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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 24, Number 5 May 2014 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Donovan's Bookshelf Biography Shelf Social Issues Shelf
Gardening Shelf Crafts Shelf Science Shelf
Easy Reader Shelf Picturebook Shelf Multicultural Shelf
Self-Help Shelf Activity Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf
Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf DVD Shelf
Native American Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Fiction Shelf Poetry Shelf Autism Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Education Shelf Books in Series

Donovan's Bookshelf

Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer
Will Summerhouse
Shake-A-Leg Press
3611 33rd Avenue West, Seattle, WA 98199
9780986061400, $8.99, 274 pages,

Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer is a gripping adventure fantasy tale for young readers ages 9 and older, and opens with a line no young reader could resist: "If you read what Mr. Lumpkin wrote in the newspaper about my adventure at the top of the world, you only got half the story. I don't know why but he left out some of the best parts, like how I got chased all over the place, and shot at, and knocked out, and almost eaten."

In order to set the record straight protagonist Orion decides to tell his own version of what happened on his search for a lost explorer; a story that begins innocuously enough with his sedate life with a quiet grandfather in Maine. The last thing Orion ever dreamed of was embarking on a voyage; but adventure has a way of knocking on one's door, and when Orion stumbles upon a shipwrecked, unconscious man on the beach and drags him home, his action sparks a series of events that leads to a fantastic journey.

Young readers will find the chapter headings support this adventure feel, from "The Terror! The Terror!" to "I Get My Sailing Orders" and "What I Heard in the Study". The reader is swept away with an epic series of events that offer many twists and turns and little predictability: elements that will satisfy even those well used to adventure stories.

H. Rider Haggard employed many of these strategies in his writings for adults: the same kind of approach here lends a 'young Indiana Jones' feel to the tale as Orion is continually tested and displays an ability to be flexible and strong given the amazing circumstances which challenge him at every turn.

One device Will Summerhouse employs to involve readers is use of the first person: through this approach, Orion's concerns and experiences spring to life. Orion faces challenges head-on and his ability to improvise and change with circumstances makes his adventure all the more realistic and fun: "I could see I had to resort to more drastical measures; so I dropped my chin, and sniffled, and said I wasn't lying, and it was the hardest kind of work being a messenger boy, because they took half my wages to pay for the uniform and most of the rest for taxes, and no one ever tipped, and everything up there cost an arm and a leg, and - and - Then I broke down and started dropping tears all over my shoes."

Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer is all about exploration and discovery, and even the most reluctant young reader will find this saga promises an energetic, vivid read.

Intrigue, action, and even a 'Devil's Graveyard': all this and more promise a journey that any young reader will find engrossing, with the character of Orion a solid and believable pairing to a plot that centers on a strange expedition with a professor and its haunting impact on everyone involved.

Finding Sagrado
Roger E. Carrier
1663 Liberty Drive Suite 200. Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462861958; $3.99 Kindle; $17.99 Paperback, 299 pages

Finding Sagrado is recommended for adult and mature young adult readers and is a complex novel set in 1971, revolving around a runaway teen's lofty goals: to re-create the life-sized stone heads described by author Richard Bradford in his 1960s classic Red Sky at Morning.

Shane's unusual dream brings him into contact with a host of disparate individuals from all walks of life. While these are everyday people, they also represent a wide range of lifestyles and perspectives, from a half-Navajo teenager and her white, widowed lesbian mother to Vietnam vets who (like Shane's father) served their country (but unlike Shane's father, survived to come home to a very different atmosphere).

Within the course of Shane's exploration of the world at large lie social issues of his times that may be sideline themes to a larger coming-of-age story, but which add depth and social insights on how travel brings young people in contact with new ideas.

A Taos sweat lodge, for example, is steeped in not only New Mexican traditions but in sacred awakenings that introduce Shane to very new worlds of Indian belief and spirituality. Through Shane's eyes, readers gain newfound knowledge and acceptance of indigenous peoples and New Mexican culture.

Another difference: Shane is no average boy, but comes from wealth - and so his road trip doesn't exactly begin with a lack of funding, but with $3200 he's stolen to finance his 2,000 mile bus journey.

His encounters with people are the heart of a novel that profiles bigotry, promotes tolerance and understanding, and highlights the importance of maintaining a positive attitude against all odds.

This message is embedded in a survey of what it means to 'walk out of your world' (however comfortable it is) and take risks. It's also intrinsic to the idea of remaining open to life's challenges and changes, and to learning how to translate grief and angst into positive perspectives on life.

There are other characters who also find their lives changed in the course of meeting Shane and learning about his mission, from Dave (a detective whose son was also killed in Vietnam, and who has been hired to locate Shane) to a wheelchair-bound veteran who refuses to let his disability become his whole life and, of course, to first sex partner Sandra, who finds her own life transformed as a result of her relationship with Shane. Sandra's own inner strength will both challenge and change both of them, and is a satisfying contrast to the typical diminutive female protagonists that often juxtapose strong male counterparts in coming-of-age sagas.

Shane's experiences with both art and sex are those of a novice: fumbling, uncertain, and emotionally charged. Roger E. Carrier's descriptions of Shane's evolutionary process are precise and realistic: "They talked about everything except their petite lovemaking. It was as if they had forgotten the heart they had scraped on the ground...Shane sensed it was more than first-time embarrassment holding them back. It was the tenderness and fragility of the experience. He sensed that anything he might say about it would be wrong."

It's this focus on navigating emotions, places, and people that keeps Finding Sagrado a vivid coming-of-age story with the ability to embrace both individual and wider-world perspectives. Add doses of humor and spiritual insight and you have a well-rounded story indeed.

It's all about settling on a dream, reaching for it - then accepting the transition points life throws at that dream, before forming another. Finding Sagrado's focus is on identifying and striving for change, acceptance and ethical responses to life's slings and arrows.

When Shane realizes all three goals in the course of grasping his dream, he evolves to become a richer person, ultimately more appreciative of diversity: " came to him that his silence about the spying had proven to be more profound than he had thought at the time. Until this moment, he hadn't realized how much he had grown by refusing to participate in the ugliness of the world."

In conclusion (and in a nutshell), Finding Sagrado is a compelling, evocative story that immerses readers not only in Shane's journey and evolution, but in the basic transition points of a life well-examined. Mature young adult readers and those seeking powerful coming-of-age sagas will find it simply engrossing.

Go Away Home
Carol Bodensteiner
Rising Sun Press
92 NE 64th St., Des Moines, IA 50328
9780979799754, 380 pages, $14.95

Pre-World War I Iowa is the setting for Go Away Home, a novel centered around one Liddie, who has always wanted to escape the family farm but who finds a series of circumstances tie her down ever more to a lifestyle she doesn't want to inherit.

For Liddie dreams of travel: a passion that evolves from a desire to escape to a yearning to see the world (or at least, to experience a different kind of life): "When a train whistle sounded in the distance, it triggered the dreams that were never far from her mind. She imagined standing on the platform, handing the porter her bag, stepping up into the car, and waving good-bye. Sometimes, she visualized a man traveling with her. Often, she traveled alone. The boldness of the idea thrilled her."

But Liddie's dreams seem to move ever further from reality and there comes a point where there is little choice on whether to go or stay. A sudden death in the family changes all their lives and unexpectedly affords Liddie new opportunities against the backdrop of grief: "Looking at the cottonwoods and the lean-to now, Liddie realized with a painful jolt that everything she knew about the woods, the fields, the weather, she learned from Papa. And now he was gone. She drew her knees up to her chest, buried her head in her arms, and wept."

All seems lost with her father's death, including her dreams of pursuing her sewing skills with a journey to Maquoketa, until a chance circumstance restores the lost dream to reality. Supported by the encouragement of her family, Liddie sets off to a new life - and that's really what Go Away Home is all about: evolution, change, and transition points.

For the first time Liddie faces possibilities not defined by her environment: "She had never spent even one night away from family. Every day, she was surrounded by people she'd known her whole life. Her life was attuned to the rhythms of the farm, where each day was much like the day before. Even the changing seasons brought on the same familiar tasks."

One journey leads to another and Liddie finds no singular route to her travels or her opportunities in life. At the heart of many of her choices is the family she's left behind: remember, Liddie lives in a world without jets and without the instant links of modern times: thus journeys take months rather than hours, and separations are often life-changing: "She also thought about writing Amelia, but telling her sister that she was moving thousands of miles away, virtually assuring they would not see each other for years, maybe ever again, felt like a millstone on her chest."

Through all of Liddie's travels the atmosphere of the heartland, of family ties, and of new opportunities permeate this tale of choices, dreams realized and rejected, and how values evolve. Liddie's journey really involves finding out what things really matter to her in life - and then, integrating them into her wider dreams.

Without spilling beans, suffice it to say that in the end it takes another tragedy to help Liddie solidify the disparate threads of her choices, leading her full circle to a different set of revelations that will set the tone for the rest of her life. In the end Liddie finds a newfound place for family within her desire to seeing the world and embrace its new experiences - and finds a way to save the family farm in the process.

As a coming of age novel, Go Away Home holds more complexity than most, making it a recommendation for mature teens as well as adult readers who will find it gently compelling and highly believable.

Oliver Jones: The Code of the Guardians
Jedil Perry
Lidej Publishing
11620 Wilshire Blvd, 9th Floor, Los Angeles CA 90025
9780979851711, 489pages, $17.95 F8&qid=1396652069&sr=8-1&keywords=9780979851711

Oliver Jones: The Code of the Guardians is the first in a projected trilogy, will appeal to adult and advanced young adult audiences alike, and centers around Oliver, who uncovers a journal with a message that was transcribed to him some fourteen billion years ago. He can't read the message initially, but his efforts to decode the book introduce him to the presence of invisible beings that coexist in his world: beings only he can see.

When an evil gang (Canakers) tries to kill Oliver's twin brother, events spiral out of control as he and three teens try an experiment with witchcraft that goes horribly awry, trapping Oliver in a parallel world away from his friends.

Readers shouldn't expect a simple story: that's evident from the start. As Oliver finds an increasingly complex series of worlds that challenge his perceptions, so he discovers new connections and parallel friendships that will help him in his quest to return to his world, save his brother, and protect the secrets of the journal. Oh, and don't forget the new powers Oliver must master ... plus a missing mother. Not to mention thousands of children held captive in an old mansion.

That's a tall order for anyone to handle and Oliver needs all the help he can get. The evolving identities and purposes of parallel friends in parallel worlds enhances and extends Oliver's ability to keep all these balls juggling in the air as he faces numerous dangers and challenges from unexpected (and unfamiliar) areas.

It's no surprise that this amount of complexity results in an adventure read that packs in nearly 500 pages. What is a surprise is the book's lively tone and readability: with so many characters, such a complex plot, and so many subplots, you'd think any reading would quickly become bogged down in confusing details.

Not so: from its very first paragraph The Code of the Guardians demonstrates a rare ability to draw readers in with snippets of information and intrigue: "There is nothing unusual about the old Victorian house at 435 Redwood Drive, where Oliver Jones and his family live. However, fifteen years ago, something strange happened there, something the citizens of Lafayette to this day have not been able to piece together. A story that began thousands of years ago."

As Oliver's story evolves from an ability to see weird things to an epic quest to save his family and world, he finds himself dodging monsters and using magic to win battles. And as readers are drawn into worlds on a collision course, they come to find Oliver an exceptional hero of the very best kind: unpretentious, courageous, and willing to fight for what he loves.

All the elements of a superb fantasy are here (even a wardrobe that brings C.S. Lewis' classic Lion, Witch and Wardrobe to mind - but with many differences.)

Readers of all ages who enjoy epic adventure, fantasy, other worlds, and many puzzles will find Oliver Jones: The Code of the Guardians an epic, involving read.

And be forewarned: there's no tidy conclusion to Oliver's story: the door is left wide open for more adventure. And if Jedil Perry's second book holds the same elements as this, it's refreshing to note that the adventure doesn't end here!

Vanessa Morton
Albury Court, Albury, Oxfordshire OX92LP
9781909958081 (paperback) $TBA, 247 Pages
9781909958166 (hardback)

It's rare to receive a novel that blends romance, history, and adventure with an added dose of fantasy; and even rarer to find all this reinforced and introduced from the start with a good-quality black and white line political map (of 'The Levant circa 1400 B.C.') But with one simple introductory illustration, Vanessa Morton sets the stage for her story, recommended for adult and young adult readers alike.

With this map (and listings defining characters and places in Moonfall) the reader is off and reading a lively story about teenage identical twins who face the wrath of a king when a sip of forbidden Moon Temple wine results in disaster (a story actually rooted in the reality of archaeological findings, historical documents from ancient libraries, and the Holy Bible.)

Rachav is sentenced to the Moon Temple for life for her transgression, but her twin Zaron takes her punishment; only to discover the Queen of the Night's evil threatens everything.

There's a journey, there's danger, there's sibling interactions from rivalry to love, and there're political and spiritual threads throughout to keep readers riveted on characters and confrontations.

It's a pleasure to see quasi-history reinforced with a believable scenario (naughty teens stealing something forbidden, caught, and paying for their transgression); and it's also satisfying to see Moonfall evolves into a much wider story than that of simple teen rebellion.

One of the pleasures of Moonfall is that you don't have to take it as 'Biblical fiction' per se. Neither will the reader who follows historical fiction, fantasy or romance feel out of their element there: there's trappings of all these genres woven into a character-based saga that will keep all kinds of readers engrossed ... and that's one of its strengths.

Now, something as multifaceted as Moonfall may enjoy audiences from a much wider readership than your usual book can offer.

Young adults, for example, will readily identify with the twins and their increasing involvement in 'adult' worlds of politics and intrigue, while romance readers will appreciate just a touch of love (albeit, it's not the steamy sort of wild passion adult romance reads often overdo, but the tender affection of a blossoming young adult).

Those immersed in Biblical fiction will find enough solid basing in the Bible to understand where the plot is going (with a few extra twists); while readers looking for fantasy will find enough of this in the plot to prove intriguing. And of course, there's plenty of tension revolving around a dangerous journey, close encounters with evil, and an evolving story that seems to point to only one twin surviving in the end.

It should also be noted that Morton focuses on a 'you are there' approach to describing the twins' journeys and experiences: thus readers will also find themselves immersed in the sights, sounds, and experiences that make up Moonfall's world: "Rachav awakened to the piercing whistle of a bee-eater. When she sat up, something tugged her back to the ground. She lunged away and her scalp ripped. Suddenly released, she whirled around. Nothing. No movements save several straggles of her hair, gaily waving from the hawthorn bush. Heart rate slowing to a reasonable pace, she inhaled the riverbank's earthy, damp smell. As a child, she loved making mud pies, even venturing to find out if they tasted as good as they looked. Once was enough to cure her, but she forever associated muddy earth with the taste of wilted greens and bitter roots."

These interludes enhance the story with full descriptions of place and time and add to a vivid chronicle of adventure and challenge that will attract any age reader, from teens to adults.

The Overending
Rick Johnson
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B00J8YA838, $2.99, 284 pages

Usually this reviewer doesn't bother mentioning e-book 'covers': they often appear in black and white, don't exist, or aren't overwhelmingly memorable. But here The Overending's otherworldly color cover (designed by Pepper Graphics) is simply captivating, serving as a surreal invitation to all who view its wooden bridge to 'nowhere' leading to an icy mountain drop-off and a brilliant green-rayed sunrise beyond the peaks. And do take a look at the black and white map prefacing the story: it's a handy reference for the epic journey that is to come.

The Overending is part of 'The Wood Cow Chronicles' - in fact, it's book two (Book One not seen by this reviewer), so you've been forewarned that this is not a single-volume title, but a series. Keep this in mind, because you're in for a real treat, here.

Would that all books in series open with such a succinct roundup of events leading up to the next, for newcomers! The setting is nailed in one paragraph: "After rescuing PorNart-1604 from certain death on the sacred climb, Emil's desperate escape from Maev Astute - the great castle of the High One - goes better and worse than expected. Finding himself and PorNart on an out-of-control balloon blasted by ferocious winds and subzero cold, plunging deeper and deeper into rugged, unknown lands, a battle for life and deliverance begins..." And with this, the epic continues - a satisfying introduction for prior young adult readers and newcomers alike.

Teen Helga's revolution is in full swing and far beyond what she could have imagined (events outlined in Volume One, Helga: Out of Hedgelands), and is starting to get way out of her control. The story begins with Emil's pending crash in a hot-air balloon, with the setting strikingly and deftly designed to immerse readers in the experience: "Snow swirled around the balloon as it passed over the ridge with a few feet to spare. Sailing clear of the ridge, the mini-blizzard ended, and a breath-taking panorama spread out below. The seemingly unending wastes of snow and glaciers reached the summit of the ridge and went no further. The mountains suddenly ended, dropping off sharply as if a gigantic spade had simply turned the earth at a sharp angle, leaving the rest of the earth behind. Running like an immense rip in the earth, a snaggy line of dizzying clefts and crags traced the mountains' edge."

Emil may succeed in saving himself and his companion, but they face new dangers in a wilderness packed with challenge: their odyssey is just beginning.

Chapters unfold surprises and sequences like a blossom, revealing political connections, sea voyages, attacks and confrontations, and epic struggles that take place on harsh, rugged land and challenging seas alike.

The juxtaposition of nautical and land settings produces an uncommon (and satisfying) range of characters and settings throughout that keep the story line fluid and changing and mature young readers (...'mature' because of the complexity of the adventure, not because of any special violence or sexual overtones) engrossed.

The ideal young adult (and many an adult) reader will already be a fan of science fiction and fantasy, and will already have read Book One for a thorough grounding in the background politics of a kingdom at odds.

New readers will find this story of rebels working against slavers to be thoroughly engrossing and accessible, however; even though The Overending will prompt a desire to go back and read Helga.

At the heart of events is the expulsion of the Wood Cows after they attacked the High One - and also at the heart of proceedings are protagonists who see even their beloved Tilk Duraow endangered by these confrontations.

What happens when a revolution gets out of control and threatens to destroy what it's trying to save? And what about the abilities of sentient cows and young beasts who take up arms in a struggle beyond their abilities?

Don't expect easy answers or a quick read in The Overending: it's deliciously complex, engrossing, and offers an open-ended conclusion that paves the way for Book Three (...and this surely will require knowledge of the prior series events to prove the most satisfying to new readers, given the complexity that unfolds here!)

The Note Hunter: The Case of the Haunted Swamp
Cliff MacGillivray & Kelly Ward
Beet Fizz LLC/Amazon Digital Services
4423 Alfarena Place, Tarzana, CA 91356
9780989121309 (Black & White)
9780989121316 (Color), $4.99, 93 pages

While The Note Hunter: The Case of the Haunted Swamp may seem a single adventure, it comes with a history and the promise of becoming a series, and revolves around a three-inch tall mouse who goes by the name of T.W. Strouse

The adventure begins over two hundred years ago, when Wolfgang Mozart composed his Perfect Symphony, using gold ink to create every note. So extraordinary were these golden notes that they jumped off the pages of the manuscript and ran away, seeking adventure across the globe.

Because Strouse is a Private Ear who keeps fastidious notes on everything involving music and mystery, he's the perfect one to investigate the spooky noises coming from a swamp near his grizzly bear client, Lionel Hollingsworth's family homestead.

Strouse suspects it's a case of some of Mozart's renegade Golden Notes finding a new home; but it turns out to be much more in this whimsical, inviting adventure, enhanced by Phil Mendez's color illustrations throughout (Hunter Wolf digitally painted them, bringing them to life in this adventure).

Kids in grades 4-6 will be the mostly likely readers here (although let's not omit higher grades and even some adults, who will find the inclusion of classical music clues a quirky, fun addition to an animal-based detective story). Despite its ability to reach into lower grades with animal protagonists and fun mysteries, The Note Hunter: The Case of the Haunted Swamp provides enough classical music references that it injects a note of complexity into matters - and thus will be enjoyed by older readers looking for light, engaging, quick leisure mysteries.

These audiences will find there's plenty to love about The Note Hunter. Characters are well drawn and fun, the setting of the Louisiana swamp is vivid, and interactions are clear and involving, often permeated with a sense of humor and irony that even younger readers will understand: "Strouse felt a light breeze on his ears. It carried with it the strange distant music that echoed over the meandering waterway. His ears told him exactly where the music was coming from. But as mouse and 'gator made their way through the sleepy swamp, Strouse could tell that Shukula was swimming in a completely different direction. Now, it's never wise to make an alligator angry, even one without any teeth. So, as politely as he could Strouse asked her why she was going the way she was going."

Now, this is NOT a picturebook; nor even a simple chapter book (though each chapter is about three or four pages in length and all are accompanied by large color drawings by Phil Mendez, digitally rendered by Hunter Wolf, that are notable for their imaginative cartoon style.) It simply provides more complexity than your usual chapter book format.

Also: one might anticipate a story featuring a swamp encounter to be anything other than a puzzle revolving around an entire lost classical symphony.

But, note by note, T.W. Strouse is on a mission to recover the complete lost symphony work - and so The Case of the Haunted Swamp is first in a series of symphonic investigations that will lure young readers with mystery and delight them with many departures from typical, one-dimensional approaches to problem-solving.

Will Strouse succeed in what is evolving to be one of his most complicated cases? Kids will be guessing to the end and will find this a fine predecessor to others that might evolve, featuring the mouse p.i. in a unique, music-based detective series.

Diane Donovan
Senior Reviewer

The Biography Shelf

Out in Front: Malala Yousafzai and the Girls of Pakistan
David Aretha
Morgan Reynolds Inc.
620 S. Elm St., Suite 223
Greensboro, NC 27406
9781599354545 $27.45

Illustrated with full-color photography throughout, Out in Front: Malala Yousafzai and the Girls of Pakistan is a biography of this courageous teenager, written especially for young adults. Out in Front does not downplay the seriousness of the social injustice that Malala took a stand against, or the price she paid for it. She dared to call for the education of women and girls, and speak out against the misogynist policies of the Taliban. Because of her activism, a Taliban gunman stopped the school bus she was riding on and tried to shoot her dead. She miraculously survived, and continues to advocate for the rights of women, girls, and all human beings to this day. Out in Front also discusses the cruelties that women in Pakistan face all too often, such as forced marriage, physical abuse, denial of education and jobs, attacks with acid, or outright murder. Malala's courage and determination to make the world a better place is nothing less than inspirational, and Out in Front is worthy of the highest recommendation for school and public library children's collections.

The Social Issues Shelf

Separate is Never Equal
Duncan Tonatiuh
Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
115 West 18th Street, 6th floor
New York, NY 10011
9781419710544 $18.95

Although the Brown v. Board of Education court decision is well known, it was not the only effort to end separate and unequal education systems. Separate is Never Equal is a picturebook that teaches young children about civil rights pioneer Sylvia Mendez and her family, who worked to help end school segregation in California. Mendez was an American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent, who spoke and wrote flawless English, yet she was rejected from a "whites only" school. Her parents organized the Hispanic community and filed a lawsuit in federal district court. This was the beginning of the end of segregated education in California. Separate is Never Equal tells its true story with stark, stylized color illustrations, and quotes from the court case; a final Author's Note and photographs of the Mendez family close this excellent contribution to educational picturebook shelves. Highly recommended.

The Gardening Shelf

Garden To Table
Katherine Hengel
1201 Currie Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403
9781938063428, $15.95,

"Garden to Table: A Kid's Guide to Planting, Growing, and Preparing Food" by Katherine Hengel is a 144 page compendium written specifically for young readers ages 8 to 12 and presents a superbly illustrated introduction to the joys of cooking with over thirty wonderfully 'kid friendly' recipes for dishes that are as palate pleasing as they are appetite satisfying. Of special note is the introductory information on growing food, cooking terms, ingredients, kitchen tools, seeds, the stages of growth, harvesting, and more. The recipes themselves range from a Rock-On Raisin Salad; to a Positively Potato Soup; to to a Tomato Pie in the Sky; to The Amazing ALT Sandwich! Enhanced with the inclusion of a Glossary and a handy Index, "Garden to Table: A Kid's Guide to Planting, Growing, and Preparing Food" is very highly recommended for family, school, and community library Children's Books collections for gardening and cooking.

The Crafts Shelf

I Can Make That! Fantastic Crafts for Kids
Mary Wallace, author
Owlkids Books Inc.
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781926973975 $18.95 152 pages

This updated publication of "I Can Make That!" features easy, illustrated instructions for making over 60 delightful craft projects for kids ages 4-8. Clear, color -cued photos of craft steps are easy to follow even for the early readers, with minimal adult assistance. Crafts are arranged in categories of Costumes, Puppets, Nature Crafts, Toys, and Games, with detailed patterns and a materials index at the end. These colorful project ideas are innovative and fun for all. Some examples include superhero costumes, prancing pony puppets, cornhusk dolls and forest folk nature crafts, a toy train or race car, and a treasure hunt game with a winning trophy. The Getting Started section includes suggestions for easily acquired craft supplies such as colored tape and stickers, white glue, markers and crayons, and acrylic and tempera paints. Best of all are the beginning instructions: "Be silly. Be daring. Be creative. Have fun! (P. 7)" "I Can Make That!" is a fantastic resource for parents, caretakers and educators with marvelous suggestions for good creative experiences for kids.

The Science Shelf

Beneath the Sun
Melissa Stewart, author
Constance R. Bergum, illustrator
Peachtree Publishers
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318
9781561457335 $16.95

"Beneath the Sun" is a stunning, illustrated children's nature book with over 18 sunny painted illustrations showing different animals, fish, and birds as they find ways to adapt to the heat of the sun. Fiddler crabs, ospreys, painted salamanders, turkey vultures, ringtails, spittlebugs, and earthworms are just a few of the species featured who have special ways of adapting to the heat of the mid -solstice summer sun. Attractively presented and carefully written to appeal to children ages 4-8, "Beneath the Sun" shows miniature miracles of nature's heat survival defenses in exquisite detailed illustrations. Beginning and ending with human children, who adapt to the sun's heat by drinking fluids and running through sprinklers, "Beneath the Sun" encourages kids to examine everyday features of nature's creatures around them.

The Easy Reader Shelf

Lenny Goes to Nursery School
Ken Wilson-Max
Frances Lincoln Children's Books
74-77 White Lion Street, Islington, London, N1 9PF
c/o Publishers Group West (distribution)
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781847803177 $15.99

Lenny Goes to Nursery School is a simple, reader-friendly picturebook featuring stiffer-than-average pages to accommodate little hands (Lenny Goes to Nursery School is not a board book, though). The story follows Lenny, a playful, dark-skinned young child as he makes new friends, sings songs, drinks juice, draws pictures, plays "follow the leader" with tricycles, and more, all on his first day of nursery school. The simple sentences and brightly colored illustrations add a touch of friendly cheer to this delightful pciturebook, ideal for sharing with little ones who might be apprehensive about going to school!

The Picturebook Shelf

Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse
Torben Kuhlmann
NorthSouth Books
600 Third Avenue - 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10016
c/o Smith Publicity
9780735841673 $19.95

Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse is a charming children's picturebook inspired by legends of aviation history. Set in 20th century Germany, the story follows a little mouse, threatened by the invention of the mechanical mousetrap as well as the appetites of hungry cats and owls. He yearns to cross the Atlantic Ocean and reach America - through the air! The mouse tirelessly tries new flying inventions, practicing how to construct and control them. Can he achieve his inspirational dream? Sweeping full-color, full-page illustrations in a realistic style distinguish this amazing story, created as a tribute to brave individuals who lived to open up the sky.

Higgledy Piggledy
B. Seymour Rabinovitch with Rebecca S. Treger, authors
Mari Gayatri Stein, illustrator
Ruth A. Rabinovitch, editor
Roxy Ann Press, LLC
c/o Porter Book Promotions
4818 Sancola Ave., North Hollywood, CA 91601
9780988747401 $14.95

Intended for young people ages 4-8, Higgledy Piggledy: A Tale of Four Little Pigs is a lighthearted children's picturebook about four piglets named Curly, Twirly, Whirly, and Higgledy Piggledy. The other piglets tease Higgledy Piggledy for having a tongue-twisting name, but then a ferocious, hungry wolf captures the four piglets. The wolf plays a cruel game with each piglet in turn, chasing them while calling their name, but he can't quite get Higgledy Piggledy's name right - in the confusion, Higgledy Piggledy manages to escape and rescue the others! Even the oddest of names can save the day, in this charming story brought to life with colorful, minimalist illustrations. Higgledy Piggledy: A Tale of Four Little Pigs has modestly lengthy text for a picturebook, making it especially ideal for young people sharpening their reading skills in preparation to starting chapter books!

The Greatest Blessings
Mark Isaacs, author
Jim Balkovek, illustrator
Lampglow Books
9780578131436 $16.00

Author and educator Mark Isaacs presents The Greatest Blessings a picturebook parable in the style of classic fairy tales. Three brother lords Fame, Fortune, and Power dispense their blessings over people everywhere, but when they spurn a homely babe, the infant grows up unknown, impoverished, and a slave to his greedy foster father. Boy (his cruel foster father gave him no other name) escapes to freedom with his only friends - Sheep, Cow, and Horse - in search of a better life. When Fame, Fortune, and Power quarrel over whose blessing is the greatest, they and their court jester Nobody search out Boy for an impartial judgment. However, Boy has his own views about what life's greatest blessings truly are! Timeless wisdom, eye-for-an-eye justice (the evil foster father is eaten by slavering wolves), and vivid color illustrations distinguish this unforgettable, allegorical picturebook.

Too Many Teddies
Shelley Arnusch
Be That Books Publishing
9780987915412 $13.99

Too Many Teddies is a children's picturebook about the value and virtue of generosity. Little Trixie loves her favorite Boo Bear so much that friends and family members regularly give her other stuffed animals. Eventually Trixie has too many teddies - so many that she no longer has room to sit on her sofa or sleep on her bed! What is a little girl to do with so many teddies? Trixie's gift-giving solution spreads joy to the other children in the neighborhood - many of whom come back to play with their cherished teddies in her front yard! Vivid color illustrations add the perfect touch to this heartwarming, read-aloud story.

Penny Penguin Doesn't Like the Cold
Margie North, author
Denver Wagner, illustrator
Little Creek Press
c/o Kristin Mitchell Design, LLC
5341 Sunny Ridge Road
Mineral Point, WI 53565
9780989978002 $16.95

Penny Penguin Doesn't Like the Cold is a charming children's picturebook about a little penguin who doesn't want to leave the warm comforts of her cozy home to play in the winter snow. But some gentle words from her mother and her friend Peter persuade her to venture outdoors, and she soon learns that experiencing new and different things - such as ice skating, throwing snowballs, and building a snowman - can be terrific fun! The playful color illustrations add just the right touch to this delightful storybook about learning to broaden one's horizons.

The Bicycle Garden
Walter Williams
Fernwood & Hedges Books
9780989069823 $13.99

The Bicycle Garden is a children's picturebook about limitless possibilities. What if you could grow a bicycle, in your very own garden? Timka and Dasha set out to do just that, but run into one obstacle after another - the sprouting bicycles grow too fast, or too high! Can they grow bicycles that will suit each of them just right? The semi-abstract, crayon-style illustrations lend the impression of a child's wonder, in this delightfully absurd story, ideal for young people who are just beginning to read on their own.

Lori Degman, author
Deborah Zemke, illustrator
Creston Books
P.O. Box 9369, Berkeley, 94709
9781939547071 $16.95

"Cock-A-Doodle-Oops!" is a rollicking, rhyming farm fun illustrated story about a farm family rooster in need of a vacation from his crowing duties. These bright, versed story pages are filled with funny energy and images appealing to an elementary age audience. The rooster definitely needs a vacation, but the problem is, who will crow for him while he is gone? And how will they wake up the soundly sleeping Farmer McPeeper when the rooster's voice is gone? Kids will love this addictive, entertaining funny story, perfectly embellished with comic colored illustrations of every farm animal and Farmer McPeeper too.

The Other Bears
Michael Thompson, author/illustrator
Star Bright Books
13 Landsdowne Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
9781595726384 $16.99

"The Other Bears" is a delightful title for children originally published by Fremantle Press of Australia. Written and illustrated by a multi-talented author who is also a geriatric specialty M.D., "The Other Bears" presents a story of the adorable koala bear family who decide to host a series of other bear visitors with wonderful eccentricities. Though Mother and Father Koala find different objections and complaints about each other bear family, the koala children enjoy the funny quirks of each other bear family. The panda bears have fantastic food, the polar bears tell funny jokes, the black bears play good marching songs, the brown bears tell stories, and the sun bears play ridiculous games. Mother and Father Koala Bear finally realize their little koala bears are delighted and happy just because all the other bears, each so different and unique, are there! "The Other Bears" has an educational parade of different bear species illustrated and described on the inner covers, including the spectacled bear, the sloth bear, and the Asian black bear, or moon bear. "The Other Bears" is stunningly presented with elaborate costumed bears of every kind in side-splitting illustrations.

Tippy-Tippy-Tippy, Splash!
Candace Fleming and G. Brian Karas
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781416954033 $16.99

Tippy-Tippy-Tippy, Splash provides the ongoing saga of Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! and tells of three bunnies who sunbathe on Mr. McGreely's towel. He can't seems to escape these troublesome bunnies - and worst of all, they tend to show him up in anything he tries to do. This sequel will appeal to ages 4-8 newcomers and old fans alike, with fun stories of the antics and encounters between talented bunnies who like to play and a man who just wants to excel at something.

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

Anne Isaacs' MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH (9780375867453, $17.99) receives vivid, fun illustrations by Kevin Hawkes to accompany a rollicking fun story of Texas, a state where potatoes are so big that it takes only seven to make a dozen, and where a widow who inherits thirty-five million dollars finds herself courted by a slew of unwelcome characters. Kids will need good reading skills to absorb this fun story but will find the end result worth it, in a Western filled with humor and tall tale fun. Lou Berger & David Catrow's DREAM DOG (9780375866555, $17.99) tells of Harry, who wants a dog more than anything - but his father is allergic to them. It's time for him to imagine a different kind of dog - one that his father won't have problems with, and one stemming from his own vivid imagination. A fun story emerges of a boy's powerful imagination. Anita Lobel's TAKING CARE OF MAMA RABBIT (9780385753685, $11.99) tells of Mama Rabbit, who is too sick to leave her bed. It's up to her helpful little rabbits to cheer her up: their thoughtful gifts are whimsical and gentle reminders of love in this easy reader young picturebook fans will find gentle and fun. Barb Rosenstock's THE NOISY PAINT BOX (9780307978486, $17.99) is illustrated by Mary Grandpre and provides a coverage of Kandinsky's abstract art, telling of a little boy who studies math, history and more - until he gets to art class. As he opens his paint box, he hears fun sounds in the colors - and decides to paint them. This lively story of Vasily Kandinsky, one of the first abstract painters, is a lovely introduction for any interested in art for young people, and provides a simple approach to understanding abstract expression.

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

Jon J. Muth's HI, KOO! A YEAR OF SEASONS (9780545166683, $17.99) provides an enchanting easy reader for youngsters, using the little panda bear Koo to pair with haiku about the four seasons. From actions with snowballs and extra-long icicles to reading books to sparrows, a gentle survey of seasonal sensations is presented that invites young readers to immerse themselves in seasonal wonders. Sharon Robinson's UNDER THE SAME SUN (9780545166720, $17.99) tells of Grandmother Bibi and Auntie Sharon, who have come from America to visit their family in Tanzania. Bibi's seven grandchildren are planning a big surprise for her birthday and the family embarks on an experience together replete with Africa's sounds, smells and wonder. The result is a lovely survey recommended for any with basic picturebook reading skills and for parents interested in read-alouds. Patricia Polacco's CLARA AND DAVIE (9780545354776, $17.99) offers up the true story of a young Clara Burton, who founded the American Red Cross, and tells of a gifted girl with a lisp. It's her brother who recognizes her talent for healing creatures, and who stands by his sister, telling her someday she'll be great. Good reading skills lend to an absorbing story line. Patricia Reilly Giff's PATTI CAKE AND HER NEW DOLL (9780545244657, $16.99) tells of Patti Cake, whose new doll is named On-Sale. The doll is afraid of the dark - and of Patti's dog Tootsie, who gets On-Sale dirty. It's only when Tootsie tries to make amends that the doll realizes she has a friend in the big, frightening and clumsy dog. Cynthia Lord and Derek Anderson's HOT ROD HAMSTER: MONSTER TRUCK MANIA! (9780545462617, $16.99) presents Fair Day with monster trucks, and documents Hot Rod Hamster and his friends who are enthusiastic about the fair's possibilities. Large-size lettering and dialogue balloons contribute to a whimsical story along with zany, large-sized color drawings by Derek Anderson to make for an engrossing tale. All are excellent picks for young picture-book readers.

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

Rita Gray's HAVE YOU HEARD THE NESTING BIRD? (9780544105805, $16.99) presents simple pictures by Kenard Pak, and considers the importance of being quiet in nature. Young naturalists receive a simple story of different kinds of birds and their sounds - and learn why nesting birds are so quiet when they're on the nest. Parents interested in read-alouds will find this a fun story line. Deborah Underwood's BAD BYE, GOOD BYE (9780547928524, $16.99) is all about changes good and bad, and covers life's transitions and the different colors of nature that bring good and bad points to life. Change is hard on kids moving homes: this book points out both sides of leaving an old town and making a new home, and is an easy read for any youngster.

G.P. Putnam's Sons
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014

Corey Rosen Schwartz and Beth Coulton's GOLDI ROCKS AND THE THREE BEARS (9780399256851, $16.95) tells of three bears who know how to produce rock music: the only problem is, they need a new singer. So they audition all kinds of characters, from the Three Pigs to Red Riding Hood - to no avail. Nobody seems to match their music, and how can a band gain popularity without a lead singer? The answer may be sleeping in their bed in this predictable but funny tale. Cornelius Van Wright's WHEN AN ALIEN MEETS A SWAMP MONSTER (9780399256233, $16.99) tells of Alik and Boi, who are terrified of one another when they bump into each other at the pond. Each thinks the other is a monster or an alien, both run home in panic to their skeptical families, and both must return to the pond to clarify their first impressions in this whimsical story about courage. These offer something different for young picturebook readers seeking exceptional entertainment.

The Multicultural Shelf

Why Are You Doing That?
Elisa Amado, author
Manuel Monroy, illustrator
Groundwood Books
110 Spadina Avenue, Suite 801, Toronto, Ontario M5V 2K4
9781554984534 $16.95

"Why Are You Doing That?" is a bicultural, illustrated juvenile story about everyday foods and their sources for a rural Hispanic boy named Chepito. Chepito learns about activities related to his favorite foods, such as tortillas, avocados, bananas, chicken, milk, beans (frijoles), eggs, and rice. A vocabulary list at the end explains the meanings of Hispanic words used in the text. Illustrations are full of sunny earth tints and casual, happy food growing and preparation activities of adults in Chepito's quiet community. "Why Are You Doing That?" is a successor story for children ages 4-7, following "What Are You Doing," another title by the same author/illustrator team available in both Spanish and English.

The Self-Help Shelf

Healthy Choices, Happy Kids
Foster W. Cline, M.D., Lisa C. Greene, Gina L. May, authors
Dona Vajgand, illustrator
Epic Publishing
2620 Bellevue Way NE #146, Bellevue, WA 98004
9780991130313 $17.95

"Healthy Choices, Happy Kids: Making Good Choices with Everyday Care" is a wonderful manual for parents and children that helps teach children the value of making healthy choices. Fun, colorful illustrations containing a hidden frog in every page help add to the appeal of each page. A useful parental suggestion section at the back of the book teaches about handy ways to offer choices to kids in ways to encourage them to make good, healthy choices. "Healthy Choices, Happy Kids" is a perfect tool to encourage children age 6 and up to brush their teeth, take a bath, choose healthy foods, wash their hands, take their medicine, and stay healthy and active.

The Activity Shelf

Search and Find: National Parks
Maud Lienard, illustrator
Auzou Publishing
2432 rue des Amandiers, 75020 Paris, France
9782733827055 $16.95

"Search and Find: National Parks" is a creative activity search and find picture book (12 double pages pasteboard) that features twelve National Parks in the United States. Large, double page imaginative illustrations feature family activities in the following parks: Olympic, Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Teton, Cuyahoga Valley, Yosemite, Mount Rushmore, Rocky Mountain, Zion, Death Valley, Acadia, Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon National Parks. Following the exploration adventures of the Ramble family, each sturdy pasteboard panorama presents opportunities for kids age 4 and up to find 20 hidden objects, plus each park illustration has a hidden escaped intruder in the park scene. Children delight in learning about the scenery features and animals of each National Park setting while sharpening their visual observation skills. This is an excellent educational/entertainment activity book for young children whether on vacation or dreaming of exploring in the future. The quirky, colorful illustrations present both information and challenges in a fun format friendly to kids.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

The Three Brothers
Karel Hlobil, author
Kristen House, editor
Privately Published
9780987671219 $29.99 (CAD)

"The Three Brothers" is a collection of unusual traditional stories for children involving Forest Friends, transformation, and nature. Fourth volume of the Forest Friends series, "The Three Brothers" explores many life lessons such as the meaning of true friendship, awareness of nature's cycles and mystic harmony, the offerings of wisdom and power to those who learn to listen to their own heart and the voices of Forest Friends, and the sacred mystery of life. The theme of a sacred quest is explored with special significance. Each chapter tale has a special nugget of wisdom leading to the inspiring resolution, full of mystic harmony and love. Fantastic and creative illustrations combine the real and the imagined to provide a collage of fertile visions related to the story's themes. Nature and fantasy combine in fresh and unusual ways in this beauteous volume, to present a modern fairy tale with earth relevant morals of great and lasting value. "The Three Brothers" is recommended for young readers age 10 and up, with a special fondness for high nature fantasy.

The Audiobook Shelf

Jen Green, author
Benjamin Soames, narrator
Naxos of America, Inc.
1810 Columbia Avenue, Suite 28
Franklin, TN 37064
9781843797753 $17.98

Dinosaurs is an unabridged, educational, nonfiction audiobook on CD especially for young adults, about these amazing reptiles that once dominated the Earth. Some species were large; some were small; some could fly; some hunted in packs like modern wolves; and some were terrifying solo predators. An extraordinary glimpse to prehistory, Dinosaurs is sure to fascinate and delight listeners of all ages! Highly recommended, especially for public library children's collections. 2 CDs, 2 hours 34 min.

Hollow City
Ransom Riggs, author
Kirby Heyborne, narrator
Blackstone Audiobooks
PO Box 969
Ashland, OR 97520
9781620647400 $29.95

Hollow City is the unabridged audiobook adaptation of the sequel to the breakout YA-horror hit, "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children". Opening in 1940, immediately after the terrifying events of the first novel, Hollow City follows Jacob and his friends in their struggle to journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. An unexpected menagerie of animals, spirits, allies, and antagonists await! Superbly weaving horror elements with the light fantastic, Hollow City will prove captivating to listeners of all ages! A bonus PDF disc is filled with the oddly creepy, vintage-style photographs that are a signature hallmark of the series. Fans of the "Series of Unfortunate Events" novels may recognize a kindred spirit Ransom Riggs' unsettling, unnerving, and unforgettable adventures. Highly recommended! 10 CDs plus bonus PDF disc, 11 1/2 hours.

Classic Fairy Tales
Bernard Cribbins, narrator
Naxos of America, Inc.
1810 Columbia Avenue, Suite 28, Franklin, TN 37064
9789626342220, $17.98,

With its flawless production values, the Naxos audio book edition of "Classic Fairy Tales" is superbly narrated by Bernard Cribbins and is comprised of such traditional stories for children as: The Brave Little Tailor; This History of Dick Whittington; Goldilocks and the Three Bears; The Princess on the Glass Hill; The Story of the Three Little Pigs; Beauty and the Beast; Jack and the Beanstalk; and Puss in Boots. This two CD edition has a total running time of 2 hours, 36 minutes, 51 seconds. "Classic Fairy Tales" is exceptional and highly recommended for family, preschool, kindergarten, and community library Audio Book collections for children.

The Music CD Shelf

The Apple Tree & The Honey Bee
Bari Koral Family Rock Band
Loopyluu Tunes
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
130 Maywood Drive, San Francisco, CA 94127
$10.98 CD / $9.49 MP3

The fourth album of the Bari Koral Family Rock Band, The Apple Tree & The Honey Bee is a high-energy music CD created especially for young children ages 1-7, celebrating simple ideas with a sense of wondrous adventure and delight. The upbeat, carefree songs spread a contagious sense of cheer! The Apple Tree & The Honey Bee makes a great birthday or holiday gift for little ones. The tracks are "Dancing Bear", "Apple Tree", "Big Truck", "Birthday", "Bee", "When I'm Five", "Sisters & Brothers", "Roller Coaster", "Yes & No", "Fall Down", "Back To The Farm", and "Give a Hug". 34 min.

Shy Kid Blues
Hullabaloo World Headquarters
PO Box 636, Del Mar, CA 92014
130 Maywood Drive, San Francisco, CA 94127
$12.00 CD / $9.99 MP3

A touch of the autobiographical enriches Shy Kid Blues, a children's music CD that tells the story of a reticent child who grows up to share friendship and a love of music. Guitar accented by everything from jaw harp to spoons and drums underlie the singsong life story vocals, in this exceptionally enlightening album that adults can also enjoy. Highly recommended! The tracks are "A Very Quiet Baby" (0:55), "Talking Shy Kid Blues" (1:52), "Just the Opposite" (0:33), "365 Days on Earth" (1:39), "Welcome to Kindergarten" (0:41), "Best Friends Forever" (2:16), "Someone Else's Cheese" (1:10), "Trombone Man" (1:47), "Guitar and Drums" (0:53), "Earn It" (1:42), "Ringing Off the Hook" (0:53), "That's Just Us (Playing Rock-n-Roll)" (2:10, "Mr. Winterer's Cat" (4:11), "Sometimes Even I Feel Shy" (2:02), "That Old Tune" (1:04), "H-U-L-L-A-B-A-L-O-O" (1:27), "Singer Wanted" (1:11), "Brendan Rocks the Box" (2:38), "You Are Our Singer" (0:45), "You Can Do This" (2:27), "The Great Gonzo" (1:11), "Like a Bird Must Feel" (4:09), "A Standing Ovation" (1:40), and "You Can Do This (Reprise)" (1:04). 37 min.

Recess Monkey
Privately Published
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
130 Maywood Drive, San Francisco, CA 94127

Intended especially for young listeners ages 3-8, Wired is an exciting music CD of "gadget rock" songs about inventions, electricity, the treasures of family and companionship, even the many uses of duct tape. The energetic and popular children's band Recess Monkey has done it again, in this delightfully funny, subtly educational, and highly recommended new album! The tracks are "Take Your Kids to Work Day", "Wired", "Braces", "Car Wash", "Grandpa is a Time Machine", "Wishing Well", "Brick by Brick", "The Great Diorama", "Garage Sale", "Duct Tape World", "Shutterbug", "Skee Ball", "Lazy Susan", "Batteries Not Included", and "Off the Grid". 43 min.

The Perfect Quirk
Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Underground Playground Records
c/o Waldmania!
130 Maywood Drive, San Francisco, CA 94127

Ideal for young people ages 4-10, The Perfect Quirk is a lighthearted children's music album by award-winning "kindie" performer Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. The music ranges in style from classic hip hop to to Motown, reggae, blues, even a pirate shanty, all celebrating the rambunctuous adventure, the quirky weirdness, and the sheer fun of being a kid. An excellent pick to lighten funky moods in little ones! The tracks are "You're It", "Unwind", "Imaginary Friend", "3 Pointed Back", "Pillowfort Pillowfight", "DJs All Day", "Guess What", "Caught in the Screen", "Time Machine", and "Nightlight". 37 min.

Good Egg
Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights
Privately Published
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
130 Maywood Drive
San Francisco, CA 94127

Intended especially for young people ages 2-10, Good Egg is a children's music CD featuring a smorgasbord of musical genres, including rock, pop, funk, soul, ska, go-go, gospel, and country. Joanie Leeds clear, joyful vocals distinguish the playfully funny songs, which parents, babysitters, and other adults can enjoy as well as little ones! The tracks are "Food Fight", "Kids Place", "Good Egg", "Drummer Dan", "Hipster in the Making", "Stories from the Road", "Dino on the UWS", "The World is Your Oyster", "Confusing Costume", "My Dad", "Shadow", "Germs", "Dr. Lowett", "Always on the Run", and "I Love You". 43 min.

Why Do Ducks Have Webbytoes?
Mim Eichmann and Doug Lofstrom
Privately Published

Why Do Ducks Have Webbytoes? is silly and upbeat collection of original children's songs, each with playful lyrics and catchy rhythms. The creative, playfully irreverent music is sure to be a hit with young people ages 2-10. Highly recommended! The tracks are "I Love Pizza" (2:17), "Puppy in the Pound" (3:05), "Country Breakfast Time!" (2:12), "Movin' Down to Texas" (2:32), "Why Do Ducks Have Webby Toes?" (1:38), "My New Baby Sister" (2:58), "Baby Everett's Music Box Rag" (2:23), "Rain Go Away" (2:35), "Breakfast Time in the City!" (2:17), "My Name is Charlie, Charlie" (2:20), "I Wanna Garden with No Weeds" (2:32), "My New Baby Brother" (2:50), and "The Inch Worm" (2:15). 33 min.

'Til the Morning
Edie Carey and Sarah Sample
Produced by Scott Wiley
Groundloop Records
c/o Waldmania!
130 Maywood Drive, San Francisco, CA 94127

'Til the Morning: Lullabies and Songs of Comfort is a transcendentally beautiful music CD. Though created especially to soothe children at bedtime, the rolling, melodic duets will ease the minds and free the imaginations of listeners of all ages. Unique and exquisitely wondrous, 'Til the Morning is highly recommended. The tracks are "Lullaby", "California Stars", "Turn Around", "Slumber My Darling", "North Star", "I'm On Your Side", "Softly And Tenderly", "Your Own Stars", "If I Needed You", "All the Pretty Little Horses", "La La Lu", "These Things", "Sweet Sweet Dreams", and "Now the Day is Over". 49 min.

Zee Avi
Little Monster Records
c/o Sugar Mountain PR
$13.98 CD / $9.99 digital

Malaysian-American singer/songwriter, guitarist, ukulele player and visual artist Zee Avi presents Nightlight, a gentle children's music CD featuring Zee's personal twist on covers of popular favorite songs, plus a soothing Malaysian lullaby. Listeners of all ages will enjoy this wonderful treasury, crested with Zee's mellifluous vocals. The tracks are "Don't Worry, Be Happy", "Colors of the Wind", "Who Loves the Sun", "Ben", "Rainbow Connection", "The Circle Game", "Mockingbird", and "Dream a Little Dream".

The DVD Shelf

Learn a Language
Rock 'N Learn
PO Box 3595
Conroe, TX 77305-3595

Learn a Language is an educational DVD for viewers ages 2 and up; even adults will find it a useful introduction to speaking, reading, and understanding a new language. Colorful, computer-animated footage teaches the viewer the words for colors, toys, clothes, furniture, and counting to 10 - over 80 words and phrases total! Audio and subtitles have the options of Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, Italian, German, and English, and they can be mixed and matches as desired. Listeners of all ages are encouraged to speak foreign words along with delightful characters, in this fun, user-friendly show! 37 min. per language, or 3 hours 42 min. total.

Lucky Ducklings
Story by Eva Moore
Pictures by Nancy Carpenter
Narrated by Tavia Gilbert
Music by Jon Carroll
Weston Woods
c/o Scholastic
90 Old Sherman Turnpike, Danbury, CT 06816

Lucky Ducklings is the DVD adaptation of a wonderful picturebook for children ages 4-8, drawn from a true story about how a mother duck and her five ducklings were rescued from a town storm drain during an early morning walk. Three firemen and a pickup truck worked to save the duck family, in this wonderful, compassionate story brought to life with clear narration and simple music. Lucky Ducklings is a wonderful pick for grade school homeroom viewing, or children's library DVD collections. 9 minutes, English subtitles, closed-captioned.

Hit Entertainment
c/o Lionsgate (distributor)
c/o Andrea Blain Public Relations
9750 Crawford Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076

Three new children's DVDs from Hit Entertainment are filled with colorful adventures and positive messages. "Happy Birthday Barney!" ($9.98, 64 min., English/Spanish) celebrates the birthday of the beloved, big-hearted purple dinosaur, featuring three episodes: "It's Your Birthday, Barney!", "Caring", and "The Magic Lamp". "Thomas & Friends: Railway Mischief" ($14.98, 56 min.) is another computer-animated adventure of Thomas the anthropomorphic railway engine and his devoted friends - but when Gordon and Cranky resist good advice, and Scruff, Winston, and Stafford become confused in their duties, it causes chaos and delays on the tracks! The power of friendship is crucial to working through everyone's problems, in this adventure enhanced with a bonus music video, as well as simple games and puzzles. "Thomas & Friends: Trouble on the Tracks" ($14.98, 57 min.) features five brand new Thomas & Friends episodes, including high-speed hijinks, spooky storytelling, a close encounter with the Troublesome Trucks and more! All three are excellent picks for young children, highly recommended.

The Native American Shelf

How Chile Came to New Mexico
Rudolfo Anaya, author
Nicolas Otero, illustrator
Nasario Garcia, translator
Rio Grande Books
925 Salamanca NW, Los Ranchos, NM 87107
9781936744206 $24.95

"How Chile Came to New Mexico" is the latest bilingual title from a multiple award-winning series about Hispanic and Native American cultural influences in the Southwest. Filled with excitingly vivid bright illustrations in Mexican-influenced artistic style, every page presents a gripping folk legend/love story written in both Spanish and English. It is the complex tale of how the plant which bears chile fruits came to be imported to New Mexico from much further south in prehistoric times by Native Americans of the Southwest and Mexico. Young Eagle is a young Pueblo man who is in love with Sage, a beautiful Pueblo maiden. Sage's father tells him he may have permission to marry Sage if he brings the mysterious chile fruit seeds to be planted from the far south. This is a journey of great length and hazard, but Young Eagle gladly undertakes it. He undergoes many dangers, trials and tests before completing his quest, but he is protected by special gifts granting safety from his parents and Sage. finally he arrives at the Valley of the Aztecs. An old wise man named Parrot Man welcomes him and feasts him with foods flavored with chiles and even cacao and honey and corn. Because of his faith and respect, Young Eagle is allowed to complete his quest, taking chile seeds for plants back to the Land of the Great River, where the Pueblos live. Young Eagle is instructed to share his seeds with other tribes along his way, which he does. When he finally returns, there is a celebration and he marries Sage, shares the chile seeds with his in laws and tribe members, and founds a large, healthy family. The story of Young Eagle's quest to find the chile seeds is a traditional tale told among Pueblo families and other Southwestern groups. "How Chile Came to new Mexico" is completed with a bilingual glossary and dedication. This magnificent series is a must read for all students of many traditional American cultures, with Hispanic influences.

Tasunka: A Lakota Horse Legend
Donald F. Montileaux, author/illustrator
Alex White Plume, storyteller
Agnes Gay, Lakota translator
South Dakota State Historical Society Press
900 Governors Drive, Pierre, S. Dak., 57501
9780985290528 $19.95

"Tasunka: A Lakota Horse Legend" is a traditional Lakota teaching tale about the significance of the discovery and taming of horses by an early Lakota warrior, on the Northern Great Plains of North America. Filled with vibrant, expressive, carefully drawn illustrations done in the style of Lakota ledger artists' drawings, "Tasunka: A Lakota Horse Legend" tells the traditional story in both English and Lakota, in simple language filled with traditional storytellers' fireside styles of intimate, significant communication to the young. In ancient times, a young warrior out hunting discovers evidence of a new, astounding animal. Times have been hard, and the people of his village were hungry. With much careful trailing, observation, and patient domestication approaches, the warrior succeeds in taming and building a small herd of domesticated wild horses, which he takes home to his village. The horses enabled the Lakota people to hunt game much farther and longer, and they prospered with the help of the fine horses. However, they used the Great Spirit's gift of the horse, Tasunka, to claim new lands and to dominate other peoples. Because of their misuse of the great gift of Tasunka, horses were taken away from the Lakota people. Much later, they returned again ridden by strange white warriors wearing silver armor. The Lakota people once again were able to tame and ride the wild herd of horses, part of Tasunka's legacy. " This return of the Tasunka to the plains people was the Great Spirit's way of forgiveness." The Lakota once again became wealthy, great horsemen of the plains. The stunning ledger style illustrations add colorful imagery to the spare, descriptive traditional narrative of "Tasunka: A Lakota Horse Legend," weaving a complex treasure of heritage for children of tomorrow. Each page contains both an English and a Lakota translation of the narrative, ideally written for children age five and up.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Carpet People
Terry Pratchett
Clarion Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544212473 $17.99

The Carpet People is illustrated by the author and provides a fine, fun story in an epic saga of the Munrung tribe, who has known peace for decades. Something different is changing their lives, however - and if everyone doesn't band together, disaster will be in the making. Dangerous adventures, fun sagas, and unpredictable interactions keep The Carpet People a lively fantasy read recommended for young adult to adult readers.

The Nightmare Dilemma
Mindee Arnett
TOR Teen
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765333346 $17.99

The Nightmare Dilemma tells of Dusty, whose life is complicated enough when one of her mermaid friends is assaulted and left for dead. Lance is accused of the crime and wants Dusty to prove his innocence by finding the real attacker - but Dusty's ability to access dreams isn't helping, especially as they have entered the realm of nightmares. Add more complexities and Dusty begins to suspect a bigger picture that could ultimately destroy everything. Mature teens will find this a gripping and unusual read, absolutely impossible to predict or put down.

Jessica Khoury
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9781595146052 $17.99

VITRO is set on a remote island in the Pacific, where scientists privately funded by Corpus have given life to test tube embryos - and endowed them with amazing abilities. Teen Sophie is determined to get to this island to locate her mother, a scientist who left the family years ago; but when she arrives on the island she discovers a dangerous Vitro twin who represents everything Corpus has worked towards. Understanding her relationship to this semi-sibling lends complexity to the story of science gone awry in this complex science thriller teens will relish.

c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020

Kimberly Derting's THE OFFERING (9781442445628, $17.99) provides a fine 'Pledge novel' and is recommended for mature teens interested in a terrible message and impossible demand revolving around Queen Charlaina of Ludania, who is leader of her country and has worked hard to ignore the former evil queen living inside of her. When her peace agreement goes wrong, Charlie receives a dangerous threat not only to herself but to her kingdom - and the only way to save everything is for her to surrender to her enemy. A vivid saga emerges: one that mature teens will relish. Crystal Chan's BIRD (9781442450899, $16.99) tells of Jewel, who never knew her brother, Bird, but has lived in his shadow all of her life, in a quiet house packed with secrets. It isn't until a boy in a tree enters this world that she can grow beyond fantasy to uncover the truth about Bird. Ages 8-12 will appreciate this engrossing, lyrical story of relationships, change, and close encounters.

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

Rodman Philbrick's ZANE AND THE HURRICANE: A STORY OF KATRINA (9780545342384, $16.99) tells of a vacation planned for a boy and his dog who journey from New Hampshire to New Orleans to meet unknown family when Hurricane Katrina strikes. Zane finds himself living through impossible conditions and his dog Bandit only gets him into more trouble. His efforts to contact his family at home are thwarted and Zane finds himself nearly alone in this engrossing, action-packed saga of survival, recommended for advanced elementary to middle-grade readers. Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed and Larkin Reed's NEVERWAS (9780545434188, $17.99) is Book II of the Amber House trilogy, and will best be enjoyed by readers of Book 1. Here Sarah has come to live at Amber House, her family's estate, and finds past and present have become mixed up in haunting ways. History has been rewritten and Sarah is haunted by another time that never was even as she tries to settle into the House and help her parents plan an exhibition. Can Sarah live in two worlds - and must she sacrifice one world for another? A fine sequel to AMBER HOUSE continues the timeslip adventure. Maggie Stiefvater's SPIRIT ANIMALS (9780545522441, $12.99) is Book II of 'Hunted', a series for advanced elementary to middle-grade readers set in the world of Erdas, where only a few can summon a spirit animal. The bond three such talents share with their animals is symbiotic and involves mutual benefits; but what if there was a way to create such an animal - a way involving giving a human partner all the control? The team has barely come into their own when this challenge emerges, testing their newfound abilities and animal co-relationships. Fans of the prior story will find this a satisfying, involving sequel. Donna Freitas' GOLD MEDAL WINNER (9780545643771, $16.99) tells of Esperanza Flores, who looks forward to skating for the U.S. in the Olympics. But even as she is on the verge of realizing her dreams, so she begins to see its limitations, preventing her from leading an ordinary life and placing her in the limelight with reporters following all her moves. Add backbiting behind the scenes and competition jitters and you have a realistic story of a girl harboring a secret that could place her at the forefront of gold medal skaters. Scott Bly's SMASHER (9780545141185, $16.99) tells of Charlie, who has never had a single friend and invites the attention of bullies. For Charlie is unusually gifted, harboring talents that won't be readily recognized in his world. Charlie lives in a place where people with his gift are killed; but this same gift is needed in the future and robotic girl Geneva finds Charlie and brings him through time and space in a desperate gambit to solve a computer code puzzle and stop a terrible future from evolving. A different kind of thriller emerges that advanced teens will find impossible to set aside. Cynthia Lord's HALF A CHANCE (9780545935330, $16.99) tells of Lucy's family, who have just moved to an old house on a New Hampshire lake when her dad decides to leave on yet another business trip. When Lucy discovers he's judging a photography contest, she decides to enter - and her quest for the perfect subject leads her directly next door, to a boy who knows the area and who harbors a secret. A fine story of achievement and salvation follows, testing the definition of family ties. Trent Reedy's DIVIDED WE FALL (9780545543675, $17.99) presents the viewpoint of a teen National Guardsman of the future who finds himself in the middle of a conflict that ends the United States of America. Mature teen readers are in for a rollicking ride as Daniel finds himself in a strange new world entirely of his making, and must find his way in a mixed up universe of different values and new beginnings. All are solid leisure reads for young adults!

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

A Cool Summer Tail
Carrie A. Pearson, author
Christina Wald, illustrator
Sylvan Dell Publishing
9781628552140 $9.95

"A Cool Summer Tail" is a companion title to "A Warm Winter Tail," exploring ways different animals adapt to the heat of summer and comparing them to ways of human adaptation to heat. Cleverly written to educate and appeal to young readers (age 4 and up), "A Cool Summer Tail" poses amusing hypothetical question from a child to his mother about how humans adapt to hot weather in comparison to specific animals. The versed narrative is hypnotic, entrancing and informative, presented in this basic riddle format. Lusciously detailed illustrations of animals such as deer, bees, foxes and turtles are contrasted with small whimsical black and white stick sketches of human children trying out different heat-adaptive strategies. Finishing with the usual For Creative Minds section, with Animals and Summer Adaptation Fun Facts, a Compare and Contrast section, Summer Animal Matching Activity and Animal Classes with numbered color key illustrations, "A Cool Summer Tail" offers a full enriched array of learning opportunities to young readers of nonfiction nature education. Additional titles of a similar theme from this publisher that are also very highly recommended for this audience are the following titles: "Daisylocks (9781628552157, $9.95)" by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Cathy Morrison, "The Beaver's Busy Year (9781628552133, $9.95) by Mary Holland, and "Animal Helpers: Aquariums (9781628552126, $9.95)" by Jennifer Keats Curtis.

Lucky Dog
Various Authors
Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545554510 $15.99

LUCKY DOG: TWELVE TALES OF RESCUED DOGS provides a pack of dog stories that are both hilarious and poignant, and introduces a range of animals that kids will find heart-warming. Advanced elementary to early middle school grades will find this centers around inhabitants of the Pawley Rescue Center, where rescued dogs find new homes and lives. From first person dog's-eye perspective to the perceptions of new animal owners, LUCKY DOG is filled with reflections and insights that will tug at heartstrings and delight any young reader interested in dogs.

The Fiction Shelf

Aubrey's Attic
Harold William Thorpe, author
Aaron Boyd, illustrator
Little Creek Press
c/o Kristin Mitchell Design, LLC
5341 Sunny Ridge Road
Mineral Point, WI 53565
9780989978019 $16.95

Aubrey's Attic is an original novel for middle grade and young adult readers that touches upon the stirring drama of history. Nine-year-old Aubrey has earned the lead role in a history play about her Wisconsin hometown of Butte des Morts; while looking for an appropriate costume in the attic of an old hotel known as the Trading Post, she finds much more than she ever expected. The Trading Post was once part of the Underground Railroad, a network created to help slaves escape to freedom in the North. Grandma Carver, an ancestor of Aubrey's new friend, Tilisha, was once an escaped slave who might have sought refuge at the Trading Post; but what happened to her after that? The search for answers is a mystery that will teach Aubrey and her friends about the hardships that slaves and the people who helped them once endured, in this thoroughly involving adventure.

Ambrose and the Dawn Patrol
Kenneth Schnetzler and Kane Schnetzler
4900 LaCross Rd.
North Charleston, SC 29406
9781490952918 $8.09

Ambrose and the Dawn Patrol is a novel for young adults about the adventures and the bonds of friendship between three mice. But will Ambrose, Annabelle, and Hubbard be able to help their equine confederate Captain Jack, when he is scheduled to race the mean-spirited black stallion Midnight? A daring animal adventure, Ambrose and the Dawn Patrol is a worthy addition to children's fiction collections and makes a fine gift for young people at the middle grade through junior high reading level.

Lord and Lady Bunny - Almost Royalty!
Mr. & Mrs. Bunny
Schwartz Wade Books
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780307980656 $16.99

Lord and Lady Bunny - Almost Royalty is "translated from the Rabbit" and provides a hilarious set of adventures illustrated by Sophia Blackall in a fine sequel to Mr. and Mrs. Bunny Detectives Extraordinaire. Madeline wants to save money for college, but her ex-hippie parents are broke. When they inherit a sweet shop in England they envision success. Meanwhile Mr. and Mrs. Bunny are seeking a new job also. Mrs. Bunny would like to be the Queen - and what better place to do so than England? Soon they find that heading across the pond involves more than a hop and a leap of faith - and as cultural encounters become challenging for al, a fun set of adventures evolves. Advanced elementary-level readers will find this a fun hop between chapter books and full-fledged novels.

Secrets According to Humphrey
Betty G. Birney
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780399257964 $15.99

Secrets According to Humphrey returns the misadventures of Humphrey the Hamster to the attention of elementary-level readers from grades 3-5. Here Humphrey is privy to many school secrets ranging from a student leaving to secret clubs and codes by the kids. Everyone seems to be holding secrets these days - and Humphrey's job as classroom pet is clear; to help his humans solve their problems - despite all the secrets. But can Humphrey make an impact on his humans? Another funny and captivating Humphrey tale emerges, perfect for prior fans of the hamster's antics.

Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019

Two Ruth Chew 'Matter of Fact' magic books are picks for any elementary-level reader, and are being re-released in hardcover and paperback to provide ages 7-10 with fine, lively new stories about magic. THE TROUBLE WITH MAGIC (9780449813799, $15.99) tells of Barbara and Rick, who are bored until they open a forgotten bottle and free a wizard with an enchanted umbrella. What evolves are encounters with spells and dangerous wishes that have the two wishing for something entirely different. A lively, rollicking adventure evolves. The excitement continues with MAGIC IN THE PARK (97804497813751, $15.99), in which Jen has just moved to Brooklyn, misses her woods and old home, and meets Mike. When the two become fascinated by an older gentleman with vanishing powers, they learn that magic can be anywhere - even in the most mundane of people and places. The results are fun adventures that will delight any interested in the possibilities of magic. Steve Cotler's CHEESIE MACK IS NOT EXACTLY FAMOUS (9780385369848, $15.99) provides the fourth adventure of Cheesie, and will appeal to prior readers and newcomers alike. Here Cheesie and his best friend Georgie are busy exploring a construction site when they find a strange object in the mud. A very old object. One that could be valuable, and one that makes them instant celebrities at school. Fun black and white drawings throughout by Douglas Halgate lend a fine and involving atmosphere to this story of a semi-famous boy.

The Poetry Shelf

Summoning the Phoenix
Emily Jiang, author
April Chu, illustrator
Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
9781885008503 $18.95

Summoning the Phoenix: Poems and Prose About Chinese Musical Instruments is a unique children's picturebook that teaches young readers about China's musical heritage. Each two-page spread features a simple poem about a traditional Chinese instrument (and a young person learning how to play it), and an extensive prose sidebar about the history and usage of the instrument. Colorful, two-page illustrations add warmth and vibrancy to this delightful tour, especially recommended for children's picturebook, multicultural, and music shelves!

The Autism Shelf

The Conversation Train
Joel Shaul, LCSW
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Inc.
400 Market Street, Suite 400
Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781849059862 $24.95

The Conversation Train: A Visual Approach to Conversation for Children on the Autism Spectrum is a picturebook created especially to help young people understand and participate in naturally flowing conversations. Children on the autism spectrum often have difficulty assimilating the unwritten rules of spoken language; The Conversation Train uses a train metaphor to spell out and remember these rules. "Each train car is like a conversation turn. A conversation turn happens each time people talk back and forth in a conversation. Conversation is more than two people just saying words. One person talks about what the other person has just said." Full-color photographs of trains and brightly colored text of sample conversations vividly illustrate the metaphor step-by-step, as it evolves into sample conversation exercises that children can attempt on their own. A final set of pages is designed to be used as reproducible worksheets within the program (The Conversation Train gives permission to copy them for personal use in instructing autistic children, though not for other uses). Highly recommended, especially for educators and public or school children's library collections.

The Cookbook Shelf

Starting from Scratch
Sarah Elton, author
Jeff Kulak, illustrator
Owlkids Books Inc.
1700 Fourth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
9781926973968 $18.95

Starting from Scratch: What You Should Know about Food and Cooking is a little different than most cookbooks for young adults. It features very few recipes; its purpose is to teach children the basics of handling themselves in a kitchen. Chapters address the science of cooking, how to stock one's pantry on a budget, the safety basics for operating a stove or an oven, and much more. Although Starting from Scratch is accessible to young adults, novice cooks of all ages will find Starting from Scratch an invaluable basic food preparation curriculum. Highly recommended!

The Education Shelf

Orienteering Made Simple and GPS Technology
Nancy Kelly
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
c/o Bohlsen Group (publicity)
9781477248591 $19.95

Physical education teacher Nancy Kelly presents Orienteering Made Simple and GPS Technology: An Instructional Handbook, a resource created especially to teach young adults the potentially lifesaving basics of orienteering, GPS technology, and navigation. Reproducible worksheets, lesson plans that instructors can use, and accessible instructions distinguish this useful guide. Orienteering Made Simple can also be used as a hands-on, self-teaching tool by readers of all ages, though it is designed primarily with classroom or physical education instruction in mind. Highly recommended especially for school library and curriculum collections.

Books in Series

We Visit Malaysia
John Bankston, author
Mitchell Lane Publishers
P.O. Box 196, Hockessin, Delaware 19707
9781612284828 $33.95 64 pages

"We Visit Malaysia" is an excellent introductory guide to the complex history, cultures, religious influences and geographical attributes of Malaysia, condensed and photo-illustrated for a young adult audience of students in grades 5 and up. Part of the innovative educational series "Your Land and My Land: Asia," "We Visit Malaysia" presents a wealth of succinct information about the cultures, religions, background, and historical context of the land and peoples of Malaysia, from prehistoric times to the present day, 2014. Complete with colored world maps, modern and historical illustrations and photographs and color coded informative sidebars, "We Visit Malaysia" contains 9 chapters covering an overview of Malaysia, Malaysian history, popular religious and cultural holidays, European exploration, the rise of modern Malaysia and cities, and a concept of 2020 which indicates the wish to keep a clear vision of the best of past traditions while forging ahead in use of modern technologies and industries. Additional featured sections include chapter 9, Malaysians Who Have made Their Mark, a list of thumbnail sketches of famous modern Malaysians, a typical Malaysian recipe for Mango Chicken, instructions for creating a Malaysian kite for a related craft activity, a Timeline from 3000 BCE to 2014, chapter notes, a list of works consulted (including books and internet sources), glossary and index, plus a brief biographical sketch of author John Bankston. "We Visit Malaysia" packs a great deal of accurate and fascinating data in a compact book format which is filled with immense color and popular appeal. Other titles from this same series which are also highly recommended include: "We Visit China" (9781612284767, $33.95) by Joanne Mattern, "We Visit North Korea" (97816122848040, $33.95) by Claire O' Neal, "We Visit the Philippines" (9781612284835, $33.95) by John Bankston, "We Visit Singapore" (9781612284842, $33.95) by John Bankston, "We Visit Cambodia" (9781612284750, $33.95) by Claire O' Neal, "We Visit Japan" (9781612284798, $33.95) by Tammy Gagne, "We Visit South Korea" (9781612284811, $33.95) by Amie Jane Leavitt, "We Visit India" (9781612284774, $33.95) by Khadija Ejaz, and "We Visit Indonesia" (9781612284781, $33.95) by Russell Roberts.

A Murder of Crows
Greg Roza, author
Gareth Stevens Publishing
111 East 14th Street, Suite 349, New York, NY 10003
9781433982040 $22.60

"A Murder of Crows" is a juvenile science book from a series titled Animal Groups, written at a graded level appropriate for children in early elementary grades. The title refers to the accepted name for a group of crows, which can have as many as 100 birds or even hundreds of thousands of crows. Facts about crows are quite interesting, and well presented, with excellent photographs of different ages and types of crows. Crows tend to mate for life, and crows can live a long as 20 years. They also can communicate, sometimes use tools, and remember a face (human) and teach their young about it. "A Murder of Crows" is completed with a glossary, and added information page which includes both books and web sites. "A Murder of Crows" is an excellent educational book for the young scientific nature student. Also highly recommended are the following titles from this same series, Animal Groups: "A Kangaroo Mob" (9781433981999, $22.60), by Johanna Burke, "A Float of Crocodiles" (9781433981944, $22.60), by Karlie Gambino, "A Penguin Colony" (9781433982095, $22.60), by Autumn Leigh, "A Pod of Dolphins" (978433982149, $22.60), by Matthew Fenner, and "A Prickle of Porcupines" (978433982194, $22.60), by Lincoln James.

Big Game Hunting
Richard F. Kozar, author
Eldorado Ink
P.O. Box 100097, Pittsburgh, PA 15233
9781619000476 $33.95/ 26.95

"Big Game Hunting" is an information resource text for teens age 14 and up from the Responsible Gun Ownership series. Lavishly illustrated with 50+ color and black and white scenic photographs, "Big Game Hunting" addresses the basic issues with big game gun selection, ownership and operation for hunting in the wild. The introduction deals with such specifics as the purpose of big game hunting, using the right ammunition or caliber, using telescopic sights, and dressing the kill. Five following chapters discuss hunting deer, black bear, elk, moose, and wild turkey, the most common big game targets in North American hunting. Informative sidebars make suggestions about lists of gear to include on hunts and other valuable tips and information are presented with the myriad of excellent color photographs of wildlife. 55 pages of "Big Game Hunting" information is followed by a list of organizations to contact, glossary, suggestions for further reading, and internet resources. The author is a responsible, experienced big game hunter since the age of 14 with added writing experience in the field of gun use education and other literature, including juvenile titles. Other titles in this series that are also highly recommended include the following: "Firearm Safety (9781619000483, $26.95)" by John Cashin, "Gun Laws" (9781619000490, $26.95) by John Ziff, "Handguns: Safety, Selection, and Use" (9781619000506, $26.95) by John Cashin, "Small Game Hunting" (9781619000520, $26.95) by Christopher Eger, and "Rifles & Shotguns: Safety, Selection, and Use" (9781619000513, $26.95) by John Cashin.

Green Lantern: Prisoner of the Ring
Scott Sonneborn, author
Dan Schoening, illustrator
Stone Arch Books
c/o Capstone Press
1710 Roe Crest Drive, North Mankato, MN 56003
9781434226242 $25.32

This exciting comic series tale filled with multi-generational appeal features the legendary comic book hero, the Green Lantern (a.k.a. Hal Jordan) in a daring search for an evil wizard who uses a magic spell to hide in the powerful ring of the Green Lantern itself! Shrinking to microscopic size to find and defeat the villain is the first of many challenges faced by Hal Jordan as the mystical Green Lantern. "Prisoner of the Ring" is told in exciting narrative prose in 5 chapters and 48 pages, with strong visual appeal of full page comic illustrations. At the end are additional facts about the evil sorcerer, Mywhydden, and a brief biography of Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern, plus discussion questions and suggested writing prompts . This volume delivers exciting reading experiences laced with bold visual prompts for young readers age 10 and up. Additional titles from this series and others by the same publisher that are highly recommended include: "Green Lantern: Savage Sands" (9781434226198, $25.32), by Bright and Schoening, "Superman: Prankster of Prime Time" (9781434219860, $25.32) by Pasko, Burchett, and Loughridge, and "Superman: Super-Villain Showdown: (9781434215703, $25.32) by Kupperberg, Doescher, DeCarlo, and Loughridge.

Explore with Henry Hudson
Tim Cooke, author
Brown Bear Books
c/o Crabtree Publishing Co.
PMB 59031, 350 fifth Avenue, 39th Floor, New York, NY 10118
9780778712466 $27.60

"Explore with Henry Hudson" is an educational juvenile title from the Travel with Great Explorer Series for readers age 13 and up. A combination of highlighted headlines and titles, small paragraph fact bytes, and historic illustrations and photos present the streamlined story of the exploration achievements and career of Henry Hudson (1565?-1609?), the famous navigator who discovered many Northeastern waterways in Canada and the U. S. in his hunt for the nonexistent Northwest passage. Presented and explained is the mystery of Hudson's tragic end, being cast adrift in a small boat with other sick crew members by his mutinying crew in June of 1609. A balanced view of related issues and history of the mutiny and previous exploits of Captain Hudson is outlined, with a conclusion that Hudson was a skilled navigator but a poor captain. Close to 30 pages of details fraught with immediacy and excitement are complemented with a glossary, list of web resources, book list, and timeline from April, 1607 to September of 1611. "Explore with Henry Hudson" is an exciting experience for students of geography, history and European exploration of the Northeast. Also highly recommended are the following title about great explorers from the series, Travel With the Great Explorers: "Explore with Lewis and Clark (9780778712473, $27.60)" by Rachel Stuckey, "Explore with Samuel de Champlain (9780778712565, $27.60)" by Cynthia O' Brien, and "Explore with Christopher Columbus (9780778712459, $27.60)" by Cynthia O' Brien.

Crabtree Publishing

'From Olden Days to Modern Ways' is a new series by Bobbie Kalman that takes young readers back to the early 1900s to learn how life changes over time - and by 'life', I mean everyday, familiar routines kids are familiar with, from communications and farming to toys and games and travel. Each book for reading levels 5-8 provides 24 pages of bright, contemporary color photos, large-size text, a glossary and index in each book, and discussions that lend to understanding. Within the 'Then and Now' subtitles are SCHOOL DAYS (9780778701279), COMMUNITY HELPERS (9780778701156, $17.70), TOYS AND GAMES (9780778701286, $17.70), TRAVEL (9780778701293, $17.70), FOOD AND FARMING (9780778701262, $17.70) and COMMUNICATION (9780778701149, $17.70). Color sidebars of information, large inviting type, the use of black and white vintage photos for 'yesterday' and contemporary color photos for 'today', and a focus on topics kids will readily relate to make this series a top pick.

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

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