Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / Children's Bookwatch

Children's Bookwatch

Volume 27, Number 1 January 2017 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Social Issues Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Science Shelf Math Shelf Counting Shelf
Holiday Shelf American History Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fiction Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf
Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Christian Shelf Judaic Shelf Biography Shelf
Environmental Shelf Autism Shelf Board Book Shelf
Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Gaming Shelf Books in Series

Reviewer's Choice

Moon at Nine
Deborah Ellis
Pajama Press
9781927485972 $11.95

Based on interviews with a young woman who had to flee Iran due to her sexual orientation, Moon at Nine is a unique story on many levels: it tells of young girls Farrin and Sadira, who live in 1980s Iran and who develop a love for one another against all odds. Iranian history and culture blend with a story of revolution on many levels as the two experience love and the turbulent changes of their times. Any reader who wants to understand Iranian history through the experiences of young people who themselves are changing will find Moon at Nine a riveting, different read that rests firmly on compelling characters facing an array of changes. Highly recommended for young adult readers in grade 9 and up.

Tales of the Mushroom Folk
Signe Aspelin, author/illustrator
Floris Books
9781782503347, $17.95, HC, 32pp,

Signe Aspelin (1881-1961) was a Swedish children's book illustrator and textile designer. Her illustrations were popularly used on Swedish greetings postcards. "Tales of the Mushroom Folk" is her story of the mushroom folk are waking up from their winter sleep and emerging into the sunshine. Each family has its own characteristics and we get to know them well in these charming little tales. Kids ages 4 to 7 will meet the golden Coral Mushrooms, the bumpy Brain Mushrooms, the pale Parasol Mushrooms, the fat Puffballs, the stinky Stinkhorns and the regal Button Mushrooms. Illustrated in a classic style reminiscent of Elsa Beskow and Sibylle von Olfers, "Tales of the Mushroom Folk" is a lovely picture book filled with natural detail of the woods and meadows where the mushroom folk live. Enthusiastically recommended, "Tales of the Mushroom Folk" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to family, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children.

Eva Moraal
9781935954385 $TBA

Currents is set in a world after climate change has created the Great Flood that has divided a country's population. In this world, the Dry are the wealthy elite and the Wet are the working class. Predictably, a rebellion is brewing in the Wet - but Nina is a Dry, who lost her sister in the last flood and who must go to school in the Wet area, in disguise, where she meets Max and both determine to fight for what is right in the world. The result is a heady mix of dystopian survival story and struggle for justice that will delight young readers looking for more complex tales than romances alone will provide, recommended for teens who relish stories of social change and survival.

Emma Faces Fear: Emma Meets the Grief Monster
Gail Trauco, author
Mahfujah Selim, illustrator
Privately Published
P.O. Box 952, Forsyth, GA 31029
9781533629067, $16.95 PB / $6.99 Kindle,

"Emma Faces Fear" is part of a juvenile series dedicated to helping children address their fears and grieve significant losses. Emma and her younger sister April are worried and upset because their father has left their mother. They do not know what the future holds. It is difficult for them to feel secure enough to relax into a usual daily routine. Emma feels a responsibility to help hold her remaining family together. She tries to comfort and distract April, who wants to cling tightly to her mother excessively. A gentle, neutral narrative describes the events which build fear in Emma and her family. Brightly colored illustrations mirror some of the confusion, bewilderment, and fear that Emma is experiencing related to the absence of her father. Emma and April's mother does the best she can to help soothe them and return them to their normal routines, but she also is dealing with reactions of grief and fear. Finally Emma encounters a stunning purple and green Grief Monster in the middle of her bedroom, what she had previously thought to be a stress induced dream. The Grief Monster turned out to be easy to talk to, surprisingly. After listening to Emma's fear, the Grief Monster repeated to her that she was going through the first of seven phases of grief: Fear. Although the Grief Monster could not answer all Emma's questions or tell her how to get over her fears, he reassured her by reminding her not to let fear rule her life. The fear she was experiencing would eventually go away. One day, she would feel better. Her mother would help to take care of her and her sister. Emma was still not happy, but after the Grief Monster left, she began to feel a little tiny bit better. "Emma Faces Fear" is a courageous self help book for children who are overwhelmed with difficult situations and experiences. It does not talk down to children or minimize their fears, but instead gives them some tools to help make a shape out of the formless fear and trauma that paralyzes healing. Also highly recommended is "Emma Meets the Grief Monster" (9781530868254, $16.95) by the same author and illustrator, and part of the series of eight titles.

The Social Issues Shelf

The Youngest Marcher
Cynthia Levinson, author
Vanessa Brantley Newton, illustrator
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781481400701 $17.99 hc / $10.99 Kindle

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist is a children's picturebook about the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama in the year 1963. Audrey Faye Hendricks was a nine-year-old black girl who wanted to join the movement to end Birmingham's segregation laws. She was one of many brave people who picketed segregated stores, marched in protest, endured arrest, and filled up the jails to order to convince society to change its unjust laws. An author's note, a timeline, and a recipe for "Hot Rolls Baptized in Butter" round out this excellent addition to school and public library nonfiction picturebook collections.

She Stood for Freedom
Loki Mulholland and Angela Fairwell, authors
Charlotta Janssen, illustrators
Shadow Mountain Publishing
P.O. Box 30178, Salt Lake City, Utah 84130-0178
9781629721767 $17.99

She Stood for Freedom: The Untold Story of a Civil Rights Hero, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland is the true story of a white, female student from Virginia who became a civil rights advocate in 1961 at the age of nineteen. She rode with the Freedom Riders and protested unjust segregation laws. Because she stood up for equality, she was arrested, jailed, harassed, and threatened with death. These threats were quite real, as some civil rights advocates were cruelly murdered. The text and the serious subject matter is complex enough that She Stood for Freedom is ideal for young people who are just about ready to make the transition from picturebooks to chapter books. Emotional and inspiring, She Stood for Freedom is highly recommended for both school and public library collections.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Seeking the Snow Leopard
Jon Miceler
Tumblehome Learning, Inc.
9781943431168 $18.95

Illustrated with striking color photography throughout, Seeking the Snow Leopard is a nonfiction picturebook by World Wildlife Federation mountain guide and naturalist Jon Miceler. The true story of how a team of expert scientists and conservationists temporarily tranquilized, studied, and released a snow leopard - outfitting it with a radio collar that would enable its movements to be tracked for almost two years - all to learn more about these majestic and beautiful animals. Seeking the Snow Leopard is fascinating to page through, and highly recommended especially for school or public library picturebook collections.

The Wolves Return
Celia Godkin
Pajama Press
181 Carlaw Ave., Suite 207, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4M 2S1
9781772780116 $17.95

The Wolves Return: A New Beginning for Yellowstone National Park is a children's nonfiction picturebook about the wildlife of the Yellowstone National Park in America. In particular, the successful reintroduction of Canadian gray wolves, beginning with the release of twenty-three wolves in 1995-96, is a highlight. Since the return of the wolves, the elk moved their grazing to higher ground, and tree seedlings in the valley are able to grow taller, and beavers use the trees to create the river dams that establish wetlands. A beautifully illustrated book about the interconnected web of natural life, The Wolves Return is highly recommended for personal, school, and public library collections.

Secrets of Animal Camouflage, a Shine-A-Light Book
Carron Brown, author
Wesley Robins, illustrator
Kane Miller Publications
c/o EDC publishing
PO Box 470663, Tulsa, OK 74147
9781610674669, $12.99,

A new title in the Shine-a-Light series, "Secrets of Animal Camouflage" presents animals cleverly hidden by camouflage among flowers and trees, in the grasslands, and on the seabed. Vivid, "punchy" brightly colored illustrations portray the animal(s) in camouflage on one side of the page, while on the back side the camouflaged animal(s) are clearly drawn in white on black backgrounds. In the Shine-A-Light series, the young reader is led to shine a flashlight or other light source on the underside of the portrait page, to discover the camouflaged animal painted in black and white on the page underneath. Some of the camouflaged animals shown include spiders, the walking stick insect, tigers, an owl, a whitetail fawn, a giraffe, a butterfly, the orchid mantis, Malayan leaf frog, a chameleon, zebras, an Arctic fox, an octopus, pigmy seahorses, plaice (a seabed fish), and even humans. Additional notes about each portrayed camouflaged animal is provided in the last two pages, titled "There's more...." "Secrets of Animal Camouflage: is an excellent introduction to nature's mysterious protections, written especially for readers ages 4-8.

5 Giraffes
Anne Innis Dagg
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
195 Allstate Parkway, Markham, Ontario, Canada L3R 4T8
9781554553563, $22.95, HC, 88pp,

The latest in the outstanding '5 Animals', "5 Giraffes" by animal rights advocate, scientist, and teacher Anne Innis Dagg informatively profiles five unique giraffes taken from both captivity and found in the wild. Accompanying the five giraffe profiles is information on their diet, social life, and chapters on some of their more unique aspects, like the giraffe's unusual body. Enhanced with the inclusion of full color photographs throughout, glossary, bibliography, table of contents and index, and an introduction by Rob Laidlaw (founder and director of Zoocheck, an international wildlife protection charity established in 1984), "5 Giraffes" is unreservedly recommended for children ages 9 to 11 and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to elementary school and community library Pets/Wildlife collections for young readers.

The Science Shelf

Dining with Dinosaurs: A Tasty Guide to Mesozoic Munching
Hannah Bonner, author/illustrator
National Geographic Partners, LLC
1145 17th St. N. W., Washington, D. C. 20036
9781426323393, $18.99, HC, 48pp,

"Dining with Dinosaurs" is a fun-and-fact-filled whirlwind gastro-tour of "who ate who in the time of the dinosaurs," or the Mesozoic Era. Charming colored cartoon portraits of the six "vores" begin the introductions: "Carnivores eat meat. Insectivores eat insects and other creepy-crawlies. Piscivores eat fish. Sunivores eat sunlight, air, water, and soil nutrients. Trashivores eat nature's waste and recycle it." Filled with detailed, accurate portraits of dinosaurs, plants, insects, birds, and tiny mammals of the Mesozoic Era, the pages introduce the mega carnivores, the raptors, the minicarnivores and omnivores, insectivores, piscivores, and more. Each two page introduction contains megabytes of information about individual species' characteristics as inferred by scientists and paleontologists from bones and fossilized remains from the Mesozoic Era. The culinary tour continues with Who Ate Who: in the Ocean, the Dinovores, the Scavengers, the Mega Herbivores, the Cheeky Chewers, the Plant Eaters, the Herbivores, the Sunivores, and the Trashivores. Finishing with "Who Eats Who Today?" each section of "Dining with Dinosaurs" contributes solid fact-based scientifically verified information on the dining habits of dinosaurs and other dwellers of the Mesozoic Era. Each section also has a cartoon interview of a noted scientist in the 'Ask a Scientist' section which focuses on related findings of scientists based on further Mesozoic Era studies. Some final pages cover the Food Web, photosynthesis, extra notes, and pronunciations of scientific names and a glossary of words not defined in the text or narrative. "Dining with Dinosaurs" is an excellent learning tool for young readers interested in the Mesozoic Era.

The Math Shelf

David A. Adler, author
Edward Miller, illustrator
Holiday House
425 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780823436422 $17.95

Circles is a children's picturebook that explains the basic mathematical and geometric ideas behind the concept of a circle. The definitions of a circle's radius, circumference, diameter and more are explained in plain terms, and so is the importance of pi - a number (equivalent to approximately 3.14) that can be used to quickly calculate a circle's cicumference (circumference equals diameter multiplied by pi). Bright, colorful illustrations and a glossary round out this excellent, educational picturebook, especially recommended for school and public library collections.

The Counting Shelf

Counting in the Garden
Emily Hruby, author
Patrick Hruby, illustrator
9781623261061 $9.95 hc / $9.45 Kindle

Bold, brightly colored illustrations enliven Counting in the Garden, a simple count-to-ten book spotlighting the plants and creatures found in a home garden. "6 sweet strawberries, hanging from vines, // 7 slippery snails, with different colored shells". After each page of text is a wordless, two-page spread showing all the counted things in a single illustration that gradually becomes more and more populated! Counting in the Garden is fun read-aloud book to share with little ones and teach basic numbers, highly recommended.

The Holiday Shelf

PoPo's Lucky Chinese New Year
Virginia Loh-Hagan, author
Renne Benoit, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
Suite 200, 315 East Eisenhower Parkway, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781585369782 $16.99 hc / $9.99 Kindle

PoPo's Lucky Chinese New Year is the picturebook story of a young girl whose Popo (Chinese grandmother) teaches her about the customs and traditions of the Chinese New Year. Popo says that the Chinese New Year is all about new beginnings, and many of the traditions exist to ensure good luck. The Chinese New Year isn't just one day; it's a celebration lasting fifteen days, and that requires a great deal of preparation. Also, there are so many rules that it's easy to get confused about them! "'No red ink!' I thought red was lucky. Popo says, 'Writing in red ink means you want that person to go away.'" PoPo's Lucky Chinese New Year is a fascinating exploration of traditional Chinese culture, highly recommended.

It's Great Being a Dad
Dan Bar-el
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9781770496057 $16.99

It's Great Being a Dad receives fun drawings by Gina Perry as it provides a very different kind of celebration of Father's Day: one which revolves around a unicorn, a ballerina, and a helpful father. A gang of mythical creatures is loose and it's only inevitable that they will cause trouble, presenting the kinds of problems a father may prove helpful in solving. A zany set of encounters challenges even this special father in a fun story with unpredictable characters and dilemmas.

Otto and the Secret Light of Christmas
Nora & Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin
Floris Books
9781782903231 $24.95

Otto and the Secret Light of Christmas arrived too late for more timely December feature, but it's being reviewed after the fact because it's a gorgeous and unique collection of stories from Finland which deserve a place in any collection where holiday story collections are a feature. Parental read-aloud assistance or good reading skills will lend to this story of elf Otto, who lives in Finland and who finds a postcard describing the bright light of Christmas. His journey north in search of this elusive light leads him an adventure skiing through dark forests towards Lapland in search of an elusive Christmas brightness. A little over a hundred pages of story packed with text and lovely drawings makes for beautiful read-aloud recommendation promising many hours of delight in a highly recommended, different kind of holiday read.

Fly Guy's Ninja Christmas
Tedd Arnold
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545662772 $6.99

Fly Guy's Ninja Christmas returns Fly Guy to another fun, simple chapter book read: this one a seasonal story that just missed our December issue, but deserves year-round consideration. Here Fly Guy, Buzz's pet, discovers that Christmas involves gift-giving. The only problem is that he makes this discovery the night before Christmas, and he has no gift to give Fly Guy. How can he buzz up something special? A fun holiday tale, this is recommended for new chapter book readers who receive large print and good-sized drawings to accompany a zany story.

The American History Shelf

What's the Big Deal About First Ladies
Ruby Shamir, author
Matt Faulkner, illustrator
c/o Penguin Group USA
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780399547249 $17.99 hc / $10.99 Kindle

What's the Big Deal About First Ladies is a picturebook filled with amazing facts about the wives of Presidents of the United States, from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama, with a particular spotlight on the causes that each first lady worked to promote. First ladies served as hostesses, ambassadors, activists, educators, historians, and role-models; and their efforts to make the world a better place ranged from Mary Todd Lincoln's work to end slavery to Edith Wilson's decoding of secret messages from allied forces during World War I. An extraordinarily educational and inspirational collection of amazing true facts and short stories, What's the Big Deal About First Ladies is highly recommended especially for school and library nonfiction picturebook collections.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Wings of Fire: Talons of Power
Tui T. Sutherland
Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545685405 $16.99 hc / $10.99 Kindle

The ninth young adult fantasy novel in the Wings of Fire series set in Pyrrhia, a fantastic world where dragon societies thrive, Wings of Fire: Talons of Power follows Turtle, a dragon who is neither brave nor powerful. Turtle has kept his animus abilities secret, and is more talented at hiding than fighting. But when the ancient, mysterious dragon Darkstalker appears at Jade Mountain Academy, Turtle fears that Darkstalker's friendly charm is an act. The Academy desperately needs a hero to expose and stand up to Darkstalker - a hero nothing like Turtle! An epic tale of good and evil and dragons, Talons of Power is a self-contained story and does not require knowledge of the previous novels to enjoy. Highly recommended, especially for dragon fans of all ages!

Gears of Revolution
J. Scott Savage
Shadow Mountain Publishing
P.O. Box 30178, Salt Lake City, Utah 84130-0178
9781629722238 $17.99 hc / $10.99 Kindle

The second book in the "Mysteries of Cove" series, Gears of Revolution is a fantasy novel written especially for young readers ages 8 to 11, following adventurers Trenton and Kallista aboard their homemade mechanical dragon to search for a missing inventor. Trenton and Kallista become entangled in a fierce civil war between the Whipjacks scavenger clan and the Order of the Beast, a tribe of people who worship dragons as immortal divinities. (Could it truly be possible for humans to communicate with dragons, or are dragons and humans inevitably destined to be mortal enemies?) Their search takes them to an underground, steampunk-style city inspired by a real-life underground city below modern-day Seattle. Gears of Revolution is a joy to read from cover to cover, highly recommended for personal, school, and public library YA fantasy collections.

Doodles Lanhorn and the Search for the Missing Artifact
Russell D. Bernstein
Hannacroix Creek Books
1127 High Ridge Road, #110, Stamford, CT 06905
9781938998904, $27.95, HC, 142pp,

Art comes to life as Doodles uses his exceptional Wizartry skill to hunt for the prized artifact that holds the key to Inner Earth. But there is a detective who is convinced that Doodles is the actual thief. Doodles enlists the help of his old and new friends, including his unique sidekick Boogly. Will Doodles recover the stolen artifact or will the malicious Mr. Derringer outwit him? "Doodles Lanhorn and the Search for the Missing Artifact " is another terrifically entertaining novel from author Russell Berstein and unreservedly recommended for school and community library collections for young readers. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Doodles Lanhorn and the Search for the Missing Artifact" is also available in a paperback edition (9781938998850, $14.95) and in a Kindle format ($5.99). Also very highly recommended are Berstein's previous 'Doodles Lanhorn' title from Hannacroix Creek Books: "Doodles Lanhorn and the Quest to Save Inner Earth" (9781938998409, $14.95 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 142pp).

Cease & Desist
Stephen David Hurley
RiverBrook Books
9780997738100, $12.98, PB, 362pp,

What if the secret to being charismatic were actually a gene you could inherit, and pass along to your children. What if this "X-factor" could make you a star? Welcome to the world of Cease de Menich, a sixteen-year-old actress in New York City who gets cast as Joan-of-Arc in a reality-drama, only to discover her "acting gift" has been passed down through her bloodline for almost six-hundred-years. Cease finds the plot of the drama reveals dark secrets from her past--an abusive mother, a brother who committed suicide--and the reader must decide if she's a reliable narrator or a terrified girl who's succumb to the pressure of fame and the abuse of her past. "Cease & Desist" is a coming of age story combined with a dark, contemporary thriller with a supernatural twist. All the more impressive considering that "Cease & Desist" is author Stephen David Hurley's debut as a novelist, this outstanding work of deftly crafted fiction will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to high school and community library YA Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Cease & Desist" is also available in a Kindle format ($6.99).

A Flash in Time
Michael K. Shay
Sunstone Press
PO Box 2321, Santa Fe, NM 87504-2321
9781632931412, $16.95, PB, 132pp,

Forced to go on a hiking trip with his Uncle Jack, fourteen-year-old Zach Walker heads to the desert near Bluff, Utah to search for an ancient staircase -- the same one Zach's father was looking for when he disappeared three years earlier. Once in the backcountry, Zach discovers prehistoric ruins, mysterious rock art, and a one-way portal to the past. When he steps through the portal, he finds himself trapped in the land of the Ancestral Puebloans -- a place hit hard by severe drought and conflict. Zach soon runs out of food and water, but a native girl named Aqua rescues him and takes him to her village where her family adopts him. But the canyons are full of warfare and Zach wants to go home, despite his growing attachment to Aqua and her family. The problem is, nobody in Aqua's village seems to know the way back to the twenty-first century. Will Zach spend the rest of his life in a land eight hundred years before his time? How will he ever find his way back to family and friends in Portland, Oregon? "A Flash in Time" is an original science fiction time-travel story that is especially commended to the attention of young readers ages 8 to 12 and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library collections.

The Dream
R. K. McLay
Fifth House Publishers
195 Allstate Parkway, Markham, ON, Canada, L3R 4T8
9781927083376, $22.95, HC, 328pp,

"The Dream" is the first volume in "The Rahtrum Chronicles", a tension-building fantasy adventure trilogy by R.K. McLay. Set in a world that is populated by reimagined mythological creatures that feel every bit as real as the animal protagonists they travel and struggle beside, "The Rahtrum Chronicles" is the story of a peculiar young Caribou that is chosen by Rahtrum, the Binder, to set forth on a heroic journey to awaken the Cargoth (human beings) to their true place in nature and the World. The beautiful and dangerous north unfurls as Bou follows an age-old migration route in search of the Breschuvine. Only after finding the Breschuvine does he learn the shocking reason he has been chosen by Rahtrum; and that for himself, his friends, and his enemies, the greatest of all journeys has only just begun. Original, exceptional, consistently compelling, "The Dream" is an extraordinary and unfailingly entertaining read from cover to cover and very highly recommended for school and community library YA Fiction collections, as well as the personal reading lists of fantasy adventure fans.

Seriously Shifted
Tina Connolly
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765383754 $17.99

Seriously Shifted holds connections to last year's Andre Norton Award-nominated Seriously Wicked, but it requires no prior familiarity with its predecessor and is an independent read that blends a coming of age story with a witch's magic. Teen witch Cam battles her wicked stepmother's magical schemes as best she can, but she's also a young adult still learning about magic and the choices of being a witch. Can a blossoming teen just coming into her powers defy the evil intentions and onslaughts of adults intent on changing the world? Humor, angst and fun blend in a story that is involving on several unexpected levels.

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

Rachel Hickman's One Silver Summer (9780545808927, $17.99) tells of Sass, who is sent away to England to live with her uncle when she loses her mother in a car accident. Brooklyn girl Sass welcomes the opportunity to flee her world, but when she discovers a silver horse in a meadow who is dominated by an arrogant young trainer, she finds herself inexplicably drawn into his life. Love begins to emerge - but it's tempered with a big secret that will change everything in this moving story of loss, attraction, and change. Kody Keplinger's Run (97805457831130, $17.99) tells of two very different girls: Bo, who is wild and uncontrolled, and Agnes, who has never broken any rules and who is legally blind. One doesn't expect such different personalities to become best friends - but it's a friendship challenged by both lives, so when they decide to run away, vast changes emerge for both. Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven King (9780545424981, $18.99) is Book IV of The Raven Cycle: as such, prior familiarity with the setting and characters of its predecessors will lend delight to this continuation of the story. Gansey has been on a long search to find a lost king, drawing in others on his journey. Now the quest has changed - and so have those participating in it. A powerful story adds to an already-acclaimed series with new twists and turns to delight prior audiences who will continue to delight in the world Stiefvater has created. Tutu T. Sutherland's Wings of Fire (9781338053616, $17.99) tells of a young prince in the SeaWing kingdom who learns he is capable of a king of magic that can change the world. At the same time, a NightWing dragonet foresees a future of destruction that perhaps only she can change. Darkness is coming, and there are limited tools to challenge or change its course in this engrossing, powerful fantasy recommended for mature teens into adult audiences.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Meddlers of Moonshine
A. E. Decker
World Weaver Press
PO Box 21924, Albuquerque, NM 87154
9780997788839, $14.95, PB, 344pp,

Something is rotten in the town of Widget, and Rags-n-Bones knows it's all his fault. Ever since he swiped that avocado from Miss Ascot's pack, things have been going wrong. Armed with a handful of memories he never realized he had, Rags-n-Bones searches for a way to put right whatever he did to Widget in the past. If only he knew what it was! Unfortunately, the only person who seems to have answers is a half-mad youth that only Rags can see. Widget is also suffering from a ghost infestation that has the townsfolk almost as spooked of outsiders as they are of actual spooks. While Rags-n-Bones seeks answers in the past, Ascot offers the town leaders her service as an exorcist, only to be handed an ultimatum: banish the ghosts or be banished herself! Who's meddling with Widget? To catch the culprit, Ascot and Rags-n-Bones must match wits with a shifty sorcerer, a prissy ex-governess, and a disturbingly attractive captain before the town consigns itself to the graveyard of history. Original, entertaining, and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library YA Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Meddlers of Moonshine" is also available in a Kindle format ($4.99).

The Fiction Shelf

Truth or Dare
Barbara Dee
Aladdin/Simon and Schuster
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781481459686 $16.99

Truth or Dare: Five Girls, One Summer, Many Secrets tells if Lia, who has spent the summer away from her group of friends, isolated with an eccentric aunt. Her time away has apparently given her a new perspective on her life and relationships - or her friends have changed over the summer - because suddenly she sees the drama and discords in the group, especially evident when a game of Truth or Dare creates rifts. Enticed to tell lies about her summer activities, Lia discovers new truths about her friendships in this fun story of growing together and apart.

Theo and a Horse Named Rocket
W. H. Raymond
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781480825482, $17.99, PB, 248pp,

Theo Hawkshaw is a sensible boy growing up in urban Chicago. Theo is lucky in that he has a grandfather who loves to travel with him and a best friend named Winston who loves adventure. When Theo meets a horse named Rocket that lives on a ranch in the Illinois countryside, he knows he's found a true friend in this amazing horse. As Theo approaches his teenage years, however, his life takes an unpredictable turn; before he knows it, bad luck follows him wherever he goes, and tragedy strikes. The life he knew and loved has changed forever, leaving Gramps, Rocket, and Winston in the past. In this new unrecognizable life, Theo must find the courage to move beyond the shroud of darkness and depression. With the help of a kind teacher, an unsuspecting friend, and loving parents, Theo discovers his own hidden talents and his true passion in life. Will he throw his life away or follow his passion? Only time will tell. "Theo and a Horse Named Rocket" is an exceptionally well written and deftly crafted novel that is unreservedly recommended for school and community library YA Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Theo and a Horse Named Rocket" is also available in a Kindle format ($5.99).

Gossie & Friends: Big Book of Adventures
Oliver Dunrea
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544779808 $15.99

Gossie & Friends: Big Book of Adventures provides nine easy reading stories under one cover and tells of little goslings who have fun experiences, from one who loves her big red boots to one who forgets everything but his lucky baseball cap. Large-size drawings and fun, very simple experiences lend to a series of interconnected stories which are fun and entertaining; all presented in large print with big pictures in a format perfect for new chapter book learners.

Random House
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019

Nicola Yoon's The Sun is Also a Star (9780553496680, $18.99) is a love story revolving around two teens: the son of Korean shopkeepers and the daughter of a Jamaican family who lives in the US illegally. When they meet in New York City, quite by chance, their relationship begins and evolves to a romance that defies their very different paths in life. Fate, desperation, and the bigger pictures of their very different lives fall into place in a powerful, explosive story that is as much about changing worlds as it is about love, making this a fine recommendation for readers seeking something more extraordinary than the usual one-dimensional teen romance. Matthew Cody's The Secrets of the Pied Piper: The Magician's Key (9780385755269, $17.99) will reach ages 8-12 with an adventure involving elves, a wicked witch, the Pied Piper, and a mystery. This second book in a trilogy will delight young fans of fantasy and adventure who will find the adventure story replete with a dangerous wizard and siblings facing their greatest challenge: to rescue their parents' souls. Susan Maupin Schmid's If the Magic Fits (9780553533668, $16.99) is a delightful addition to the '101 Dresses' series and will reach ages 8-12 with its story of an enchanted castle where a princess looking for love and a new servant are changed by a room of magic dresses. As the princess faces a suitor who harbors sinister intentions, she and the magic dresses struggle to uncover the truth in a story that is unpredictable and fun.

Gecko Press

Two excellent books are recommended picks for middle grade readers and provide fun, different plots and approaches. Sylvia Vanden Heede's What Dog Knows (9781776570362, $16.99) is illustrated by Marije Tolman, whose small, colorful drawings pepper the story of Wolf, who finds a fact-filled book in the library and decides he'll use it to outsmart his smarter cousin Dog. His studies translate to rhymes, quizzes and puzzles, activities and stories that take the form of conversations between Wolf and Dog, covering everything from robots to treasure maps. Advanced elementary to early middle grades will find this a fun approach. Timo Parvela's Bicycling to the Moon (9781776570317, $16.99) is illustrated by Virpi Talvitie and tells of a big adventure conceived by Purdy, a cat who loves games and has big goals in life. His friend Barker is at odds with him at times, as they have different approaches to life and occasionally Purdy steps on his toes or destroys a prize tomato. The fun story takes many turns as the two explore life and experience fun times together in a middle grade read that animal lovers will appreciate.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Division to Unification in Imperial China
Jing Liu
Stone Bridge Press
1393 Solano Avenue, Suite C, Albany CA 94706
9781611720303, $14.95, PB, 168pp,

Who founded China? Are Chinese people religious? What is Chinese culture and how has it changed over time? The 'Understanding China Through Comics' series from Stone Bridge Press seeks to answer these questions and more. "Division to Unification in Imperial China" by Jing Liu (a Beijing native now living in Davis, California) is the second volume in this outstanding series. Using a graphic novel format, it explores one of China's more chaotic periods when Chinese culture flourished while civil wars and foreign invasions repeatedly thwarted attempts at unification. A handy timeline is included. Informed and informative, "Division to Unification in Imperial China" is especially recommended for young readers ages 11 to 17 and should be a part of every school and community library's History of China collection. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Division to Unification in Imperial China" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.84).

Costume Quest: Invasion of the Candy Snatchers
Zac Gorman
Oni Press, Inc.
1305 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Suite A, Portland, OR 97214
9781620101902 $24.99 hc / $9.99 Kindle

Costume Quest: Invasion of the Candy Snatchers is a full-color, oversized hardcover graphic novel set in the mysterious world of the popular, Halloween-themed role-playing video games "Costume Quest" and "Costume Quest 2". No knowledge of the games is necessary to fully enjoy the spooky adventure! This time, the story is from the point of view of three monster children of Repugia! When a candy shortage devastates the monster world, one determined Grubbin child decides to brave the Halloween holiday of the human world in search of precious candy, along with his two closest friends. But the human world has its own dangers, and the portal the monsters travel through proves to be one-way! Lighthearted and charming, Costume Quest: Invasion of the Candy Snatchers is a "must-read" for any young or young-at-heart player who enjoyed the video games!

Either Way: Story of a Gay Kid
Sandra Levine, author
Evan Cook, illustrator
Magination Press
c/o American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242
9781433823145, $14.95, PB, 80pp,

Deftly written by Sandra Levine and memorably illustrated by Evan Cook, "Either Way" is a consistently compelling graphic novel that teaches teens about the history of gay rights in America while emphasizing the recurring theme that "It's okay to be gay. Or not. Either way, it's okay." "Either Way" features three stories woven together a coming-of-age coming out story, a lesson on marriage equality, and the experiences of a gay man in the military. Simply stated, "Either Way" is especially commended for personal reading lists, as well as school and community library LGBTQ issues collections for young readers.

The Audiobook Shelf

Word of Mouse
James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, authors
Read by Nate Begle
Hachette Audio
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
9781478940098 $22.00

Word of Mouse is the unabridged audiobook rendition of the delightful middle-grade story about the perils and courage of a mouse. Isaiah is an extremely intelligent yet perpetually terrified lab mouse. Although he successfully escapes the terrors of the lab, he must leave his family behind, and learn how to survive in the outside world - a place filled with dangerous predators, delicious "people food", and unexpected friends. Can the courage of one little mouse truly make the world a better place? Word of Mouse is highly recommended, especially for grade school and public library children's audiobook collections. 4 CDs, 4 hours.

The Music CD Shelf

Big Buncha Buddies
Keith Munslow & Bridget Brewer
Needlenose Productions
PO Box 40173, Providence, RI 02940
$TBA CD / $9.49 MP3

Award-winning songwriter, storyteller, cartoonist, and improv comedian Keith Munslow presents Big Buncha Buddies, a children's music CD with cheerful, tongue-in-cheek lyrics set to catchy guitar melodies (Andy Solberg) enhanced with drums (Phil Neighbors) and bass (Bryan Rizutto). A common theme of friendship - learning how to be a friend at heart as well as how to get along with others - runs through these charming songs. Highly recommended! The tracks are "Big Buncha Buddies" (2:53), "Stray Dog" (3:31), "That Was A Bad Idea" (2:36), "Stick Pony" (4:14), "Jilly The Ghost" (2:07), "The Loneliest Whale" (3:09), "Bridgie B." (3:45), "Tall and Small" (2:16), "It's An Adventure" (2:44), "Why Did You Teach Me That Word?" (4:17), and "Don't Grow Up Too Fast" (3:15). It should be noted for personal audio collections that Big Buncha Buddies is available digitally from CDBaby, iTunes, and Amazon, as well as in CD format.

The Picturebook Shelf

The Lost Kitten
Lee, author
Komako Sakai, illustrator
Gecko Press
9781776571260, $16.99, HC, 32pp,

"The Lost Kitten" is a delicate, sensitively illustrated quiet tale about a sick little baby kitten who was brought to the home of Hina, her mother and grandmother by the kitten's mother, who still had two other kittens. Hina and her mother felt that the kitten's mother was asking them to care for the little kitten, who had blue gooey eyes and seemed frail and tiny. Hina's mother said, "All right, .... We'll take care of it. Come and visit whenever you'd like." She said this even though she had never been asked to do something by a cat before. The gentle narrative continues with Hina and her mother making small preparations for the little kitten to help her become comfortable in her new home. After having her blue eyes gently washed and cleaned, the tiny kitten laps up milk they offer her, and then hides under a cupboard. Hina's mother has to leave for awhile to go buy kitten food, and Hina tries to imagine a name for her kitten. Unfortunately, she notices that the kitten is not in sight, after a while, and she almost cries while she searches for the lost kitten inside and outside. Hina remembers a sad time when she was lost, on a shopping trip with her mother. She wonders if the kitten feels like she did. Finally when Hina went to put on her coat to search for the kitten as it grew darker, she found the kitten, in the closet, cuddled up in Hina's warm sweater. Just then, Hina's mother came home, and Hina was so relieved she started to cry. The kitten was perfectly happy and content in its new home, cuddled up in Hina's warm sweater. Finally Hina found a name for the lost kitten, Sleepy! "The Lost Kitten" is really a very nuanced exploration of the theme of loss, abandonment, contrasting with being found, safe and sound. The delicate, limited palette illustrations enhance the sensitive narrative. Children will identify with "The Lost Kitten," and find security, and love in exploring its pages.

Maxwell the Monkey Barber
Cale Atkinson, author/illustrator
Owlkids Books Inc.
1700 Fourth St., Berkeley, CA 94710
9781771471039, $16.95,

"Maxwell the Monkey Barber" is a bright, cheery, jaunty story told in perky rhyme and fancifully illustrated with rainbow portraits of zany jungle animal patrons of Maxwell the Monkey Barber, whose motto is, "Come to Maxwell's Barbershop! For a trim or for a chop!" Maxwell is a spunky, energetic barber, who tackles each barbering challenge with lots of zip. He never fails to flatter his varied customers with the final compliment, "And before you go, might I say, Your hair's the best I've seen today!" His first three challenging trims provides him with loads of leftover colored hair, and frees at least another savannah or jungle full of wildlife! But his fourth customer is different. Elephant's head is cold because he has no hairs. Maxwell is ever eager to help and promises to come up with a solution by the next day. Surrounded by piles and piles of rainbow colored hair from his previous customers, Maxwell thought and thought. The surprise ending does not fail to please and delight: "Elephant came back, as Maxwell said, and waiting right there for his head: Something fine, crafted with care... A lovely wig of soft warm hair!" To yet another satisfied customer, Maxwell intones, "And before you go, might I say, You hair's the best I've seen today!" "Maxwell the Monkey Barber" has humor, imagination, tact, diplomacy, and lots of fun and delight for young readers. In the end, Maxwell has so many new customers, he changes his slogan to: "Come one, come all, to Maxwell's shop! For a wig or for a chop!"

The Jelly Donut Difference: Sharing Kindness With the World
Maria Dismondy, author
P. S. Brookes, artist
Cardinal Rule Press
c/o Maria Dismondy Inc.
9780997608502, $10.95, PB,

Filled with full two -page illustrations of glowing light and delicate pastel portraits, "The Jelly Donut Difference" is an innovative title exploring the meaning of "paying it forward" by encouraging children and families to share kindness with the world. "The Jelly Donut Difference" begins with suggestions for before reading, during reading and after, plus additional learning suggestions to help families translate the idea of paying it forward and sharing kindness with the word to daily life and activities. Dexter and Leah are twins who do not always get along, share, or have peaceable playtimes together. When Papa sends Leah and Dexter to buy more eggs from their neighbor Mrs. Marvis, they notice that her house and life seem quiet and lonely. They decide to invite her to dinner that night along with other guests. There they learn more about Mrs. Marvis and her stories of living in Poland with her family many years ago. She told them of a polish tradition of making and eating Paczki, jelly donuts filled with sweet and savory fillings. Dexter and Leah later decide to make a recipe for jelly donuts for Mrs. Marvis, helped by their mother. The twins also noticed, when they delivered the jelly donuts to the appreciative Mrs. Marvis, that her yard had no snow people in it. They decided to make a whole family of snow persons to help to populate the yard and home of Mrs. Marvis. This further kindness was gratefully acknowledged by Mrs. Marvis, and the twins looked forward to working to continue new kindness traditions and treats. Also, the twins showed growing kindness in their interactions with each other. "The Jelly Donut Difference" closes with tips to help your family share kindness with the world.

My Busy Green Garden
Terry Pierce, author
Carol Schwartz, illustrator
Tilbury House, Publishers
12 Starr Street, Thomaston, ME 04861
9780884484950 $16.95

My Busy Green Garden is a rhyming children's picturebook about the bustle of insect and natural life in a lush green garden. Charming illustrations perfectly complement the singsong rhyme, and a final page of fascinating animal facts round out this delightful storybook. My Busy Green Garden is just plain fun to read aloud, and highly recommended.

Tracey Corderoy, author
Tim Warnes, illustrator
Tiger Tales
PO Box 70, Iron Ridge, WI 53035
9781680100334 $16.99

NOW! is an exuberant children's picturebook featuring young Otto, an anthropomorphic rhino who hates waiting. He'd rather do fun things right NOW! Otto can't wait for his Dad to finish a phone call, or stand in a line for the bouncy castle. Will Otto ever learn the value of patience? Charming, funny, and brought to life with playful artwork, NOW! is a brief yet delightful read- aloud picturebook perfect for storytime, bedtime, or anytime.

Very, Very Afraid!
Craig Kunce, author/illustrator
9781944734022, $14.00, PB,

"Very, Very Afraid" is a pastel painted, funny and only slightly scary story in verse about Sadie, a girl who feared monsters and decided to do something about it. Sadie is tired of being scared at night. She decides to go monster hunting, taking the initiative. Armed with her favorite pirate sword and fuzzy pink bedroom slippers, plus a trusty flashlight, Sadie searched the dark corners of her house to uncover monsters gold, green, pink and red. She demanded to know why they were making her afraid. The final answer she received is a flashlight surprise that will warm the hearts of all children who are enthralled by pink furry monsters.

Big Bear, Small Mouse
Karma Wilson, author
Jane Chapman, illustrator
Margaret K. McElderry Books
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781481459716, $16.99, HC, 32pp,

Bear is big, big, big, and Mouse is small, small, small but these friends stick together through all the highs and lows! Children ages 3 to 7 can join Bear and Mouse as they spot all the opposites in their little glen. An impressively successful collaboration between author Karma Wilson and illustrator Jane Chapman "Big Bear, Small Mouse" is a delightful concept picture book introduction to the concept of opposites that begs to be read out loud. While very highly recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Big Bear, Small Mouse" is also available in a Kindle format ($10.99).

Gus's Garage
Leo Timmers, author/illustrator
Gecko Press
9781776570928, $16.99, HC, 32pp,

Gus's workshop is chock-full of odds and ends. When his friend Rico comes over with a problem (his scooter seat is way too small for a rhino ) Gus finds just the thing to fix it. "Gus's Garage" by Leo Timmers (one of Belgium's preeminent picture book authors and illustrators) is a visually entertaining picture book story that is ideal for children ages 4 to 7. While very highly recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Gus's Garage" is also available in Kindle format ($9.99).

When I Carried You in My Belly
Thrity Umrigar, author
Ziyue Chen, illustrator
Running Press
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 W. 57th St., Suite 1500, New York, NY 10107
9780762460588, $16.99, HC, 40pp,

Beautifully illustrated by Ziyue Chen, "When I Carried You in My Belly" by Thrity Umrigar is the story of the very special bond between a mother and her child that begins well before the baby is born. But once the baby is born and starts to grow into her own person, traits from both parents begin to show themselves in delightful and humorous ways. A simply wonderful picture book for children ages 4 to 8, "When I Carried You in My Belly" is a mother's song to her growing daughter, capturing the warmth and magic of the time when her daughter was housed inside her belly. The girl's laugh, her love of music, her sweet disposition, and her carefree attitude can all be traced back to her time in her mother's tummy, when her mother would laugh, sing songs, eat yummy treats, and dance the day away. While very highly recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections, it should be noted that "When I Carried You in My Belly" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Kylie Meets Cooley
Danielle Hart & Kylie Laine, authors
Jenny Shaneyfelt, illustrator
Clovercroft Publishing
9781942557593, $13.99, HC, 32pp,

Kylie is a young girl who is saddened by having to movie away from the only home she's ever known. Her first evening on the new farm, the Kylie bravely ventures out and meets Cooley Cow. Together the pair discover they have something in common that makes them both special. What begins with a wink, then shooting stars, becomes a wonderful new friendship, built on glowing hearts! Mooooooooooooooooo! Full of rhythm and rhyme, "Kylie Meets Cooley" communicates a vital message to children ages 4 to 9 to be brave, to conquer fear, to look inside their own hearts to find what makes them special, to look inside the hearts of others to help them see they are special, and to positively encourage family and friends. The mother-daughter team of Danielle Hart & Kylie Laine have collaborated to create an entertaining and original story that is impressively embellished by the artwork of Jenny Shaneyfelt. The result is a picture book that is strongly recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers.

A Well-Mannered Young Wolf
Jean Leroy, author
Matthieu Maudet, illustrator
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
c/o Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
2140 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780802854797, $16.00, HC, 30pp,

One morning, a young wolf eagerly sets out on his first hunting trip. But before he can devour his prey, he must honor their final wishes, just as his parents taught him to do. But the wolf's would-be meals aren't quite as honorable as he is! Can common courtesy prove effective amidst the wild laws of nature? A perfectly crafted and humorous picture book story specifically designed to teach children ages 4 to 8 that good manners are always important and can often bring unexpected results, "A Well-Mannered Young Wolf " is especially recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community picture book collections for young readers.

Cassandra and The Night Sky
Amy Jackson, author
Donna Paredes, illustrator
Bright Sky Press
2365 Rice Blvd., Suite 202, Houston, TX 77005
9781942945406, $18.95, HC, 32pp,

Throughout time, the many cultures of the world have all pondered the multitude of stars that make up the constellations and explain the heavens in the night sky. Deftly written by Amy Jackson and beautifully illustrated by Donna Paredes, "Cassandra and the Night Sky" tells the picture book story of a nine-year-old princess, a royal tea party and the magic and mythology that lends its voice to the explanation of the legends of the starry night sky. Informative and entertaining, "Cassandra and The Night Sky" is especially recommended for children ages 5 to 12 and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers.

The Rainbow Zoo
Lucille Lang Day, author
Gina Aoay Orosco, illustrator
Scarlet Tanager Books
PO Box 20906, Oakland, CA 94620
9780976867661, $18.00, HC, 28pp,

Fiction. Children's Literature. Ages 4 and up. Illustrated by Gina Aoay Orosco. Deftly written by Lucille Lang Day and beautifully illustrated by Gina Aoay Orosco, "The Rainbow Zoo" is a simply magical place where children might find animals of any hue. Accompanying two children on a tour of the Rainbow Zoo, young readers ages 4 to 8 will learn the names of animals and the names of colors. They will also learn that whatever color animals might be, they are beautiful and special. A wonderful picture book celebration of diversity, "The Rainbow Zoo" is especially recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.

Mies Van Hout
Lemniscaat USA
9781935954514, $17.95, HC, 32pp,

A young boy and a young girl take a fun, fantastical trip together to the playground. Young children ages 3 to 6 can join them as the two friend climb through the trees, find the way across the crocodile-infested river, bushwhack through blackberries, feel their way through the dark cave, escape from a monster, and slide into safety at the jungle gym. A new creature joins the children from each landscape, contributing to an ever-lengthening parade to the playground in this fun and interactive book highlighted throughout through Mies van Hout's amazing art.. For young children, sometimes the imaginative journey is even more fun than the destination! "Playground" is very highly recommended, especially for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

The Lion Inside
Rachel Bright and Jim Field
Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545873505 $16.99

The Lion Inside tells of a little mouse who wants to find his big voice in the world, even though he's the meekest (and the smallest) creature around. He's often ignored, forgotten, or stepped on - but as he observes all the other larger, more important animals around him, the little mouse decides that maybe he, too, can cultivate a larger-than-life presence. The result is an approach to life that is a fun, winning and simple story of how a diminutive personality can become notable.

When I Am With Dad
Kimball Crossley
Two Little Birds Press/AMMO Books
9780991293575 $17.95

Elizabeth is a particular kind of girl who likes things to be orderly; but when she spends time with her father, life isn't always predictable. Unlike Elizabeth, her father has his own way of doing things - and big adjustments take place as the compulsive, organized Elizabeth faces a father whose approach to life is much different. A very simple story line and lovely drawings by Katie Gamb lend to a tale that is fun and thought-provoking, and an easy read for young picture book audiences who enjoy stories of family interactions.

That's NOT a Hippopotamus!
Juliette Maclver and Sarah Davis
Gecko Press
9781927271964 $16.99

That's NOT a Hippopotamus! is a fun story of Don's Safari, a 'zoo' where animals roam free and sometimes challenge the young to identify them. Don has every kind of animal imaginable - but does he have a hippo? It must be a lie! A fun rhyme accompanies a search for the seeming impossible and a venture where many surprises turn up in this whimsical story of fun at an animal park.

One Noisy Night
M. Christina Butler, author
Tina Macnaughton, illustrator
Tiger Tales
PO Box 70, Iron Ridge, WI 53035
9781680100341 $16.99

One Noisy Night tells of Rabbit, who has heard nothing but racket from the wilderness all night long. Little Hedgehog didn't hear anything; but other animals did - and they are all determined to find out what is causing the racket in the woods. Simply gorgeous illustrations throughout by Tina Macnaughton lend to a series of investigations and discussions that will benefit from parental read-aloud. Parents will find great interest in an unpredictable, gentle story of animal friends who band together to solve a forest puzzle.

Little Home Bird
Jo Empson
Child's Play
64 Wellington Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052
9781846438899 $16.99

Little Home Bird tells of a little bird who loves everything about his home - his food, his nest, its view. Why would he ever want to change anything about perfection? The last thing Little Bird wants is a new home. Parental read-aloud assistance will add valuable discussions to this story of how a little bird learns a new definition of 'home' and its value. The gorgeous drawings make for a lovely story.

Little Lek Longtail Learns to Sleep
Bette Killion
Wisdom Tales Press
1501 E. Hillside Dr., Bloomington, IN 47401
9781937786632 $17.95

Little Lek Longtail Learns to Sleep is translated by Beatriz Vidal and tells of a Thai Argus pheasant who is exceptionally handsome and kind. His only problem is that Little Lek can't sleep - nighttime brings with it many fears. Parental read-aloud assistance will lend to a child's appreciation of this gentle story of a beautiful bird's pride, joy, and worries.

Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020

Claire Freedman & Judi Abbot's My Grandparents Love Me (9781481475370, $16.99) offers the warm first-person story of a child's special bond with grandparents, and is presented in a picture book read recommended for ages 4-8. Zebras are the protagonists who are loving here, demonstrating all the things a child can do with grandparents who dote on them. A very simple
story line encourages new readers to appreciate this very simple story of the different ways grandparents express love to their grandkids. Meg Fleming and Sarah Jane Wright's I Heart You (9781442488953, $17.99) is a rhyming picture book story that supports warm parents who encourage their child to try new things in life. Very simple language perfect for new readers explore the different ways animal parents love and support their kids in this fun story.

Random House/Crown/Knopf
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019

Matthew McElligott's Mad Scientist Academy: The Weather Disaster (9780553523768, $17.99) assumes a color cartoon format as it tells of a zany science class that enjoys a visit from meteorologist Dr. Nimbus, who gives the class an unusual bird's-eye view of the atmosphere. But Dr. Cosmic also has a new invention which is designed to manipulate the school environment - and when he turns it on, problems emerge. Kids who appreciate cartoons and graphic novels will relish the fun adventures that beset the kids in this 'mad academy'. Jeanne Birdsall's My Favorite Pets By Gus W. for Ms. Smolinski's Class (9780385753702, $16.99) tells of a farm where seventeen sheep and Gus Cohabitate. There are many things Gus discovers about sheep: they have wool, they won't play games, and they live outside. Or, do they? Whimsical, fun pictures by Harry Bliss accompany a fun story of Gus and his new sheep friends.

Disney Hyperion
125 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023

Mo Williams' Nanette's Baguette (9781484722862, $17.99) provides a fun picture book that features a frog's first journey to a bakery, and provides handcrafted paper-modeled images of a French village as it excels in oversized, action-driven, very simple language and a situation that places Nanette at odds with her world. New readers just cultivating reading skills will be inspired by the large-size, fun drawings and zany story line to read up on Nanette's predicament. Dan Santat's The Cookie Fiasco (9781484726365, $9.99) presents the dilemma of four friends and three cookies, and also excels in very simple dialogue and language and large-size images that compel young readers just moving into chapter book formats to pick up this easy reader. Should there be equal cookies for all? Does sharing really work? These and other subjects receive fine embellishment in a rollicking, fun read. A.N. Kang's The Very Fluffy Kitty, Papillon (9781484717981, $16.99) tells of a kitty that is so very fluffy, he floats. Being lighter than air can result in a host of issues as a cat can get carried away (literally) by life. A simple adventure goes wrong in this whimsical tale, especially recommended for fans of felines.

The Christian Shelf

The Creation of the World
Uwe Natus, author
Dagmar Geisler, illustrator
Sparkhouse Family
510 Marquette Avenue, 7th Floor, Minneapolis, MN 55402
9781506408835, $14.99 HC, ($2.85,

Deftly written by Uwe Natus and playfully illustrated by Dagmar Geisler, "The Creation of the World" is colorful picture book for children ages 4 to 8 that tells the biblical story of the seven days of creation. From the formation of the stars to the blessing of all living creatures, kids will be delighted with the story of how God spoke the world into existence. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to family, preschool, elementary school, Sunday school, and community library picture book collections, "The Creation of the World" is enthusiastically recommended.

The Judaic Shelf

The Passover Cowboy
Barbara Diamond Goldin, author
Gina Capaldi, illustrator
Apples And Honey Press
c/o Behrman House Inc.
11 Edison Place, Springfield, NJ 07081
9781681155272, $17.95, HC, 32pp,

Until last year, Jacob and his family had lived in Russia, where he and his friends would run in and out of each other's homes, one house right next to the other. But now his family had moved to Argentina, and to Jacob, it seemed that friends were harder to find in this new land. Could his new friend Benito join them for the seder? Would he? Could a Passover meal here in Argentina with its cowboys, ponchos, chickens, and horses -- and still feel like home, too? A wonderfully entertaining picture book for young readers with a comforting insightful message, "The Passover Cowboy" is enthusiastically and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children.

The Little Esrog
Rochelle Kochin
Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch
c/o Kehot Publication Society
291 Kingston Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11213
9780826600448 $14.95

The Little Esrog takes place days before Sukkos, and tells of the Jews of Sislotch, who are waiting for their esrogim to arrive. When days happen and the holiday is threatened, one man holds the ability to change its outcome. Janice Hechter's illustrations are gorgeous, and adult read-aloud assistance will enhance discussion of the themes to this picture book story, recommended for young Jewish audiences ages 5 years and up.

The Biography Shelf

Amelia Who Could Fly
Mara Dal Corso, author
Daniela Volpari, illustrator
Kane Miller
c/o EDC Publishing
PO Box 470663, Tulsa, OK 74147
9781610674690, $12.99,

"Amelia Who Could Fly" is a vivid childhood impressions biography of the famous American aviatrix, Amelia Earhart (D.O.B. 7-24-1897, D.O.D. 1937), raised by parents and grandparents in Kansas and Iowa. Originally published in Italy, this poetic child biography paints a fresh, exciting portrait of the young Amelia, a pioneer nonconformist who liked to wear pants and to have her hair cut short in an era when these things were just not done by little girls. Bright, airy illustrations convey the inner spirit of a 10 year old girl who is inspired to fly by her first sight of a plane in flight at a State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa. "Amelia Who Could Fly" is completed by a two page spread of biographical details about the life of the aviatrix, enhanced by period sepia and white photos of the young pilot as a child as a young adult. "Amelia Who Could Fly" is recommended for young readers age 3-7, an unusually imaginative child biography which will inspire and appeal to kids of every age.

What Grandma Built
Michelle Gilman, author
Jazmin Sasky, illustrator
Harbour Publishing
PO Box 219, Madeira Park, BC, VoN 2H0 Canada
9781550177534, $14.95 PB,

"What Grandma Built" is an unusual children's biographical tribute, part family story and history of a remarkable grandmother (Phyllis Shenkarow), and part joyous celebration of one family's legacy of love as manifested in the remarkable house (later castle) on the hill built and inspired by Grandma's love. Filled with bright, cheery, childlike illustrations of apple-cheeked children and parents playing in the yard of the Castle on the hill overlooking the lake, "What Grandma Built" is a sweet, sincere tribute to a remarkable woman who inspired growth wherever her love for her family took her. In the beginning, Grandma and Grandpa were young and in love, and they chose to build their house on a stone foundation on a hill overlooking a beautiful lake. As their children were born and their family grew, Grandma asked to have the house grow with them. So later, when grandchildren came after her children married, Grandma wanted enough room in her house for everyone, so she added lots of extra bedrooms, bunk beds, and toys. A giant playground was built on the hill overlooking the lake, and a big dining room held a large table with lots of room for everyone to join in Grandma's home cooked dinners. Along with her many grandchildren, Grandma enjoyed growing a garden, taking walks, visiting the island in the lake, and cozy movies and afternoon treats. The time came when Grandma grew tired, became quiet, and passed away. Afterwards, all her children and grandchildren gathered to pay tribute to her big heart and love. A tradition was born, because of the enduring love manifested in "Grandma's Castle," a place of magical dreams and wishes come true. All the family descendants of Grandma are dedicated to continuing to build and love Grandma's Castle, a real place on Lake of the Woods, Ontario, Canada. "What Grandma Built" is a children's story that is a real tribute to the enduring power of love.

Some Writer!
Melissa Sweet
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544319592 $18.99

Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White is an outstanding biography highly recommended as a 'must have/foundation read' for any reader who loves E.B. White's many writings. White's works go beyond his classic Charlotte's Web and move in different directions; but the pleasure of this coverage is its fluid and compelling visual and verbal pieces which bring together his influences, career, and the vivid process of writing his classics. With its lively approach to how White produced his books, readers of all ages receive a powerful and beautiful survey that makes a fitting accompaniment to a thorough enjoyment and appreciation of White's works.

Adrift at Sea
Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch with Tuan Ho
Pajama Press
9781772780055 $18.95

Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy's Story of Survival is set in 1981 and tells of a fishing boat overloaded with Vietnamese refugees. Tuan Ho was only six years old when his family embarked on a dangerous voyage to escape Vietnam and became part of the "boat people" fleeing their homeland: his story is told in a non-fiction narrative that captures the experience for young readers. Highly recommended.

The Environmental Shelf

Where Do Rivers Go, Momma?
Catherine L. Weyerhaeuser
Mountain Press Publishing Company
PO Box 2399, Missoula, MT 59806
9780878426560 $12.00

Where Do Rivers Go, Momma? reads like fiction, but is packed with nonfiction facts as it tells of a little girl and her mother out in a spring rainstorm. This prompts the girl to ask questions about rivers, rain, and the water cycle, and as the mother answers, young readers learn basic facts about nature. Good reading skills or parental read-aloud assistance will lend to an appreciation of this book's information and basic insights into rivers, streams, and water.

The Autism Shelf

The Green-Eyed Goblin
K.I. Al-Ghani, author
Haitham Al-Ghani, illustrator
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
400 Market Street, Suite 400, Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781785920912 $19.95

Children on the autism spectrum perceive the world differently, and thus require a different approach in picture book explorations. The Green-Eyed Goblin is a treatise on jealousy and comes from a special education teacher who joins forces with a cartoon animator to tell of a little green goblin that resides in everybody. Parental read-aloud and discussion assistance will lend value to this story of what happens when that goblin awakens

The Board Book Shelf

Special You
Jonny Lambert
Tiger Tales
PO Box 70, Iron Ridge, WI 53035
9781589252387 $9.99

Special You is a board book for ages 2-5, but it's thicker than most, at 24 pages, and more compelling than many, offering engaging drawings and the story of Little Why the elephant, who longs to be special. All the other wild animals he sees have special abilities or features, but Little Why feels plain and ordinary. Can anything make him happier about who he is - and can anything make him stay in line during a long journey? This fun, simple tale will appeal to any youngster and read-aloud parents.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

A Case of Sense
Songju Ma Daemicke, author
Shennen Bersani, illustrator
Arbordale Publishing
612 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Suite A2, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
9781628558524, $17.95 HC / $9.95 PB / $6.95 Kindle,

"A Case of Sense" retells a teaching tale from Chinese traditions about a greedy neighbor, Fu Wang, who tried to collect money from his neighbors for the delicious smells of his cooking, as witnessed by a boy named Ming, who was playing with his dog in the street. Aromas of steamed fish, fried shrimp, beef stew, Kungpao chicken, dumplings, spicy noodles, chicken with mushrooms and bok choy tantalized the noses of all the nearby neighbors of the greedy Fu Wang, who were puzzled. Then Fu Wang announced that he would collect 40 cents per person for their enjoyment of his cooking smells. When the residents and neighbors refused to pay for the cooking smells, Fu Wang took his case to a judge in court. Observed by the boy Ming, Fu Wang's argument and the response of all the neighbors was heard by the judge, who then banged his gavel and gave his decision. In an astonishing display of fair judgement, the judge ordered each resident to bring his coins totaling forty cents before the bench. Then, the judge ordered each individual to rattle and jingle their coins. As Fu Wang came forth to collect his fees, the judge announced, "You have now collected your payment.... You have been paid for what (they) smelled with the sound of (their) coins." As the amusement spread among all the neighbors and spectators, the logic and fairness of the judge's decision became clear to all. "Neither smell nor sound has definite shape or volume. Once created, they are passed freely through the air. All people nearby will receive them passively. The sound of the coins is a fair trade for the smell of the food. The case is now closed!" Impressed, Ming decided he would work hard and one day become a wise judge. Following the story of "A Case of Sense," there are four pages of learning activities and questions to encourage further critical thought in young readers. Additional free learning activities are available online at, Other Arbordale titles that teach children more about senses and judgement.

The Stranger's Farewell
Palwasha Bazger Salam, author
Marie Lafrance, illustrator
Hoopoe Books
c/o Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge
171 Main St., #140, Los Altos, CA 94022
9781942698272, $7.99, PB, 38pp,

"The Stranger's Farewell" is a traditional wisdom tale retold here by Palwasha Bazger Salem, with luscious, flowing illustrations influenced by Afghan traditions by Marie Lafrance. A kindly young couple of modest means offer to entertain a mysterious visiting stranger, sharing their delicious, humble bean soup with the stranger dressed in green. In the course of offering their hospitality, Aisha and Alim (the poor young couple) discover the stranger in green has left them a material blessing expressed in his farewell: "May the next thing you do last until you say 'Enough'." Consequently, Aisha and Alim found themselves blessed with hoards of silver, after Aisha attempted to run after the stranger to offer him a silver coin to help him on his journey. Luckily, Alim remembered the stranger's words, and was able to say "Enough" before they became burdened by greed. A later opportunist was not so fortunate, or wise. Seeking to increase his riches, a greedy man plotted to find and entertain the stranger in the green robe and to hopefully reap a bountiful harvest of endless money. However, the greedy rich man's story did not end as happily as that of Aisha and Alim. He literally drowned himself and his neighbors in his ongoing thirst for riches, in a fitting twist ending. "The Stranger's Farewell" is a wisdom tale classic, retold here in the Afghan tradition. Children will appreciate its beauty, justice, and simplicity. Another title from this same author/illustrator team that is also highly recommended is "The Wisdom of Ahmad Shah: An Afghan Legend" (9781942698289, $7.99).

Beauty and the Beast
Retold by Cynthia Ryland
Meg Park, illustrator
Disney Hyperion
125 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023
9781423119814 $16.99

Beauty and the Beast is a children's picturebook retelling the classic fairy tale about a young woman who falls in love with a regal yet seemingly monstrous beast. (This rendition is not an adaptation of the animated Disney movie based on the fable; instead, it stays close to the original story). The sweeping, emotional artwork superbly complements the prose, making Beauty and the Beast a treasure for fairytale or bedtime storybook collections.

The Gaming Shelf

Pokemon Classic Collector's Handbook
Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9781338158236 $8.99

Pokemon Classic Collector's Handbook is a colorful guide to the first 151 pokemon, creatures that can be captured, tamed, and used to battle one another in the popular video game series, which also inspired an enormously successful cartoon show. These are the 151 pokemon featured in the first Pokemon games (Pokemon Red, Pokemon Blue, and Pokemon Yellow), which began a grand franchise beloved by fans of all ages! Each featured Pokemon has a full-colored illustration, a pronunciation guide, a list of possible moves, and a brief description; different evolutions of the same pokemon are grouped together. A small fold-out poster, a "pokedex checklist", and an index of all the different pokemon rounds out this fun and easy-to-use guide.

Books in Series

Christmas Crafts
Mirella S. Miller, author
Mernie Gallagher-Cole, illustrator
The Child's World
1980 Lookout Drive, Mankato, MN 56003
9781503808164, $28.50 Library Binding,

"Christmas Crafts" is a title from the outstanding Holiday Crafts book series from The Child's World and specifically intended for children age 7 and up. Following a brief introduction to the Christmas holiday and its 2,000 year history, there are brightly illustrated simple instructions for five separate Christmas craft creations, using easily available materials, supplies, and accessories. First is a delightful Sock Snowman, made of repurposed socks, rubber bands, rice, string, fabric, glue, and buttons. It can be made either with white socks or a fun holiday colored pair of socks. The second project is a Christmas Tree Garland for either the tree or other decorative draping, made of colored cupcake liners, glue, decorations (glitter, sequins), twine, and using a hole punch. This fun craft activity allows for lots of creativity in its execution. Another craft activity is a Christmas Wreath, made of green and red construction paper, using a ruler, pencil, scissors, stapler, and glue. this project may require a bit of adult supervision in construction, but it results in a beautiful finished Christmas Wreath with very little complicated effort. The two final projects are a Clothespin Nutcracker, made of construction paper, tape, paint, markers, clothespins and popsicle sticks, and a Toilet Paper Roll Ornament, made of a toilet paper roll, red and white construction paper, a white cotton ball, and using glue, scissors, twine, and black marker. Both these last two projects benefit from a bit of experienced supervision, but are basically completed in simple steps, with accompanying diagrams and instructions. After creating each of the Christmas Crafts, the young reader has a colorful glossary of terms, suggestions for further reading, and web site links available at "Christmas Crafts" is a delightful collection of accessible holiday craft projects that will be easy and inexpensive to make, while providing kids with meaningful hands on creative craft experiences. Additional titles from the Holiday Crafts series that are also highly recommended include: "Thanksgiving Crafts" (9781503808218, $28.50) by Annette Gulati, "St. Patrick's Day Crafts" (9781503808188, $28.50), by Ann Malaspina, "Valentine's Day Crafts" (9781503808225, $28.50), by Claire Mathiowetz, "Birthday Crafts" (9781503808157, $28.50), by Trudi Strain Trueit, "Easter Crafts" (9781503808171, $28.50), by Anita Yasuda, "Halloween Crafts" (9781503808201, $28.50), by Anita Yasuda, and "Mother's Day Crafts" (9781503808195, $28.50), by Trudi Strain Struit. All the Holiday Crafts titles are creatively illustrated by Mernie Gallagher-Cole.

Beethoven's Heroic Symphony
Anna Harwell Celenza, author
JoAnn E. Kitchel, illustrator
85 Main Street, Watertown MA 02472
9781580895309, $16.95,

A title from the Once Upon Masterpiece juvenile series about famous composers' masterworks, "Beethoven's Heroic Symphony" is an exciting journey through the creation of the fantastic Heroic Symphony by Ludwig Van Beethoven, during a time when he despaired of continuing his life performing and composing music because of his advancing incurable deafness. This inspirational true story is told with great respect, admiration, accuracy, and detail. All four movements of the Eroica Symphony are described . Stunning illustrations with black silhouettes of the composer and friend(s) against a flowing, Romantic mural of the famous inspiration for Beethoven's Eroica Symphony, Napoleon Bonaparte. In the beginning of the symphony's creation, Beethoven was inspired and awed by the idea of Bonaparte as a sort of hero of the people, delivering liberty to all with his victories against injustice. However, when Beethoven found that Napoleon had crowned himself as Emperor of France, after his symphony was just finished, he was horribly disillusioned. He attempted to destroy his wonderful Eroica Symphony, refusing to allow it to celebrate the achievements of a tyrant. Beethoven's faithful friend, Ferdinand, who loved the beauty and majesty of Beethoven's beautiful symphony, grabbed a copy of the symphony and refused to allow Ludwig to destroy it as he had destroyed the original. Ferdinand forced Beethoven to reconsider, and to realize that his incredible symphony was not just about Bonaparte, but about the human condition. It deserved to be saved, studied, and performed for all listeners to enjoy, to touch their souls with its mighty mirror of the struggles inherent in the human condition. Young readers will be inspired by this exciting true story of the creation of one of the greatest musical compositions in Western music. Readers are invited to visit Anna's Music Spot at, to listen to Beethoven's Heroic Symphony. Also highly recommended is another title in the Once Upon a Masterpiece, "Bach's Goldberg Variations (9781580895293, $16.95)," also by Anna Harwell Celenza and illustrated by JoAnn E. Kitchel.

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

These four series collections are recommended picks for elementary-level libraries, offering bright, contemporary covers and illustrations and approaches that lend well to both leisure browsing and reports. The 'Travel With the Great Explorers' series ($27.60 each) includes Cynthia O'Brien's Explore with Stanley and Livingstone (9780778726481), Tim Cooke's Explore with Francisco Vazquez de Coronado (9780778728474), Cynthia O'Brien's Explore with Marquette and Jolliet (9780778728504) and Rachel Stuckey's Explore with Hernando de Soto (9780778728495) each feature 'busy' pages packed with contemporary illustrations, photos, sidebars of detail, and maps that not only chart discoveries and routes, but keep the coverage lively and engrossing. Three books in the Get Graphing! Building Data Literacy Skills series ($23.60 each) offer specific coverages of different kinds of graphs and how they are used. Since usually graph details are embedded into larger math books, it's refreshing to see a narrowed focus with the opportunity to include more specifics in 24 pages of detail. Lizann Flatt's Line Graphs (9780778726258) and Crystal Sikkens' Bar Graphs (9780778726241) and Picture Graphs (9780778726326) each use large-size print, good-sized color photos of kids working with graphs, and clear explanations of different kinds of graphs to make for fine specific coverages that focus on graph appearances and connections to interpreting data. The 'Engineering in Action' series ($27.60 each) holds for books that cover different kinds of modern engineering developments, with 32 pages of detail in each including an index, glossary, bibliography, and a lively approach filled with color photos of kids working on engineering topics. Jonathan Nixon's Energy Engineering and Powering the Future (9780778775393), Rebecca Sjonger's Ocean Engineering and Designing for the Deep Sea (9780778775362) and Robotics Engineering and Our Automated World (9780778775379), and Anne Rooney's Genetic Engineering and Developments in Biotechnology (9780778775386) all answer basic questions about each engineering approach and its value. Jessica Pegis has two books in the 'Citizenship in Action' series ($23.60 each), What is Citizenship? (9780778725961) and Why Does Democracy Matter? (9780778725978). Each holds 24 pages of basic information on democratic principles and their applications to questions about citizenship. All are excellent reference library additions.

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design