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

Children's Bookwatch

Volume 26, Number 5 May 2016 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Writing/Publishing Shelf Environmental Shelf
Picturebook Shelf Board Book Shelf Fiction Shelf
Bilingual Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Language Studies Shelf
Graphic Novel Shelf Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf
DVD Shelf Multimedia Shelf Activity Shelf
Social Issues Shelf Money/Finance Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf
Psychology Shelf Easy Reader Shelf Christian Shelf
Books in Series    

Reviewer's Choice

Defeating School Violence
Kathy Furgang, author
Rosen Publishing Group
29 East 21st Street, New York, NY 10010
9781499461497, $24.11,

Part of a new teen/middle school series titled Effective Survival Strategies, "Defeating School Violence" is a well researched nonfiction practical sociology title that defines and discusses examples of school violence in the U.S., then proposes ways of addressing the problem, including detecting warning signals and signs, providing support for victims and would be aggressors, and finally carves out solutions in chapter 6, Making a Difference for Others. In the first three chapters, definitions, examples, and potential causes for school violence are explored. Pertinent areas of discussion are the influence of video games, free access to dangerous weapons, problems at home, and the need for access to psychological help both before bullying or violent behavior occurs and after. For solutions, in chapter 3, Addressing the Problem, anti-bullying programs, lockdowns, limiting electronic devices, school counseling, peer mediation, and alternative solutions to violence are proposed and discussed. Chapter 4, Warning Signs, stresses the importance of reporting bullying, being a good friend, as well as taking good care of ourselves by taking advantage of psychological services. Chapter 5, Getting Support, stresses the value of support and friendship networks, using online sources, high school or other educational/psychological counselors, and reaching out to friends and trusted adults. The last chapter, Making a Difference for Others, reviews the impact of peer programs and groups like SAVE, Students Against Violence Everywhere, organized in the late 1980's in response to and memory of a student named Alex Orange who died trying to break up a fight at a party at North Carolina school. Such powerful peer groups maintain a common vision "that all students should be able to attend a school that is safe, secure, free of fear, and conducive to learning." Other resources such as crisis counseling or anonymous hotline access or peer counseling programs can build strong alternatives to violent behavior and help make school and communities safer for everyone. "Defeating School Violence" is completed by a glossary of terms, a For More Information section listing other resources, a list of books for further reading, and a bibliography. Also highly recommended is another title in the same Effective Survival Strategies series, "Defeating Gangs in Your Neighborhood and Online (9781499461510, $26.11)", by Philip Wolny.

Be Careful
Joel Brown, author
Garrett Myers, illustrator
Rapier Publishing Company
9780996608336, $12.95,

"Be Careful" teaches basic traffic, awareness of traffic signals and signs, and other safety precautions to children through examples of Carrie Careless. Carrie Careless is a child crow who disregards safety precautions and must be rescued by Zoom-Boom, the friendly scarecrow. Some of the safety rules that Carrie Careless disregards are: "Please hold onto the handrails when going up or down stairs. Never cross the street unless the School Crossing Guard, your parents or a caring adult that you know tells you that it is okay to cross the street at the crosswalk or traffic signal." Although Carrie Careless is rescued from being hurt or in trouble by Zoom-Boom the Scarecrow, young readers are warned that he cannot come to their rescue as he did for Carrie Careless. "Be Careful" ends with colorfully illustrated safety maxims: "So be SAFE, STOP, pay ATTENTION, LOOK! and always, BE CAREFUL! WAIT, GO SLOW!" Other books by the same author in this child safety series that are also highly recommended include: "Zoom Boom the Scarecrow and Friends (9780996608312, $12.95)," and "Be Tidy, or Not? (9780996608329, $12.95)."

Mad to Glad
Angie Harris, author
Stacy Heller Budnick, illustrator
Mindful Aromatherapy, LLC
9780996658508, $9.99, PB, 38pp,

Children are often told to "Pay attention!", but how do they do that when a young child's emotions and thoughts change so quickly? Written by Angie Harris and charmingly illustrated by Stacy Heller Budnick, "Mad to Glad" teaches children the following Mindfulness lessons in a fun and interactive way to increase their focusing abilities. The lessons included are: Energy transfer: Using physical movement to change negative thoughts to a positive attitude of the mind; Visualizations: Using a child's imagination to achieve goals; Affirmations: Using positive phrases to build a child's confidence; Focused breathing: Using the breath to become aware of the present moment. Specifically recommended for use with children ages 3 to 7, "Mad to Glad" is very highly recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.

Jamie's Journey: Cancer from the Voice of a Sibling
Sharon Wozny, author
Melissa Bailey, illustrator
Five Star Publications Inc.
PO Box 6698, Chandler, AZ 85246-6698
9781589852341, $14.95, PB, 64pp,

When a child is diagnosed with cancer, his or her siblings may struggle with complex emotions such as confusion, guilt, and fear. Part story, part journal, "Jamie's Journey: Cancer from the Voice of a Sibling" helps siblings of pediatric cancer patients cope with those intense feelings. The first half of the book is about 13-year-old Jamie who describes the roller coaster of emotions she experiences when her 10-year-old sister, Jordan, is diagnosed with cancer. Jamie laments the loss of her "normal" teenage life and describes feeling forgotten as her family focuses on Jordan's medical needs. Jamie finds solace through journaling about her experience, and encourages the reader to write about his or her own journey on the pages provided in the book. Jamie's Journey is unique in that it's designed especially for the siblings of pediatric cancer patients. Author Sharon Wozny draws from her experience volunteering with Children's Cancer Network for the past three years. During the time she's spent with young cancer patients and their families, Wozny has discovered that the patients' siblings face unique challenges. "They endure so much," she said. "They feel so much pain on so many levels and need to know that they are heroes also..." Wozny has made the second half of the book an interactive journal, offering siblings of pediatric cancer patients a safe place to share and work through their own feelings and write about their own personal journey. "Jamie's Journey: Cancer from the Voice of a Sibling" is unique and very highly recommended.

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Will's Words
Jane Sutcliffe, author
John Shelley, illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781580896382 $17.95 hc / $9.99 Kindle

Will's Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk is an educational children's picturebook that shows how the legendary, genius playwright William Shakespeare transformed the English language. His plays are so popular and so enduring the words or phrases in them have become common sayings (such as "get your money's worth", "green-eyed monster", or "dead as a doornail"). Other words and phrases as existed before Shakespeare, but his plays made them popular and much more common. A simple story set in London of Shakespeare's time uses each of the discussed phrases in context. The colorful, detailed illustrations add just the right touch, and an interesting postscript to the reader reflects on just how little history has recorded of who William Shakespeare really was, or what his life was like. Will's Words is enlightening, thought-provoking, and highly recommended.

The Environmental Shelf

Buddy Bison's Yellowstone Adventure
Ilona E. Holland, author
Wonderville, illustrations
National Geographic Kids
c/o National Geographic Society
1145 17th Street NW, Washington D.C. 20036
9781426322976, $9.99,

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, "Buddy Bison's Yellowstone Adventure" is a scenic kids guide to the charms, attractions, and dangers of Yellowstone Park. Lightened by cartoons of animals of the park, plus Christopher, Elena, and Ranger Rosa, "Buddy Bison's Yellowstone Adventure" follows the cartoon tourist family group through a wonderful day of exploring beautiful scenic sites and animals at Yellowstone. Elena has a small stuffed bison named Buddy who tells her special things to notice about the huge park. Although Christopher gets lost during a search for wounded birds, Elena is able to find him with the help of a real Buddy Bison, whom only she can talk to. Many exciting adventures later, Elena finds Christopher and the two are reunited with Ranger Rosa to do more exploring of the scenic wonders of Yellowstone National Park. The illustrations combine background photographs of scenic views in the park, with added features of cartoon characters such as animal guides and Christopher, Elena, and Ranger Rosa. The children's guide ends with a page of Elena's journal, a sampler of Christopher's pictures, a map of Yellowstone, a brief history of Yellowstone, five important tips on park preservation, a winter note on how hot springs save bison in winter, and a list of books and websites about Yellowstone to learn more. Children are warned repeatedly to be safe, check with park staff, and keep a safe distance from any wild animal, including bison. Created in partnership with the National Park Trust, "Buddy Bison's Yellowstone Adventure" is an excellent juvenile introduction and companion for a real Yellowstone National Park exploring adventure.

Wild Ones: Observing City Critters
Carol L. Malnor, author
Cathy Morrision, illustrator
Dawn Publications
12402 Bitney Springs Road, Nevada City, CA 95959
9781584695530, $16.95,

"Wild Ones" is an amazing, appealing diary of a day in a curious city dog's life, consisting of an exploration of a variety of wild animals and birds who somehow manage to thrive in urban settings. The illustrations portray not only the creatures the dog, Scooter, is aware of, but also those he does not notice! Scooter's explorations take him from his back yard, where he chases a squirrel and hears quacking baby ducklings, but misses a sleeping raccoon, a mother opossum and her babies. Scooter's adventures take him to many strange parts of the city including a bridge which shelters homes to a beaver, a gull, bats, and more. Further city travels with Scooter uncover a rat and a starling, a giant spider, and a woodpecker. Scooter smells a hungry rabbit in the community garden, but doesn't see a skunk. A hawk drops droppings on Scooter and he also encounters geese and misses a hiding coyote in a city park area. As it darkens towards the close of day, Scooter hears an owl hooting and misses hearing a family of young fox kits nearby. AS the bats begin to fly overhead, and the opossum takes her family of babies home, Scooter returns to his own family's home, where he is welcomed by the children who have missed him. At the end of "Wild Ones," additional notes accompany thumbnail portraits of many of the many animals and birds shown in the story who live in urban habitats. Suggested activities relating to identification and adaptation of wild animals to other environments are also included. A list of other resources, special projects and books is provided as well. "Wild Ones" is a stimulating, fascinating sampler of examples of how wildlife can make successful adaptations to an urban environment.

The Picturebook Shelf

Mahak Jain, author
Illustrated by Elly MacKay
Owlkids Books Inc.
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781771471008 $16.95

Maya is a children's picturebook that deals with the serious themes of nighttime fear, and grief over the loss of a parent. Young Maya's father died, and sometimes the electricity in her house goes out, leaving her terrified of the dark. Maya's mother consoles her daughter with the legend of the banyan tree, which protected the world by absorbing the floodwaters of the first monsoon. Maya's own imagination continues the story; in her mind's eye, she explores the great banyan tree, watches animals play, and remembers the good times she shared with her father. "Even though she could not see him, she knew Papa was not far away. As she fell asleep, she sensed him, tucked inside her mind." Striking papercraft artwork illustrations distinguish this beautiful and highly recommended bedtime story.

My Baby Crocodile
Gaetan Doremus, author
Translated by Sarah Klinger
Enchanted Lion Books
351 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
9781592701926 $18.95

Superbly translated from the original French, My Baby Crocodile is a distinctive children's picturebook about a most unusual family relationship that blurs predator-prey lines. When an aged crocodile stumbles across a human boy in knight's armor, he mistakes the boy for a baby crocodile, and hilarity ensues! Can he teach his adopted "crocodile" how to swim (the heavy armor doesn't help) and how to hunt? Eventually the truth must come out, but humans and crocodiles are mortal enemies in the natural world. Can this unlikely duo truly learn to trust one another? A fondly bittersweet story, alternately told from the perspectives of both characters and brilliantly brought to life with distinctive, crosshatched color artwork, My Baby Crocodile is highly recommended.

More Nightlights
Anne Civardi, et al.
Watkins Publishing
9781907486890, $16.95, PB, 144pp,

Meditation and visualization, if approached in an inventive and appealing manner, bring enormous benefits to children. It can calm their anxieties, build their self-esteem, and teach them quietness and thoughtfulness. Consisting of 20 narrative-based meditations, "More Nightlights: Stories for You to Read to Your Child - To Encourage Calm, Confidence and Creativity" is the sequel to the hugely successful "Nightlights: Stories for You to Read to Your Child - To Encourage Calm, Confidence and Creativity" (9781904292883, $16.95, PB, 144pp), and offers even more stories for parents, caregivers, and teachers to help children ages 4 to 8 find inner calm and emotional balance. "More Nightlights" is very highly recommended for personal, family, day care center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.

May I Feed the Cows?
K. E. Day, author
David A. Baker, illustrator
America Star Books
PO Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705-0184
9781635085051, $19.95, PB, 24pp,

A young boy named Olsen wants to help his dad on their dairy farm. However before he does Olsen must first listen to his mother and follow directions before he is able to feed the cows for the evening. Young readers will find out what Olsen needs to do to help around the house. "May I Feed the Cows?" is a charming children's picturebook that will encourage young readers to ask if there is anything they might need to help do before they can do something fun? "May I Feed the Cows?" is very highly recommended for preschool, elementary school, family, and community library children's picturebook collections.

Feathers for Peacock
Jacqueline Jules
Wisdom Tales Press
1501 E. Hillside Dr., Bloomington, IN 47401
9781937786533, $16.95,

Feathers for Peacock is illustrated by Helen Cann and provides a lovely story of Peacock, who is naked while his friends are covered in lovely feathers. Good reading skills or parental assistance will lend interest to the comparisons between Peacock and his fellow birds, who have different kinds of beaks and different appearances. When Peacock discovers his feathered friends covered in beautiful plumage for a party, it's almost more than he can bear. Can he, too, attain beauty? A lovely story of a naked dull bird who finds his true calling makes for an engrossing tale parents and kids will both love.

An Odd Sock Story
Rose Hart and Elvira Grassia, authors
Jan Hart, illustrator
SilverWood Books
9781781324738, $12.99,

"An Odd Sock Story" is a creative jaunt into the world of Sockland, which turns out to be a hidden metaphor for discovering fresh insights into contemporary human and civil rights issues and debates. Everyone knows socks go missing in the laundry all the time. Where do they go? If they end up single, can they ever find happiness with a nonmatching mate? Spunky, quirky, colorful personalized animated sock characters enliven the story and the journey through Sockland which is made by Malcolm, Petunia and their friends. Some of the courage underlying "An Odd Sock Story" shines through in this telling dialogue between two mismatched socks named Malcolm and Petunia and Judge Sock who has been called to judge their case of breaking the mismatch law: "Malcolm and Petunia, you have been charged with mismatching. How do you plead?" Judge Sock asked. Malcolm answered, "Sir Sock, I proudly declare myself guilty. Petunia is not my match, but before I came to Sockland I lived with my match and we did not get along. I was excited to come to your land and experience a new life with fellow mismatched socks. I have formed great friendships with socks that accept me for who I am, no matter what their design is." Then Petunia spoke. "With all due respect, You Sockness, I don't quite understand why mismatching is a crime. We all came here alone from different places where we may not have been happy. Why should we wait for our matching sock to come through the portal if we are not hurting anyone by becoming a new pair? Malcolm and I may look different but that doesn't matter to us." The judge looked at them very hard for several minutes. Finally he spoke. "Your behaviour is quite unacceptable! I shall have to think very carefully what is to be done with you both!" The story of "An Odd Sock Story" chugs on to an amazing finish that surprises everyone and teaches that a new outlook can refresh justice and provide happiness as well. "An Odd Sock Story" is praiseworthy because it presents difficult issues in a nonthreatening context, encouraging new ways of thinking about previous arguments.

Babies of Two
Kim Gosselin, author
Alisa Belzil, illustrator
Rocking Chair Press
9781519412959, $9.95 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 34pp,

"Babies of Two" is a beautifully illustrated story of the gestation and birth of two lovely girl twin babies, named Maddie and Mollie. Patiently cradled in their blue water womb, the twins are not fearful as the time approaches for them to be born together. Their living space in the womb has grown cramped, and they are happy to emerge into an exciting new world together, and to meet their lovely mother and handsome father. Illustrated tenderly in artworks of watercolor and gouache in gentle pastel shades, "Babies of Two" is an ideal book to introduce the concept of twin siblings to help prepare an older sibling for the double blessing and change that is coming to the family.

Before I Wake Up...
Britta Teckentrup, author/illustrator
Prestel Publishing
900 Broadway, Suite 603, New York, NY 10003
9783791372464, $14.95, HC, 56pp,

"Before I Wake Up..." is a touching bedtime progression of dream images that contains a reassuring core concept of feeling safe, loved and protected through a journey of slumber. Stunning, soft dark textured colors pervade the collage-like artwork, following a girl and her lion companion through exploring many new places, meeting wild animals in a wood on a mysterious path. The girl is unafraid, for her lion companion looms large by her side, always protecting her. Although the girl is tempted to stay in the night wood, she feels the night lightening towards a new day, and runs with her brave lion out of the red jungle toward morning's light. The girl says goodbye to her nighttime companion and travels, and is transported magically to a wonderful new day, with her favorite stuffed lion toy companion still by her side. "Before I Wake Up..." is filled with poetic imagery and quiet thoughts that have deep appeal to young children, especially at bedtime.

A Dog Day for Susan
Maureen Fergus, author
Monica Arnaldo, illustrator
Owlkids Books
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781771471442, $16.95,

"A Dog Day for Susan" is a hilarious dog meets boy story that flips roles and examines all the perks of being a dog vs. being a person, or even, being a dog who behaves like a person. Spencer and his dog, Barney are happily expecting to play with a new canine friend when they hear that Great Aunt Alice is visiting with her elegant afghan dog, Susan. But Barney and Spencer are surprised to find that Susan behaves more like a spoiled human guest than a canine one, more or less in line with the clear expectations of her owner. Will this visit ever be over? Can Barney and Spencer do anything to awaken Susan to the good things in life she is missing? Can they inspire her to embrace her doggy nature and revel in all things doggy? The challenge is clear, and Barney and Spencer prove more than equal to it. "A Dog Day for Susan" is a tongue -in- cheek, humorous tale that encourages kids to let their inner dog peek out for a more fun existence. "A Dog Day For Susan" is for kids ages 4-7, embellished with silky, tangly, messy, expressive dramatic portraits of fun times with two dogs and a boy.

The Staplegator
Scott S. Colley, author
Neslihan Ergul Colley, illustrator
Privately Published
9780692595411, $6.99, PB,

"The Staplegator" is an unusual adventure that is part fantasy and part reality. Told in a loose versed narrative, and illustrated in childlike portraits of an ordinary third grade classroom where Alden received a sneak attack from the stealthy Staplegator. The narrator of the story turns out to be a red haired classmate of Alden's who tries her best to explain the horrific event to her parents at home. Instead of believing her (and her attire suggests that she has a penchant for dark fantasy styles), "They demanded to know what really went down, 'And no made up stories,' they sternly frowned." It turns out that maybe Alden had only accidentally stapled his hand. But some say the Staplegator is still at large. "So beware, and watch out, Or it'll be your finger in the Staplegator's snout." "The Staplegator" is an experimental story that makes readers wonder, was the Staplegator real? Elements of enchantment and adventure enrich the daily experience of this unique fantasy adventure story.

The Frog That Lost His Croak
Anne Toole, author
Richa Kinra, illustrator
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478764137, $15.95, PB, 26pp,

"The Frog That Lost His Croak" is a wise about a young frog who was very proud of his loud croak. He even bragged about his croak to all the other frogs, which made them jealous. One day the little frog lost his croak. Not knowing what to do, he went to first his dad and then his mother, who told him he needed to rest to recover his croak. While on his way to rest, the little frog noticed beautiful sounds made by other creatures, crickets chirping, bees buzzing, wind rustling and rain splattering. He was also teased by his fellow frogs for losing his croak. It dawned on the little frog that he had only been listening to himself, and he had missed a lot. Soon the little frog recovered his croak, but he took time to listen to other sounds and other creatures, learning to enjoy beauty in life. "The Frog That Lost His Croak" is written in verse, with charming full page illustrations of delicate detail, appealing to an audience of children ages 4-7.

Hound Dawg
Patricia Vermillion, author
Cheryl Pilgrim, illustrator
Texas Christian University Press
TCU Box 298300, Fort Worth, Texas 76129
9780875656151, $21.95,

"Hound Dawg" is a delicious Southern version of the familiar tale "The Little Red Hen," in which a Red Hen works hard to create and bake a loaf of bread, then eats it herself because her lazy animal friends refused to help her with the work. "Hound Dawg" is the fascinating story of a lazy hound dawg who loved corn bread but never did anything to help make it. His friends Bessie the cow, Calico the cat, and Penny the hen wind up doing all the work of watering and hoeing the corn plant, then harvesting the corn, and making the corn bread. Hound Dawg does nothing but make suggestions, in a very southern drawl. Finally the corn bread is baked and cooling on the window sill and Hound Dawg hints, "I'm starving for some good ol' southern cornbread." But all his friends tell him he did nothing to help "a-tall," so he should not get even a crumb. Dejected, Hound Dawg sinks under the porch, only to sense intruder! Off like a shot Hound Dawg chases the thieving Racoon who has designs on the hot corn bread! "Well, shake my mile," Bessie declared. "Hound Dawg isn't so lazy after all. He's a guard dawg." And ever after that, "Hound Dawg always does - and gets - his fair share." Amusing illustrations with bits of fabric collage help heighten the twangy country tone of this rollicking tale, and dialogue with lots of Southern twists flavors the mix. "Hound Dawg" comes with additional pages of Facts about Cotton, Facts About Corn, a recipe for Texas cornbread, objectives for student learning, and a bibliography, making learning an effortless pleasure for young readers.

Grandma is a Slowpoke
Janet Halfmann, author
Michele Coxon, illustrator
Star Bright Books
13 Landsdowne Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
9781595727107, $16.99,

"Grandma Is a Slowpoke" is an intergenerational tale about a girl's quiet nature walk with her slowpoke Grandma. Because the walk is slow, the girl stops to observe cardinals singing, ants carrying seeds, still rabbits in the grass, squirrels in a nest up in a tree, ducks splashing in a brook, baby geese with their parents, and a muskrat family on the river bank. The girl has such a good time she wants to wait until dusk with her Grandma to see the fireflies come out. When the girl and her grandma return to the family, they ask what took them so long on their walk. The girl answers, "We saw so-o-o-o-o-o much!...It was fun being slowpokes together." Intricate, accurate and inviting colored illustrations depict wonderful details of nature scenes on the walk, while additional pages of Animal Facts five more information about each of the wild animals encountered at the end. "Grandma Is a Slowpoke" is an excellent nature study story that celebrates appreciation of nature for young and old.

Nothando's Journey
Jill Apperson Manly, author
Alyssa Casey, illustrator
Jabu Kids
9780615892351, $16.95,

"Nothando's Journey" is a story about a girl in Swaziland who is preparing to celebrate her first Reed Festival dance, in front of the King and Queen Mother. Her brother Jabu helps her prepare by making her an ankle bracelet of dried pods to dance with, stomping and rattling for the songs of the Reed Festival. Jabu accompanies Nothando on the long journey to the Reed Festival. She is apprehensive. They meet a wild dog. Nothando is afraid, but Jabu calms her fears and show her how to stretch in the sun like the wild dog. Nothando learns there is much that animals can teach her. Next the pair come to a baobab tree on a hilltop, deciding to rest in the shade. What they see is an amazing gathering of animals all at the watering hole. Nothando begins to imitate the movements of some of the animals, like the elephant, the lion, the fish eagle, the baboon and the snake. Jabu is pleased because he knows Nothando is learning from the animals. Finally the pair descend to the beginning of the Reed Festival, where Nothando is ready to dance joyously in her first ceremonial dance. "Nothando's Journey" is especially illuminated by stunning artwork of strange fabric paper collages and mixed media in gorgeous tones of peach, orange, sepia, and rainbow myriads, all contrasting with the dark skin of Jabu and Nothando dancing and moving. Active, Yoga-like poses decorate the inner pages of the book and strengthen its message of learning from nature.

Yaks Yak: Animal Word Pairs
Linda Sue Park, author
Jennifer Black Reinhardt, illustrator
Clarion Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544391017, $16.99,

"Yaks Yak" is an amusing carnival of animals discovered in situ acting out the verbs that can be made out of their names. Hilarious, painstaking impossible illustrations done in watercolor and ink present posturing, pretentious, sanctimonious animals doing whatever it is they are called. Thus we have yaks yakking, while taking a proper tea together, bugs bugging (or annoying each other, deliberately), flounders floundering, quails quailing (before a monster kite threatening to eat them all), apes aping (mimicking again with the tea party theme), dogs dogging, fish fishing, badgers badgering, etc. etc. The extremely ornate illustrations with explanatory speech balloons and pop up verb definitions complete the story on each page. Kids will love this funny book, even if they don't understand all the double entendres. Every action is definitively portrayed, even slugs slugging slugs. This reader's particular favorite is the portrait of steers steering, in a bumper car ride! The parade of puns ends with the portrait of "Kids kid!" This is an amusing parade of animal masked kids pretending to frolic and tease, joke and play. Kids will love "Yaks Yak," while effortlessly learning some things about vocabulary, word play, and fun. An ending list titled 'The Words' further defines and explains each pair of words in a table listing the animal's name separately from the animals' action. "Yaks Yak" is an example of a flawless marriage of author and illustrator in children's literature.

Cockatoo, Too
Bethanie Deeney Murguia
Little Bee Books
c/o Bonnier Publishing
853 Broadway, New York NY 10003
9781499801026, $17.99,

Cockatoo, Too points the way to two cockatoos and funny plays on 'two', 'too', 'tutus' and more as it provides a very simple picture book that ultimately helps kids understand the differences between different types of 'twos' while presenting a fun jungle scene, too. When tutu-wearing toucans enter the picture, there's just too much fun in this hilarious story of birdbrains who get together for some hijinks while exploring variations that are just too much fun.

Mom, There's a Bear at the Door
Sabine Lipan and Manuela Olten
Eerdmans Books
c/o Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
2140 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780802854605, $16.00,

Mom, There's a Bear at the Door tells of a bear who is in the middle of a big city, lost, and what happens when he arrives at the door of a high-rise apartment building. How did the bear get to their door? This makes for a simple, fun account that provides a step-by-step assessment of the bear's progress and how it navigated through the unfamiliar city. A very simple, fun tale evolves.

Alfie's Lost Sharkie
Anna Walker
Clarion Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544586567, $14.99,

Alfie's Lost Sharkie tells of Alfie's most important toy, Sharkie, and what happens when it vanishes. There are many places to look, and of course it's bedtime - which means sleep can be delayed in the face of a lost toy crisis! A preschooler's dilemma and search high and low for his friend makes for a fun, different bedtime read-aloud.

Dig In!
Cindy Jenson-Elliot and Mary Peterson
Simon and Schuster
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781442412613, $17.99,

Dig In! offers a very simple picture book story for ages 4-8, covering the surprising discoveries that can be made simply by digging in the dirt. From bugs and plants to building a garden, kids are encouraged to explore their own back yards in a book that celebrates all the different things that can be found in the ground. The large-size letters and simple words make this a nice easy introduction for new readers.

Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144

Ivan Bates' The Hide-and-Scare Bear (9780763681814, $16.99) tells of a large bear who likes to frighten those around him, and a brave bunny who becomes determined to confront the big bully. The bear finds it funny to threaten others, but a new way of relating to the world around him is revealed to bear and young reader in a picture book that emphasizes the importance of being kind. Mara Rockliff's Anything but Ordinary Addie (9780763668419, $17.99) tells of a girl who longs for excitement, but who lives in an era when girls and the stage don't mix. When Addie marries Herrmann the Great and becomes part of his show, she draws attention and crowds - but when he dies, can the show go on without him; and with a girl on stage? This true story of young magician Addie's rise to fame is especially vivid due to being paired with Iacopo Burno's gorgeous full-page color drawings. Lauren Child's Absolutely One Thing (9780763687281, $17.99) tells of Lola and her brother Charlie, who explain the basics of counting and math in a funny story that takes numbers to extremes as they explore the meaning of sharing, dividing, counting, and tackling big numbers. The evolution from small to large concepts is done in a whimsical manner designed to capture young reader attention. Sean Taylor and Emily Hughes' A Brave Bear (9780763682248, $16.99) tells of a too-hot day and a father and son's bear's journey to the river for relief. It's a long way to go to get to the river, and the exploration of their world shared by the two makes for a gentle, fun story. All are fine picture book leisure reads that stand out from the crowd.

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

Marilyn Singer's new Echo Echo (9780803739925, $16.99) is illustrated by Josee Masse and provides the third collection of 'reverso' poems that bring myths to new life. Using this approach, the poem tells a well-known story - when read from top to bottom. When read in reverse, however, the same words offer something very different. Lovely color drawings on facing pages provide beautiful embellishments to these amazing words and images. Cece Meng's Always Remember (9780399168093, $17.99) is illustrated by Jago and tell of an old turtle who goes for his last swim. His friends will miss him, but they lovingly recall his meaning in their lives, and think about how Old Turtle's memory will always be with them. Kids receive a lovely discussion of death, change, and ongoing life meaning as they receive a picture book that winds up as a celebration. Harlan Coben's The Magical Fantastical Fridge (9780525428039, $17.99) tells of Walden, who has never noticed how amazing his fridge is - until he's transported into one of his own drawings posted on it. From a battle with a crayon monster to time travel, Walden struggles with his own creations in a fun story filled with pictures by Leah Tinari and a zany, magical world. These are all wonderful picture book picks that stand out from the crowd.

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

Lind Sue Park's Yaks Yak: Animal Word Pairs (9780544391017, $16.99) receives fun drawings by Jennifer Black Reinhardt as it tells of animals in a comically fun manner. The play on words has badgers badgering each other, ducks ducking, and steers steering. Word definitions accompany the dual meanings, which give kids fun insights and whimsical food for thought. David Litchfield's The Bear and the Piano (9780544674547, $16.99) tells of a young bear who uncovers something wonderful in the forest: a strange object that makes horrible sounds when he touches it. There's something strangely compelling about the oddity, however, and so the bear learns to make lovely sounds that enchant his friends and the forest. The sounds are so lovely that he's invited to share these sounds in other places, with fits in perfectly with his desire to explore - but can he really leave his beloved forest home? Good reading skills will enhance this gentle story of talent and moving away from the familiar. Anne Hunter's Cricket Song (9780544582590, $16.99) tells of night sounds that include not just crickets but frogs, owls, and more. As kids learn about the various calls of the wild at night, they receive a gentle bedtime book about these sounds and how animals are connected in nature. Parents will find this makes a particularly lovely read-aloud selection filled with sleepy animals and the normal night sounds surrounding them.

The Board Book Shelf

Inspirational Nursery Rhymes: Giving Thanks
Todd & Jackie Courtney
Inspired Imaginations LLC
9780990375241, $8.99,

Charmingly illustrated by the Teens Can Dream team, "Inspirational Nursery Rhymes: Giving Thanks" by Todd and Jackie Courtney, is a toddler board book set of inspirational verse sayings, meditations, or prayers, with jubilantly colorful illustrations of friendly every-animals, like a little boy mouse, at home in a beautiful natural home environment. The grateful mouse gives fervent thanks for meals, for Heaven, for birds, for colored flowers and trees, and even rainy days, water to drink, and clouds. Every night the little mouse sees all the good things from throughout the day and gives thanks for them, "in hopes that they stay." "Giving Thanks" teaches toddlers that it is right, natural, and healthy to show gratitude for all good things, and to give thanks. "Inspirational Nursery Rhymes" is non-denominational, and does not refer to the concept of "God," just to the idea of gratitude for life, and gifts. Small children and their parents will be quite comfortable with the free verse prayers of "Giving Thanks," no matter what their religious or nonreligious outlook. Additional volumes from the "Inspirational Nursery Rhymes" that are similarly highly recommended include "Inspirational Nursery Rhymes (9780990375227, $8.99)," and "Inspirational Nursery Rhymes: Responsibility (9780990375272, $8.99)" which are also by Todd & Jack Courtney and illustrated by Teens Can Dream, LLC.

The Fiction Shelf

The Flightless Adventures of Princess and Pearl
Michelle Seelye Drucker
Laredo Publishing
9781564924308, $11.95

The Flightless Adventures of Princess and Pearl will reach chapter book readers ages 6-10 with a simple story of two penguin chicks who lead easy lives until one day they awaken to discover their parents have vanished. There's only one option: they need to set out on a journey to find them ... and so the two young penguins embark on a series of adventures that include a high degree of danger as they thwart hungry sea lions who would love to eat them. But, can they find their missing parents? Illustrations by Caroline O'Neal are in black and white and provide fun small penguin illustrations heading each new chapter. Kids will learn about different kinds of penguins (the heroes are Gentoo chicks, while others they encounter are Rockhoppers and Little Blue Fairy penguins) in a presentation that incorporates a good amount of penguin natural history in the course of its fictional tale. The story line includes lessons on survival, parent/child relationships, and evolving friendships as well as discussing dangers and uncertainties and revealing how to face the world. The result is a fun, appealing story that kids will find easy to read, filled with natural history and psychological insights.

Here's Hank
Henry Winkler & Lin Oliver
Grosset & Dunlap
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780448486598, $14.99,

Here's Hank: You Can't Drink a Meatball Through a Straw is the seventh book in the "Here's Hank" series which features the hilarious misadventures of 2nd grader Hank Zipzer, who gets the reputation as a class comic even when he's trying to be serious. This series of books is especially designed to appeal to dyslexic readers, offering a particular style and size of font that pair well with fun black and white cartoon drawings throughout, bringing the escapades of Hank to the lively attention of grades 2-4.

Brooklyn Bat Boy
Geoff Griffin
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781530482672, $8.00, PB, 152pp,

Bobby Kelly is a 12-year-old Brooklyn boy who loves playing stickball in the street with his friends and cheering for the Dodgers. Bobby's dream of being part of the Dodgers comes true in 1947 when he lands the job of bat boy for the team. There's just one thing Bobby's not sure about. The Dodgers are planning to do something that has never been done before. An African-American named Jackie Robinson will be playing for Brooklyn. Bobby isn't sure how to feel about it, especially since members of his family and kids in his neighborhood don't like the idea. In order to truly become part of the Dodgers, Bobby will have to learn to accept Robinson as a member of the team and learn from his example. This fictional story looks at an important point in baseball history from a young person's perspective and highlights the time period, including using popular slang from the East Coast in the 1940s. "Brooklyn Bat Boy" by Geoff Griffin will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library General Fiction collections. For the personal reading lists of young baseball history enthusiasts it should be noted that "Brooklyn Bat Boy" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

Marcello Wonders, Gilly Discovers
Karen Gens
Mascot Books
560 Herndon Parkway #120, Herndon, Virginia 20170
9781631772764, $12.95, 96pp,

"Marcello Wonders, Gilly Discovers" is the story of two nine-year-old piglets who live in Europe. Marcello lives in Florence, Italy with his adoptive family, and Gilly lives in Bath, England with her family. Both piglets are interested in their family history and how their families settled where they did. Marcello also wants to learn more about his birth family. The lives and adventures of the two piglets come together when they both enter an essay contest sponsored by a new magazine KidsLife. The story is about family life, friendship, geography and history in an easy, informal, and often humorous manner. All the more impressive when considering that "Marcello Wonders, Gilly Discovers" is Karen Gens' debut as an author, this lively, original, and engaging story is very highly recommended for young children and an ideal addition to elementary school and community library collections.

Bella Bella
Jonathan London
WestWinds Press
c/o Graphic Arts Books
PO Box 56118, Portland, OR 97238-6118
9781943328338, $24.99, HC, 180pp,

In "Bella Bella", thirteen-year-olds Aaron and Lisa and their fathers, and seventeen-year-old Cassidy and his dad, all embark on a sea kayaking trip through the Inside Passage that brings them unexpected and even terrifying adventures. Children ages 8 to 13, and students in grades 4 to 7, will eagerly follow Aaron's adventures in this suspenseful page turner, as he learns to navigate a kayak, discovers another side to a bully, shares a first kiss, encounters the desperate world of human trafficking, and challenges an evil smuggler who threatens the entire group. The sequel to author Jonathan London's outstanding children's novel "Desolation Canyon" (9781941821602, $23.99 HC, $12.99 PB, $11.43 Kindle), "Bella Bella" is very highly recommended for both school and community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Bella Bella" is also available in a paperback edition (9780882409238, $12.99) and in a Kindle format ($11.43).

Jeremiah Lucky Finds Puppy Love
Jane Ellen Freeman, author
Eric Hammond, illustrator
Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
9781616337186, $9.95,

"Jeremiah Lucky Finds Puppy Love" is a beautiful short chapter book about a 9 year old boy who both loses and finds a beloved puppy and a friend. Jeremiah has many adventures and exciting experiences as a frog king in a school play, but he dreads the kissing attentions of his play princess. Also in the story is Jeremiah's growing responsibility as his mother works to support both of them after his father passes away. The short chapters and interesting action of each chapter make "Jeremiah Finds Puppy Love" an exciting, easy book to read for tweens and elementary readers. Enchanting, humorous black and white illustrations at chapter ends and beginnings highlight the narrative. "Jeremiah Lucky Finds Puppy Love" is an excellent reading choice for elementary and early chapter readers, with themes of love, growth, loss, and finding again.

Little Sally Girl's Greatest Adventure Series
Sally G. Hadley, author
Victor Guiza, illustrator
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478720676, $27.95 HC, $2.99 Kindle,

"Little Sally Girl's Greatest Adventure Series" is a collection of short story thrillers about a 12 year old girl who seems attracted to great dangers and dangerous situations. Luckily, Sally is rescued by a man she calls her Guardian Angel in the nick of time in every story. First Sally encounters a Gray Puma used as a guard cat in The Big Apple and Communion. Although Sally thinks of the Puma as a friend, it is also a dangerous wild animal, and it threatens her life when it has been exposed to a drug overdose. In Sally's Guardian Angel, she is rescued from a very complex, dangerous situation, with threatening men who speak Russian, a remote farm and a pond full of piranhas, again by her Guardian Angel. The circumstances of her exposure to this dangerous situation are quite chaotic and confusing. The themes of undercover involvement recurs in several more of the short stories, and Sally's safety quickly deteriorates in many strange situations. It seems she cannot depend on people like her father to keep her out of harm's way. But her Guardian Angel does come through for her. Finally Sally is threatened by a Great White Shark, for the second time in her life. Her escape is again miraculous, and the hint that there is a secret about her background which continues to shadow her life re-emerges. "Little Sally Girl's Greatest Adventure Series" is exciting reading, not for the faint of heart, or for the very young. Much is left unexplained in each situation, and the elements of chaos are at times overwhelming. As a series, perhaps it is best to be read by mature children, or with adult supervision.

The Dust Bunny Brigade
Blair Kluckman, author
Pritali Joharapurkar, illustrator
Mirror Publishing
4062 Plains Ave S.W. Fort Payne, AL 35967
9781612253008, $8.99, PB, 54pp,

"The Dust Bunny Brigade" is a humorous illustrated early chapter book for readers in grades 1 through 4. Jasper is a talented dust bunny who lives in an old dilapidated house. Jasper loves to dance. His life becomes very changed when a family buys his tumbledown home and renovates it to live in. A housekeeper named Bertha is the nemesis of all dust bunnies. Somehow, Jasper alone survives and continues to dance in secret. Jasper even has a love interest. She is Tilly, a pink dust bunny who lives in an abandoned home across the road. Together the friends reach across a dusty window sill and enjoy each other's dances, writing love note in dust on the window to each other. A showdown with crazy Bertha looms with danger for Jasper. Tilly and all her dust bunny brigade friends come to his rescue with a combined effort and a manufactured giant dust bunny! All's well that ends well in "The Dust Bunny Brigade," a delightful fiction romp with comic black and white illustrations for early elementary chapter readers.

The Bilingual Shelf

The Story Circle/ El circulo de cuentos
Diane Gonzales Bertrand, author
Wendy Martin, illustrator
Carolina E. Alonzo, Spanish translator
Pinata Books
c/o Arte Publico Press
University of Houston, 4902 Gulf Fwy, Bldg. 19, Rm 100, Houston, TX 77204
9781558858268, $17.95,

"The Story Circle" is a charming story told in English and Spanish about a classroom of children near Houston who lost all their books and paper supplies due to flood and water damage. Their school had to close for 3 days just to remove all the flood and sludge damaged supplies and books. All that was left in their classroom was sad, empty bookshelves, and their story circle rug. All the children were upset about not having story circle, with no books and no pictures. But their teacher was creative. She suggested they sit in their story circle and she would tell them a story. The children wondered how they would see pictures of the story. The teacher promised them they would see wonderful pictures. Then the teacher told them a wonderful story about a boy who loved to fly. All the children closed their eyes and imagined flying in their minds. The teacher asked them to describe what they saw. Each child had a unique vision of the idea of flying like the boy. Finally, everyone wanted to share a story of their own with the class. The stories were all different, exciting, and surprising. Innovative illustrations of the images of each child's story idea prance through the pages in delight and play. Each child is represented as a completely unique entity, with different ideas, family, background, and culture, yet sharing the joy of being students in the drowned classroom together. Finally the teacher helped each child to write down their stories and to draw pictures to go with the stories. The best part is, "no bookshelf would ever feel empty and sad again." "The Story Circle" is a beautiful example of a story for children ages 4-7 that celebrates diversity and teaches kids how to make lemonade out of lemons.

Geraldine the Giraffe/ La Jirafa Geraldina
Hymara Hernandez, author
Kathy Kerber, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781504910361, $26.99 HC
9781504910347, $19.99 PB, $3.99 Kindle,

"Geraldine the Giraffe" is a bilingual children's story that teaches children the importance of taking prescribed medicine to heal illness, and also the importance of eating only healthy foods and taking exercise. Illustrated with funny cartoon portraits of Geraldine and her mother, plus the Chinese panda doctor who recommended sardine syrup, "Geraldine the Giraffe" has pairs of paragraphs, English in blue print and Spanish in red print, outlined in white on each colored background page. Geraldine encounters a funny problem because she ate mandarin oranges and their seeds and skin, and subsequently mandarin trees started to sprout and grow inside her. Geraldine finally began to grow roots out of her feet, and blossoms and branches grew out her ears! Finally, when she couldn't move or walk any more, Geraldine decided to take the sardine syrup the Chinese panda Dr. prescribed for her. Although the medicine made Geraldine fun to the bathroom, she soon found herself recovered from the sprouting mandarin trees inside her tummy. Ever since that day, Geraldine makes sure not to eat the seeds when she eats mandarin oranges. "Geraldine the Giraffe" is an inspired educational book that uses humor and fun to teach young readers the importance of healthy practices such as taking prescribed meds, exercising, and eating only healthy foods.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

California, the Magic Island
Doug Hansen
Heyday Books
PO Box 9145, Berkeley, CA 94709
9781597143325, $17.00, HC, 52pp,

Queen Calafia, the main character of a sixteenth-century Spanish romance about an island overflowing with gold and populated by Amazon-like women, is incensed when she hears that we have adopted her name for our state. Being the good and reasonable queen that she is, she's willing to hear from twenty-six animals about why California is worthy of her name. But if she decides it isn't, she'll launch an army of goddesses riding griffins to wreak her vengeance! Each animal characterizes California in a key cultural object or historical event: for example, the swordfish describes the tomols of the Chumash people, while the gull tells Calafia about the Gold Rush. Large, intricate illustrations display a wealth of research into every subject, rendered with the highest level of artistic skill. So much more than just another ABC book for young readers ages 4 to 8, "California, the Magic Island" is a beautifully crafted and thoroughly engaging story that will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to family, preschool center, elementary school, and community library children's books collections.

The Map Maker's Choice
Matthew J. Krengel
North Star Press of St. Cloud
PO Box 451, St. Cloud, MN 56302-0451
9781682010259, $12.95, PB, 208pp,

When Tasker the dwarf is kidnapped, Jane, Jacob, and their friends realize something horrible is about to happen. Soon it becomes obvious that they need help and with Coronia, a lonely mermaid, they all set off on a quest to find the machine that generates the Divide. They go in search of the legendary Lady of Woods Lake, a mysterious woman who holds great knowledge. From the Lost Forty, to the waters of Lake of the Woods, and to the depths of the Sudan Mine, their journey takes them across the lands of northern Minnesota. Little do they know that when they reach their journeys end, a terrible sacrifice will be demanded of them all. The fourth volume in author Matthew Krengel's outstanding fantasy action/adventure "Map Maker' series for young readers "The Map Maker's Choice" is another terrific and original story from the pen of a master of the genre. Very highly recommended for school and community library Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Map Maker's Choice" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

A Mermaid Called Marissa
Georgie Cornwell, author/illustrator
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781514463765, $26.61 PB, $4.99 Kindle,

"A Mermaid Called Marissa" is a fresh new sea tale that uncovers effects and issues related to careless disposal of plastic waste, especially in the ocean. Starring a spunky young mermaid named Marissa, this underwater adventure begins with a normal daily routine for young merpeople after school and chores were finished. Marissa and her friends played Hide and Seek. But in her lengthened search for her playmates, Marissa came across a secret tunnel which she had been warned about by her wise old mentor and teacher, Merrick. She knew the secret tunnel could be a dangerous trap for her, that she might be enticed inside and never be able to escape. Fortunately, Marissa was able to use a special talent she had of double flipping her tail and then swimming at an incredible speed for a short distance. She called her gift her "turbo flip." Using it to travel to the heart of the dark sea tunnel, Marissa met a surprising, grumpy sea slug she called "sluggy." Sluggy explained he was in charge of burying all sorts of deadly plastic bags or human waste under sands so that turtles and other ocean creatures would not try to eat them and die. The octopus brigade would search for trash and bring it to the tunnel opening and the sea slug workers would use their frilly edges to push the bags under the sand in ever higher mounds. Marissa finally understood what a brave thing Sluggy was doing with his friends, and how dangerous the plastic waste could be to merfolk and other sea life. In the end, Marissa was able to rejoin her friends and family and educate them further about the true danger of the sea tunnel trap of hazardous plastic waste. The narrative is gentle and lyrical, but darkly descriptive, while the illustrations show magical merpeople and other sea creatures in delicate, brightly colored sea surroundings. The message of "A Mermaid Called Marissa" is clear: Everyone should help to clean up environmental waste to preserve earth's oceans.

Explorations of Commander Josh: In Tahiti
Donna LeBlanc, author
Anton Servetnik, illustrator
SDP Publishing
PO Box 26, East Bridgewater, MA 02333
9780996434577, $14.95 PB, $4.99 Kindle,

"In Tahiti" is Book Two of the exciting Commander Josh series. Commander Josh is a young boy who loves to imagine fantastic voyages while piloting his mother's laundry basket. His imagination carries him far to the islands of the South Pacific, Bora and even, almost, Tahiti. Written in dreamy, adventurous narrative verse, "In Tahiti" makes imaginary island exploration vivid, with word pictures and delightful pastel illustrations. At a crucial point, Commander Josh receives a message from the day to day world occupied by his mother and older brother. He must vacate his ship, the humble laundry basket, forthwith! Commander Josh changes his voyage narrative to a ship approaching inviting Tahiti, steered badly, then run aground on a reef and sunk. Commander Josh survives the spill intact, deciding to rest and recover awhile for his next exciting adventure! "In Tahiti" is a wonderful example of learning to enjoy free use of imagination, while retaining subtle but needed ties to the world of daily life. Children age 6 and older will exult in the explorations and adventures of Commander Josh, awaiting his next discovery in a sports car trip to Italy.

The Language Studies Shelf

Hola! Let's Learn Spanish
Judy Martialay, author/illustrator
Polyglotkidz Press
9780991132409, $19.99,

"Hola! Let's Learn Spanish" is a fun introduction to the joy of learning to speak a new language, with the assistance of Pete the Pilot and Panchito, a Mexican jumping bean. Pete the Pilot greets children with his plane and explains his job is to fly kids around the world to visit new places and make new friends. Today, Pete is taking his plane to Mexico to visit a sunny bean field. Pete starts with a list of simple expressions in English and Spanish and the children are off. What follows is a lovely story about a wandering jumping bean, written in English but embedded with expressions in Spanish, which are printed in bold. Comic, colored illustrations bedazzle the tale, and in the end the children participate in a birthday party or fiesta with a pinata full of caramelos to be broken and shared. What happens when the pinata is finally broken is a surprise for all (Que sorpresa!). The story of the jumping bean in the pinata ends with some added ideas for increasing Spanish fluency. In "Te toca a ti (It's Your Turn), kids are encouraged to act out a skit with friends, with lost of Spanish vocabulary in a treasure hunt, at the supermarket, and the Expresion diaria, list of daily expressions. A section titled Rincon cultural, or Culture Corner teaches about varieties of frijoles, counting in Spanish, pinatas, and inspires with a song, la cancion, about breaking the pinata, Dale, Dale, Dale. Next a chapter project of making a mask (una mascara) decorated with beans extends the exciting journey to Mexico. Finally a list of Palabras, or vocabulary words in Spanish and English lists the words that were introduced in the book, organized by chapter. "Hola! Let's Learn Spanish" is a creative, appealing invitation to explore the world of fiestas, frijoles, and caramelos awaiting travelers to Mexico.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

The Bluecoats 9: El Padre
Raoul Cauvin, author
Willy Lambil, artwork
Cinebook Ltd.
56 Beech Ave., Canterbury, Kent, CT4 7TA, UK
c/o National Book Network (dist.)
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781849182867 $11.95

Set during the American Civil War, El Padre is a full-color graphic novel about two down-on-their-luck Union soldiers forced to adopt desperate disguises. Chased across the Rio Grande by Confederates, Sergeant Chesterfield and Blutch take on the roles of a peasant and a monk. Can "Padre" Chesterfield keep up the pretense amid a local Mexican village in need of spiritual guidance? Then Chesterfield and Blutch find that bandits have kidnapped the Colonel's daughter, and they're the only ones with a prayer of rescuing her! The ninth graphic novel in "The Bluecoats" saga, El Padre is a self-contained adventure, and therefore a good jumping-on point for the series. Despite its cartoony art style, El Padre is very much a graphic novel for all ages; adults as well as children will thoroughly enjoy its blend of slapstick, wit, and serious struggle!

Legends of the West: A Lucky Luke Adventure 57
Patrick Normann and Morris
Colors by Studio Leonardo
Cinebook Ltd.
56 Beech Ave., Canterbury, Kent, CT4 7TA, UK
c/o National Book Network (dist.)
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781849182911 $11.95

The fifty-seventh color graphic novel in the "Lucky Luke" series, Legends of the West is a comedy of errors suitable for all ages. It begins when master sharpshooter Lucky Luke crosses paths with the legendary showman Buffalo Bill. Lucky Luke has no interest in joining Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, but Luke's offhand comment to "hire the Daltons" (a family of four bandit brothers that Luke has put behind bars again and again) kicks off a cascading avalanche of unexpected consequences! The imprisoned Daltons stage their most unusual escape yet, and try their criminal hands at the fame and fortune of stage life. But despite their apparent change of career, are the Daltons still itching to shoot dead anyone they don't like? Only Lucky Luke can prevent their Wild West gunfight show from becoming far too real! Legends of the West is a self-contained adventure, and an excellent introduction to the rootin'-tootin'- cartoonin' Lucky Luke series.

The Audiobook Shelf

Out of Abaton: The Wooden Prince
John Claude Bemis
Oasis Audio
289 Main Place, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781613757666, $19.99, CD,

The automa Pinocchio has always been duty-bound to serve in the floating palace of Venice's emperor. So when Pinocchio finds himself locked in a trunk and delivered to a new master (who turns out to be a wanted criminal and alchemist named Geppetto) he is curious about everything around him. But most curious is the way Pinocchio seems to be changing from a wooden servant into a living, human boy. Before Geppetto and Pinocchio can uncover the mystery surrounding the automa's transformation, Pinocchio is stolen away. Determined to find Geppetto again, Pinocchio begins a harrowing journey across the empire, where danger in the form of half-beast outlaws and winged airmen abounds for a lost automa. Specifically recommended for young listeners ages 8 to 12, "The Wooden Prince" is the first volume in John Claude Bemis's outstanding reworking of the classic fairytale into a compelling science fiction fantasy tale of action and adventure that includes Prester John, his daughter the Blue Fairy, a musical cricket named Maestro, and a whole roster of supporting characters. Superbly narrated by Ralph Lister and enhanced throughout with the music of Vernian Process, "Out of Abaton: The Wooden Prince" is comprised of 8 CDs and is very highly recommended for personal, elementary school, and community library audio book collections.

The Music CD Shelf

Happy Beach
Perry Springman
$12.98 CD

Happy Beach is a children's music CD that encapsulates the no-holds-barred fun of summer vacation. The original songs range in style from Hawaiian ukulele to pop, California surf, Latin rhythm and more; what they all have in common is how they encapsulate fun in the sun. Created especially to appeal to parents as well as children, Happy Beach is sunshine joy transformed into sound! The tracks are "Chimichanga", "The 3 Minute Clean-up" "Unh-Uh, No Way", "My Ukulele", "Me and Buddy", "Why Does The World Have Slivers?", "Bouncy Bouncy", "Mommy and Daddy", "Happy Beach", and "Sleepyhead".

Sugar Free Allstars
$13.97 CD / $9.99 download

The duo Sugar Free Allstars has released a self-titled, family-friendly album of songs to rock out loud. Carefree and fun, Sugar Free Allstars blends silliness with sweet shakin' rhythms, and is just plain fun for car trips, children's parties, playtime or anytime. Highly recommended! The tracks are "Monster Truck", "Grumpopotamus (and the Crankosaurus Rex)", "I Can See It Now", "Can You Picutre That?", "Upside Down Town", "If I Didn't Have You", "Mr. DJ", "One Verse Song", "Breakdancin'", "My Dog Pete", and "Bunnybot".

Bubble Wrap
Eric Herman and the Thunder Puppies
Butter-Dog Records
$12.99 CD / $8.99 MP3

Award-winning music artist and YouTube video star Eric Herman presents Bubble Wrap, his latest album of family-friendly songs from the perspective of a child who is obsessed with bubble wrap and cell phones, strategizes to avoid bath time, dreads Monday mornings at school, and more. The lighthearted, rollicking tunes range from rock to folk, and are sure to spark a smile in listeners of all ages! The tracks are "Bubble Wrap", "You Are What You Eat", "Sunflower Seeds", "Where's Saturday?", "Phone", "What I Want", "Everybody's Watching", "Fun Times", "Take a Bath", "I Wanna Be That Guy", "Okay", and "Hello". 43 min.

Aaron Nigel Smith
White Stone Productions
$TBA CD / $9.99 download

One is a family-friendly CD album of original reggae music as well as traditional Jamaican and African folk songs. Music educator and recording artist Aaron Nigel Smith perfectly captures the heady, pulsing allure of reggae rhythms with his joyful compositions, which openly celebrate Caribbean culture. A joyful experience for listeners of all ages, One is highly recommended. The tracks are "Dance to the Reggae Rhythm", "One", "Banana Bread", "Loving & Kind", "Natty Dreadlocks", "Jamaican Market Place", "Take Time in Life", "Seasons", "Clouseau", "Hammer", and "Oh, Island in the Sun".

Wake Up & Sing
Red Yarn
$11.00 CD / $7.00 download

Family-folk singer and puppeteer Red Yarn (a.k.a. Andy Furgeson) presents Wake Up & Sing, a cheerful music CD showcase of beloved songs from his popular live shows. Overflowing with energy and optimism, Wake Up & Sing is pure fun for children's celebrations, or just playing as a morning wake-up call to get out and face the day! The tracks are "Beautiful Day", "Wake Up", "I Had a Rooster", "Clap Your Hands", "Hound Dog Song", "Fourth Day of July", "Molly Cottontail", "By the Light", "Hop Little Squirrel", "Welcome to the World", and "Sleepy Song".

Explorer of the World
Frances England
$12.99 CD / $9.49 MP3

Award-winning children's singer/songwriter Frances England presents Explorer of the World, a music CD of original songs especially for young listeners ages 4-12. Each song is about learning more about the wide world through observation and discovery. The result is an eclectic, culture-spanning showcase of delight! The tracks are "Explorer of the World", "City Don't Sleep", "See What We Can See", "My Street" "All the Things I Found", "Street Life", "Closer to You", "Ballad for a Beatboxer", "City of Hills" and "Little by Little". An accompanying activity book, "Explorer of the World Art + Observation Book for Families", is sold separately.

The DVD Shelf

You Are (Not) Small
Anna Kang, author
Christopher Weyant, illustrator
Weston Woods
90 Old Sherman Turnpike, Danbury, CT 06816
9780545938280 $59.95

Intended for young viewers ages 2-6, You Are (Not) Small (5 min.) is the short but sweet DVD adaptation of a children's picturebook about relative size. Two fuzzy creatures dispute who is small and who is big, but when a couple surprise guests appear, it goes to show that how big you are depends on who is standing nearby! A delightful, chuckle-worthy story with options for English subtitles, close-captions, or a read-along feature, You Are (Not) Small is ideal for PreK through first grade homeroom viewing. You Are (Not) Small is also available in hardcover, paperback, or book-and-CD formats. Also highly recommended for public and grade school library children's DVD collections is "Randolph Caldecott: The Man Who Could Not Stop Drawing", which adapts the biography of the "father" of the modern children's picturebook.

The Multimedia Shelf

Saddle Up: A Western Adventure Album
The Okee Dokee Brothers
$16.99 CD + DVD combo / $9.49 MP3

Grammy award-winning performers The Okee Dokee Brothers (Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing) present Saddle Up: A Western Adventure Album, a family-friendly music compilation inspired by traditional folk music. Inspired by trips to five of America's national parks, these storytelling songs pay homage to exploring wild lands. In addition to the full-length music CD, Saddle Up also contains a DVD of music videos and footage of The Okee Dokee Brothers' journey! Young people and adults alike will thoroughly enjoy this Western wilderness-inspired tribute. The music tracks are "Saddle Up", "Don't Fence Me In", "Cow Cow Yippee", "The Great Divide", "Jackalope (with Jim Campilongo)", "One Horsepower", "the Legend of Tall Talkin' Sam (with Rosie Newton)", "Hard Road to Travel", "Shootin' Star (with Cindy Cashdollar)", "Sister Moon and Brother Sun (with The Benally Family)", "Good Old Times", "Lead a Horse to Water" (with John Sebastian), "Somos Amigos (with Carlos Medina)", "The Grass Is Always Greener", and "Last Lullaby".

I'm Bringing Home My Baby Bumblebee
Steven Anderson, author
Misa Saburi, illustrator
Cantata Learning
c/o Capstone
1710 Roe Crest Drive, North Mankato, MN 56003
9781632903693, $33.99 Library Binding, $7.99 Paperback,

"I'm Bringing Home My Baby Bumblebee" is a book/CD combo that presents colorfully illustrated song lyrics telling the story of the song of the title, plus song lyrics and a written piano/vocal song sheet and a CD recording of the title song. Appealing to an audience age 3-8, this sing -along animal song series promotes early learning skills developments for physical, cognitive, and social and emotional learning. In addition to imaginative, expressive pictures of an adventurous girl who brings home a baby bumblebee, the book contains guided reading activities relating to the song and a glossary. Young children will relate to the nonsense aspect of the song and the pictures and enjoy singing the funny song.

The Activity Shelf

Good Morning Yoga: A Pose-By-Pose Wake Up Story
Mariam Gates, author
Sarah Jane Hinder, illustrator
Sounds True
PO Box 8010, Boulder, CO 80306
9781622036028, $17.95 HC, $9.99 Kindle,

"Good Morning Yoga" presents simple but classic yoga awakening poses described in rhyming verse phrases and illustrated with cheery children of different nationalities, demonstrating poses alone or in pairs, through a series of twelve yoga poses. After reviewing each pose, with an explanatory story verse and picture on each pair of pages, there is a summary instructional page called The Good Morning Yoga Flow, which references, illustrates in miniature, and describes each pose, bestowing pose titles such as Sun Breath, Tummy Twist, Volcano, Ski Jumper, Lightning Bolt, Mountain, Forward Bend, Downward Dog, Balancing Table, Bridge, Boat and Awake. Finally, "Good Morning Yoga" closes with a visualization exercise, titled "How I want to Feel Today. This gives careful but simple instructions for a visualization meditation exercise. The experience of "Good Morning Yoga" is very empowering, for children and/or adults. The goal of Sounds True is described as "a multimedia publisher whose mission is to inspire and support personal transformation and spiritual awakening." "Good Morning Yoga" is an inspiring example of the actualization of this goal.

The Social Issues Shelf

Fifteen Lanes
S.J. Laidlaw
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9781101917800, $17.99,

Fifteen Lanes is a novel recommended for mature young adult readers. The story tells of preteen Noor, who lives in a Mumbai brothel with her mother and siblings, and who has a unique opportunity to attend school in hopes of avoiding being sold into the sex trade. In the same city is a very different girl: Grace, the Canadian teen daughter of a bank CEO who faces the challenge of being cyber-bullied. The lives of these two very different girls are related in alternating voices as each faces their own very different perils in growing up in India, until they eventually meet and discover their similar struggles and connections. Mature teens will find Fifteen Lanes a powerful novel exploring girls' lives in other cultures.

A No Rule Day
Anna Payne Glass, author
T. J. Payne, illustrator
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781514412800, $21.99 PB, $3.99 Kindle,

"A No Rule Day" is an exciting, creative experiment in allowing children to experience a day without rules. Embellished with comic, expressive black and white drawings, "A No Rule Day" traces a day in which Amy, a girl who wanted no rules, gets her wish. Her mom tells her there are no rules that day. Amy thinks this is great at first. Then she begins to see some drawbacks. For example, no rules about eating breakfast before leaving for school, meant that Amy ate nothing then because she didn't feel like it. But later she was hungry, and wished her Mom had made her eat. No rules meant that her Mom didn't have to obey the stop sign, a risky suspension of rules for all drivers and passengers. No rules also meant that no one at school was supervised, or required to obey safety regulations, so falls and fights occurred. Finally, no rules meant there was no scheduled lunch time, it would just happen whenever the cafeteria staff felt like it. The classroom was a mess, and very noisy and unpleasant. Finally Amy cried, "I want the rules back!" Just then she woke up from her very unpleasant dream, very relieved and very ready "for breakfast, and all the rules!" "A No Rule Day" is a delightful exercise for kids and adults, imagining what the world would be like if there were no rules.

The Golden Rule
Sherrill S. Cannon, author
Kalpart, illustrator
Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co.
9781681813264, $12.50 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 30pp,

"The Golden Rule" is the eighth book in the author's series of award-winning socio-educational books for early elementary children. Written in delightful verse, with a familiar cast of rainbow characters from previous beloved stories, "The Golden Rule" takes Robert and Kait on an important quest for a mysterious golden ruler mentioned by their Mom. What they discover is amazing and life changing, in fact the Golden Rule, as they uncovered its essence, is a way of opening your life to all that it can be. For in fact, they were not to find a golden ruler, but instead the Golden Rule, which is simply stated: "Treat others the way you'd like to be treated." The children find that this means "It's a rule that you live by, to give and to share, a way to treat others to show that you care." What this rule actually means in daily living is described in kid friendly terms. You might offer to share your toys or books or other reading devices with kids who don't have them. Don't try to steal someone else's work, or plagiarize. When someone bullies or tries to hurt you, try to empathize instead of fighting back. But tell him it is not nice to hurt others and ask an adult for help too. The concept of sharing is expanded to the marvelous idea of "pay it forward," something children are eager to participate with. "The Golden Rule" is delightfully creative, like the author's other books. Also a familiar feature is the placement of embedded book covers of the author's previous popular books, which are referred to in the Author's Special Notes section at the end. As in previous publications, 50 % of the profits of "The Golden Rule" goes to the CureJM Foundation to help find a cure for Juvenile Myositis, an incurable children's disease. Included in the "classroom of characters' by the illustrator Kalpart is the little girl named Addie, from CureJM. "The Golden Rule" is a five star classic with some nice new touches. Children in early elementary classes will grow towards its strong, embracing visionary message.

The Money/Finance Shelf

Money Smart Children Learn the "Economic Law of Money Saving"
Duke Coleman, author
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781514414804, $21.99,

"Money Smart Children Learn the 'Economic Law of Money Saving'" is a parent's guide meant to motivate parents and children to start saving money very seriously for future well-being. Explaining that living in an unbalanced money economy means that everyone, both the saving people and the non-saving people can accumulate money by saving. But because this is an unbalanced money economy, the rich will end up getting richer and the poor will end up getting poorer. "Because we live in an unbalanced economy, it is critical that you save and accumulate money if you do not want to end up poor.(p.3)." Simple diagram models are used to explain where money comes from and where it goes logically. Then the diagram illustrated explanations continue to show how in an unbalanced economy, money tends to move in only one direction, from the nonsaving people (or NSG) to the saving people (SG). This effect can be demonstrated to increase mathematically over time until theoretically the SG people have all the available money. This requires governmental correction in the form of issuing more money to both SG and NSG populations. This causes an effect demonstrated through repeated financial tables of increasing the amount of money in the economy repeatedly, keeping the unbalanced economy working and the divisions between SG and NSG populations wider. Finally a list of pertinent points is made, including the following: " 3. A "balanced money economy could stop the unbalanced result, but people will never agree to create a balanced economy, so you need to learn to save to compete. ..... and 9. The Amount of money your children will need to buy things in their future will be larger than it is today so they need to learn how to get and save money (pp.26-27)." "Money Smart Children learn the 'Economic Law of Money Saving'" is an excellent, useful adult financial resource that spells out the case for learning to save early and consistently for children.

How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000: Earn! Save! Invest!
James McKenna, Jeannine Glista, Matt Fontaine
Workman Publishing Company
225 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014-4381
9780761180807, $12.95, PB, 144pp,

To quote the authors: "Millionaires are people who save money, not people who spend it". Specifically and deftly written for young readers ages 10 to 14 and in grades 4 to 8, "How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000: Earn! Save! Invest! " is simply packed from cover to cover with basic financial concepts on making, saving, and investing money. Enhanced with thoroughly 'kid friendly' illustrations, infographics, and interactive worksheets, "How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000: Earn! Save! Invest!" should be read by every child who receives an allowance, earns a little money doing chores, or picks up a few bucks here and there doing odds jobs like babysitting and mowing the lawn. Simply stated, "How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000: Earn! Save! Invest! " is an ideal instruction guide for financial literacy that will prove an invaluable preparation for adulthood with respect to money and finance. Very highly recommended it should be noted for personal reading lists that "How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000: Earn! Save! Invest! " is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.02). School and community librarians should note that "How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000: Earn! Save! Invest! " is available in a Library Binding edition (Turtleback Books, 9780606379533, $24.95) as well.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Cinderella's Stepsister and the Big Bad Wolf
Lorraine Carey
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9780763680053, $15.99,

Cinderella's Stepsister and the Big Bad Wolf is illustrated by Migy Blanco and tells the real story, which includes the fact that she really had three stepsisters, and wasn't very nice, herself. The youngest Ugly sister, Gertie, is kind - but she's being forced to act as mean as the rest if she wants to get to go to the ball. It's really Gertie, though, who doesn't live up to the Ugly family name. She just can't be truly bad, no matter how hard she tries. Good reading skills will help youngsters interested in a new take on the Cinderella and Big Bad Wolf tales, which is a fun and hilarious, different kind of story.

Liesl Shurtliff
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780385755832, $16.99,

Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood presents quite a different portrait of the girl, the wolf, and her grandmother and adds further embellishment with the character of a stubborn nuisance girl named Goldie, completely re-crafting the perspective, purposes, and good and bad characters in the original fairy tale. While modern fairy tale retellings often stay fairly true to their originals, the special pleasure of Red lies in an approach that leads readers to question who is good, who is bad, and how even the best of intentions can go awry. A powerfully compelling saga creates an especially riveting read because there's little indication of where the story will wind up: perfect for a retelling that buildings new roads from its predecessor.

Boy Dumplings
Ying Chang Compestine, author
James Yamasaki, illustrator
P.O. Box 31846, San Francisco, CA 94131
9781597021197 $15.95

Featuring bilingual text in both English and Chinese, Boy Dumplings: A Tasty Chinese Tale is an original picturebook inspired by the Chinese "Ghosts Festival" (an annual celebration with similarities to Halloween, lasting up to a whole month depending on the region). A lazy, hungry, and very wicked ghost kidnaps a plump boy, intending to devour him. But the boy has an even better suggestion :why not make " boy dumplings", the most delicious food a greedy spirit could eat? Hilarity ensues as the ghost scrambles to assemble the ingredients to make the perfect batch of "boy dumplings". Could the boy possibly have an ulterior motive - such as the desire not to be eaten? A recipe for "boy-free" dumplings rounds out this charming, whimsical fairy tale.

The Psychology Shelf

Somebody Cares: A Guide for Kids Who Have Experienced Neglect
Susan Farber Straus, PhD, author
Claire Keay, illustrator
Magination Press
PO Box 92984, Washington, DC 20090-2984
9781433821097 $14.95 hc
9781433821103 $9.95 pbk

Clinical child psychologist Susan Farber Straus, PhD presents Somebody Cares: A Guide for Kids Who Have Experienced Neglect, a picturebook especially for young children ages 6-11 who have experienced neglect from their caregivers. The simple text is designed to help children understand that being neglected is not their fault; that it's OK for their family to get help. Somebody Cares is an excellent book for children to share with caring adults (including foster parents, kinship parents, or therapists). "My therapist explained that when kids are left to look out for themselves, it is too much for them to handle. Their bodies act as if they were in danger or something very bad happened to them. After bad and scary things happen, it is natural for our brains, muscles, and other body parts to keep acting like the danger is still there, even when it is not." Highly recommended, especially for public library children's collections and the bookshelves of child psychologists or child therapists.

Little Meerkat's Big Panic
Jane Evans
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
400 Market Street, Suite 400, Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781785927034, $16.95,

Little Meerkat's Big Panic is all about learning how to cultivate a feeling of calm in a chaotic world, and centers around a little meerkat who takes a turn at being on guard for his gang, but falls asleep on the job. When he wakes up to find everyone has vanished, he panics. Can he calm down enough to troubleshoot the problem and solve it? Kids ages 2-6 receive inviting color drawings and a story line that encourages recognizing the value in staying calm in the face of crisis.

The Easy Reader Shelf

Smile Cry
Tania McCartney and Jess Racklyeft
EK Books
c/o Exisle Publishing
c/o QDS/Quarto (distribution)
400 First Avenue North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1722
9781921966989 $16.95

Ideal for children ages 3 and up, Smile Cry is a simple picturebook about feelings. It's a "flip over" book - young children can read the simple sentences about happiness and smiles from one side, the flip the book over and read about sadness and crying from the other side. A playful piglet, fuzzy bunny, and charming cat are the adorable guides to this whimsical tour of experiencing emotions. "An ate all the pies smile. // A tickle smile. // A silly smile. // A walking in the forest smile."

The Christian Shelf

Baby Wren and the Great Gift
Sally Lloyd-Jones
c/o Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310733898 $16.99

Ideal for young readers ages 4-8, Baby Wren and the Great Gift is a heartwarming children's picturebook, brought to life with bold, colorful artwork. The story is implicitly about learning to show appreciation for the wonderful gifts God has given. A little wren watches how other birds and beasts express their joy; as she witnesses the beauty of the land around her, she wonders how she, too, can show that she is grateful. The solution to her dilemma comes from her own heart and soul. Highly recommended!

Books in Series

Be A Maker! Maker Projects for Kids Who Love Music
Rebecca Sjonger, author
Crabtree Publishing Company
PMB 59051, 350 Fifth Avenue, 59th Floor, New York, NY 10118
9780778722526, $27.60,

"Maker Projects for Kids Who Love Music" is a creative, many-sided idea manual for kids age 12 and up that presents a variety of new ideas about creating and using musical instruments. Ten different chapters offer more than ten project ideas in categories including vibrating air, vibrating strings, vibrating instruments, vibrating membranes, DIY drum, vibrating vocals, electronic music, new vibrations, and finally, play the pegboard! Projects are clearly and simply described and step by step instructions are illustrated with fun color photographs. Loads of specialty-printed titles and colored titles add flash and interest to the text. Sidebars list needed materials in contrasting color boxes, and interesting fact about music instrument creators such as: "Makers never expect the first version of an instrument to work perfectly. they usually build prototypes that they can test by playing them and then look for ways to improve them (p. 27)." Completing "Maker Projects for Kids Who Love Music" are a glossary section, and related books and websites in the Learning More section. Loads of fun hours of projects will fulfill young music lovers in "Maker Projects for Kids Who Love Music." Also highly recommended are the following titles from the same Be a Maker! series: "Maker Projects for Kids Who Love Robotics" (9780778722540, $27.60), by James Bow, "Maker Projects for Kids Who Love Fashion" (9780778722465, $27.60), by Sarah Levete, "Maker Projects for Kids Who Love Games" (9780778722489, $27.60), by Rebecca Sjonger, "Maker Projects for Kids Who Love Graphic Design" (978778722502, $27.60), by James Bow, and "Maker Projects for Kids Who Love Animation" (9780778722441, $27.60), by Sarah LeVete.

Tomas and the Galapagos Adventure
Carolyn Lunn, author
Ashley Rades, illustrator
Little Adventures
c/o Amberjack Publishing
PO Box 4668 #89611, New York, NY 10163
9780692582893, $16.99, HC,

"Tomas and the Galapagos Adventure" is a delightful story of a dream journey adventure for Tomas, a boy from Ecuador, to one of the Galapagos Islands. Beautifully illustrated in bright, flowing paintings, "Tomas and the Galapagos Adventure" takes Tomas on a dream journey through the sea, riding the back of a giant green sea turtle. Tomas encounters his dream journey when he is out riding his horse, Bonito, in the jungle. A wild dog startles Bonito and he throws Tomas to the ground, bumping his head. Tomas is not seriously hurt, but he sleeps for awhile and has a wonderful dream about traveling to one of the Galapagos Islands, where he sees strange indigenous birds and animals and has lunch with friendly pirates. He fills his pockets with sea shells and is frightened by a flow of lava. Bonito guards his sleeping body until he awakens, then takes him home to his Mama, for it is late and the sun is setting. At home Tomas is welcomed by a supper of langoustines with rice and coconut sauce with his Mama, who wonders where he found shells in his pockets. But it is too late to ask Tomas, who is sound asleep after his exciting Galapagos adventure. "Tomas and the Galapagos Adventure" is filled with hope, excitement, anticipation, and beautiful visions of creatures in the sea and on the Galapagos Islands. The narrative is also enriched with Spanish words and expressions. Children age 5 and up will love reading this latest title in the Little Adventures Series. Also highly recommended is another recent title in the Little Adventures Series, "What Would It Be Like? (9780692587218, $15.99)," by McArthur Krishna, illustrated by Ayeshe & Ishaan.

Bikers Are Animals 4: Working and Riding
Paul Jamiol, author/illustrator
Dog Ear Publishing
4010 W. 86th Street, Ste H, Indianapolis, IN 46268
9781457523236, $14.95,

"Bikers Are Animals 4" is written especially for children who love animals and also are intrigued by motorcycles. Fourth in an imaginative, creative series that explores many positive images and ideas about fun, riding motorcycles, and being open to revising preconceptions of others, human or animal. All of the adult animal characters in "Bikers Are Animals 4" are introduced by younger family members who look up to them and are proud of them for what they do and who they are. There are at least fourteen new animal bikers and friends in this series, and every one is unique and unforgettable! From a lion named Tourk who creates computer games for kids and grownups, to an elephant named Slick who is a firefighter, young readers meet a vivid assortment of unusual animal individuals with unique, creative professions, who also enjoy biking with their young son, daughter, sibling, or friend. All the animals have at least two sides to their lives, vocational and play, or riding bikes for fun and adventure! The stimulating, vivid comic art style creates immediate connection between reader and subject, which is exciting all by itself. Some of the exciting action in "Bikers Are Animals 4" is really in the swift, dramatically juxtaposed character descriptions of the many different animals, who all love the excitement and experience of motorbiking safely with their younger friends. Each pair experiences bonding and exploration of different worlds together in a variety of inviting scenic backdrops. Being together and biking is more important than staying home and playing games. "Bikers Are Animals 4" ends with Safety Tips from the young BAA crew, and a fond group row of portraits of all 14 youngsters saying farewell and see you on the road!

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

Six new additions to Crabtree's Fairytale Twists series offer 32 pages each of colorful chapter books filled with twists on fairytale themes and puzzles. Enid Richemont and Polona Lovsin's Brownilocks and the Three Bowls of Cornflakes (9780778724598) presents the dilemma of a bear who can't resist three bowls of cornflakes a family has left, but who has problems satisfying her needs; Katrina Charman and Fabiano Fiorin's The Ninjabread Man (9780778724728) presents a different kind of gingerbread man with special skills; Katie Dale and Rupert Van Wyk's Thumbelina Thinks Big! (9780778724735) is about a tiny little girl who faces some big problems living an ordinary life; Laura North and Becka Moor's The Boy Who Cried SHEEP! (9780778724711) explores a shepherd boy's relationship with a little girl with a red hood; Elizabeth Dale and Andrew Painter's Little Red Hen's Great Escape (9780778724612) surveys a red hen who discovers danger threatening her barnyard home - only nobody will listen to her; and Katie Dale and Steve Stone's Rub-a-dub-dub: Three Men and a Pancake (9780778724636) blends a runaway monster pancake saga with the story of an unexpected water journey. All are satisfyingly unique take-offs on traditional rhymes and fairy stories.

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

Two new series titles from Crabtree Publishing offer elementary-level collections a fine combination of eye-catching covers, contemporary photos, and topics that lend well to leisure readers or reports. The 'Next Generation Energy' books each offer 32 pages of basic information on various energy sources, including a glossary, index, bibliography, and sidebars of information. Nancy Dickmann's Burning Out: Energy from Fossil Fuels (9780778732721, $27.60), Energy from Water: Hydroelectric, Tidal, and Wave Power (9780778723806, $27.60), Leaving Our Mark: Reducing Our Carbon Footprint (9780778723813, $27.60) and Megan Kopp's Putting Earth First: Eating and Living Green (9780778723820, $27.60) all discuss issues of ecology, sustainability, and energy usage. The 'Healthy Habits for a Lifetime' series by Rebecca Singer provides 24 pages each containing large print, colorful images, and basic health discussions for younger elementary-level readers. You Need Rest to Be at Your Best (9780778718819, $23.60), On a Mission for Good Nutrition! (9780778718802, $23.60), Stress Less! A Kid's Guide to Managing Emotions (9780778718826, $23.60) and Do Your Bit to Be Physically Fit! (9780778718796, $23.60) each admonish kids to take an active role in how their bodies stay healthy. Both promise to be lasting references for any elementary-level collection.

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design