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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 11 November 2005 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Books in Series World History Shelf
Music Shelf Video/DVD Shelf Fiction Shelf
Art Shelf Biography Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Nature Shelf Easy Reader Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Dingles & Company
PO Box 508, Sea Grit, NJ 08750
$15.50 Each

Other companies produce holiday books with detail on history, but for older readers: Judy Zocchi's holiday guides are one of the few to provide details for kids in grades 2-3. From celebration customs to colors, bands, and how kids can participate, it's a simple introductory primer - as is On Thanksgiving Day (1891997742), a survey of Thanksgiving celebrations for the very young. The emphasis upon how kids can participate in traditions sets these apart from your usual holiday histories.

Compass Point Books
3109 W. 50th St., Minneapolis, MN 55410
$16.95 Each

Kids studying other cultures and games will find unusually attractive books in Dana Meachen Rau's two new 'Games Around the World' titles, Spinning Toys (075650676X) and Card Games (075650-6751): each of these instructional compendium provides 32 pages of facts covering the history and basics of different games, provides step-by-step playing instruction and photos, and tells how to enjoy variations. Grades 3-5 will find these fine and enthusiastically recommended instructionals are filled with color and ideas for fun.

Hidden Child
Isaac Millman
Farrar Straus Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
0374330719 $18.00

During World War II over a million Jewish children were murdered by Nazis: survivors were often those who were in hiding. Author Isaac Millman was one of these children, and his story recounts the kindness of strangers, his move from city to countryside, and how he was forced to shed his Jewish identity to survive. After the year he kept his story to himself: fifty years later it's told, in Hidden Child's series of black and white photos and first-person memoir for grades 5-8.

Young Person's Guide To The Prairie
Wendy Munson Scullin
South River Press
PO Box 392, Indianola, IA 50125-0392
0977076407 $11.95 1-800-350-6680

Young Person's Guide To The Prairie is an introduction to what constitutes a prairie and prairie ecologies. Writer, gardener, and prairie scholar Wendy Scullin describes the dynamics of grasslands in straightforward text accessible to readers of all ages and backgrounds. A handful of black-and-white photographs illustrate discussions of variations between prairies, and how best to preserve prairies and the thriving life they support for the future. An index allows for easy reference in this ideal guidebook especially for young people curious about the natural world.

Puffin Classic Gift Sets
$14.97 Each

Two wonderful gift set packages of classics for ages 10 and up will make lovely gifts for the season, and are highly recommended picks. The Puffin Classic Gift Set includes four paperbacks in a lovely boxed, sealed slip case: Black Beauty, Jane Eyre, Secret Garden and Wizard Of Oz is one set introducing teens to the classics, and Adventures Of Tom Sawyer, Call Of Wild, King Arthur and Treasure Island gather the adventure classic novels in one package. A lovely presentation with exciting, dramatic covers to invite young readers to experience the classics.

Overlook Press
One Overlook Dr., Woodstock, NY 12498

Two unique books bring back memories of the old Brooks' children classic 'Freddy the Pig' adventures by Walter R. Brooks. The Freddy Anniversary Collection (158-5673153, $35.00) packs three Freddy tales under one cover: Freddy The Detective, Freddy Goes To Florida, Freddy Goes To The North Pole. Presented in the order in which they were published, the three select the most beloved from the complete series of 26 titles, add the illustrations of Kurt Wiese, the series' original artist, and make for the perfect introduction for new generations. Walker Brooks' Art Of Freddy (1585673153, $40.00) is edited and with a fine introduction by Michael Cart, continuing the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Freddy books in providing a volume packed with original Kurt Wiese's illustrations. Here's Freddy in all his many guises, with his misadventures and barnyard friends and foes - and here is a display of black and white Wiese classics capturing Freddy's humor and personas. Freddy is beloved to generations - and these two fitting celebrations of his 75th anniversary are highly recommended picks for all generations.

Books in Series

Sea-to-Sea/Creative Company
1980 N. Lookout Drive, N. Makonta, MN 56003

Two excellent, contemporary discussions of facts behind headlines from the Sea-to-Sea 'In the News' series provide elementary-level grades with plenty of facts and material for class debate. Children's Rights by Adam Hibbert (1932889442, $27.10) covers issues of children and rights through history, packing in bright, contemporary color photos along with headlines which will appeal to grades 3-5. Drug Culture by Andrea Clare Hart Smith (1932889450, $27.10) also provides 30 pages of facts, each with sidebars of 'Get the Facts Straight' accompanying eye-catching photos. Both are excellent, recommended picks unusually accessible for this grade level.

Stargazer Books/Creative Company
123 S. Broad St., Mankato, MN 56001

Elementary-grade libraries seeking solid, very basic contemporary reviews of astronomy will find The Solar System by Kathryn Whyman (193279929X, $27.10) a 'one stop' overview which pairs exceptionally bright modern color photos with a review of the planets and science of the solar system. 32 pages include an index, glossary, and plenty of clear explanations. Jim Pipe's Earthwise: Sun: Discover Your World In Close-Up (193279946X, $27.10) provides grades 2-4 with a fine simple review of the sun's properties, with activities to go along, from examples of sun paintings and depiction in ancient to modern art to comprehending size, understanding eclipses, and more. An excellent blend of example and activity.

Smart Apple Media/Creative Education
2140 Howard Dr. West, N. Mankato, MN 56003

Smart Apple Media's gorgeous books will be the mainstay of any elementary-level library seeking colorful, lasting titles on energy and environmental issues, with two series especially recommended. The 'Future Energy' titles by Julie Richards, Water Power (158343353) and Solar Power (1583403329) each provide 32 pages of detail, with chapters covering energy science, history, early and modern technology, and future technology. The advantages/disadvantages of each power source round out an exciting contemporary approach. Pennie Stoyles, Peter Pentland and David Demant's 'Science Issues' titles on Nuclear Energy (1583403310) and Global Warming (1583403280) each offer debates on each issue, making these perfect for elementary-level critical thinking. Bright, contemporary color photos throughout make for eye-catching presentations even leisure browsers will look at.

241 - 1st Ave S., Minneapolis, MN 55401

Two outstanding stories of selected immigrant groups from Lerner's 'In America' series are highly recommended picks for grades 4-6. Kathiann M. Kowalski's Salvadorans In America (0822524244, $27.93) covers a people who seldom are mentioned outside of general Latin experiences. Salvadorans first came to the US to build better lives in the 1980s as civil war raged: today over a million live here, overcoming language and economic problems to become an important part of America. Sarah Frank's Filipinos In America (082-2548739, $27.93) tells of the ongoing waves of Philippino immigrants who arrived to this country from the early to mid-1900s, and the many economic challenges they faced. Their contributions to the arts is exceptional, as Frank here outlines. Both books are 'web enhanced' at, adding a virtual world of information beyond their pages.

OTTN Publishing
16 Risler Street, Stockton, NJ 08559

The "Road to War: Causes of Conflict" series from OTTN Publishing features outstanding titles that introduce young readers in grades 4 through 6 to the causes of five American wars over the last two hundred years that saw significant American involvement. This series includes: Causes Of The American Revolution (1595560017, $22.95), Causes Of The Civil War (1595560025, $22.95), Causes Of World War I (1595560033, $22.95), Causes Of World War II (1595560041, $22.95), and Causes Of The Iraq War (1595560092, $22.95). Each title presents a truly in-depth survey of the reasons for America's involvement in these conflicts along with an articulate explanation of events and concepts. The fourth grade reading level texts are enhanced with more than 25 color photographs, illustrations, and maps. Although Causes of the American Revolution and Causes of the Civil War are available in paperback ($12.95), the sturdy library binding of the hard cover edition is recommended for school and library collections.

The World History Shelf

Exploring Ancient Rome
Elaine Landau
Enslow Publishers
PO Box 398, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
0766023370 $23.95

Ancient Rome joins others in Elaine Landau's 'Exploring' series of titles for kids in grades 3-4, offering nearly 50 pages packed with bright color drawings, a story line which reads like fiction but holds nonfiction facts, and a presentation which uses a 'trip to Rome' to explore early history. Kids will find the approach more inviting than the usual nonfiction fact-filed, numbers-oriented guides.

Crabtree Publishers
350 - 5th Avenue, #3308, NY, NY 10018

Crabtree's 'Life in the Ancient World' series on peoples of the ancient world by Hazel Richardson is a wonderful, colorful recommendation for grades 3-4: each narrows the focus to a people or continent, mixing striking color covers with equally attractive inside color photos and a lively history which mixes the photos with text for easy reading. Indus River Valley (0778720403, $17.94), Japan (0778720-411, $17.94), South America (0778720-42X, $17.94), Africa (0778720438, $17.94), and several ancient peoples Celts (0778720454, $17.94) and Vikings (0778-720446, $17.94) all excel in attraction and information which invite kids to browse even if they aren't studying the topic. It's easy to find books on many of these topics for this age range - but not so easy to duplicate the interest these hold, and their ability to reach out to non-readers with bright illustrations and solid information. Very highly recommended, indeed.

Thomson Gale
27500 Drake Rd., Farmington Hills, MI 48331-3535

Eleanor J. Hall's Life Among The Aztecs (1590181603, $27.45) joins others in the 'Way People Live' series, using plenty of black and white illustrations throughout to explore the lives, culture, and economics of the early Aztecs. A little over a hundred pages will appeal to kids in grades 4-6 with excellent, in-depth discussions of daily lives, making this perfect for reports. Younger readers will appreciate the 'Life During the Great Civilizations' series ($23.70 each) for grades 3-5, which each provide about fifty pages packed with detail. Charles and Linda George's The Inca (1410305295) explores early Inca society, from the status of women to daily life, technology, and more. Jim R. Eddy's Ancient Egypt (1410305287) does the same for early Egypt, considering everything from early tools and religion to daily life. Both will prove excellent for reports.

The Music Shelf

Walk With Wonder
Connie Gillies & Alice Weiser
Constant Wonder Records
c/o Waldmania!
130 Maywood Drive, San Francisco CA 94127

"Constant Wonder" is songwriter/pianist Connie Gillies and singer/dancer/actress Alice Weiser who work seamlessly together in collaborating to deftly combine upbeat music with nature-oriented theater games in live performances especially designed for young audiences ages 3 to 8. Now they have created Walk With Wonder, a music CD that combines original songs with a story of the forest and seashore perambulations. Unique, lively, and superbly entertaining, Walk With Wonder will quickly prove itself a favorite and is enthusiastically recommended for family, preschool, daycare, elementary school, and community library CD music collections!

French Playground
Putumayo World Music
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street, Portland, OR 97221
CD $15.98

French Playground offers a lively mixture of French and French Creole songs featuring musicians from France, the Caribbean, Africa, and Quebec. Superbly recorded and thoroughly "kid friendly", the selections comprising this enthusiastically recommended addition to any family, school, or community library children's multicultural CD music collection include: Chatouiller le Ciel Avec Toi (Alain Schneider, France); Lutece (Don Pedro et ses Dromadaires, France); Wonderful (Pascal Parisot (France); Clic-Clc Oh C'est Beau! (Dominique Dimey (France); Bonjour, Bonjour (L'autobus a Vapeur, France); Monsieur Bibendum (Tryo, France); L'lle Maurice (Triton, Mauritius); Le Matin en Patins (Ariane Moffatt, Quebec); Petit Francais (Polo, France); Bidi Bom Bom (Lole-Lolay Sensation, Haiti); Croque (Thomas Fersen, France); and La P'tite Monnaie (Benabar & Associes, France).

The Video/DVD Shelf

New Video Kids
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas
Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois St., Portland, OR 97221
$12.95 DVD & $9.95 VHS

Two new DVDs featuring two of the most famous ragdolls in all of children's literature have been released for schools, libraries, and family collections. The Adventures Of Raggedy Ann & Andy: The Pixling Adventure And Other Exciting Tales (NVG-9706) features "The Pixling Aventure" by Karen Wilson and Chris Weber. Raggedy Ann, Andy, and Raggedy Dog try to get prince Luke back to Pixley Castle before Count Gerich can steal away the throne. "The Beastly Ghost Adventure" by Linda Woolverton, Janis Diamond and George Atkins finds Raggedy Ann, Andy, and their friends meeting a creature called the Beastly Ghost, who wants to change the ending to a scary story they've just heard. "The Ransom of the Sunny Bunny Adventure" by Sheryl Scarborough and Kayte Kuch finds thaqt when Cracklin Wizard and the Witch accidentally kidnap Sunny Bunny, Raggedy Ann and Andy must set off on an adventure to rescue their friend. The Adventures Of Raggedy Ann & Andy: The Mabbit Adventure And Other Exciting Tales showcases "The Mabbit Adventure" by George Atkins. When the wizard Cracklin tries to steal the Mabbit book of spells, Raggedy Ann, Andy, and Sunny Bunny come to the rescue. "The Perriwonk Adventure by Janis Diamond find that in exchange for cranberries, the Perriwonks steal the heart necklace for thedragon Cinge and it's up to Raggedy Ann and her friends to find the missing jewels. In "The Pirate Adventure" also by Janis Diamond, Raggedy Andy is kidnaped by a band of pirates while searching for Leprechaun Micky's legendary pot of gold. Confidently recommended, entertaining viewing for children, all of these stories are enhanced with color animation and each DVD features a history of Raggedy Ann & Andy, as well as an interactive menu, and a Scene Selection capability.

World Art 2
Cherie Lynn, host
Jumby Bay Studios/
11783 Borman Dr., St. Louis, MO 63146
UPC: 820658002528 $19.95

World Art 2 is a full color, 230 minute, superbly produced DVD in which Cherie Lynn conducts young viewers age 10 and up on a series of exciting art projects, complete with their cultural backgrounds. Here students grades 5 through 8 will be treated to fascinating stories about the Tibetan Mandalas, Navajo Indians, the False Face Society, aboriginal Papunyas, and more. Each project is provided with step-by-step instructions to create beaufilf and divers art objects or creations drawn from eleven different cultures. Kids will be able to paint, sculpt, and cut their way across the globe! Special features for this DVD include printable patterns, a materials guides, and informative "pop up" animations with facts and factoids about these various and inherently interesting cultures. Other very highly recommended instructional DVDs for children from include World Art; Rainy Day Art; Rainy Day Art 2; and Art On A Shoe String.

Schlessinger Media
7 East Wynnewood Road, Wynnewood, PA 19096-0580
$29.95 each 1-800-843-3620

Among the truly outstanding DVD series for young viewers from Schlessinger Media is "Weather Fundamentals", a six volume collection for students in grades 4 through 7 that will enable them to understand the science behind diverse weather phenomena. Spencer Christian (the weather forecaster for the television show "Good Morning America", hosts this fun and informative series of instructional videos making learning accessible and engaging. Dramatic live-action footage is combined with vivid animated graphics, detailed weather maps, and even hands-on experiments suitable for Science Fair projects. The six titles comprising this enthusiastically recommended series has a running time of 23 minutes and includes: Climate & Seasons; Clouds; Hurricanes & Tornadoes; Meteorology, Rain & Snow, and Wind. "Weather Fundamentals" is especially suitable for home schooling curriculums and would make a valued addition to elementary school and junior high school Science Studies library resource collections.

The Fiction Shelf

Still There, Clare
Yvonne Prinz
Raincoast Books
9050 Shaughnessy Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6P 6E5
1551927675 $13.95

Twelve (almost thirteen!) year old Clare is the total opposite of her best friend Elsa. Clare prefers t-shirts and jeans, Elsa is a trendy dresser complete with accessories. Clare's humor is dark and ironic while Elsa is bright and witty. But the unusual thing about their friendship is that Clare invented Elsa when she was five years old. She was an imaginary friend! But now Clare decides that because she's becoming a teenager, it's time to abandon her imaginary best friend -- but will Elsa go along with this idea? Still There, Clair is written by Yvonne Prinz with wit, originality, and a flare for engaging the reader from first page to last in superbly crafted and highly recommended novel for young readers ages 12 through 14.

Lion Singer
Sylvia Ross
Heyday Books
PO Box 9145, Berkeley, CA 94709
1597140090 $12.95

Written and illustrated by Sylvia Ross, Lion Singer is the story of a boy of the Chukchansi tribe in the foothills of the great Sierra mountain range of California before the coming of the white man. Dog Cry is supposed to look after his little sister, but all he really wants to do is have games and adventures in the mountains with his cousins. When his sister follows him into those mountains and is at rise of grave danger, Dog Cry finds courage and skills to rescue her and in the process, wins a new name from the tribal elders -- Lion Singer! Ideal reading for children ages 8 to 12, and with its Native American theme, Lion Singer will make a popular addition to any school or community library collection.

The Sacrifice
Kathleen Benner Duble
Simon & Schuster
0689876505 $15.95

It's 1692, and ten-year-old Abigail and her family are threatened by witchcraft fear in Salem. When the focus reaches Andover and her family, they find neighbor turns against neighbor and must choose their path during a reign of terror. Events in the author's own family history come to life through the eyes of Abigail in this realistic account.

Orchard Books/Scholastic Inc.

Advanced elementary into early middle school grades will appreciate a set of leisure readers which promise high interest. Another Ricky Ricotta robot adventure is presented by Dav Pilkey in Ricky Ricotta's Mightly Robot Vs. The Urban Unicorns From Uranus (0439376467, $16.99): though Martin Ontiveros' drawings are all in black and white, their large-size presentation and cartoon style lend interest for reluctant readers. Here Ricky and his best friend robot handle issues of size and evil alike in a fast-paced interplanetary adventure. James Proimos and Andy Rheingold's When Guinea Pigs Fly! (0439518997, $14.95) tells of a little guinea pig with the pig dream of exploring the outside world outside of the pet store he inhabits. When he and his best friends achieve their wish, it's only to encounter the scary urban city. Chynna Clugston's Queen Bee (0439715725, $16.99), like Ricky Ricotta, takes on the trappings of a black and white comic book as it provides a graphic novel adventure of a former girl geek who has spent the summer changing her image in an attempt to become one of the popular oflk at her new middle school in the fall. The obstacles to success: she isn't the only new girl in town - or the only one with superpowers. Competition arises. Alison Pollet's The Pity Party (04-39681944, $15.95) is set in 8th grade, and Cass Levin's creative team for a new group project consists of a new kid, a snob, and an annoying girl. Can adversity create a new friendship? The new Charlie Bone book by Jenny Nimmo is out, Charlie Bone And The Castle Of Mirrors (0439545285, $9.95), and it's a winner. Prior fans will find the sequel to Charlie Bone And The Invisible Boy is outstanding: Charlie's at Bloor's Academy and his power is not only changing, but a new mysterious student and new leaders are affecting everything. Add more intrigue and follow-ups to the last and you have a wonderful ongoing fantasy saga. Elizabeth Kay's Jinx On The Divide (0439724554, $16.99) concludes the appealing Divide trilogy: Felix is back at school ut nothing is normal, especially when the class bully steals his magic lamp and accidentally frees the djinn in side, who takes the boy hostage unless Felix returns him to the mystical world. Not one to bottle up for long, the bully is discovering dangerous new potentials in his new bottle home. Patrick Carman's Land Of Elyon Book 2: Beyond The Valley Of Thorns (0439700-949, $11.99) tells of an unexpected threat from outside the walls of Bridgewell. Alexia becomes involved in a battle in which she plays a key role against a rising darkness: and she must confront these dark forces in order to win. Recommended for prior fans for the smoothest continuation. Laura Gallego Garcia's The Legend Of The Wandering King (0439585562, $16.95) tells of a dangerous magic carpet: a glance at it can drive a man mad, and many will risk their lives to look into its pattern for secrets. The carpet is stolen; it's up to young King Walid to recovery it in a dangerous journey through the Middle East world.

Random House

Steven Schirripa and Charles Fleming's Nicky Deuce: Welcome To The Family (0385732570, $15.95) tells of a boy slated to spend the usual weeks at summer camp until a last-minute disaster leads him to his grandmother's house in Brooklyn instead. His father hated Brooklyn so Nicholas has never been there - but his journey to his Brooklyn roots leads to many enriching discoveries about his heritage. Fans of Harriet the Spy will relish Maya Gold's contemporary take Harriet The Spy, Double Agent (0385327870, $15.95). Harriet's impressed with the new girl she's befriended, who has three very different personalities and appeals to the solitary spy Harriet… but Anne reveals little about her life, and there's nothing Harriet can resist more than uncovering a secret. A fine companion story of friendship and discovery which stands alone as well as with Harriet the Spy prior fans. Patricia Reilly Giff's Willow Run (0385730675, $15.95) tells of a girl whose life in New york is changed by World War II. Her older brother Eddie is in the war, her German grandfather might be in trouble as Germany becomes more suspects, and Meggie's father has determined to move to Willow Run Michigan, where he'll work in a factory building planes. With all the big family changes, Meggie faces some personal challenges about courage and adjustments. A memorable book about war and change. Carrie Rosten's Chloe Leiberman (Sometimes Wong) (0385723473, $15.95) tells of a half-Jewish, half-Chinese girl who lives for fashion. Chloe is a high school senior with two very different best friends, who dreams about going to design school in London. Her vivid world and life are hard to put down. Carl Hiassen's Flush (0375821821, $16.95) tells of a father who has trouble with anger control, and who tries to stop a boat's illegal dumping by sinking it. When he is jailed, his son Noah determines to succeed to prevent the pollution of the Florida Keys in this story of a family at odds with a casino. Debi Gliori's Pure Dead Trouble (0375833110, $15.95) brings the Stega-Borgia clan home to a shocking discovery: their faithful butler is lying comatose on their front doorstep. Can this be an omen of bad fortune? And will be danger return for the rest of the family? Another hilarious adventure returns the 'pure dead' horrible family to life for both prior and new fans.

Looking For Normal
Betty Monthei
1350 Avenue of Americas, NY, NY 10019
0060725052 $15.99

One morning Annie is pulled from class to learn now both her parents are dead and she and her brother are to live with grandparents they never really knew. How can anything be normal again, now that everything she's known has vanished? And, death means forever; nothing will ever be the same. A poignant story of vast changes and new beginnings.

The Art Shelf

Learn Art: Painting
Deri Robins
QEB Publishing
23062 LA Canada Drive, Laguna Hills/Irvine, CA 92653
1595660461 $27.10

Have fun with paint and learn to make 'masterpieces' even if you are only in first or second grade, with the help of Learn Art: Painting, which covers all the basics from painting with dots to watery paintings and abstract art. Kids learn basic painting terms easily in a series of step-by-step instructions on producing different works of art.

The Biography Shelf

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Rd., Tarrytown NY 10591
$20.95 Each

Four new titles in the 'Rulers And Their Times' series by Miriam Greenblatt add excellent 96-page coverages suitable for reports to the expanding 'Rulers and Their Times' series, covering not only selected rulers, but the everyday lives of their people, and the politics and atmosphere of their countries. Julius Caesar And The Roman Republic (0761418369) covers both everyday life in the early Roman Republic and the political conflicts and controversies surrounding Caesar's rule, Napoleon Bonaparte And Imperial France (0761418377) surveys the military life of Napoleonic France, changes in the country between his early and later years of rule, the expansion of the empire and its dissolution; Han Wu Di And Ancient China (0761418350) surveys daily life and politics in ancient China, from dress to science and politics; and Eleanor Of Aquitaine And The High Middle Ages (0761418-342) surveys the queen of France's crusade, troubles, romances and affect on her kingdom.

Patria Press, Inc.
PO Box 572, Carmel, IN 46082

The "Young Patriots" series from Patria Press has two new additions for young readers ages 8 to 12. Abner Doubleday: Boy Baseball Pioneer (1882859498, $14.95) by Montrew Dunham tells the story of the man who is credited with inventing baseball. Abner grew up to become a famous Civil War general, but as a boy was never happier than when he had a bat and ball in his hand. Phillis Wheatley: Young Revolutionary Poet (1882859472, $14.95) by Kathryn Kilby Borland and Helen Ross Speicher tells the story of the first famous African-American poet who was taken from Senegal and brought to Boston where she was sold as a slave when just 8 years old. Here is the story of a young black slave girl who could neither read or write, and how she overcame those obstacles to become the most famous poet of her day. Readers will also learn of her involvement with the famous Boston Tea Party. Both titles are enhanced with illustrations by Cathy Morrison. Informed and informative, the whole eleven volume "Young Patriots" series should be a core part of every elementary school and public library system collection of biographies for young readers.

The Picturebook Shelf

Alpha Bravo Charlie
Chris L. Demarest
McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster
0689869282 $16.95

Unique for both children and adults is Alpha Bravo Charlie: The Military Alphabet, a picture book providing An A-Z military alphabet including military terms and insights. Kids in grades 6-10 receive a survey of the International Communications Alphabet, used by the US military and throughout civil aviation, and will receive signal flags the navy created to give each letter a color-coded shape. Very intriguing - and unparalleled.

Raising You Alone
Warren Hanson
Tristan Publishing
2300 Louisiana Avenue North, Suite B, Golden Valley, MN 55427
0972650466 $15.95 1-866-545-1383

Deftly written and colorfully illustrated by Warren Hanson, Raising You Alone is a wonderfully presented picturebook that uses a family of rabbits to illustrate the quirks and challenges that single-parent families must deal with. A truly heartwarming and entertaining story Raising You Alone presents the loving relationship of a parent and child through many day-today situations. Ideal for young readers preschool through first grade, Raising You Alone is both timely and timeless -- and should be a part of every elementary school and community library picturebook collection for young readers.

Out And About At The Public Library
Kitty Shea & Zachary Trover
Picture Window Books
7825 Telegraph Road, Minneapolis, MN 55438
1404811508 $23.93 1-877-845-8392

Informatively written for children ages four through eight by Kitty Shea, and colorfully illustrated by Zachary Trover, Out And About At The Public Library is an ideal picturebook introduction to what kids will find at their local community library. Boys and girls will learn what is available at community libraries in addition to books; what kinds of questions librarians can answer; whether or not using the library costs anything; even what happens to books after they are returned to the library after hours through those little slots in the library doors or walls. A strongly recommended addition to both school and community library picturebook collections for preschool and elementary school children, Out And About At The Public Library is a wonderfully informative tour of what community libraries have to offer and how to use library resources -- including the acquisition of a library card!

Dear Big, Mean, Ugly Monster
Ruth Marie Berglin & Carl DiRocco
Child & Family Press
c/o Child Welfare League of America
440 First Street, NW, Third Floor, Washington, DC 2001-2085
1587600722 $14.95, 1-800-407-6273

Illustrated by Carl DiRocco, Dear Big, Mean, Ugly Monster is a lighthearted story by Ruth Marie Berglin especially for young readers who feel nervous about what might be lurking under their bed. An ordinary young boy is terribly frightened of the monster under his bed; he hears its claws and fangs scraping long into the night. Even the Monster Spray his mother made or his new flashlight can't drive it away. But when he decides he's tired of being afraid, he writes a letter to the monster telling it exactly how he feels. Then amazingly, he gets a reply - from SAM, the Sorta Average Monster living under his bed! A timeless tale about the importance of not being ruled by one's fears, with the moral that friendships can turn up in the most unlikely places.

Holiday House
425 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10017

A version of the classic Dybbuk (082341-616X, $16.95) by Barbara Rogasky receives Leonard Everett Fisher's compelling illustrations as it retells one of the best-known stories of the Kabbalah. A promise haunts a rich man in town when a poor scholar and a rich man's daughter fall in love. Sender turns his back on a pact and promises his daughter to a wealthy suitor, and Konin dies of a broken heart but his ghost returns. Vivid brown and white drawings capture atmosphere, kids in grades 3-5 with good reading skills will relish the complex love story. Susanna Leonard Hill's Punxsutawney Phyllis (08-23418723, $16.95) tells of a groundhog who is not like others: she loves to splash in the cold river and tromp through the snow, and is happy year-round. This Feb. 2nd she's excited about a possible early Spring - but can she awaken old Uncle Phil to make his official Groundhog Day prediction? Jeffrey Ebbeler's whimsical color drawings lend to an inviting story. Loreen Leedy's The Great Graph Contest (0823417107, $16.95) presents Gonk the toad and Beezy the lizard, who are having a contest to see who can make the best maps. Bar graphs, pie charts, quantity graphs and more receive step-by-step instruction and the underlying zany competition story in a fun and unique picturebook exploration.

Josefina Javelina
Susan Lowell
Rising Moon
0873587901 $15.95

It's hard to find anything zanier or brighter than the color drawings of Bruce MacPherson in the lively Josefina Javelina: A Hairy Tale. A whimsical dancing pig longs to be a ballerina, so she leaves her cantina to go to Pasadena… A wild adventure from desert to city brings Josefina in touch with a wily coyote. An exceptionally fun story, with rhymes adding to the vivid, exceptional color drawings.

Orchard/Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012

These new leisure reads stand out from the crowd, offering unusual topics and compelling stories. Jose-Luis Orozco and David Diaz's Rin, Rin, Rin Do, Re, Mi (0439649412, $16.95) provides a bilingual Spanish/English picturebook story of lyrics by a songwriter. A child asks his family to sing to me, count with me, say words to me - all the basics of literacy. Artist David Diaz takes the boy through a lively day of learning in a fine outreach program for Spanish speakers. Jason Alexander's Dad, Are You The Tooth Fairy? (0439-667453, $16.95) tells of a youngster who overhears peers saying the tooth fairy is just make-believe - and he goes to his father to learn the truth. Gabby's father spins a wild tale - but does it really answer the question? Ron Spears provides a lovely set of whimsical illustrations to embellish the realistic dilemma of a father put on the spot. Margery Cuyler's The Bumpy Little Pumpkin (0439528356, $15.95) receives Will Hillenbrand's warm drawings as it tells of a little pumpkin which is perfect for Halloween - bumpy and just right. But bossy big sisters tell Nell it's too small and ugly to make a good jack-o-lantern. Bright, beautiful pumpkin drawings illustrate a vivid picturebook. Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen's Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Imperial China (0590108220, $16.95) comes from the creators of the Magic School Bus and tells of Chinese New Year celebrations. Ms. Frizzle dives under a dancing Chinatown parade dragon - and moves into China one thousand years ago. Learning becomes an adventure much like the Magic School bus in this whimsical new saga. Tedd Arnold's Hi! Fly Guy (0439639034, $5.99) is a fun easy reader telling of a boy who gets a pet fly. The fly can even say his name - Buzz - and a hilarious Amazing Pet Show contender is born. Carmela and Steven D'Amico's Ella Takes The Cake (04396-2794X, $16.99) tells of a too-little elephant who wants to be a big help to her mother. If she's too small to even slice cakes, how can she do anything important to help her mother in the bakery Simple, whimsical drawings chart Ella's efforts. Edward Lear's A Was Once An Apple Pie (0439660564, $12.99) receives Suse MacDonald's engaging drawings as it provides Lear's classics ABC primer. Hand-painted, cut-paper illustrations provide bright, simple large drawings. Lisa Desimini's Trick Or Treat, Smell My Feet! (0439233232, $16.95) arrived too late for more timely Halloween mention but deserves year-round consideration as a fun story of the ultimate secret ingredient for the witches' wicked Halloween brew to be sure NOBODY gets the candy. A fun twist sends the evil plans awry. Jane Yolen and Mark Teague's How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? (0439241022, $15.99) packs humor into the story of table manners for dinosaurs. A very simple rhyme follows the dinosaurs' questionable table habits - which are a lot like those of small children. Barbara Reid's THE Subway Mouse (0439728274, $15.95) tells of a little mouse who lives in a subway station. By day trains thunder past, at night they tell stories about the mythical Tunnel's End, where the sky is blue but the world is filled with danger. Nib's quest to find Tunnel's End results in a new discovery and adventure. Math Potatoes: Mind-stretching Brain Food by Greg Tang (0439443903, $16.95) receives Harry Briggs' fun drawings as it pairs riddles with math, following up on his bestselling Grapes Of Math and his sequel Math Appeal. The riddles will appeal to many non-math youngsters. Jan Ormerod's When An Elephant Comes To School (0439739675, $16.95) tells of an elephant's first day at school. He's nervous about meeting new classmates - but they show him the routine and soon he's participating with great gusto. Cornelia Funke's Pirate Girl (0439716721, $15.95) receives Kerstin Meyer's fun drawings as it tells of a fierce sea captain and his band of pirates who meet their match in a kidnapped girl. Molly is small and unafraid of the pirates - and is much smarter than them. Can SHE be the fiercest of them all? A fun story with unexpected twists.

Knopf/Random House

Janet Schulman's 10 Trick Or Treaters: A Halloween Counting Book (0375832254, $8.95) provides a very simple counting title which arrived too late for Halloween mention but still deserves year-round attention. Linda Davick's drawings are fun, whimsical accents to a night of Halloween counting, which features exceptionally bright drawings on black backgrounds for added impact. Elizabeth Hatch's Halloween Night (0385746229, $15.95) receives Jimmy Pickering's fun drawings as it tells of a timid mouse, a diving bat, and a host of Halloween characters who all come out together to celebrate - and find a zany sense of companionship. Roger Duvoisin's Petunia' Christmas (0394808-681, $15.95) came to us last season to late for holiday mention - but don't miss it this year: it's the engaging story of pet goose Petunia, who meets the handsome gander Charles. Happy and hefty is Charles, unaware he's being fattened for Christmas dinner. Can Petunia save her love from the table? Emma Chichester Clark's Merry Christmas To You, Blue Kangaroo! (038-5746822, $15.95) presents another blue kangaroo title: here the toy Blue Kangaroo and his owner Lily are getting ready for their first Christmas together. Lily has a special gift for Blue Kangaroo - but he has nothing special for her and on Christmas Eve he is still worrying about the perfect gift for his young owner. An engaging story.

345 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014

Lisa Campbell Ernst's Sylvia Jean, Drama Queen (0525469621, $16.99) tells of a would-be drama queen who always has the perfect outfit for any occasion, from swan to superhero. When a town-wide costume contest is announced, everyone assumes she'll win - but Sylvia is panicked and out of ideas. How can she top her previous successes? A.J. Wood's The Christmas Hat (0525472606, $15.99) with Maggie Kneen's gorgeous drawings just missed last year's Christmas picks but deserves ongoing mention as a fabulous and lovely story for this year as well. When Rabbit and Badger adopt a lost baby owl, they find his care unusually demanding. They try to help make him easier to find in all the snow - but danger resides in making the baby more visible to keep track of his movements. The Christmas Hat has beautiful drawings and a gentle story line kids will love. Andrew Beakspeare's Skating With The Bears (0525-474854, $15.99) tells the gentle story of a winter lake frozen solid and a boy who can't learn to skate. He trips and falls - but dreams of gliding with ease. His dream leads to an amazing nighttime lesson.

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

Nick's sister gets great cards on her birthday, but poor Nick doesn't - so sis makes a special birthday wish that Nick will receive some great mail in his favorite color pink - and the wish comes true in a magical manner. But the mail won't stop coming until Nick receives something even more remarkable. Chad Cameron produces the magical illustrations for this magical tale.

Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140

Candlewick's leisure readers are something out of the ordinary and will appeal to many young picturebook readers. Toby Forward and Izhar Cohen's The Wolf's Story: What Really Happened To Little Red Riding Hood (0763626852, $15.99) tells the other side of the story as Wolf knows it - and there's a logical explanation. Wolf was just doing odd jobs for Grandma when Little Red ruined everything…Norman Messenger's Imagine (0763627577, $17.99) will appeal to ages 6 and up but isn't necessarily recommended as durable enough for library lending. Fold-out flaps and expandable pages are exceptionally artistic and bright and allow kids to experience the fun of transforming a creature with imagination. Spot the differences in bright pictures, and exercise and train the imagination in Imagine. Simply stunning in color and idea. M.T. Anderson's Me, All Alone At The End Of The World (0763615862, $16.99) tells of a youngster who lives alone at the End of the World, hunting for treasure with old maps and playing ball. He's peaceful - until a Professional Visionary arrives and advertises his world tour. Bright drawings illustrate a zany intrusion into paradise. Carolyn Crimi's Henry & The Buccaneer Bunnies (0763624497, $15.99) tells of a zany bunny pirate crew on the Salty Carrot - and one son who would rather read than pirate. When a storm threatens the ship, will Henry and his library save them? A simply hilarious adventure.

The Shelf Elf
Jackie Mims Hopkins
Upstart Books
Box 800, Ft. Atkinson, WI 53538-0800
193214627X $16.95

The Shelf Elf deserves recommendation as a fine and different Christmas picturebook tale. Skoob the Shelf Elf just finished his work with the shoemaker and is ready to start on a new career in the library - but first he must learn Library Etiquette. From book care to behavior, Skoob finds there's more to learn about a library than how to locate a book - and he's determined to win the Golden Shelf Elf Award in the process. A rhyming text paired with Rebecca Thornburgh's fun drawings invites kids to learn more about the library.

Atheneum/Simon & Schuster

When he was alive Mr. Wilkerson was sour and disagreeable: once he was dead he got better - but he's back and very hungry in Denys Cazet's The Perfect Pumpkin Pie (0689864671, $15.95) . How hungry can an old ghost be? When Jack and his grandma encounter him in their new haunted home, they discover real source of the groaning and moaning - and it has something to do with pie… Elizabeth Spurr's The Peterkins' Thanksgiving (06-89841426, $17.95) receives Wendy Anderson Halperin's lovely drawings as it tells of a family's celebrations, which are anything but ordinary. The family has a history of unusual holiday mishaps - and this year's no different - the turkey is missing! The companion to The Peterkins' Christmas was adapted by Elizabeth Spurr from Lucretia Hale's classic The Peterkin Papers for young picturebook readers, and is a real winner.

Walker & Company
104 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10011

Three bright books are recommended as strong leisure picks for kids. Walter M. Mayes' Walter The Giant Storyteller's Giant Book Of Giant Stories (08027-89749, $18.95) receives fun drawings by Kevin O'Malley and tells of an unlucky giant shipwrecked by a violent storm. When he awakens it's to find himself on trial by a mob of tiny people who hold him responsible for all the evil giants in history. Only his storytelling skills can save him now. Ellen Jackson's Earth Mother (0802789927, $16.95) presents Leo and Diane Dillon's classic illustrations as it tells of Earth Mother, who awakens with the dawn and enjoys nature and wildlife. She meets Man, Frog and Mosquito who all give her advice on how she can make their lives better: can Earth Mother improve upon perfection? Nathan Hale's The Devil You Know (0802789811, $16.95) tells of a family that has a little devil living in their house doing bad things. The prim Ms. Phisto offers to take his place with proper ways and at first the Fells are happy - but soon they realize they have a bigger problem on their hands than a little devil. Mary Ann Fraser's I.Q., It's Time (0802789781, $15.95) tells of a mouse with a very busy class to watch. Mrs. Furber is teaching students about time and I.Q. needs to know this if he wants to make a special surprise for the parents - will he finish in time for Parents' Night?

The Book Of Christmas
Fiona Waters
Chrysalis/Trafalgar Square
Box 257, N. Pomfret, VT 05053
1843650061 $25.00

Matilda Harrison's drawings are lavish embellishments to the poems and stories gathered by anthologist Fiona Waters in The Book Of Christmas. Here are extracts from favorites old and new, providing a vivid blend of rhymes and pictures parents and kids especially will enjoy.

345 Hudson St., New York NY 10014

In Africa the honeyguide and honey badger are partners: the guide finds the honeycomb, the badger cracks it open and they share it. But greedy Badger eats it all one day - and Honeyguide isn't happy. All the animals learn about the treachery - but Honeyguide has a plan for revenge. Jan Brett's Honey...Honey...Lion! (0399244-638 $16.99) is a lovely folk story originating from Botswana and retold by artist/author Brett. A gorgeous tale indeed. Dave Horowitz's The Ugly Pumpkin (0399242-678, $15.99) tells of a lonely Halloween pumpkin who has waited all through October for someone to bring him home, despite his funny looks. Even the trees are making fun of him - so the lonely Ugly Pumpkin sets off to find some place he'll fit in - and finds acceptance in an unexpected place. Watty Piper's The Little Engine That Could (0399244670, $17.99) receives new art by Loren Long to accompany a bright story of a little train which breaks down on the road to getting a clown and elephant's toys to children. Every engine passes them until the smallest of all decides to help. It's nice to see this classic re-issued in a bright, large size.

175 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010

Anu Stohner and Henrike Wilson's Brave Charlotte (1582346909, $16.95) tells of Charlotte, who's different from other sheep. She likes to explore her world and wander, while old sheep stick close to home and go for security. When danger hits the herd, only Charlotte is brave enough to go for help in this engaging story of courage. Aaron Reynolds' Chicks And Salsa (158234972X, $15.95) receives Paulette Bogan's fun drawings as it tells of Nuthatcher Farm when chickens get sick of the same old chicken feed and the roster decides to remedy the problem. Culinary disaster and resourcefulness blend to create an unexpected fiesta in this fun story.

Farrar Straus Giroux

Fans of the large dog Carl have another classic Alexandra Day addition to the growing series: Carl's Sleepy Afternoon (0374310882, $12.95) presents a mostly-wordless picture book showing the 'lazy dog''s busy afternoon. Large full-page color drawings show Carl as being much in demand. Satoshi Kitamura's Igor: The Bird Who Couldn't Sing (0374335583, $16.00) tells of Igor, who's been looking forward to spring when he'll sing for the first time. Dawn Chorus doesn't bring lovely melodies to his beak, however: it turns out Igor is tone-deaf. And voice lessons don't seem to help… Helen Cooper's A Pipkin Of Pepper For The Pumpkin Soup (0374359539, $16.00) presents story of a lost duck and three pumpkin-soup-loving pals. When the salt runs out, the Duck insists on coming to the City for the shopping trip - and his search for pepper causes trouble.

Twenty-one Elephants And Still Standing
April Jones Prince
Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley St., Boston MA 02116
061844887X $16.00

It took fourteen years of construction to build the Brooklyn Bridge, connecting Brooklyn and New York - but some wondered how much weight the new bridge could safely handle. One man decided to show them it was strong enough to hold even the heaviest passenger -- and demonstrated this with elephants. The man's name? P.T. Barnum. It reads with the drama of fiction but Twenty-one Elephants And Still Standing is based on fact, which is even more intriguing.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Panda: A Guide Horse For Ann
Rosanna Hansen
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431
1590781848 $19.95

Neil Soderstrom's color photos in Panda: A Guide Horse For Ann lend to a very lively survey of one Panda, a real-life guide horse who guides her owner. But Panda isn't a full-sized horse: she's a miniature horse only as tall as her owner's thigh - and she's as good as a guide dog, being one of the first to be trained as a guide animal. Picturebook readers in grades 2-4 will find Panda: A Guide Horse For Ann to be an enthralling story of the little horse, nicely enhanced by Neil Soderstrom's vivid color photos.

The Nature Shelf

The Weather: Clouds
Terry Jennings
Smart Apple Media/Chrysalis Ed.
2140 Howard Drive West, North Mankato, MN 56003
1593891474 $27.10 1-800-445-6209

Weather books always have chapters on clouds - but how many books offer stand-alone, in-depth coverage of clouds for the very young in grades 1-3? The 32 pages in The Weather: Clouds hold very large print, very bright photos, and very easy reading for any young child who has an interest in clouds. Ranging from what makes a cloud to rain properties to the different classifications of them, The Weather: Clouds is an easy, informative read.

The Easy Reader Shelf

Holiday House
425 Madison Ave., New York NY 10017

Kids at the Level 2 reading stage will appreciate Karen Gray Ruelle's Great Groundhogs! (0823419304, $14.95), a very simple reader story celebrating Groundhog Day. It's nearly the Day - but where are the groundhogs? Emily is trying to lure them with marshmallows - but she's not sure it'll work… Carol Wallace's Turkeys Together (0823418952, $15.95) provides the same age group (grades 1-2) with another large-type reader with short chapters and plenty of pictures. Here an angry Mother Turkey finds someone is stealing her eggs, and Dog goes on an investigation of the perp. Can he fool a clever egg thief?

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

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