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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 9 September 2006 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Audiobook Shelf Boardbook/Easy Reader Shelf
Books in Series Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Fiction Shelf
Graphic Novel Shelf Library DVD Shelf Mythology/Folklore
Paperback Shelf Picturebook Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Ice Cream: The Full Scoop
Gail Gibbons
Holiday House
425 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10017
0823420000 $16.95

Ice Cream: The Full Scoop describes the history of home and commercial ice cream making, from its hand-cranked beginnings to the origins of the ice cream cone and the modern ice cream factory. Packed with Gibbons' signature drawings, Ice Cream offers a fine visual and written history.

Freaky Facts About Natural Disasters
T&N Children's Publishing
11571 K-Tel Drive, Minnetonka, MN 55343
1587285398 $13.95

Plenty of books discuss weather patterns and many survey single weather problems such as tornadoes or hurricanes: Freaky Facts About Natural Disasters combines them all under one cover, telling how disaster scientists seek trouble, gather facts, and understand and predict events. It's the juxtaposition of disasters with color photos, illustrations and fun trivia facts that makes this so fascinating.

Nurturing Your Children Press
PO Box 5066, Larkspur, CA 94977
$15.00 each

Engagingly written by Brenda Bercuh (a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Child and Family Mental Health with some 30 years of professional experience working with parents and children, including the mothering of her own two offspring) and cheerfully illustrated by Sue Gross, two new picturebooks for children ages 3 to 7 are specifically designed to support parents and children through the expansion and transition of their families when a new baby is born. Enhanced with accompanying CDs that reinforces the positive message of the storylines, I'm Going To Be A Big Sister (097671986X) and I'm Going To Be A Big Brother (0976719878) are gender oriented stories that will help immensely in preparing girls and boys for the arrival of their new sibling including such issues as preparing their older child for the time they are away from their mother and father when their sibling is born, the safety needs and precautions for a newborn, the older child's essential new role in the expanded family, the foundation for a positive sibling relationship. Both of these outstanding titles are enthusiastically recommended additions to family and community library collections.

So You Think You Know
His Dark Materials?
Hodder Children's/Trafalgar Square
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, North Pomfret, VT 05053-0257
0349811867 $8.96 1-800-423-4525

Any fan of Philip Pullman's 'Dark Materials' trilogy will find inviting this unofficial quiz book based on the adventures of Lyra and Will. Some 1,000 graded questions will reach ages 8 and older, and makes for a fun companion to the trilogy.

When The New Baby Comes, I'm Moving Out
Martha Alexander
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
1570916780 $9.95

Young Oliver is angry. His mother is giving away his high char and crib to the new baby that is coming to live with them. Oliver can't even sit on his mom's lap because her tummy has grown too big. Oliver is so angry he feels like throwing his mom in the garbage can, or running away and living in his tree house. There is just no room for a new baby in his life. But when momma reminds him that there are perks to being a big brother, Oliver decides to stick around and share his wisdom with the new baby. Originally published in 1979 and featuring recolored art by author/illustrator Martha Alexander, When The New Baby Comes, I'm Moving Out is an ideal book which is enthusiastically recommended for children whose parents want to prepare them for the arrival of a new baby in the family.

Vulnerable In Hearts
Sandy Balfour
Farrar Straus Giroux
175 Fifth Avenue, #300, NY, NY 10010
0374285721 $22.00 1-888-330-8477

While Vulnerable In Hearts easily reaches an adult audience, this memoir is reviewed here for its special interest to young adults as well, telling of a father, a son, and contract bridge, which binds their worlds. Eight decades of Balfour's father's life and the same period in the history of bridge are provided in an intriguing world history of the game. Plenty of teens will find the father, son and game interrelationships intriguing.

The Audiobook Shelf

Room One
Andrew Clements
Simon & Schuster Audio
1230 Avenue of Americas, NY NY 10020
0743555600 $19.95

Keith Nobbs has appeared in Broadway productions and also has film credits to his name: his voice lends equally well to Room One, the story of a fifth grader in the process of working out a good mystery one upon which the future of not only his small classroom but his entire town may rest.

Ulysses Moore: The Long-Lost Map
Edzioni Piemme
Brilliance Audio
PO Box 887, Grand Haven, MI 49417
1423313267 $24.95 1-800-854-7859

Michael Page's reading brings to life the story of Jason, Julia and Rick, time travelers to ancient Egypt who are trapped in the past, unless they can locate the long-lost map of Kilmore Cove hidden somewhere in Egypt. Puzzles left by the strange Ulysses Moore may help in this fine audio mystery.

Full Cast Audio
618 Westcott Street, 1st Floor, Syracuse, NY 13210

Three excellent audios are recommended for high school and public library holdings, appealing to teen audiobook listeners with unabridged specialty items. David Luber's Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie (1933322519, $37.00) enjoys embellishments by Ryan MacConnell and the Full Cast Family, and provides an audio novel telling of one Scott, who's a teen in high school just learning his mom is going to have a baby. His journal is addressed to the unknown intruder and provides many light moments and reflections. Tamora Pierce's Street Magic (1933322470, $39.00) is read by Bruce Coville and a full cast of narrators who spice up another 'The Circle Opens' fantasy. Here a teen and his teacher travel to ancient Chammur, where Briar discovers a girl who has magic with stone a powerful gift in a village made of stone. It's up to Briar to find her a teacher, or teach her himself. George MacDonald's classic The Light Princess (1933322683, $25.00) comes to life under the voices of Cynthia Bishop and the Full Cast narrators: a newborn princess faces a curse and is apt to blow away. Can a prince bring her down to earth? Excellent tales come to life in the full cast audio performances.

The Disappearing TV Star
Emily Rodda
48 Oxord Woods, Falmouth, ME 04105
1740937589 $28.00 1-888-235-2019

Richelle is delighted when the Teen Power gang is hired to be extras in a TV commercial for a new candy bar called "The Lot". This could be her big break, her chance to get into modeling or even the movies! But her plans for this glamourous and promising new job didn't foresee getting mixed up with the spoiled teenage millionaire TV star Cassandra Cass! Superbly narrated by Rebecca Macauley and flawlessly recorded on 3 CDs with a title running time of 3 hours, 15 minutes, The Disappearing TV Star is a superbly crafted and original mystery-adventure by Emily Rodda and is an ideal addition to school and community library audiobook collections as being highly entertaining for young listeners ages 8 and older. Also enthusiastically recommended from Bolinda are Darrel and Sally Odger's Jack Russell: Dog Detective in the Dog Den Mystery (1740937635, $18.00, 1 CD, 45 minutes, narrator Alan King, ages 8 and older).

The Boardbook/Easy Reader Shelf

Hey Diddle Diddle
Theresa Howell
Rising Moon
PO Box 1389, Flagstaff, AZ 86002-1389
0873588967 $5.95

It's 'hey diddle diddle' with a difference: Bobcat plays the fiddle and a host of Southwestern-native animals join in. Liz Conrad's drawings are outstanding and lively additions to a simple series of easy rhymes and descriptions, making this a top recommendation for parents who tire of the usual traditional themes. Hey Diddle Diddle is ideal for family and community library preschool board book collections.

The Adventures Of Wonderbaby From A To Z
Oliver Chin & Joe Chiodo
PO Box 31846, San Francisco CA 94131
159702001X $8.95

The Adventures Of Wonderbaby From A To Z board book by Oliver Chin provides preschoolers with an A-Z compendium of wonders pairing colorful and whimsical illustrations by Joe Chiodo with the hilarious tale of an energetic infant. Parents will find this a far more stimulating board book presentation than your usual alphabet title.

Mrs. Wow Never Wanted A Cow
Martha Freeman
Random House
1745 Broadway, 10-1, NY, NY 10019
0375834184 $8.99 1-800-726-0600

Mrs. Wow Never Wanted A Cow receives Steven Salerno's fine drawings, enhancing lively rhyming easy-read story pairing classic art with a Dr. Seuss-compatible format and theme. When a cow unexpectedly shows up, a lazy dog and cat decide to teach it their chores so they can relax but the cow is proving a problem until Mrs. Wow finds a solution.

Henry And Mudge And The Big Sleepover
Cynthia Rylant
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of Americas, NY, NY 10020
0689811713 $14.95

Level 2 readers are for kids reading independently and Henry And Mudge And The Big Sleepover provides another Henry and Mudge story with fine short chapters, varied sentence structure, and adventure. Here Henry is invited to a sleepover party and nighttime adventures seem to assure nobody will get to sleep, especially when a father decides to participate. Sucie Stevenson's drawings are fun embellishments.

Books in Series

Saddleback Publishing
3 Watson, Irvine, CA 92618-2767
$9.95 each

"The Life of..." series consists of eight 32-page books written on a fifth grade reading level with an interest level appropriate for grades 6-12 and showcasing life in selected ancient cultures. Based on sound historical and archaeological research, these eight early civilizations include: Aztec Life, Chinese Life, Egyptian Life, Greek Life, Inca Life, Native American Life, Roman Life, and Viking Life. Each book features sections on pastimes, food, art, architecture, health, marriage, children, trade, and transportation. Enhanced with maps, photographs, illustrations, and an index, "The Life of..." series also has accompanying Teacher Resource Guides for learning activities, literacy skills activities, and reproducibles. Especially appropriate for use with reluctant and remedial readers, "The Life of... series is a highly recommended addition to school social studies curriculum resources and for use by homeschooling parents.

Crabtree Publishing Company
350 Fifth Avenue, #3308, NY, NY 10118

The Crabtree Publishing Company is a premier publisher of non-fiction books-in-series for young readers. With a grade 4 reading level and a grades 3 to 9 interest level, enhanced with full-col9or photographs and illustrations, as well as a glossary and index, the new series on "Breakthrough Inventions" showcases four titles available in both a paperback and a hardcover edition: Inventing The Automobile (077872834X, PB, $8.95 & 0778728129, HC, $25.26); Inventing The Television (0778728358, PB, $8.95 & 0778728137, HC, $25.26); Inventing The Camera (0778728366, PB, $8.95 & 0778728145, HC, $25.26); and Inventing The Telephone (0778728374, PB, $8.95 & 07787-28153, HC, $25.26).Each of these visually documented histories cover the respective invention from its earliest beginnings through its technological evolution family to children today. "Earth's Endangered Animals" showcases four new titles hold a grades 2 to 3 reading level, grades 2 to 8 interest level, and are enhanced with superb photography and illustrations, as well as featuring a glossary and index. The series includes Endangered Bats (0778719-12X, PB, $6.95 & 0778718662, HC, $23.92); Endangered Manatees (077871-9146, PB, $6.95 & 0778718689, HC, $23.92); Endangered Frogs (0778719189, PB, $6.95 & 0778718727, HC, $23.92); and Endangered Butterflies (0778719162, PB, $6.95 & 0778718700, HC, $23.92). "Extreme Sports: No Limits!" showcases four popular athletic activities with a grade 4 reading level, grades 3 to 9 interest level, color photography and illustrations, glossary and index. Extreme Skydiving (0778717305, PB, $6.95 & 07787-16848, HC, $23.92); Extreme Skiing (0778717283, PB, $6.95 & 0778716821, HC, $23.92); Extreme Mountain Biking (0778717240, PB, $6.95 & 0778716783, HC, $23.92); and Extreme Wakeboarding (0778717267, PB, $6.95 & 0778716805, HC, $23.92). Each of these series of 32 page non-fiction books would make popular, informative, and "kid friendly" additions to any school or community library collection.

Picture Window Books
5115 Excelsior Boulevard, Suite 232, Minneapolis, MN 55416

Imaginatively written by Felicia Law and enhanced with the wonderfully colorful artwork of either Claire Philpott or Nicola Evans, the "Bamboo & Friends" series is an eight book series of stories about a trio of friends (the panda bear Bamboo, a zebra named Velvet, and a bird called Beak) who enjoy simple and entertaining adventures that will engage the interest of children ages 4 to 7. The series includes The Bookseller Bird (140481283); The Creeping Vine (1404812849); The Dragonfly (1404813020); The Flower's Busy Day (140481281); Marvelous Meals (140481-2857); The Moon (1404812822); The Rainy Day (1404812806); and The Tree (1404813012). Featuring a lyrical text which adheres to the National Council for the Social Studies Standards for the English Language Arts, each of these 32-page, full color, picturebooks is an ideal additions to any school or community library collection for children ranging from preschool through the second grade. While each title is available separately ($16.95), library systems are encouraged to acquire the entire eight volume set (180.80 list/$135.60 library).

Morgan Reynolds Publishing
620 South Elm Street, Suite 223, Greensboro, NC 27406
$26.95 each

Morgan Reynolds publishers titles which easily reach from advanced elementary through middle school and perhaps even into early high school years, each presenting around 150 pages of facts. The publisher is especially strong on biographies, and teens will find them most accessible for reports. Juliane Locke's England's Jane: The Story Of Jane Austen (103-1798826) tells of a girl raised with six siblings in a small village who loved to write from an early age, but didn't publish until she was thirty-five. Peggy Cervantes' Deep Woods: The Story Of Robert Frost (1931798923) tells of a California-born pet who grows to love and appreciate the landscape, incorporating it into his writings. Historical figures come to life under Morgan Reynolds' writers: Kerrily Sapet's Eleanor Of Aquitaine: Medieval Queen (1931798907) reviews the life of a woman who symbolizes both achievement and corruption, Kevin Cunningham's Joseph Stalin And The Soviet Union (19317-9894X) reviews the regime and world of a leader who failed to prepare for the German invasion and terrorized his own people; Fearless Captain; The Adventures Of John Smith by Aleck Loker (193179-8834) covers not just Smith's well-known adventures in the New world, but his childhood and youth and the flavor of his times; Bruce Brager's John Paul Jones: America's Sailor (1931798842) tells of an early advocate of the American cause during the Revolution; Kathlyn Gay's Mother Jones (1599460165) tells of an Irish-born Mary Harris who traveled to America to escape the potato famine in Ireland and became dedicated to the labor movement, Calvin Craig Miller's Che Guevara: In Search Of Revolution (1931798931) surveys a revolutionary fighter born to an aristocratic Argentinian family, and John Dubertstein's A Velvet Revolution: Vaclav Havel And The Fall Of Communism (1931798850) tells of a dissident playwright in Communist Czechslovakia whose works protested the regime. Myra Weatherly's Women Of The Sea: Ten Pirate Stories (193179880X) provides many stories of bold women who chose adventure and alternative lifestyles that broke traditions. Others in the 'American Workers' series cover specific events in labor history: Nancy Whitelaw's The Homestead Steel Strike Of 1892 (1931798885) covers conflicts between workers and Carnegie and Frick, who had to deal with a powerful labor union; Rosemary Laughlin's The Ludlow Massacre Of 1813-14 (1931798869) tells of a Colorado strike by mine workers which turned into bloodshed, and her Pullman Strike Of 1894 (1931798893) reveals the first major strike at the Pullman Palace Car Company. All are top picks for middle grades into high school.

Enslow Publishers
PO Box 398, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922

The series covering 'America's Wars Through Primary Sources' adds Kim A. O'Connell's Vietnam War (1598450018) and James M. Deem's Mexican-American War (1598450050, $33.27 EACH), with primary source references and web links including newspaper accounts, speeches, songs, and personal journals. Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin's What Made The Wild West Wild (1598450166, $33.27) provides links to stories, profiles and summaries of historic events which contributed to its image in American writings and history, while Alison Imbriaco's The Mountain Gorilla (1598450352, $33.27) joins others in the series to provide a narrowed focus on conservation efforts of the particular species. Enslow has a wide range of non-Internet based references too: the same grade level will learn from the fine 'Celebrate Holidays' titles ($31.93 each) such as Heather Miller's St. Patrick's Day (0766025810), Wendy Mass' Celebrate Halloween (0766024911), and Elaine A. Kule's Celebrate Thanksgiving Day (0766025780) and Chinese New Year (0766025772), all of which pack in a little over a hundred pages of info each with history and discussion of evolving celebration methods and customs. 'The American Saga' series ($31.93 each) will reach this grade level also, offering a vivid series that traces changes in American culture and events. Tim McNeese's The Transcontinental Railroad And Western Expansion (0766025721) covers the changes the rails brought to geographic and cultural knowledge; Spring Hermann's The Struggle For Equality: Women And Minorities In America (076602573X) surveys stories of the individuals who fought for equal rights over the decades, and R. Conrad Stein's The Industrial Revolution (0766025713) surveys how machines created new technologies, fostered new economic systems, and how labor issues rose to the foreground. History will reach younger audiences as well with Ealine Landau's Witness The Salem Witchcraft Trials (0766025586, $$23.93) for grades 3-4, holding a little over forty pages which includes a timeline, maps, color drawings and a 'you are there' historical review, or Stephen Feinstein's contributions to the 'Decades of the Century' series ($27.93 each) for grades 4-6 covering The 1930s (0766026337) and The 1920s (0766026-329) with a little over sixty pages each of color photos and lively facts. Health collections will want to consider and add Alvin and Virginia Silverstien and Laura Silverstein Nunn's The Sickle Cell Anemia Update (0766024792, $31.93) for grades 5-6, with its latest research facts on the disease, and John Blankston's Inhalents = Busted! (0766024725, $31.93), with a little over a hundred pages of real life stories showing inhalant use can lead to disaster. Young scientists in grades 3-4 will find two new project titles by Robert Gardner ($23.93 Each) fascinating and easy to use: Melting, Freezing, And Boiling: Science Projects With Matter (076-6025896) and Sizzling Science Projects With Heat And Energy (0766025861) each pack in science fair winners. Honorable mentions and also recommended are Cvarol Gnojewski's African-American Crafts Kids Can Do! (0766024571, $22.60), teaching about African Americans and pairing biography with projects, and Carmen Bredeson's Monarch Butterflies Up Close (0766024946, $21.26), holding a little over twenty pages of focus on the monarch butterfly's natural history. All promise lasting lending value and all are top picks for school and community libraries.

Stargazer Books/Creative Company
123 South Broad Street, Mankato, MN 56001

The eight volume series "Earthwise" provides elementary school students with an informative and engaging introduction to the seasons, ecosystems, weather patterns, the Earth, and how all of these environmental factors affect their lives and their communities. Each of the 32-page volumes presents a thoroughly "reader friendly" text enhanced with learning activities, websites, color photographs, illustrations, a glossary, and an index. The practical activities deserve special note for helping young readers to learn through observation and simple, fun experiments. The titles comprising this outstanding series include Ecosystems (1932799508); My Town (1932799494); Getting Around (19327995-24); Our Planet (1932799516); Seasons (1932799486); Sun (193279946X); Water (1932799451); and Weather (1932799-478). Although the individual titles are available separately ($27.10 list & $18.95 school/library), elementary schools and community libraries should acquire the entire set ($216.80 list & $151.60 school/library).

Chrysalis Education/Creative Company
123 South Broad Street, Mankato, MN 56001

Angela Royston's "Baby Animals" series 4 volumes: $135.50 list; $94.75 school/library, is comprised of 32-page, photographically illustrated picturebooks that will have very special appeal for preschool through first grade students. Written a first grade reading level and specifically designed to appeal to early readers, each book combines color photographs with a text laced with interesting facts along with a glossary to help young readers expand their vocabularies. With the addition of a Quiz and an Index, the four titles in the Baby Animals series includes Puppy (1593891598), Chick (1593891628), Kitten (159389158X), Lamb (159389161X), and Rabbit (1593891601). Ideal for school and community library 'early reader' collections, the "Baby Animal" series is also enthusiastically recommended for homeschool parents and parents simply wanting to supplement their child's reading materials while instilling a love of reading.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Reggie & Ryssa And The Summer Camp Of Faery
Bo Savino
Koboca Publishing
26345 Dayflower Boulevard, Wesley Chapel, FL 33543-6262
0974499757 $13.95

Reggie & Ryssa And The Summer Camp Of Faery is a young adult fantasy novel about a pair of twins who, on their thirteenth birthday, discover that the world of Faeries co-exists just beyond the reach and vision of the mundane human world. Furthermore, both twins were once a part of Faery world, and now that an unknown force is dissolving the barrier that separates the worlds, the Faeries want the children back! They must embark upon a magical adventure to restore balance to both worlds and regain control over their destines, in this imaginative and enjoyable novel recommended for fantasy lovers of all ages and backgrounds.

The Fiction Shelf

Vivian Untangled
Sarah Hartt-Snowbell
Napoleon Publishing
178 Willowdale Avenue, Suite 201, Toronto, Ontario M2N 4Y8
1894917251 $8.95 1-877-730-9052

Sarah Hartt-Snowbell's Vivian Untangled is a 136 page children's novel that is genuine and pulls no punches. Holding interest from start to finish, Vivian Untangled deals with the dilemma of a young Jewish-Canadian girl of the mid fifties who tries to face up to her mistakes and reflect the love of her grandfather back to him in a troubled time. Vivian makes mistakes, but she has spunk. She takes the bad with the good and tries her best to make something of her life. Although she may seem like a troublesome meddler to some, Vivian is a flawed heroine with whom young readers can identify. As her grandfather proudly tells her in the end, when she has done her best to create a solution to her crime of theft from her grandfather,"My precious Vivian, you're ready for life (p. 127)!"

Holiday House
425 Madison Ave., New York NY 10017

Mary Amato's Drooling And Dangerous: The Riot Brothers Return (082341986X, $16.95) pairs black and white cartoon-style drawings by Ethan Long with another vivid Riot Brothers tale: and no previous familiarity with them is required to enjoy this sequel. Orville and Wilbur are always looking for fun, whether it be in bug sandwiches or adopting a zany new identity complete with costume. Sjoerd Kuyper's The Swan's Child (0823418618, $16.95) is translated by Patricia Crampton and receives fine drawings by Jan Jutte as it provides a fairytale telling of an animal town facing a baby on a swan. Only old pig Sanders knows what to do: he adopts the child and raises her as his own in this warm folk story.

Witch Catcher
Mary Downing Hahn
Clarion Books
215 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10003
0618504575 $16.00

Jen is thrilled when her widowed father inherits a castle-like estate in the West Virginia mountains but problems with her father's new girlfriend and the mansion's mysterious holdings will change her life especially when she discovers there's a supernatural war taking place on her own turf. A spellbinding story evolves.

Knopf Delacorte Dell/Random House
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019

Lurlene McDaniel's Letting Go Of Lisa (0385731590, $10.95) departs somewhat from her focus on teen diseases and death to tell of one Nathan, who has been homeschooled until high school. On his first day at school he meets the flashy motorcycle loner Lisa, and he finds both romance and danger and a secret she harbors. Sherri L. Smith's Sparrow (0385733240, $15.95) tells of a grandmother's death and Kendall's search for an aunt who is her only remaining link to family. Her journey to her aunt leads instead to new friendships and new meanings of family ties. E.E. Richardson's The Intruders (0385732643, $15.95) tells of Joel, who is looking forward to his new stepfamily. His sister Cassie thinks they're intruders, though and their new home is a neglected mess. When the nightmares begin, even Joel must admit the old home harbors a dangerous secret. Ahmet Zappa's The Monstrous Memoirs Of A Mighty Mcfearless (0375832-874, $12.95) contains vivid, unusual writing, a very different plot revolving around evil monsters and siblings who determine to rescue their kidnaped father, and visuals: doodles, color illustration and more. These are fine embellishments to a compelling story of adventure and rescue. Chris Humphreys' The Fetch (0375832-920, $15.95) is a fine fantasy for older teens in which protagonist Sky discovers relics from his Norwegian grandfather in the attic and unwittingly unlocks the key of the runes, gaining access to his dead grandfather's ghost, who teaches him the glory and dangers of sending his 'fetch' into other bodies. Trouble evolves when a blood sacrifice is called for. Ariel and Joaquin Dorfman's Burning City (0375832-041, $7.95) is set in 2001 in New York City. A young bicycle messenger finds new paths open in his life including romance in a tale that comes steeped in New York's culture and atmosphere. All are fine leisure choices. Barbara Park's Junie B. is back in Junie B., First Grader: Aloha-HaHa! (0375834036, $11.95), On Junie's family's Hawaiian vacation she is given a real camera so she can keep a photo journal of her trip but some aspects of the trip just can't be captured on film as a series of hilarious disasters beset Junie and clan. Gary Paulsen's The Amazing Life Of Birds (The 20-Day Puberty Journal Of Duane Homer Leech) (0385746601, $13.95) tells of one Duane Homer Leech, a pre-teen boy who is just discovering that girls aren't all bad. His lively daily journal recounts his transition time in a series of vignettes both funny and realistic. Steven Banks' King Of The Creeps (0375832912, $15.95) tells of a teen undersized nerd with a big nose, glasses and ego problems. He deems himself unlikely to every have a girlfriend until he meets Angelina, after his new guitar is stolen, and finds looks don't count for everything in romance.

Just Listen
Sarah Dessen
Viking Press/Penguin Pub. Group
345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0670061050 $17.99

Annabel portrays the girl who has it all in the commercial for Kopf's Department Store in real life, she has no best friend, her sister's eating disorder commands family attention, and she can't tell anyone her troubles until she meets the confrontational Owen, who won't let he slide away from the truth. A fine story of insight and growth emerges.

Dear Max
D.J. Lucas aka Sally Grindley
McElderry/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
1416903925 $14.95

Ages 6-9 will appreciate this funny correspondence between Max and his favorite author D.J. Lucas: it recounts a funny, evolving relationship between a world famous author and a little boy with a big imagination, and promises something different and enjoyable for elementary-grade readers.

Winnie At Her Best
Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116
0618472770 $15.00

How can an ordinary girl shine in a family where everyone has a talent? Winifred faces competition, jealousy and changing self-image as she contends with a family of achievers in another winning Winnie story for pre-teens. Winnie's concerns are realistic and mirror the changes kids face in families and life.

Three Songs For Courage
Maxine Trottier
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th Floor, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5A 2P9
0887767451 $16.95

Older teens will find this a fine piece of historical fiction, set in the summer of 1956 in a small town that is a haven for teens. When tragedy strikes Gordon's family, he'll find the pros and cons of small town life in Three Songs For Courage, a finely tuned story of 1950s atmosphere and a young man's courage.

Grimoire: Curse Of The Midions
Brad Strickland
Sleuth/Dial/Penguin Pub. Group
345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0803730608 $11.99

Jarvey Midion and his parents were supposed to explore London calmly until his parents vanish and Jarvey finds himself involved with a magical book that transports people through time. When he's accidentally sent to a questionable city, he teams with a gang of orphans while searching for the way back. Brad Strickland works well on his own and has earned his place as a powerful fantasy writer in his own right apart from John Bellairs.

557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012

Older teen leisure readers will find plenty of depth and detail in these recommendations. Eleanor Updale's newest in the 'Montmorency and the Assassins' series, Master Criminal Spy (0439683432, $16.99) is set in the close of the 19th century and tells of a flu epidemic sweeping the world, as Montmorency and his friend Lord George are offered a job tracing some stolen goods to Italy. International intrigue again involves him in this intriguing set of world-wide encounters. Chris D'Lacey's Icefire (0439672457, $14.99) tells of a clay dragon which allows David to delve into the past, uncovering secrets and strange connections tied to the legend of dragons. It's a sequel to his The Fire Within, and familiarity with the prior book will lend enjoyment to the ongoing adventure in Icefire. Children Of The Lamp: The Blue Djinn Of Babylon (0439670-217, $16.99) is P.B. Kerr's sequel to The Akhenaten Adventure, and returns as an enchanting drama for teens, telling of a missing Grimoire and twins who travel the world to find it. The djinn twins are set to walk into a trap, though. Action is brisk, with plenty of twists and turns of plot. Kate Constable's The Tenth Power (043-9554829, $16.99) tells of Calwynn, a talented chanter who has become a leader, then lost her magic. Though her powers are gone, her ongoing responsibilities aren't, and Calwyn must continue to participate in the world without benefit of her special talents.

Fall Of the Amazing Zalindas
Tracy Mack & Michael Citrin
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
0439828368 $16.99

This new Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars mystery series from Scholastic opens with Fall Of The Amazing Zalindas, the first in a projected series of casebook detective stories featuring Sherlock Holmes and his young assistants, a band of street urchins who help probe the gruesome deaths of a circus troupe's tightrope walkers. A fine set of circumstances receiving much investigation evolves.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

School Specialty Publishing
8720 Orion Place, 2nd floor, Columbus, OH 43240

Comics and graphic novels are an excellent, fun and effective way to encourage reluctant readers to acquire and practice their reading skills, and learn to enjoy the reading of books in the process. School Specialty Publishing has developed an outstanding series of graphic novels called "Stories from History" which is ideal for use with reluctant (as well as enthusiastic!) readers in grades 8 through 12. Each 6" by 9", 48-page, full-color graphic novel is available in both paperback ($6.95) and hardcover ($14.95) editions. This informative and reader engaging series which is strongly recommended for family, school, and library collections includes Colin Hynson's The Building Of The Great Pyramid (0769646921 pb & 0769647081 hc); Elizabeth I And The Spanish Armada (0769646298 pb & 0769647030 hc); and The Battle Of Gettysburg (0769646522 pb & 0769647-073 hc); Nicholas Saunders' The Life Of Alexander The Great (0769-646948 pb & 0769647138 hc); The Life Of Julius Caesar (0769646972 pb & 076-9647170 hc); and The Life Of Anne Frank (0769646956 pb & 0769647146 hc).

The Library DVD Shelf

Kiddie Village DVDs
524 San Anselmo Avenue Suite 107, San Anselmo, CA 94960
$14.99 each

Three fine new DVD releases pair fun with 'mom and tot' workouts and instructionals to involve the entire family in a health routine and early education program. Mom & Tot Workout opens the action with its fitness video for mom and kids babies and toddlers receive instruction from personal fitness trainer Barbara Colby. Next, Fun With Dance: Exploring Dance And Creative Moment (0976266-202) reaches 0-5 years and their parents, teaching kids about movements and encouraging imitation. Let's Play Music (0976266210) is for 0-36 months and uses puppets, real musical instruments and classical and jazz for young children to teach mom and baby music. All are winners.

Anchor Bay Entertainment
1699 Stutz Drive, Troy, MI 48084

'Thomas & Friends' DVDs ($17.98 Each) are outstanding Thomas the Tank adventures, each offering up a story or set of stories centered on the brave little engine. Thomas Gets Bumped pairs seven stories with bonus features such as a read-along story, sing-along songs, and bonus DVD game; On Site With Thomas & Other Adventures pairs six stories with more sing- and read-alongs and games; Thomas, Percy & The Dragon & Other Stories provides 7 new Thomas adventures plus bonuses, and Thomas And Friends Sing-along And Stories provides seven sings plus two story stops. A fun pairing of activity and adventure. For non-Thomas fans, choose A Mister Rogers' Neighborhood production What Do You Do With The Mad That You Feel? ($14.98), which teaches anger management for caregivers and kids alike, from the perspective of Mister Rogers. Kids ages 3 and up receive gentle and inviting instruction along with music.

The Money Mammals
Snigglezoo Entertainment
c/o 411 Video Information, PO Box 1223, Pebble Beach, CA 93953
DVD $19.99

'Saving money is fun': that's the early message of a treatise on saving for kids ages 2 and older, which offers up Joe the Monkey and his friends as they learn not only the elements of saving, but sharing and spending smart. Parents seeking to impart money basics at a very young age will want to make this a top selection.

Schlessinger Media
7 East Wynnewood Road, Wynnewood, PA 19096-0580
$39.95 each

"The Fall Of Great Empires" is an impressively informative, 8 volume series of DVDs superbly designed and produced for students in grades 9-12 and brings the civilizations and empires of antiquity to life for young viewers. These half-hour programs are produced in full color and the DVD format comes with a closed-captioned feature and allows for both English and Spanish language tracks, chapter select ability, as well as discussion questions and activities. Through lavish imagery, dramatic reenactments and interviews with experts, the titles in this informed and informative series include Alexander The Great & The Fall Of The Persian Empire (50 minutes), The Egyptian Empire (30 minutes), Egypt: The End Of The Pharaohs (50 minutes), The Roman Empire (30 minutes), Hannibal & The Fall Of Carthage (50 minutes), The Fall Of Rome (50 minutes), The Byzantine Empire (30 minutes), and The Holy Roman Empire (30 minutes). A complimentary Teacher Guide is readily available online at making "The Fall Of Great Empires" series is an invaluable supplement to classroom curriculums and a welcome addition to homeschooling and community library resources as well.

The Mythology/Folklore Shelf

Fatima The Spinner And The Tent
Idries Shah & Natasha Delmar
Hoopoe Books
PO Box 176, Los Altos, CA 94023
1883536421 $18.00

Fatima The Spinner And The Tent is based on a classical "Teaching-Story" well known in Greek folklore - this particular version is attributed to Sheikh Mohamed Jamaludin of Adrianople (modern-day Edirne). Fatima the Spinner and the Tent is the tale of a woman who seems beset with one disaster after another as she travels from Morocco to the Mediterranean, Egypt, Turkey, and finally China. It is in China that she realizes the that what seemed to be terrible misfortune was in fact a valuable part of her life and her path to fulfillment, for in the course of her journey she learned the skills that would serve her well in her hour of greatest need. A story of wisdom and hidden depth, recommended for bedtime reading and children's library collections.

The Paperback Shelf

Across the Wall
Garth Nix
10 E. 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022-5299
0060747153 $7.99

Nicholas will do anything to get across the wall even exploring the source of a strange power that will change his life. Across The Wall features a fine novella and additional short fantasies which take on aspects of the Merlin myth and bring it to the modern world.

Digory The Dragon Slayer
Angela McAllister
175 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010
1582349126 $5.95

Nothing much ever happens to Digory during his forest walks until one day he finds a dragon's tooth, prompting the village to think he is a dragon slayer. When he's made a knight and sent to search other dragons to slay, Digory finds himself in trouble and out of his depth in this engaging tale.

Room 207
Marnelle Tokio
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th Floor, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5A 2P9
0887766951 $12.99

Because their classroom has suffered an accident over the summer break, Miss Chimney and her students must move to the original one-room schoolhouse the worst classroom ever. Add a school bully to the cast, and a teacher's disappearance, and you have a hilarious student rescue scheme.

The Picturebook Shelf

Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140

J. Patrick Lewis' Once Upon A Tomb: Gravely Humorous Verses (0763618373, $16.99) provides over twenty poems which tell of untimely deaths, from a bully to a food critic and a soccer player. If it sounds deadly and dark, it isn't: the poems vary in style but all include more than a touch of humor. Add Simon Bartram's fun drawings and you have unusual appeal to verses which are strikingly different. Jessica Spanyol's Go Bugs Go! (0763630-551, $15.99) tells of bugs who like driving all kinds of vehicles. Kids are invited to come along on a rollicking, zany set of rides, from bugs crashing juice trucks and trains to triplets who bash into girl bugs with super steam-powered propeller trains. A zany, fun adventure invites kids to enjoy. Michael Foreman's Mia's Story: A Sketchbook Of Hopes & Dreams (07636-30632, $15.99) tells of a girl who lives in a garbage dump between the big city and the mountains. Her story is recounted by a friend in a gentle tale that blends handwritten notes and illustrations with the story of Mia's village life, lost pet, and more. Jamie Harper's Miss Mingo And The First Day Of School (0763624101, $15.99) tells of a flashy flamingo teacher who invites everyone to share something special. Since her class is filled with strange animal students, from an elephant to a centipede and an octopus, everyone has something to share that is unique in this hilarious tale of differences.

No More Eee-orrh!
Lydia Monks
Egmont Books/Trafalgar Square, dist.
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, North Pomfret, VT 05053-0257
1405217391 $19.99 1-800-423-4525

Dicky Donkey drives everyone nuts with his braying until one day he loses his voice. Suddenly there's deafening silence and the neighbors who've been complaining realize Dicky Donkey's braying is a part of their lives. Can the donkey get his bray back? A fun story of missing noise.

The Giraffe Who Was Afraid of Heights
David A. Ufer & Kirsten Carlson
Sylvan Dell Publishing
976 Houston Northcutt Boulevard, Suite 3, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
0976882302 $15.95

The Giraffe Who Was Afraid Of Heights is a picturebook story about animal friends who bond together to face their fears. A young giraffe is so afraid of heights he's terrified to lift his head above the ground, a monkey is afraid of climbing trees, and a hippo afraid of water can't cross the river. When a terrible crocodile threatens to eat them, they must work together, and find courage within themselves stronger than any doctor's treatment. Soft color illustrations bring this story of cooperation and self-improvement to life. A supplementary section presents true facts about the animals portrayed in the book. An excellent, character-building picturebook for young readers.

Random House
1745 Broadway, 10-1, NY, NY 10019

Words and pictures by Jill McElmurry in I Am NOT a Baby! (0375836144 $16.95) spice a fine tale which pairs Victorian-style illustrations and funny text to capture the classic child refrain 'I am NOT a baby!' Leo Letardi isn't impressed when comments about his skills 'for a baby' abound: he screams 'I am NOT a baby!' from babyhood on and the years don't bring much different in comment or response in this hilarious story. Judy Sierra's Thelonius Monster's Sky-High Fly Pie (0375832181, $16.95) provides black and white and green illustrations to tell of a monster who swallows a fly and decides flies would taste grand in a pie. His attempt to lure hundreds of succulent flies results in an unusual pie party in this winning rhyming story of a monster's strange culinary tastes. Larry di Fiori's Jackie And The Shadow Snatcher (0375875158, $15.95) tells of absent-minded Jackie, who's always losing his lunch pail, his math book, and even his shadow or was his shadow stolen? A graphic novel format with black and white drawings lends an old-fashioned air to his investigations.

How The Sea Came To Marissa
Anne Renaud
Beyond Words
20827 N.W. Cornell Road, Suite 500, Hillsboro, OR 97124
1582701296 $15.95

Ages 4-9 will find a lovely story, illustrate by Maud Durland, in How The Sea Came To Marissa, telling of a young girl who so loves the sea, she wishes to bring its essence home. Her efforts to bring a piece of the seashore home from a visit to her grandmother provides an imaginative project kids can easily duplicate. Carol Weis' When The Cows Got Loose (0689851669, $16.95) receives zany and funny drawings by Ard Hoyt as it tells of twenty-six cows who decide to fly the coop as Ida Mae is daydreaming how she'll get famous. Can she rustle them up back home AND make her dreams come true? A very different kind of adventure evolves.

My Grampy Can't Walk
Vanita Oelschlager, author
Robin Hegan and Kristin Blackwood
Cleveland Clinic Press
9500 Euclid Avenue, NA32, Cleveland, OH 44195
1596240156 $17.95 1-216-444-1158

Written by a grandmother whose husband has multiple sclerosis, My Grampy Can't Walk is a children's picturebook designed to help young people understand family illnesses. The simple rhyming verse and warm, flowing color illustrations tell the story of a young child and a grandfather who share a special bond; even though the grandfather can't walk and uses a wheelchair to get around, it doesn't stop them from enjoying life together. A heartwarming, upbeat and positive book, highly recommended. My Grampy can't walk. / But he can read to me / Stories of far-away places. / Or see who laughs first / When we make funny faces.

345 Hudson, New York NY 10014

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's Charlie Cook's Favorite Book (0803731-426, $16.99) tells of a boy with a favorite book about a pirate whose favorite is about Goldilocks who likes it goes on and on. Eleven books under one cover provide a hilarious celebration of reading with fun drawings spicing the events. Roger Eschbacher's Road Trip (0803729278, $16.99) presents a family on vacation who grabs maps, snacks and car games for the journey to Grandma's house: but the trip is also packed with adventure as much as trails. Thor Wickstrom's drawings are fun embellishments. Thor also illustrates Lynn Plourde's Book Fair Day (0525476962, $16.99) tells of a bookworm who can't wait for the book sale in the library. He plans to buy piles of books but his class isn't scheduled until day's end; what if the best books are gone? His plot to sneak into the library in advance celebrates reading. Micahel Garland also celebrates reading in Miss Smith Reads Again! (0525477225, $15.99), which tells of a read-aloud story a teacher is providing which is so exciting, Zack can't wait to go to second grade each day. Ala 'Magic School Bus' her words hold the power to transport students to other worlds in this sequel to Miss Smith's Incredible Storybook. Nancy Carlson's First Grade, Here I Come! (0670061271, $15.99) tells of Henry, who's not so sure he likes first grade. His teacher's not like his kindergarten teacher, fifth graders hog the playground, and there's too much to learn. For all its faults, Henry finds things to like about first grade, too: new friends, a fun classroom science corner and he slowly adjusts in this winning story for ages 5 and up. Margaret George and Christopher Murphy pair talents for Lucille Lost: A True Adventure (067006-0933, $16.99), which tells of a pet Burmese tortoise who has found a way out of her safe pen. Her journey into the forest leads to more adventure than she's used to, while her human family scours the neighborhood for her. It's based on a true story but reads like fiction: kids with good reading skills, in grades 3-5, will find it a fun tale with Debra Bandelin and Bob Dacey's realistic drawings enhancing the effort. Eve Tharlet's A Promise Is A Promise (0698400402, $16.99) tells of Bruno the marmot, who wakes up after a long winter hibernation to discover a gorgeous dandelion outside his burrow. They become friends and play all spring but the dandelion's request to Bruno leaves him without a friend. Still more surprises are in the works in this gentle story of loss and recovery.

R.M. Cuthbert
Shooting Star/American Literary Press
8019 Belair Road, Suite 10, Baltimore, MD 21236
1561679089 $12.95

Plenty of books are written about Christmas holiday reindeer but what about their secret lives? From how the elves groom reindeer to Blitzen's allergy to raisins and special names for each reindeer, kids will appreciate this fun survey year-round.

Dinosaur Chase!
Benedict Blathwayt
Hutchinson/Trafalgar Square, dist
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, North Pomfret, VT 05053-0257
0091892937 $16.99 1-800-423-4525

Ages 3-6 will relish Dinosaur Chase, a spirited story of one Fin the dinosaur, who has spindly legs and is fluffy and is picked on by a gang of bullies for his many quirks. Funny drawings and easy reading lends to the story of a young dinosaur's hidden talents.

Do Princesses Scrape Their Knees?
Carmela LaVigna Coyle
Rising Moon
PO Box 1389, Flagstaff, AZ 86002-1389
0873589092 $15.95

This isn't your ordinary princess: she does yoga, falls on ice, and scrapes her knees: can she be a real princess? Carmela Coyle's engaging story tells not just of an active girl, but one who regular falls and comes back. Fun drawings illustrate the problems with sports and how they can still be fun despite the falls! Amy Costales's bilingual Spanish/English tale Lupe Vargas and her Super Best Friend (0873588886, $15.95) tells of Lupe and Martiza, super best friends who enjoy imagining adventures together. The course of their friendship is followed in a new bilingual edition which follows their daily adventures and mishaps and shows what it means to be best friends.

PO Box 8515, La Jolla, CA 92038

Naomi Kojima's Singing Shijimi Clams (193360512X, $15.95) tells of an older, not-so-wicked witch, a grouchy cat, and a bucket of singing clams: hardly the ordinary start for a picturebook and stirs all into a story of miso soup without clams. Black and white, simple drawings accent a fun tale. Zai Whitaker's Kali And The Rat Snake (1933605103, $15.95) receives lovely drawings by Srividya Natarajan as it tells of Kali's father, a snake catcher renowned in his village. But Kali's schoolmates think this a strange talent: until personal need strikes, they don't appreciate his profession in this moving story of a different kind of career.

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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