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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 5 May 2006 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Picturebook Shelf Video/DVD Shelf
Books in Series Fiction Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Chapter Book/Easy Reader Shelf Biography Shelf Self-Help Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Hammond World Atlas Corp
c/o Langenscheidt Publishing Group
PO Box 979, Spring House, PA 19477

Two excellent juvenile atlases promise more than assigned reference consultation, sporting bright covers and topics which are lively and fun. The Animal Atlas (0843709189, $10.95) pairs facts with color maps and drawings of animals around the world, adopting a ‘did you know?’ series of questions and answers to review the more intriguing animal facts. The realistic drawings are simply gorgeous animal renditions while the facts invite leisure browsing and general interest as well as offering report material. The Explorer Atlas (0843709197, $10.95) does the same for explorers, covering both well-known and lesser-known adventurers around the world. Good-size full-page color maps are simple and easy to absorb. Both are top picks for discriminating elementary- level reference collections.

Enslow Publishers
PO Box 398, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922

Two excellent books are recommended for elementary grades, each holding very basic facts in under fifty pages of detail. Schools strong in bilingual education will relish Stephen Feinstein’s Lee Sobre Cesar Chavez/Read About Cesar Chavez (0766027449, $21.26) provides a little over twenty pages of large print basics on Chavez’s life, adding to the ‘I Like Biographies Bilingual’ series with a basic coverage following his early childhood on a family farm to his involvement in farm worker rights. Grades 1-3 will find it most accessible. Elaine Landau’s Witness The Boston Tea Party (0766025535, $23.93) will reach older reader in grades 3-4 with a little under fifty pages of facts. Joining others in Enslow’s ‘Explore Colonial America’ series, cartoon sidebars add some fun with color illustrations, while plenty of facts supplement a high-interest reading tone which invites kids to learn. Both are excellent picks.

Out Of The Shadows
Neil Waldman
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431
1590784111 $21.95

How does a child evolve into an artist? Author Waldman’s discovery of a mother’s precious velvet art book from a Russian art museum served as the starting inspiration for him early on, introducing him to a painter whose works would change not only his life, but the lives of his siblings. Painting quickly became key to the family’s survive as well as key to discovering a route away from their warring parents: here are over forty reproductions of the drawings and paintings of the Waldman family artists to accompany the story of four siblings who used art as a survival mechanism.

The Picturebook Shelf

Alphabetland: The Story of R
Rick McAfee & Barbara Hammons
Turning a New Page
PO Box 91603, Tucson, AZ 85752
0976203014 $14.95

Alphabetland: The Story Of R is the second book in the Alphabetland series of picturebooks, designed to help young children learn to read by presenting basic English phonetic pronunciation guidelines in the form of a whimsical story, populated with friendly anthropomorphic letters. In "The Story of R", poor letter R tends to shake terribly whenever he hears the vowels speak! Together, the inhabitants of Alphabetland devise a solution to R's problem - from now on, the vowels that are together with R will make special sounds. And so, Alphabetland: The Story Of R explains why the "a" in "car" is not short, and the "e" in "there" is not long, and other cases in which the vowels next to the letter R follow their own distinct pattern. A wonderful and educational storybook especially for young people learning how to sound out new words. Also highly recommended is the first book in the series, Alphabetland: The Beginning.

Jeremy Dubow
Action Publishing
PO Box 391, Glendale, CA 91209
1888045183 $12.95

Margaret is a lovely picturebook about a young girl closely in touch with the natural world. In the morning, she brings the sun up; during the day, she makes sure the wind is blowing, the grass is soft, and the flowers are pretty; and at night, she puts the sun to bed and says hello to the moon and the stars to make sure they're still there. Margaret is a playful, life affirming story, about recognizing the beauty and wonder that surround us all. Illustrated in a minimalist style with soft pastel colors, Margaret is ideal for bedtime reading to young children.

Random House/Knopf

Susan Wojciechowski’s A Fine St. Patrick’s Day (0375823867, $15.95) tells of two towns who have an annual competition to celebrate the day’s decorating challenges. Every year the same town wins; but this year little Fiona has an innovative new idea which might work – until a funny little stranger’s arrival challenges both sides! A wonderful St. Patrick’s fable evolves. Jack Prelutsky selects poems on animal themes for The Beauty Of The Beast: Poems From The Animal Kingdom (067987058X, $19.95), which packs in over 200 poems arrived by zoological classification for insects, birds, mammals and others. Meilo So provides gentle watercolors to accent a lovely collection of animal poems using a wide range of styles, from haiku to free verse, and a range of poets, from Rachel Field and Maxine Kumin to the author himself. Leo Lionni’s Pezzettino (039483156X, $15.95) tells of one Pezzettino who lives in a world where everyone’s big and does wonderful things, while he’s just a small piece. Collage square drawings form an unusual graphic accompaniment to a simple tale which reflects the experiences and perceptions of kids in adult worlds. Court Crandall’s Hugville (0375824189, $13.95) tells of various kinds of hugs: the Octopus Hug, Chicken Hug, Itchy dog Hug and more. Visit Hugville to bone up on the latest in this zany, rollicking rhyme of a unique place. Dr. Seuss’ Hooper Humperdink? Not Him! (0679881298, $8.99) provides a catchy beginner’s book designed for an even lower age group than the original Beginner Books imprint. This Bright and Early Book will appeal to ages 3-7 and offers a fun story of guests who turn out to a huge birthday part – but Hooper isn’t on the invite list! What can he do? Valorie Fisher’s How High Can A Dinosaur Count? And Other Math Mysteries (037583608X, $16.95) adds a fun dimension to math by pairing it with dinosaur concerns, the cost of a birthday cake, how many flapjacks Felix needs to flip to keep Flo and Fifi happy, and more. From ice cream to balloons, appealing scenarios pair full-page right color drawings with math puzzles kids will be encouraged to try.

That’s What Leprechauns Do
Eve Bunting
Clarion Books
215 Park Avenue S., New York NY 10003
0618354107 $16.00

What’s the most important job a leprechaun must do? Move the pot of gold before the rainbow comes! Three leprechauns are ready one cloudy morning – but they can’t resist playing on the way to the task at hand, and trouble results. Emily Arnold McCully’s lively drawings illustrate this fun tale of leprechaun antics.

Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472

Charlesbridge’s new titles are excellent, entertaining picks for kids – and with very different themes leisure readers will appreciate. Justina Chen Heddley’s The Patch (1580890490, $15.95) received Mitch Vane’s cartoon-style drawings as it tells of a girl who has to wear a patch over her eye. All of her friends want to know what’s up – but she decides to invent increasingly wild answers instead of telling the truth… with unexpected results. Paperbacks aren’t usually recommended here for library lending, but parents should take a look at these. Pam Calvert’s Multiplying Menace: The Revenge Of Rumpelstiltskin (1570918902, $6.95) tells of the return of Rumpelstiltskin, who wants revenge on the queen who prevented him from taking hr firstborn. Animals and bugs multiply in great numbers while others vanish: can Peter stop this multiplying menace? Fun drawings enhance a fine story. Julie Danneberg’s Last Day Blues (1580891047, $6.95) tells of a class reluctant to say goodbye to their beloved teacher at the end of the school year – so they come up with a plan to keep her from being too sad. Sara Latta’s Stella Brite And The Dark Matter Mystery (1570918848, $6.95) presents mystery revolving around dark matter. Stella is hot to solve the missing matter - with some discoveries as a result. Two fine math titles are also top picks: Ann McCallum’s Beanstalk: The Measure Of A Giant (1570918945, $6.95) tells of a giant new friend with a giant problem trying to play with his little new friend. Can they ever be true friends?

Tell Me A Story, Daddy
Moira Kemp
Hodder/Trafalgar Square
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, North Pomfret, VT 05053
0340875607 $7.99

A young girl requests a story from her father about a princess and Rosie settles in happily to hear about a princess who dines with her teddies - but what if a dragon wants to come to tea? And what if the dragon’s parents come looking for him? And what if the prince on the way to rescue has to rescue another princess along the way? A youngster’s worries contribute to a zany expanding story in a very satisfying read parents and kids alike will relish.

What Do I Say?
Malky Goldberg & Patti Argoff
Hachai Publishing
762 Park Place, Brooklyn, NY 11216
1929628242 $9.95

What Do I Say?: A Lift-the-Flap Book is a colorful picturebook designed to teach young children when to say the right English and Hebrew phrases - from "thank you" and "you're welcome" and "excuse me" to "Refuah Shelaimah" (literally "a complete recovery", used in a similar context among sick friends as "get well soon") and "Shema Yisroel", (the "Hear O Israel" prayer), a proper final benediction before going to bed at night. Each special phrase is hidden behind a flap that the reader can lift in this playful story, while follows a normal day in a young Jewish boy's life. Although the flaps might be too delicate for the wear and tear that public library books tend to encounter, What Do I Say? is an enthusiastically recommended read-aloud book for Jewish parents of young children.

If I Had a Dog
Carolyn Jackson
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th Floor, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5A 2P9
0887767257 $16.95

Six-year-old Maxine loves dogs, dreams of them, and wants one more than anything. She always stops for dogs on walks and loves to learn new facts from pet owner friends. If I Had A Dog covers these lessons so that young children can learn to ‘read’ dog language. Information embedded within the story if vet-approved information but presented in an easy style kids will readily absorb – particularly with the wonderful color drawings of France Brassard. A wonderful pick which educates as it entertains.

Rabbit Ears
Amber Stewart
Bloomsbury USA
175 – 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010
1582349592 $16.95

Busy rabbits all wash their ears – except for Hopscotch, who likes his ears dry. He’ll do anything to avoid a bath; from pretending to be a clean cat with tiny ears to hiding them under his stuffed animal Rabbit. It takes an older cousin's visit to reveal a startling truth to Hopscotch, providing him with another alternative to never having his ears washed. Laura Rankin’s engaging drawings make this a top pick.

Holiday House
425 Madison, New York NY 10017

Two fine titles offer something different in the ways of topics and interests for leisure readers. Dan Bernstein’s The Tortoise And The Hare Race Again (0823418677, $16.95) enjoys Andrew Glass’s zany drawings as it tells of a new face-off involving high-tech equipment. The lazy hare has had no respect since he lost the Great Race: he’s taunted by rabbits everywhere, even the slowest around – and the champion tortoise meanwhile is sorry he beat the hare, since he has too much unwelcome attention now. It seems a rematch would help both parties – IF the results turn out differently. Teresa Bateman’s Keeper Of Soles (0823417344, $16.95) receives Yayo’s fun, whimsical drawings as it tells of a shoemaker who is called upon by Death himself. But Colin has a plan to fool the Grim Reaper one that involves a game he knows well – a game of soles…

Too Much Picnic
Peter Jan Honigsberg
Jazzie Bunny Press
PO Box 5458, Berkeley, CA 94705
1571431543 $16.95

At the community picnic one Cocoa Mole gets to eat as much as he wants: so he does. Then it’s time to play – but he’s too full, and falls asleep instead where he journeys into the world of dreams. Ryan Jones’ drawings are exquisite and fun additions to the story of a greedy mole who discovers it’s more fun to be with friends than to stuff himself!

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

B.G. Hennessy’s The Boy Who Cried Wolf (0689874332, $15.95) receives wonderful, bright, large-sized drawings by Boris Kulikov as it tells of a bored shepherd boy who decides to stir up some excitement. His formula for excitement works too well and bears repeating – until a predictable problem results in this zany retelling. John Segal’s Carrot Soup (0689877021, $12.95) tells of a rabbit who patiently grows carrots and gets his friends together for a delicious surprise. It all seems quite simple: plowing, planting, lots of waiting…but something goes awry at the carrot patch, and rabbit embarks on an investigation of possible crime suspects as a result. Lisa Kopelke’s The Younger Brother’s Survival Guide (0689862490, $15.95) explores why it’s difficult to have an older sister who calls him a pain when Matt just thinks he’s surviving. Here are his tips on what helps him survive his older sister: any younger sibling will find much to reflect on, and many words of funny wisdom here! Kate Coombs’ The Secret-Keeper (0689839634, $16.95) pairs lovely paintings by Heather M. Solomon with the story of a village where anyone troubled by a secret knows where to take it: to Kalli’s cottage. She’s stored hundreds of the village’s secrets; but when she falls ill and their weight catches up with her, the time comes to share some of the burden. Margie Palatini’s Oink? (068986258X, $15.95) receives Henry Cole’s lovely and fun illustrations as it tells of sloppy, dim but contented pigs. The other animals have ideas of how the pigs can improve – but the pigs themselves aren’t interested. A solid lesson on expectations and realities is imparted. Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman’s new picturebook Bear’s New Friend (0689859848, $16.95) follows a bear’s journey to the water-hole with his friends. Something’s scampering in the trees – but it doesn’t seem to be any of his known friends. Bear’s discovery of a new friend makes for a delightful, easy tale. Emily Gravett’s Wolves (1416914919, $15.95) follows the National Curriculum and tells of hat wolves really like to eat. A rabbit who believes in fairy tales is astounded, in this gentle story for ages 4-8.

525 ‘B’ Street, Suite 1900, San Diego, CA 92101-4495

Harcourt’s latest releases promise lots of reading pleasure and a fine attention to diversity and detail. Margaret Chodos Irvine’s Best Best Friends (0152056947, $16.00) will reach ages 3-7 with a spirited story of two girls who struggle with love, jealousy, and all the conflicts and joys of being ‘best best friends’. A very easy story of conflict and resolution evolves. Adam Rex’s Tree Ring Circus (0152053633, $16.00) will reach the same age group with its busy story of an innocent tree, a bear, and a runaway clown. An empty tree gets very full as everyone suddenly decides it makes the perfect refuge. Sarah Weeks’ colorful picturebook Overboard! (0152050469, $14.00) will reach ages 2-5 with a gentle story illustrated by Sam Williams as it tells of Bunny, who likes to fling things. Rhyming text pairs with easy artwork in a story toddlers and parents will find fun. David McPhail’s Big Brown Bear Goes To Town (0152053174, $16.00) will reach ages 3-7 with its tale of a rat whose little car fills with water every time it rains, and of a brown bear friend who comes up with an inventive solution to his troubles. The only problem: little rat and his little car must give big bear a ride all over town to achieve the solution! Deb Lund’s picturebook All Aboard The Dinotrain (0152052372, $16.00) will reach ages 3-7 with a hilarious train ride: Howard Fine’s zany dino drawings provide the rollicking accompaniment to the story of a trainosaurus which threatens wrecks. A rollicking rhyme of dino adventures keeps All Aboard The Dinotrain lively and vastly unpredictable, even by seasoned parents. Eve Bunting’s Pop’s Bridge (0152047733, $17.00) will reach ages 5-8 with large-size drawings by C.F. Payne and the story of a builder on the Golden Gate Bridge. Robert’s father’s a skywalker – a high-climbing ironworker – and has an important job. But the entire crew puts in the effort when trouble hits. A fine story of courage and an American icon’s construction evolves. Nicole Rubel’s Ham And Pickles First Day Of School (015205039, $16.00) will reach ages 3-7 with a first-day-of-school story with a twist. Pickles is nervous about her first day, but Ham has answers to all her questions: he’s older, wiser, and knows all about school. Unfortunately, his advice is anything but sage and may turn her first day into disaster. Kara LaReau and Scott Mogoon’s original picturebook Ugly Fish (0152050825, $16.00) will reach the same age group with its story of an ugly, mean fish determined not to share his driftwood tunnel with anyone. Or will he, if properly motivated? All are outstanding picks for the Spring season.

Little, Brown
1271 Avenue of Americas, NY, NY 10020

If you wish a kids’ book to walk you through Seder, join Moe and family at table as they celebrate the Jewish Passover in Passover! (0316939919, $12.99) by Roni Schotter. Erin Eitter Kono’s lovely drawings bring you right into family interactions as relatives gather and the house looks ‘Passover perfect’ for all. It’s too simple for Jewish collections who have access to more detailed coverages – but fine for a beginner’s book for general interest holdings. Paul Janeczko and J. Patrick Lewis’ Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku (0316607312, $15.99) receives Tricia Tusa’s fun and zany drawings as it provides quite a different batch of haiku poems to kids who usually don’t like poems. Kids receive zany drawings paired with contemporary haiku far from the usual gentle Japanese nature observation: in other words, haiku they can laugh with and relate to.

Amulet/Abrams Books
115 W. 18th Street, New York NY 10011

Lynn Manuel’s The Trouble With Tilly Trumble (0810959720, $16.95) receives Diane Greenseid’s warm and funny drawings as it tells of aging and loneliness in a manner kids can understand. An eccentric lady spends her time collecting old chairs others have thrown out, to fill her empty house. But even with all her welcoming chairs, Tilly is missing something. Tilly’s new pet brings her newfound happiness – until it vanishes. David Gavril’s Penelope Nuthatch And The Big Surprise (0810957620, $14.95) provides a different kind of heroine in tella pouty but loving nuthatch whose friend surprises her with a gift to a water park on a hot day. Can what seems like a bad day turn good just with an attitude change? The pouty poultry finds out.

The Trouble With Cauliflower
Jane Sutton
Dial/Penguin Publishing Group
345 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
0803727070 $16.99

Jim Harris’ fun drawings lend to the story of a superstitious koala who has made her best friend a lovely cauliflower stew. Sadie knows cauliflower causes bad luck – or does she? Mortimer eats her stew and expects and gets the worst day ever – so what will happen when Sadie tricks him into eating cauliflower again? A fine story of food preferences and superstition evolves, enhanced by fun drawings.

Albert Whitman & Company
6340 Oakton St., Morton Grove, IL 60053

Betsy R. Rosenthal’s It’s Not Worth Making A Tzimmes Over! (0807536776) receives lovely drawings by Ruth Rivers as it tells of a girl who makes challah bread with her Grandmother, only to experience a range of culinary disasters which are shrugged off by the easy-going grandma. But the challah grows into a monster and something it IS worth making a tzimmes over in this engaging story of fun and family relationships. Anne Bowen’s The Great Math Tattle Battle (0807531634) receives Jaime Zollars’ funny drawings as it tells of Harley, the best math student in second grade – and the biggest tattletale. A new girl’s new skills challenges Harley for the first time in a long time in this fun story of two contenders.

PO Box 8515, La Jolla, CA 92038-8515
1929132999 $15.95

Mustafa’s favorite place in Morocco is his father’s shop, where he loves the world of colors, fabrics and languages – but a small boy can find one packed shop too intense, and a stroll through the local marketplace brings variety with more encounters with people. Here Mustafa learns how to welcome tourists and others in their native languages – and it’s here that a father’s lessons can come to life with encounters which lend to their use. Jez Alborough’s Hit The Ball Duck (1929132964, $15.95) tells of duck and friends who go out with a bat, a ball and a glove to play – only to find Duck hits the ball into a tree. The game is over – until some creative thinking solves the problem and involves the very different talents of each friend. Funny drawings enhance an appealing tale.

Thank You, Aunt Tallulah!
Carmela LaVigna Coyle
Rising Moon
PO Box 1389, Flagstaff, AZ 86002-1389
0873588916 $15.95 1-800-346-3257

Bruce MacPherson’s zany drawings enhance Carmela LaVigna Coyle's story of Camp Oogie-Waa-Waa and Aunt Tallulah’s latest gift from Antarctica. Bettina hopes it isn’t a scarf or gloves like the last time – it’s hot out – and a niece’s loving letters to her aunt blend well with zany pictures to capture their relationship and the family’s interactions as a whole.

Front Street
862 Haywood Rd., Asheville, NC 28806

Paul Gerritsen’s picturebook story Nuts (1932425667, $15.95) tells of Mouse, who sets out to gather nuts from a distant tree which is far from home. When a long journey brings disappointment, Mouse makes her way home to discover a surprise awaits her…deserving of ongoing mention as a fine, easy read. Charlotte Pomerantz’s Thunderbloom! Poems For Everyone (1932425403, $17.95) holds fun drawings by Rob Shepperson as it tells of shoes, stems and stones, presents, Passover and more. Mathilde Stein and Mies van Hout’s Brave Ben (1932425640, $15.95) tells of a kid afraid of everything, from bullies to people who laugh at him, and the spook under his bed. How can Ben become brave? Easy words and concepts blend well here.

The Video/DVD Shelf

Schlessinger Media
7 East Wynnewood Road, Wynnewood, PA 19096-0580

Schlessinger Media's "Writing for Students" series is a closed-captioned DVD set intended for students in grades 5-9. Each volume guides viewers through different steps of the writing process. Writing Effective Paragraphs (1417103086, $39.95) covers how to write solid introductory, supporting, and concluding paragraphs; Editing & Proofreading (141-710306X, $39.95) surveys the conventions of writing, grammar, and mechanics and reveals how proper sentence structure and punctuation can render fiction or nonfiction writing crystal clear; Creative & Narrative Writing (1417103051, $39.95) covers basic tools such as character webs, outlines, dialogue, foreshadowing, flashbacks, figurative language, and more; and Using The Writing Process (1417103078, $39.95) explores the overall process that student and professional writers use, including such techniques as brainstorming, freewriting, and journaling. All four of the DVDs feature English and Spanish language tracks, discussion quests and activities, and closed captions, and are ideal instructional viewing for student classrooms. Also highly recommended are Writing Expository Essays, Writing For Formal & Informal Purposes, and Writing Persuasive Essays. 23 minutes each, color.

Books in Series

Weigl Publishers
350 – 5th Avenue, #3304, NY, NY 10118

Two lovely new titles by Linda Aspen-Baxter join the ‘Continents’ series with 32 pages of facts suitable for any research project. Antarctica (1590363175) covers the environment, history and cultural groups which inhabit or use Antarctica’ remote wonders, while Africa (1590363167) covers locations, resources, politics and natural history of various African countries across the continent. Two new ‘Biomes’ titles include Galadriel Watson’s Wetlands (1590363493) and Healther Hudak’s Oceans (1590363485), each of which introduces kids to unique environments pairing exciting activities with outstanding color photos to invite leisure browsing and interest.

Crabtree Publishing
PMB 16 A, 350 Avenue Suite 3308, New York, New York 10118

An exciting new series consisting of four titles has just been released from Crabtree Publishing: the "Disaster Alert!" series. Space Disaster And Meteorite Alert! by Julie Karner (0778715833) reveals that the last century has been an incredible age of space exploration tremendously expanding our knowledge of the universe. This amazing book reminds us that such knowledge often comes at a price. Space Disaster And Meteorite Alert! chronicles both the brave and adventurous space missions throughout history that have ended in disaster, as well as an asteroid's journey through the atmosphere to its eventual landing on Earth. Tsunami Alert! by Niki Walker. (0778715825) A tsunami wave can often seem deceptively harmless in its size and power, but the damage it causes can be earth shattering. Scientists have difficulty predicting when and where these killer waves will strike next. In this timely new book, young readers will learn about the factors that contribute to the making of a tsunami, where in the world they strike, warning systems, and what we can do to stay safe. Terrorism Alert! by Lynn Peppas (077871585X) Terrorism is a frightening but all too real topic for young people. This sensitively-written new book examines the history of terrorism and sheds light on the group that carry out these acts. Terrorism Alert! explains the measured taken by countries around the world to keep citizens safe from terrorist attacks and how they may fight terrorism from its roots up. Transportation Disaster Alert! by Niki Walker. (0778715841) Transportation Disaster Alert! uses historic black and white images and contemporary photographs to chronicle the history of many famous disasters, including train wrecks, air crashes, and ship collisions. A section on how to make distress calls gives readers an understanding of how such a disaster might unfold. This wonderful collection of children's informational books, Disaster Alert!, is perfect for the fourth grade reading level or for children between the ages of 7 and 14. Inclusive of full-color photographs and illustrations, glossary, and superior information, each book is 32 pages long with 81/2x11", at the price of $23.92 each. Also available in paperback for a mere 8.95 each. The "Disaster Alert!" series is a very highly recommended for the elementary level library collection or homeschooling parents concerned for their children's education on such matters.

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Rd, Tarrytown NY 10591

Three excellent series sets are strong picks for advanced elementary grades. Grades 3-5 will find plenty of information in the individual ‘It’s My State!’ titles ($18.95 each): each holds under 100 pages of state facts about state seals, important historical dates and personalities, branches of government, and events: all packed with bright kid-oriented covers and color illustration throughout. The latest editions to this reference set include Louisiana (0761418636), Michigan (076141861X), Nevada (0761418601), Vermont (076-1418644), Georgia (0761418628) and Rhode Island (0761418698). Older readers in grades 5-7 will find ‘Cultures of the World’ ($25.95 each) a fine series to consult for reports on other nations. Each book provides nearly 150 pages of facts and color, and offers much more depth on each country’s history, politics, economics and culture than competitors. Newly added here are Uzbekistan (0761420169), Azerbaijan (0761420118), Tajikistan (07-61420126), Krgyzstan (0761420134), Turkmenistan (0761420142) and Dagestan (0761420150). How refreshing, to see in-depth current country coverages for areas not usually given their own treatment! Raymond Bial’s ‘Lifeways’ set ($23.95) will reach grades 5-7 with tribe-divided Native American histories of a little over hundred pages each. Bright modern photos throughout – some nearly full page – supplement plenty of detail on each tribe’s customs, history, beliefs, and different adaptations to a changing world. Newly added are The Delaware (0761419047), The Crow (0761419012), The Menominee (0761419039) and The Cree (0761419-020). Cavendish’s reference encyclopedia Growing Up With Science (0761475052, $429.95) provides an eye-catching, excellent reference set for middle schools. Each volume provides a little over a hundred pages of science fictions covering topics ranging from the science of transportation and agriculture to medicine and alternative fuels. Much more than definitions, each reference receives a fine overview, color photos, sidebars of ‘did you know?’ quick-interest subtopics, and easy explanations. A fine resource which should provide lasting reference value.

Raintree Publishers

Two wonderful new sets are top picks for elementary-level schools seeking lasting science and nature explorations in durable, appealing sets. Six new titles add to the ‘Classifying Animals’ series (By Greg Pyers, $19.25 each) with bright covers which invite leisure reader browsing and pair well with the 32 pages of facts within. Why Am I An Insect? (140920194), Why Am I A Bird (1410920143), Why Am I A Mammal? (141092016X), Why Am I A Reptile? (1410920178), Why Am I An Amphibian? (1410920186), and Why Am I A Fish? (1410920151) each feature a table including animal group features, a close-up examination of an animal in the group, ‘fast fact’ boxed color sidebars of intriguing information, and activities. John Townsend’s ‘Freestyle’ and the lower grade level companion volume ‘Freestyle Express’ ($23.00 each) provide two distinct levels of readers with the same details, assuring that kids in grades 2-4 and 5-6 will each gain much from the discussions, unhampered by restraints. Incredible Mammals (1410917126, 410905314) surveys the weird and wonderful world of mammals (Express editions hold 56 pages of larger-print detail, Freestyle the same page count but more densely packed material), Mollusks (140917096; 1410905284) explores the unique varieties of mollusks; Arachnids (140917088, 1410905268) surveys spiders, scorpions and all their relatives, Reptiles (1410917134, 1410917134), covers turtles, crocs, snakes, lizards and more, surveying how they eat, live, and breed; Amphibians (141091710X, 141090525X) gathers some of the more fascinating, contrasting facts about the amphibian family; Fish (140917142, 1410905292) uses a wide-jawed fish to attract attention from cover through the accounts of hagfish, sharks and more oddities; Birds (1410917118, 1410905276) focuses on the many varieties of birds and their habitats, and Insects (1410917150, 1410905306) tells of bees, flies, beetles and more. All have high potential as leisure browser reads as well as being packed with enough accessible detail suitable for reports. The curriculum-based subjects promise lasting lending value to schools seeking value for the dollar spent.

The Fiction Shelf

Boys That Bite
Mari Mancusi
JAM Books/Berkley
375 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
0425209423 $9.99

Uh oh – the protagonist in Boys That Bite is turning into a vampire – and her mother is going to be so upset to find out! Not only because her mother isn’t immortal herself, but because a vampire hottie has gone for her instead of her dark side loving twin. Add in a vampire slaying, a search for a holy grail, and more and you have a wonderfully original blend of vampire/love/adventure drama which teens will find refreshingly different.

Our House
Pam Conrad
Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012
043974508X $16.99

Our House was originally published in 1994 and hailed by critics: this 10th anniversary edition receives illustration by Brian Selznik and provides a gorgeous tribute to her story of the changes seen and experienced by a young resident of a changing neighborhood and world. From labor relation controversies to encounters with adults, Our House provides a gorgeous set of letters and encounters reflecting a changing world.

Four Things My Geeky Jock Of A Best Friend Must Do In Europe
Jane Harrington
Darby Creek Publishing
7858 Industrial Parkway, Plain City, OH 43064
1581960417 $15.95 1-800-328-4929

Four Things My Geeky Jock Of A Best Friend Must Do In Europe is a young adult novel about a girl and her somewhat eccentric mother out on a Mediterranean cruise. Told in first person from the point of view of the daughter, who maintains her sanity by writing to her best friend Delia (who wrote the titular phrase on the daughter's hand, in permanent marker no less, as a reminder of a certain promise), Four Things My Geeky Jock Of A Best Friend Must Do In Europe is filled with riotous adventures ranging from a "bikini malfunction" on the French Riviera to the curse of the terrible plastic monkey. A lighthearted, exciting read.

Gallopade International
PO Box 2779, Peachtree City, GA 30269

Gallopade International has launched a new series of international mysteries for young readers that are as entertaining as they are educational. The Mystery At Big Ben (0635034697, $5.95) by Carole Marsh is set in London, England, where Christian (age 10), Grant (age 7), and their Grandmother Mimi ( a children's mystery book writer) and their grandfather Papa find themselves embroiled into strange happenings with the famous tower clock Big Ben. The Mystery At The Eiffel Tower (0635034689, $5.95) by Erin Kelly find the kids and grandparents in Paris, France, where they meet the kid's pen pals, Jan-Luc and Marie. A famous statue is missing from the Louvre Museum, a woman in black is following them, the encounter spooky catacombs, visit Notre Dame, and other landmarks as they eventually solve the mystery of the missing statue. The Mystery At The Roman Colosseum (0635061562, $5.95) by Carole Marsh finds them all in Rome, Italy encountering suspicious men in black trench coats and a puzzling advertisement that leads them and their two new friends, Luigi and Francesca" on an Italian adventure. The Mystery Of The Ancient Pyramid (0635-034700, $5.95), also by Carol Marsh, finds our intrepid young sleuths in Egypt where a mystery adventure finds them encountering camels, tombs, and a mad archaeologist when a mummy goes missing. This new adventure series (also available in a Library Binding at $14.95 each) will provide young readers with an introduction into the sheer joy of reading excitement from beginning to end -- and then leave them looking eagerly toward the next thrilling tales in this enthusiastically recommended "Carole Marsh Mysteries" series.

The Knock Airport Mystery
Vincent McDonnell
Dufour Editions, Inc.
Box 7, Chester Springs, PA 19425-0007
1903464870 $9.95 1-800-869-5677

The Knock Airport Mystery is a suspenseful novel for children and young adults about a terrible crime boss, and the plot of his thugs to free him before he is sent to prison. A young boy accidentally learns of their wicked plan, and enlists his sister, brother, and cousin in a cunning counter-plot. The result is a fast-paced adventure that pits the wits of children against the wits of feared and dastardly crooks, written with dramatic zest and flair.

The Criminal In The Caymans
Connie Lee Berry
Kid's Fun Press
0977284808 $3.99

The second book in the "Incredible Journey" series by Connie Lee Barry, The Criminal In The Caymans is an exciting and inventive tale depicting a weekend in the Cayman Islands with the little heroes, Max and Sam. As two mysterious boxes appear on the boy's doorstep, and a dangerous criminal is loose in the area, The Criminal In The Caymans carries its young readers through the fun and entertainingly scary tale of the youthful detectives who find themselves hot on the trail of a terrific mystery. The Criminal In The Caymans is very highly recommended reading as an superbly written story for young readers engaging a realistic dialogue and deftly humorous content appropriate for young readers.

A Journey Far Away
Mark J. Smiley
Llumina Press
PO Box 772246, Coral Springs, FL 33077
1595264949 $13.95

A Journey Far Away by Mark J. Smiley is a fascinating tale for young readers about Sammy the Snake, Alph (a super-intelligent robot with human emotions), and Larry the Rat as they make their journey through the galaxy to discover planets, complete with oceans, erupting volcanoes, and so much more. Providing children with a limitless collection of creatively written "world information", A Journey Far Away delightfully carries its young readers through the incredible journey adventures of this unexpected trio of memorable characters. A Journey Far Away is very highly recommended reading for all young children and is ideal for parents seeking an informative, entertaining, and knowledgeably authored tale for their children's imagination and love of reading.

Landon Snow And The Shadows Of Malus Quidam
R.K. Mortenson
Barbour Publishing
B&B Media Group (publicity)
PO Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
1597890448 $10.95

Landon Snow And The Shadows Of Malus Quidam by R.K. Mortenson is an engaging tale depicting the Landon's battle with the dark Malus Quidam in a magical kingdom. Presenting children with an engagingly vivid and thoroughly entertaining style of authorship, Landon Snow And The Shadows Of Malus Quidam is an intriguing page-turner for young readers as they discover a greater portion of the deceptive intent of Malus Quidam in the evils which he so lovingly projects unto the struggling world of Landon Snow's friends and family. Landon Snow And The Shadows Of Malus Quidam is very highly recommended reading for all young readers with an interest in a magical realm, especially to those already following the "Landon Snow" series.

The Cookbook Shelf

You're The Cook
Katie Wilton
Newman Communications
20 Guest St, Ste 150, Brighton, MA 02135
0977603202 $13.95

Very highly recommended for budding young chefs, You're The Cook: A Guide To Mixing It Up In The Kitchen by Katie Wilton is a superbly organized and presented cooking guide for all middle-school aged children. Introducing children to a fun, active, and easy-to-prepare collection of delicious and popular recipes for enjoyable and healthy foods, You're The Cook provides recipes ranging from Berry Salad; Superior Deviled Eggs; and Cheesy Chicken Casserole to Frittata; French Toast; and Yogurt Fruit Shake. You're The Cook is an excellent "beginner's cookbook" for parents searching for a creative and productive introduction to the joy of cooking for their child.

Chapter Book/Easy Reader Shelf

Diary Of A Killer Cat
Anne Fine
Farrar Straus Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
0374317798 $15.00

Ellie is horrified when Tuffy drags a series of dead kills into the house proudly – who will be its next victim, and can she get her pet to change his wild ways? Cat and kid viewpoints collide in a hilarious story which holds more than a bit of overtones of truth…

Spooky Texas Tales
Tim Jingle & Doc Moore
Texas Tech University Press
PO Box 41037, Lubbock, TX 79409-1037
0896725650 $17.95

Texas ghostly folklore comes to life in a wonderful book which will appeal to many age ranges, from middle school right into adult readers. Here are ten classics – some as familiar as "The Golden Arm" – to entice all ages with tales which are perfect examples of a variety of approaches to the ghost story. Kids will relish it.

The Fruit Bowl Project
Sarah Durkee
Knopf Delacorte Dell
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019
0385732899 $14.95

Middle grades will relish The Fruit Bowl Project, which focuses on different ways to tell the same story when students at a hip Manhattan school in a writer’s workshop receive a special surprise. A song, Nick explains, is just a bowl of fruit – one must have to figure out how to paint it, and it’s up to the students to take their literary bowl and run with it. A fascinating, modern story evolves.

Viking Penguin
345 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014

These two fine new chapter books are top picks for kids who want exciting stories and fine drawings. Dori Chaconas’ Cork & Fuzz: Short And Tall (0670059854, $13.99) is a Level 3 reader to reach ages 6-9 in grades 1-3 who can read alone. Cork is a short muskrat, Fuzz is a tall possum – they are different, but can they be good friends? This is the second easy reader about Cork and Fuzz and continues their zany exploits and friendship. Suzy Kline’s Horrible Harry Takes The Cake (0670060755, $13.99) tells of Harry’s investigation into whom his teacher will be marrying. His friend Doug is willing to help until he catches Harry stealing the sweet evidence. Will this really help Harry crack the case – or is an ulterior motive involved? Both are fun, appealing leisure choices to get kids motivated in reading.

The Duck And The Owl
Hanna Johansen
David R. Godine
PO Box 450, Jaffrey, NH 03452
1567922856 $17.95

Black and white illustrations in children’s books rarely receive attention because kids are so color-oriented – but it would be a shame to spurn Kathi Bhend’s gorgeous drawings or Hanna Johansen’s story in the lovely Duck And The Owl, which sports delicate line drawings to accompany a fable about a cantankerous duck and a grumpy owl who have many different view of life. The conversations between the two are hilarious and kids will be delighted; especially those who can enjoy via parental read-aloud.

Houndsley And Catina
James Howe
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140
0763624047 $14.99

Marie-Louise Gay’s simple but fun drawings lend a compelling air to Houndsley And Catina, two friends who want very different things from life. Houndsley the dog is an excellent cook, while Catina the cat longs to be a writer. They both admire each other’s talents – so what should Houndsley say about Catina’s 74- chapter memoir, and what about Houndsley’s big cooking fiasco? A gentle chapter book tale about friendship and honesty emerges.

Bunnicula: Rabbit-Cadabra
James Howe, author
Jeff Mack, illustrator
Atheneum/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of Americas, NY, NY 10020
0689857276 $14.95

This Level 3 ready-to-read primer packs rich vocabulary around a zany story with longer chapters for kids at the Level 3 reading level. A magician is coming to town and Toby can’t wait – but his dog and cat pals aren’t so enthusiastic: they know the power of the wizard, who can even pull a rabbit out of a hat. What if that bunny is Bunnicula? And what if there’s more than one in that hat? Hilarious misadventures evolve.

Holiday House
425 Madison, New York NY 10017

An appealing easy Level 2 reader, In The Doghouse (0823418820, $14.95) is the new Emma and Bo story by Leslie Kimmelman which receives True Kelley’s very easy illustrations as it tells of very best friends who fight over a Popsicle. Only these best friends are human and dog pal. How can friendship be rebuilt if language isn’t the same between them? A lovely story evolves. Betty Wren Wright’s Princess For A Week (0823419452, $16.95) receives Jacqueline Rogers’ easy drawings as it tells of Roddy, excited upon learning one ‘Princess’ is coming to visit. He envisions a dog – instead he gets an all-too-real girl who will be staying a week. But this is no ordinary girl: she’s determined to investigate the local haunted house, for one…

525 ‘B’ Street, #1900, San Diego, CA 92101-4495

Very easy Level 1-3 chapter books and those which go just a bit beyond introductory stages allow kids to step up to the next level without fear of falling – and Harcourt’s newest are some fine top recommendations for such a progressive effort. Level One’s ‘Green light reader’ for the kid who’s ready to go comes from David K. Williams and pairs fun activities with a story illustrated by Laura Ovresat in The Picnic (0152057765, $12.95). Four friends put together an appealing picnic basket of goodies while readers join in on the fun. Angela Shelf Medearis’ On The Way To The Pond (0152055991, $12.95) will reach Level 2 readers with its story of Tess Tiger, who goes on a picnic with pal Herbert Hippo and brings along the basics. Lorinda Bryan Cauley’s illustrations are a fun compliment to a picnic which takes some unexpected turns for both characters. Eve Bunting’s My Robot (0152055932, $12.95) is a Level 2 guide receiving fun drawings by Dagmar Fehlau as it pairs engaging, easy activities with the story of a happy robot’s many abilities. Cecil’s attempts to join in at school cause problems, however. Erica Silverman’s Cowgirl Kate And Cocoa: Partners (0152021256, $15.00) receives Betsy Lewin’s paintings to join another story of Cowgirl Kate and her loyal cowhorse. The two play games, get new shoes, and learn about friendship. Friendship’s also at the heart of Elissa Haden Guest’s Iris And Walter And The Birthday Party (0152050139, $15.00) for ages 6-9, which tells of Walter’s big plans for his birthday party. But when the big day arrives, it brings trouble: will it be ruined, or just changed into something completely unexpected? Keith Baker’s On The Go With Mr. And Mrs. Green (0152057625, $16.00) will reach ages 6-9 with its green alligator pair: here they are practicing magic tricks, sampling cookies, and making new inventions. But nothing’s ever ordinary when two gators get together – especially if they’re as daring and fun as Mr. and Mrs. Green! The latest Chet Gecko mystery by Bruce Hale The Possum Always Rings Twice (0152050752, $14.00) will reach ages 8-12 with a very easy format and unusual, exciting story line. Here the annual student election is cause for chaos when someone threatens the candidates. Unacceptable explosions are rocking the boys’ bathroom and a smooth fox is offering up a flashy campaign that stinks: can Chet and Natalie intervene for a fairer political process?

Stone Arch Books
PO Box 669, Mankato, MN 56002

Four quite fine new titles offer chapter books with a difference: action-packed bright covers and unique plots which kids will gravitate towards. Stan Cullimore’s Killer Sharks (1598899131, $19.93) provides 32 pages concluded with internet links, topics for discussion and more as it provides a science fiction thriller of a top-secret project and sharks which threaten a family’s get-away. C. MacPhail’s Get That Ghost To Go! (1598890042, $21.26) provides a fantasy revolving around a ghost which has to follow Duncan everywhere. Can the school nerd’s plan for getting rid of the ghost succeed – and is Duncan willing to pay his price? Jeremy Strong’s Don’t Go In The Cellar (1598890026, $21.26) tells of a boy warned not to go in the cellar – but who decides to embark on adventure when Laura comes visiting. The dangerous secret they will find down there may change their lives in this fine fantasy adventure. Scott Nickel’s Blast To The Past (1598890336, $19.93) provides an unusual graphic novel format for chapter readers – sure to encourage reluctant readers who struggle with lengthy words. Steve Harpster’s lovely full color drawings add excitement to a time travel story of a slobbering T. Rex’s threat. All are top picks reluctant readers will turn to as satisfying alternatives to dryer plots.

The Biography Shelf

Mao Zedong
Whitney Stewart
A&E Biography
c/o 21st Century Books
241 - 1st Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401
0822527979 $27.93

A little over a hundred pages of detail make for a good foundation report for grades 4 and up on Chinese ruler Mao Zedong, one of the most powerful people in the world during his lifetime. Mao grew up in a world ruled by the Qing dynasty, when many longed for change: he came to power in 1949 and China became a Communist nation under his control, which extended throughout Chinese daily life. This excellent primer packs in black and white photos and plenty of discussions of Mao’s growing up, involvement in politics, and revolutionary outlook.

The Self-Help Shelf

What To Do When You're Sad And Lonely
James J. Crist
Free Spirit Publishing
217 5th Avenue North, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401
1575421895 $9.95

Very strongly recommended reading for children who must deal with depression, What To Do When You're Sad And Lonely: A Guide For Kids by James J. Crist (Clinical Director and Staff Psychologist at the Child and Family Center in Woodbridge, Virginia) is an outstanding reference specifically designed and written for children struggling with sorrow and other emotional disputes or confusions in their young lives. Informatively introducing grade school age children to an understanding of the signs of being sad, "blues busters" as coping skills for handling sadness, as well as exercises and tactics to help manage loneliness, guidelines for assessing sad and lonely feelings that are too hard to handle alone, as well as resources for internet organizations to help children out, What To Do When You're Sad And Lonely offers an effective and "kid friendly" approach of dealing with sadness, sorrow, unhappiness, isolation, depression, and loneliness.

If you want a sound and viable country, then start with teaching the children how to read, how to write, and how to problem solve. Then back them up with well funded school and community library systems.

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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