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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 3 March 2006 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Biography Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Video/DVD Shelf Science Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Fiction Shelf Preschool Shelf Books in Series
Folklore/Fairytale Shelf Audiobook Shelf Hobbies/Activities Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Alone In The World
Catherine Reef
Clarion Books
215 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10003
0618356703 $18.00

What was it like to grow up in an orphanage? Where did kids sleep, and what was daily life like? Catherine Reef's Alone In The World: Orphans And Orphanages In America is the first book devoted solely to orphan history, culture, attitudes, and lifestyle. First-hand accounts blend with over seventy archival photos and prints to accompany a history of the institutions that grew to address the needs of orphans, from asylum children to solder's orphans. A unique social history recommended for grades 4-6.

Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012

Anthony Aveni's The First Americans: The Story Of Where They Came From And Who They Became (0439551447, $18.99) will reach grades 3-5 with its survey of the very first settlers in this country, long before Columbus. More than just another history, The First Americans reads at times like fiction in its effort to re-create the drama and activity of daily life - a hunt, games, initiation ceremonies and more. Bright color drawings throughout pack pages which recreate lives and achievements, and which brings detail to the cultural and social insights. Stephen Biesty's Egypt In Spectacular Cross-section (0439745373, $18.99) tells of an eleven-year-old and his father who undertake a thirty- day journey up the Nile in 1230 BC. Artist Stephen Biesty provides the transportation and look at daily Egyptian life through a series of lively and detailed cross-section illustrations which invite kids to learn. George Sullivan's Built To Last: Building America's Amazing Bridges, Dams, Tunnels And Skyscrapers (0439517370, $18.99) is a pick for grades 5-6, telling the story of the design and construction of seventeen selected architectural and engineering marvels. Lovely photos include six vertical, double-page spreads with images of the Sears Tower, Golden Gate Bridge, and more, while descriptions provide details on construction challenges and achievements. Built To Last may not fit into curriculums for assignments, but it surely will attract leisure readers.

Seven Wonders Of The Modern World
Doreen Gonzales
Enslow Publishers
PO Box 398, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
0766052923 $20.00

From the Panama Canal to the CN Tower and the Empire State Building, Seven Wonders Of The Modern World joins others in the 'Seven Wonders of the World' series to survey the structures' history, impact, and the web sites which offer further information. Between color photos of web site screens and supplemental details, Seven Wonders Of The Modern World works very well for both classroom and computer research.

A Child Of God
Michael J. Caduto, author
Adelaide Murphy Tyrol, illustrator
Paulist Press
997 MacArthur Blvd, Mahwah, NJ 07430
0809167263 $16.95 1-800-218-1903

A Child Of God: Stories Of Jesus And Stewardship Activities For Children is both a story and an activity book for Christian children. It presents brief tales of Jesus Christ adapted from scripture; along with the stories are reflections, paragraphs that contemplate aspects of the sacred tales and invite children to do the same, as well as activities that help young people express their faith. Suggested activities include putting on a puppet play, drawing maps of locations spoken of in the Bible, and learning more about the natural history and life cycle of animals mentioned in the Bible, as well as programs designed to protect endangered animals. The color illustrations are the perfect complement to the reverent tone of the text. A Child Of God is a profoundly spiritual resource for Christian families, Sunday schools, and church youth libraries, and embraces the idea that the best way to practice the teachings of Jesus is through thoughts and actions both. Highly recommended.

2700 Drake Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48331-3535

Two new to the 'American History by Decade' titles ($23.70 each) are fine recommendations for grades 3-5: Deanne Durrett's The 1910s (0737717467) presents real-life examples in its survey of American culture after the turn of the century. From women's struggles for the right to American music, film, and the coming of the first world war, bright colorful illustrations and vintage black and white photos bring the era to life. Don Nardo's The 1940s (0737715162) profiles the US involvement in the second world war, from its emergence as a world power after to the cultural changes which took place. Deborah Underwood's Wonders Of The World: The Easter Island Statues (0737-73065X, $23.70) explores the mystery of the statues, their origins, and the vanished culture which left little other history behind other than the statues.

The Biography Shelf

Crabtree Publishing
350 - 5th Avenue, #3308, NY, NY 10118
$23.92 each

Four excellent new explorers' titles are highly recommended picks for elementary grades. Each provide 32 pages of detail including a glossary, index, and plenty of color illustrations to compliment lively facts. Ellen Rodger's Lewis And Clark; Opening The American West (0778724-107) tells of their journeys and encounters on the trail and influence on the new world after their expedition, Adrianna Morganelli's Christopher Columbus: Sailing To A New World (0778724093) tells of the explorer's first voyage to the new world, his other voyages, and failed colonies; Carrie Gleason's Henry Hudson: Seeking The Northwest Passage (0778724085) tells of Hudson in the Arctic and America, his life at sea and encounter with mutiny, and his struggle to survive the Arctic chill, and John Zronik's Francisco Pizarro: Journeys Through Peru And South America (0778724115) charts Pizarro's voyages, his effects on the Inca peoples, and the Spanish conquest of South America. The focuses on aftermaths and listing influences and legacy of each explorer are revealing.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Gareth Stevens
330 W. Olive St., Milwaukee, WI 53212
$22.00 each

Each 24-page focus on baby animals in the 'Born to Be Wild' series will appeal to leisure browsers who enjoy bright, vivid color on every page as they read about young animals in natural environments, making the entire series a recommended pick for elementary library collections. Each book pairs a detailed animal profile with questions and answers and discussions of how little animals grow and learn. Violette Rennert's Little Lions (0836847377) tells how little lions learn to be fierce; Colette Barbe-Julien's Little Hippopotamuses (0836847369) tells of hippos who learn how to play in water and mud; Little Whales (0826847407) by Rennert tells how whales learn to sing and spout water; Annie Jones' Little Penguins (0836847-385) tells how penguins learn to toboggan and ski; Valerie Guidoux's Little Zebras (0836847415) tells how baby zebras learn to watch for hungry lions; her Little Dolphins (0836847350) tells of acrobatic water animals; and her Little Polar Bears (0836847393) reveals how polar bears learn to hunt seals, and Little Beavers (0836847342) reveals how little beavers learn to build dams. All are engaging, fun reads the very young will appreciate.

Smart Apple Media
2140 Howard Drive West, North Mankato, MN 56003

Co-authored by Helen Bateman and Jayne Denshire, "Dangerous Creatures" is a series showcasing some of the lethal wildlife to be found in Earth's six main environmental zones. Each individual titles provides young readers with a profile of the featured animal's vital statistics, fascinating "Fact Flash" text boxes and "Danger Reports" of encounters with them. The "young reader friendly" text is enhanced with full color photography, a world map showing the location of each environmental zone, food chain and other labeled diagrams, a glossary, and an index. An invaluable and very worthwhile addition to any grade school or community library "Pets/Wildlife" reference collection, the individual titles comprising this highly recommended nature series includes: Dangerous Creatures Of The Grasslands (1583407-650, $18.95); Dangerous Creatures Of The Deserts (1583407707, $18.95); Dangerous Creatures Of The Mountain And Polar Regions (1583407677, $18.95); Dangerous Creatures Of The Oceans (1583407685, $18.95); Dangerous Creatures Of The Forests And Woodlands (1583407669, $18.95); Dangerous Creatures Of The Tropical Rainforests (158-3407693, $18.95).

Lerner Publications
241 1st Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401
$25.26 each

Lerner's 'Animal Scavengers' series by Sandra Markle is outstanding, packing in brilliant and dramatic color photo covers to captivate even reluctant learners and pairing inside photos with animal facts which lend to repeat browsing and learning. Wolverines (0822531984) follows the life of the wolverine through the forest, discussing its powerful features and survival skills as it follows a female wolverine's routine. Hyenas (0822531941) surveys brown hyenas of the African desert, showing a very different style of scavenging. Both are bright, colorful and appealingly dramatic, recommended for grades 3-5.

The Video/DVD Shelf

Schlessinger Media
7 East Wynnewood Road, Wynnewood PA, 19096-0580
$29.95 each

In the "Wonders Of The Ancient World" series, viewers will find an array of wonders such as the Pyramids, the Acropolis, and the Taj Mahal. Schlessinger Media presents a remarkable collection of comprehensive investigations of historical treasures in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the America's. Through imagery presented by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, students and viewers will get a true and genuine sense of education for all of the featured, consisting of Anasazi, Taos & Blackfeet (38 minutes), Ancient African Architecture (38 minutes), Ancient African Civilizations (38 minutes), Ancient China (50 minutes), Ancient Egypt (38 minutes), Ancient Greece (50 minutes), Ancient Greco-Roman Cultures (38 minutes), Ancient India (50 Minutes), Aztec, Inca & Zapotec (50 minutes), Maya (50 minutes), Ancient Rome (26 minutes). Also available in a VHS format, this highly educational collection is recommended strongly to students grades 7 to 12.

Careers In Interior Design
Learning Zone Xpress
PO Box 1022, Owatonna, MN 55060,
1571750770 $79.95 1-888-455-7003

Careers In Interior Design: The Business Of Structure & Style is a video guide to the career path of interior design. Intended for viewers grade 7 to adult, Careers in Interior Design offers a glimpse into the daily work of interior designers, who must apply creativity, aesthetic principles, and salesmanship skills to their jobs - to deliver just the right "look", mood or ambience to a customer's space. Ideal for classroom presentation, this brief yet informative video packs in everything needed to get a taste of the demands and rewards of the interior design field. 17 minutes, color.

Families Of Canada
Master Communications, Inc.
4480 Lake Forest Drive, Suite 302, Cincinnati, OH 45242
188819412X $29.95

A welcome contribution to the "Families of the World" educational DVD series, Families Of Canada is a journey through the culture and daily life of Canada, particularly as seen through the eyes of two children: 7-year-old Hannah of Novia Scotia, who takes two busses and a ferry to her school on an island each morning, and 11-year- old John, who lives on the outskirts of the major city of Toronto. Spanning a day full of exciting activities from breakfast to bedtime, Families Of Canada is an enriching exposure to differences and especially recommended for young viewers. An ideal addition to home, school, and public library "Other People, Other Lands" DVD collections.

Crystal Productions
PO Box 2159, Glenview, IL 60025-6159

Three latest installments of the Learn Art Styles with Lisa series of videos, produced with the aid of leading artists, offer viewers in grade 7 and up a tour of twenty-four artistic masterworks apiece. Romanesque To Post-impressionism (1562903535, $29.95) explores paintings, sculpture, and architecture of important artists from the 1100s to the 1920s; Fauvism To Nonfigurative (1562903543, $29.95) covers works from 1904 to the 1950s, and Regionalism To Installation Art (1562903551, $29.95) looks at art pieces from the 1940s to the present. Lisa's friendly and inviting presentation and the beautiful display of stunning artistic expressions combine to make this series a welcome addition to classroom and public library shelves.

The Science Shelf

Antarctica: The Heart Of The World
Coral Tulloch
Enchanted Lion Books
45 Main St., #519, Brooklyn, NY 11201
1592700543 $17.95 1-888-330-8477

Antarctica: The Heart Of The World is more than a picturebook; it's filled cover to cover with facts and color photography of Antarctica, the ice-covered continent. The instructional text teaches young readers at length about the frozen oceans, wildlife, history of exploration, and more pertaining to Antarctica, and the colorful illustrations show young people everything from the kinds of extreme protective gear antarctic explorers need to wear to the current patterns of antarctic waters. Though written for young adults, the text is involved enough to stimulate the creativity and understanding of older children up through teenage years. Antarctica: The Heart Of The World is enthusiastically recommended for school library shelves, and also for children who are old enough to be curious about what the South Pole is really like.

The Picturebook Shelf

Michael E. Uslan & John Steven Gurney
EE Publishing & Productions
5221 Cather Road, Springfield, VA 22151
0975384325 $17.99

Chatterbox: The Bird Who Wore Glasses is a heartwarming picturebook, illustrated in soft colors, story about a lonely girl named Nancy A. Nobody, who befriends a misfit talking parakeet named Chatterbox, or C.B. for short. She makes her parakeet special spectacles so that he can fly better, and makes every effort to take care of her pet. Best of all, she learns the vital lesson that she is special just being herself, and being a good friend to the animal she is responsible for. "With morning's dawning, C.B. said to me, / 'You're Nancy A. Nobody surely you see. / You feed me and bathe me, no ifs, buts or ands. / My little life is in God's and your hands." An accompanying audio CD includes a story reading and two songs, rounding out Chatterbox: The Bird Who Wore Glasses, a charming and confidence-boosting story.

Cowboy Slim
Julie Danneberg & Margrot Apple
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
1580890458 $15.95

With Julie Danneberg's writing, and Margot Apple's illustrations, Cowboy Slim is a fun and inventive book of cowboy poetry. Page after page, children will laugh wildly as Cowboy Slim rhymes and jokes about the good ol' west and all of the excursions he embarks upon with his dogies and horse. Danneburg's story is the perfect companion to the pictures which Apple breathes life into the story with. Equipped with a glossary of Buckaroo Banter, Cowboy Slim is a delightful recommendation for all children, especially those just beginning to read.

Three French Hens
Margie Palatini & Richard Egielski
Hyperion Books
114 - 5th Avenue, NY, NY 10011-5690
0786851678 $15.99

On the third day of Christmas a mademoiselle from Paris sent her true love three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree - but the hens never arrive. A mis-delivery to Phil Fox from the Bronx leads to the promise of good meal - even if the French hens have to pull out some French culinary skills in the process…

The Littlest Tugboat
Sarah Sherman McGrail, author
James A. Taliana, illustrator
Cozy Harbor Press
PO Box 385, Southport, ME 04576
0965592529 $19.95

The Littlest Tugboat is a cheerful children's book about a family of tugboats that works hard to guide ships up and down the Kennebec River. Tommy, the littlest Tugboat, chafes when his mother tugboat tells him to stay home during stormy weather, while his bigger siblings are hard at work. When Tommy ventures out on his own, he discovers a barge carried toward a low bridge by the storm - only the littlest tugboat can save the day, and the bridge, by guiding the barge to safety! A gentle story of courage, as a little tugboat learns what it takes to prove oneself. The simple color artwork brings the tugboats and their waters to life; although the tugboat family is very personable in the tale, the art does not add faces to the tugboats or other unusual anthropomorphic features. The Littlest Tugboat is a welcome addition to any school or community library collection.

Nutmeg And Barley
Janie Bynum
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140
0763623822 $15.99

Nutmeg And Barley: A Budding Friendship is a sweet, gentle story of two very different friends: a mouse and squirrel who assume they have little in common but who find their different styles leads to a friendship which has more to do with kindness than similarities. Gentle pictures illustrate a warm story of evolving understanding.

Little Bunny Kung Fu
Regan Johnson
Blooming Tree Press
PO Box 140934, Austin, TX 78714-0934
0976941783 $16.95

Little Bunny Kung Fu is a rhyming children's picturebook with an underlying theme about respect for others and the environment. Little Bunny Kung Fu loves to practice martial arts among the bamboo, cutting stalks in half with his attacks and his throwing stars. But what are the creatures who eat, live in, or hide in the bamboo to do in the wake of Little Bunny Kung Fu's destruction? One by one they ask the bunny not to harm their bamboo; he disregards them all, until at last a visit from the Great Dragon sets Little Bunny Kung Fu straight. The black-and-white artwork, drawn with a Chinese theme - the Great Dragon is clearly an Asian dragon, and Little Bunny Kung Fu wears a traditional Chinese shirt - brims with enthusiasm in this delightful tale.

We're Having A Tuesday
DK Simoneau & Brad Cornelius
AC Publications Group, LLC
PO Box 260543, Lakewood, CO 80226
1933302135 $16.95

We're Having A Tuesday is a children's picturebook about the difficulties a little girl has going back and forth between the two homes of her divorced parents. Tuesday is the worst day of all because it's a day in which she has to go from one home to another. She is upset about having to shuttle between them, misses her Daddy on the days that she comes to Mommy's home, and has to leave her favorite possessions behind in one home when she travels to the other. But she learns that no matter where she is, both her parents are always with her, for their love is treasured safely within her own heart. The final pages of We're Having A Tuesday have lines for the child to write things he/she misses about Mommy and Daddy, and ways he/she can remember them. The gentle color illustrations add the perfect touch to this excellent book for children of divorced or separated parents.

Creatures Of The Night
Stephen Brooks & Rodger Wilson
Purple Sky Publishing
PO Box 12013, Parkville, MO 64152
0976901714 $16.95

Creatures Of The Night is a children's picturebook about the various creatures of the night, who come out under the cover of dark to forage for food, and hoot, howl or serenade. The rhyming verse and endearing color artwork of animals under a black night sky make Creatures of the Night an ideal read-aloud story to young children, especially just before bedtime. "Returning home to open arms, / Are the creatures of the day, / As the creatures of the night / Come out to run and play."

Pink Magic
Donna Jo Napoli
Clarion Books
215 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10003
0618159851 $15.00

Nick's sister gets lots of great cards on her birthday but there's nothing in the mail pouch for Nick - so she wishes Nick to receive some great mail in his favorite color pink, sparking a host of special deliveries of odd items, from a pink flamingo to a pink watermelon. How can she stop the odd magic mail from coming?

Sherry B. Garr & Kirk Werner
PO Box 911659, St. George, Utah 84791
0975986600 $13.95

Gumfounded is a children's picturebook about the importance of recycling one's trash and not littering. When a young girl steps in gum on the way to school things get worse and worse as the gum on her shoe sticks to more and more pieces of trash! By the time she reaches the school itself, she is dragging a mountain of sticky gum and litter, and appeals to the teacher to make a new rule - no more littering on the way to school! Together the children and the teacher clean up and recycle the garbage. The final page offers a very short song that young people can learn to sing as they develop good recycling habits. The bright color illustrations have a cartoony feel and add an extra dose of humor to this lighthearted yet deeply moral tale.

Brendon Mouse's Big Idea To Save The Big Bird Bunch
Greg Watkins
Cute and Cuddly Books
4401 Shallowford Rd., Ste. 162, Roswell, GA 30075
0976131803 $14.95

The sequel to "A Big Beaked, Big Bellied Bird Named Bill", Brendon Mouse's Big Idea To Save The Big Bird Bunch is a picturebook story about a mouse's plan to save his avian friends from the bird-eating alligator of the first book. The charming color illustrations of appealing animals with exaggerated proportions balance the story, with its moral that the greatest power comes from accepting and being true to oneself. The story's text is slightly more involved than that of typical picturebook; Brendon Mouse's Big Idea To Save The Big Bird Bunch is ideal for young readers age 4-9.

House For A Mouse
Jean-Come Nogues & Anne Velghe
North-South Books
350 Seventh Ave., #1400, NY, NY 10001
0735820171 $15.95 1-800-722-6657

When Little Mouse sets out to find a home of her own, her mother gave her a delicious piece of wheat for breakfast, hugged her, and wished her good luck. Little Mouse walked for a long time and along the way asked the flowers if they knew of an empty house -- put they paid no attention to her. She asked the snail and the rabbit but they were no help either. Just when she was about to give up she say a real house that had its drawbacks (a cat, cheese baited traps, a mouse-eating awl in the attic), but with wit and courage, Little Mouse was able to make a home in this house after all. Jean-Come Nogue's delightful tale is superbly enhanced with the gentle, colorful artwork of Anne Velghe in a picturebook story certain to charm young readers ages 4 to 6.

Beasts In The Closet
Jeff Snow
Snowbound Press
PO Box 698, Littleton, CO 80160-0698
1932362118 $17.95

Walt Disney Animation and Dreamworks SKG feature film artist Jeff Snow presents Beasts In The Closet, a rhyming picturebook about strange noises in the night that chill a five-year-old boy's heart. He imagines all sorts of hideous creatures with hungry and terrible plans, and tries desperately to convince his mother that the monsters in his closet and under his bed are real. But when morning comes and he is unharmed, he begins to question his own fears about mysterious beasts - could it be that what oppresses him worst is fear itself? Or could it be that the monsters are tame and have an unfair reputation just because they make a little noise? The unforgettable and colorful art style perfectly matches a simple story about growing up and learning to sleep alone at night.

Riley's Bow-Wow Blast
Animal Gambill, author
T. B. Jackson-Williams, illustrator
Boss Paws Publishing
PO Box 17124, Louisville, KY 40217
0976905809 $12.95

Licensed Clinical Social Worker, child therapist, and animal lover Animal Gambill presents Riley's Bow-Wow Blast, a story about an eight-year-old girl who adopts and takes care of a dog named Riley. Told from Riley's point of view, Riley's Bow-Wow Blast begins with a problem - Riley is a good and loyal dog, but he is utterly terrified of thunderstorms, and sometimes even tries to run away when one comes. So the girl, Singin' Sally, comes up with the Puppy Dog Power Plan, to help turn the time Riley fears the most in to a rockin' Bow-Wow Blast! The delightful color illustrations add the proper dollop of enthusiastic glee to this wonderful story about turning over a new leaf and finding courage through shared joy.

The Tree Farmer
Chuck Leavell & Nicholas Cravotta
Rebecca Bleau
VSP Books
7402-G Lockport Pl., Lorton, VA 22079
1893622169 $16.95

Based on Charlane Plantation, a historic 2,200-acre tree farm in Georgia cared for by one of the authors and his wife, The Tree Farmer is a picturebook about environmental stewards, who farm and harvest trees while being responsible to the land. The Tree Farmer opens as a grandson asks his grandfather why the family tends trees with so much love, only to cut them down. In response, the grandfather teaches the boy about the majesty of each tree, and how their contributions have a lasting destiny that goes far beyond the tree's death - one will become paper that holds great ideas, another the frame of a bed which will hold limitless dreams. A gentle story, warmly illustrated, about holding respect for the world around one, responsibly using gifts, and giving all one can to the rest of the world. "In what marvelous ways shall you give of your life, young one?"

Phoebe And Chub
Matthew Henry Hall, author
Sheila Aldridge, illustrator
Rising Moon
c/o Northland Publishing
PO Box 1389, Flagstaff, AZ 86002
0873588797 $15.95 1-800-346-3257

Phoebe And Chub is colorful picturebook about a fish and a tree frog who are best friends, and the three secrets to happiness. Rule 1: Make lots of friends. Rule 2: Make your wishes known. Rule 3: Enjoy every moment! The sweeping color artwork vibrantly paints the canyon home of the two unlikely friends, and their exciting adventures culminate in realizing a most wondrous wish - the chance to fly, with the help of a kindly California condor! An afterword from the author tells readers about endangered species - there are only 200 California condors left in the world - and encourages young people to look up more information about species conservation.

Marcello The Movie Mouse
Liz Hockinson & Kathryn Otoshi
KO Kids Books
502 Browning Ct, Mill Valley, CA 94941
0972394621 $16.95

Marcello The Movie Mouse is a colorful picturebook about a young mouse who lives in the Grand Palazzo Theatre. Little Marcello dreams of making his own films someday; but he has no camera and no crew, just endless factory work, and to make things worse the dreadful theatre cat Ravioli is always on the prowl! But Marcello just won't give up, and devotes his all to pursuing his dream - a dream that just might have room for Ravioli as well! A glossary of movie terms and inspirational quotes from great moviemakers round out this delightful storybook for budding film buffs.

Simon & Schuster/Atheneum
1230 Avenue of Americas, NY, NY 10020

Jenny's favorite uncle is getting married and everyone's happy - except Jenny - in Lenore Look's Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding (0689944591, $16.95). Yumi Heo's warm and funny drawings enhance the story of a little girl who is used to being her uncle's favorite, but who must step aside - unless she can keep him from getting married at all… Nancy Tafuri's Five Little Chicks (0689873425, $14.95) provides a very easy counting book which brings the farmyard chicks to life. Large print, big drawings, and whimsical cartoon illustration makes FIVE Little Chicks a fun, easy read recommendation.

The Year Of The Dog
Oliver Chin & Miah Alcorn
PO Box 31846, San Francisco, CA 94131
1597020028 $15.95

The Year Of The Dog: Tales From The Chinese Zodiac is a picturebook about a puppy born on New Years' Day, who explores his surroundings with the companionship of Lin, the little girl next door. A whimsical tale of confusion and adventure, as Lin and the puppy meet the other animals of the Chinese zodiac, some in their imagination, and some in real life - and the Tiger in particular is a very dangerous animal to meet! The cartoony and angular art style captures the eagerness of the young dog perfectly, in this upbeat astrological tale.

Loon Chase
Jean Heilprin Diehl & Kathryn Freeman
Sylvan Dell Publishing
976 Houston Northcutt Blvd., Suite 3, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
0976494388 $15.95

Loon Chase is a children's picturebook about a boy and his mother who go on a peaceful canoe outing with their dog. They hear loon cries, observe a magnificent loon family, and even see wild loons take flight. The warm, naturalistic illustrations and the contemplative text form a story about respect and wonderment for nature's creatures; the narrative is just complex enough to be appropriate for children almost ready to make the transition from picturebooks to easy reader chapter books. A Creative Minds: Loon Fun Facts section at the end offers both amazing facts and fun to-do projects about loons. Highly recommended for young nature and bird lovers.

Next Week When I'm Big
Janet Guggenheim & Suana Verelst
Azro Press
1704 Llano Street, Santa Fe, NM 87505
192911513X $19.95

Next Week When I'm Big is an easy-reader picturebook about a little girl who dreams of exciting and exotic things she can do when she grows bigger. But her concepts of careers and activities are a little mixed up! "Next week when I'm big / I'm going to be a trapezoid artist / or maybe / a whale singer / and a sorter / of the M&M's. / But every week, / I'm going to be / a bundle of joy." The outlandish color pictures match the starry-eyed mood of the simple story, in this unique and whimsical tale.

Itty & Bitty
Nancy Carpenter Czerw, author
Dana Bauer, illustrator
McWitty Press
110 Riverside Drive - 1A, NY, NY 10024
0975561820 $15.95

Written in rhyming verse, Itty & Bitty: Two Miniature Horses is a charming picturebook about two smaller-than- average horses. Itty is a pristine show pony, while Bitty is a disheveled mess, but both are eager to get out and travel! Based on the antics of two real horses, pictured on the back cover, Itty & Bitty is a zany tale brought to life with color illustrations, and recommended for very young horse lover.

I Grew Up On A Farm
Alan K. Lewis & Bob Fletcher
Moo Press
c/o Keene Publishing
6 High Street, 2nd Fl,Warwick, NY 10990
0976680521 $19.95

I Grew Up On A Farm is a picturebook recounting of the author's childhood memories growing up on a farm over fifty years ago. Beautifully illustrated with vintage black-and-white photographs translated into soft artistic and scenic renderings, and the text brings to life the excitement, hard work, fresh air, and wonderment of laboring hard to grow things. A glossary and a collection of websites where children can go to learn more about farming round out this treasury of daily farm life.

The Numbers Dance
Josephine Nobisso & Dasha Ziborova
Gingerbread House
602 Montauk Highway, Westhampton Beach, NY 11978
0940112116 $16.95

The Numbers Dance: A Counting Comedy is a counting book written to show that numbers can be fun. The whimsical rhymes and extravagant color illustrations tell about the adventures of numbers as they get into a wild and rowdy dance contest! "1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 / Have roped the others like fiddlesticks. / Rolling and tussling they're breaking them in. / Now, bronco-busted, those numbers spin // So that 7, and 8, and 9 and 10 / Dance an old waltz from way-back-when." A silly yet vibrant and enjoyable read-aloud story, with characters that just happen to be numbers with a personality.

Zee Adventure One: Borrowing China
Marcie Gilbert & Patricia Krebs
4335 Van Nuys Boulevard, Suite 117, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
0977156605 $16.99

An original story by Marcie Gilbert and Jamie Green, Zee Adventure One: Borrowing China is a whimsical picturebook about a red-haired, green-eyed girl named Zee who sets out to ask to borrow the country of China for her mother's dinner party, not realizing that her mother just wants to rent fancy plates. Aided by a friendly magical butterfly, she goes to see China for herself; a kindly monk informs her to her dismay that she can't simply borrow China - China is far too large! Viewing the majestic scope of the country and a joyful parade of people, she decides, "Maybe we can't borrow all of China, but we can invite a few people from China." The result is the most exciting and interesting party Zee's family has ever had! The intense color illustrations capture the zesty energy of this cheerful and optimistic adventure.

'Cuz That's Just My Way
Raz, author
Janet Hall Kerchner, illustrator
B2Z Publishing, Inc.
PO Box 307, Severna Park, MD 21146
0971207046 $15.95 1-401-431-8890

'Cuz That's Just My Way is a rhyming picturebook about self-discovery. A young boy notices odd things about various animals - the long arms of monkeys, the wobbly legs of flamingoes, and harsh cry of crows. He asks each animal about them, and each tells him that their differences have a special purpose - to swing through trees, or wade through bodies of water, or scare away rivals and reassure baby chicks. The boy realizes that his words are hurtful, though not intentionally so, and that he has his own special qualities. The gentle color illustrations add an inviting touch to this lovely story perfect for reading aloud to young children.

Tilly... A Deer's Tale
Lee Manning-Vogelstein, et al.
Stone Hill Publishing
1 E End Ave, Fl. 10, NY, NY 10021-1102
097653570X $19.95

Based on a true story, Tilly...A Deer's Tale by Lee Manning-Vogelstein, Elizabeth Walker and Kristin Currid is the story of a young deer rescued from a river and raised on a farm, who is gradually prepared for release into the wild. Tilly... A Deer's Tale emphasizes respect for living things, and sees the world through the wide eyes of animals learning to grow up and fend for themselves, and teach others to do the same. Gentle, realistic color illustrations bring this heartwarming story to life. Highly recommended. A portion of the proceeds for Tilly... A Deer's Tale will be donated by the author to local animal rescue efforts.

Corn Silk And Black Braids
Vincent L. Johnson, M.D., author
Linda Crockett, illustrator
Marzetta Books
PO Box 274, Lombard, IL 60148
0965703320 $17.95

Corn Silk And Black Braids is a gentle story about learning to like oneself. A young African-American girl named Sarah is embarrassed by her hairstyle; when she meets Mary Beth, who has a beautiful blond head of hair, she feels frustrated and sad about her own unruly tresses. With the help of her Aunt Lubelle, she tries many hairstyles that she dislikes, but at last finds one special style - corn row braids - that she can delight in. Later when she speaks to Mary Beth, she learns Mary Beth's hair also gives her problems. Sarah learns a valuable lesson about deep down beauty, and the importance of loving and accepting oneself, in this touching and picturebook beautifully illustrated in full color.

Finding Utopia
Paul H. Sutherland, author
Timothy M. Gibbons, illustrator
Utopia Press
111 Cass Street, Traverse City, MI 49684
0966106040 $20.00

Finding Utopia is a children's picturebook about searching for wonder in the world - a quest that can lead to truly grand discoveries. An American family and their Aboriginal friend travel to Australia, looking for a glimpse of Utopia. While there, they travel on camels, see the outback, meet a wise Aboriginal couple, visit the sacred Uluru rock site, and learn about the native animals and creation myths of Australia. The jam-packed color illustrations and the extensive text are further supplemented with notes at the back of the book, about noble leaders and great ideas that promoted world harmony and peace. A glossary of Aboriginal words rounds out this amazing tour of Australia's wonders and human ingenuity in the quest to create and live in a perfect world.

How Much Wood Could A Woodchuck Chuck?
Danny Adlerman and friends
Jim Babjak, music
Cooperfly Books, Inc.
3148 Plainfield N.E., PMB 248, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
0970577346 $18.95

Illustrated by twelve popular children's book artists, How Much Wood Could A Woodchuck Chuck? is a whimsical picturebook that expounds on tongue-twisting variations of its title. "How much night could a nightjar jar if a nightjar could jar night? / As much night as a nightjar could if a nightjar could jar night! / How much sun could a sun bear bear if a sun bear could bear sun? / As much sun as a sun bear could if a sun bear could bear sun!" An accompanying audio CD puts the lyrics of the book to song, in a simple melody written in musical notation in the back of the book; the CD also has a music-only track so that readers can sing on their own. The final picture spread features representations of many compound words, which are listed in the back cover. A wonderful read-aloud or sing-along book for parents and children to share together.

The Fiction Shelf

The Life All Around Me By Ellen Foster
Kaye Gibbons
0151012040 $23.00

It's been twenty years since Gibbons' first novel Ellen Foster was published to acclaim as a classic coming of age story: The Life All Around Me By Ellen Foster continues the story of an adolescent who has here found a new mother and permanent home even though she still struggles with her mother's death and her father's abuse. She's aiming for Harvard but really trying to come to grips with her past in this moving story, recommended for mature teens.

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

Two wonderful reads come from talented writers who will delight teens seeking quality leisure reading. Louis Sachar's Small Steps (0385733143, $16.95) comes from the author of HOLES and takes place two years after Armpit is released from Camp Green Lake. He's trying to turn his life around, but the only person who believes in him is his ten-year-old disabled neighbor. He's on the right road - until a buddy from the camp comes up with a get-rich-quick scheme. Pat Hughes' Open Ice (038574675X, $15.95) will appeal to ice hockey fans with its story of Nick, who was born to skate and who rules the ice because he's a fighter. Due to a head injury he's told he can never play again - but how can Nick leave hockey, which is his life? Both are warm stories of obstacles and winning.

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

Book 2 of Jeff Stone's 'Five Ancestors' series, Monkey (0375830731, $15.95) really deserves a reading of Book 1 for a smooth transition - and be aware, this is a projected seven-book series - but the action- packed martial-arts story set in 17th century China will win fans wherever they begin. Five young, orphaned monks specializes in a different style of kung-fu reflecting his personality: here Malao faces his temple's destruction and an encounter with a band of wood monkeys who save him and introduce him to a wilder side of his soul. Debi Gliori's Pure Dead Trouble (0375833110, $15.95) returns the Strega-Borgia clan to life in a new adventure when a faithful butler is found comatose reeking of sulfur. Add investigation into a shady business and a romance with the replacement butler and you again have a hilarious story of a truly odd family facing supernatural troubles. Lurlene McDaniel's 'Angels in Pink' latest Holly's Story (0385731582, $10.95) tells of three friends who return to their volunteer jobs at the hospital. Two of them have boyfriends now - Holly is left out when the couples emerge, and her e-mail pal has vanished on her. When tragedy strikes, her concerns seem petty in another McDaniel story of crisis and recovery. Caroline B. Cooney's Code Orange (0385732597, $15.95) departs from her simpler plots to delve into issues of big-city terrorism when one Mitty's studies reveal a virus which holds the potential for killing everyone in New York City. A tense thriller presents a fluid, changing plot that is quite absorbing. Many Ly's Home Is East (0385732228, $15.95) tells the compelling story of Amy Lim, who has known all her life that her Cambodian mother intends to return home some day. Her mother is younger than Amy's American father and her Cambodian friends are sure she's married just to get to America. At age nine Amy is sure they're wrong - until her mother vanishes, and her father is devastated. How can she help when her remaining parent begins to fall apart? A poignant story of cultural differences and change. Kathryn Kenny's Trixie Beldon #13: The Mystery On Cobbett's Island (0375830537, $6.99) provides a new Trixie adventure in telling of a mysterious letter in an old book and a hidden fortune. Trixie has the clues to find the fortune - if she can decipher them!

The Preschool Shelf

First Picture Nursery Rhymes
J. Litchfield
Usborne/EDC Publishing
PO Box 470663, Tulsa, OK 74147-0663
0794510140 $11.95 1-8700-475-4522

Usborne's First Picture Nursery Rhymes is a 16-page, colorfully illustrated, board book compendium of popular nursery rhymes for children ages 9 months to three years. Perfect for parents to read to their young one, and for precocious children to begin to appreciate the use of language and as an introduction to the written word, First Picture Nursery Rhymes is enthusiastically recommended for family, preschool, day-care, kindergarten, and community library collections. Also very highly recommended are Usborne's companion titles for preschoolers: First Picture ABC (079450907X, $11.95); First Picture 1-2-3 (0794509398, $11.5); and First Picture Word Book (0794506453, $11.95).

Books in Series

The Child's World
PO Box 326, Chanhassen, MN 55317

From the celebrations of the Chinese new year to the romance of Valentine's Day, Ann Heinrichs has written and illustrated a simply wonderful series of twelve books, each of which are dedicated to a different annual holiday. Each title provides young readers from kindergarten through third grade with a succinct, 32-page overview of the history and traditions involved with each of the selected religious, patriotic, and traditional holidays and festivities. Each book in the series is enhanced with a reinforced library binding, profusely illustrated in full-color, providing a table of contents, informative sidebars, as well as holiday poems, recipes, crafts, and activities, along with a glossary of key words and phrases, sources for further research (including websites) and a comprehensive index.. Ideal for both school and community library collections, this outstanding series (159296596: $273.48 List / $191.40 Library) includes Chinese New Year; Cinco de Mayo; Dia de los Mayo; Father's Day; Halloween; Independence Day; Mardi Gras; Mother's Day; Rosh Hashanah; Saint Patrick's Day; Thanksgiving; and Valentine's Day.

The Creative Company
123 South Broad St, Mankato, MN 56001
1-800-445-6209 $15.95(each) $91.20 (set)

Authored by Lenore Franzen, "My Feelings" is an explorative series of four common place emotions: Anger (1583413-189), Fear (1583413197), Happiness (15-8341320), and Sadness (1583413219). This extraordinary set informs its young readers of the reasons for their feeling these emotions in an easy to follow construct with an index covering the 24 page content of each 8"x10" book. Featuring color photographs and sidebars containing activities and relative Web sites, "My Feelings" is a highly informative series which is especially recommended as great reading for children's educational libraries or homeschooling curriculum resource collections contributing to the education of young minds.

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Rd, Tarrytown NY 10591
0761475974 $249.95 1-800-831-9881

The encyclopedic "Drugs And Society" series is intended for high school students through young adults, and highly recommended to community library collections as well as school libraries who will want to consider it a standard reference acquisition. Each book in this 3-volume set packs in the latest details in thematic contents which fall into one of three color-coded categories: substances, substance abuse, and society. The arrangement makes it very easy to access virtually instant information on types of drugs, organizations and laws, and social responses. As a basic, quick reference, the "Drugs And Society" instructional reference set delivers important and "user friendly" access for both students and adults seeking the latest details in a format which is informed, informative, and easy to use.

Stargazer Books
c/o The Creative Company
123 So. Broad St, Mankato, MN 56001

"Let's Talk About" is a new five volume series from Stargazer Books that provides young readers with an informative and illustrated introduction to commonly encountered health and social issues. Utilizing a question and answer format, each of these throughly "kid friendly" books is enhanced with suggestions for further reading, contact information for thematically appropriate websites, agencies and organizations. The five titles comprising this outstanding series includes and Eating And Health (1596040491, $18.95) and Step Families (159604048-3, $18.95) by Sarah Levete; Racism (1596040467, $18.95) Bullying (1596040459, $18.95); and Smoking (1596040475, $18.95) by Bruce Sanders. "Let's Talk About" would make a popular and prized addition to any elementary school or community library reference collection for young readers.

The Folklore/Fairytale Shelf

Tibetan Tales For Little Buddhas
Naomi C. Rose
Clear Light Publishing
823 Don Diego, Santa Fe, NM 87505
1574160818 $16.95

In Tibetan Tales For Little Buddhas, author Naomi Rose gracefully retells three beautiful Tibetan stories for children. This 64-page picturebook provides young readers with touches of Tibetan culture that takes the form of adventures with yaks, yetis, monks, wisemen, and mystical beings. Each charming story carries a simple wisdom and exemplifies living in peace and kindness. Highly recommended for school and community library multicultural picturebook collections, Tibetan Tales For Little Buddhas is enhanced with a glossary, a map, and a description of an authentic Tibetan chant.

How The Moon Regained Her Shape
Janet Ruth Heller & Ben Hodson
Sylvan Dell Publishing
976 Houston Northcutt Blvd., Suite 3, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
0976494345 $15.95

How The Moon Regained Her Shape is a picturebook story influenced by Native American folklore. After the sun insults the moon, her pride is wounded and she disappears; yet with the help of all her friends and admirers, she gradually regains her full shape and size. The last few pages are a "for creative minds" section packed with astronomical definitions and simple projects that children can do pertaining to the moon, such as making moon cookies or viewing the moon's phases. The stylized artwork and the educational addendum perfectly complement this enchanting fairy tale.

The Audiobook Shelf

Gillian Rubinstein
Bolinda Publishing
2 Trap Falls Road, Suite 113, Shelton CT 06484 1-888-235-2019
1740936892 $24.00 (per 2 disc set)

Flashback by Gilian Rubinstein is a thrilling epic of a young man whose travels unintentionally lead the two into the world of filmmaking and mystery where good cannot be differed from evil, bringing the reader frantically through Flashback, searching for clues as the tale twists and turns leading to an unanticipated end. Very highly recommended, especially for school and community library audiobook collections for young listeners.

The Hobbies/Activities Shelf

Create Your Own Candles
Laura Check
Williamson Books
c/o Guideposts
535 Metroplex Drive, Suite 250, Nashville, Tennessee 37211
0824986636 $8.95 1-800-586-2572

The latest in the Quick Starts for Kids series, Create Your Own Candles: 30 Easy-To-Make Designs is a guide for readers ages 10 to adult to making candles and candleholders. An easy, fun, and inexpensive activity book, Create Your Own Candles requires little more than wax, wicks, old pans for heating the wax, utensils for stirring and cutting, and suitable glass containers which can be found at secondhand stores. Chapters cover beeswax candles, molded candles, hand-dipped candles, gel candles, and vibrant candleholders that can be made from recycled materials. A list of safety tips, such as the importance of using baking soda or a pot lid to smother a wax fire (water will not extinguish a wax fire because wax floats on water) rounds out this practical and adventurous guide, illustrated with black-and-white sketches throughout. Of course, Create Your Own Candles presumes that younger children will have adult supervision when engaging in this craft, and warns that certain types of wax will render pots and pans too waxy for use in regular cooking. A handy, easy-to-follow walkthrough for a great craft project, holiday giftmaking, or family fun activity.

Children who have parents who read, who live in homes filled with books, fare better in life than children who do not have those two key advantages.

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

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