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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 22, Number 11 November 2012 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Math Shelf Social Issues Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Biography Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Fiction Shelf Board Book Shelf Easy Reader Shelf
Picturebook Shelf Christmas Shelf Holiday Shelf
Music Shelf Activity Shelf Education Shelf
Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf
DVD Shelf Multimedia Shelf Christian Shelf
Judaic Shelf Buddhist Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf
Self-Help Shelf Sports Shelf American History Shelf
Multicultural Shelf Art Shelf Science Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Bilingual Shelf Gardening Shelf
Dance Shelf Reference Shelf Books in Series

Reviewer's Choice

Soup Should Be Seen, Not Heard! A Complete Manners Book for Kids
Beth Brainard, author/illustrator
Good Idea Kids, LLC
P.O. Box 675, Hingham, MA 02043
9780615524078, $16.99,

"Soup Should Be Seen, Not Heard!" is a creative kids' etiquette handbook, a complete manners book with a free mobile compatible companion available on the author's website. Loaded with good practical advice and modern interpretations of basic courtesy standards based on the Golden Rule, "Soup Should Be Seen, Not Heard!" is the answer to a parent's and a teacher's prayer. The emphasis is definitely on being considerate and kind to others, as opposed to formal rules or outdated standards. For example, a summary politeness policy is: "Always be the best you can be - never be rude (p. 8)." Interesting dilemmas of the technoage are creatively addressed, such as what to do and/or say when answering a cell phone call when involved in an activity with others, or how to respond politely to "call waiting" signals (pp 35-36). Charming and humorous illustrations take a playful approach to the thorny problems of social niceties, in a casual way that will appeal to kids. There are even great specific suggestions for how to dress for different occasions, such as when to wear play clothes, casual clothes, or dressy clothes. The Good Idea Kids ( Parker Payne, T. J. Ruiz, Emily Adams and Susie Sage, and their dog Vitamin) are the good manners guides in "Soup Should Be Seen, Not Heard!" covering etiquette questions about basic courtesy, introductions, telephone etiquette, table manners, writing messages, grooming and dressing, party manners, and politeness in public places. The world today can be confusing to young and old alike. "Soup Should Be Seen, Not Heard!" can help middle elementary age kids (and up) learn the basics about common courtesy in a fun, practical, compact format. The spiral binding and short recipe size pages are also an appealing and practical part of the package of "Soup Should Be Seen, Not Heard!"

A Soldier's Secret
Marissa Moss
Amulet Books
c/o Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
115 West 18th Street, 6th floor
New York, NY 10011
9781419704277 $16.95

A Soldier's Secret: The Incredible True Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero is a novel based on the true story of Sarah Emma Edmonds, who disguised herself as a man to escape an arranged marriage and served the Union during the American Civil War. Sarah's story is notably different from that of an estimated four hundred other women who disguised themselves to serve as Civil War soldiers, in that she was entirely on her own - other women of the era served alongside male relatives or fiances (one had pretended to be a man all her life). Told from Sarah's perspective, A Soldier's Secret chronicles her double identity as Frank Thompson, who served as both a nurse and as a spy who traveled behind Rebel lines and put his life on the line to bring back valuable intelligence. A Soldier's Secret is a captivating read cover to cover, particularly ideal for teenagers, but adults will find the dramatic story fascinating as well. A "Story Behind the Story" postscript offers more about Sarah's remarkable life, as well as noting the few places in which author Marissa Moss took creative liberties. A handful of Union Army officer biographies, a civil war timeline, and a brief bibliography round out this choice pick for both school and public library historical fiction collections.

Can I Bring Woolly to the Library, Ms. Reeder?
Lois G. Grambling, author
Judy Love, illustrator
85 Main street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781580892827, $16.95 hc,

"Can I Bring Woolly to the Library, Ms. Reeder?" is a humorous mammoth tale about a boy who asks the librarian if he can bring his favorite mammoth friend, Woolly, to the library. Filled with funny images and ideas, as well as wacky colored illustrations, "Can I Bring Woolly to the Library, Ms. Reeder?" is a wonderful foray in to the fantastic and preposterous. Not only does it become evident that Woolly would not really make a good library page, there also are hints that Woolly might have hidden talents that can help him to help Ms. Reeder to enforce some good library practices on some less considerate library patrons, including the stingy Mayor Pinchpenny. Stuffed with hyperbole and inflated with in-jokes for library patrons, the total effect of "Can I Bring Woolly to the Library, Ms. Reeder?" is ridiculous and hilarious. The author has written several similar titles including "Can I Bring My Pterodactyl to School, Ms. Johnson?" and also plans an upcoming title about (perhaps) a saber-toothed tiger? Stay tuned to this innovative, side-splitting series of educational books for children ages 5-8.

Sammy the Tin Man
Lisa C. Ockun, author
Brandon Coleman, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781468543285, $19.99,

"Sammy the Tin Man" is a sensitive story about a boy named Sammy who is grieving for the death of his father. Sammy faces many changes in his life, moving to a new home, new school, and creating a new life with his mother and brother without his father, who died of a sudden heart attack. Stunned by these traumatic changes, Sammy feels like the Tin Man, an empty shell without any heart. Gradually he meets new teachers and students and learns to participate in his new school life. He imagines his father in the back shadows of an auditorium, watching him from a distance. Somehow his father's image encourages Sammy to experience his own warm heart beat again, and Sammy feels permission to live and be happy, knowing he is not an empty shell. Sammy realizes that he can keep his 10 years of good memories of his father forever . Best of all, Sammy is able to tell his father, one more time, that he loves him. "Sammy the Tin Man" is a wonderful resource for kids all about opening to new life after experiencing profound loss, with an emphasis on the crucial medium of the arts, including theater, in expressing and resolving both pain and grief.

And Still They Bloom
Amy Rovere, author
Joel Spector, illustrator
American Cancer Society
250 Williams Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30303
9781604430363, $14.95,

"And Still They Bloom: A Family's Journey of Loss and Healing" is a sensitive book written for children 8-12 years old who are coping with the death of a parent due to cancer. "And Still They Bloom" is drawn from the author's experience of the loss of her mother at the age of nine years. Filled with quiet moments and sensitive reactions to the many feelings associated with death and loss, "And Still They Bloom" presents some positive thoughts and ideas to hold on to during a painful time of transition. It also explores the children's reactions in a quiet, non-judgmental way, providing supportive frameworks and hopeful centering thoughts, such as the feeling that the deceased parent is always present in the child's ongoing life. A pain lessens when the child sees blooming daffodils that were once planted by the mother who is gone. "And Still They Bloom" is enhanced by compassionate illustrations of the family experiencing the death acceptance transitions. "And Still They Bloom" is a useful tool or help to children age 8 and up who are facing the loss of a loved one due to cancer or other cause. Additional resources and a list of other books published by the American Cancer Society is included at the end of the book.

Adalyn's Clare
Kari Dunn Buron
Autism Asperger Publishing Company
PO Box 23173
Shawnee Mission, KS 66283
9781937473228, $12.00,

Not everyone can prove to be a very social person. "Adalyn's Clare" is a story for elementary readers telling of lonely Adalyn who struggles to make friends with people, but loves the science room and its critters. Assigned a therapy puppy in Clare, she starts to learn much about the world and friendship in all of its forms. A choice pick especially for young people who may struggle to find friendships, "Adalyn's Clare" is a treasure with a positive message, very much recommended reading.

If I Had As Many Grandchildren As You...
Lori Stewart, author
Palmar Press
c/o KSB Promotions
55 Honey Creek NE, Ada, MI 49301
9780983929307 $19.95

"If I Had As Many Grandchildren As You..." is a stimulating versed generational advice package to grandparents, from the jaws of Grand Paws, the lion, who believes in the value of intergenerational bonding through fun adventures and creative activities. Every page is half witty narrative verse and half vivid colorful photographs of exciting things to share between grandchildren and grandparents. From a wildlife parade to a fantastic assortment of artfully crafted driftwood horses, to a fantastic photo of the sunset green flash phenomena, here is a host of stimulating experiences to share. It is the job of grandparents to help make lasting memories with grandchildren, and Grand Paws has some spectacular ideas of exactly how to achieve that! "If I Had As Many Grandchildren As You..." is a fabulous reminder of the limitless joys of creative grandparenting, and is a suitable gift for children age 3 and up and all grandparents everywhere.

The Math Shelf

Help Me Learn Subtraction
Jean Marzollo, author
Chad Phillips, photographs
Holiday House
425 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017
9780823424016 $15.95

Ideal for children in kindergarten or first grade, Help Me Learn Subtraction is a simple book that uses appealing photographs of adorable crafted animals to clearly illustrate basic addition and subtraction. "5 birds in a tree. / 2 fly away. That leaves ____ (3). / Five minus two equals three. / 5 - 2 = 3. / If 5 - 2 =3, does 3 + 2 = 5? / Yes! Subtraction is the opposite of addition." Help Me Learn Subtraction is an excellent teaching tool for parents and educators to share with young children, and an excellent choice for early childhood picturebook collections, as well as for public and kindergarten school libraries. Also highly recommended is Holiday House's yes-and-no picturebook "Ollie's School Day" by Stephanie Calmenson (9780823423774, $15.95), featuring zany color illustrations and simple yes-or-no questions that illustrate the basic good social behaviors expected of a child during a school day.

The Social Issues Shelf

The Legend of the Bully Slayer: The Dishonor Roll
T. S. Romney, author
Old Line Publishing LLC
P.O. Box 624, Hampstead, MD 21074
9781937004613, $11.95,

"The Legend of the Bully Slayer: The Dishonor Roll" is a quirky chapter book for middle elementary students with some new ideas about how to deal with bullies and bullying. Alex and Nic are beginning third grade at Bill Penn Elementary, where they have encountered bullying acts including name calling, dodge ball attacks, toilet swirlies, and more. They discover an ad for a Bully Slayer while being held upside down for a toilet swirly, and decide to follow up. A wisecracking third grade student named Matheson is their unlikely hero Bully Slayer. What happens after that is prime reading for kids, both those who have been bullied and those who bully. The fast pace, light humor, and offbeat approach keep "The Legend of the Bully Slayer" from being preachy, or boring, or too adult in tone. Kids will love "The Legend of the Bully Slayer," and parents and teachers will want to arm themselves and their children with its bracing survival armor of humor.

We're All Different But We're All Kitty Cats: First Day of School
Peter J. Goodman, author
Nicolas Milano, illustrator
Dream Big Press
9780985068301 $16.95

We're All Different But We're All Kitty Cats: First Day of School is a children's picturebook designed to help parents talk to young people about bullying, the importance of self-confidence, and the virtue of tolerance. It's the first day of school for the young kitty cat Carlos, but unlike all his other classmates, he doesn't have any fur! What is he to do when the other kitty cats laugh at him? "'Well, each kitty in your class looks different, right? But they are still kitty cats,' his mommy said. 'One day you'll see just how special you are.'" Carlos plucks up the courage to return to school the next day, and discovers that he has his own special talents - including a better grasp of letters than his classmates! A heartwarming story that can serve as an excellent starting point for a serious parent-child conversation, We're All Different But We're All Kitty Cats is highly recommended.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Woody and the Hens
Becky Shuford, author
Rena MacQueen, illustrator
New Hanover Printing & Publishing
2145 Wrightsville Avenue, Wilmington, NC 28403
970983061687, $16.95,

"Woody and the Hens" is a charming true story about a talented, mischievous Border Collie named Woody, who hid and then found fresh hens' eggs for his family. Grandma Reni and PaPa have their five beautiful young grandchildren to visit on the farm. Woody is their faithful black and white Border Collie, who loves rounding up animals, hens, children and just about anything, even a big snapping turtle named Rocket. Woody especially loves rounding up the five grandchildren- Curran, Ford, Trevor, Ryan, Elizabeth, and baby Rebecca Kimball. One day the five grandchildren helped Grandma Reni collect beautiful different colored eggs from their lovely specialty hens of different breeds and styles. The children help collect three baskets of the lovely, precious, fresh eggs, and they placed them gently on the farmhouse porch, out of the sun, then ran off to play. Woody watched the entire egg collecting activity closely. Some time later, Grandma Reni noticed the three egg baskets on the porch were all empty! Suspicious of the culprit, she called Woody to come and help find the eggs! Woody actually returned with two undamaged eggs in his mouth! Then, with stern commands to help find the other eggs, Woody carefully led the children and Grandma Reni to all the other hidden eggs, each of which was returned undamaged except for Woody's dog drool. One of the grandchildren suggested Woody was practicing for Easter, while another suggested that Woody be given plastic eggs to hide and seek for instead. Finally the family returns to the farmhouse with all the eggs and the children are offered a breakfast treat of German Apple Pancakes and Peaches and Cream French Toast, all made with the specialty hens' beautiful eggs! "Woody and the Hens" is immeasurably enriched by the exquisitely sensitive, Impressionist-influenced paintings in sunny and earthen color tones that illustrate the farm life setting for "Woody and the Hens." These are created by an award winning artist, Rena MacQueen. In addition, there are two excellent recipes for German Apple Pancakes and Peaches and Cream French Toast, plus a glossary of vocabulary terms. "Woody and the Hens" is a delightful animal story that can be used to teach counting, plus the significance of loyalty, friendship, and being helpful. "Woody and the Hens" is perfect storybook reading material for children age 6 and up.

Emmy of Whistling Well Farm
Charlie Johnson, author
Barb Bjornson, illustrator
Beaver's Pond Press
7108 Ohms Lane, Edina, MN 55439
9781592984398, $16.95,

"Emmy of Whistling Well Farm" is a charming illustrated biography of a beloved springer spaniel named Emmy who supervises the apple orchards of Whistling Well Farm, in Basswood Grove, Minnesota. Emmy joyously oversees orchard cultivating activities in all four seasons, winter, spring, summer and fall. Emmy loves to welcome guests to visit Whistling Well Farm especially in the fall, when unusual apple varieties such as Honeycrisp, SweeTango, Zestar, SnowSweet, Haralson, and Riverbelle apples are ripe and available for sale. Whistling Well Farm also has pumpkins, honeybees, and chrysanthemums for sale in the autumn. Emmy makes sure the crows and gophers and farm animals do not raid the precious apple crops and vegetables before they can be picked, sorted, and sold. Emmy joins in work and play, all normal activities at Whistling Well Farm. She loves to be included in photos of families who come to visit Whistling Well Farm, and she is happy to rest with her owner, Charlie Johnson, when day's work is done. "Emmy of Whistling Well Farm" is an ideal autumn beloved animal story for children age 4 and up. The charming color paintings are both realistic and just a bit fanciful, with an underlying tone of whimsy. This is a beautiful book that will make the reader want to taste the apples and see the well and other beautiful sights at Whistling Well Farm.

The Mystery of the Pheasants
Mark Meierhenry and David Volk, authors
Susan Turnbull, illustrator
South Dakota State Historical Society Press
900 Governors Dr., Pierre, S. Dak. 57501
9780984504190, $14.95,

"The Mystery of the Pheasants" tells an interesting true story about the introduction in 1909 of the Chinese ring-necked pheasant to the plains of South Dakota, where they survived and flourished and eventually became famous as the state bird representative of South Dakota. On the third week of October, an annual pheasant hunt is celebrated in South Dakota. Twins Hannah and Max are taking part in the hunt for the first time. The exciting conclusion of this historical story weaves in many traditions and threads of an educational nature. "The Mystery of the Pheasants" is excellent reading for children age 8 and up.

Fidget's Folly
Stacey Patterson, author
Vadim Gorbatov, illustrator
Mountain Press Publishing Company
PO Box 2399
Missoula, MT 59806
9780878425945 $18.00

Published in cooperation with the Raptor Education Foundation (, whose mission includes promoting environmental literacy, Fidget's Folly is a captivating children's picturebook about a pair of peregrine falcon siblings preparing to strike out on their own. Both Fidget and her brother Echo were hatched in an incubator by humans, placed in a box nestled on a cliff, and given food until they could learn to fly and hunt on their own. Although Fidget's Folly is fictional, both the story and the beautiful color illustrations are biologically accurate. Not only do Fidget and her brother learn to fly and dive, they also seize and devour smaller birds as their prey! "Fidget set her course on an ancient avian flyway. She lifted her wings and looked around. All was clear. Fidget beat her wings to the call of time. With a last glance at her branch and the box, Fidget left her valley behind." As educational as it is absorbing, Fidget's Folly is worthy of the highest recommendation for children's, school, and public library picturebook collections.

The Biography Shelf

Father Damien: Hawai'i's Saint
Rene Berthier and Marie-Helene Sigaut
The Fathers of the Sacred Hearts French and Belgian Provinces, authors
Cecile Schmitz and Klutt Mouchet, artists
Bess Press
3565 Harding Avenue, Honolulu, Hawai'i 96816
9781573063074, $14.95,

"Father Damien, Hawai'i's Saint" was first published by Univers Media in 1981 in French, under the title "Le Pere Damien: et le journal de la lutte contra la lepre." This new English translation, illustrating the life of Josef de Vuester, better known as blessed Father Damien, tells of the saint's life efforts working with Hawai'i's victims of Hansen's disease, or leprosy. Telling the saint's life story in comic book narrative form from his childhood in Flemish Beligum to his later life as a French priest caring for victims of leprosy, "Father Damien, Hawai'i's Saint" covers the 49 years of the priest's life from to 1840 to April 15, 1889, when he succumbed to the disease of leprosy, his life's dedication. The fast moving comic book narrative style allows young readers to progress quickly though a life of painful observations and harsh experiences, softened with resolute surety of grace, compassion, and devotion to expressing the will of God through caring for others. In addition to the hagiography of Father Damien, the book's cover displays a famous work of art depicting Father Damien, imagined and created by artist Peggy Chun in collaboration with students of Hawai'i's Holy Trinity Elementary School and Polish artist Magdalena Hawajska. In this painting, Father Damien reaches out and clasps one of many hands, symbolized by handprints, coming from the ocean in memory of the many Hawaiian victims of Hansen's disease who were thrown into the ocean to drown. In the background we see the Molokai cliffs, representing the idea that Father Damien moved mountains with love. The painting is a masterful collage or composite of thousands of watercolor squares of painting, each one painted by a child, showing the light of compassion and love coming out of the darkness of fear and oppression. Peggy Chun passed away November 19, 2008, of Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis. "Father Damien, Hawai'i's Saint" contains resource referrals to ILEP, an organization that supports medical, scientific, social and humanitarian efforts for the relief of persons afflicted by Hansen's disease ( and, for the work of the cover artist.

Kateri Tekakwitha, Model of Bravery
Barbara Yoffie, author
Katherine A. Borgatti, illustrator
Liguori Publications
One Liguori Drive, Liguori, MO 63057
9780764822377, $4.99,

"Kateri Tekakwitha, Model of Bravery" is a child's hagiography of the Mohawk Catholic saint (1656-1680) who was the first North American native American saint from New York state. Part of the Saints and Me! series of children's books about Catholic saints, "Kateri Tekakwitha, Model of Bravery" is one of six books in a set titled Saints of North America. Kateri's story is written in simple language and colorfully illustrated. Kateri's father was a Mohawk chief and her mother was from the Christian Algonquin tribe. Both parents fell ill and died of smallpox when Kateri was little. Though Kateri survived, she was weakened by the disease, and her eyes were sensitive to sunlight. Later she enjoyed learning stories of Jesus from the black robes, or Christian missionaries. This did not make her esteemed or popular among other people in her village. Eventually Kateri was baptized and given the Christian name of Katherine. Then she was taken to the St. Francis Xavier Mission, a long journey of two months away. Here she lived until she died of an illness, celebrated for her kindness and bravery and known as the Lily of the Mohawks. A special prayer inspired by St. Kateri concludes the book, along with vocabulary words and further information about the Saints of North America series.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Bertie the Bookworm and the Bully Boys
Trisha Sugarek, author
Jefferson O'Neal, illustrator
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781469912509, $17.95,

"Bertie the Bookworm and the Bully Boys" is book III in the Fabled Forest Series, written for children ages 1-12, an illustrated early chapter book for excited pre-novella readers. A cast of familiar but colorful magical forest characters parade through this gentle teaching tale about bullying, the value of literacy, and ageism. All the Fabled Forest residents who wish to attend a regular spelling and reading circle with Bertie the Bookworm, a wise forest elder. However Slam and his group of bully boys have repeatedly disrupted this learning circle with their behavior. Cheets, an adorable elf who is testing the difference between right and wrong, needs to learn a lesson about tolerance and choosing not to aid in bullying. Will Bertie be allowed to continue his literacy teaching without harassment? Will Pansy, a pixie who defends literacy and truth and also Bertie, be able to help Cheets learn to make wise choices in behavior and friends? Many nods to familiar fairytale characters weave in and out of the story gracefully, and the magical Fabled Forest is a good learning ground for all. Children of middle school age will enjoy this combination of fantasy and reality in a good manners and literacy teaching package. The colorful illustrations add just the right touch of mystery and fantasy to the story.

Jenny and the Hummingbird Faeries
S.R. Zales
Dog Ear Publishing
4010 W. 86th Street, Ste H
Indianapolis, IN 46268
9781457513305 $14.95

Jenny and the Hummingbird Faeries is a fantasy chapter book for preteen and teen readers, featuring the 12-year-old tomboy Jenny, who befriends the magical Hummingbird Faeries of Catalina Island. An invasion of deadly Black Globs threatens the faeries, while the proliferation of Blood Blossom Trees threatens to smother the island's delicate ecosystem. In order to protect the vulnerable and preserve the balance, she must battle the malevolent sorcerer Dex Cobben. With the aid of her pet cat, Jenny must discover her own identity as a White Witch and confront her own deepest fears as well as the machinations of her enemies! A captivating read from cover to cover, Jenny and the Hummingbird Faeries is especially recommended for young girls.

Arthur Quinn
Alan Early
c/o Dufour Editions, Inc.
PO Box 7
Chester Springs, PA 19425-0007
9781856359986, $13.95,

Gods tend to not die very easily. "Arthur Quinn and the Fenris Wolf" is a youth fantasy from Alan Early, following the continuing story of Arthur Quinn after he defeated the Viking god Loki and staved him off the advances against the world. But Loki may be on the verge of returning, and Arthur and his friends must rise to the challenge again to foil his plots. "Arthru Quinn and the Fenris Wolf" is a must for those who seeking quality young adult fantasy, not to be missed.

Johnny Graphic and the Etheric Bomb
D. R. Martin
Conger Road Press
9780985019617, $15.99,

Newspaper photography gets a tad more difficult when sometimes your subjects are dead. "Johnny Graphic and the Etheric Bomb" is a novel drawing from classic pulpy style of the 1930s, following Johnny Graphic, aspiring photographer, as he discovers ghosts covering every level of his desired career path. Finding ghosts friendly and hostile, he rushes to protect his sister from the later, a task more difficult than he knows. "Johnny Graphic and the Etheric Bomb" is a strong pick for young adult readers, highly recommended.

Escape to Mars
Greg Krehbiel
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781477443682, $9.99,

Science gone awry may end the Earth, but science will also give it another chance. "Escape to Mars" is a young adult science fiction adventure as Billy Chen and Amber Harris flee from a Black Hole consuming the earth to start a new life on Mars. It won't be easy, but the two pre-teens are up to the challenge. "Escape to Mars" is a fun read for young science fiction enthusiasts, recommended.

Light & Dark
D. M. Fife
Privately Published
9780985324704, $9.99,

Growing up grows ever more difficult when you're charged with standing against the forces of evil. "Light & Dark" is a young adult fantasy from D. M. Fife who tells of Danny Firoth, eighth grader and Knight of the Light. With his friends, he is put through rigorous training and the time to use that training draws close far too quickly for the quickly aging teen. "Light & Dark" is a fun read for those who enjoy youth fantasy, much recommended.

Castle Falcon
Tom Alan Brosz
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781477506158, $14.99 pbk. / $2.99 Kindle,

A castle provides much security, but what is security without life? "Castle Falcon" is a young adult fantasy following castle bound youths who try to escape their cage that their family sealed them inside. As they break out, they see a world very much problematic, and that they might have to meet some weird people to help them save the world that they were shielded from. "Castle Falcon" is a strong pick for youths who love fantasy and unusual worlds.

Marta Stahlfeld
Book Publishers Network
PO Box 2256, Bothell, WA 98041
9781937454371, $16.95,

As one's city hangs in the balance, one has to understand fast how to best win the day. "Pasadagavra" is the second book in the Darkwoods series from teenage writer Marta Stahlfeld as she presents a fantasy very much geared towards her age group as Zuryzel comes of age and finds the weight of the world thrust upon her to bring the support needed to save the Stone Tribe City. "Pasadagavra" is a read well worth considering for young adult fantasy and fiction collections, recommended.

Deadtime Stories: Little Magic Shop of Horrors
Annette and Gina Cascone
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765330758, $14.99,

Deadtime Stories: Little Magic Shop of Horrors tells of Peter Newman, who wants to win a fancy mountain bike which is the grand prize for his school's talent competition. The only problem is: he needs to identify and demonstrate a winning talent. So when he and his best friend see an ad for the Little magic Shop of Horrors, they spring for a magic kit and Peter becomes "Peter the Great" with some extraordinary tricks that apparently can't be undone. Heady drama evolves in a satisfying supernatural thriller perfect for grades 4-6.

Be My Enemy
Ian McDonald
59 John Glenn Drive
Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616146788, $16.95,

BE MY ENEMY is book two of the Everness series and continues the story of Everett Singh, who has escaped from the clutches of Charlotte Villiers and the Order only to find his father missing in one of the billions of parallel universes out there. Everett and his crew have taken a random jump to a random parallel planet where Everett plans to rescue his family - but Charlotte is a step ahead, and a complex story of world-hopping alternate universes evolves where Everett and his crew face evil, corrupted power, nanotechnology gone awry, and more. Young adult science fiction enthusiasts will find this a complex, fast-paced story perfect for leisure browsing.

HarperCollins Children's Books
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022

Two fine Derek the Ghost 'Scary School' titles just missed mention for our October issue but deserve year-round recommendation for any advanced elementary reader who likes a good scare. Scott M. Fischer's whimsical and appealing black and white illustrations pepper both books, introduced by SCARY SCHOOL (9780061960925, $15.99), in which an entire school is populated by scary inhabitants, from the 850-year old vampire Ms. Fang to a host of monsters, including Frankenstein. The narrator's no ordinary kid either, but an eleven-year-old ghost who is the new kid in school and who makes some Scary friends at the school. It's not all about terror - it's about fun, in this whimsical story recommended for grades 4 and up. Those who like this scary account will also relish its Scary School sequel MONSTERS ON THE MARCH (9780061906956, $15.99), which follows the students of Scary School on a field trip to a Monster Forest, where they encounter the Monster King's toad-faced daughter Princess Zogette, who falls for one of the students and follows him back to Scary School. A host of armies are raised on both sides as the school struggles with its new dangerous inhabitants in this funny, whimsical survey.

Scholastic Press
557 Broadway
New York, NY 10012-3999

M.T. Anderson's THE CHAMBER IN THE SKY (9780545334938, $17.99) tells of Brian and Gregory, trapped in a world under invasion. Most people are in denial - but Brian and Gregory know that if they can't find a way to escape, the rest of Earth will fall to the Thusser invaders, who have already made part of Vermont hostage, sucking on people's dreams. Their only hope is a chamber that has been traveling for years and holds the ability to stop all the chaos - if they can find it. A satisfying science fiction story evolves, perfect for grades 5-7. R.L. Stine is best known for his 'Goosebumps' series and returns with WANTED: THE HAUNTED MASK (9780545417938, $15.99), telling of Lu-Ann Franklin who usually loves Halloween - but not this year. Her best friend will be out of town, she has to go to a boring party - but her doldrums are shaken when she encounters a real haunted mask even as her best friend is encountering a deadly secret on a pumpkin farm. It may have arrived too late for Halloween mention, but fans of spooky supernatural fiction will find lasting attraction to this scary story, recommended for grades 4-7. Chris Westwood's GRAVEYARD SHIFT (9780545399197, $17.99) tells of Ben Harvester, who meets the mysterious Mr. October in a London cemetery only to find his life changed by knowledge of a Ministry of Pandemonium, a secret organization that tracks down lost souls and guides them to the afterlife. Mr. October wants Ben to be his newest apprentice - and he is introduced to a world of ghosts, magic, and horror as he realizes the Ministry isn't the only organization hunting down the newly dead. Chills and thrills for grades 4-6 make this a fine pick.

The Fiction Shelf

Doin' It
Ayshia Monroe
Saddleback Publishing Inc.
3120 Pullman Street
Cosa Mesa, CA 92626-4564
9781616516697 $9.95

The eighth paperback in the urban-themed "Juicy Central" series of novels featuring African-American characters, and written especially to appeal to struggling readers, Doin' It follows the stable-minded young woman Kiki, who has grand dreams for her future. But she also has a heart-tingling relationship with Sean. The physical and emotional lures to "do it" are very strong; how long can she hold out? Will pursuing her ambitions come at the cost of her love life? An accessible story about dealing with hard choices, and sometimes even misinformation from one's own peer group, Doin' It is highly recommended especially for school library collections. Also a choice pick is book seven in the series, "The Fake Date" (9781616516673, $9.95), about a furious girl jilted just before the prom, who devises a pride-saving plan to attend with the most glamorous date imaginable, even if it isn't quite real!

Thompson Twins Las Vegas Adventure
Lesa Hammond, PhD., author
Tom Hall, illustrator
Achievement U, Inc.
1547 Palos Verdes Mall #171, Walnut Creek, CA 94597
9780615604640, $7.95,

"Thompson Twins Las Vegas Adventure" is Book One of Everyday Role Model Series written especially to appeal to low income, inner city 8-12 year old children. A fast moving chapter book with black and white illustrations, "Thompson Twins Las Vegas Adventure" tells an exciting story about Carlos and Letty Thompson, fifth grade twins living with their mother in Oakland, California, who fly to Las Vegas to visit their father. The twins encounter their Grandmother Thompson and also their father upon their arrival at the Las Vegas airport. Little do they know they are about to have the adventure of their lives. They meet their uncle Skeeter, who also happens to be Vice President of Human Resources at the New York Hotel and Casino, also known as Mr. Wilson. They even get their picture taken with Phoenix Skye, a famous television star. Best of all, they help solve a missing persons mystery, ride a roller coaster ride, and get a full picture of Mr. Wilson's very interesting and attractive job. The bi-racial background of the Thompson twins is casually presented in the languages (Spanish and English) and special home cooked foods used by both sets of relatives. "Thompson Twins Las Vegas Adventure" fulfills its goal of presenting a real person in a positive, attainable profession, with added culturally relevant material for low-income urban children. "Thompson Twins Las Vegas Adventure" also packs a powerful entertainment punch that will make it especially attractive to kids of all ages. Keep watching for the second book of the series, "Thompson Twins Call the Cops."

What A Pair: Mattie & Mark Miller, Double Trouble
Wanda E. Brunstetter, author
Barbour Publishing Inc.
P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683
9781616266615, $5.99,

Set in the large Amish community in Holmes County, Ohio, "What A Pair, Mark & Mattie Miller, Double Trouble" is a rollicking chapter adventure story about the funny adventures of some highly individual 9-year old twins. Studded with German Dutch vocabulary words from the Revised Pennsylvania Dutch Dictionary of Lancaster County, Ohio, "What A Pair!" includes many details about daily life and customs among the Amish community. A glossary and an introduction provide helpful information about the life of the Amish. What carries the interest of a young audience is the humor, quick action, and daily loving irritations that abound in life with a twin who is really nothing like you. An underlying message of seeking to live a life according to Bible teachings and for the good of the larger community is also evident. In the end Mark and Mattie discover that they are in fact two different components of a very formidable team, and they decide to overcome petty differences and work for the greater good in their lives. "What A Pair!" is the first book of a series that will have large appeal for children ages 8 and up.

Edith Rose and Friends
Ron Tomanio
One Voice Press
27 Walkern Road, Essex, MD 21221
9780983556121, $11.95,

To be abandoned by parents and family, left to rely on the kindness of strangers..."Edith Rose and Friends" is a young adult novella from Ron Tomanio who writes of the lost Edith Rose, looking for someplace to belong as she lands in a foster home, looking for a way to soar above her life. A touching story focusing on the struggles many older kids face in foster care, "Edith Rose and Friends" is a must for general fiction collections for younger readers.

My Monster Burrufu
Alberto Corral, author
Alessandra Sorrentino, illustrator
Petite Grande Idee
9780615459349, $8.95,

"My Monster Burrufu" is a wonderful black and white illustrated chapter book about embracing your inner monster friend for middle elementary readers. Seven year old Olivia has moved to a new home that appears to be the dwelling place of a curious monster, with literary talent and longings. Created by a talented former DreamWorks Animation author, "My Monster Burrufu" is witty, unpredictable, funny, and very moving. It leads to some surprising conclusions about creativity and ideas about finding blessings of friendship in extremely unlikely packages. The lovable monster friend Burrufu snuggles close to Olivia's heart, after a somewhat traumatic introduction, and a ritual of maturation and learning to let go of childhood's cherished moments ensues. All is presented in a humorous, easy style with no false awkward moments or pauses in characterization. These pages are sure to become cherished by children who read them and by adults who love them.

Ashen Winter
Mike Mullin
Tanglewood Publishing
4400 Hulman Street, Terre Haute, IN 47803
9781933718750, $17.95,

The world was forever changed, yet people still seek to survive through it all. "Ashen Winter" the second book in Mike Mullin's Ashfall Trilogy, sent in a world where a Yellowstone Supervolcano erupts and utterly changes the world. Alex and Darla try to survive with their family, but competition for resources to survive is fierce. Their journey pushes Alex to his limit, and will test the young man. A riveting novel of post-apocalypse for young adults, "Ashen Winter" is highly recommended.

Way of the Shaman
Ken Altabef
Blueberry Lane Books
110 BlueberryLane, Hicksville, NY 11801
9780983006459, $14.99,

To see the spirit and will of everything is the path of the Shaman. "Way of the Shaman" is a novel of young Ulruk, an Inuit boy charged with the path of Shamanism for his Anatatook people. His path to earning the title will be long, and he's unsure of his journey, especially when everyone seems out to end it! "Way of the Shaman" is well worth considering for fans of the Inuit cultures and mythology, highly recommended for teens and adults.

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

Tonya Hurley's THE BLESSED (9781442429512, $17.99) tells of three lost girls who struggle with their own personal demons, from a suicidal romantic to a music lover with no self-respect and a girl who appears to have it all but finds her superficial lifestyle empty. All three wind up in the same hospital one night - and each awake with a token from the mysterious Sebastian, who has a secret plan for each of them. Their discovery of who Sebastian is and his plans for their future will change their lives in this fine thriller for grades 5-7. Carmen Rodrigues' 34 PIECES OF YOU (9781422439061, $16.99) follows the aftermath of the death of charismatic and broken Ellie, who has involved three peers in her life. After her death all three are left to pick up the pieces - and the clues she left behind which are actually secrets to her life. All three have their own secrets - and slowly come to discover that Ellie has hidden the greatest secret of them all in this moving saga. Dia Calhoun's EVA OF THE FARM (9781442417007, $16.99) tells of pre-teen Eva, who knows her family's farm is the best place in the world, even though it houses dangers as well. Eva writes poems about her experiences and dreams of being a heroine - but she's not faced challenges before a blight strikes their orchard and her home falls into foreclosure. It's up to her to save the farm - and discover new strengths from the land in this fine story.

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

Anna Jarzab's THE OPPOSITE OF HALLELUJAH (9780385738361, $16.99) tells of Caro, who considers herself an only child and likes it that way. Her much-older sister left home eight years ago and Caro barely recalls her - so when her parents tell her Hannah is returning to live with them, Caro feels like a stranger is invading her space. Unable to understand her sister, Caro begins telling lies about her reappearance in their lives - and finds herself entwined in a complicated mesh of issues when the unexpected truth comes to life. A fine novel of family relationships and survival. Adele Griffin's ALL YOU NEVER WANTED (9780375870828, $16.99) tells of sisters who are planning the party of the year when their parents go out of town for the weekend. The only trouble is, the sisters have very different plans for success - and one involves a younger sister's quest for her older sister's beauty and popularity. It's a weekend that will change their lives and challenge their family ties in this riveting story of change. Graham McNamee's BEYOND: A GHOST STORY (9780385737753, $15.99) tells of Jane, badly injured in an accident and resurrected after her heart stopped for five minutes. Only she comes back with a memory of something menacing that tried to take away her soul - and has a newfound terror of its return into her life. BEYOND is a gripping saga that will keep fans of the supernatural on edge until its final unexpected conclusion. Carrie Ryan edits FORETOLD: 14 STORIES OF PROPHECY AND PREDICTION (9780385741293, $18.99) and compiles short tales by Meg Cabot, Lisa McMann, Carrie Ryan, and more. The theme is prophecies and each story blends in visions of the future, prediction, and the ability to change that future. Young adults fascinated with prediction's challenges and possibilities will find this an absorbing plot! C.K. Kelly Martin's YESTERDAY (9780373866500, $16.99) offers stories set in 2063 and 1985, both centered around Freya Kallas. In a future world Freya is a teen who lives in a world where extreme climate change has forced U.S. citizens to abandon the coasts, and where a robot working class and ecoterrorism are normal to Freya's life even as these systems are failing. In 1985 Freya has a new life when her mother moves - but her headaches and vague memories are leading to dreams of a place which can't possibly exist - or, can it? An engrossing story evolves, perfect for young adult fantasy readers. M.L. Welsh's HEART STONE (9780385752435, $16.99) tells of the ancient harbor town of Wellow which seems to be breaking apart. It's up to Verity and her friends to learn what is causing the town's roadways to fail - and their find the clues again lead to the four Keepers of the Elements, powerful witch sisters introduced in Mistress of the Storm. Fans of this prior fantasy will find HEART STONE a powerful sequel. Deborah Heiligman's INTENTIONS (9780375868610, $16.99) tells of Rachel, Jake, Adam and Alexis who find their interconnected worlds hitting a little too close to home. Rachel finds her belief systems crumbling - and also finds that good intentions aren't always enough in this story of betrayal, morals, and teen growth. Sophie Littiefield's HANGING BY A THREAD (9780385741040, $16.99) is set in Winston, California, where the traditional 4th of July celebration has been affected two years in a row by disappearances without a trace. The media are predicting a third disappearance, but Winston's residents are trying to calm the storm, while resident and seer Clare Knight finds herself in possession of a deadly gift that can solve the mystery and change the town's perceptions forever. A fine story of supernatural second sight and small town conflicts evolves. SAMMY KEYES AND THE POWER OF JUSTICE JACK by Wendelin Van Draanen (9780375870521, $16.99) tells of Sammy's encounter with Justice Jack, the town superhero who has been asked to track down a neighbor who vanished with a lot of cash. Sammy's friends think Justice Jack is admirable, but Sammy is not so sure of his real abilities and finds herself in the idle of a mystery in this fun detective story. Brian Falkner's THE ASSAULT (9780373869464, $17.99) is set in the future where humanity is losing its war against alien invaders, with Earth almost entirely conquered. There's only a handful of free territories still under human rule - and a team of six has been chosen to infiltrate the enemy's stronghold in Australia - six teens modified to look like aliens. They've spent years mastering alien culture - but the recon mission makes an astounding discovery and must face the fact that one of them is a traitor in this science fiction thriller, recommended for teens with a passion for the genre. Gina Linko's FLUTTER (9780375869969, $16.99) tells of Emery, who has suffered from seizures all her life. They're getting worse just as she entered her seventeenth year longing to be normal like everyone else, and are taking a physical toll on her. When she discovers her hospital sessions are meant to study the data they collect when she seizes, she escapes from the hospital and begins her own search for clues to her recovery in this vivid story blending romance, science fiction, and a coming-of-age saga. Matthew Cody's SUPER (9780375868948, $16.99) tells of Daniel Corrigan, who is a regular guy unlike others in his new hometown who have real super powers - only he's not really powerless. Only he could save his new friends from a villain who'd been terrorizing the Supers for centuries, destroying the Shroud in turn - and only now is Daniel beginning to come into his powers just as his friends are losing theirs. A very different saga of superpowers and abilities evolves in this fine sequel to the saga POWERLESS, especially recommended for prior fans.

The Board Book Shelf

In the Woods
Elizabeth Spurr, author
Manelle Oliphant, illustrator
Peachtree Publishers
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318
9781561455836, $6.95,

"Into the Woods" is a preschool children's illustrated pasteboard book, with sturdy pages of colored pictures with minimal text to encourage children's pre-reading observation skills. In a peaceful forest setting, a boy fishes to catch a fine rainbow colored fish. Later as it gets dark, a fine fire roasts the fish and also the marshmallow treats to follow, while the boy and his dad enjoy an evening of campfire banjo music and a night of sound sleeping in the tent. Sparse, alliterative rhyming text tells the story with masterful charm, along with the delightful, cheerfully realistic illustrations. "Into the Woods" is a study pasteboard book that will appeal to young children ages 1-3.

Michaelson Entertainment
36 Cabrillo Terrace
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656

Michaelson Entertainment has come up with a truly novel idea: creating board books with major league and university baseball and football team themes. Whether an ABC or a 1-2-3 board book, the featured team is represented with a profusion of full color images. Wether it is F for Football (plus field goal, fullback, and fumble) or 9 for nine Wisconsin souvenirs, these are ideal as gifts for the little guys and gals of enthusiastic sports team fans as judging by a sampling of just three out of the scores of available titles: "University of Wisconsin 123: My First Counting Book" (9781607300304, $12.95); NFL Football ABC: My First Alphabet Book" (9781607301493, $11.95); Major League Baseball ABC: My First Alphabet Book" (9781607300496, $11.95).

The Easy Reader Shelf

Cat Tale
Michael Hall
Greenwillow Books
10 East 53rd St., New York, NY 10022
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061915161 $16.99

Cat Tale is an easy reader picturebook ideal for young children, featuring three adventurous cats who experience the most unusual discoveries while reading together. The simple, boldly colored illustrations bring the most whimsical words to life. "They steer a plane. / They plane a board. / They board a train. / They train a duck to duck a shoe." Cat Tale is an uproariously fun read-aloud book, ideal for helping young people learn how reading can expand their imagination!

The Picturebook Shelf

My Name is Rebecca Romm
Rachel Levy Lesser, author
Sunny Lee, illustrator
Laredo Publishing Company
465 Westview Avenue, Englewood, NJ 07631
9781564923868, $16.95,

"My Name is Rebecca Romm" is a charming story about a freckle-faced girl with a special name from her grandmother, whom she resembles. Rebecca is not too pleased to be sharing her name and to be compared to her grandmother by visiting relatives. When she has to write a school report on her name, she dreads the experience. However, she finds all her classmates have very interesting stories to tell about why they were given their names. Ultimately, Rebecca realizes that she too was given a special gift in her name, and she decides to celebrate and accept it as a precious gift. "My Name is Rebecca Romm" is written in gently lilting narrative verse, which helps deliver the core message of self acceptance and love. Loving, detailed color illustrations add life, fun, and character to this charming tale of self discovery and acceptance, appropriate for children ages 6-10 or older.

Twitch the Squirrel and the Forbidden Bridge
Don M. Winn, author
Dave Allred, illustrator
Cardboard Box Adventures, Publisher
9781937615109, $7.99,

"Twitch the Squirrel and the Forbidden Bridge: A Cardboard Box Adventure Book" is a colorful illustrated teaching story about the importance of respecting parents' rules. Twitch the squirrel is a cocky, daredevil young adventurer who likes to meet a challenge. Although his parents have warned him to stay away from the rotten rope bridge across the dangerous, deep ravine, Twitch is tempted by a tree chock full of nuts on the other side. Despite his parents' warning rules, he decides to cross the bridge to gather lots of nuts to feed his friends and family, and also to show off a little. Unfortunately disaster strikes and Twitch's rope bridge breaks when he is on his return trip with a load of nuts. Brave Twitch is able to hang on and swing to a tiny crack in the wall of the ravine, while calling for help from his Dad and other squirrels. The birds and animals relay his cry for help while he hangs on, and his Dad finally comes to rescue him. Meanwhile, Twitch has an epiphany about the reason for his parents rules, including avoiding the rotten rope bridge in the first place. He promises to obey his parents' rules in the future. Discussion questions at the end of "Twitch the Squirrel and the Forbidden Bridge" can help explain the need for parents rules and children's cooperation with them. The story of Twitch is told in jaunty, narrative verse, which helps drive further its appealing and exciting moral to a young childhood audience.

Holy Smokestacks! Here Comes a Steam Engine!
Brandon Terrell, author
Brian Barber, illustrator
Beaver's Pond Press
7108 Ohms Lane, Edina, MN 55439
9781592984855, $16.95, www.BeaversPondPress

"Holy Smokestacks!" is a great train adventure story about Choo Choo Bob and his friend, Engineer Emily, who is seeking to pass her Steam Engine Certification Test. Filled with jaunty colored illustrations, "Holy Smokestacks" has plenty of train related lore to delight train lovers of all ages. Some of the other colorful characters at the train clubhouse include Conductor Dave, Ticket Agent Cee Cee, Engineer Paul, Night Watchman Rich, and Charlie Rat. Along with a fascinating visit to a steam engine train museum, a comical mystery unfolds. Fortunately Choo Choo Bob and Engineer Emily are able to solve the baffling clues of the scary night noises that frighten Night Watchman Rich, a detail of which includes the introduction of Miss Meowington, white train cat. Engineer Emily chugs onward to pass her Steam Engine Certification test, and all the train crew celebrate together at the diner. "Holy Smokestacks" is great fun reading for train enthusiasts of all ages.

Apple Cake, A Recipe for Love
Julie Paschkis, author/illustrator
Harcourt Children's Books
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780547807454, $16.99,

"Apple Cake, A Recipe for Love" is a delightfully whimsical, fabulously and fantastically illustrated story about the unlikely courtship of beautiful, kind, brilliant Ida by the enterprising Alfonso. Ida always has her nose buried in a book, so she does not seem to notice that Alfonso is interested in her, even loves her. Undeterred, Alfonso goes to extreme lengths to create a magical apple cake for Ida to show his love. The comically heroic exploits of Alfonso in gathering and mixing the ingredients for the cake are the theme of many pages of fantastic, imaginative, artistic illustrations. Finally the cake is done and a miracle happens! Ida, smelling "something delicious," puts down her book and accepts the cake from Alfonso! She looks at him, they both smile, and they sit together and eat up every bite of delicious apple cake! A true recipe for apple cake is thoughtfully tucked in the back inside cover where it will be handy to cook with! "Apple Cake, A Recipe for Love" is a beautiful story for children age 4 and up.

Duck Says Moo
Thomas D. Cashell, author
Keith A. Lowery, illustrator
Maine Authors Publishing Cooperative
558 Main St., Rockland, ME 04841
9781936447169, $12.95,

"Duck Says Moo" is a delightful illustrated children's story about a Mama Duck whose duckling child decides to help her not to hurry through life, and allow time to greet other animals on the farm. The adventurous little Duck daringly says "Moo" to Cowie, just to start a conversation. Imagine her delight when Cowie answers "Quack!" All the while Mama Duck is scolding and hurrying all the little Ducklings across the farm field to the other side of the farm, where they will have dinner. Before the day is done, Duck has gathered a parade of farm animal friends just by trying to communicate with them. Finally Mama Duck agrees, "Well now, ...I guess we can invite them for dinner. Then after, we can all play." This fabulous suggestion is greeted with celebration by the Ducklings, and seeing their happiness, Mama Duck eventually realizes "Maybe we should all play a little more." "Duck Says Moo" is sensitively illustrated with expressive color pencil drawings that delicately underline the story's theme for young children age 3 and up.

The Giant Seed
Arthur Geisert, author/illustrator
Enchanted Lion Books
20 Jay Street, Studio M-18, Brooklyn, NY 11201
9781592701155, $14.95,

"The Giant Seed" is another fantastic children's book about magically gifted pigs who are challenged to save their world threatened by a huge volcano by planting a giant seed. From award-winning author/illustrator Arthur Geisert, "The Giant Seed" immediately involves young readers in its impeccable, intricately detailed illustrations which tell the story in themselves, or engage the child to tell the story by careful observation of all the details. What a dramatic story it is, giving the imaginative pigs of the little volcano island a surprise escape through the results of the giant dandelion seed they have planted. "The Giant Seed" is a perfect example of encouragement to think creatively, something all children are able to do and love to practice.

The White-Footed Mouse
Willem Lange, author
Bert Dodson, illustrator
Bunker Hill Publishing/ distributed by NBN
285 River Road, Piermont, NH 03770
9781593731090, $19.95,

"The White-Footed Mouse" is a beautifully illustrated story about a little mouse found by a boy at a hunting camp cabin with high in the New Hampshire mountains. The boy is carefully taught how to hunt with his 22 rifle, including instructions to only aim the rifle at animals he intended to kill, and that he should only kill animals he intended to eat. While the boy and his father set up camp and build a fire in the cabin stove, he sees a small white-footed mouse enter the cabin on the clay insulation of the warm stovepipe. The boy feeds the mouse a piece of his cheese. The father says they should trap the mouse with the cheese instead. Finally the boy, who likes the mouse and doesn't want to trap him, says "Are we going to have him for breakfast or for lunch?" In a classic touche, the mouse lives to visit the hunting camp another day. Charming realistic paintings of the outdoor winter hunting scenes with father and son and other wildlife appeal to readers of every age. "The White-Footed Mouse" is appropriate for children ages 4-8.

Hamilton Troll Meets Skeeter Skunk
Kathleen J. Shields, author
Leigh A. Klug & Carol W. Bryant, illustrators
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781477638590, $9.99,

"Hamilton Troll Meets Skeeter Skunk" is the second hardback book of the distinctive, color illustrated series. Green Hamilton Troll enjoys playing stick-and nut-games with his forest friends, but when Skeeter Skunk wants to join in the game, stinky problems arise. The forest friends do not hold Skeeter to blame for his unconscious defensive behavior of releasing a stinky spray when he is surprised, and they try every possible solution to help him control his spray they can imagine. In the end, Skeeter Skunk is so impressed by their acceptance of him that he grows into an ability to control his spray. The book ends with a rousing and surprising final stick and nut game that Skeeter participates in with joy. Told in rhyme, with hint vocabulary definitions on select pages, "Hamilton Troll Meets Skeeter Skunk" is first class educational entertainment for children age 4 and up. The bright and breezy color illustrations make the story come alive.

The Velveteen Rabbit
Based on the story by Margery Williams
Adapted and illustrated by Komako Sakai
Enchanted Lion Books
20 Jay Street, Studio M-18
Brooklyn, NY 11201
9781592701285 $17.95

The Velveteen Rabbit is a picturebook adaptation of the timeless classic children's story by Margery Williams. Komako Sakai's brilliant, emotional color illustrations superbly complement Williams' wonderful story about how the bond between a young boy and his cherished stuffed rabbit makes the toy Real. When Velveteen Rabbit comforts the boy while he is sick with a terrible fever, his existence as a stuffed toy ends because he has been contaminated with germs... but the power of the boy's love allows him to become Real to everyone, and live anew as a graceful wild rabbit. A rightfully cherished story about the eternal power of love, The Velveteen Rabbit is highly recommended for parents to share with their children during storytime or bedtime.

Charles T. Cup
Dalen Keys, author
Ron Wheeler, illustrator
WinePress Publishing
1730 Railroad St., Enumclaw, WA 98022
9781606151747, $16.99,

"Charles T. Cup" is an imaginative illustrated children's story about a chipped, gold-trimmed cup named Chip and his role in providing comfort and a hot beverage to the homeless at the Mission. Chip began life as Charles T. Cup, a vain, self centered star who served hot tea in the library to visiting dignitaries and famous people. However, he was donated to a Thrift shop after he was chipped and worn, ending up with his new owner, the Friendly Person. In his new role as minister of comfort to the poor and homeless, Chip finds a new and joyous purpose. "Charles T. Cup" is a great teaching story for children age 6 and up that is based on a real long term discipleship program called the Sunday Breakfast Mission in Wilmington, Delaware. Many components of this program, such as the community meal, the thrift store, and a career education center, are integrated into the story. Teaching humanitarian values is central in this child-friendly story about a humble cup who learns to serve others with love.

I Could Have Been Born An Ant
Rochelle Weiner, author
Joseph Ingking, illustrator
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781469142463, $12.99,

"I Could Have Been Born An Ant" is a charming children's book filled with imaginings about all the different animals a human child could have become, viewing life from the perspective of an ant, a bear, a dog, a mouse, an elephant, even a giraffe. Each potential animal existence is envisioned in a colorful illustration of the animal in its daily life activities. Finally the book returns perspective to the child's viewpoint, describing what life is like when one is born a human being, either a girl or a boy. "I Could Have Been Born An Ant" encourages children age 6 and up to imagine and empathize with many different perspectives of existence, and to adjust their life views and focus accordingly.

Little Bear Blossoms
Ingrid Huebner, author
Nicole Tentoni, illustrator
Second City Books
2118 Plum Grove Rd., #349
Rolling Meadows, IL 60008
9781935766520, $11.99,

"Little Bear Blossoms" is a wonderful, healing book with cross-generational appeal, about seeking and expressing one's true identity. Somewhat similar to "The Velveteen Rabbit" in tone and intent, "Little Bear Blossoms" follows the quest of a little stuffed white bear from the attic who decides to venture down into the rest of the house in quest of her name, self, and true purpose. Since it is December, she carries a basket of little pots of honey to share with friends she meets, a wise list that includes Voltaire the bear, Winston the big bear, Fawn, Hedwig the owl, Wynken the sheep, Louis the frog, and Leland the lion. Each stuffed animal has its own particular bit of wisdom to offer the little white bear, who needs so badly to find, embrace and accept her true, authentic self, even to find out her name. In the end, the little white bear returns to Voltaire to share her discoveries, telling him "Blossom," because that is her name, her nature, and what she has decided to do as a result of her quest. "Little Bear Blossoms" can be read to children of many ages, and it will also be cherished reading for many adults. Charming, delicate colored pencil illustrations add just the right amount of texture and dimension to the story.

Olive and the Big Secret
Tor Freeman, author/illustrator
Templar Books
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, Massachusetts 02144
9780763661496, $15.99,

"Olive and the Big Secret" is a delightful illustrated story about the grave difficulty of keeping a secret, or something like a version of the old children's game of "telephone." Olive has a secret, which Molly told her. She knows she shouldn't tell anyone, but it's so hard to keep wonderful secrets! Finally she decides to tell her friend Joe, The rest of the secret story chain stretches innocently from Joe to Matt to Lola and Bea, finally straight back to Molly, who confronted Olive. The chain of secret telling friends is depicted by charming different child animals such as a bunny, a turtle, a kitten, a giraffe, a dog, a monkey, an alligator, etc. What is particularly funny is the ending, which gives a hint to the discerning reader as to just what the secret was! Children of all ages, but especially age 3 and up will love "Olive and the Big Secret." There is a particular charm in the unusual illustrations showing wonderful interspecies friendships that pass on special "secrets."

Because You Are My Teacher
Sherry North, author
Marcellus Hall, illustrator
Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
115 West 18th Street, 6th floor
New York, NY 10011
9781419703850 $16.95

Because You Are My Teacher is a simple, rhyming picturebook about the joys of learning about the world. The brief verse tells of exploring the Great Wall of China, the Middle East desert, and even seeing the world from space - although the class teacher doesn't quite have the resources to physically take her students on such trips, "Our classroom is our vessel, / always headed someplace new. // Because you are our teacher, / We'll explore the world with you." Cheerful, exuberant color illustrations fill this wonderful read-aloud storybook. Highly recommended.

Just Perfect
Jane Marinsky
David R. Godine, Publisher
PO Box 450
Jaffrey, NH 03452
9781567924282 $16.95

Intended for young readers ages 5 and up, Just Perfect is a delightful storybook about the fanciful hunt that Mom, Dad, and their child undertake for a fourth family member. A dog sheds too much, a rooster wakes everyone up too early, and an octopus makes a mess of everything! Yet when the fourth family member - a happy baby - comes along, it's just perfect. (Fortunately, all of the other animals share a home at the public zoo, and another young man adopts the dog). Soft, colorful illustrations enliven Just Perfect, an excellent read-aloud storybook ideal for growing families.

The Man from the Land of Fandango
Margaret Mahy & Polly Dunbar
Clarion Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
9780547819884, $16.99,

Imagination lets you see anything and everything you'd wish to see. "The Man from the Land of Fandango" is a children's picturebook following young people as they present their adventures of the mind with a strange man from the magical land of Fandango who visits every five hundred years. "The Man from the Land of Fandango" is a fun read for young readers, encouraging imagination and creativity, beautifully illustrated in full color.

The Red Boat
Hannah Cumming
Child's Play
64 Wellington Avenue
West Orange, NJ 07052
9781846434938, $16.99,

Moving somewhere new can often be a source of anxiety for many young people. "The Red Boat" is a children's picturebook as young Posy moves to a new home and is fearful of new surroundings, and finds fun playing in a red boat with her dog, George. Going on night time adventures, she experiences much, and prepares for the terrifying first day of school. "The Red Boat" is an excellent choice for children's picturebook collections, highly recommended.

Monsters Aren't Real
Kerstin Schoene
Kane/Miller Book Publishers
c/o EDC Publishing
4901 Morena Blvd., Suite 213
San Diego, CA 92117
9781610670739, $14.99,

Being told you don't exist isn't the most assuring thing. "Monsters Aren't Real" is a children's picturebook from Kerstin Schoene as she tells a mostly wordless story of a monster coping with the fact that monsters aren't real and no one notices him, no matter how monstrous he tries to be. Finding a friend in the end, "Monsters Aren't Real" is a fun and charming read, well worth considering for modern picturebook collections.

The Christmas Shelf

The Santa Story and Tina
Arita Trahan, author
Ross Anthony, illustrator
DownStream Enterprises
425 Glen Echo Road, Philadelphia, PA 19119
9780982532829, $9.95,

"The Santa Story and Tina" is an inspired story about a girl who likes to pretend she is many different amazing characters, perhaps even a little like Santa himself. Tina loves the Santa story and helping her mom. One day her mom suggests she might be able to make surprise Santa gifts for people herself, and a whole new world of imaginative experiences unfold for Tina. Stepping outside the notion that only Santa gives surprise gifts to children, Tina realizes she has the magical possibility of giving precious gifts within herself, just like Santa! Children and adults will love the story and concept of innate goodness and generosity that is at the heart of "The Santa Story and Tina." Additional related materials include a downloadable audio version with "From Santa" gift cards, and "I'm Being Santa" song. There is also an E-book with audio narration (9780982532836, $7.99) and a handy guidebook for parents, "The Santa Story Revisited: How To Give Your Children a Santa They Will Never Outgrow." In all, "The Santa Story and Tina" is indeed the perfect thoughtful gift for children in the upcoming holiday season. A music video of "I'm Being Santa" with lyrics by Trahan and music by Mark Horwitz is available on YouTube with vocals by Rand Bishop and the Agape Children's Choir, of Culver City, California and the Nashville Center for Spiritual Living band.

Twas the Night Before Christmas
Clement C. Moore, author
Elena Almazova & Vitaly Shvarov, illustrators
Grafton and Scratch Publishers
9780987902306 $16.95

Twas the Night Before Christmas is a children's picturebook adaptation of the classic Christmas poem, with one important distinction - the poem has been edited to remove any references to Santa smoking tobacco. In today's advertising-saturated nation, it's more important than ever to realize how bombarded children are with images of cigarettes, pipes, and smoking; Twas the Night Before Christmas allows parents to share a timeless classic without adding to the inundation. The vibrantly colorful, friendly illustrations bring to life this wonderful read-aloud holiday storybook.

A King James Christmas
Catherine Schuon & Michael Fitzgerald, editors
Wisdom Tales
c/o World Wisdom
1501 East Hillside Drive
Bloomington, IN 47401
9781937786038 $19.95

A treasury for parents to share with children ages 8 and up, A King James Christmas: Biblical Selections with Illustrations from Around the World pairs passages from the King James Bible about the birth, childhood, and teachings of Jesus Christ with striking color reproductions of paintings, sculptures, illuminated manuscripts, and stained glass windows around the world. Illustrations grace practically every page, while the biblical passages are in an easy-to-read enlarged font. The biblical passages themselves are unedited, although glossary synonyms for some unfamiliar words are conveniently offered. The result is a wonderful, read-aloud way for Christian parents to share the true meaning of the Christmas holiday with their children. Highly recommended.

The Santa Trap
Jonathan Emmett & Poly Bernatene
Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781561456703, $15.95,

Santa breaks into our homes and steals our cookies. He is a menace who must be stopped. "The Santa Trap" follows ill-willed youth Bradley Bartleby who is tired of Santa's games of giving him only socks, and is out for the jolly old fat man with traps and nefarious plots that scare even his parents. A humorous read of vengeance gone wrong, "The Santa Trap" is an original and much recommended children's Christmas picturebook, very much recommended reading.

The Great Plan and the Perpetual Rose
Trisha L. Smith, author
Bina R. Hong, editor
Bonnie Lemaire, illustrator
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463520069, $12.95,

"The Great Plan and the Perpetual Rose" is a retelling of the ancient story of the Nativity, presented through the viewpoint of Silver Star, a wandering star, and his celestial friend, Mr. B (later known as the Star of Bethlehem). Based on the Hail Mary Prayer and on accounts of the Annunciation and Incarnation approved by the Roman Catholic Church, "The Great Plan and the Perpetual Rose" tell a very old, holy story in a new way that will fascinate and delight children. A very moving story, "The Great Plan and the Perpetual Rose" derives much of its power from its traditional source, "The Mystical City of God," by the Venerable Maria de Agreda, approved by Pope Innocent XI. Appealing to all age groups, "The Great Plan and the Perpetual Rose" has at its core the holy Rosary prayer of the Hail Mary, and traditions relating to reciting it and passing it on to future generations. "The Great Plan and the Perpetual Rose" will help to pass this marvelous tale of a miraculous event and a beautiful prayer to children of all ages. Bright illustrations of Mary, the Angels, Joseph and the Baby shine against a black background studded with silver stars. When Silver Star discovers the true meaning of "Fiat," the story is fully encircled, like a magnificent wreath of roses created by the reciting of Hail Mary prayers by the devout.

The Holiday Shelf

The Spaniel Family's Thanksgiving
Sharon Ellsberry, author
Amy Fox, illustrator
1006 Dove Creek Drive, Athens, TX 75751
9780979077722, $13.00,

"The Spaniel Family's Thanksgiving" is the fourth title in a popular, award winning series about the Spaniel Family. Colorfully illustrated with a light chalk pastel rainbow of expressive illustrations, "The Spaniel Family's Thanksgiving" follows the six spaniels through many Thanksgiving celebration preparations, including shopping at the pet food store and farmers' market, food gathering for a variety of hungry animals, and finally careful preparation for an out door feast that begins with singing new lyrics to an old Thanksgiving song, "Over the River and Through the Woods." An amazing assortment of creatures are invited to participate in the Spaniel Family's Thanksgiving, including a mockingbird, a skunk, a mama rabbit and her children, a raccoon, an iguana, and even a yellow cat. Each animal is asked to express what they are thankful for, and each one has exactly the right foods to eat. Even a lost puppy is invited to the feast for no one should be hungry on Thanksgiving! At the end of the book, there is further information about the celebration of Thanksgiving as an American holiday, along with a partial quotation of the poem "A Boy's Thanksgiving Day," which was adapted for "The Spaniel Family's Thanksgiving." Children age 5 and up will enjoy reading "The Spaniel Family's Thanksgiving" with some help, and they will learn more about the meaning of the holiday. A portion of the proceeds from "The Spaniel Family's Thanksgiving" will be donated to food programs for children.

It's Holiday Time!
Elizabeth Bennett, author
Gladys Baccala, illustrator
Tiger Tales
c/o ME Media LLC
P.O. Box 70, Iron Ridge, WI 53035
9781589256408, $8.95,

"It's Holiday Time!" is a softly colorful illustrated padded children's book about winter holiday celebrations for a cuddly teddy bear family. Festive versed narrative tells of special winter holiday anticipation and preparation with glitter-drifted, almost textured illustrations. All the animals enjoy varied Yule activities and preparation, ending the season with "Gather friends./ Season ends./ Brand new year./ Filled with cheer." Sturdy pasteboard pages and the thick padded cover insure this lovely book will withstand many loving touches from small hands. A lovely Advent gift for children age 2 and up, with a light winter holiday theme.

The Music Shelf

So You Wanna Be a Superstar?
Ted Michael
Running Press
2300 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-4371
9780762446100, $10.95,

Fame and stardom are the youthful dreams of many. "So You Wanna Be a Superstar?: The Ultimate Audition Guide" is a guide for those with stars in their eyes on how to better get into their star career. Aimed at youths who want to start early, Ted Michael and Lea Satonga advise readers on how to start piecing their dream career together, including the important practice and training that go with it. "So You Wanna Be a Superstar?" is a strong addition to any young adult collection focused on talents and music.

The Activity Shelf

Joshua Glenn & Elizabeth Foy Larsen
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315
New York, NY 10010
9781608196418, $25.00,

Boredom is something no one likes. "Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun" is a trivia and activity guide dedicated to finding things to do and interesting things to do with good nature and humor. From new books to read to creating one's own games, sports to video games, camping, and everything else. With full color artwork and photographs spread all throughout, no one should be with want of things to do. "Unbored" is a choice pick for younger readers and for adults who want to inspire many new activities for their young ones, enthusiastically recommended.

The Education Shelf

If I'm so Smart, Why Aren't The Answers Easy?
Robert A. Schultz & James R. Delisle
Prufrock Press
PO Box 8813
Waco, TX 76714-8813
9781593639600, $14.95,

It's often a lot of pressure to be told you're gifted with intelligence, as the expectations of you are high. "If I'm So Smart, Why Aren't the Answers Easy?" is an advice guide for teens who have excelled in their young academic careers but are still faced with confusion about life and finding how to turn that academic success into something more than good grades. With plenty of wise advice and wisdom throughout, "If I'm So Smart, Why Aren't the Answers Easy?" is a strong pick for education and self-help collections for teens.

The Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf

The City of Ember: The Graphic Novel
Jeanne DuPrau
Random House
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780375868214, $18.99,

The City of Ember: The Graphic Novel is adopted by Dallas Middaugh with art by Niklas Asker and provides a full-color graphic novel account of the doomed city and two children who struggle to escape. This color presentation of a complex story will delight all ages, offering a lovely and appealing survey for fans of the graphic novel format, offering vivid images and a depth certain to delight any newcomer, prior fan of the novel, or graphic novel reader.

The Audiobook Shelf

Starry River of the Sky
Grace Lin, author
Kim Mai Guest, narrator
Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017-0010
9781619691469 $22.98

Starry River of the Sky is the unabridged audiobook rendition of Grace Lin's companion novel to her Newbery Honor-winning book "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon". Set in a faraway village where the moon seems to be missing, Starry River of the Sky follows Rendi, a young runaway turned chore boy who observes the village's peculiarities with interest. When a woman with the gift of storytelling comes to the village, her tales spark a gradual transformation in each person - especially Rendi himself! Brought to life through the performance of award-winning audiobook narrator Kim Mai Guest, Starry River of the Sky will appeal to children and adults alike, and is highly recommended as an exceptional addition to public and school library audiobook collections. 5 CDs, 5.5 hours.

Karen Hesse, author
Jenna Lamia, narrator
Macmillan Audio
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315
New York, NY 10010
9781427227201 $24.99

Newbery medalist Karen Hesse presents Safekeeping: A Novel of Tomorrow, now available as an unabridged audiobook. Set in the all-too-near future, in which the American People's Party took power, the President has been assassinated, looters stalk the streets, and the government conducts nightmarish police raids, Safekeeping follows young Radley, who only wants to be with her family. Returning from volunteer work abroad, Radley leaves her plane and looks for her parents - but no one comes for her. Tired, broke, and at a loss for options, Radley begins to walk. A dark novel panting a fearsome potential future for America, Safekeeping may be intended for young adults, but listeners of all ages will find it captivating and frightening to the very end. 4 CDs, 4.5 hours, disc 4 includes a bonus PDF of the author's striking photography.

The Music CD Shelf

Reading Rocks!
Johnette Downing
Wiggle Worm Records
c/o Waldmania!
130 Maywood Drive
San Francisco, CA 94127

Award-winning New Orleans singer, songwriter, and children's book author Johnette Downing presents Reading Rocks!, a CD ideal for young people ages 2-8. Reading Rocks! combines spoken words with songs to encourage a love of books and reading in young people. An upbeat blend of storytelling and toe-tapping fun, Reading Rocks! is a great supplement to encourage love of reading in young ones - although Johnette Downing herself emphasizes that the very best way to raise the next generation of readers is, naturally, to read to them! Highly recommended, especially for school and public library children's music collections, and also as a gift for inquisitive young relatives. The tracks are "Reading Rocks!" (2:15), "Open a Book Finger Play" (0:10), "Today is Monday in Kentucky" (3:23), "Why the Oyster Has the Pearl" (6:48), "Oyster Limerick" (0:18), "R*E*A*D" (1:38), "Story Time" (3:21), "The Colors of the Sky" (2:56), "Why the Crawfish Lives in the Mud" (6:47), "Reach Every Achievement Desired" (0:55), "There Once Was a Boy Named Cary" (2:34), "Read to Me" (4:07), "Principal's Desk" (0:19), "Why the Possum Has a Large Grin" (6:02), "Readers are Leaders" (1:57), "Today is Monday in New York" (3:12) and "Do-do (Sleep) My Child" (2:38). 49 min., 28 sec.

Carnival of the Animals
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Maestro Classics
c/o Waldmania!
130 Maywood Drive, San Francisco, CA 94127
9781932684094 $16.98

Part of the award-winning Maestro Classics series of audio CDs designed to teach children about the joys of experiencing classical music, Carnival of the Animals is an excellent adaptation of the great symphony by Camille Saint-Saens, ideal for little ones ages 3 and up. Superbly performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Carnival of the Animals offers fascinating background tidbits about the composer of the masterpiece, and a bonus sing-along song, and a 24-page program booklet. Highly recommended, especially for public library children's music CD collections. The tracks are "Carnival of the Animals" (27:06), "About the Composer: Camille Saint-Saens" (5:36), "Au Clair de la Lune" (2:57), "About the Music: Carnival of the Animals" (8:17), "Carnival of the Animals (Instrumental)" (21:39), "Prepare to Perform" (1:06), and "Au Clair de la Lune Sing-Along" (2:57). 69 min., 41 sec.

The Barber of the Beasts
Zak Morgan and Ric Hordinski
myKaZoo Music
c/o Universal Music Enterprises
2220 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street, Portland, OR 97221
$11.99 CD / $9.49 MP3

Grammy-nominated children's singer and songwriter Zak Morgan presents The Barber of the Beasts, a delightful original album created in collaboration with producer and guitarist Ric Hordinski, as well as the contributions of multiple guest artists. The rich lyrics deliver wordplay, storytelling, and pure rhyming fun, while the catchy music will appeal to parents as well as young ones. The 24-page, full-color instruction booklet features the complete lyrics, wacky color illustrations, and a glossary that children can use to better understand the songs and expand their mastery of the English language. A wonderful, mind-expanding and enjoyable pick, The Barber of the Beasts is highly recommended as a gift for young adults and children's library music CD collections. The tracks are "Overture", "First Grade", "The Barber of the Beasts", "Minor Miners", "Snowy Day", "The White Shark's Chum", "The Case of the Dry Markers (with Bootsy Collins)", "Nancy Jane", "The Cricket & the Coin", "Mister E.", "Swinging on a Star", "Let Me In", and "Winter March".

Action! Fun! Dance! for Kids
Don and Laurie Monopoli, and Paul Opalach
The Learning Station
3950 Bristol Court
Melbourne, FL 32904

Action! Fun! Dance! for Kids is an interactive music CD filled with modern renditions of classic favorites as well as original songs. All the songs encourage young people to get up and move - the perfect counterbalance to today's modern, sedentary culture rooted in television and video games! Lyrics and movement instructions are included in this excellent playtime aid suitable for children three years and up. Highly recommended! The tracks are "A-Root-Chy-Cha", "Zumba Dance", "Icky Sticky Bubble Gum", "Jamaican Dance", "Funky Nursery Rhymes", "Boogaloo Song", "Shabooya", "Ballin' the Jack", "Funga Alafia", "Doctor Knickerbocker", "Herman the Worm", "The More We Get Together", "A Ram Sam Sam", and "Fooba Wooba John".

World Sing-Along
Putumayo Kids
c/o Putumayo World Music
411 Lafayette St., 4th floor, NY, NY 10003
Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street
Portland, OR 97221

World Sing-Along is a music CD filled with delightful tracks from countries around the world. Each song is performed by a different person or band, and each reflects a different musical style and culture, but all of them feature catchy rhythms and lyrics that invite young people to sing! A wonderful way to introduce young people to the joys of experiencing other cultures, World Sing-Along is an excellent choice for public and school library children's music collections. The tracks are "La Cucaracha" (El Salvador/USA), "Waltzing Matilda" (Australia), "Como Vai?" (Brazil), "Ah Sailor" (Trinidad/USA), "Krokodil" (Switzerland), "That's What Friends Are For" (USA), "Going To School Song" (China/USA), "Jig Jog Gee" (Jamaica/USA), "Pititi Y Titi" (USA/Cuban), "Jamaica Farewell" (USA/Benin), and "Around the World" (Various).

Everything Makes a Sound
Preschool of Rock
Privately Published
c/o Waldmania! (publicity)
130 Maywood Drive
San Francisco, CA 94127

Featuring singer/songwriter Michael Napolitano, founder of the New Jersey-based Preschool of Rock music classes, Everything Makes a Sound is a wonderfully rhythmic music CD ideal for young children from infancy through age 8. Moving to the beat is a central focus, as the songs make one want to jump around and dance for joy. A strong positive message about looking forward to the day, whether it involves going to school or just enjoying the outdoors, enlivens this energetic, family-friendly album. Highly recommended. The tracks are "Off to School", "Shake It", "The Family Song", "Safari Song", "And We Dance", "A Little Breath In", "Cupcake Song", "Everything Makes a Sound", "Jump When I Get Up", and "Song In The Trees". 33 min.

David Tobocman
Privately Published
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street
Portland, OR 97221
$12.98 CD / $9.99 digital

David Tobocman's third album for children, Escalator is an energetic collection with a strong theme of movement, self-expression, and the pure expression of joy. The title embodies the upward momentum of optimism - "if you're going down, then use the stairs." The intelligently written lyrics don't talk down to kids, or adults; parents may well find that they enjoy the album just as much as little ones! Highly recommended, especially for car trips or just plain musical fun. The tracks are "Escalator", "Custom Family Spaceship", "Born to Rock", "Gonna Be a Garbage Man", "The Owie Song", "Playin' on a Sunday", "Run Run, Race Car", "Zoe's Intro", "Peace Sign", "America's Our Country", and "Big Train".

Stacey Peasley
Privately Published
$12.97 CD / $9.99 MP3

Winner of the 2012 CD of the Year Award from Creative Child Magazine, Together is the debut CD of children's singer, songwriter, and performer Stacey Peasley. A delightful sing-along song collection of playful, lighthearted songs for little ones, Together emphasizes the bonds between parents and children, babysitters and the baby-sat, and friends who play together. Together is a top pick especially for parents, family members, and caregivers looking for a cheerful CD to lift the spirits of little ones! The tracks are "Together", "Every Day", "Trouble", "Soapy Bubbles", "Dance Party", "Far Away", "Sleep Again", "Mommy Saved the Day", "Lazy Day", "We're Going for a Ride", "Jen", "Fun, Fun, Fun", and "Snuggle Daddy".

The DVD Shelf

Autumn de Forest
Crystal Productions
PO Box 2159
Glenview, IL 60025-6159
9781562906917 $29.95

Autumn de Forest is an inspirational DVD featuring an artistic prodigy who loves to paint. Ten-year-old Autumn de Forest creates striking works with fine art quality paint - outside of from help with prep work and heavy lifting, all her creations are entirely from her hands. She applies a wide variety of techniques and tools for her painting, and enjoys academics and other activities. When painting on a large 4 x 6-foot canvas, she prefers to lay the painting on the ground and approach its sides as needed, utilizing special "bridges" to reach the center of the canvas. A wonderful and inspirational DVD that adult art lovers as well as young people can appreciate, Autumn de Forest is a choice pick especially for school DVD libraries. Also highly recommended for viewers of all ages (especially grades 6-12) is "Creating a Clay Whistle" (9781562906900, $29.95), a hands-on guide in which ceramist and musician Luis Perez teaches the viewer how to construct simple clay whistles similar to those of Mesoamerican cultures, step by step.

Hi! Fly Guy
Tedd Arnold, author
MacLeod Andrews, narrator
Jack Sundrud and Rusty Young music
Weston Woods
c/o Scholastic
90 Old Sherman Turnpike, Danbury, CT 06816
0545478073 $59.95 Hi! Fly Guy is a children's DVD rendition of the picturebook for children ages 4-8 by Tedd Arnold (which is distinguished as a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book and as an ALA Notable Book). Ideal for young ones ages 4-8, Hi! Fly Guy features a read-along option, and a bonus interview with the author. The story follows young Buzz in search of the best creature to take to The Amazing Pet Show! Buzz's father says flies can't be pets, but Fly Guy is no ordinary fly! Simple animation and lively music enhance this brief, funny story, ideal for public library children's DVD collections or homeroom viewing. 7 minutes, optional English subtitles, closed-captioned.

The Multimedia Shelf

Songs in the Shade of the Olive Tree
Songs collected by Hafida Favret & Magdelaine Lerasle
Musical arrangements by Paul Mindy
Illustrated by Nathalie Novi
The Secret Mountain
3816, Royal
Montreal, QC, Canada H4A 2M2
c/o Beth Benz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street
Portland, OR 97221
9782923163840 $16.95

Part of an excellent series of children's rhyme books from various cultures, Songs in the Shade of the Olive Tree: Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes from the Maghreb is a book and CD combination filled with thirty simple songs and rhymes from the Maghreb people. The book transcribes lyrics in Arabic, Romanized characters, and English, while the fifty-minute CD brings the nursery rhymes to life as they have been shared for generations. Translations, illustrations, and notes are also on the CD as a printable PDF file. Warm, playful illustrations of children dancing and playing add the perfect touch to this wonderful compilation. "Nini ya moumou" (Morocco): Sleep my baby / Your mama won't be late / The bread is on the table / And the candies on the plate.

I Want to Go to the Moon
Tom Saunders, author and song composer
Cynthia Nugent, illustrator
Simply Read Books
501-5525 WEst Boulevard
Vancouver, BC Canada V6M 3W6
9781897476567, $16.95,

"I Want to Go to the Moon" is a spunky illustrated song set in book form about a famous American space traveler who was once a little boy with a big dream. Complete with audio performance CD by author/composer Tom Saunders, and humorous, expressive illustrations in full color by Cynthia Nugent, "I Want to Go to the Moon" is a lively verse narrative of a boy who was willing to wash spoons, go to college, and learn to fly the fastest planes, anything to achieve his lifelong goal: going to the moon! Though he overcame many obstacles and difficulties, Neil Armstrong was made astronaut in 1962, and invited to be on the Apollo crew that in July of 1969 really did fly to the moon. "I Want to Go to the Moon" is a wonderful book for kids about dreaming big and achieving your goal, no matter how unlikely it may be.

It's Raining, It's Pouring
Performed by Peter, Paul, and Mary
Illustrated by Christine Davenier
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781936140770, $17.95,

"It's Raining, It's Pouring" is a beautifully illustrated children's book of familiar children's song lyrics entwined with a visual narrative of a jolly story of children playing hide and seek while visiting a beloved elderly couple. Accompanied by a CD of the title song as performed by award winning 60's folk song group Peter, Paul and Mary, "It's Raining, It's Pouring" is a fresh reanimation of a beloved familiar selection of classics that preserves all the charm, style, and vocal originality of the original artists' performance. An adult audience over 40 will remember the original songs, and a younger generation will be able to discover the songs anew. Thus the appeal of "It's Raining, It's Pouring" is that of a multigenerational rediscovered classic, that resonates on multi-layered levels to different audiences. The incredible, imaginative illustrations add to the story in perfect synchronized detail. It creates a world very inviting to enter and stay awhile. Further charm arises from the two additional songs on the accompanying CD, "Make Believe Town" and "Glory of Love," also performed by Peter, Paul and Mary. "It's Raining, It's Pouring" is one of those classic children's song/books that you will want to keep for future generations, holding it close to savor treasured moments and memories.

The Mermaid Picnic
Kitty Leech, author/illustrator
The Home Press
9780984913305, $24.95,

"The Mermaid Picnic" is an original story about an ordinary picnic that gets transformed into a mermaid picnic for four lucky girls/become mermaids. Emily plans a picnic lunch with some of her friends that is threatened by a dreary rainy day. Luckily, Emily's special mermaid doll reminds her that "Mermaids don't care if it's raining or not!" Her parents help her create a special mermaid picnic with starfish sandwiches, raindrop punch, and Sand Tarts for dessert. All the girls dress up as different colored mermaids and enjoy a mermaid picnic on the deck in the raindrops, with the mermaid doll as a special guest in the center. Beautiful, fanciful colored illustrations are described as "rendered with watercolor and Cape May raindrops." "The Mermaid Picnic" is all about the fantastic use of imagination to enjoy life and all its surprises. Additional surprises at the end of the book include a recipe for Sand Tart Cookies, and a song called "The Mermaid Girls" written by Ben Wittman. Some editions of "The Mermaid Picnic" also include a CD recording of the song, to add to the celebration. "The Mermaid Picnic" will appeal especially to girls age 5 and up.

The Christian Shelf

Princess Grace and Poppy
Jeanna Young & Jacqueline Johnson, authors
Omar Aranda, illustrator
5300 Patterson Avenue SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310726777, $3.99,

A new reading level 1 "I Can Read!" book from the Princess Parables series, "Princess Grace and Poppy" tells early readers the story about Princess Grace and her sisters, Faith, Hope, Charity, and Joy adopting an adorable litter of 5 kittens, with their father the King's permission. Princess Grace loves little Poppy best, a gray and white kitten with a mischievous personality. One day Poppy is missing, and Princess Grace sets out to look for her in the scary Black Woods, along with her four sisters. The sisters do not forget to pray for the kitten's safety while anxiously searching for her. Luckily, Poppy is found hiding in a hollow log, and safely rescued by the princesses. They return with Poppy snuggled in Princess Grace's cloak on horseback, to their father who tells them they are all blessed, reminding Princess Grace to give thanks to God for the safe return of Poppy. Charming color illustrations keep story interest high for young readers, while simple short sentences add reading skills in fine narrative style. "Princess Grace and Poppy" is perfect for an audience of beginning readers age 5 and up. Another new title in this series that is highly recommended is "Princess Joy's Party (9780310726791, $3.99)."

Visiting the Visitors
Patrick "Packy" Mader, author
Andrew Holmquist, illustrator
Beaver's Pond Press
7108 Ohms Lane
Edina, MN 55439
9781592985395 $17.95

Visiting the Visitors is a Christian children's picturebook with a subtle Christmas theme. During a silent and beautiful Christmas night, three children ask their grandparents in the country for the opportunity to "visit the visitors" as a family. Together they travel across snow lit by the stars, to visit a manger scene re-enacting the birth of humankind's Savior, and offer their gratitude. Iconic, shaded illustrations bring to life this soulful tribute to the true meaning of Christmas. Visiting the Visitors is simple, powerful, and encourages the whole family to remember the gifts and eternal love of Jesus Christ.

The Judaic Shelf

The Shema in the Mezuzah
Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, author
Joani Keller Rothenberg, illustrator
Jewish Lights Publishing
PO Box 237
Woodstock, VT 05091
9781580235068 $18.99

Ideal for young children ages 3 to 6, The Shema in the Mezuzah: Listening to Each Other is a parable about the words of the Shema (the Jewish people's affirmation of faith), and the tradition of putting up the mezuzah. When the townspeople begin arguing about how the mezuzah should be placed (standing up or lying down?), they take their disagreement to the rabbi. The rabbi sees wisdom in both sides, and reminds the town about the importance of listening to one another. Thus, the mezuzah is to be displayed slanting in the doorway - partly standing up and partly lying down. "When we enter our home and we see the leaning mezuzah, we remember... We stop shouting. We stop arguing. We stop yelling at each other. We listen. We are one." Simple color illustrations bring this story with a timeless and powerful moral to vivid life.

The Buddhist Shelf

A Handful of Quiet, Happiness in Four Pebbles
Thich Nhat Hanh, author
Wietgske Vriezen, illustrator
Plum Blossom Books
c/o Parallax Press
P.O. Box 7355, Berkeley, CA 94707
9781937006211, $12.95,

"A Handful of Quiet" is a beautiful, illustrated guide to the practice of pebble meditation as taught for children, by Thich Nhat Hanh, famous Buddhist teacher of mindfulness practices. Using a focusing technique of a collection of four small pebbles, representing a flower, a mountain, calm water, and space, "A Handful of Quiet" teaches simple meditation practices and focused breathing techniques that children and employ and understand. Simple pebble meditation practices such as finishing guiding sentences, making related drawings, and creating pebble meditation cards are illustrated and described. Then further simple instructions carefully guide the young student of meditation through the meditation practice. Suggestions for an additional related activity describe how to make a meditation bag to hold the four chosen pebbles. A simple song for Breathing In, Breathing Out is included with lyrics and notation, and further resources for family practice are listed including a number of publications by Thich Nhat Hanh and other Plum Blossom Books authors. Supporting Planting Seeds of Compassion through gifts to the Thich Nhat Hanh Continuation and Legacy Foundation is a further way appreciative readers can support the growth of mindfulness/loving speech practices such as the pebble meditations. This beautiful meditation aid for children can engender much alleviation of suffering especially among the young, and could be successfully incorporated into an anti-bullying program for middle school aged students.

Moody Cow Learns Compassion
Kerry Lee MacLean
Wisdom Publications
199 Elm Street
Somerville, MA 02144
9781614290339 $16.95

Featuring simple yet striking color illustrations, Moody Cow Learns Compassion is a children's picturebook with a strong message about the positive values of compassion and empathy. Although Moody Cow Learns Compassion is unmistakably in line with the Buddhist principle of ahimsa (bringing harm to no living thing, not even insects), neither the word "ahimsa" nor any explicit Buddhist terminology is used. As a result, Moody Cow Learns Compassion is appropriate for young readers of all faiths, for it centers upon the universal values of compassion and love. The story follows young Moody Cow, who is distressed when friend Bully captures a wild garter snake and feeds a live cricket to it. Moody can't stop thinking about how terrible it must be for the cricket, to be eaten by a hungry snake! Bully teases Moody with the nasty nickname "Coward Cow", and Moody has a terrible dream about being eaten. But then Moody's grandfather teaches both Moody and Bully about the important value of compassion. He buys a plastic bag of live crickets (after confirming that they are native crickets, not an invasive species), and encourages Moody and Bully to feel compassion for them. "'Cool!' Bully said. 'Look at the dead ones at the bottom!'. 'Mm-hmm,' Grandfather said. 'I wonder what it feels like to be stuck inside there, crawling all over your dead brothers and sisters?' I couldn't help shivering. 'Not very good,' I guessed. Bully's face fell. He frowned. 'Not very good at all!' he said." Together, they release the native crickets to freedom, as well as the captive garter snake. Two final suggested activities for building compassion include buying and releasing crickets (native species only), and rescuing earthworms from the sidewalk (but not the open street - that's too dangerous for children) after a downpour. Also highly recommended for young readers is the previous book in the Moody Cow series, "Moody Cow Meditates" (9780861715732, $15.95).

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

The Knight, the Princess & the Magic Rock
Retold by Sara Azizi
Alireza Sadeghiam, illustrator
Wisdom Tales (World Wisdom)
c/o National Book Network (distribution)
4270 Boston Way, Suite 200
Lanham, MD 20706
9781937786014 $15.95

The Knight, the Princess & the Magic Rock: A Classic Persian Tale is a timeless Persian folktale brought to life with colorful, stylized artwork. The story tells of the heroic Persian knight Bijan, who falls deeply in love with Manijeh, the beautiful princess of an enemy kingdom. When their affair is discovered, the knight is imprisoned underneath a tremendous rock. Is their any hope for the forbidden love? Based on a thousand-year-old classic parable, The Knight, the Princess & the Magic Rock is a treasure for parents and children to share, and especially recommended for the children's picturebook collections of public libraries. A postscript describes some metaphorical and spiritual interpretations that have been applied to the story throughout the centuries.

Night of the White Deer
Jack Bushnell, author
Miguel Co, illustrator
4400 Hulman Street, Terre Haute, IN 47803
9781933718804, $16.95,

"Night of the White Deer" is a stunning modern folk tale that will stimulate children to envision a wide array of natural influences and powers. A young farm boy dreams of a beautiful white deer which the foam of spilt milk. The sparkling white deer takes the boy on a fantasy trip through the galaxies and the aurora lights, showing him many other wondrous creatures among the glittering stars. But the boy encounters mixed reactions from his family the next day when he tells his father, mother and brother about his visionary experience. His brother scoffs at his dream and assures him the white deer is not real. But his mother distracts his brother, shielding him from scorn, and his father later shares with him that he too has dreamed of the white deer. "Night of the White Deer" is a moving story, appealing to children ages 4-8, about strengthening a mystical core knowledge that connects with the sacred in our lives.

Maya and the Turtle
Soma Han and John C. Stickler, authors
Soma Han, illustrator
Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive
North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
9780804842778 $14.95

Maya and the Turtle: A Korean Fairy Tale is a children's picturebook retelling a Korean parable about kindness repaid. When Maya was a little girl, her mother passed away. Stricken with grief, she began caring for a baby turtle who also had no mother. Years later, a magical flying centipede-monster terrorized the land, claiming innocent lives for sacrifice. In exchange for money to buy the medicine that would save her father's life, Maya volunteered to be the next sacrifice - but her loyal and beloved turtle came to her defense against the terrible monster! The beautiful artwork, reminiscent of Eastern tradition, perfectly complements this wondrous fairytale, highly recommended for young readers everywhere as well as for elementary and public library children's picturebook collections.

The Self-Help Shelf

Mister D
Elisabeth Stevens, author
Daniela Frongia, illustrator
Big Tent Books
115 Bluebill Drive, Savannah, GA 31419
9781601311146, $16.95,

"Mister D" is an inspirational children's book about teaching yourself to ignore self doubt, or Mr. D., so you can focus on doing your very best. It is a real story told by the author to her daughter when she was growing up, practicing for her karate belt test. Julie is a brave and talented girl who is practicing hard to take her black belt karate test. The one move she has trouble with is the flying side kick. Although she practiced until she could execute if perfectly by herself, she encountered problems whenever she tried to do it in front of an audience, people or even an animal. Her favorite Aunt Mary offered her a secret tip: To learn to ignore your doubts, label them and visualize them as "Mister D," then make them go away by ignoring them or saying "Go away, Mr. D!" In the book's colorful illustrations, Mr. D is a comic looking large furry golden creature with funny horns and claws and a big red scarf. At Julie's big karate test, sure enough Mr. D materialized at the exact opportune moment, but this time Julie was ready for him. Julie and Aunt Mary said "Go away Mr. D!" and Julie aced her karate belt test with a fantastic flying side kick. "Go Away Mr. D" is a great inspirational book for children age 6 and up

The Sports Shelf

Go For the Goal! A Fred Bowen Sports Story
Fred Bowen, author
Peachtree Publishers
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318
9781561456321, $5.95,

"Go For the Goal!" is an inspiring sports story about a talented 13-year old soccer player named Josh, who progresses to acceptance on an elite travel league soccer team, the United. Although this seems like a dream come true, Josh finds that members of his team have star complexes, tendencies to "hog" the ball, and fail at working as a team. In searching for an answer to this and related problems, Josh receives some historical soccer team performance education about the 1999 World Soccer Cup Championships, when the United States Women's World Cup team faced many of the same problems, culminating in a lack of teamwork. How does Josh tackle solving this complicated problem? Will the United be able to learn to work together and win games with cooperative teamwork instead of individual star plays? "Go For the Goal!" is excellent reading for sports-oriented students ages 7-12. The exciting narrative and page-turning action keep junior reader interest peaked.

Sally Sore Loser
Frank J. Sileo, author
Cary Pillo, illustrator
Magination Press
PO Box 92984
Washington, DC 20090-2984
9781433811890 $14.95

Sally Sore Loser is a picturebook designed to help parents and educators teach children ages 4-8 about good sportsmanship. Young Sally loves to be the first, the fastest, and the best at everything - when she loses a game, she tends to have a bad temper and hurt feelings about it. Her bad attitude earns her the nickname "Sally Sore Loser", until her teacher and her mother tell her about the rules for being a good sport, whether winning or losing. Sally learns how to remind herself "I've won if I had fun!" even when the other team wins. Bright, colorful illustrations add the perfect touch to this story of a young girl who loves to compete. A "Note to Parents" is included as a postscript, with practical information for teaching young children like sally how to engage in competitive activities and be a good sport. "Understand that we do not build self-esteem by giving children an award for everything. It is important to teach children that they may lose at things in life and how to handle losing. If your child is not succeeding in a certain hobby or activity, encourage him to work harder or try something else. Focus on the effort made by your child. Do not permit your child to quit an activity because things are not going well right away. This will encourage your child to give up when things don't work out according to plan." Sally Sore Loser is an invaluable resource for teaching an important lifelong social skill, highly recommended for parents as well as for school and public library children's collections.

The American History Shelf

Young and Courageous
Marilyn Weymouth Seguin
Branden Books
PO Box 812094
Wellesley, MA 02482
9780828324632 $16.95 pbk.
9780828324649 $9.99 ebook

Young and Courageous: American Girls Who Made History is a collection of true stories of 19th century young women in America who distinguished themselves through their great deeds and personal bravery. From Minnie Freeman, who risked her life to rescue schoolchildren from a fierce blizzard in 1888, to two sisters and lighthouse keepers credited with saving the town from Scituate, Massachusetts from the enemy British during the War of 1812, to the legendary Sacagawea and more, these stories embody the courage, independence, and resolution of the American spirit. Although Young and Courages is written in a style reminiscent of historical fiction, all the tales are firmly grounded in real events. Young and Courageous is an excellent choice for junior high, high school and public library collections, and also highly recommended as an inspirational giftbook for young women coming of age.

One Times Square
Joe McKendry
David R. Godine, Publisher
PO Box 450
Jaffrey, NH 03452
9781567923643 $19.95

One Times Square: A Century of Change at the Crossroads of the World is a captivating chronicle of the history behind New York's famous Times Square. Featuring the author's black-and-white drawings or beautiful watercolors on virtually every page, One Times Square tells of how this public place reflected the stock market crash that precipitated the Great Depression, the end of the Second World War, annual New Year's Eve festivities, and much more. "After years of stalled plans to improve the Times Square area, real progress finally arrived in the form of the Walt Disney Company, whose restoration of the New Amsterdam Theatre (long ago the home of the Ziegfield Follies) inspired other companies to invest in the area. Their confidence created a domino effect, and in short order the bright lights that had once defined Times Square began to return as new businesses mounted large signs announcing their presence." Although One Times Square is intended for young people ages ten and up, readers of all ages and backgrounds will enjoy this thoughtful, illustrated slice of iconic American history. Highly recommended.

The Multicultural Shelf

Elena's Story
Nancy Shaw, author
Kristina Rodanas, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
Suite 200, 315 East Eisenhower Parkway
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781585365289 $16.95

Part of the excellent "Tales of the World" series, Elena's Story is a children's picturebook about the daily life of a young girl in Guatemala. Elena lives near a small town with her mother, her younger brother Luis, and her baby sister Ana; her father works on a plantation far away. She works hard at school but struggles to keep up; finding time to get books from the library and practice reading is difficult. She must help her mother with cooking, housework, planting and weeding the garden, and looking after the baby Luis. Yet the joys of family togetherness make learning to read all the more wonderful, especially when Elena learns how to sound out words for her little brother. The heartwarming color illustrations bring this empathetic tale to life. Elean's Story is highly recommended especially for public and school library picturebook collections.

The Art Shelf

Rangoli, An Indian Art Activity Book
Suma O'Farrell, author
Mazaa LLC
1555 Botelho Dr., #433
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
9780984962402, $19.95,

"Rangoli, an Indian Art Activity Book" is a sturdy, spiral bound instruction book on creating artistic designs called rangoli, especially adapted for children age 9 and up. For a fun, creative, and easily learned artistic activity, rangoli is the ideal activity. Rangoli can be drawn on the ground, with natural colors and materials, or on paper or even computer. Beginners find it easier to start using different grids to help them learn some of the common techniques, such as connecting the dots or looping the loops. "Rangoli" is full of different blank grids that can be enlarged and copied or used right in the book for creating rangoli designs. Further study presents the "art meets math" chapter, which teaches children to analyze and explore shapes, patterns, and find reflections of nature in the rangoli design medium. Art activities such as how to draw an elephant, or how to design a maze are included. "Rangoli" is a wonderful children's art project book that is both culturally enriched and informative and educational.

The Science Shelf

The Great Grand Canyon Time Train
Susan Lowell, author
John W. Shroades, illustrator
Rio Chico Books for Children/Rio Nuevo
P.O. Box 5250, Tucson, AZ 85703
9781933855639, $15.95,

"The Great Canyon Time Train" is a visual adventure story about a special train ride to the Grand Canyon for twins Sam and Rosie. They decide to take a special guided Time Train tour of the Grand Canyon which allows them to see events in the Canyon's past. Lots of different levels and layers of rocks are magically penetrated by the Time Train, and it even spends some time in a swamp, like a mystical submarine! The time and land of the dinosaurs is glimpsed, and also woolly mammoths and Native Americans, as the Time Train loops and doubles through time changes. Finally the twins are brought back to the train station by the suspendered Major Powell, and their parents ask how they liked the tour. "The Great Grand Canyon Time Train" is a fabulous educational device to show children the evolution through ages of a great natural phenomenon.

The Cookbook Shelf

Food, Faith & Fun: A Faithgirlz Cookbook
Kim Childress, editor
Ron Nickel Photography, recipe photography
5300 Patterson Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310723165, $12.99,

"Food, Faith & Fun" is a Christian tween girls' cookbook studded with Biblical scripture inspirations and related quotations. Young tween-aged cooks are encouraged to think of their bodies as temples, to care for themselves by eating healthy foods, and to practice clean, safe cooking techniques to prepare healthy, delicious snacks, salads, main dishes, and sweets or special holiday treats. Here are color photo-illustrated recipes for easy -to -prepare delectable entrees and snacks, including Celery Stick Butterfly, Hummus, Homemade Hot Pretzels, Homemade Lemonade, Peanut Butter Fudge Shake, White Chicken Chili, Guacamole Wraps, Blackened Chicken, Oatmeal Carrot Muffins, Traditional Irish Soda Bread, Deviled Eggs, Pumpkin Bread, Simple Corn Souffle, Wacky Gingerbread Men, and more. The Faithgirlz series is dedicated to directing the focus of tween age girls towards developing their Christian faith and awareness of their special relationship to God.

Get Cooking! A Jewish American Family Cookbook
Rachel Harkham and Doni Zasloff Thomas, authors
Behrman House
11 Edison Place, Sptingfield, NJ 07081
9780874419481, $19.95,

"Get Cooking!" is described as 'a full year of celebration of Jewish American food and culture,' organized by holiday. There are special recipes and menus for Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, New Year's Eve, Tu Bishevat (Jewish Earth Day), Football Sundays, Purim, April Fool's Day, Passover, Yom Ha'atzma'ut, family celebrations, Shavuot, and the Fourth of July. In addition to fine recipes for fantastic food and luscious photographs, "Get Cooking!" includes a CD by co-author Doni Zasloff Thomas (aka Mama Doni), an award winning performer/songwriter who celebrates Jewish culture with music for all ages. Of course, the CD includes songs about food, like "Latke Man," and "Challah Day," of "Falafafull." All recipes are kid-friendly and suitable for a kosher home and kitchen. Recipes are labeled "meat." "dairy," or "pareve" according to kosher standards. There are also some vegan recipes, which would be considered pareve. Specialty recipes include Pomegranate Barbecue Chicken for Rosh Hashanah, Sunny Citrus Mint Salad for Yom Kippur, Super Stuffed Peppers for sukkah, Mini Sweet Potato Knishes for Thanksgiving, and many more delicious examples. Instructions are clear and step by step, and special ingredients have extra hints about sources and uses. "Get Cooking!" is chock full of color photos of teenagers, riddles and jokes, party suggestions, and game and songfest ideas. "Get Cooking!" is a great resource for Jewish American families with kids who want to cook.

The Bilingual Shelf

Grasshopper Buddy (El Saltamontes Buddy)
Michael Smith, author
Octavio Oliva, illustrator
Redactores en Red, Spanish translator
East West Discovery Press
P.O. Box 3585, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
9780985623708 $TBA hc
9780985623715 $TBA pbk

"Grasshopper Buddy" is a delightful bilingual story about a boy who tries to catch a grasshopper. Told in rhyme in both English and Spanish, "Grasshopper Buddy" appeals to young children with its colorful illustrations and jaunty lines. The final surprise comes as the grasshopper chooses to jump on the boy's knee, and he wonders, "Did I Catch the grasshopper or did he catch me?/ Atrape al saltamontes, o el me atrapo a mi?" "Grasshopper Buddy" is perfect bicultural early reading experience for children age 4 and up.

The Gardening Shelf

The Butterfly Adventure
Nancy Lorraine, author
Dorothy Herron, illustrator
Rebecca Lorraine, editor
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470006068, $15.00,

"The Butterfly Adventure" is a charming illustrated children's book about the living creatures, flora and fauna, insects and flowers, who populate a butterfly garden. Fully illustrated with beautiful water color paintings of natural garden scenes including flowers, grasses, butterflies, insects and more, "The Butterfly Adventure" is designed to charm and appeal to children ages 3-8. The author is a retired licensed therapist who is also a master gardener. She wrote "The Butterfly Adventure" especially for her grandchild. The gentle chapter pages unfold story after story about Mr. Toad, Mr. Turtle, a blue and a yellow butterfly, a caterpillar, and more. Even a stickbug and a damselfly are story characters and subjects of the lush watercolor illustrations. Contrasting page and print colors add to the feeling of diurnal time passing in the story. Children will love exploring the world of "The Butterfly Adventure," along with their parents.

The Dance Shelf

Dancers of the World
Aurelia Hardy, author
Sybile, illustrator
Auzou Editions
24-32 rue des Amandiers, 75020 Paris, France
9782733812334, $19.95,

"Dancers of the World" is a magical vignette of 14 graceful dancers from locations, traditions, and cultures around the world. Beautifully illustrated with fold-out painted scenes, dancers like Heloise, from the Parisian ballet, or Maeva, a Tahitian dancer, or Cynthia, an American rock and roll dancer adorn these incredible pages. Each dancer has a brief biography that includes specifics about the origin of the type of dance she specializes in. From Aram, a Bollywood dancer in Omandur, South India, to Akiko, a kabuki dancer in Japan, here are beautiful examples of many styles of exotic, graceful dance traditions. "Dancers of the World" is a treasure chest book especially appealing to young girls who hope to follow their own dance dreams.

The Reference Shelf

My First Atlas, Discovering Our World
Denis Pero, author
Auzou Editions
24-32 rue des Amandiers, 75020 Paris, France
9782733821480, $18.95,

The exciting feature of "My First Atlas, Discovering the World" is the amazing hardback cover which unfolds to reveal a full color map of the world with dozens of miniature country flags organized by continent or large geographic area, such as the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania (including Australia and Pacific islands). Here is a fantastic visual representation of the known countries and continents of the world, minus the Poles, studded with colorful visual keys and identifying characteristics. "My First Atlas" includes chapters on Africa, North America, South America, Asia, Europe, Oceania, and the Poles, plus creative puzzles and learning activities to reinforce all the identifying information on each continental area. In addition, there is an associated legend or characteristic myth or folk tale colorfully retold, associated with each major area. For example, the Oceania legend tells of the Rainbow Snake, an Australian aboriginal legend. Each chapter has brief illustrated paragraphs describing the area's climate, plants, animals, history and population, customs, and a Quick Quiz to reinforce learning. Suitable educational reading for children age 7 and up, "My First Atlas" is a boon to geography teachers and elementary students who have always wondered about the world.

Books in Series

The Amazon River
Karen Bush Gibson, author
Mitchell Lane Publishers
P.O. Box 196, Hockessin, Delaware 19707
9781612282930, $29.95,

"The Amazon River" is a juvenile geography book from the series Rivers of the World. Filled with color photos of scenes along the Amazon and sidebars of historic interest, "The Amazon River" presents five chapters of past and present history of the fabulous Amazon River which is over 11 million years old. From its discovery by Spanish conquistador Francisco de Orellana, on a quest for cinnamon and gold, to the present day dialogue between developers and nature preservationists, the Amazon and its territory is the subject of intense fact presentation and inquiry in "The Amazon River." The Amazon is an amazing source of unusual species of flora and fauna, including rare medicines that may be of huge benefit to the world. It is also home to a significant through dwindling population of indigenous tribes, many of whom are leaving the traditional forest homes and ways for the cities. Many view the fate of the shores and deeps of the Amazon as representative of one of the world's most fragile ecosystems, under threat from effects of development. Study of this area is encouraged to fuel informed long term goals and planning. "The Amazon River" is excellent geographical education for juveniles at its best. Further resources include chapter notes, bibliography, related websites, and a glossary. Other recommended titles in the Rivers of the World series include: "The Nile River (9781612282947, $29.95)," by Tammy Gagne," "The Ganges River (9781612282954, $29.95)" by Earle Rice Jr., and "The Mississippi River (9781612282961, $29.95)," by Claire O'Neal.

The Birth of the Locomotive (1780s-1820s)
Joanne Mattern, author
Mitchell Lane Publishers
P.O. Box 196, Hockessin, Delaware 19707
9781612282862, $29.95

"The Birth of the Locomotive (1780s-1820s)" is a juvenile railroad history educational book from the series titled the Railroad in American History. Filled with historic photographs and illustrations and juicy, informative sidebars, "The Birth of the Locomotive (1780s-1820s) presents the early English development of a locomotive railway transportation system in fascinating details and true stories. Many are unaware of the early opposition to the development of steam rail transport. Information about George Stephenson, known as Father of the Railways, is chronicled and presented in thumbnail sketches. Fascinating in its scope and diversity, "The Birth of the Locomotive" covers early railway history as a part of the (British) Industrial Revolution. Further resources for reading and internet research are included as well as a glossary and a timeline from 1712-1830 for early British railway development and history. Other recommended titles from this series include "The Railroad Comes to America (1820s-1830s) (9781612282879, $29.95)," by Karen Bush Gibson, "The Railroad Grows Into an Industry (1840s-1850s) (9781612282886, $29.95)," by Kathleen Tracy, "The Railroad and the Civil War (1860s) (9781612282893, $29.95)," by Tamra Orr, "The Railroad Fuels Westward Expansion (1870s) (9781612282909, $29.95)," by Russell Roberts, and "Electric Trains and Trolleys (1880-Present) (9781612282916, $29.95)," by John Bankston.

Special Operations: Snipers
Don Nardo
Morgan Reynolds Inc.
620 S. Elm St., Suite 223
Greensboro, NC 27406
9781599353685 $27.45

Part of "The Military Experience" series, Special Operations: Snipers is a library-bound book ideal for young adults in grade school, describing the rigorous training, staunch discipline, and accomplishments of professional snipers in the modern American military. From the true story of how Navy SEAL snipers saved the life of Captain Phillips after Somali pirates kidnapped him, to the rigorous physical endurance, camouflage, independent-thinking and marksmanship training snipers must undergo, to the state-of-the-art equipment snipers use and much more, Special Operations: Snipers gives an extraordinarily clear picture of the high demands placed upon these individuals in the conflicts of today's era. "...more than anything else the sniper schools try to turn out independent warriors. These are individuals who can work on their own and be trusted to make the right choices. 'Commanders aren't looking for 'good shots' or 'natural born killers,' military observer Robert Valdes says. What they are looking for 'is a soldier that possesses good decision making and a level head.'" Full-color photographs on almost every page illustrate this fact-filled, respectful and serious-minded look at an extremely demanding military career, written expressly to be accessible to young people. Also highly recommended are the rest of "The Military Experience" titles (9781599353548 / $192.15 full set), "Amphibious Warfare" (9781599353647), "Paratroopers" (9781599353609), "Reconnaissance" (9781599353661), "Search and Rescue" (9781599353623), "Training" (9781599353562), and "Weapons" (9781599353586).

Political Profiles: Mitt Romney
David Aretha
Morgan Reynolds Inc.
620 S. Elm St., Suite 223
Greensboro, NC 27406
9781599353449 $28.95

Part of the excellent Political Profiles series offering young adults illustrated biographical portraits of prominent modern politicians with an emphasis upon their policy and governmental views, Political Profiles: Mitt Romney covers the Republican Party nominee for the 2012 Presidential Election. Color photographs every few pages illustrate this survey of Mitt's early life, his business achievements, his accomplishments as governor of Massachusetts, his previous bid for the Republican nomination in 2008, and his current campaign. A timeline, bibliography, and index round out this accessible, reader-friendly introduction to a major American political figure. Highly recommended for grade school library collections, along with the rest of the Political Profiles series ($28.95 each, $347.40 complete set): "Barack Obama", "Al Gore", "Hillary Clinton", "Nancy Pelosi", "Arnold Schwarzenegger", "Ted Kennedy", "Michelle Obama", "John Lewis", "Joe Biden", "Michael Bloomberg", and "Sarah Palin".

Abby's Adventures: Dance Recital ... and the Case of Ballerina-Itis!
Suzanne Ridolfi, author
Dawn Griffin, illustrator
Eifrig Publishing
701 Berry Street, P.O. Box 66, LeMont, PA 16851
9781936172030, $9.99,

Abby's Adventures: Dance Recital... and the Case of Ballerina-Itis" is a whimsical, humorous illustrated story about a spunky girl who likes to explore exciting new experiences, like learning to be a ballerina. Although Abby is excited to start learning to dance, she soon discovers that it is a challenging experience. Frustrated by the complicated instructions, the new positions, and the physical demands of learning beginning ballet, Abby decides she has "ballerina-itis." Fortunately her mother and Miss Nadia, her teacher know how to help her recover her enthusiasm for ballet. They encourage her to practice, practice, practice. More important, they tell her that she doesn't have to be the best, she just needs to practice and do her very best. Abby survives the dance recital and learns a valuable lesson about sticking to a project and seeing it through. Comical illustrations help young readers identify with Abby and learn new things without feeling threatened or scared. "Abby's Adventures: Dance Recital and the Case of Ballerina-Itis" is part of a popular series for girls ages 3-10 which also includes the following titles, also highly recommended: "Abby's Adventures: Picture Day... and the Missing Tooth (9781936172085)" and "Abby's Adventures: Christmas Carol... and Little Miss Scrooge (9781936172429)."

My New Normal series
Sara Michelle
Saddleback Publishing Inc.
3120 Pullman Street
Cosa Mesa, CA 92626-4564
$8.95 each

My New Normal is the debut series of harrowing young adult novels by talented teen author Sara Michelle, describing the efforts of a teenagers Cecilia and Ryan to survive after the effective end of the world. Both have lost virtually everyone and everything they've loved; their shattered world is rife with violence and uncertainty, with no government, no medicine, no transportation, and no food outside of what they can grow or kill. The harshness of this "new normal" severely strains their relationship; is there any hope for the future, let alone the here and now? These brief yet thought-provoking novels are exceptional picks for public and school library YA collections, highly recommended. The books in the series are "The Aftermath: Book 1" (9781616517700), "The Upside: Book 2" (978161657717), "The Others: Book 3" (9781616517724), "The Outside: Book 4" (978161517847), and "The Beginning: Book 5" (9781616517854).

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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