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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 23, Number 1 January 2013 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Cookbook Shelf Gardening Shelf
Social Issues Shelf Science Shelf Environmental Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Sports Shelf Art Shelf
Health Shelf Poetry Shelf Self-Help Shelf
Christian Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Multicultural Shelf
Picturebook Shelf Fiction Shelf Bilingual Shelf
Judaic Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf Music CD Shelf
DVD Shelf Multimedia Shelf Military Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Holiday Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
ABC Shelf Counting Shelf Books in Series

Reviewer's Choice

How Katie Got a Voice
Patricia L. Mervine, M.A., CCC-SLP, author
Ian Acker, illustrator
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781426966491 $19.57

How Katie Got a Voice is a softcover children's picturebook (featuring a fair amount of text, but with sentence structures accessible to younger people) about a young girl Katie, who longs to make friends with the rest of her elementary school class. But Katie has significant physical disabilities; she cannot leave her wheelchair or speak. The students and teachers of Cherry Street School all have nicknames that cherish their hobbies or talents, such as coin-collecting "Penny" (Pari), musically oriented "Tunes" (Tina), or class clown "The Jokester" (Giovanni). But what can Katie do? Fortunately, the speech therapist Ms. Lips (Ms. Markle) has an idea to help Katie! She gives Katie a device operated with a big yellow switch and a simple, video-game style joystick. Katie has to work hard and practice to master the device, but once she does, she can use the machine to say things, play music, or even hook it up to a computer and draw! She earns her very own nickname of CommuniKate, and smiles her biggest smile ever. A final collection of twelve tips for interacting with people who have disabilities, addressed directly to young readers, rounds out this excellent and edifying story. "Some people with disabilities have service animals, usually dogs, who are trained to do special tasks for their masters. They may be cute and friendly, but don't pet them without asking permission. Service animals are 'on the job' and should not be distracted or disturbed." Illustrated with simple, lightly outlined color pictures on almost every page, How Katie Got a Voice is an excellent teaching tool that parents and teachers can use to help children better understand people with disabilities. Highly recommended!

Being Frank
Donna W. Earnhardt, author
Andrea Castellani, illustrator
Flash Light Press
9781936261192, $16.95,

Telling the truth is a good thing, but the method is sometimes more important than the content. "Being Frank" is a children's picturebook telling of overly honest Frank whose truthfulness gets him in more trouble than it makes him friends. With the guidance of his also honest grandfather Ernest, he learns to better serve his truth in life. "Being Frank" is a guide to good communication and how to use the power of honesty for the better, and the difference between honesty and rudeness.

Every Little Girl Is a Princess
Andree Prendergast, author
Riva England, illustrator
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466294516, $9.99,

"Every Little Girl Is Princess" is a fairytale-like book about an eight year old girl named Callie who believes only becoming a princess will make her happy. She thought that a princess would have everything special she wanted, and that would make her happy. One day her dog Toby dug up a book for her about what she needed to do to become a princess. She learns about the five virtues, Faith, Love, Kindness, Courage, and Friendship, which are possessed and fulfilled by all princesses. Soon Callie finds herself involved in completing her first act of kindness, helping Mrs. Applebee, and elderly neighbor, pick up her falling groceries. The amazing thing is, Callie finds the act of kindness makes her feel really good. For her next test, Callie stands up for what she believes in, an act of courage. Sometimes a princess needs to say "no" when she knows something is not right. There follow in order an act of friendship, an act of faith, and an act of love, every step bringing Callie closer to her goal of becoming a real princess and also making her feel better and better about herself. Finally Callie begins to realize that maybe everything she already is is what can make her a princess, and that is pretty special. The resilient, spunky redheaded girl illustrations in "Every Little Girl Is a Princess" add immeasurable charm to this modern day fairytale for children age 7 and up.

Howard B. Wigglebottom
Howard Binkow & Jeremy Norton
We Do Listen Foundation
1212 Ben Franklin Drive #803
Sarasota, FL 34236
9780982616574, $15.00,

Fear is natural; it's unnatural that we allow it to control our lives. "Howard B. Wigglebottom: Learns About Courage" is another entry in the Howard B. Wigglebottom series following the young rabbit as he faces his own fears and tries to overcome them to live his life to the fullest. With colorful artwork invoking many heroes of comics and many fears of young children, "Howard B. Wigglebottom" is a strong pick for youths with anxiety issues.

Am I Like My Daddy?
Marcy Blesy, author
Amy M. Kuhl Cox, illustrator
Bronze Man Books
Millikin University
1184 W. Main Street
Decatur, IL 62522
9780981959139 $12.00

Am I Like My Daddy? is a softcover children's book about Grace, a seven-year-old girl trying to remember and learn more about her father. Her father died when she was five, and her mother and family miss him very much - so much that it can sometimes be painful to talk about him. But some family members are able to share their memories, and Grace gradually learns more and more about her dad. Grace undertakes simple journaling to help piece together her memories and the things she learns, in this uplifting, positive-minded storybook that can double as a valuable resource for children who want to learn more about a loved one that has passed on. The soulful color illustrations complement the story perfectly, which alternates between standard text and scratchy, handwriting-style words of Grace's journal. Am I Like My Daddy? has a fair amount of text; beginning readers may need a little assistance from a parent in following the story. A final set of tips for remembering a loved one such as "Create a scrapbook with pictures or objects that remind you of your loved one" rounds out this excellent, emotional resource.

The Cookbook Shelf

Little Chef Cooks
L.T. de Geest
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475287455 $9.95

Little Chef Cooks: I Can Cook, Too! Level 1 is a softcover cookbook filled with recipes that young people can enjoy learning how to prepare. As a "level 1" cookbook, Little Chef Cooks includes recipes with fewer ingredients, requiring a maximum of three skills (such as "assembling", "slicing", or "measuring"); all recipes are quick to make and ready-to-eat. Adult supervision is still expected, and Little Chef Cooks painstaking marks certain tasks as "Adult Only", such as pouring hot, melted chocolate out of a bowl, or cutting ricotta cheese into wedges. Other steps are marked "Extra for Experts"; these are ideal for older children who have more coordination and kitchen familiarity, such as using a (blunt) table knife to cut strawberries into chunks, or tearing lettuce into small pieces. Playful, scribbled illustrations enliven this slim yet fun and easy-to-use resource parents can use to give children hands-on kitchen experience! Individual recipes include Avacado Dip, On the Trail Mix, Pinecone Bird Feeder, Honeyed Ricotta, Ciabatta Fingers, Little Chef's Salad Platter, and more.

Kensie Cooks
Tesha Vann, author
Anne Attinger, illustrator
Privately Published
9781479317417, $7.99,

"Kensie Cooks: the Pickiest of Pickies" is a fun story about an imaginative young chef with her own cooking show, and secret magical ingredient, Zesty. Kensie's challenge is to make healthy food appealing for her picky eaters' panel, the cheese king, the green -eyed jester, and the pink princess. Kensie manages to win over her panel with Zesty's help, serving Super Salad Kabobs and Pretty Cool Pizza. Recipes for these and more picky-appealing foods are at,, plus the recipe for Pretty Cool Pizza is found at the end of the book. "Kensie Cooks" is spunky and imaginative, with quirky, color cartoon-like illustrations. It will definitely make inroads to the Pickies of all ages, encouraging kids to try new, healthy foods and to experience making foods with their families.

The Gardening Shelf

It's Our Garden
George Ancona
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street
Somerville, MA 02144
9780763653927 $16.99

Award-winning author and photographer George Ancona presents It's Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden, a children's picturebook following an elementary school class through the seasons as it raises flowers and vegetables in an educational school garden. "On special afternoons and weekends, the garden becomes a place where the school community gathers. Students come back with their parents, sisters, brothers, grandparents and friends. Tehy compost, seed, plant, transplant, weed, water, and dig. By now, the flowers are blooming and the beds are green. The garden is flourishing with so much care." While the text describes garden activities at length, It's Our Garden isn't meant to be an explicit "how-to" book, but rather a celebration of the fun and learning that can come from getting one's hands dirty! The lovely, full-color photography on every page makes It's Our Garden a joy to browse, and a treasure for parents and teachers to share with little ones.

The Hummingbird Garden
Evelyn Schwarz, author
Kitty Quinn, author
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432798154, $16.95,

"The Hummingbird Garden" is a delicately illustrated story about a girl who discovers the magic of planting a garden for hummingbirds in her new home. It is also a story about the magic of sharing. Six year old Alexis recently moved from a city apartment to a suburban home with a backyard. Through a fence peephole, she admires the flowers and trees and tiny colorful birds with hovering wings in her neighbors' back yard. Her parents tell her it is a hummingbird garden, and they decide to try to plant another one to please Alexis. However, the neighbors' son, Tyson is upset about their proposed project. He is afraid the hummingbirds from his backyard will all leave and go to the new garden in Alexis' yard. In the end, both gardens are done and more hummingbirds than ever fill and overflow both gardens. Tyson learns a lesson about sharing. "You never know where sharing can go. You might make a new friend. It works out in the end (p. 30)!" Simply but eloquently written, this charming book about nature and sharing is attractively presented to be shared with children age 6 and up.

Zack's Zany Zucchiniland
Sandy Baker, author
Amanda Baker, illustrator
Black Garnet Press
PO Box 2914
Santa Rosa, CA 95405
9780983238317 $17.95

Zack's Zany Zucchiniland is a children's picturebook about a young boy who is unhappy because he lives all the way out on Zebra street, far away from his friends. To pass the time, Zack investigates the joy of gardening, by planting and raising his own zucchinis. But the crop flourishes so much that he has more zucchini than he knows what to do with! Perhaps a Zucchiniland Stand is the answer? Zack's Zany Zucchiniland features vibrant, cartoony illustrations, and a recipe for zucchini bread on the inside front cover, and is a great storybook for budding young gardeners! Also highly recommended is author Sandy Baker's previous picturebook packed with gardening fun, "Mrs. Feeny and the Grubby Garden Gang" (9780983238300, $15.95, Butterfly Books, illustrated by Jim DeWitt) about a rambunctious group of kids who learn the basics of gardening from their gruff yet warm-hearted neighbor.

The Social Issues Shelf

Dan is Not Scary
Melissa DiGenova, author
Maggie Cousin, illustrator
TnT Classic Books
360 West 36th St., #2 NW
New York, NY 10018
9781886586208, $12.00,

"Dan is Not Scary" is an honest, vividly presented book about how young children can be taught to deal compassionately with differently abled children, who may present as "scary" on first impression. Six year old Sarah is excited about her upcoming birthday party, anticipating fun with friends and family, including her 10 year old brother Dan whose birth trauma has left him differently abled from other children. Dan talks very slowly and has less control of his arms and legs, and he uses a wheelchair to move about. He has normal intelligence and can communicate well, just differently. When Sarah's party guests first meet Dan, they point at him and ask what is wrong with him. They even say Dan is scary. Sarah gets angry because of their thoughtless rudeness and leaves her party temporarily. Her parents intervene, and Dan does some of his explaining independently. Gradually Sarah's friends learn to accept Dan without discourtesy and Sarah is able to return to the fun of her party. "Dan is Not Scary" is perfect material to help educate children age 5 and up about accepting differences in others. Sensitive color illustrations also show different racial characteristics in the children of the story, helping another area of acceptance of and celebration of differences.

Adventures in Mobile Phone Land Series: Terrance Texter
Marie-Antoinette Burrell
Parrhesia Enterprise
PO Box 364, Rex, GA 30273
c/o Max Communications (publicity)
2865 Lenox Road #302, Atlanta, GA 30324
9780985026301 $14.95

Intended to teach a valuable lesson to children ages 4 and up, Adventures in Mobile Phone Land Series: Terrance Texter is a softcover, rhyming children's picturebook for the modern era, in which personal cell phones are an ubiquitous - and distracting! Colorful art shows the kindly queen Miss Toadd instructing her subjects about the basics of responsible cell phone use. "Citizens of Mobile Phone Land / seem to text and drive a lot. // This causes bad things to happen, / Miss Toadd is working to make it stop." As texting and social media become more prevalent, it's never to early to teach young people about the importance of paying attention while they walk or drive! "This should really be number one. / When something bad is going on, / share the bad news with a grown up, / A.K.A. an ADULT." Terrance Texter is enthusiastically recommended as a storybook that is educational as well as entertaining, and a great way for parents to teach young children about a basic safety practice that protects people's lives.

Laura Pedersen, author
Penny Weber, illustrator
Tilbury House
103 Burnswick Avenue, Gardiner, ME 04345
9780884483373, $16.95,

The family get together time seems so often lost to many of us. "Unplugged" is a children's picturebook following young Ella on her crusade to get her family back from the technology ruling their lives. With a strong message of keeping a family strong through all of life's many distractions, Laura Pedersen and her illustrator Penny Weber make "Unplugged" is a strongly recommended children's picturebook with a solid moral to the story.

Bud the Spud
Adam Byrn Tritt, author
"Java John" Goldacker, illustrator
Axios Press
PO Box 118, Mt. Jackson, VA 22842
KSB Promotions
55 Honey Creek Ave NE, Ada, MI 49301-9768
9781604190625 $16.95

Bud the Spud is a picturebook that pulls no punches about the danger of vegging out to too much TV. Young Bud is so fascinated by television and its myriad channels that his friends and family can't pry him off the couch. He watches so much that he literally turns into a potato spud! And then what? Well, there's three possible endings, some far more squeamish than others. In one ending, Bud is planted in the yard and grows potatoes for the family; in another, Bud is prompted to go outside and play, and being active gradually restores him to his normal self; and in the third, Bud is made to come to the family picnic - by being chopped into pieces and made into potato salad! "His friends took a bowl of him to the swings. At last! Bud did something other than watch TV." Bud the Spud is a great read-aloud picturebook that parents can share with children to encourage them to watch less TV and have more fun!

The Science Shelf

Draw Plus Science
Freddie Levin
Peel Productions, Inc.
Vancouver, WA
c/o KSB Promotions
55 Honey Creek Ave NE
Ada, MI 49301-9768
9780939217915 $8.99

Draw Plus Science is a softcover book that encourages creative young minds to supplement learning about basic science with simple sketching, drawing, and art activities. Draw Plus Science is not designed to be a consumable book, and is therefore best enjoyed along with a drawing pencil and plenty of scratch paper. Simple activities touch upon flower studies, basic measuring and recording, variety in leaves, climate and conditions, how birds and other creatures adapt through evolution, and more. Children are encouraged to draw animals and environments with an eye toward realism; the step-by-step sketch instructions are extremely accessible to budding artists of all skill and experience levels. "A butterfly and a moth look a lot alike. Careful OBSERVATION helps us to see differences. Butterfly antennae are thin and have a swollen tip. - Moths have feathery antennae. Butterflies rest with their wings folded upright. - Moths rest with their wings opened flat..." Highly recommended.

Budding Biologist: Am I an Insect?
Kristine Duehl, author
Katy Castronovo, illustrator
Budding Biologist
9780985548100 $11.99

The first book in the "Budding Biologist" series about the basics of science, Am I an Insect? is a softcover picturebook that teaches young readers how to identify insects and distinguish them for other creatures. Colorful illustrations and a simple question-and-answer format encourage the mind to start thinking in terms of classifications. "Is a spider an insect? No. A spider has more than six legs. Can you count how many?" Educational and entertaining, Am I an Insect? is highly recommended for children's science-themed picturebook collections.

The Environmental Shelf

And the Tide Comes In...
Merryl Alber, author
Joyce Mihran Turley, illustrator
Taylor Trade Publishing
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200
Lanham, MD 20706
9780981770055 $15.95

And the Tide Comes In... Exploring a Georgia Salt Marsh is a children's picturebook in which a young girl shows her visiting cousin the beautiful local salt marsh, and teaches her about its ecological complexity, including the twice-daily tides that submerge it! From the life cycles of shrimp and snails, to roaming raccoons and skittering crabs, the salt marsh is shared by a wide variety of amazing and busy animals! The story is told in the style of a friendly narrative, supplemented with fact-filled sidebars. "All salt marshes are covered by salty water brought in from the ocean during high tide, and exposed to the air during low tide. Although the particular plants and animals found in marshes do differ from one area to another, they are all shared by land and marine animals, and they're all covered by grasses that can withstand getting flooded by salt water." Wonderful color illustrations enhance this enjoyable and educational treasury, highly recommended especially for public library children's collections.

Make a Splash!
Cathryn Berger Kaye & Philippe Cousteau
Free Spirit Publishing
217 Fifth Avenue North, Suite 200
Minneapolis, MN 55401-1299
9781575424170, $13.99,

The oceans and wetlands of the world hold much of the wildlife that many young people love, but it may prove to be in much danger. "Make a Splash! A Kid's Guide to Protecting Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands" encourages kids to do what they can for the environment if they love the rivers and oceans, stating the moves they can make against pollution, climate change, oil spills, and other threatening disasters. "Make a Splash!" is a strong addition to kid's pets and wildlife collections, much recommended.

Tears For Nanertak
Skip Hofstrand
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781478720812 $29.95

Tears for Nanertak is a children's picturebook that adds a heart-wrenching personal touch to the ongoing crisis of global climate change. Nanertak is a polar bear cub; he and his mother Nanuck are in jeopardy because their Arctic homeland is vanishing - the polar ice cap is warming, and their icebergs and ice floes are melting away. Nanertak and his mother undertake a difficult journey in an attempt to survive, yet it is only a most unexpected rescue from a ship's captain and crew that saves them, and finds them a new home in an Arctic Zoo. "When people read of the Polar bears' journey and their melting homeland, they cried tears for Nanertak. / drip... / drip... / drip... / Nanuck soon realized the children were the only hope for a cold future in the Arctic once again." Beautiful watercolor illustrations lend an air of majesty this emotionally moving storybook.

The Big Field
Anne Morddel
KWS Publishers
9780982690079, $17.95,

A Christmas heat wave is only some of the oddities a child in South America sees. "The Big Field: A Child's Year Under the Southern Cross" is a beautiful journey into the Atlantic rainforests of South America and the natural sights and sounds youths would see living there. Blending art and lilting prose, "The Big Field" is a strong addition to children's picturebook collections with an environmentally-friendly flare.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Wisdom the Midway Albatross
Darcy Pattison, author
Kitty Harvill, illustrator
Mims House
1309 S. Broadway
Little Rock, AR 72202
9780979852182 $11.99

Wisdom the Midway Albatross is a softcover children's picturebook about a long-lived female Laysan Albatross. Beautiful, realistic color artwork (including adorable pictures of young albatross chicks!) fills this serious, true-life story about the many perils Wisdom has faced, from predators, to tidal waves, plastic litter (some albatrosses eat indigestible plastic, which builds up in their stomach and kills them), longline fishing hooks, winter storms, and much more. Scientists banded Wisdom at a young age, and kept track of her through her storied life. Some fun facts about Wisdom, the Laysan Albatross species, and the world's oldest birds round out this captivating story. Highly recommended, especially for young nature lovers!

Does Dixie Like Me?
Helen Kamins and Rob Dinsmoor
Art 2000
9781478217350 $11.99

Sketchy, black-and-white illustrations on every other page pepper Does Dixie Like Me?, a softcover children's picturebook about adopting a rescued dog - that is, an animal that has survived trauma or abuse. The narrator tells of attempting to befriend the rescued dog Dixie, the loving if somewhat nervous and skittish pet of his friend Helen and her two boys. Dixie appears to have led a hard life before being adopted from a shelter - she is constantly aware of everything around her, and easily spooked. But with patience and kindness, the author slowly gains Dixie's trust. A handful of tips about adopted dogs such as "Don't feel hurt if they don't bond with you at first" and "Kneel down, squat, or sit near them so that you are more at their level" round out this edifying book. Does Dixie Like Me? is also "A Picture Hunt Book", in that the back cover features fourteen images from the illustrations that young people are encouraged to search and locate. Does Dixie Like Me? is especially recommended as a teaching tool to prepare young people for the potentially difficult yet rewarding process of befriending a rescued animal. (A portion of sales from "Does Dixie Like Me?" will be donated to animal welfare.)

Chester the Chesapeake Book Four: My Brother Buck
Barbara Ebel, M.D.
Privately Published
9781480204126 $11.95

Chester the Chesapeake Book Four: My Brother Buck continues this excellent picturebook series from the point of view Chester, a devoted therapy dog and family pet. In My Brother Buck, a kindly neighbor calls Chester's owner about a friendly and rambunctious dog. When no one answers the lost dog advertisements, Chester has a new brother named Buck - a big, friendly, fifty-pound dog in need of a little training! Told from Chester's perspective and illustrated with captivating, full color photography of Chesapeake, Buck, their canine sibling Putt-Putt and their feline sibling Kittie, My Brother Buck is a most enjoyable read-aloud story especially for young animal lovers. "Most dogs should be fixed by the vet, so they can't have more puppies. It's sad when dogs don't have a home." Also highly recommended are the previous books in the series, "Chester the Chesapeake (Book One)", "Chester the Chesapeake: Summertime (Book Two)", and "Chester the Chesapeake: Wintertime (Book Three)".

A Horse Named Viking
Caroline Akervik
Melange Books, LLC
9781612353555, $13.95,

Even the most savage of beasts can be soothed. "A Horse Named Viking" tells the story and bond that forms between a rough and unruly horse and the American horse trainer who tamed him. Anne and Viking form a bond that must endure all around them trying to crush the both of them, making "A Horse Named Viking" a choice bit of fiction for those who are horse-enthusiasts.

Young Chicken Farmers
Vickie Black
Beaver's Pond Press
7108 Ohms Lane
Edina, MN 55439
9781592985555 $16.95

Young Chicken Farmers: Tips for Kids Raising Backyard Chickens is a hardcover picturebook designed to help teach young people the basics of taking care of baby chicks, adolescent pullets, and adult chickens. Captivating color photography of beautiful (and surprisingly cuddly!) chickens is paired with handy, plain-terms practical instructions, such as these guidelines for taking care of mail-ordered baby chicks: "When you get them home, remove the chicks, one by one, from their box. Carefully dip each chick's beak in water to help it start drinking. Then release it in the warm brooder. Once all the chicks are drinking, you can add special chick food using a chick-sized feeder." Young Chicken Farmers is a "must-have" especially for any family with small children and backyard chickens!

The Sports Shelf

Puckster's New Hockey Teammate
Lorna Schultz Nicholson, author
Kelly Findley, illustrator
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9781770494558, $6.99,

A new friend is always welcome. "Puckster's New Hockey Teammate" is a children's picturebook as Lorna Schultz Nicholson and illustrator Kelly Findley come together to show how Puckster, an enthusiastic young Hockey player needs to find a replacement for his team before the big game against the Coyotes. It's easier said than done, but much is learned about friendship. With a strong Canadian flavor, "Puckster's New Hockey Teammate" is a strong pick for young readers seeking a story of friendship and sportsmanship.

The Art Shelf

Coppernickel Goes Mondrian
Wouter Van Reek
Enchanted Lion Books
Studio M-18, Brooklyn, NY 11201
9781592701193, $15.95, www/

Artists allow for very different ways of seeing the world. "Coppernickel Goes Mondrian" is a picturebook that draws homage to abstract artists as Wouter Van Reek creates a picturebook in tribute to the styles of artist Piet Mondrian, following Coppernickel as he helps Mr. Quickstep find what may be the future. "Coppernickel Goes Mondrian" is an enticing blend of art into a children's picturebook format, recommended.

The Health Shelf

The Case of... Itch and Rash
Erika Kimble, author
Laurel Winters, illustrator
Bandages & Boo-Boos Press
9780985950804, $14.95,

Why do we itch? "The Case of... Itch and Rash" is an entry into the Malcolm Finney Medical Detective Series, which follows Malcolm as he tries to help his friend learn just why she is itching so much. With plenty of practical advice for young people in dealing with itches and good advice for health and hygiene as well as getting along with others, "The Case of... Itch and Rash" is an excellent pick for those who want an educational children's picturebook.

The Story of the Great Pumpkin Man
Dr. Kirk Rossiter & Sofia Rossiter
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781469179896, $21.99,

With the growing obesity problem in America, many are looking for any way to encourage healthier eating. "The Story of the Great Pumpkin Man" is Dr. Kirk Rossiter's and his wife Sofia's attempts to encourage better Halloween habits as Elena pursues sweets and learns why she doesn't need them when the piles of Halloween candy begins to show up. "The Story of the Great Pumpkin Man" is well worth considering for children's picturebook collections.

I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder)
Chynna Laird, author
Richa Kinra, illustrator
Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
978161599159, $15.95,

"I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD" is an explanatory manual about kids (and parents of kids) who have Sensory Processing Disorder for kids age 5-8. "I'm Not Weird I Have SPD" explains in detail what it feels like to be a kid with SPD. Written by a parent of a child with SPD, "I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD" is poignant, descriptive, empathetic, and nonjudgmental. It clears up many misunderstanding of the symptoms and characteristics of SPD. It also gives helpful clues and tips to parents, teachers and caregivers of children with SPD to help them make better sense of their experiences of the world. A resource to adults and kids, "I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD" lists recommended "sensational" activities, common questions and answers about SPD, and information about the SPD Foundation at, "I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD" presents needed information about the experience of SPD kids from the viewpoint of the child, and is a valuable tool for parents and teachers of children who are suspected of having SPD.

The Poetry Shelf

Surviving Seventh Grade
Glenn K. Currie
Snap Screen Press
6 Dwinell Drive
Concord, NH 03301
9780977967575 $19.95

The sequel to "A Boy's First Diary", Surviving Seventh Grade continues author Glenn K. Currie's whimsical rendition of adolescent trials and tribulations, told through a medley of brief verses. Some wry poems touch upon issues such as learning about girls and getting "the talk" about the birds and the bees! Although "Surviving Seventh Grade" is written from the perspective of a young adult, readers of all ages will enjoy its tongue-in-cheek humor, sure to evoke memories of what it was like to be young. "Other Thoughts on Girl Stuff": When Billy was "borrowing his sister's bra / He said he found something else in there. / He said his sister has / Some really weird stuff. // One thing had hooks in back like a bra. / But then the front part / Hung down with two long straps / Attached to it. // We were thinking maybe / They were like suspenders for girls, / To help them keep their pants up / When they didn't wear a belt. // Then we looked it up in the Sears catalog. / They actually use it to keep their stockings up. / Girls have some pretty strange things. / And they all hook in the back.

26 Poem-Stories About Animals
Tom Guy Pettit, author
Peter O'Malley Pierson, illustrator
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470136376, $14.98,

Poetry can be used to tell a story just like anything else. "26 Poem-Stories About Animals: A to Z Aardvark to Zebra" is a collection of poetry and pictures as Tom Guy Pettit presents a poem for every letter of the alphabet, accompanied by illustrations by Peter O'Malley Pierson. "26 Poem-Stories About Animals" is a choice addition to any children's book collection with a focus on wildlife or animals.

The Self-Help Shelf

Monday Morning Leadership
Evelyn Addis & David Cottrell, authors
Matt Loughmiller, illustrator
Cornerstone Leadership Institute
PO Box 764087, Dallas, TX 75376
9780982124604, $19.95,

Taking charge of one's life can be done as a young person. "Monday Morning Leadership for Kids" is a children's book from Evelyn Addis & David Cottrell as they present a tale using their characters Paw Paw & Baxters as Paw Paw advises Baxter on how to be there for one's friends, and how to encourage oneself and others. "Monday Morning Leadership for Kids" is a choice pick for those who want an inspirational picturebook for young people.

What We See and Don't See
Robert Guarino, author
Jeff Jackson, illustrator
Hoopoe Books
PO Box 176, Los Altos, CA 94023
9781933779812, $15.99,

Is perception reality, or is there more to our sights than we know? "What We See and Don't See" is an exploration of the senses and our world, as Robert Guarino teams with illustrator Jeff Jackson to bring young readers into a fun ride through their senses and what they see and hear out of their lives, humoring them with activities to help them explore their senses and go beyond what they can and cannot do. Uplifting and highly educational, "What We See and Don't See" is a must for teen psychology and self-help collections, not to be missed.

The Christian Shelf

Bible Detective
Peter Martin, author
Peter Kent, illustrator
Lion Children's
c/o Lion Hudson plc
Wilkinson House, Jordan Hill Road, Oxford OX2 8DR, England
Trafalgar Square Publishing (distribution)
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9780745962764 $14.99

Bible Detective is a "puzzle search book" - that is, a picturebook depicting crowded, detail-filled scenes in which young viewers are encouraged to spot lots of different things, including a wily fox nestled within each two-page spread! Each scene depicts a moment in the life of a figure from the Old Testament, such a Noah in ancient Mesopotamia or Abraham's nomadic encampment. Artist Peter Kent draws upon archaeology as well as the Bible to make the depictions as realistic as possible, and the brief text educates young people about the Bible's stories. "The people of Israel faced many enemies as they tried to settle in Canaan. A warrior named David finally defeated them all, and he became the people's king. His most famous battle was when he was just a shepherd boy and he defeated Goliath, the champion of the Philistines." Bible detective is not meant to be consumable (although a child could theoretically circle all of the found pictures with a writing instrument), and has a visual picture-find answer key in the back. Highly recommended, especially for Sunday School library collections.

A Star to Follow
Christopher Freiler, author
Michael Garman, illustrator
Little Creek Press
5341 Sunny Ridge Road
Mineral Point, WI 53565
9780984924592 $17.95

A Star to Follow is a thought-provoking children's picturebook about the Melchior the Prince, and later King, and the events of his life leading up to the moment when he witnessed the newborn Jesus Christ, along with his close friend Caspar and his former enemy Balthazar. As a prince, Melchior reluctantly pursued a war against Babylon, a choice that ultimately cost the lives of his beloved wife and son. Though Melchoir and Babylon's ruler Balthazar were able to reconcile, Melchior remained bereft with grief from his terrible loss. Then one night a shining star appeared in the heavens, pointing the way to a savior... and the hope of redemption for all humankind. Profound and emotionally moving, A Star to Follow is ultimately a tale of God's eternal love, highly recommended for parents and children to share.

The Berenstein Bears Good Deed Scouts to the Rescue
Jan & Mike Berenstain
c/o Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310734178, $9.99,

Good deeds are never wasted. "The Berenstain Bears: Good Deed Scouts to the Rescue" is a beginning readers book of the famous Berenstein Bears series, compiling three of the tales aimed at new readers who are just starting to grasp the language and writing. Following the adventures of the Good Deed Scouts as they face three endeavors, "The Berenstain Bears Good Deed Scouts to the Rescue" is a strong addition to any compilation of children's Christian picturebook collections, highly recommended.

My Whole Self Before You
Susan Case Bonner
Kid Niche Publishing
1142 Carlisle Rd, Traverse City, MI 49696
9780985271206, $18.95,

Teaching prayer often proves difficult for many Christian parents. "My Whole Self Before You" is a prayer guide for parents who want to better educate and inspire faith in their children, using verse, photography, and much more with tips on parents on teaching their kids how to better pray. With plenty of lessons and activities to consider, "My Whole Self Before You" is well worth considering for Christian children and parenting collections.

Forever You
Nicole Lataif, author
Mary Rojas, illustrator
50 Saint Pauls Avenue
Boston, MA 02130-3491
0819827088, $12.95,

Ourselves is the whole of our existence. "Forever You: A Book About Your Soul and Body" a Christian children's picturebook defining the soul from a Christian perspective and our seeking of what it means, and how the soul is a picture of who we truly are and what we see out of our lives. With warm art and a warm message, "Forever You" is a strong pick for Christian youths, highly recommended.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

No Year of the Cat
Mary Dodson Wade & Nicole Wong
Sleeping Bear Press
315 E. Eisenhower Parkway, Ste. 200
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781585367856, $16.95,

The Chinese Zodiac follows twelve years named after twelve animals...but why those twelve? "No Year of the Cat" delves into Chinese folklore and devises a story where animals compete in ancient China to have years named after them, where twelve will receive that honor. The cleverness of the rat foils the cat, denying them of the honor. "No Year of the Cat" is a fun delve into Chinese history and folklore, recommended.

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

Two lovely 'Folk Tale Classics' picturebook collections by Paul Galdone come attractively packaged in a set that includes four picturebooks and an eye-catching, illustrated slip cover and provide fine read-aloud and early reader fairy tale basics suitable for any beginning collection. KEEPSAKE COLLECTION (9780547852775, $19.99) includes THE THREE BEARS, THREE LITTLE KITTENS, TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE and THE LITTLE RED HEN and offers lovely hardcovers illustrated with gorgeous drawings throughout. HEIRLOOM LIBRARY (9780547852768, $19.99) includes THREE LITTLE GIS, THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF, LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD and THE GINGERBREAD BOY and provide lovely folk stories with traditional themes. The gift packaging and brightly illustrated covers and pages assures they will become keepsakes for a new generation!

Crabtree Publishing Company
350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 3308
New York, NY 10118

Reading levels K-1 and up to grades 3 will find this collection of 'Tadpoles: Fairytale Jumbles' chapter books exciting, offering simple and fun retellings of classic fairytales for kids. Hilary Robinson and Simona Sanfilippo's THREE PIGS AND A GINGERBREAD MAN (9780778780267, $17.95) tells of three pigs who bake all day and have fun - until a wolf comes by and tries to blow their house down. Good thing the cookie of the day is a wily Gingerbread Man! The same authors provide a remake of Goldilocks and the Wolf (9780778780236), telling of the unusual pairing up of Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks who decide to have a picnic until a party-crashing wolf joins in. Their SNOW WHITE AND THE ENORMOUS TURNIP (9780778780243, $17.95) outlines a garden-loving Snow White and the problem faced when one of her turnips grows so big it gets stuck. It'll take seven dwarves to help - and possibly a handsome prince to boot. Their THE ELVES AND THE EMPEROR (9780778780250, $17.95) tells of too many worn-out shoes and an emperor who wants something just a little different for his royal feast. Alan Durant and Leah-Ellen Heming's OLD MOTHER HUBBARD'S STOLEN BONE (9780778780311, $17.95) tells of a missing dog bone and an investigation into a Nursery Crime that involves a cross mother. Their LITTLE MISS MUFFET'S BIG SCARE (9780778780304, $17.95) tells of a disappearing Miss Muffet leaving only curds and whey behind, and how the townsfolk managed to rid themselves of the cruel Miss. Their LITTLE BO PEEP'S MISSING SHEEP (9780778780298, $17.95) tells of missing sheep: did they escape, or were they kidnapped? And their HUMPTY DUMPTY'S GREAT FALL (9780778780281, $17.95) tells of a broken egg who may have been pushed off his wall. The combination of intrigue and fun, combined nursery rhyme themes makes this series a winning, different approach from the usual fairytales!

The Multicultural Shelf

Gift Days
Kari-Lynn Winters, author
Stephen Taylor, illustrator
Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited
195 Allstate Parkway
Markham, Ontario L3R 4T8
9781554551927, $18.95,

The harshness of life in many nations around the world denies youths the chance to reach their potential. "Gift Days" tells the story of young Nassali, an African girl weighed down with chores without the presence of her mother. Wanting to learn, but not having the time to, she looks up to her brother who can go to school. When her brother frees her from chores once a week and helps teach her what he's learned, she finds ways to improve her and her family's future. "Gift Days" is a moving story on the power of education and its place to uplift society, a choice addition to children's picturebook collections with an international focus.

Emmas American Chinese New Year
Amy Meadows
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432786946, $12.95,

Adopted into a new family, Emma will learn much about her native culture. "Emma's American Chinese New Year" is a children's picturebook telling of Emma, who was adopted from China to American parents who help her celebrate her heritage every year with the Chinese New Year, bringing her to cultural centers and celebrating in their own way. "Emma's American Chinese New Year" is a choice read for cross-cultural families, recommended.

Viku to the Rescue
Debu Majumdar
Bo Tree House
1749 Del mar Drive, Idaho Falls, ID 83404-7461
9780983222729, $12.99,

Friendship is friendship, no matter the circumstance. "Viku to the Rescue: A Story from the Forests of India" is a collection of stories about an Indian boy and his friendship with a young elephant as the face the dangers of the forests and those who wish to exploit it out of their own greed. With a warm art style and a powerful story of friendship, "Viku to the Rescue" is not to be missed for children's picturebook collections with an international scope.

The Picturebook Shelf

Kayak Girl
Monica Devine, author
Mindy Dwyer, illustrator
Snowy Owl Books
c/o University of Alaska Press
PO Box 756240
Fairbanks, AK 99775-6240
9781602231887, $12.95,

"Kayak Girl" is a beautiful illustrated Alaskan story about Jana, a girl whose sadness due to her mother's death has caused her to withdraw. Although it is summer, she no longer enjoys playing outside, picking up pebbles on the beach, drawing sand pictures with her story knife, or help catch red salmon in long billowy nets on the river. Jana's grandfather visits her and tries to help her rejoin her life, but she eludes his attempts. Finally he carves her a special wooden figure of a girl on a kayak. Perceiving she takes no interest in the carving, he tells her he will take her home with him up the river, then he will set her a-sail on the river. Jana must go down to the river every day to watch for her carved wooden kayak girl's return. Secretly, her grandfather prays that Kayak Girl will help bring back Jana's spirit's return. While Jana awaits her Kayak Girl's slow return, she revisits many positive memories of her mother. After many delays, Kayak Girl finally arrives down the river to Jana, who now treasures her, repaints her, and sets her afloat again on the river, thanking her for bringing back her spirit. The wonderful, sensitive, paintings that illustrate "Kayak Girl" recreate the beauty of an Alaskan riverside landscape along with the beauty of treasured memories of a mother's love and care. "Kayak Girl" is perfect for kids age 7 and up, helping them to deal with issues of loss and restoration.

Didn't We Have Fun!
Hilda Robinson & Jeff Kunkel
Crickhollow Books
3147 S. Pennsylvania Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53207
9781933987170 $19.95

Gloriously illustrated throughout with vivacious, full-color paintings by author Hilda Robinson, Didn't We Have Fun! is a children's picturebook about day-to-day life growing up in an African-American community, well before the prevalence of television (let alone cell phones, the internet, or modern social media). The pages tell of young Hilda's four sisters and one brother, and their Philadelphia neighborhood of red-brick houses; the family worked hard at school, and played games when homework was done; sometimes the family would enjoy roller skating, or a picnic; and Sundays they attended church. "We spent lot of time at home up under the grownups, where we cuddled, giggled, read, and napped. We loved to sit in Mama's lap and fall asleep." Didn't We Have Fun! is lengthy enough that an adult parent may want to read the story aloud to young beginning readers; its overall impression is one of wonder and joy, celebrating the positive bonds that bring families and neighbors together. Highly recommended.

Slugo's Surprise
Nicki Hansen, author
Michael Murphy, illustrator
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468157956, $10.00,

"Slugo's Surprise" is a charming story emphasizing the values of teamwork, creativity in problem solving, and mutual support. Slugo is a banana slug who is very slow, but his friends, including a spider named Webster and a ladybug named Lady, are determined to help him arrive on time to celebrate his surprise birthday party. Best of all, Slugo's friends know he needs rain to be fat and healthy, so when it doesn't rain the day of his party, they find water from a hose belonging to the forest ranger. "Slugo's Surprise" is a delightful teaching tale, with fascinating bug/insect characters with lovable, descriptive names, like Bangs the grasshopper, Red the ant, Bite the mosquito, and Swifty the lizard. All these unusual friends pool their special talents to make a wonderful surprise birthday party for Slugo, even though it doesn't rain. Colorful character illustrations bring Slugo and his friends to life, and real attributes of the various creatures are woven into the story, "Slugo's Surprise" is perfect for kids age 7 and up, teaching constructive values and approaches to interactions between friends who are different.

Bubs the BumbleBee and the Spider's Web
Joyce Graham Fogwill, author/photographer
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432795863, $12.95,

"Bubs the BumbleBee and the Spider's Web" is a fantastic photo-illustrated nature story about real bumble bees and spiders. Second title in the BumbleBee series for children ages 6-10, "Bubs the BumbleBee and the Spider's Web" tells an amazing adventure Bubs and her family experience when they need to find a new home with lots of flowers, nectar and pollen. Bubs makes a dangerous journey to explore, discovering both new food sources and new dangers, spiders! Lots of very dangerous spiders! Incredible, magnified photographs of wildly colorful spiders, webs and flowers add realistic charm, danger, and allure to this real nature series. In the end, after many harrowing adventures and near escapes, Bubs and her BumbleBee family all are safe and on their way to a cozy new home in a hole in the rocks near the Crofter's garden, with lots of blossoming flowers, nectar and pollen. The moral is plainly underlined; be cautious when exploring unknown territory, and obey all safety precautions. This imaginative educational series is sure to stimulate an interest in nature and the diversity of spiders and species in the young readership.

Hippo and Monkey
Joshua Yunger
Bunker Hill Publishing Inc.
285 River Road, Piermont, New Hampshire 03779
c/o National Book Network (distribution)
4270 Boston Way, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781593731076 $19.95

Hippo and Monkey is a children's picturebook with a subtle moral about respecting one's friends. Beautifully illustrated with sweeping, bold-outlined and hand-colored linoleum cuts, Hippo and Monkey follows two friends in the jungle. Hippo likes to do hippo things such as roar and splash water, and Monkey likes to do monkey things such as frolic in trees. Sometimes Hippo roars at Monkey! Monkey becomes fed up with Hippo's periodic tantrums, and hatches a plan - he visits a human settlement and borrows a reflective "piece of the river", so that the Hippo can see what a fierce, roaring Hippo looks like! "Hippo didn't stop roaring or shaking around in the water because it was kind of fun... but Hippo never again roared at Monkey, and Monkey never again ignored Hippo." A kindly, heartfelt story, Hippo and Monkey can also be used to teach young people not to yell directly at their friends and loved ones. Highly recommended.

Lauren's Awesome Adventures
Nikki R. Porter, author
Irene Olds, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781467871471, $15.99,

"Lauren's Awesome Adventures" is a charming children's book about educational explorations of several sites in Georgia, creatively written in alliterative prose. Colorfully illustrated in fun, casual pictures that show intriguing skin tone differences in lead characters, "Lauren's Awesome Adventures" teaches third to fifth grade children valuable vocabulary skills in reading and imaginative concept construction while exploring fascinating experiences both outdoors and in. A vocabulary list and directions for tracing alliterations plus writing prompts are some of the home or school learning activities suggested in "Lauren's Awesome Adventure." More ideas can be found at,

Porcupine's Seeds
Viji K. Chary, author
Bridget McKenna, illustrator
World of Inc Network
4RV Publishing LLC
P,O, Box 6482, Edmond, OK 73083
9780983801849, $14.99,

"Porcupine's Seeds" is a magical teaching story, or fable about Porcupine and his attempt to grown sunflowers from seeds. Porcupine loves to visit the garden of his friend, Raccoon. He plays in the grass, eats apricots from the tree, and listens to the fountain's water sounds. Porcupine wishes he could grow a garden, but he has a brown thumb. Raccoon gives him some sunflower seeds, telling him they just need soil, water, and sunshine to grow. Porcupine has many amusing adventures attempting to plant his seeds where they will grow just right. Finally Porcupine gives up in despair, because he dropped the pot full of planted sunflower seeds and it broke. This is where the magic comes in. As time goes by, Porcupine finds that 5 sunflower seedlings have sprouted in his garden where the pot broke. Porcupine waters the sunflowers faithfully, and one day Skunk admires Porcupine's blossoming sunflowers. Eccentric, unusual color illustrations of Porcupine and his friends and garden make the humorous narrative even more memorable. "Porcupine's Seeds" is perfect to appeal to children ages 6-9.

Morris the Village Voice
Doris Rueger, author/illustrator
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475296358, $9.13,

"Morris the Village Voice" is a wonderful creative book about a popular village advertising column named Morris, who is slated for replacement by a glitzy neon signboard. Morris is very hurt by the village's proposal, and he asks the help of Anna and Jason, two children who know and love him. Morris actually sees a shooting star one night and prays: "Dear Guardian Angels, please protect me from harm and let all the village people honor and love me again! Amen!" Many creative themes of self acceptance, acceptance of help, cooperation to resolve obstacles and more are explored in this delightfully presented morality fable. Charming crayoned illustrations with multimedia touches add to the depth of the story, which will appeal to children ages 7-10.

Penny and the Penguin
Kirin Daugharty, author/animator
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781453895030, $9.99,

"Penny and the Penguin" is an unusual color illustrated story about the valiant efforts of a young girl to teach a penguin how to fly. When several of her creative efforts appear to fail, she is discouraged, but just at that moment, she realizes that the penguin has taken to water, and in the water, he flies. Excited, she runs off to rejoin her teacher and group to explain she has taught a penguin how to fly (in water)! Filled with fun illustrations and curious questions, "Penny and the Penguin" definitely encourages kids to "think outside the box. A few penguin fun facts are also included at the end, just enough to tantalize. "Penny and the Penguin" is great educational entertainment for kids age 5 and up.

Where Do Missing Things Go?
Cynthia Drew, author
Bill LaRocque, illustrator
Legacy Book Publishing
1883 Lee Road, Winter Park, Florida 32789
9781937952273, $14.95,

A totally charming versed narrative children's morality fable, "Where Do Missing Things Go?" is simply designed and color illustrated to appeal to reader ages 6-10. Many of the forest animals, including Archer Turtle, Sophie Skunk, Kasey Squirrel and Porter Fox have occasional but recurring problems of losing certain everyday items, such as keys, tissues, socks, etc. After a few pages of wondering about this puzzling phenomena, the animals decide to scatter and search for missing items. They conclude that loyal friends are the best, even if they are absent minded! Humorous drawings express the valued emotions felt, and the narrative verse keeps a spunky tone and movement in the story. "Where Do Missing Things Go?" has its share of reader surprises and hidden messages, uncovered by the devoted sleuth readers who will learn where to look for missing things in their lives.

The Teacher Who Would Not Retire Becomes a Movie Star
Sheila & Letty Sustrin, authors
Thomas H. Bone III, illustrator
Blue Martin Publications
823 Aberdeen Road
West Bay Shore, NY 11706
9780979291869 $17.95

The Teacher Who Would Not Retire Becomes a Movie Star is the fourth book in the popular "The Teacher Who Would Not Retire" series, following the adventures of energetic, high-gumption Mrs. Belle, who proves that age is no barrier to embarking on new adventures! Bright, colorful cartoony illustrations fill this engaging story in which Mrs. Belle is nominated in an "Everybody's Favorite Teacher" contest and wins. The prize? A biography of her life will be filmed in her home town, with Mrs. Belle playing herself! The text of this uproarious and cheerful story is sufficiently detailed to appeal to young people who are almost ready to move on from picturebooks to chapter books. The Teacher Who Would Not Retire Becomes a Movie Star is a treasury of whimsy and fun, highly recommended.

If I Had As Many Grandchildren As You...
Lori Stewart
Palmar Press
PO Box 6444, Carmel, CA 93921
c/o KSB Promotions (publicity)
55 Honey Creek Ave NE, Ada, MI 49301-9768
9780983929307 $19.95

If I Had As Many Grandchildren As You... is a rhyming children's picturebook in which Grand Paws, a wise lion of many years, gives valuable advice to a grandparent about the wonders of the world and adventurous activities to share with grandchildren. "I'd hang presents and popcorn and candy from trees, / so grandkids could pick them whenever they please! / We'd race around chasing big dreams and small bugs, / Then gather around for a round of group hugs!" Every other page is devoted to dazzling, full-color photography of wild animals, beautiful environments, or children at play. A fun read-aloud storybook, If I Had As Many Grandchildren As You... is highly recommended for grandparents (or any other family member!) and grandchildren to share.

My Father's Arms Are a Boat
Stein Erik Lunde & Oyvind Torseter
Kari Dickson, translator
Enchanted Lion Books
20 Jay Street, Studio M-18
Brooklyn, NY 11201
9781592701247 $15.95

Superbly translated from the original Norwegian by Kari Dickson, My Father's Arms Are a Boat earned the 2009 Norwegian Ministry's Culture Prize for the Best Book for Children & Youth, and was later nominated for the 2011 German Children's Literature Award. The story is from the perspective of a young boy who just can't sleep, and climbs into his father's arms. His father reassures him about the birds, about the foxes... and about his mother, who has passed on. The striking, paper-cut-out illustrations add an unforgettable touch to this poignant tale of love, loss, and comfort. Highly recommended.

Monkeying Around: Meet Chippey and His Friends
Kimberly Smith, author
Laura Goris, illustrator
The Artists' Orchard, LLC
P.O. Box 113317, Pittsburgh, PA 15241
9780984316663, $14.98,

"Monkeying Around" is a fun, interactive reading experience for young readers age 3-6 and their parents. A perky story about a stuffed monkey who becomes real when immersed in the bathtub, "Monkeying Around" has multiple opportunities for fun reading related activities for parents to enjoy with their children. Some of these ideas include pre-reading discussions about monkeys, what they like to eat, habitat, etc., and also suggestions for changing fun vocalizations and volume to express the details of the story. Other activities include singing a song, "We All Enjoy Monkeying Around" and making banana bread together. Sisters Kenna and Callie thoroughly enjoy their time monkeying around with Chippey, and other young readers will like it too. Creative crayoned or penciled illustrations add to the fun and humor of "Monkeying Around." A copy of the song and the recipe for banana bread is included in "Monkeying Around," and further reading related activities are available at, "Monkeying Around" is a great approach to increasing awareness that young children's first teachers in reading are their parents.

The Knife and the Fork Go Dancing
Traudi Allen, author
Rob Cowan, illustrator
Balboa Press
9781452504476 $16.95

The Knife and the Fork Go Dancing is a softcover children's picturebook encouraging the values of friendship and tolerance over selfishness and petty squabbling. Both the (butter) knife and the fork have a vital job to do in helping a young boy eat his food. But each one thinks it is more important than the other! Their relentless bickering upsets the gentle spoon, who separates them on either side of the plate and questions how all their arguing, scratching, and bending makes them feel. The knife and the fork realize that arguing isn't fun at all, and begin to reconcile... and then they learn that if they lean on one another, they can lift themselves up and dance! Colorful illustrations bring vibrant life to this lovely parable.

Joyce Grant, author
Jan Dolby, illustrator
Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited
195 Allstate Parkway
Markham, Ontario Canada L3R 4T8
9781554552504 $18.95

Gabby is a charming children's picturebook about a young girl who is putting her books away, when suddenly a book tumbles out of her hands and its letters spill everywhere. As Gabby rearranges the letters, the things they spell out spring to life! First C-A-T spells a cat, then Gabby assembles F-I-S-H to give the cat a seafood meal, and then B-I-R-D creates a bird! But what is Gabby to do when the cat and the bird won't get along? A charming read-aloud story ideal for getting little ones interested in forming their own spelled-out words, Gabby includes a couple pages of fun word-related activities at the end. Highly recommended.

She Sells Sea Shells
Kenneth K. Guilmartin
Illustrated by Bruno Merz
Music Together LLC
66 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ 08542
9780985571924 $12.95

Part of the "Singalong Storybook" series, She Sells Sea Shells transforms the classic tongue-twister into a delightful children's picturebook. Parents and children are invited to share the rhyme while singing to music; the accompanying tune is available both in the form of song sheets included within the book, and as a free download with purchase through She Sells Sea Shells lends itself to fun and read-aloud cognitive development with or without the music, and the friendly, cartoon-style color illustrations add just the right touch of lively playfulness. Also highly recommended is Music Together's other book for little ones ages 1-6, "Hello, Everybody!" (9780985571900, $12.95).

I Like Old Clothes
Mary Ann Hoberman, author
Patrice Barton, illustrator
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor
New York, NY 10019
9780375869518 $16.99

Former Children's Poet Laureate Mary Ann Hoberman presents I Like Old Clothes, a rhyming children's picturebook about the joy of dressing up and playing with other people's worn-out clothing, and imagining the lives of the people who used to wear it. "It's hard to tell / Who'd look well / In a yellow dress, / Who would look a mess / In a red-striped hat. / 'Was she thin or fat? / Did she have a cat?' / I ask them that." The whimsical color artwork adds a delightful touch to this rhythmic read-aloud story of the fun that can be had with the simplest of treasures. Highly recommended.

Chasing Watermelons
Kevin White, author
Rex White, illustrator
Chimeric Press
5299 Rau Road
West Branch, MI 48661
9780984712236 $15.95

Chasing Watermelons is a cheery, simple children's picturebook about five farm animal friends who cooperate to chase down some rolling watermelons so they can share a watermelon feast! The story gets zanier and zanier as the watermelons roll and bounce into a train, a boat, and even a plane, but each time one of the friends has an idea to keep up the pursuit! The zany and whimsically illustrated adventure culminates in the promised watermelon feast. Chasing Watermelons is a brief yet fun read-aloud story, ideal for parents and children to share while sounding out simple words.

The Making Of The Platypus Philharmonic Orchestra
Eliana Joy Barnett
Marsten Publishing Group
1750 West Ogden Avenue, #5308
Naperville, IL 60567
9780982067802 $18.95

The Making Of The Platypus Philharmonic Orchestra is a charming children's book, in which text pages alternate with colorful drawings of a mysterious race of musically inclined platypuses at work. The story follows twelve-year-old Penelope, who stumbles across the intelligent race of gifted platypuses on Australia's King Island, and encourages them to hone their instrumental talents. But what will their animal audience think of their first concert performance? A joy to read aloud and share, The Making Of The Platypus Philharmonic Orchestra has enough text to make an ideal transitory read for young people who are just about ready for chapter books.

The Shopkeeper's Bear
Janie DeVos, author
Rebecca Evans, illustrator
Red Engine Press
15 Torrey Pines
Laguna Vista, TX 78578
9781937958213 $14.95

The Shopkeeper's Bear is a lovely, rhyming picturebook about a bear who gets stung one too many times while foraging for honey - so she decides to get a day job instead! She works for a nearsighted shopkeeper, who mistakes her for a human woman. The bear works diligently (despite the occasional ursine mix-up), but what happens when she has to order a brand new pair of glasses for her employer? Colorful illustrations add the lightest surreal touch to this playful story of learning to adapt and accept. Highly recommended.

Dreaming of Colorado
Grant Collier, text and photography
Stephanie Lowman, illustrator
Collier Publishing LLC
9781935694069 $12.95

Dreaming of Colorado: A Bedtime Story is an imagination-fueled tour of Colorado's incredible past. Young Cosmo the Cougar Cub doesn't want to go to sleep, until his mother reminds him that dreams can be fun, too. And what an exciting dream he has! His animal friends ride with him on a canoe that travels through time; he sees dinosaurs, volcanoes, Native Americans, and an intrepid prospector; each vision correlates to real events in Colorado's storied history. Brilliant color illustrations in a unique, eye-catching style, juxtaposed with beautiful photography, bring this engaging storybook to life. Dreaming of Colorado is a wonderful adventure ideal for sharing with little ones just before naptime.

Jon and the Soggy Leaf
J.S. Jenson, author
Megan Hagel, illustrator
Beaver's Pond Press
7108 Ohms Lane
Edina, MN 55439
9781592985739, $13.95,

The time of leaves falling is a so brief period of the year. "Jon and the Soggy Leaf" is a story of young Jon as he faces the closing of his favorite season of the year, Fall. As he learns why Fall must be such a short period of the year, his understanding is beautifully illustrated by Megan Hagel as J. S. Jenson tells the story. "Jon and the Soggy Leaf" is a very much recommended addition to children's picturebook collections, not to be missed.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
Sherri Duskey Rinker & Tom Lichtenheld
Chronicle Books
680 Second Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
9780811877824, $16.99,

Everything needs its rest, even the titans at a construction site. "Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site" tells the story of a construction site shutting down, its machines resting from their exertion of moving things as day turns to night, in preparation for the next day to come. "Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site" is an enticing read around picturebook that heavily embraces rhyme with an excellent art style, much recommended.

Night Sky Wheel Ride
Sheree Fitch, author
Yayo, illustrator
Tradewind Books
202-1807 Martime Mews
Vancouver, BC Canada V6H 3W7
978189680678, $16.95,

The Ferris wheel takes people way above the world below for a time, allowing them dominion over the heavens. "Night Sky Wheel Ride" is a children's picturebook telling of a brother and sister's ride to the top of the Ferris wheel and giving them a look at the world below them, and the stars above. With a vivid and impressionistic art style from Illustrator Yayo, "Night Sky Wheel Ride" is a charming and much recommended read along picturebook.

Good Night, Little Sea Otter
Janet Halfmann, author
Wish Williams, illustrator
Star Bright Books
13 Landsdowne Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
9781595722775, $15.95,

With so much of the world to see and experience, going to sleep often is the furthest thing from our minds. "Good Night, Little Sea Otter" is a children's picturebook as a young sea otter prepares for bed, and tries to bid all the denizens of the sea a good night as she fades into the night in her mother's arms. "Good Night, Little Sea Otter" is an excellent choice for any parent seeking a soothing bed time story for read along time, much recommended.

The House That Wanted a Family
Susan Spence Daniel
Inspiring Voices
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781462400812, $13.99,

Loneliness is terrible, as one is often left waiting for an opportunity to break free. "The House That Wanted a Family" is a story of a house waiting for a family to live in it, as it waits for months and years for a family to finally come and live in it. Desiring the livelihood of a family, it is a story of homes and the search for one. "The House That Wanted a Family" is a charming pick for picturebook collections.

Hooligan Bear: A Special Day
Ian Toynton, author
Andrea Dietrich, illustrator
Big Tent Books
115 Bluebill Drive, Savannah, GA 31419
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781601311313 $18.95

Hooligan Bear: A Special Day is a lively children's picturebook following the adventures of a rowdy group of teddy bears that live in an abandoned toy factory. Hooligan and his fellow bears have become family to one another, and they cooperate to cheer up Little Louie, who is depressed because he's never had the chance to experience a birthday party of any kind. Together, the teddy bears visit a distracted baker, and take just the right moment to slyly acquire a cupcake (that the baker was about to throw away) to help Little Louie celebrate! Cheerful, minimalist-style color illustrations bring to life this enchanting picturebook ideal for young teddy bear fans.

George Held, author
Joung Un Kim, illustrator
Filsinger & Company
288 West 12 Street, 2R, New York, NY 10014
9780916754266, $20.00,

Our neighbors are more than the people on the other side of the fence. "Neighbors: The Yard Critters Book 2" is a children's picturebook with poetry and artwork focusing on the critters that live their lives around their home. From the bugs to the birds to the creatures that call the ground their home, "Neighbors" is an excellent blend of arts with much charm for young people as well as their parents, not to be missed.

The Llamas of ShangriLlama
Sharon "Mama Llama" Brucato, author
Patrick Williams, illustrator
7 Day Health Publishers
9780977221912, $16.99,

Taking a pile of llamas under one's wing is harder than one thinks. "The Llamas of ShangriLlama" is a children's picturebook from Sharon Brucato as she tells the story of Tommy and his efforts to learn everything he can about Llamas so he can have some raise and keep and the humor that comes with keeping his Llamas. A story about llamas and responsibility, "The Llamas of ShangriLlama" is a choice pick for youth picturebook collections, recommended.

Good News Nelson
Jodi Moore, author
Brendan Flannelly-King, illustrator
Story Pie Press
20084 Valhalla Square, Ashburn, VA 20147
9780984217830, $14.99,

Hearing about the news is one thing, doing something about it is a whole different animal. "Good News Nelson" is a children's picturebook following paper boy Nelson who clashes with mean old Mrs. Snodberry. With the challenge that no one cares anymore, Nelson tries to get people to care and rise to his calling and make a difference and shift even the most down people's hearts. "Good News Nelson" is a fine children's picturebook about what young people can do to change their world.

The Tree That Bear Climbed
Marianne Berkes, author
Kathleen Ritz, illustrator
Sylvan Dell
612 Johnnie Dodds, Suite A2
Mount Pleasant, Sc 29464
9781607185376, $9.95,

What makes a tree so appealing to climb? "The Tree That Bear Climbed" is a charming children's picturebook from Marianne Berkes, as she presents a twist on the tale The House That Jack Built, following bear as he ascends a tree and sees everything that the tree has to offer him as he climbs its heights. "The Tree That Bear Climbed" has a strong appreciation for nature, a worthy consideration for those seeking children's picturebooks.

Meg the Egg
Rita Antoinette Borg
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466353145, $9.50,

You can't stay hidden from the world forever. "Meg The Egg" follows young Meg as she tries to hide beneath her egg and her momma all her life, only when her mother is stolen, she has to break out and do what she can to rescue her mother. With a strong message of facing one's fears, "Meg the Egg" is a powerful and recommended pick for children's picturebook collections.

Kumak's River
Michael Bania
Graphic Arts Books
PO Box 3225, Durango, CO 81302
9780882408866, $16.99,

In the far north, family bonds remain strong, even if visits are an adventure in themselves. "Kumak's River: A Tall Tale from the Far North" is a children's picturebook from Michael Bania as he tells the story of Kumak and his journeys to visit his family as he lives in the far north. As the river's ice breaks and flows away, he usually visits his family, but when the ice breaks and jams the river, trouble may come for Kumak and the village. "Kumak's River" is an excellent read for youth picturebook collections, highly recommended.

Kai and the Magic Jacket
Tricia Chinn Campbell
Blissful Thinking Publishing, LLC
9780615585055, $11.95,

With magic comes pressure to use that magic wisely. "Kai and the Magic Jacket" is a children's picturebook as young Kai is gifted a magic jacket that encourages him to make the right decisions throughout his life for himself and those around him. "Kai and the Magic Jacket" comes with a strong message of hope, and is a choice pick for children's picturebook collections seeking something with an Asian flavor.

Today I Am A Princess!
Jill Cikins
Naampedia, LLC
100 Riverside Boulevard, Suite 6
New York, NY 10069
9780984706402, $15.00,

Being a princess is more than just being adorable. "Today I Am A Princess!: For the Little Princess In All of Us" presents stories of how everyday a young girl can be a princess and spread the joys and lights of princesshood in their own way and for their life, taking touches on mythology and spirituality in the process. With plenty to inspire, "Today I Am A Princess!" is a treasure for those seeking inspirational books for young people.

Clarion Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003

Adam Rubin's THOSE DARN SQUIRRELS FLY SOUTH (9780547678238, $16.99) is illustrated by Daniel Salmieri and tells of a lovely summer when birds visit his backyard and he can paint them - unless darn squirrels get in the way. The birds fly south when fall arrives - but what do they do? The squirrels and painter Fookwire are determined to find out in this zany story packed with unexpected twists and turns and hilarious moments. Margaret Mahy and Polly Dunbar's THE MAN FROM THE LAND OF FANDANGO (9780547819884, $16.99) tells of a magical musical man who loves to share treats and play with his friends - and who uses his imagination to share his fun. Kangaroos, dinosaurs and a crazy birthday join in a fun primer! Cece Meng's BEDTIME IS CANCELLED (9780547636689, $16.99) tells of a note informing all that bedtime is no more. Parents disregard the note, which wafts out the window and lands on a reporter's desk. The result is a revolutionary news report that will change the world in this whimsical account of bedtime's change.

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

Henry Cole's UNSPOKEN: A STORY FROM THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD (97805454399975, $16.99) is a wordless picture book that provides the story of a young girl who discovers a runaway slave hiding in her family's barn. Will she help the slave find freedom? Black and white line drawings lend to a compelling unspoken story about a difficult decision. Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's TABBY MCTAT THE MUSICAL CAT (9780545451680, $16.99) tells of a musical cat who loves his life with Fred, singing songs as people throw coins in their hat. When Fred has an accident the two are separated and both their lives change. Lovely illustrations contribute to a fine story of growth and reunion. Harry Bliss' BAILEY AT THE MUSEUM (9780545233453, $16.99) tells of a dog's trip to the Museum of Natural History where Bailey loves to dig up bones. He holds special interest in the dinosaur bones but a guided tour of the museum keeps landing him in trouble: how can he come to see the bones as more than dinner? A whimsical, fun story from the creator of the comic strip Bliss (which also features Bailey) will delight all ages. Andrey & Don Wood's WHAT TIME IS IT? IT'S DUFFY TIME! (9780545220897, $16.99) tells of an entertaining pug dog whose day revolves around naps and food. Clocks are included in the illustrations that describe Duffy's day, reinforcing time-telling skills and offering a fun accompaniment to the story of Duffy and his adventures. All are lovely additions to any picturebook collection.

The Fiction Shelf

The Portsmouth Alarm: December 1774
Terri A. DeMitchell, author
Mayhaven Publishing, Inc.
P.O. Box 557, Mahomet, IL 61853
9781932278927, $16.95,

"The Portsmouth Alarm: December 1776" is a historical novel for juveniles age 10-16 about real events that led to the American Revolutionary War. Based on information in an article by Thomas F. Kehr titled "The Seizure of His Majesty's Fort William and Mary at New Castle, New Hampshire, December 14-15, 1774," "The Portsmouth Alarm: December 1774" explores historical events from the viewpoints of three fictional characters, Andrew Beckett, Jack Cochran, and Joseph Reed. They present at least two outlooks on the oncoming conflict; patriot and loyalist, in substantial complexity. The nonjudgmental approach to the presentation of historical facts allows readers to arrive at independent conclusions and reactions. Chronicling a very tumultuous and confusing time in the history of the North America, "The Portsmouth Alarm: December 1774" will challenge and engage readers in a re-evaluation of historical foundations, actions, and events.

The Adventures of Little Mouse (Life Outside the Mouse Hole)
Sherri Williams, author
Floyd Ryan Yamyamin, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781477229378, $21.99,

"The Adventures of Little Mouse (Life Outside the Mouse Hole) is a collection of 12 chapter stories about the importance of family in making wise choices. Each color illustrated chapter explores a tempting situation or conundrum confronted by Little Mouse, who experiences natural consequences of his choices, wise or not. Thus many lessons are quietly demonstrated, why you should pick up after yourself, why you can't always buy everything you think you need, why choosing a safe path is better in the long run than a dangerous shortcut, etc. The author was inspired to write "The Adventures of Little Mouse" by watching some of the experiences and lessons faced by her daughter as she was becoming an independent adult. An interesting added feature of "The Adventures of Little Mouse" is a special quilt kit designed by the author, with images reflecting the 12 teaching chapters, which can be gotten at Both the quilt kit and the completed quilt can be purchased online. Part of the proceeds from book sales go to benefit third world orphanages. "The Adventures of Little Mouse" can be enjoyed by children ages 6 and up with parents.

Mr. Mushh and the Shop-Robber, Episode One
Rosemary Miller, author
Derek Bacon, digital illustrator
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466463035, $13,99,

"Mr. Mushh and the Shop-Robber" is episode one of a planned series about an unusual young hero with super powers, set in New York City, New York. Mr. Mush is an intriguing, nondescript, little character who often escapes notice because he is small. His name is an acronym: M stands for mighty, U stands for understanding, S stands for super, H stands for helper, and H the second stands for (of) humanity. So his name describes his identity as a super hero. Although Mr. Mushh is small and unassuming, he can magically grow to a magnificent size in time of need, because he is big and strong and compassionate by nature. Children ages 5-10 and up will enjoy identifying with this unusual hero because he begins as nondescript, but grows to an awesome size when emergencies activate his special powers. Needless to say, "Mr. Mushh and the Shop-Robber" is an action packed page turner that holds reader interest. Based on an actual event that happened to the author when she owned a shop in New York, "Mr. Mushh and the Shop-Robber" is a great example of juvenile super-hero fiction. Exciting digital illustrations add to the book's appeal, and a series of questions and answers about New York are included at the end for further interest.

Jamie Bastedo
Red Deer Press
c/o Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited
195 Allstate Parkway
Markham, Ontario L3R 4T8
9780889954557, $12.95,

Breaking from the flock, one invites trouble, and adventure. "Nighthawk!" is a novel following Wisp, a young nighthawk who breaks from his colony and seeks to go further than any bird before him. His daredevil nature goes against his deficiency of not being able to read the stars like his fellow bird, but not letting such things top him from his dreams. "Nighthawk!" tells a story of dreamers and wanderers, sure to resonate with readers young and old.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel
Jeff Kinney
Amulet Books
c/o Abrams
115 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
9781419705847, $13.95,

No one likes to be an outsider. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel" is another entry in the critically acclaimed series, following a Valentine's Day dance at school. Greg scores a date at the last minute, but his friend Rowley doesn't. With an extra person to bring along, a date doesn't seem like the best of things, and love makes everything volatile. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" is an enticing exploration of youth life, a must read for a kid of any age, highly recommended.

The Epic Tales of a Misfit Hero
Matt Peterson, author
Bonneville Books
c/o Cedar Fort
2373 W. 700 S., Springville, UT 84663
9781599559995, $8.99,

"The Epic Tales of a Misfit Hero" is a kicky, spunky story about an LDS 12 year old boy named Andrew who is challenged to overcome his label as "weak and simple" in a harrowing camping adventure with a group of young friends. Faced with a coming of age time of discovery, Andrew and his friends discover hidden resources and abilities and even heavenly help when they cope with being lost in the wilderness, a raging flood, a seriously injured adult chaperone, and even a pesky hungry bear. Fast paced action adventure alternates with inspirational religious thought in this appealing tale of a boy becoming a man facing adversity with friends. Humor laced and solidly packed with sound morals, "The Epic Tales of a Misfit Hero" opens a new world of daily life for the adventurous young reader. A satisfying rescue ending results in community and church acclaim for Andrew and his motley crew of misfit heroes.

Take a Bow
Elizabeth Eulberg
c/o Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway
New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545334761, $9.99,

Fame and stardom is often sought, but how much is it worth with the price of friendship? "Take a Bow" is a young adult novel set at a performing arts school. Emme, a songwriting prodigy feels overshadowed by partner and best friend Sophie, who basks in the fame of their work. With the pursuit of two boys in their sights, things grow tense between them and learn much about the importance of friendship. "Take a Bow" is reading well worth considering for young readers with their own dreams of talent and fame.

Shelly Dickson Carr
New Book Partners
48 Ware Road, Newton, MA 02466-1401
9781939003003, $19.95,

A trip to get coffee shouldn't end in Victorian England. "Ripped" is a young adult historical adventure following Katie Lennox who finds her twenty first century youth self placed in 1888, when the reign of Jack the Ripper's terror hangs over England. But she knows things the constables don't, and could stand to bring an unsolved case to justice. "Ripped" is a fun read of action and mystery, highly recommended for young readers.

The Rescue Team
Billi Tiner
Tiner Books
9781478318156 $7.99 print / $2.99 Kindle

The Rescue Team is a novel for preteen young adults about two rescued furry friends who work together to help another in need. Ellie is a beautiful black-and-white dog who was abandoned at an animal shelter until a loving woman named Anne adopted her; Toby is a kitten who stumbled across Anne's porch during a thunderstorm. The two devoted animals and their mistress become fast friends. When they hear an emergency broadcast announcement that a little girl has gone missing in the woods near their home, Anne, Ellie, and Toby form a resilient rescue team! But how will the team fare in the wake of devastating tornado? The Rescue Team is a warm-hearted tale of friendship and dedication, highly recommended especially for young animal lovers.

Samuel Sails 'Round The Horn
Lynn Glaze
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781475928754, $10.95,

Being out on the open sea forces you to learn about life quickly. "Samuel Sails 'Round the Horn" follows the young man as he tries to cash in on the Gold Rush of California, and in the process joins a sailing crew and learns a lot about the world. A coming of age historical tale, "Samuel Sails 'Round the Horn" will resound with many a young adult reader, recommended.

The Strange Tale of Ben Beesley
Matt McNeil
Moxie Books
9780615585512 $14.99

The Strange Tale of Ben Beesley is an adventure novel for preteen young adults, about a fly named Ben who undertakes a quest to save his close friends from the venom of a ruthless spider. Yet the story is also a cathartic allegory for the suffering of author Matt McNeil's family; both his children have been diagnosed with Sanfilippo syndrome, also known as MPS III, a rare disorder that has no cure and is typically fatal before age twenty. Proceeds from The Strange Tale of Ben Beesley will be donated to the National MPS Society ( to support research into this severe condition. The Strange Tale of Ben Beesley is a moving tale of courage in the face of seemingly impossible odds - a moral that applies soundly to everyday life for people with MPS III and their families - and is highly recommended.

Changing Genes
Jack Branson & Mary Branson
Apt Word
PO Box 119, 2300 Bethelview, Rd., Ste. 110
Cumming, GA 30040
9781478345176, $9.99,

To experience the world from the eyes of another teaches much about the world. "Changing Genes" focuses on the tormented relationship of school bully Mark and victim Elliot. Tossed into a cruel partnership in the chemistry lab, a substitute appears and uses the world of chemistry to challenge the pair and understand the pain that is felt by all of us. "Changing Genes" is a strong addition to youth fiction collections, recommended.

Adventures of the Tornado Kid
Rakesh Malhotra
NetWorlding Publishing
c/o News & Experts (publicity)
3478 Turman Loop, Suite 101
Wesley Chapel, FL 33544
9780983812883, $12.95,

There are many values we have and share...but can often forget. "Adventures of the Tornado Kid" is a novel from Rakesh Malhotra, following James, who deals with the pain a tornado hitting his town, and worse, his parents forgetting his birthday. As his community is in shambles, he works with his friend Alisha to help his town pick up the pieces and regain the values that brought them together in the first place. "Adventures of the Tornado Kid" is a fine pick for youth readers, recommended.

Operation Cool
Jody Lamb
Scribe Publishing Company
29488 Woodward Ave., Suite 426
Royal Oak, MI 48073
9780985956202, $7.99,

Being cool is all about just being cool. "Easter Ann Peters: Operation Cool" tells the story of seventh grader Easter Ann and her personal makeover to become cool. As she tries to shrug off her shy personality, she catches the eye of a boy she's had her eye on and realizes being cool can be harder than she expected. A story of facing youth's troubles with plenty of humor, "Eastern Ann Peters: Operation Cool" is a strongly recommended pick for teenagers and young adults facing their own problems with cool.

Little Jane and the Nameless Isle
Adira Rotstein
9781459704206, $12.99,

The daughter of famed pirates, Little Jane is out to make a name for herself on her own merits. "Little Jane and the Nameless Isle" is a novel of adventure and treasure, as daughter of Long John Silver and Bonnie Mary Bright, Little Jane, is out to recover her parents treasure as pirate hunters have captured her parents and may force them to uncover their riches. Adventure, fantasy, and plenty of fast paced action, "Little Jane and the Nameless Isle" is something adventure lovers of all ages can enjoy, highly recommended.

Sky High
Patricia Reilly Giff
Random House
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780385742740 $12.99

SKY HIGH is a chapter book adding to the 'Zigzag Kids' series illustrated by Alasdair Bright and telling of Charlie, who has lots of ideas for inventions - even if they are amazing flops. The Inventing Fair is coming up quickly and Charlie needs time to make something special. After-school adventures, experiments gone awry, and a host of fun adventures make for an easier reader for grades 2-3; especially for prior fans of the ZigZag Kids series.

Truancy City
Isamu Fukui
TOR Teen
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765322630 $19.99

TRUANCY CITY provides the final, third volume in an epic young adult series begun by a teenager, and is a special pick for collections seeing popularity in the others. Mature teens will relish the conclusion which opens as the war is drawing to a close and the Truancy has almost overwhelmed the City. A new player is about to enter the battle for control of the City - one which has the power to subjugate students and Truants alike. Individuals on each side tell their stories of their changing world in the conclusion to a trilogy that questions the educational system, how students are turned into unquestioning citizens, and how totalitarianism grows from these educational paths. Collections holding the other volumes must have this riveting conclusion!

Apollo's Outcasts
Allen Steele
59 John Glenn Drive
Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616146863 $16.95

Apollo's Outcasts comes from a notable science fiction writer who tells of one Jamey, crippled since childhood as a result of having been born on the Moon. Jamey lives in a wheelchair and is only free when he's in the water, but when his father sends him back to the Moon to escape a political coup in the U.S., he becomes a refugee as well. Jamey will have to learn a new life on the moon in a mining colony: one which requires him to walk for the first time, and become a productive member of society. He soon finds himself in the middle of a military struggle reaching from Earth to his new home in this riveting science fiction saga, perfect for any teen science fiction fan.

Houghton Mifflin/Clarion Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin Company
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003

Karen Cushman's WILL SPARROW'S ROAD (9780547739625, $16.99) tells of liar and thief Will Sparrow, who is running away from his life penniless and without family or friends. Elizabethan times serve as the backdrop for a young hobo who sets out to change his life and explore the world, only to find himself repeatedly tricked by those older and wiser than he. What results is a powerful story of a spunky young man steeped in the culture of his world and times. Lois Lowry's 'The Giver' series appears in newly repackaged hardcovers and provides a fine keepsake collection of the trilogy plus its companion for any who would obtain lasting copies of this Newbery-winning classic. Start with the companion to The Giver, GATHERING BLUE (9780547995687, $17.99), which tells of a gifted crippled girl who is orphaned and must fight against a brutal society that sees her as worthless. Spared from certain death by a Council who wants to use her mystical talent, Kira begins to realize her strengths and self-worth. THE GIVER (9780547995663, $17.99) tells of Jonas, who lives in a supposedly idyllic community where life is rigidly arranged for the benefit of all and nobody asks questions about the organization. Everyone obeys - so there is no conflict - until Jonas begins to question his world and is received a special assignment to study under a mysterious old man known only as the Giver. His evolution will not only take a different course but will change humanity in this warm, moving and unique tale. MESSENGER (9780547995670, $17.99) provides another companion story centering around one Matty, who is guided by a blind Seer's visions and carries messages through a Forest that he alone can pass through. His desire is to earn the title Messenger - but when danger seeps into the village, Matty must journey to the forest to find Seer's daughter Kira in the fine story. SON (9780547887203, $17.99) tells of a young girl who washes up on a shore: nobody knows she was a Vessel whose son was stolen from her. She was supposed to forget him; but she can't. A gripping saga involves a young girl's search for a lost child in this fine story.

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

Mark Steensland's BEHIND THE BOOKCASE (9780385740715, $16.99) tells of Sarah, who is spending the summer at her grandmother's house while her parents fix up the place to sell it. When she discovers an unfinished letter her grandmother wrote about a mysterious bookcase, the summer receives an uplifting charge of energy as Sarah finds herself immersed in a new world ala Lion, Witch and Wardrobe. With a talking cat as her guide Sarah faces adventures and struggles in both worlds in a summer she'll never forget. Julie Bourbeau's THE WEDNESDAYS (9780375868900, $16.99) tells of a village normal in all ways except on Wednesday, when most of the townspeople lock themselves indoors to avoid the strange things that happen, which takes the form of malicious mischief. Only max is too curious to follow the rules and stay indoors: he uncovers a dangerous plot that will change his life - and eventually enlarges the mischief to other days of the week. Is there any cure for Wednesday madness? A fine fantasy evolves for readers in grades 4-6. Julie Marillier's SHADOWFELL (9780375869549, $16.99) is for grades 5-7 and provides a fantasy telling of Neryn, who is orphaned and alone in the world, hiding a dangerous magical power that will enslave her if found out. She hopes to find friends in the Good Folk - but her search for friendship leads to a mysterious stranger and a long journey that could help or hinder her. A fine saga evolves. Shana Burg's LAUGH WITH THE MOON (9780385734714, $16.99) tells of teen Clare who is in denial about her mother's recent death and is stuck in the African jungle for months without phone reception and with a father who can't help her. She must learn a new language at school and soon becomes immersed in the very different lives of her fellow students, only to face danger when a sightseeing trip goes awry. Her struggle will eventually lead to healing in this warm novel of self-discovery. Christine Brodien-Jones' THE SCORPIONS OF ZAHIR (9780385739337, $17.99) tells of pre-teen Zagora Pym, who is in the process of realizing her dreams of becoming a desert explorer when she's invited to Morocco with her archaeologist father. What she doesn't expect is a healthy dose of intrigue, adventure, and a quest involving enchantment and a rogue planet moving closer to Earth. It's up to the Pym family and member of the Azimuth tribe to save a city and possibly the world in this involving saga. Michael D. Beil's THE RED BLAZER GIRLS: THE SECRET CELLAR (9780375867415, $17.99) provides a satisfying mystery revolving around Sophie, a member of the Red Blazer Girls who are noted for their detective work. When she finds a cryptic message hidden in an antique, she and her gang are led to a secret cellar and a dead man's private life in an engrossing detective saga packed with satisfying twists and turns.

The Bilingual Shelf

How Hollyhocks Came to New Mexico
Rudolfo Anaya, author
Nicolas Otero, illustrator
Nasario Garcia, translator
Rio Grande Books
925 Salamanca NW
Los Ranchos, NM 87107
9781936744121 $24.95

Award-winning author Rudolfo Anaya and award-winning santero (painter and carver of religious art) Nicolas Otero combine their creativity and love for all cultures in How Hollyhocks Came to New Mexico, a bilingual English/Spanish picturebook that blends original folktale and Christian parable. Set at the beginning of the New Testament, How Hollyhocks Came to New Mexico tells how the family of Jesus Christ escaped King Herod's wrath when Sueno the angel flew them to New Mexico. There, they met the Pueblo people, and learned new ways of cooking and using herbs to heal the sick. Jesus aided the people when they were in need, and when the time came to return home, he and his family worked to assemble a ladder tall enough to summon Sueno's attention. "'I have something to do before we leave,' said Joseph. He planted his shepherd's staff into the ground. 'A gift to the people of this wonderful country,' he said... Summer rains came and colorful hollyhocks sprouted from Joseph's staff." A delightful fable of multicultural acceptance, beautifully illustrated in vivid color, How Hollyhocks Came to New Mexico is highly recommended.

My Big Sister
Samuel Caraballo, author
Thelma Muraida, illustrator
Pinata Books
c/o Arte Publico Press
University of Houston
4902 Gulf Fwy, Bldg 19, Rm 100
Houston, TX 77204-2004
9781558857506 $16.95

Ideal for young people ages 3 to 7, My Big Sister / Mi Hermana Mayor is a bilingual English/Spanish picturebook about the bond between two latchkey siblings and their family. While their parents sew "jeans for the whole world", older sister Anita looks after her little brother Pablito. She makes him breakfast, takes him to the school bus, picks him up when his bus drops him off after a long day at school, helps him with his homework, and plays soccer with him. After dinner, shower, and bedtime reading, their parents are finally home from work, and grateful to Anita for all her loving care. Colorful artwork enlivens this wonderful story that is sure to resonate with children rely on siblings another for help with meals and homework, My Big Sister is highly recommended.

A Mummy in Her Backpack
James Luna
Arte Publico Press
University of Houston
4902 Gulf Fwy, Bldg 19, Rm 100
Houston, TX 77204-2004
9781558857567, $9.95,

Even the dead seek a little adventure. "A Mummy in Her Backpack" is a bilingual novella presented in both English and Spanish as Flor returns from a trip to Mexico and finds a Mexican mummy in her backpack. The mummy Rafa though, may have miscalculated his trip, and now has to get back to Mexico before the day of the dead, and relies on Flor to return him. "A Mummy in Her Backpack" is a choice pick for any youth seeking a novella in two languages, much recommended.

Nathan and the Really Big Bully
Gerry Renert, author
Carrie Anne Bradshaw, illustrator
Raven Tree Press
1400 Miller Parkway
McHenry, IL 60050-7030
9781621670728, $16.95,

Standing up for oneself goes a long way. "Nathan and the Really Big Bully" is a bilingual English and Spanish story of Nathan the Hippo and dealing with bullies in their lives. Advising a friend to stand up to bullies, he faces his own bully and learns to stand up for himself without resorting to violence and cruelty. "Nathan and the Really Big Bully" is a thoughtful and recommended addition to picturebook collections especially those trying to teach English and Spanish to young readers.

Count Me In!
Cynthia Weill
Cinco Puntos Press
701 Texas Avenue, El Paso, TX 79901
9781935955399, $14.95,

A parade is a celebration few want to pass up. "Count Me In!: A Parade of Mexican Folk Art Numbers in English and Spanish" is a counting bilingual children's picturebook, showing aspects of traditional Mexican parade people, with fireworks, giants, and plenty of people. Using ceramic art from the Aguilar Sisters, "Count me In!" is a fine pick for those trying to teach multilingual learners counting and language.

Rocky's ABC Book
M.U. Salas-Tristan
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432793814 $29.95

Young animal lovers will treasure Rocky's ABC Book: With His Friends, a bilingual English/Spanish children's book that pairs letters of the alphabets with words and phrases relating to beautiful photographs of a variety of adorable pets! Rocky the Chihuahua is the star of the show, but other photos also feature a cute kitten, a flighty parrot, Rocky's mother Canela, a Xolo Mexican hairless dog, and much more. For example, the passage "C is for car. Rocky likes to ride in the car. Do you like to ride in the car?" is illustrated with a picture of Rocky cheerfully looking out of a car's window. An English/Spanish vocabulary on the final page rounds out this easy-to-read book filled with cute pictures from cover to cover.

The Judaic Shelf

Mushy Red Stuff
Faye Allison Gilbert, author
Leo Silva, illustrator
Mirror Publishing
6434 W Dixon St., Milwaukee, WI 53214
9781612251486, $9.99,

"Mushy Red Stuff" is an exciting Seder story for kids age 5-11. Eli is not excited about going to spend Passover Seder with his grandparents and family, but things have a way of surprising him. When Grandma passes some of the "mushy red stuff" to go with the Seder football fish, Eli's parents tell him and his brother Danny to keep their eyes on Grandpa. Amazingly, he takes one bite and blasts up out of his seat, zooming like a magic rocket! Eli decides Grandpa's Seder isn't so bad after all, and even a surprising kiss from his grandparent is a memorable experience, along with a promise to share his secret recipe for the "mushy red stuff," possibly horseradish sauce. The humor and action of "Mushy Red Stuff" and the youthful outlook of its protagonist make "Mushy Red Stuff" a keeper for young readers. Cultural diversity is made so much easier when readers enjoy identifying with a spunky guy like Eli.

Chanukah Guess Who?
Ariella Stern, author
Patti Argoff, illustrator
Hachai Publishing
527 Empire Boulevard
Brooklyn, NY 11225
9781929628681, $9.95,

The story of Chanukah is one of triumph through adversity. "Chanukah Guess Who?" is a lift-the-flap book asking readers to play along and learn about the story of Chanukah's story of resistance against oppression and the miracles that made it all possible. A choice read for younger Jewish readers to read along with about the holiday, "Chanukah Guess Who?" is not to be overlooked. Also from Hachai and Ariella Stern is "Purim Guess Who?" (9781929628735, $9.95) providing information on this holiday and continuing the lift-the-flap book format.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Ayun Halliday & Paul Hoppe
Schwartz & Wade Books
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1
New York, NY 10019
9780375865909 $15.99

Peanut is a black-and-white graphic novel (with a perpetual splash of red on the main character's clothing) about a young girl who has a hard time adjusting to life at a new school, surrounded by unfamiliar people. To fit in and make friends, she resorts to an unconventional lie, pretending to have a dangerous peanut allergy. But upholding the lie gradually becomes more and more complicated, building up to a crisis point - all at what cost? And if her lie unravels, will anyone ever talk to her again? Peanut is an excellent graphic novel not only for preteen and teenaged young adults; readers of all ages will find the story witty, insightful, and resonant. Highly recommended!

Gubby Builds a Boat
Kim La Fave & Gary Kent
Harbour Publishing
PO Box 219
Madeira Park, BC, Canada, V0N 2H0
9781550175912 $19.95

Ideal for young people ages 5 and up, Gubby Builds a Boat is a hardcover graphic novel the size of a picturebook, about a Canadian salmon fisherman Gubby, his nephew Cam, his cat Puss, and Gubby's good friend Minoru, a Japanese boat builder. When Gubby's old boat begins to take on water, Gubby asks Minoru to help build a new one. Gubby learns the many steps involved in creating a sturdy wooden gillnetter over the course of the winter! Delightful and educational, Gubby Builds a Boat teaches young people to appreciate the hard work and love that go into seaworthy vehicles. Highly recommended, as is previous graphic novel in the series, "Fishing with Gubby" (9781550174977, $19.95), which was shortlisted for multiple awards.

The Music CD Shelf

Got the Blues Music
11333 Moorpark Street #400, Studio City, CA 91602
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
130 Maywood Drive, San Francisco, CA 94127

Parent's Choice award-winning musician Steve Pierson and his band Jambo present their latest album Hootenanny, a joyful fusion of funk, bluegrass, and a touch of rock ideal for kindling a love of music in young people ages 4-9. Pierson himself is a master of the guitar and crooning the blues, while other band members add excitement on the drums, bass, keyboard, and additional vocals. The songs themselves are treasuries of feel-good funk with a positive messages about social virtues, from simply smiling to welcoming a brand new day to basic good manners and habits (such as not playing with one's food). Parents and babysitters who enjoy bluegrass-inspired music will also find that Hootenanny goes down smooth! The tracks are "Hootenanny", "Let's Be Friends", "Try", "Be Yourself", "Your Sweet Smile", "Brand New Day", "We Are All One Kind", "Come On By", "Space Monkey", "Don't Play With Your Food", "Ice Cream Soup", "Fearless Bill", "Groovy Day", and "Begin The Day Again".

Mr. Stinky Feet's Road Trip
Jim Cosgrove
Privately Published
c/o Sound Artist Support (publicity)

Award-winning children's music performer Jim Cosgrove presents a re-release of his album Mr. Stinky Feet's Road Trip, which had strictly limited exposure in 2005. A treasure trove of crowd-pleasing favorites, Mr. Stinky Feet's Road Trip is an upbeat, high-energy album with a theme of fun and games while traveling by car. As such, it's an excellent choice to help keep children entertained during family vehicle outings! The tracks are "Road Trip", "What Color Is Your Mini-Van?", "Gobble Across The USA", "Slug Bug", "Counting Cows", "Are We There Yet?", "We're Friends", "Stand Up!", "Peanut Butter", "Mr. Trucker", "Kickin' Down The Road", and "Daddy's Girl".

The DVD Shelf

Iris The Happy Professor, volume 3
Created by Henri Desclez
Delphis Films
c/o Organa Kids (distribution)
2203 Balsam Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90064

The third volume of Iris The Happy Professor continues this wonderful, educational DVD series ideal for preschool children. Created by award-winning cartoonist and animator Henri Desclez, and brought to life through the work of puppeteers from the popular "Fraggle Rock" television show, Irish The Happy Professor features the titular educated bird Iris (sporting a grand-size bow tie) and his friends including a piano, a plant, a skeleton, and the inquisitive Miss Principle. Together they teach young people basic science, with dancing and singing that encourages the viewer to sing along! The episodes of volume three "Seasons", "Fruits & Vegetables", "Hot & Cold", "Nature", "The Earth and the Sky", and "Minerals". Iris The Happy Professor is a choice pick for budding young minds, as a family-friendly gift or as a selection for public library children's DVD collections. 87 minutes. Also highly recommended are Organa Kids' previous two DVDs in the Iris The Happy Professor series, and their iPad interactive story and game app "Puppet Masterpiece Theater" featuring original music from Grammy winner Danny Elfman.

Sky Color
Peter H. Reynolds, author
Sisi Aisha Johnson, narrator
Ernest Troots, music
Weston Woods
c/o Scholastic
90 Old Sherman Turnpike, Danbury, CT 06816
0545523311 $59.95

Ideal for young viewers ages 4-9, Sky Color is the DVD adaptation of Peter H. Reynolds' picturebook celebrating creativity in art. When Marisol tries to paint the sky for a class mural, she finds the color blue is missing from her paint set. What is she to do? Original music by Ernest Troots and a bonus interview with Peter Reynolds enhance this charming story with a user-friendly "read-along option", highly recommended especially for grade school and public library children's DVD collections. 7 min., English subtitles, closed-captioned.

Dance Around the World
Hit Entertainment
c/o Lionsgate (distribution)
c/o Andrea Blain Public Relations
9750 Crawford Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076

Dance Around the World (61 min.) is a special computer-animated DVD featuring the popular mouse dancer Angelina and her friends, as they introduce young viewers to wonderful dances from around the world. From an Irish jig, to the Chinese Dragon Dance, to the French Cheddar Cheese slide and more, Dance Around The World is a multicultural celebration. Bonus features include a "create your own dance routine" game, and karaoke music videos. Highly recommended, especially for young girls' slumber parties. Also a choice pick for young people of both genders are "Barney: Let's Go to the Moon" (65 min., $14.98), a purple dinosaur adventure that taps into the power of imagination to explore the solar system, and "Thomas & Friends: Muddy Matters" (58 min., $14.98), in which the beloved engine characters learn that hard work can sometimes be a dirty job! All three DVDs are closed-captioned, and choice picks for gift-giving or public library children's collections.

The Multimedia Shelf

Maximus Musicus Visits the Orchestra
Hallfridur Olafsdottir and Porarinn Mar Baldursson, authors
Stella Arman, narrator
Music World Media
Orca Book Services (distribution outside the US)
9781937330170 $24.99 print
9781937330040 Apple ebook $24.99

Available as a print book and music CD, or as a multimedia ebook (with read-aloud narration and music) for the iPad/iPhone/iTouch and the Vox reader, Maximus Musicus Visits the Orchestra is a charming children's picturebook created by two professional musicians in the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. The story follows a rotund cartoon mouse, who stumbles upon an orchestra's performance while seeking shelter from the bitter winter cold. One thing leads to another, and Maximus is all but tossed around by the various instruments - yet as he experiences the grand music, he begins to appreciate the wonders of the beautiful sound, just like the enraptured audience! The accompanying CD features a few songs and a warm-hearted live narration by Stella Arman, and a final section in the book offers "Did you know?" fascinating facts about orchestral instruments and the dedicated musicians who play them, as well as Maxi's brief theme song in sheet music form. Both the story and the songs are skillfully translated into English, in this wonderful picturebook ideal for teaching young people about the joy of listening to fine music. Highly recommended.

The Military Shelf

Little Bird Dog and the Big Ship
Marjorie Haun, author
Stephen Adams, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781468560596, $21.99,

"Little Bird Dog and the Big Ship: The Heroes of the Vietnam War" is the first volume in a series on the story of Operation Frequent Wind, involving the armed services personnel of the USS Midway during the years of the Vietnam War. Little Bird Dog is a small Cessna airplane that helped to rescue South Vietnamese people for safety and deportation when the American Forces left Southeast Asia. So Aircraft Carrier Midway helped rescue thousands of South Vietnamese from the invading vindictive North Vietnamese. Bird Dog helps Major Bung Ly and his wife and family escape from South Vietnam to the Big Ship and on to America. Only through great danger and the cooperation of a wise captain, is the Bird Dog able to land on the deck of the Big Ship, already filled with helicopter and refugees. The crew actually had to move helicopters into the ocean to make room for Little Bird Dog and its precious cargo. A happy ending comes through many miracles of cooperation and support and Major Bung Ly's skilled piloting of the Bird Dog. "Little Bird Dog and the Big Ship" is a dramatic, illustrated documentary of a time of great heroism in April, 1975, at the close of the Vietnam War.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Dragon in the Christmas Tree
Patrick W. Ledray, author
Kim Gordon, illustrator
Romanian Dragons, LLC
1250 East Moore Lake Drive, Suite 240
Fridley, MN 55432
9780985356705 $16.95

Beautifully illustrated with warm, inviting colors, The Dragon in the Christmas Tree is a gorgeous children's picturebook about a tiny Romanian dragon who shelters for the winter in a family's Christmas tree - all told from the dragon's point of view. At first, the dragon passes (mostly) unnoticed as an unusual Christmas tree ornament, but when the family's matches are all soggy and they desperately need warmth, only the sparks from the little dragon's breath can kindle the fireplace and save the day! The reader-friendly text of this delightful story is detailed and complex enough to appeal to young people who are on the verge of graduating from picturebooks to chapter books. The Dragon in the Christmas Tree is a wonderful fantasy story for all seasons, highly recommended!

The Mythfitz: Unee the Unicorn
Nicholas Julius, author
Lisa Griffin, illustrator
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road
#515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432793654, $23.95,

"The Mythfitz: Unee the Unicorn" is an illustrated children's fantasy story based on the premise that the outcast MacDonald siblings discover a mythical fantasy world called Mythatania when they are cast off a boat and swallowed by the Loch Ness monster. The Mythfitz are a group of mythical children who find adventures together while trying to discover a way back home. First in this series, "Unee the Unicorn" has themes of self discovery, exploration, courage, and cultivation of creativity to combat obstacles. Unee has many interesting adventures while sightseeing in the Maze of Moan the Minotaur, who has ulterior designs on Unee's magical single horn. A dusting of serendipity, a component of chance, and continuing challenging action keep youthful interest high through Unee's quest to escape the maze of the Minotaur intact. Children in grades 2-4 will enjoy this exciting, unique fantasy, which is also presented in an award winning feature length screenplay.

Benotripia: the Rescue
McKenzie Wagner, aauthor
Brian Halley, illustrator
Sweetwater Books
c/o Cedar Fort
2373 W. 700 S., Springville, Utah 84663
9781462110148, $8.99,

"Benotripia: The Rescue" is a creative, engaging high fantasy adventure chapter book with definite appeal to juvenile readers age 10 and up. Written by a talented, imaginative author of eleven years, "Benotripia: the Rescue" is a story of danger, daring, and excitement. Caught in a war between two islands, eleven year old Roseabelle decides to rescue her kidnapped mother Danette, leader of Benotripia, with the fortunate help of special friends Astro, whose power is the ability to shoot silver lightning from his hands, and Jessicana, who is able to transform into a parrot. The three dig deep and find additional unknown resources and powers in the daring rescue attempt, and the outcome is never certain. Many fantastic characters, qualities, and powers and substances are encountered in this unusual odyssey and the author's creative ability to make up words and even language is most effectively displayed. Appealing to a middle school audience, "Benotripia: the Rescue" will challenge and intrigue readers, holding their interest to the exciting end. Discussion questions at the end can help in understanding character's motivations and challenges. Adventure and intrigue abound in this wildly fantastic tale that cries out for a sequel.

Gremlins, Genies and Trolls
Francine L. Trevens, author
Maggie Cousins, illustrator
T 'n' T Classic Books
360 West 36 St., #2NW, New York, NY 10018
9781886586185, $9.95,

"Gremlins, Genies and Trolls, Oh My!" is a delightful collection of 6 read-to-me fantasy bedtime stories from the creator of "Elfin Tales," "Pixie Tales," and "Fairy Tales Too." Every story has an important message clothed in a pleasant fantasy tale and setting. A favorite tale is Silver and Gold, a charming story about a little baby genie (who lives inside a book) who is empowered to grant a special wish for Lila and her mother, an impoverished homeless family stricken by many troubles and tragedies. Magination, the baby genie decides to try granting Lila's wish to give her mother a new dress by indirectly transforming her shorn golden locks to real gold. The story does not end with this magic, and it is most pleasing to note that the baby genie wishes to promote self respect and a sense of achievement and accomplishment in Lila and her mother, even though they desperately need help to struggle for independence in their lives. Silver and Gold ends happily with some surprising twists, planting the precious seeds of an idea of miracles that are self-empowering and restorers of compassion. "Gremlins, Genies and Trolls, Oh My!" is a quirky, creative collection that will help to bring out the best in children who are lucky enough to have it read to them.

Henry, Josh, and Harrison Herz, authors
Sean Eddingfield and Bill Maus, illustrators
Birch Tree Press
3830 Valley Centre Dr., Suite 705-432
San Diego, CA 92130
9780615602745, $10.95,

"Nimpentoad" is an engaging first chapter high fantasy book for children in grades K-5, written by two brothers age 10 and 12 with the help of their father. It has many delightful features to recommend it to a juvenile audience. First, it is exciting and fast paced, with colorful descriptions and imaginative illustrations of intriguing small, elf-like forest beings who are attempting to resolve problems relating to being bullied by other bigger beings. Second, there are powerful sub themes and messages about the value of cooperation, working together to achieve worthwhile goals, not giving up in the face of obstacles, and using imagination, teamwork, and creativity to problem solve. Further qualities that are to be emphasized and prized are perseverance, leadership, manners, open mindedness, and being literate. "Nimpentoad" is also just a very fun read for kids. Finally, it is written by kids, with a parent's involvement. What better prescription for high fantasy first chapter novelette success? "Nimpentoad" demands a sequel, of course, which is to be anticipated.

The Bat Riders of Yumi
Anthony Barton
Bulmer Press
Box 7 Site 3 RR 1, Carbonear
NL, Canada A1Y 1C6
9780987845450 $9.99

The Bat Riders of Yumi continues Anthony Barton's wonderful series of fantasy chapter books for young readers ages 6-12. Young Matthew John has earned the prestigious honor of becoming a Bat Rider, but now he must test his mettle to save the mile-high Yumi trees from a devastating fire! Matthew John sounds the magical horn of Anoura to begin the Wild Ride, but could he suffer the rage of the legendary Ia, Great Bat of the Evening, for his temerity? A handful of simple, black-and-white illustrations pepper this exciting adventure novel, ideal for encouraging a love of reading in young people. Also highly recommended are Barton's previous books in the series, "Bat Rider" (9780986903830, $9.99) and "The Yumi Trees" (9780986903861, $9.99).

The Way of Nacor
Jeff W. Horton
World Castle Publishing
9781938961168, $11.99,

Home is all the sweeter when you cannot return to it. "The Way of Nacor" is a youth fantasy in the Tales of Eden Series follows four struggling youths as they find themselves on Zantura, and what stands between them and the home they so desperately want to seek is a malevolent being called Sarin. Against all odds, they must see their way through. "The Way of Nacor" is worth considering for young readers, highly recommended.

Project Orion
Larry Mellott
Start-Living Homes
514 E. Circle Dr. Dover, PA 17315
9780982416198, $9.95

A school project can turn into something so much more. "Project Orion" follows young Cody Hawkins as his school successes turn into something very different. As he learns that what he sees might not be what it seems, and the truth of the matter is something very different. "Project Orion" is an enticing twist of science fiction, much recommended reading.

The Holiday Shelf

The Adventures of the Poodle Posse
Chrysa Smith, author
Pat Achilles, illustrator
The Well Bred Book
PO Box 50, Pt. Pleasant, PA 18950
9780615657202, $7.95,

"The Adventures of the Poodle Posse: Trouble Down Under, A Midwinter Tale & Activity Book" is Book four in a delightful, wacky series in which four different pet poodles take the spotlight as the Poodle Posse. In "Trouble Down Under," Woody, Archie, Daisy and Bobby tackle the idea of how to encourage spring to come early by running down a groundhog who is reluctant to awaken on official Groundhog day. Of course an unexpected event causes Bobby to turn up missing, and his fellow poodles fear he has crawled into the reluctant groundhog's hole to roust him out, a possibly dangerous undertaking. It takes the combined efforts of Mrs. Flout, a policeman, a snowmobiler, and the media to inspire the sleepy groundhog to surface, see his shadow, and signal six more weeks of winter. The quirky, humorous narrative is filled with poignant black and white illustrations, and finished with suggested Groundhog Day activities, including a word search, Groundhog Game, and hidden groundhog picture. Book Four in a popular series, "Trouble Down Under" represents a collaborative effort, for the author accepted input from "dozens of elementary school students" in editing, previewing, and creative decision making. This help make it understandable why "The Adventures of the Poodle Posse" is so appealing to students in grades 2-4.

The Pajama Elves
Hayden Edwards, author/illustrator
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781479155064, $9.99,

"The Pajama Elves" is a delightful, creatively presented holiday tale that shares a family tradition of giving children magic pajamas secretly tailored by Santa's sewing elves, so they can sleep snug in their beds on Christmas Eve. Hayden Edwards is a special pseudonym for author/illustrator Julie Szabo, combining the names of her two sons and husband. Told in verse narrative and creatively illustrated with combination photos/prints in color, "The Pajama Elves" is all about keeping the magic of Christmas alive for young children. The author describes it as follows: "'The Pajama Elves' allows people to adopt and personalize the tradition in many ways, and it can be shared with family members who live far apart from one another." Sensitively done, "The Pajama Elves" is an ideal contemporary response to unique challenges faced by parents of young children today.

The Sparkle Box
Jill Hardie, author
Christine Kornacki, illustrator
Ideals Children's Books
c/o Guideposts
Media Connect (publicity)
9780824956479, $19.99,

The actions and deeds of Christ can often be lost sight of in the celebration of Christmas. "The Sparkle Box" is a children's picturebook, surrounding young Sam and the curious sparkling box set under his Christmas tree. His parents tell them it's a very special gift, and that it needs to be filled with the good deeds that people forget, and creating a gift for Jesus's birthday that he would have truly wanted. "The Sparkle Box" is excellently illustrated by Christine Kornacki and has a great message composed by Jill Hardie, much recommended.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Upton Charles Dog Detective, Something Fishy
D. G. Stern
Artwork by Kent
Neptune Press
3519 Exeter Court, Orlando, Florida 32812
9780982809853, $7.99,

"Something Fishy" is the latest Upton Charles dog detective mystery, starring the keen sleuthing skills of a famous Bichon Frise. Set in a coastal vacation area of Maine, "Something Fishy" continues adventures of Upton with his owners the Charles family, including twins Alex and Veronica, also meeting a new canine friend named Storm, on this adventure. Upton's keen sense of smell helps unravel the truth about a tricky lighthouse based plot to counterfeit currency. With the assistance of local authorities, the team contributes valuable clues and information, enabling the capture and conviction of counterfeiting thieves. Black and white illustrations and short, descriptive, action -packed chapters keep the narrative zipping along and hold high interest of a young audience. "Something Fishy" will appeal to an established fan base of children ages 8-11 who have read previous mysteries featuring Upton Charles, the dog detective, "Winter Wonderland" and "Disappearing Diamonds." As a teacher of constructive logical, deductive thought, Upton rules.

Why Juan Can't Sleep: A Mystery?
Karl Beckstrand, author
Luis F. Sanz, illustrator
Premio Publishing & Gozo Books
648 W. Wasatch St., Midvale, UT 84047
9780615692296, $11.95,

"Why Juan Can't Sleep: A Mystery?" is an intriguing bedtime mystery for 4-10 year olds that increases vocabulary and comprehension while entertaining. Written in original, witty verse, with a delightfully slightly scary undertone, "Why Juan Can't Sleep" answers the title question with scattered nighttime impressions in unrelenting rhyme. Fun picture searches are suggested as pre-reading activities in the beginning of the book, encouraging young readers to carefully examine every detailed illustration, seeking the bear, lamb camel dragon, etc. A hint of Hispanic background is included in the narrative and explained either explicitly in translation or in context. Altogether, "Why Juan Can't Sleep" is a very reader-friendly bedtime mystery with multicultural appeal. Another title by this creative author that is highly recommended is "Ups & Downs At the Boardwalk (9781479168941, $11.95) an activity book about contrasts and opposites set in the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk of California. Suitable for children ages 2-8.

The ABC Shelf

A Curious ABC's
Cindy Mackey
Cyrano Books
941 Pueo Street
Honolulu, HI 96816
9780615556185 $10.00

A Curious ABC's: An Alphabet for Non-Linear Thinkers is a wonderful softcover children's ABC book, in which each letter of the alphabet is associated with a whimsical phrase sure to stimulate young imaginations! For example, the letter N is represented by "A naked mole rat nags a nag", and the colorful illustration shows a sharp-toothed naked mole rat perched on the back of an aggravated older horse! Silliness abounds in this wacky and fun way to reinforce literacy in inquisitive young minds.

The Counting Shelf

Timmy Toucan Dropped 10 Guavas
Richard Garrett Dews, author
Toby Mikle, illustrator
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781477650134, $9.95,

"Timmy Toucan Dropped 10 Guavas" is an imaginative color illustrated counting book for pre-kindergarten readers, with a companion downloadable digital sing-along song, "Timmy Toucan," music and lyrics included with the book. Narrated in jaunty verse, with color changing text to highlight characters' names, "Timmy Toucan Dropped 10 Guavas" is a perfect jungle counting book, with fabulous primal color illustrations of Timmy and his jungle friends. A triangle format of the ten guavas also assists pre-counting, reciting, and pre-reading skills for young children. Music for the sing along song is the final fun teaching tool that kids will love and remember. "Timmy Toucan Dropped 10 Guavas" is just a touch exotic, learning happy lessons about sharing with friends (like the birds who have no hands) and following a worthy project through to the end.

Books in Series

Rivers of the World series
Mitchell Lane Publishers
P.O. Box 196
Hockessin, DE 19707
$29.95 each

Beautifully illustrated with full color photography throughout, the library-bound "Rivers of the World" series is an educational collection filled with amazing facts about the rivers that haven given rise to great human civilizations throughout history. Chapters cover both the natural history and the struggles of the people who lived and depended upon these rivers through the centuries. Accessible to young readers in middle school and junior high, the Rivers of the World series is highly recommended for public and school library nonfiction collections. The individual titles are "The Yangtze River" (9781612282992), "The Volga River" (9781612283128), "The Rhine River" (9781612282978), "The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers" (9781612282985), "The Amazon River" (9781612282930), "The Mississippi River" (9781612282961), "The Ganges River" (9781612282954), and "The Nile River" (9781612282947). "The river Wu joins the Chang at the old town of Fuling. Historically, boatmen here have kept a careful watch on water levels. Jagged rocks beneath the surface might wreck their boats at low water. To track the river's rise and fall, locals created a unique scale: they carved fourteen fish on nearby White Crane Ridge which are visible only at low water. Some carvings date back to the Tang dynasty (618-907)."

Deserts Around the World series
Crabtree Publishing Company
350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 3308
New York, NY 10118
$27.60 each

The library-bound "Deserts Around the World" series blends informative text and captivating full-color photography to teach young adults in grades 5-8 about the natural history and ecology of several of the world's largest and most noted deserts, and the people who have called these deserts home throughout history. Of particular note is the information about troublesome desert expansion, and how modern-day oil or mining operations threaten the ecology and unique native species of deserts. Glossaries and suggested websites for further reading round out this excellent and educational resource, enthusiastically recommended for middle school, junior high, and public library collections. The individual titles are Molly Aloian's "The Gobi Desert" (9780778707103), "The Sahara Desert" (9780778707141), "The Mojave Desert" (9780778707134); and "The Kalahari Desert" (9780778707127); and Lynn Peppas' "The Atacama Desert" (9780778707097) and "The Great Victoria Desert" (9780778707110).

Great Drawing Step-by-Step series
Peter Gray
The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.
29 East 21st Street
New York, NY 10010
$29.25 each

In the library-bound "Great Drawing Step-by-Step" series, author and artist Peter Gray walks aspiring artists through basic sketching and drawing techniques, one idea at a time. Although the series is aimed at young adults, adult readers will also find these from-the-ground-up drawing tips, tricks, and techniques edifying and accessible. Topics covered in each volume include body structure, shading, hand position and figure judgment techniques, the dynamics of movement, creating human and animal characters, and much more. " can be sure of a good start by 'squaring up'. Draw a regular grid on tracing paper and place it over your source image, then draw a similar grid to fit on your drawing paper. Then the picture is broken down into easily observable chunks, which can be drawn individually. This is how the Old Masters enlarged their drawings for murals." Each book features a plethora of black-and-white illustrations to illuminate the step-by-step instructions. Highly recommended, especially for junior high, high school, and public library art collections. The individual titles are "The Practical Guide to Drawing Animals" (9781448872169), including both realistic and cartoon animals; "The Practical Guide to Drawing Portraits" (9781448872145); "The Practical Guide to Drawing Caricatures" (9781448872152); and "The Practical Guide to Drawing Manga" (9781448872138), which shows how to draw people in a manner emulating Japanese comics.

Crabtree Publishing Company
350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 3308
New York, NY 10118

The 'Machines at Work' series provides some 24 pages each of dynamic contemporary color photos and explanations of specific vehicles for grades 2-3. From driving safety and vehicle operations to different kinds of vehicles within classifications, this is packed with fine photos and details that serve as eye-catching introductions perfect for young browsers fascinated by vehicles. TRUCKS (9780778774778, $16.95), CARS (9780778774747, $16.95), MOTORBIKES (9780778774754, $16.95) and PLANES AND HELICOPTERS (9780778774761, $16.95) provide excellent, compelling surveys. Bobbie Kalman's 'I Can Write a Book About' series ($19.95) will appeal to grades 3-4 and particularly to aspiring young writers and offers some fun insights for kids who want to write. "If I Could Talk to Animals" (9780778779940, $26.60) covers the basics of writing about animals, from researching books and articles on the topic of animal communication to conducting an interview and writing about the results. "How to Be Healthy and Happy" (9780778779919, $26.60) covers everything from fitness and what makes you happy to how to use words to create a "how to" title. Both offer specific approaches young nonfiction writers can easily use. The 'Cultural Traditions' series is a series for grades 2-3 and packs in color photos with some 32 pages each of cultural detail perfect for students seeking an introduction to the cultures of different countries. AUSTRALIA (9780778775164, $19.95), GREECE (9780778775188, $19.95), EGYPT (9780778775171, $19.95) and THAILAND (9780778775195, $19.95) are especially notable for their striking color covers and eye-catching pages that pack in nearly full-page contemporary color photos and color with facts. The result lends to browsing as much as study and reference, making for a series for more accessible to the general leisure reader than most cultural geography explanations for this age group.

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

Peter and Connie Roop's TALES OF FAMOUS ANIMALS (9780545430296, $17.99) packs in some 110 pages of stories about animals throughout history, providing fun tales that feature special animals from Jumbo and the notorious groundhog Punxstuawney Phil to Smokey Bear and Koko. Good reading skills from grades 5-6 are key to enjoying the many animal facts herein, making this a selection many an older reader will equally enjoy. Jim Murphy's THE GIANT AND HOW HE HUMBUGGED AMERICA (9780439691840, $19.99) tells of the discovery of a ten-foot-tall petrified man drug up on a farm in upstate New York in 1869: a discovery that would fire the world. Thousands rushed to see the giant on display and to speculate on his origins, while scientists from around the world investigated the Cardiff Giant mystery. This became one of the country's biggest moneymaking spectacles - and scams - and here Jim Murphy explores 19th century media and the discovery's effects upon the country. Advanced elementary readers with good reading skills through middle school and many an adult audience will find this a unique, gripping saga. Nic Bishop's SNAKES (9780545026389, $17.99) offers a fine survey from a naturalist and photographer who explores the world of snakes. Full-page color close-up photos are engrossing - such as that of a carpet python consuming a piglet, or an African egg-eating snake swallowing an egg four times larger than its head. The result is an engrossing snake book with a difference: the author's photos are way above most! Penelope Aron and Tory Gordon-Harris' BUGS (9780545365741, $12.99) joins others in the 'Discover More' series and pairs colorful blown-up photos with introductions to spiders, dragonflies, centipedes and more. Collection pages pack in hundreds of bugs, bug facts adorn pages designed for impressive at-a-glance facts, and the result is an outstanding, engrossing leisure reader's guide perfect for kids in grades 3-4 interested in bugs.

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

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