can find no legal objection, so the king proclaims Princess Petra must choose an act of bravery from the royal list of deeds, in order to become a knight of the kingdom. Her choices are: "to capture a crocodile and make his skin into a royal leather chair, to hush the howling nasty dragon Snarls in the Forest of Doom, or to eat a roomful of raw onions(p.13)." The princess eliminates both onions and crocodile and decides upon the quest to hush Snarls, the nasty dragon in the Forest of Doom. Armed with pots and pans and cutlery from the pantry, Princess Petra sets off. What will happen on this unpredictable princess/knightly adventure? Packed with plot twists and turns, unexpected obstacles and problems, and brilliant flashes of humor and originality, "Sir Princess Petra" charms and entrances the reader Enhanced by frequent expressive black and white drawings, the six chapters of "Sir Princess Petra" move swiftly to a satisfying conclusion. Kids age 10 and up will love the rebel heroine and her dragon rehabilitation skills.

Beavers' Big Problem
Michelle A. B. McKenzie, author
Jesse Warne, illustrator
Tate Publishing
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781617399077, $8.99,

"Beavers' Big Problem" is a modern fantasy-fable for children, with an unlikely nerd hero figure in Walter Groundhog, an engineer with a Ph.D. in Super Snazzy Mechanical Engineering. The beavers in Far Away Land have a terrible problem that affects all of them and their economy adversely. Their Ice Cream Factory, which provides food and employment for most of them, has broken down and needs a new Clopzip. Despite far ranging cooperative efforts, no new Clopzip can be found. The Beavers are sunk! Along comes Walter Groundhog on a bicycle trek. When young Rodney Beaver tells him the sad story of the irreplaceable Clopzip (during his lunch break), Walter has a bright idea. With only nine days, six hours and 47 minutes of work, he is able to design and install a new Clopzip which works perfectly! Everyone celebrates and Rodney Beaver is inspired to pursue a new career in fixing unlikely things, with Walter's example in mind. Walter is given a key to Far Away Land and a parade is help in his honor, with complimentary ice cream sundaes for all. Hooray for Groundhog Day, on February 2 in the United States, which undoubtedly stems from this great achievement of Walter Groundhog's! Colorful, amusing illustrations complement the tongue in cheek tale's tone and make "Beavers' Big Problem" an appealing book for kids age 7 and up to read. "Beavers' Big Problem" comes with a free audio book digital download.

The Door to Far-Myst
Mike Dicerto
Zumaya Thresholds
9781936144686, $12.99

Imagination can turn a gray wasteland into a brilliant wonderland. "The Door to Far-Myst: The Adventures of Rupert Starbright" tells the tale of Rupert Dullz, whose life was living up to his surname. When an unusual and colorful man rolls into Graysland, Rupert rises to his challenge, and suddenly finds himself in more adventure than he's ever seen before. He learns of imagination, and that he must embrace it quickly to save the new colorful land he's found. "The Door to Far-Myst" is a fun read of youth fantasy, very much recommended.

The Christian Shelf

The Gift of Rainbows
Judy Columbro, author
Deborah Scottorosano, illustrator
PO Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705-0151
9781462603558, $24.95,

"The Gift of Rainbows" is a life-affirming child's book about experiencing the love of God and parents through inter-ethnic adoption. Little Missy is a child who grows up certain of the love of her two parents, but as she grows, she observes differences between herself and her parents, in skin, hair, and eye color. When this question arises, her parents lovingly explain to Missy that she is their special gift from Jesus because they were not able to have a baby of their own. Since Jesus made all the beautiful colors in the world, it doesn't matter if Missy looks different from her adoptive parents because "every color is beautiful just like a rainbow after the rain." Charming, crayoned, rainbow illustrations convey the love and warmth felt by Missy and her parents as well as the sure faith in Jesus that surrounds them. "The Gift of Rainbows" is a beautiful child's adoption story that will be both comforting and inspiring to multi racial families everywhere. Also recommended by this author/illustrator team is "The Gift That Grows (9781462618002, $24.95), a sensitive book about birth and beginning sibling rivalry that resolves into love.

The Buddhism Shelf

The All-Seeing Boy and the Blue Sky of Happiness
Nick Kettles, author
Serena Sax Hallam, illustrator
Snow Lion
P.O. Box 6483, Ithaca, NY 14851
9781559393713, $16.95,

"The All-Seeing Boy and the Blue Sky of Happiness: A Children's Parable" is a beautiful book about the significance of creative, loving meditation, especially narrated and illustrated for children. A boy, the All-Seeing Boy, wants to know what is the magic in life that he feels and wants to share. A wise, kindly, homeless man in a ruby red coat named Jason Carper patiently teaches the All-Seeing Boy the Blue Sky of Happiness meditation techniques, so he can share the magic vision of happiness with others. A beautiful, prayerful book that shows real compassion for others at its heart, "The All-Seeing Boy and the Blue Sky of Happiness" makes a special, goodness-creating gift for any child. A percentage of the proceeds from "The All-Seeing Boy and the Blue Sky of Happiness" go towards supporting SOS Children's Villages' work with the Tibetan community. Inspired by this book, those who wish may also make donations to the Tibetan Children's Villages at

The Holiday Shelf

Richard C. Hawkins, author, Deb Hoeffner, illustrator
Worldways Productions
11535 Rochester Ave., #405, Los Angeles, CA 90025
9780578090894, $14.95,

A tree is a symbol of a season, something many young people look forward to every year. "Lucky" is a children's book about the Christmas season, taking the perspective of a Christmas tree looking for a family to be part of. With a unique art style from Deb Hoeffner, "Lucky" is a choice pick for anyone looking for a Christmas related book aimed at second to fourth graders, highly recommended.

The Audiobook Shelf

Shark Wars 2: The Battle of Riptide
E.J. Altbacker, author
Joshua Swanson, narrator
Listening Library, Inc.
1745 Broadway
New York, NY 10019
9780307916730 $30.00

Part of the exciting "Shark Wars" series for young adults, Shark Wars 2: The Battle of Riptide is an unabridged audiobook adaptation brought to life by actor Joshua Swanson's smooth performance. Akin to "Watership Down" but in an ocean setting, Shark Wars 2 continues the saga of finned heroes Gray and Barkley. Terrible rumors of a shark named Finnivus whose restless, voracious appetite threatens to consume every living thing in his path strike fear in the hearts of all the residents of Big Blue. Gray must steel his courage and learn from an ancient fighting fish to stand a chance as Big Blue's protector against Finnivus' unrestrained rapacity! An engaging ocean adventure, Shark Wars 2 is a choice pick for gift-giving or young adult audiobook collections in public and grade school libraries. 4 CDs, 5 hours.

The DVD Shelf

Children Make Terrible Pets
Peter Brown
Weston Woods Studios
143 Main Street
Norwalk, CT 06851
0545398355 $59.95

Intended for young viewers ages 4-8, Children Make Terrible Pets is the DVD adaptation of the delightful children's book by Peter Brown. When Lucy the bear meets a young boy in the forest and brings him home, her mother warns her against having a child for a pet. Will Lucy's mother be proven right or wrong? The playful, simple color artwork perfectly complements this excellent story about misplaced expectations, enhanced by a bonus interview with Peter Brown. 8 min. Also highly recommended for public library children's DVD collections are "The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything" by Linda Williams (11 min., $59.95) and "Fletcher and the Snowflake Christmas" (9 min., $59.95).

The Chapter Book/Easy Reader Shelf

A Reel Cool Summer
Martha Rodriguez, author
Joey Rodriguez, illustrator
Read To Me Publishing
P.O. Box 12431, Tallahassee, FL 32317
9789780615490984, $7.99,

"A Reel Cool Summer" is a story about three kids named Joey, Danny, and Jacqui, who are suffering through a very hot, boring summer interlude. Longing for a pool, they jump on a suggestion by their mom that they enter a movie contest for kids to try to earn the, $100 prize and buy the pool. A few props and costumes, a princess costume for Jacqui, an old video camera, a couple of guinea pigs who can dress up like aliens, and a small kindergarten diorama of a city for background help fuel imaginations of the excited young film creators. Intent on meeting the 5:00 deadline, an amazing cinematography experience commences. When the script calls for Princess Jacqui to cry on cue, the director tries onions with mixed results. A pirate actor has difficulty saying his lines about broccoli convincingly. The guinea pigs can't like their costumes. Still, everyone is willing to work on such an exciting project and imaginations know no bounds. Everyone pitches in and the kids just make the 5:00 deadline at the library with their entry, which has competing entries. Although they don't win first or second prize, the kids are excited and honored to hear they won the mystery prize! Guess what it was? Read the book and find out! (Here's a hint - you get wet in it.) "A Reel Cool Summer" is filled with spunky, edgy illustrations and funny dialogue that kids will especially "get." "A Reel Cool Summer" will amuse and entertain kids ages 6-9, with the added bonus of stimulating their fantastic capacity for imagination and creativity.

Joy of Apex
Napatsi Folger
Inhabit Media
146A Orchard View Blvd.
Toronto, Canada ON M4R 1C3
9781926569475, $9.95,

As one's world begins to change unexpectedly, one comes to understand it much more. "Joy of Apex" is a novel aimed at elementary school readers who are struggling with their own parents breaking apart. Following ten year old Joy as she loves her life outside her parents falling apart, she tells the story of trying to cope with her parents endless fighting. "Joy of Apex" is a fine pick for youth fiction collections and for young readers looking for a stepping stone between picturebooks and novels.

The Case of the Mysterious Voice
John R. Erickson
c/o Penguin Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor
New York, NY 10014
9780670012862 $15.99

The Case of the Mysterious Voice provides another fine Hank the Cowdog easy reader sleuth story. This time Hank faces down a parrot on the ranch - a parrot that is threatening Hank's position on the ranch. A hilarious series of encounters between Hank, the bird, and puzzling events makes for a fine story kids in grades 4-6 will laugh over.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever
Jeff Kinney
Amulet Books
c/o Abrams
115 West 18th St., New York NY 10011
9781419702235 $13.95

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever continues the popular 'Wimpy Kid' accounts that blend fun black and white cartoons with a diary format to invite kids to read about Greg's life. Here Greg is the suspect when school property is damaged: but this time he's innocent. When a blizzard hits the Heffley family is trapped indoors - and Greg knows there could be no worse punishment than being trapped indoors with his family for the holidays. A fine story evolves!

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Lemon Tree Caper
Rene Saldana, Jr. author
Natalie Rosales Yeomans, Spanish translator
Giovanni Mora & Alexi Mora, illustrators
Pinata Press
c/o Arte Publico Press
452 Cullen Performance Hall, Houston, TX 77204
9781558857094, $9.95,

"The Lemon Tree Caper" is an English/Hispanic middle school (ages 8-12) mystery in the Mickey Rangel mystery series for intermediate readers of English and Spanish. Only Mickey Rangel, the great kid detective, is willing to come to the aid of La Bruja Andrade (a kind of neighborhood witch who grows prize winning lemons year round) when she discovers that all her precious lemons are gone! Where could they be? Who could have done such a thing, even to a smelly old eccentric lady? Mickey Rangel actually forsakes a refreshing glass of cool lemonade just to rescue Senorita Andrade and undertake to solve the mystery! This fast paced fun mystery has just enough punch, spice, kick, and unpredictability to keep interest high and pages turning. Even reluctant readers will find this delightful book an effortless "read." Even better, "The Lemon Tree Caper" can be read in both English and Spanish, starting from either end of the book. Detailed black and white drawings add interest and dimension to the story. A lot of lucky kids are going to spend at least an hour or two or maybe even three turning the 47 pages of this delightful mystery to reach the triumphant conclusion. In the end, Mickey Rangel even gets to drink a primo glass of lemonade!

The Fiction Shelf

Lesson of the White Eagle
Barbara Hay
The Roadrunner Press
PO Box 2564, 122 N. W. 32nd Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73101
9781937054007, $16.95,

Friendship should not force hate. "Lesson of the White Eagle" is a coming of age novel following fifteen year old Dusty Hamilton as he finds himself plunged into a hate crime situation. After his incident, he learns about the Native American bonds of friendship and learns that a friendship that asks you to hate isn't a friendship at all. "Lesson of the White Eagle" is a choice read for any who are seeking a novel of life and its many challenges.

Big Boys Don't Spy
K. E. M. Johnston
Kitsune Books
PO Box 1154
Crawfordville, FL 32326-1154
9780981949598, $9.00,

You're never too young to snoop around. "Big Boys Don't Spy" is a middle grade fiction adventure from K. E. M. Johnston as he follows preteens in their adventures of espionage, in which they are hired for a very important mission by their imaginations. With plenty of humor and a burst of grandeur, "Big Boys Don't Spy" is an excellent pick and very much recommended reading for would be young spies.

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick
Chris Van Allsburg
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
222 Berkeley St., Boston MA 02116
9780547548104 $24.99

THE MYSTERIES OF HARRIS BURDICK appeared over twenty-five years ago, and thousands of schoolchildren wrote stories based on it. This new release THE CHRONICLES OF HARRIS BURDICK: 14 AMAZING AUTHORS TELL THE TALES represents an 'A-list' of authors approached by Van Allsburg to write a story for this new collection, and is a fine collection celebrating the original. Short stories by M.T. Anderson, Louis Sachar, Jon Scieszka and others pair with van Allsburg's fine drawings in a top pick for any collection seeing popularity over the original Harris Burdick.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Ransom Riggs
Quirk Books
215 Church Street Philadelphia PA 19106
9781594744761 $17.99

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a recommendation for more mature teens who enjoy gothic-style novels of fantasy and mystery combined. It tells of a teen who journeys to a remote island off Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. His investigation shows the children were more than strange: they were dangerous, and may have been quarantined on the island - and may even still live. Fast action and psychological depth keep this fantasy a real winner, packed with unexpected twists and turns.

Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012

Walter Dean Myers' THE CRUISERS: CHECKMATE (9780439916271, $16.99) joins another in the series and tells of Zander and his group, misfits who attend a school in Harlem for the brightest kids. A drug accusation and a passion for code involve Zander and his gang in a cryptic puzzle in this winning novel of intrigue, suitable for any elementary to middle school leisure reader. Kathryn Lasky's WOLVES OF THE BEYOND: FROST WOLF (9780545093163, $16.99) returns to the world of Guardians of Ga'Hoole to chart a breakdown in the order among the wolf clans. One wolf thrives on the chaos and calls himself the Prophet: his leadership will lead hundreds to their deaths - and it's up to Faolan and his friend Edme to bring down the Prophet in this riveting fantasy. Ingrid Lee's CAT FOUND (9780545317702, $16.99) tells of stray cats running wild in a small town, where Billy discovers a starving kitten and must keep her hidden while he nurses her back to health. His father wouldn't stand for a cat in the house: can Billy and his friends find a safe haven not just for Conga, but for all the town's maligned strays? A warm animal story evolves. Sarah Weeks' PIE (9780545270113, $16.99) presents a conundrum when the Pie Queen, Alice's aunt, passes away and leaves the secret recipe to her fat, disagreeable cat Lardo. The whole town wonders how you leave a recipe to a cat - and everyone's suddenly obsessed with winning the Blueberry, a pie contest Alice's aunt has always won - until now! A funny story of cats, pies and competition evolves. Brian Selznick's WONDER STRUCK (9780545027892, $29.99) tells of Ben and Rose. Ben longs for a father he's never known while rose dreams of a mysterious actress. When the two set out alone on separate quests to fill their dreams, unexpected connections evolve. Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories are also told differently: one in words, one in pictures. Over 460 pages of original artwork make this a powerful and unique story for advanced teen readers. Chris Lynch's VIETNAM BOOK ONE: I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE (9780545270298, $16.99) tells of four best friends who join the military together, serving in different branches and pledging to return home from Vietnam together. Dreams of violence and threats to life keep this a fast-paced military novel recommended for any young adult collection. Di Toft's WOLVEN; THE TWILIGHT CIRCUS (9780545294928, $17.99) tells of two boys who join the Twilight Circus of Illusion in hopes it'll bring them closer to Nat's fugitive father or Woody's lost Wolven clan. Instead they encounter secret agents, evil vampires, and a dangerous odyssey that will challenge their lives and abilities.

Random House
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019

Tamora Pierce's MASTIFF (9780375814709 $18.99) provides Book 3 in the Beka Cooper series and represents the final third book of a trilogy - so it's a pick for collections that have enjoyed popularity with the prior books about the young heroine. Set in a fantasy world, Beka Cooper is moving in a world facing civil unrest, high-level kidnapping, fraud, and more. She's facing slavery, corruption and an uncertain world that will either fall apart or vastly change - and she's the lynchpin. An outstanding fantasy for older teens neatly wraps up the drama of the prior Beka Cooper sagas. Meika Hashimoto's THE MAGIC CAKE SHOP (9780375868221, $15.99) combines intrigue, cakes, and a precocious girl's penchant for trouble and is a fine leisure choice for advanced elementary to early middle school readers. Emma's summer adventure is mixed, but all elements are coming together at a magical cake shop, with the help of an amazing baker. This fun story will delight readers interested in food and adventure. Wendelin Van Draanen's SAMMY KEYES AND THE NIGHT OF SKULLS (9780375861086, $15.99) tells of Halloween when Sammy and her friends are dressed as zombies. Their shortcut through the graveyard results in an attack and their candy bags contain clues to a frightening mystery in this delightful novel of intrigue, good for year-round reading. David Almond's MY NAME IS MINA AND I LOVE THE NIGHT (9780385740739, $15.99) is written in diary format and tells of Mina, who keeps a journal about her fascination with the night and who provides a range of observations in a prequel to SKELLIG, a celebrated novel. Readers interested in complex reflections and observations will find this filled with poetic vision and description. Patricia Reilly Giff's R MY NAME IS RACHEL (9780375838897, $15.99) is set in 1936, when Rachel's family lives in poverty. Her father needs a job, and his search takes his family away from the city she knows so well and onto a farm - which Rachel loves. Eventually her father must leave them for work - and Rachel is determined to stay on the farm with her siblings in this moving story of life during the Great Depression. Jane Kelley's THE GIRL BEHIND THE GLASS (9780375862205, $16.99) tells of twins who move into a creepy old house - and who begin disagreeing for the first time in their lives. It almost seems like something is trying to drive them apart. While one twin settles in, the other is aware of increasingly strange experiences: is the house haunted, and can she reconnect with her sister before it's too late? A fine novel evolves!

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Puss in Boots
Stella Gurney, author
Gerald Kelley, illustrator
Barron's Educational Series, inc.
250 Wireless Blvd., Hauppage, NY 11788
9780764164859, $17.99,

Here is a beautiful storybook with working pop-ups, surprise flaps to lift, tabs to pull, and wheels to turn in the amazing colorful illustrations. "Puss in Boots" is retold by Stella Gurney and imaginatively illustrated by Gerald Kelley for an enthralled new audience of children age 5 and up. Never has Puss been more debonair, handsome, and clever, and never has the Miller's lazy but kind third son Peter been luckier in his inheritance. Little tricks like finding the hidden boot in every picture, or reading the tiny miniature storybook of the Legend of The Ogre of Montoya will keep children entranced for hours. A great deal of mischievous humor is laced throughout "Puss in Boots," to the huge delight of readers young and old. Everyone loves an unlikely hero, charming, well-mannered, rapscallion, and gay. "Puss in Boots" is all of these and extremely well dressed besides. A good time is guaranteed for all except possibly the Ogre, and even he has his own story told in miniature to comfort him.

Little Fairy Can't Sleep
Daniela Drescher, author/illustrator
Floris Books
15 Harrison Gardens, Edinburgh, U.K.
9780863158254, $16.95,

"Little Fairy Can't Sleep" is a lovely, dreamy, fairy story perfect for bedtime reading. A delicate fairy named Faith lies wide awake on her bed of flowers beneath a full, smiling moon. It is so beautiful she cannot sleep. She flies off into the night to explore and meets the sandman, with his magic dust to help children sleep, a fox and four cubs who can't sleep, a grouchy owl, an elf family whose children can't sleep, and finally a moth-fairy prince who takes her to a midsummer's eve fairy party. Faith dances until she is too tired to fly home, so the handsome moth-fairy prince gently carries her home to her bed of flowers in the moonlight. Magical, mysterious paintings in tones of deep blue, gold, silver, and lavender make every page tingle with delight. "Little Fairy Can't Sleep" is translated from German, "Die kleine Elfe kann nicht schlafen," by Verlag Urachhaus, Stuttgart, Germany. The author has written six or more other titles about fairies and elves and merfolk, all as enchanting to young children as "Little Fairy Can't Sleep."

The Princess and the Pig
Jonathan Emmett, author
Poly Bernatene, illustrator
Walker & Company
Bloomsbury Publishing
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780802723345, $16.99,

"The Princess and the Pig" is a joyous illustrated story for young children about a princess and a piglet who mysteriously are exchanged in the Royal Nursery, Thus began the strange exchanged life stories of Pigmella and Priscilla, who were not consulted about the plan (along with the fairies, good or bad). So the bay girl became Pigmella, a farmer's daughter, and the piglet became Priscilla, the royal princess. This charming, unusual book wanders happily to an unconventional ending that will delight young readers, even though it is not at all what happens in other books of children's tales!

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Snort's Special Gift, A Family Story
Suzann Yue, author
Lin Wang, illustrator
Beaver's Pond Press
7104 Ohms Lane, Suite 101, Edina, MN 55439
9781592984237, $17.95,

"Snort's Special Gift" is a Savy and Sunne series book about a girl who learns some ways to say a special goodbye to her beloved dog, Snort, who is very sick and will go to heaven soon. Savy and Sunne learn that Snort is in much pain that cannot be healed, and that the veterinarian can give Snort medicine that will take the pain away and let Snort die peacefully. Savy and Sunne cry, they do not want to say goodbye to Snort, their beloved companion. Beautifully expressive paintings show Savy holding Snort's head in her hands, his intelligent eyes gazing back at her with undying love and devotion. Mommy and Daddy help Savy and Sunne decide to plant a tree in Snort's memory. Savy decides to write a special story about Snort for school. In the story Savy wrote that Snort taught her special things, like patience, always being safe, and learning to speak up and not be shy. finally, Snort taught her loyalty. Much later, Savy received the gift of a new lost puppy, found near Snort's tree. Deciding to keep her new puppy as a gift from Snort, Savy named her new puppy Angel. Savy looked forward to learning more special lessons from Angel, while remembering Snort with love.

Who Pooped in the Zoo?
Caroline Patterson, author
Robert Rath, illustrator
Farcountry Press
P.O. Box 5630, Helena, MT 50604
9781560375043, $14.95,

"Who Pooped in the Zoo?: Exploring the Weirdest, Wackiest, grossest & Most Surprising Facts About Zoo Poop" is a fascinating photo-illustrated fact book about different kinds of zoo animals' and birds' droppings. From purposes of poop to analyzing poop, to ultimate uses that have been made of poop (fertilizer, fuel, & earrings?), ten lively chapters present literally tons of relevant information about different kinds of zoo poop. A glossary lists relevant terms sued in the text, and their meanings. "Who Pooped in the Zoo?" is sure to appeal to the middle school mind, even late elementary. There's just something so gross and interesting about poop!

The Multicultural Shelf

Wild Rose's Weaving
Ginger Churchill, author
Nicole Wong, illustrator
4400 Hulman Street, Terre Haute, IN 47803
9781933718569, $15.95,

"Wild Rose's Weaving" is a wonderful story about a girl and her grandmother who explore the world of weaving and life together. The Grandmother calls to Wild Rose to come learn how to weave, to warp the loom, work the sticks, and weave the fabric. But Wild Rose wants to play in the meadow with the sheep and watch the rain and lightning, sun and shadow. "This is so much better than weaving, she thought." But when the storm ends, Grandma's rug is finished, Wild Rose is amazed. "She saw life in its colors. She felt peace in its pattern." She asks her Grandmother how she did this, just sitting there. Her Grandmother answers that the weaving and its frame are not just themselves, but a picture of life. Wild Rose sees all the beautiful images in the rug and says "I want to learn how to weave." "Wild Rose's Weaving" is a wonderful gift of art that connects children with a very old tradition that encircles the globe in many cultures. The author has instructions to make a simple loom at her website: "Wild Rose's Weaving" is filled with pastel, charming, playful illustrations that enhance the spirit of peace within it. An audience of children ages 4-8 is suggested.

A Picnic of Poems in Allah's Green Garden, book and CD
Dawud Wharnsby, author
Shireen Adams, illustrator
The Islam Foundation, publisher
Kube Publishing, distributor
Markfield Conference Centre, Ratby Lane
Markfield, Leicestershire, LE67 9SY UK
9780860374442, $22.95,

"A Picnic of Poems in Allah's Green Garden" is a lovely color-illustrated collection of 30 children's poems about a world of subjects, including being grateful to God/Allah for daily blessings, family love, a mother's wisdom, imagining growth, life on a farm, experiencing bullying, appreciating the beauty of nature and loving others, the equality of all human beings, and much more. Accompanied by a CD of original music to sing some of the joyous lyrics, "A Picnic of Poems" is the new "Child's Garden of Verses" as seen through modern eyes. Charming, brightly colored illustrations show children of different races and religions playing happily and peacefully together in gardens full of wonders. Informed and assisted by a strong awareness Muslim faith in God, or Allah, "A Picnic of Poems in Allah's Green Garden" is an unusual multicultural educational book that will enchant children age 5 and up.

The Environmental Shelf

Fishscale Girl and the Disaster/ La Chiquita Escamosa y el Disastre
Ann Hailey, author and photographer
Robyn L. Smyth, illustrator
Danica Vodopivec-McMullen, translator into Spanish
Cochiy Press
1035 Lincoln Road, Suite 304, Bettendorf, IA 52722
9780983281856, $17.95,

"Fishscale Girl and the Disaster" is a bilingual book featuring a doll made by a girl named Rosita from a single fishscale in the rainforest of the Peruvian Amazon. In this book, Fishscale Girl joins with a second doll character named Sintia (also made from natural rainforest materials) and also Rosita, a third doll, to save their favorite picnic spot on Monkey Island, which has become polluted with trash. Incredible color photos show intricate scenes of the three dolls plus their friends Cochiy the parrot, Loro the tapir, plus a couple of monkey friends deciding how to clean up and restore the trash dump at Monkey Island. The thoughtful message of "Fishscale Girl and the Disaster" is aimed at both children and adults. Proceeds form the sale of the book benefit CONAPAC's Adopt-A School program, "Saving the rainforest one child at a time." The Fishscale Girl book series is thoughtful and beautiful, an inspiring testimony to a friendship and partnership between the author, Ann Hailey, and the doll's creator artist, Rosita.

Desert Night Desert Day
Anthony D. Fredericks, author
Kenneth J. Spengler, illustrator
Rio Nuevo Publishers
Treasure Chests Books
P.O. Box 5250, Tuscon, AZ 85703
9781933855707, $15.95,

"Desert Night Desert Day" is a magnificently illustrated nature book about nocturnal and diurnal creatures of the Sonoran Desert. Designed to educate and entertain both children and adults, every page is a study in colorful contrasts, with subtle hidden shadows of both the creature just seen on the previous pages and the creature to come on the following pages. How children will delight in looking for each creature, each shadow, and the little bob-white Quail, our desert guide through the pages. The spare, elegantly versed text describes the different traits and movements of each featured animal, bird, or reptile. At the end some Field Notes and a list of the featured six nocturnal animals and six diurnal animals gives more information about each desert creature. "Desert Night Desert Day" is a fantastic example of child oriented nature education through art and poetry. It deserves high awards.

Jimmy the Squirrel
Amr Taher, author
Nataly Graphics, illustrators
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, In 47403
9781456735265, $14.99,

"Jimmy the Squirrel" is an eco-fable adventure featuring a young squirrel named Jimmy who bravely helps to lead his band of neighbor squirrels to safety when their forest habitat is destroyed by scary tractor machines. All the squirrels work together under Jimmy's inspired leadership, planning safe escape from a ravaged forest home. "Jimmy the Squirrel" has many cliffhanger moments and many moments of courage, caring and compassion. It is both and eco-fable and a morality tale. Written by a traveling father for his daughter after being begun as a bedtime story, "Jimmy the Squirrel" will appeal to children age 7 and up.

Mountain Wildflowers, An A to Z Guide for Young Explorers
Sharon Lamar, author/ illustrator
Mountain Press publishing
1301 South Third Street West, Missoula, MT 59806
9780878425785, $14.00,

"Mountain Wildflowers: An A to Z Guide for Young Explorers" is a beautifully illustrated, alphabetical guide to mountain wildflowers. Accurate pictures of wildflower plants are placed opposite descriptive pages with the proper botanical name for the flower heading, and sidebars' information about the flower's size, preferred habitat, blooming time, curious properties, and additional information. In addition to descriptions of the flower and leaves, Indian lore and cultural wisdom pertaining to each flower is separately listed, as well as other common names for the plant. From Arrowleaf Balsamroot, whose flowers and roots were cooked and eaten by Indians, to Zigadenus Elegans, a poisonous death camas flower planted by Indians around their camp perimeters to ward off evil spirits, "Mountain Wildflowers" presents a rainbow of relevant information about beautiful mountain wildflowers for young readers. The closing pages also include suggested flower activities, an illustrated plant glossary, web sites and resources. "Mountain Wildflowers, An A to Z Guide for Young Explorers" is clearly a labor of love filled with beautiful water color illustrations and exciting Native American traditions relating to each of the 26 wild flowers.

The Dance Shelf

The White Ballets: Swan Lake, Giselle, and La Bayadere
Rajka Kupesic author/ illustrator
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th Floor
Toronto, ON Canada M5A 2P9
9780887769238, $19.95,

"The White Ballets" is a magnificent illustrated retelling of the mystic tales of three white ballets: "Swan Lake," "Giselle," and "La Bayadere." The transparently lovely paintings are the work of the author, herself a former professional ballet dancer. Ballet blanc is described as the triumph of the corps de ballet, referring to the identical white costumes worn by the female dancers of the corps de ballet. The world of classical ballet is both a magical and a demanding one, based upon iron discipline and rigorous dance practice, work, and study. The magical appeal of this world is expressed in every page and every detail of the beautiful, graceful illustrations. Someone who knows exactly how much human pain, frustration, effort, and discipline enters into the performance of this most demanding of art forms has created a gift for all children who dream of being in the ballet. The complex symbolism of the white ballets is further explored in the explanatory notes about the paintings after each ballet narrative. "The White Ballets" is a most significant contribution both because of its high artistic merit and also because of its cultural educational capabilities in the history of ballet. Both "Swan Lake" and "Giselle" are familiar, classic white ballets, but "La Bayadere," an exotic white ballet set in Royal India, was almost completely unknown in the West until the Kirov Ballet performed part of it in Paris in July, 1961. For a spectacular introduction to the White ballets and the world of classic ballet, read "The White Ballets" and give it to children who love to dance.

The Science Shelf

Nuclear Power, How a Nuclear Power Plant Really Works!
Amelia Frahm, author
Andrew Handley, illustrator
Nutcracker Publishing Company
9780970575227, $9.95,

"Nuclear Power: How A Nuclear Power Plant Really Works!" is a children's illustrated informational text about understanding nuclear power whose time has come. Described as being the first kids book about nuclear power that explains how nuclear power plants work without either excessively boring or frightening their intended audience. Its creation motivated in part by the recent crisis with Japan's nuclear power plant during challenging adverse weather, "Nuclear Power..." demystifies the scary subject by explaining the functioning of nuclear power plants to kids in an attractive, fun format that is accessible and effective. With a narrator rat and commentary by a blue bird, "Nuclear Power..." delivers its educational message using appealing animal characters, including the lazy electrical energy user, Penelope Cat. In addition to consulting a glossary of terms, readers may extend their education by viewing a fission chain reaction demonstration at, Readership age is estimated at 4-9 years for this innovative, fun and educational release.

Just a Second, A Different Way to Look At Time
Steve Jenkins, author/ artist
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780618708963, $16.99,

"Just A Second" is a book that educates children about the amazing nature of time. How much can happen in a second, a minute, an hour, a day, a year? An astounding look at the possible measurements of time, in real events that occur in the given time frame, is creatively presented in colorful, torn-and-cut paper collages for illustration. For example, in one year, global warming causes a sea level rise of about 1/8 (millimeters) of an inch. In 1/100 of a second, the Shasta salamander, an amphibian with the world's fastest tongue, can snap up an insect. An object the size of the asteroid that may have killed off the dinosaurs collides with our planet about once every 100,000,000 years. These and other fantastic examples teach all of us to think differently about time and what it measures. A fascinating end note gives many interesting measurements of what has occurred in the author's life since he began writing "Just a Second." The final statement is "Steve still doesn't really understand what time is, but he wishes there were a little more of it in a day."

The Year the Snow Didn't Melt
Dr. William Kirmes, author
Bonnie Gordon-Lucas, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781456754600, $12.95,

"The Year the Snow Didn't Melt" is an educational book that encourages children to think critically about changes in climate. What would it be like if the snow didn't melt all year? How would daily life change? Who would be happy about the cold weather? Who would be sad? "The Year the Snow Didn't Melt" presents suggested climate change in a non-threatening way that allows children to interact with the idea without being overwhelmed by it. Children can find ways to positively affect the future of the world's climate change. Asking questions is a way to begin this process. Bright colored illustrations help kids envision the reality of a world of endless snow.

Right Where You Are Now
Lisa Montierth, author
Ashley Burke, illustrator
Craigmore Creations
3945 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, OR 97214
9780984442225, $18.95,

"Right Where You Are Now" is a fascinating geological time-travel adventure disguised as a bedtime story for children ages 1-7. Through narrative and creative flowing illustrations, children are taken from their familiar, current environment to the landscape or seascape that existed centuries and ages earlier, in the same place. Pictures of flowing lava replace pictures of quiet, settled suburb streets. Instead of a sleepy orange cat, a cat -like creature called a nimravid lived and hunted his prey. The narrative leads to amazing contrasts and comparisons in a young child's mind. Concepts of geological time and slow change begin to develop. At the end a handy visual dictionary gives more information about each prehistoric creature referred to in the narrative of "Right Where You Are Now." For a new way to educate and entertain children at story time, read "Right Where You Are Now." It will raise some interesting questions and perhaps inspire young geologists' dreams.

The Cookbook Shelf

Bad Bananas, A Story Cookbook for Kids
Karl Beckstrand, author
Jeff Faerber, illustrator
Premio Publishing & Gozo Books
648 W. Wasatch St., Midvale, UT 84047, USA
9780977606511, $6.95,

"Bad Bananas, A Story Cookbook for Kids" is more than a collection of "bad" banana recipes that are delicious, healthy, and kid-friendly. Using eccentric, humorous illustrations and imaginatively "tough" (Goth?) text, the author tells the story of what happens when bananas go bad. Along with seven tasty recipes for ways to rescue, reframe, and serve "bananas gone bad," the Bad Bananas Story Cookbook is, as promised by the Banana Post, full of "Action, Drama & Recipes!" This reader's favorite is the recipe for Banana Redemption Bread, a truly inspired way to help a bad banana become good. Other bad banana conversion recipes include Banana Topping (featuring fired bananas), Banana Smoothie, and a clever, hidden Banana Fruit Salad. From the celebrated author of "She Doesn't Want the Worms/ Ella no Quiere los gusanos," a fresh and funny presentation for thrifty kids who still believe in helping good bananas gone bad emerges, "Bad Bananas, A Story Cookbook!" Try not to laugh too hard at the extremely funny bad bananas - you wouldn't want to hurt their peelings!

Suzie's Sourdough Circus
Kathy Sager, author
Eliska Liska, illustrator
Lost Moose Books
c/o Harbour Publishing
P.O. Box 219, Madeira Park, BC V0N 2H0 Canada
9781550175561, $16.95,

"Suzie's Sourdough Circus" is both a picturebook story of the making and history of sourdough starter and a cookbook for kids and adults. Filled with beautiful illustrations in sepia, gold, orange, black and white, "Suzie's Sourdough Circus" explains how Suzie makes sourdough bread, using sourdough starter from the refrigerator, with her father's help. Versed narrative describes the antics of the 'Cirque de Sourdough," shown as little live yellow yeasty creatures who wake up with warm water and flour and start to do tricks, like make bubbles and rise into the air. Kids will love the sourdough circus, and the role Suzie plays in making sourdough bread with her circus performers. After the story comes four delicious recipes for Sourdough Bread, Flapjacks, Bannock, and Chocolate-Vanilla Marble Sourdough Cake, along with six tips for happy sourdough. Acute little sourdough acrobat holds an orange banner proclaiming: "Grownups, always ask a kid to help you." Further retro-colored illustrations show ingredients, utensils, and finished products. "Suzie's Sourdough Circus" includes quite a complete history of the making of sourdough breads in the Northwest, making "Suzie's Sourdough Circus" a full circle link to the past and present, always a tasteful and educational gift.

Teen Cuisine
Matthew Locricchio, author
James Peterson, photographer
Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591
9780761457152, $22.95,

"Teen Cuisine" is a fabulous collection of teen friendly gourmet recipes for healthy, elegant entrees from breakfasts to desserts. Incorporating and encouraging fresh and organic foods whenever possible, author Matthew Locricchio presents a rainbow of feast enhancers in 58 or more recipes, with award-winning color photos of the finished products and cooking procedures. Featuring menus designed to appeal to teens, "Teen Cuisine" includes chapters on breakfasts, snacks, soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers, pizza (coast to coast!), side dishes, Shooting Star Entrees, and Red-Carpet desserts. Some of the winning recipes include New York, California, and Chicago-Style Pizza (with homemade dough), Pulled Pork Sandwich, Deviled Eggs, Chick Pea and Garlic Puree, New Gazpacho with Chipotle Almond Cream, Quinoa and Black Bean Salad with Fresh Orange Dressing, Santa Fe Tofu Scrambler, Hippie Granola, and my favorite, 4th of July Shortcake. After a title and brief introduction to each recipe, ingredients are listed separately, with extra information for special ingredients. Recipe instructions are presented in three sections, labeled 'On your mark... Get set... and Cook!' All instructions are clear and precise, and special highlighted sidebars present Chef's Tips to help create a foolproof product. Teens will love taking over the kitchen and menu with "Teen Cuisine," and they will eat healthy foods they have learned to prepare and present with flair and flourishes.

The Poetry Shelf

Mommy and Me Let Insects Free
Rebecca Fronzaglio, author
Serap Deliorman, illustrator
Mirror Publishing
6434 W Dixon Street, Milwaukee, WI 53214
9781612250533, $12.99,

"Mommy and Me Let Insects Free" is an illustrated collection of 10 different rhyming verse tales about attracting, studying, and setting free ten different insect species, each a mother- and -son shared experience. "Mommy and Me Let Insects Free" teaches children about the nature and needs of different insects, including ants, bumblebees, grasshoppers, butterflies, fireflies, and more, even slimy slugs. A message of compassion and caring is imbedded in each tale, along with notions of the interdependence of the ecosystem. The mother's patience and the child's endless fascination with insects is vividly described and illustrated Charming, pastel colored illustrations show delicate detail in each verse story. Written from the author's memories of times spent with her son growing up, "Mommy and Me Let Insects Free" is both a tribute to past memories and a gift to future generations. "Mommy and Me Let Insects Free" is available at the author's online bookstore, Bonnie -Jo's Children's Books, at

The Picturebook Shelf

But I Don't Wanna Take a Bath!
A Mike and Tyke Series
Mildred Pope, author
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781456739393, $15.95,

"But I Don't Wanna Take A Bath!" is a fresh take on an old conundrum for kids. Part of the Mike and Tyke Series, written to give kids great story experiences with kids who look and act just like them, "But I Don't Wanna Take a Bath!" presents the old dilemma of an adventurous boy and his dog (who like to play in the mud) trying their best to hide in costumes to escape the inevitable soapy bath and cleanup at the end of the day. Mike is sure that if he and Tyke just choose the right fantastic costume (Sponge Bob, Viking, Batman Superman, Nemo, etc.), Mom will be fooled and not recognize her bath-needing son and dog at suppertime. Told in rollicking verse, illustrated with clever cartoon-like images of an African American boy and his faithful dog and friend, "But I Don't Wanna Take a Bath!" is sure to appeal to an audience of young, adventurous boys and girls. Even though Mike begins to suspect that his Mom is not fooled by all his evasive tactics and costumes, he continues with his determined creativity, while secretly admitting (in the tub): "Gee, my Mom is really smart. She knew it was me from the start. She just let me have some fun. She's the best Mom under the sun (P. 26)!" For a good night story with real live action heroes decorated with very realistic mud and dirt, read "But I don't Wanna Take a Bath!" to your children. They will revel in it!

Tom the Tamer
Tjibbe Veldkamp, author
Philip Hopman, illustrator
Lemniscaat USA
c/o Ellen Myrick
455 Sam Ridley Parkway, PMB 248
Smyrna, TN 37167
9781935954057, $16.95,

Tom can't get his father to pay attention to his snail trampoline or even his squirrel circus because going outdoors terrifies him (his father). He sits inside and creates extended model train settings instead. Tom decides to remedy the situation by buying and taming exotic animals from 'Paws, Claws, Beaks & Bugs,' an unusual pet store. His first project is a friendly polar bear who agrees to disguise himself as a chair, which his father sits in. Then, with the polar bear's help, Tom trains a whole menagerie of exotic animals and decorates his father's house with them, secretly posing as a tiger rug, flamingo curtains, a hippo davenport, a tortoise table, even an octopus chandelier, etc. Tom's father is delighted with all the new furnishing. He touches and tests them all. Tom the Tamer's show had begun! At the end of his father's explorations of their new furniture came the inevitable question, "Where did all this stuff come from?" Tom the Tamer replied "From the 'Paws, Claws, Beaks & Bugs Pet Store!' Upon which his father leaped up and... ran outside! A happy ending is incorporated, but not until Tom's father learns to pay attention to Tom the Tamer's special outdoor animal shows. "Tom the Tamer" is gorgeously illustrated (in tasteful apricot and aqua pastels), and gi-normously funny. A final foldout poster of Tom and his father included in a tremendous pyramid of all the tamed animals is spectacular! Kids of all ages and even adults will adore it.

Gary's Gray World
Ryan J. Cunningham, author
Chrissy Fanslau, illustrator
Plain & Simple Books
9781463670160, $14.95,

"Gary's Gray World" is a sensitive story about a boy who wishes his father would take the time away from his work commitments to spend time with his son. On a gray morning, Gary anticipates attending a father-son ball game with his father. He is terribly disappointed when his father tells him he has too much work to do. He leaves quickly, without finishing breakfast, riding with a friend and his parent. later events end with Gary alone in the ball park, crying in the rain and wishing his father would spend time with him. However, a surprise twist leads him to a different conclusion, and a rainbow ending brings his father to the realization that it is more important to spend time with his son than to work. "Gary's Gray World" is sensitively presented, with nuanced color illustrations displaying widely varying moods, from gray and sad to shiny and optimistic, with a rainbow of promise. "Gary's Gray World" will appeal to children ages 6 and up.

Carla's Cloud Catastrophe
Beth Bence Reinke, author
Ginger Nielson, illustrator
4 RV Publishing
P.O. Box 6482, Edmond, OK 73083
9780982834602, $13.99 http://4rvpublishingllc,com

"Carla's Cloud Catastrophe" is a tall tale about a birthday-party-crashing cloud catastrophe that challenges Carla (whose birthday party it is) to come up with an extreme solution to save the day (and her birthday party! The whimsical colored illustrations show puffs and piles of excess clouds everywhere except up in the sky where they belong. Kids age 4-8 will enjoy the ridiculousness of the cloud catastrophe and get caught up in the need for a quick solution to save the birthday cake (and party). "Carla's Cloud Catastrophe" has lots of lovely descriptive prose as well as animated, dreamy illustrations, making it fun and memorable to kids everywhere.

The Snowman's Revenge
Mark Smythe, author
Mike Motz illustrator
Privately Published
c/o The Cadence Group (publicity)
103 Remsen Street, #202, Cohoes, NY 12047
9780982270400, $9.99,

"The Snowman's Revenge" began as a bedtime tale told to the author's children that was so beloved he decided to share it with the world. On a snowy day the children stay home from school and make a giant snowman, then go inside where they enjoy cocoa with their mother in the warm house. But what about the snowman they left outside? He glides to the window and sees all the fun and angrily plots his revenge, for being left out in the cold. The ensuing story gets a bit scary at times, but as the tale proceeds, anyone can tell the snowman's revenge will taste weak and sour at the end. Hilarious comic-style illustrations show the contrast between the snowman's dark thoughts and the children's heedless joy and cheer, while a comic, zippy versed narrative delivers the winter's tale for children. It's easy to see why the author's children loved this story.

No Money Molly
Terri Creswell, author/photographer/illustrator
Privately Published
9780615528922, $9.99

"No Money Molly" is an imaginative presentation of a girl whose father is unemployed, who faces many challenges because of the lack of money. Enhanced photographs of a real girl in real situations help make "No Money Molly" immediate and compelling. Unlike some children of unemployed parents, Molly lives in a home with her Mom, Dad, and Grandmom. Although Molly doesn't like being called No Money Molly by other kids, she finds fun things to do with her family, like working in the garden, going to the museum and zoo on free days, and visiting the library. Molly often sees a boy in red who seems even more alone and scared than she is. One day she followed him into the woods in a park and found that he lived in a tent, in a whole city of tens. Molly and her friend share their stories about their Daddies losing their jobs. Somehow, they find that being together in their misfortune they could see some hope for the future. "No Money Molly" is being used by Project Read in California to help teach reading to children and adults. It is the ideal book to reach out to children of unemployed parents, one in nine in America according to Brookings Institution. "No Money Molly" is all about accepting feelings and finding hope in difficult times.

Abe's Lucky Day
Jill Warren, author
Kalpart, illustrations
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432773052, $16.95,

"Abe's Lucky Day" is an inspiring story about Abe, a homeless man, who accepts the lucky chances that send good things to him, a loaf of bread, a cardboard box to sleep in, a pair of gloves, a little cash, and shares the bounty with others less fortunate than he. Abe is thankful for the good things that happen to him, and he generously passes the blessings on until one day his many "forward payments" return to him with interest, when he returns a dropped newspaper to a stranger at a coffee shop. The end is happy and turns out to be the best of "Abe's Lucky Day." The colored illustrations decorate text details and presentation to make "Abe's Lucky Day" excellent reading for children age 8 and up. "Abe's Lucky Day" is a study in compassion given and received, and in gratitude.

Judy Ann Sadler, author
Susan Mitchell, illustrator
Kids Can Press
2250 Military Road, Tonawanda, NY 14150
9781554534562, $16.95,

"Reaching" is a lovely, lilting, melodious picture book that is meant to be shared with very young children (age 0-3). Decorated with warmly washed water color illustrations that are alight with joyful possibilities, "Reaching" is the song of praise and love of proud parents and family for a baby who is just emerging into exploring curiosity about the world. A gentle rhyming song-like narrative leads Baby through a day of pleasant experiences and interactions with family, pets, toys, and the world. As Baby reaches for each experience, someone reaches back to encourage him. The perfect closing to a day of reaching and growing is the tucking into bed: "Now Baby is reaching/ For everything new/ Looking and pointing -/ There's so much to do! Soon Baby will reach/ For the moon and the stars.../ But not quite yet, Baby,/ For now you're still ours!" "Reaching" is a beautiful example of the perfect marriage of text and illustration in young children's literature.

Dear Baobab
Cheryl Foggo, author
Qin Leng, illustrator
Second Story Press
20 Maud Street, Suite 401
Toronto, ON Canada M5V 2M5
9781897187913, $15.95,

"Dear Baobab" is a touching story about Maiko, an African orphan boy who moves to North America to live with his aunt and uncle. Maiko misses his beautiful baobab tree that was at the center of his village. In his new home, there is a small spruce tree just as old as he is, seven years. It makes a very big contrast to his baobab tree, which was more than 2,000 years old! His aunt helps him paint a picture of the baobab tree on his bedroom wall, and he begins to talk to the little spruce and share secrets, since it is just as old as he is. Maiko becomes worried when the little spruce tree's roots begin to grow too close to the foundation of the house. He is afraid his aunt and uncle will cut down the little spruce tree. Luckily, they begin to understand Maiko's feelings about the little spruce tree, and with care and imagination, a joyous solution is found to the problem. In the meantime, Maiko has been growing new roots and learning to adjust to living in a strange new place, just as the little spruce tree will do in its new home in the forest. Maiko says to the little spruce tree,"I will come see you often, and when I do, I'll say, 'Hello, tree, same age as me'... You see, we can't always grow where we are planted. But we still can grow somewhere else." Tender, colorful illustrations and gentle, sensitive narration make "Dear Baobab" exceptional. Recommended for children ages 6-8.

Colors of Me
Brynne Barnes, author
Annica M. Nelson, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
315 E. Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 200
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781585365418, $15.95,

"Colors of Me" is a vibrant celebration of colors, art, nature, dreams and poetry. A jaunty rhyming text describes incredible, faux multi-media, textured renderings of colorful scenes in nature and art. The final pages affirm the celebration of diversity: "Do I have to choose one color? I want to be them all! Orange, brown, blue, purple, pink, yellow, red, black, white, and green. The whole world is full of colors .. just like you and me." "Colors of Me" is magnificent beginning reading for children ages 4-8.

Stanley Seagull
Cathy Mazur, author
Colleen Gedrich, illustrated
Tribute Books
P.O. Box 95, Archbald, PA 18403
9780983741800, $7.95,

"Stanley Seagull" is a green look at the strange odyssey of an Atlantic Ocean seagull who discovers he misses the ocean when carried far away from it in a garbage truck. Humorous multimedia colored illustrations contrast with the evolving tale of the human trash imprint as experienced and perceived by a seagull. Stanley Seagull along with his friends Seymour and Walter are trying to find food in trash cans, the ocean, garbage trucks and other strange places. How do humans affect the ocean and land? Experience the answer through the eyes of a seagull. "Stanley Seagull" is suitable for children age 7 and up.

Gunther the Underwater Elephant
Ginger Neilson, author/illustrator
4RV Publishing
9780983274025, $15.99,

"Gunther the Underwater Elephant" is a charming, color-illustrated adventure story about a little elephant who uses his trunk as a snorkel to breathe while he swims underwater. One day Gunther swims away down the jungle river underwater and gets taken out to sea, where he meets and rests on a huge blue whale. Gunther wants to go back home up his jungle river, so the whale agrees to guide him part of the way. Armed by a pair of ear-flippers that he found in a diver's wrecked ship, Gunther meets the jungle birds of his river who tell him his mother has been captured by hunters and taken out to sea in a ship. How Gunther uses his amazing elephant memory and underwater swimming ability to lead a rescue team of disguised, underwater elephants makes for an exciting, enchanted story. "Gunther the Underwater Elephant" teaches children to tap their ingenuity in some very intriguing ways.

A Cowgirl and Her Horse
Jean Ekman Adams, author /illustrator
Rio Chico
c/o Rio Nuevo
P.O. Box 5250, Tuscon, ZA 85703
9781933855714, $15.95,

"A Cowgirl and Her Horse" is an intriguing illustrated tale of a (pig) cowgirl who takes very good care of her horse, preparing him food and water, getting him new shoes every two months, cleaning his room and making sure he writes to his mother. She even takes him for rides through the desert in her jeep, on his day off! Although it is a lot of work for one little cowgirl pig, she is repaid when her horse takes her for a ride up the mountain, down the trail, and over the rainbow. The truly original illustrations in full cartoon color have to be seen to be appreciated. All children will adore "A Cowgirl and Her Horse." Its appeal transcends age and culture. The model of the funny little compassionate, caring cowgirl pig will loom large in young minds, in a wonderful way.

The Juggler
Jeanette Hopkins, author
Stormy Mochal, artist
Ice Cube Press
205 N. Front Street, North Liberty, Iowa 52317
9781888160581, $16.95,

"The Juggler" is a charming, rhyming tale of a young farmer named Henri who loved to juggle! One amazing day Henri visits the circus and sees astounding juggling feats, even nine cabbages at once! This experience both exhilarated and defeated Henri a little, when he went home to his untended farm and animals. A secret dream visitor gives him a special gift to aid him in his juggling dream, it is courage of the heart! Thereafter Henri juggled boars, doors, cabbages, and even more, in prodigious amounts! Every amazing page is filled with colorful, whimsical portraits of unlikely juggling boars and doors, cabbages and more, all in rainbow colors. "The Juggler" is a haunting tale with a golden core that tells itself, sure to be enjoyed by children of all ages.

Off the Wall
Jillian Green DiGiacomo, author
Tierra Jackson, illustrator
StoryPeople Press
P.O. Box 7, Decorah, Iowa 52101
9781937137984, $17.95,

"Off the Wall" is a bubbly, funny, rainbow colored illustrated story about Delilah, the girl who looked into her mirror and became someone else every day. First she is a princess, all gracious and kind. Then she is a monster, smelly and be-grimed. Even a clown she becomes to show off for her friends, but then she accidentally throws sand in her best Gracie's face. The loyal friend had finally had enough, and Delilah felt like she wanted to disappear. In her strange mirror, she really did just that! Finally Delilah decides to chuck the strange mirror and from then on she was whoever or whatever she wanted to be, but she was mostly herself, Delilah. The expressively shaped and colored print of versed text rolls right through a process of self discovery and expressions, helped by the colorful caricature (in miniature) illustrations. "Off the Wall" is sure to be a hit among elementary and older children facing confusing questions about self-image and the nature and nurturing of friendships. The mirror-like cover of "Off the Wall" is an eye-catcher and a good clue to the truth at the center of the story.

Freckleface Strawberry Best Friends Forever
Julianne Morre, author
LeUyen Pham, illustrator
Bloomsbury Books For Young Readers
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781599905518, $16.99,

Freckleface Strawberry and Windy Pants Patrick are very best friends who had lots in common though their appearances were quite different. FFS is small and female and WPP is large and male. Both are rejected by the crowd because of their odd appearances. They stuck up for each other and vow to be true friends forever. But the girls talk to Freckleface and the boys talk to Windy Pants, and the result is a going of separate ways. However, it just wasn't the same. Finally the friends realize their friendship is more important than other pressures and concerns, and Freckleface and Windy Pants played together whenever they wanted to because they liked each other. The gently humorous narrative and the Japanese brush pen illustrations in muted but exuberant colors combine to produce a unique story that will teach children of all ages how precious friendship is.

Otto Carrotto
Chiara Carrer, author/illustrator
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
2140 Oak Industrial Dr. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780802853936, $15.99,

"Otto Carrotto" is a creatively constructed and illustrated teaching tale about an eccentric young rabbit who decides to eat only carrots, until extremely unusual results prompt an emergency decision reversal! "Otto Carotto" is secretly a morality fable about "Moderation in all things," but its message is delivered with so much punch style and humor that it is unforgettable! Kids ages 4-8 will love the strange illustrations and crazy characters (like Trixie, Otto's sister, who will only wear red shoes, or Willie, Otto's best friend, who will only wear blue roller skates, even to bed at night)! The extremely unique artwork in the illustrations seems like a zany combination of engineer's draft sketches, cartoon caricatures, and mixed media conversations between the eccentric characters, all of it dipped in infectious foolishness! In a way it seems that "Otto Carotto" is in fact a successful caricature of itself! Kids will totally groove on the funny pictures, and the weird, twisted distortions that evolve from Otto's carrot obsessed diet. And at the surprise ending, there is more than a hint that the cure for one obsession is perhaps not necessarily another (obsession)? "Otto Carotto" is a delightful book that spoofs itself and will work its way into any child's library of favorites. Dare we hope that it also may encourage some parents of eccentrically inclined children to persuade them to be just a little more flexible and adventurous in their daily dietary choices, for example?

Beaming Bright, You're A Shining Light
Lynne Cox, author
Paul FitzZaland, artist
Connie Sanders, musician /composer
Privately Published
97809773357752, $16.00 (Canadian),

"Beaming Bright, You're A Shining Light: Playful Journeys for Babies and Young Children," is a brightly colored young children's book of illustrated song verses that encourage a small child to calm themselves, relax, grow, explore, imagine, and develop positive, happy experiences of interaction with others in their world. Eleven playful story songs stimulate imagination, self belief and building self image and confidence, and reaching for dreams to achieve unlimited potential. In addition, "Beaming Bright..." is a very fun experience for young children ages 0-6. The gentle sounds of the songs and music, the bright rainbow-colored illustrations featuring multi- ethnic child figures, and the teasing puzzles of searching for the hidden hearts and stars throughout the book all combine to envelope the child in warmth and security while gently challenging him to reach for the stars both within and without. "Beaming Bright, You're A Shining Light" is a fabulous gift for a small child or even a baby. Parents and family will thrill to see their toddler thrive and grow on this extremely nurturing literature/music/art combination package.

The Story of Che
Kelly Dougherty
Fringe Squirrel Press
4 Queen Street, Charleston, SC 29401
9780983941002, $9.99,

A home is a wonderful thing to have. "The Story of Che" is a children's picture book froM Kelly Dougherty and illustrated by Justin Walling. Telling the story of a Che Bird in search of home and and a family, it comes with some charming artwork. "The Story of Che" is worth considering for those looking for a short and lyrical picturebook for younger readers.

Operation Marriage
Cynthia Chin-Lee
PM Press
Box 23912, Oakland, CA 94623
9781604864229 $14.95

Operation Marriage covers the gay marriage debate and was created months before California banned gay marriage. It tells of an eight-year-old who fights with her best friend Zach, who says he can no longer be her friend because her parents aren't married. Alex decides to get her parents to marry in this fine story of how gay rights affects children. Lea Lyon's drawings are winning in this realistic story.

Bun Bun Button
Patricia Polacco
c/o Penguin Group USA
345 Hudson St., New York NY 10014
9780399254727 $17.99

BUN BUN BUTTON tells of a loving relationship between a child and her grandmother, telling of a stuffed homemade bunny and a balloon that floats her away. Paige misses her favorite stuffed animal - and hopes the wind will return it. A gentle story for youngsters will require parental read-aloud assistance to make the most of this easy tale the entire family will enjoy.

The Music Shelf

Ukulele for Kids
Chad Johnson
Hal Leonard
7777 W. Bluemound Rd.
P.O. Box 13819, Milwaukee, WI 53213
9781617742392, $12.99 (book and CD),

"Ukulele for Kids: A Beginner's Guide with Step-by-Step Instruction for Ukulele" is a ukulele performance instruction manual for kids, complete with CD with tuning notes plus 30 tracks song demonstration and play-along experiences. Lessons are presented on selecting the instrument, parts and positioning, reading music notation and counting, chord positions for C, F, C 7, Am, G, Bf lat, and Gm chords, and strumming and picking. Black and White photos and diagrams explain positions and procedures, and no tablature reading is required. Songs presented include "Amazing Grace," "Eleanor Rigby," "Love Me Tender," "She Loves You," "Surfer Girl," and more. "Ukulele for Kids" is meant to be incorporated into a lesson plan with a teacher (or parent) for children's instruction and understanding, and performance. "Ukulele for Kids" is a great gift for aspiring juvenile string performers. Along with friendly lessons, it makes the perfect package.

The Judaic Shelf

Whatever the Weather
Shainy Peysin, author
Emily Owens, illustrator
Hachai Publishing
527 Empire Blvd., Brooklyn, NY 11225
9781929628568, $12.95,

"Whatever the Weather" is a lively paean of gratitude to Hashem for seasons, as a young Jewish boy paddles, puddles, blows and snows his merry way through four very different kinds of weather. The lively rhyming text is perfectly complemented by the vivid illustrations showing a boy vigorously jumping, splashing, bathing, kite-flying, rolling snowballs, and giving thanks to Hashem for all the different kinds of weather. The boy knows that seasons of the year all contribute to help the earth to grow, to give food and water to all life on the earth. Wind and sun, rain and snow, all will help the earth to grow, so thanks are always given to Hashem for every day, "Whatever the Weather!" "Whatever the Weather" is perfect for children age 4 -8, teaching gratitude for the bounty of Hashem in daily life.

The Theatre/Cinema Shelf

Full Moon and Star
lee Bennett Hopkins, author
Marcellus Hall, illustrator
115 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
9781419700132, $16.95,

"Full Moon and Star" is an inspired theatre-based tribute to friendship, a special friendship between Kyle and Katie, best friends who like to do everything together. When Kyle writes a special play about Moon, Katie watches and listens to the production and likes it very much even though it was something Kyle did without her. Then Katie writes a play about two Stars, which Kyle also applauds. In Act Three ("Full Moon and Star" is divided into acts instead of chapters), Kyle and Katie decide to write a play together and call it Full Moon and Star. A cast of two, Full Moon and Star decide that glowing and twinkling and being friends together is much better than twinkling apart. Full Moon and Star vow to be friends forever, then hold hands and bow. Delicate theater-based illustrations help make "Full Moon and Star" a gala hit production for young readers.

The Gardening Shelf

Kinder Gardens: Autumn Fun
Lisa Ely & Michael Glassman
Schiffer Publishing
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310
9780764338533, $16.99,

"Kinder Gardens: Autumn Fun" is a fabulous catalog of creative fall or cool weather garden project ideas especially appealing to kids. "Kinder Gardens Autumn Fun" is the third book in a series written to encourage children to enjoy being outdoors and gardening activities. A special gardener-friend character is Karden, who is always ready to explore new ways to have fun with gardening and growing things. Fantastic color photos of Karden and friends in real outdoor settings show many wonderful ideas for outdoor, gardening fun. There are so many ways to begin doing autumn garden projects with children. "Kinder Gardens Autumn Fun" is divided into five sections or chapters, with many ideas for activities, gardens, work with earth and insects, playing and working with leaves, fun nature teaching games and activities, and fall art projects that can preserve bits of the beauty of fall with the efforts of young artists. "Kinder Gardens Autumn Fun" is a great idea book for adults, parents and teachers, who seek inspiration for fun ways to teach kids things to grow, explore, and enjoy outdoors, in the garden. Most projects and activities can be adapted to kids ages 4-8 and up.

Books in Series

I Love My Pet
Jamie McCune
Palm Publishing
c/o Soundprints
353 Main Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851
9781607272861, $6.95,

"I Love My Pet" is color photo-illustrated preschool board book about children and their pets. From a turtle to a bunny, here are adorable pictures of children with their beloved pets, with accompanying simple, large print text. The softly padded cover makes "I Love My Pet" friendly feeling to very young children, while the board pages are sturdy to withstand loving handling and exploration by small hands. Part of the I Love My.. series, "I Love My Pet" will encourage young children to explore interactions with both pets and books. Also recommended in this series are the following titles: "I Love My Family (ISBN 9781607276210, $6.95)," and "I Love My Best Friend (ISBN 9781607272168, $6.95)." Each volume at guided reading level F has free downloadable e-book and printable activities included.

Cute and Cuddly: Baby Animals, Piglets
Grace Elora, author
Gareth Stevens Publishing
111 East 14th Street, Suite 349, New York, NY 10003
9781433945151, $22.60,

"Piglets" is a beginning leveled reader book about piglets from the "Cute and Cuddly Baby Animals" series for young children preschool to kindergarten. Pages of brief, descriptive prose are accompanied by adorable color photographs of many different little baby pigs. Children will learn some surprising facts about pigs while enjoying "Piglets." A photo-illustrated vocabulary page under Words to Know helps children retain new words and concepts. Five other volumes complete this series, including "Bear Cubs," "Bunnies," "Foals," "Kittens," and "Puppies."

Crabtree Publishing
PMB 59051, 350 - 5th Avenue, 59th Floor, NY, NY 10118

Crabtree's series titles are excellent picks for elementary-level reference collections and some latest new arrivals are real winner. Additions to the 'Mountains Around the World' series will reach grades 5-8 with each book offering 48 pages of color photos paired with specific geographical history of selected mountain ranges. The individual focus allows readers plenty of depth and detail, to easily contrast the characteristics of different mountains. Six new books include Lynn Peppas' THE ALPS (9780778775591, $22.95), Molly Aloian's THE ANDES (9780778775607, $22.95) and THE APPALACHIANS (9780778775614, $22.95), ROCKY MOUNTAINS (9780778775638, $22.95) AND Himalayas (9780778775621, $22.95), and THE URALS (9780778775645, $22.95). Any student looking for basic opening facts for reports will find this series inviting. Grades 5-8 will also appreciate the four books in a new series documenting the War of 1812, a topic usually covered only broadly and often in texts covering other conflicts. Maps, primary sources, period illustrations and modern photos bring the conflict to life in FAMOUS PEOPLE OF THE WAR OF 1812 (9780778779599, $22.95), MAJOR BATTLES OF THE WAR OF 1812 (9780778779605, $22.95), LEGACY OF THE WAR OF 1812 (9780778779612, $22.95) and WHAT CAUSED THE WAR OF 1812? (9780778779629, $22.95). 48 pages to each book offers surveys of key figures, pivotal battles, and the war's short- and long-term effects. 'Life in the Ancient World' ($20.76 each) is another selection for this age group, with each book providing 32 pages pairing color illustrations with specific surveys of an aspect of ancient living. ARTS AND CULTURE IN THE ANCIENT WORLD (9780778717324, $26.60), COMMUNICATION (9780778717331, $26.60), GOVERNMENT (9780778717348, $26.60), RELIGION (9780778717355, $26.60), TECHNOLOGY (9780778717362, $26.60) and TRADE AND COMMERCE (9780778717379, $26.60) all provide generously detailed insights on an ancient world topic. All are fine picks for any elementary school or community library collection.

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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