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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 18, Number 9 September 2008 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Preschool Shelf Poetry Shelf
Halloween Shelf Christmas Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Social Issues Shelf Science Shelf Christian Studies Shelf
DVD Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Biography Shelf
Music Shelf World History Shelf Bilingual Shelf
Native American Shelf Art Shelf Judaic Studies Shelf
Aviation Shelf Picturebook Shelf Fiction Shelf
Self-Help Shelf Books in Series  

Reviewer's Choice

The American Boy's Handy Book
D.C. Beard
Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
9780804839952, $19.95,

Some things simply never change. "The American Boy's Handy Book" is a guide for young boys who still find the time of playing outside highly appealing. Although 126 years old, the ideas are just as applicable today as they were then. The ideas and games presented encourage children to use their own imagination and build their own toys, to create their own fun. In a time of fears of childhood obesity, "The American Boy's Handy Book" may just be what some children need.

A Child's View of a Prairie
Susan C. McDermott
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781434361912, $17.50 1-800-280-7715

Filled cover to cover with stunningly beautiful color photographs, A Child's View of a Prairie is a softcover children's picturebook that shows young people a dazzling array of the plants and insects that can be found in a native Wisconsin prairie. Two children talk to one another as they explore the prairie, and narration outside of their dialogue teaches young readers amazing facts about the prairie's living creatures. "'Let's touch the leaves. The leaves feel smooth on the front but rough on the back. Why do the leaves feel cold?' 'Mike, Mom says that it is because the tap root goes deep in the ground and brings up cold water to the leaves.'" A wonderfully educational picturebook, highly recommended.

Nutty to Meet You
Alan Venable, author
Natalie Lewellyn, illustrator
One Monkey Books
156 Diamond Street, San Francisco, CA 94114-2414
9780977708208, $11.95,

Peanuts don't talk...or do they? "Nutty to Meet You!" is a charming story of friendship from the perspective of one Dr. Peanut. He encounters strange giants in the form of human children who he fears may turn him into a sandwich or a quick snack. But he is delightfully surprised at the result. "Nutty to Meet You!" is a story of friendship by Alan Venable which is enhanced with cute drawings by Natalie Lewellyn.

Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012

Newbery Medalist Katherine Paterson pairs with illustrator Francois Roca to provide an artistic display of the life of Jesus in The Light of the World (0545011728, $17.99). A simple review of Jesus' life story is presented for young picturebook readers and makes for a perfect introduction for families looking at easy picturebooks to get kids started on the Bible. Knut by Juliana, Isabella and Craig Hatkoff and Dr. Gerald R. Uhlich (0545047161, $16.99) tells of a little polar bear cub born in 2006 in Germany, Knut. The true story of a little bear cub who needed a family is captured in photos from Zoo Berlin of Knut's early days and more, making for an engaging tale.

One Night In Frogtown
Philip Pelletier & Verne Lindner
One World Musical Books
c/o Waldmania!
130 Maywood Drive, San Francisco, CA 94127
9780978617622, $24.95,

When done well, children's music and picturebooks go together like peanut butter and jelly on a child's favorite sandwich. Such is the case for song writer and storyteller Philip Pelletier's "One Night In Frogtown", the picturebook story of what happens when a saxophone-playing Tad the tadpole became determined to play music with the big frogs of Frogtown -- only to discover that making friends can be harder than making music! Perfectly enhanced with the whimsical and colorful artwork of Verne Lindner, "One Night In Frogtown" is no ordinary child's picturebook, but comes with a music CD that can be coordinated with the storybook pages through the use of a 'ding' to tell young readers when to turn the page. Some pages are specially marked so that children can join in and sing the songs aloud. The CD also has a second track where the songs can be heard by themselves. The original and superbly entertaining and child-pleasing songs include Middle of the Road; Above It All; The Down Low; Alone; Frogtown; and more! "One Night In Frogtown" is a unique and enthusiastically recommended experience for kids and parents!

The Uglified Ducky
As told to Willy Claflin
James Stimson, illustrator
August House Inc.
3500 Piedmont Road NE, Suite 310, Atlanta, GA 30305
9780874838589, $18.95 1-800-284-8784

The Uglified Ducky: A Maynard Moose Tale is a children's picturebook with a twist on the classic story of the Ugly Duckling. Author Willy Claflin (adopting the alter ego of Maynard Moose) tells of a hapless moose who becomes mistaken for a baby duck and struggles to learn how to waddle, quack, swim, and fly until he finally discovers the true value within himself. The Uglified Ducky is often told in "moose words"; a glossary at the beginning helps readers of all ages understand such scrambled moose language as "quadrapedagogy" ("A Moose medical term - the state or condition of having four feet, just right for a moose, not good at all for a ducky.") A read-aloud audio CD enhances this upbeat picturebook, sure to delight young people.

Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog
Firefighter Dayna Hilton
Firehouse Dog Publishing, LLC
106 East Poplar Street, Suite 100, Clarksville, AR 72830
9780981497709, $4.99

Written by firefighter Dayna Hilton, Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog is a wonderful, flat-spined children's picturebook about the basics of fire safety - as taught with assistance from Sparkles, a friendly female dalmatian. Illustrated with full-color photographs of the real Sparkles and his friends on virtually every page, Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog tells young readers what to do if they hear the noise from a smoke alarm: "In case of fire, be sure to crawl low under the smoke on your hands and knees. The air is cleaner and cooler there. Get low and go to your outside meeting place." A great way for parents to introduce their children to doing fire drills, especially sure to appeal to young dog lovers.

Ruffen: The Sea Serpent Who Couldn't Swim
Tor Age Bringsvaerd, author
Thore Hansen, illustrator
MacKenzie Smiles
PMB 248, 455 Sam Ridley Parkway West, Smyrna, TN 37167
9780979034794, $16.95

Ruffen: The Sea Serpent Who Couldn't Swim is a charming children's picturebook about a mythical world very close to our own. Ruffen is a small sea serpent who calls a mysterious, invisible island home, along with his many brethren. At first, Ruffen can't swim, but an octopus friend helps him to learn this valuable skill - which he later uses to save lives aboard a ship, and even travel to America! The distinctive, cartoony black-and-white illustrations with splashes of color to highlight them make this enjoyable children's book stand out. The reading comprehension level of Ruffen: The Sea Serpent Who Couldn't Swim is high enough to be appropriate for young people who are just about ready to tackle chapter books. Highly recommended, especially for coaxing children who are reluctant to learn the potentially lifesaving skill of swimming.

The Preschool Shelf

Learn Along With Lily
Donna McNaughton, author
Mike Motz, illustrator
Raindrop Books
10 Sunderland St., Melville, NY 11747
9780979967702, $15.95

Learn Along With Lily is a rhyming, educational children's picturebook filled with elements of a preschool curriculum, from different common shapes to basic manners to the names of different modes of transportation. The exuberant, colorful illustrations of Lily Goat and her anthropomorphic animal friends add a playful touch to this delightful, read-aloud fun book ideal for parents to share with young children. Highly recommended. "'Excuse me, may I interrupt?' are just the proper words, / when someone else is speaking and you'd like to be heard. // If you hurt a person's feelings / there are special words to say: 'I'm sorry - please forgive me' / will help make things okay."

A Wizard Sleeping on a Watermelon
Mary Pansini La Haye
Anita Miles, illustrator
Nightengale Press
10936 N. Port Washington Road, Suite 206, Mequon, WI 53092
9781933449562, $18.95

A Wizard Sleeping on a Watermelon is a light fantastic children's ABC book enhanced with a poetic ditty for each letter, as well as gentle colored pencil illustrations. Especially recommended for parents to read aloud to young children, A Wizard Sleeping on a Watermelon is a whimsical delight. "M // There's a Monkey climbing to the moon. / Isn't that a Mighty sight, / To see a Monkey climbing to the moon?"

Disney Princess Write-With-Me Alphabet
Studio Mouse
353 Main Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851
9781590696187, $14.99

Designed for children over the age of three (the writing utensils and stickers are a choking hazard for younger toddlers) Disney Princess Write-With-Me Alphabet is a combination board book, read-along CD, and writing utensils designed to give little ones some hands-on practice writing letters of the alphabet! Colorful characters from young girls' favorite Disney movies illustrate words beginning with each letter of the alphabet, and there is a space below where the child is guided to write the capital letter. The stiff, laminated pages are easily wiped clean for repeated practice! Two pages of stickers of beloved Disney characters round out this entertaining and educational tool, which is bound with a handle and a zippered cover for convenience. Highly recommended.

The Poetry Shelf

The Ant in the Cellar
Danielle Rosenblatt, author
Jacqueline Kirk, illustrator
A Better Be Write Publisher
PO Box 1577 Millville, NJ 08332
0978898532, $19.95

Author Danielle Rosenblatt has become well acquainted with the world of children in The PEACE Project, an alternative education program that aids underprivileged Philadelphia students. The Ant in the Cellar is her anthology of upbeat, fun-loving poems sure to tickle the funny bone of kids and adults alike, illustrated with simple black-and-white drawings. A real treat to read aloud to young ones at story time or bedtime. "The Second Floor Bedrooms": Bed-bugs don't bite. / They wiggle /and giggle / and cuddle / at night.

The Halloween Shelf

Trick or Treat on Monster Street
Danny Schnitzlein, author
Matt Faulkner, illustrator
Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781561454655, $16.95 1-800-241-0113

Trick or Treat on Monster Street is a Halloween picturebook about a young boy who confronts his fears. Separated from his siblings on Halloween night, he is relieved to meet up with another trick-or-treater - until his new friend takes off his mask! But there's more - it turns out that monsters find certain things fearsome as well, such as barking puppy dogs and ordinary-looking people. Narrated in rhyming verse, Trick or Treat on Monster Street is perfect for children's library Halloween and holiday collections.

Scarecrow Finds a Friend
Blume J. Rifken, author
Carl W. Wenzel, illustrator
To Press & Beyond
825 East Pedregosa Street, Suite 2, Santa Barbara, California 93103
9780979694806, $14.95

A joyful picturebook written for children ages 4-8, Scarecrow Finds a Friend tells the story of a Tally, a good witch who has lost her power to fly. She makes friends with a Scarecrow, who devises a plan to help Tally get a Thanksgiving turkey wishbone - the key to making a wish for the return of her flying powers! Autumn-hued color illustrations enhance this warm-hearted holiday storybook, especially recommended for children's library holiday shelves.

The Christmas Shelf

Fireside Al's Treasury of Christmas Stories
As told by Alan Maitland
With paintings by Alan Daniel
Red Deer Press
311 Washington Street, Brighton, Massachusetts 02135
9780889953826, $32.95

Fireside Al's Treasury of Christmas Stories presents classic Christmas tales in the form of a picturebook with an accompanying audio CD of original readings the entire family can enjoy. Simple, colorful illustrations intersperse chestnuts of Christmas lore such as O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi", the great Christmas editorial "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus", Margaret Atwood's "The Santa Claus Trap", Robert Louis Stevenson's "Christmas at Sea", and much more. Especially recommended for children's library holiday shelves, and the perfect giftbook to commemorate the upcoming holiday season.

Great Joy
Kate DiCamillo, author
Bagram Ibatoulline, illustrator
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9780763629205, $16.99 1-800-526-0275

The debut picturebook of Newbery Medalist winner Kate DiCamillo, Great Joy is a heartwarming Christmas story about a young girl who loves to hear the music of the organ grinder, but is troubled by wondering where he and his monkey sleep during the cold nights. She can't get the problem out of her mind while preparing for the local Christmas pageant, but when the organ grinder comes to see it, her pageant line feels just like the right thing to say: "Behold! I bring you tidings of Great Joy." Singularly beautiful color illustrations grace this thoughtful holiday picturebook.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

United Tweets of America: 50 State Birds
Hudson Talbott
345 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
9780399245206, $17.99,

All ages of reader will enjoy this whimsical yet factual parade of state birds which provides a 'competition' featuring them all. Funny state trivia accompanies high humor and whimsical drawings in a fun blend of history, natural history, and lively discussions perfect for grades 4 and older.

The Animals' Winter Sleep
Lynda Graham-Barber, author
Nancy Carol Willis, illustrator
Birdsong Books
1322 Bayview Road, Middletown, DE 19709
9780966276169, $6.95

Recommended for children ages 2 to 5, The Animals' Writer Sleep is a rhyming picturebook about where various animals sleep in cold and snowy weather. Gentle illustrations in cool, soothing colors show different animals sleeping snugly in their dens, nests, burrows, and lodges. "Where do the northern animals sleep / when it's nose-stinging cold / and the snow drifts deep? // Bedded down in the spruce grove, / where the howling winds don't blow." A perfect read-aloud book for parents to share with little ones just before bedtime.

Wild Animals in Captivity
Rob Laidlaw
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
311 Washington Street, Brighton, MA 02135-3303
9781554550258, $19.95 1-800-387-9776

Written for young people ages 8-12, Wild Animals in Captivity is an educational children's picturebook about what the lives of animals in captivity are really like. Author and founder of the wildlife protection organization Zoocheck Canada explains how to tell the difference between zoos that confine wild animals in dismal conditions unlike their real habitat, and progressive zoos that treat captive wild animals with compassion and respect. Illustrated with eye-catching color photography throughout, Wild Animals in Captivity encourages young readers to think long and hard about zoos, and closes with ten ways to help captive wild animals such as "Support wildlife sanctuaries that provide permanent homes for retired or neglected animals. Research the facility first because some places just call themselves sanctuaries. Real sanctuaries care for animals for the rest of their lives." Highly recommended.

Raise a Rabbit Grow a Goose
Yaffa Ganz, author
Harvey Klineman, illustrator
Feldheim Publishers
208 Airport Executive Park, Nanuet, NY 10954
Stuart Schnee PR (publicity)
10 Haportzim St., Jerusalem, Israel
9781598262353, $14.99

Raise a Rabbit Grow a Goose is a charming children's picturebook about the joys and challenges of raising pets. The fourth book in the "Mimmy-Simmy" series following two girls who are best friends, Raise a Rabbit Grow a Goose begins as Mimmy and Simmy each try to find an appropriate pet. Their parents won't let them get a dog or a cat, or any animal that's too big or too small. "And of course you know that pets need care. They are Hashem's living creatures. They have to be fed and cleaned and taken out. You can't just put them on a shelf and forget about them like a doll or a game or a book." The girls discover a gentle, lop-eared rabbit and a gosling with silky brown feathers, and choose them for their pets. They work hard to take care of the animals, but sometimes the demands of school are too much. The gosling grows up into a goose and honks loudly, sometimes laying eggs in the wrong places, and the rabbit has a litter of babies - too many to care for! "Simmy shook her head sadly. 'Maybe we should just jump rope and play ball and read books for a while. Maybe it will be easier to take care of pets when we're older.'" The two girls have to say good-bye to their pets, allowing the gardener to take the rabbit, its baby bunnies, and the goose to his cousin's farm. A tender, respectful book about the joys and difficulties involved in caring for an animal, enthusiastically recommended especially for young people who clamor for a pet of their own.

Termites on a Stick
Michele Coxon
Star Bright Books
The Star Building, 30-19 48th Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101
9781595721211, $17.95 1-800-788-4439

Termites on a Stick: A Chimp Learns to Use a Tool is a children's picturebook about a young chimp who learns how to use a stick to fish out and eat tasty termites, through watching his mother as well as trial and error. A few pages of scientific facts about chimpanzees round out this thoughtful picturebook, wondrously enhanced by vivid color artwork in a realistic style. Especially recommended to help young fans of apes and chimpanzees get more interested in the joy of reading!

Ask Dr. K. Fisher about Creepy-Crawlies
Claire Llewellyn, author
Kate Sheppard, illustrator
Kingfisher Books
c/o Macmillan
33 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003
9780753461808, $10.95 1-800-225-3362

Part of the educational "Ask Dr. K. Fisher" series, Ask Dr. K. Fisher about Creepy-Crawlies is a children's picturebook filled with educational fun facts all about bugs and other little critters, from honeybees to spiders and much more. The lessons are given with a twist - beleaguered insects have written to Dr. K. Fisher for advice, and receive helpful responses! For example, one of Dr. K's responses to a hover fly reads, "...Pollen (that's the name for the sticky yellow dust) helps plants make seeds, but first it must be moved from flower to flower. Plants can't move the pollen themselves, so most get insects to do it for them. As you feed, you collect the pollen, which rubs off when you visit the next flower. You are doing an important job: every time you pollinate a flower, you are helping new seeds grow." Highly recommended, especially for children's public library collections and young people with inquisitive minds.

Twitter and Tweet: Bringing Home a Bird
Amanda Doering Tourville, author
Andi Carter, illustrator
Picture Window Books
c/o Capstone Press
7825 Telegraph Road, Bloomington, MN 55438
9781404848658, $25.26 1-800-747-4992

Twitter and Tweet: Bringing Home a Bird is more than a children's picturebook - it's an extremely basic primer about the responsibilities and joys of owning a bird for a pet. Different birds have different requirements (parakeets and cockatiels like people but need a lot of attention, while finches and canaries are easy to keep but don't like to be touched). All pet birds need to have their cage cleaned often, a healthy diet preferably supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables, and regular veterinary checkups. Twitter and Tweet follows a young girl named Erin who befriends her pet parakeet and diligently takes care of him. The final two pages offer fun facts about parakeets and their life cycle. An absolute "must-have" for any young child interested in owning a bird.

The Social Issues Shelf

Bella's Chocolate Surprise
Adam Guillain & Elke Steiner
Milet Publishing, LLC
333 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 530, Chicago, IL 60601
9781840595055, $8.94

Bella's Chocolate Surprise is not an ordinary softcover picturebook - it's an introduction to how chocolate is made, as well as the concept of "fair trade" and why it is so important. A young girl named Bella loves chocolate; curious to learn more about it, she uses a magical pendant to call her friend, a beautiful and magical Quetzal bird. The Quetzal bird takes her to visit the Ghana countryside in West Africa, where she helps the local children harvest chocolate - collecting fruit, opening its pods, scooping out the pulp, gathering the cocoa beans, leaving them covered with banana leaves for a week, finally drying them in the sun and packing them in sacks. A child tells her, "The money our community gets from the Fair Trade Company for the cocoa beans pays for all our food, school fees and medical supplies for a whole year." Most shocking of all, she learns the people who harvest cocoa beans don't eat chocolate - it's too expensive! A heartwarming story about learning to appreciate the simple joy of a sweet taste all too easily taken for granted, as well as the power that fair trade has to make everyone's lives better.

Sam Feels Better Now!
Jill Osborne
Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781932690606, $24.95

Written by professional counselor and child therapist Jill Osborne, Sam Feels Better Now! An Interactive Story for Children is a consumable, softcover children's picturebook created especially to help young people ages 4-10 recover from a traumatic event, or the loss of a loved one. The simple story shows a young boy interacting with a therapist, and prompts a child to draw pictures - a picture of something awful or scary, a picture of people one can love and trust, and colors to express the feelings in different parts of one's body. The final few pages include a therapist's guide to using the book in play therapy, and a brief list of references and resources. Highly recommended as a useful tool for child counselors and professional child therapists.

The Science Shelf

c/o Becker & Mayer
11120 NE 33rd Place, Suite 101, Bellevue, WA 98004

Two new additions to the SmartLab book-and-trivia-game series make learning fun! SmartLab Amazing Animal Challenge (9781603800020, $19.99) is a book full of one thousand multiple-choice trivia questions about animals around the world - and in tandem with the book is a simple, battery-operated, hand-held quiz game controller that can be operated by one or two people. Look up a question and press a button to select an answer; the display tells whether it's right, and keeps count of the score in a two-player competition! Best of all, batteries are included (and can be replaced with three fresh LR44 1.5 volt batteries if needed, though an adult should do this for the child). Also highly recommended is SmartLab Human Body Challenge (9781932855715, $19.95), which is jam-packed with trivia questions about the amazing biological workings that sustain us all.

The Human Body
Seymour Simon
Smithsonian/HarperCollins Children's Books
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
9780060555412, $19.99 1-800-242-7737

The Human Body is an educational children's book packed with information about the marvels of the human body. Colorful photographs, many of which are extensively magnified, illustrate the informative text about the roles that blood cells, skin, bones, muscles, chromosomes and more play to keep the body going, as well as how humans develop from a fertilized egg that grows into an embryo and later a baby. Intended for young readers ages 5-9, The Human Body is a worthy addition to children's public and private library collections, and highly recommended.

The Best Book of The Human Body
Barbara Taylor
Kingfisher Books
c/o Macmillan
33 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003
0753460319, $12.95 1-800-225-3362

Part of the educational "The Best Book" series, The Best Book of The Human Body is a children's nonfiction picturebook filled cover to cover with fascinating facts about how each part of the body works and what it does. (Human reproduction is only briefly touched upon, in the mention that a fertilized egg cell grows into a baby inside its mother.) Illustrated with full color photographs, illustrations, and diagrams throughout, and enhanced with a one-page glossary to help young people understand basic terms such as "platelets" and "melanin", The Best Book of The Human Body is a wonderful, basic educational resource, enthusiastically recommended for children's library collections.

The Christian Studies Shelf

Seek and Find Bible Stories
Jose Perez Montero
c/o Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310717591, $9.99 1-800-727-1309

Seek and Find Bible Stories is a picturebook intended for Christian children, featuring expansive, cartoony yet highly detailed two-page color illustrations filled with things for children to look for. Each two-page spread refers to an event in the Bible, such as "Eating Manna in the Desert" or "David Fights Goliath". A one-page paragraph puts the scene from a biblical story in context, and a series of questions not only prompt young people to find different things but also to think more about the scene portrayed, such as "David is holding Goliath's sword. What do you think he will do with it?" Rounding out each picture spread is a biblical quote pertaining to the scene. An excellent supplement to Christian children's libraries, whether for a family household or as part of a church library collection.

Johnny Joins the Army
Andrea Beyers, author
Anthony Alex LeTourneau, illustrator
RockTuff Publishing
PO Box 133, 34240 Hwy 12, Roscoe, SD 57471
9780980075410, $16.95

Author and gardener Andrea Beyers presents Johnny Joins the Army, the second Christian picturebook in the "Flower Kingdom" series. Set in the Flower Kingdom and the nearby Vegetable Village, Johnny Joins the Army tells of young Johnny Jump Up and Davy Dill, who after a problematic encounter, assume they've been attacked and want to join battle in revenge. But they don't fully understand what it means to be God's soldier - to spread the love and wisdom of God. "We are supposed to spread the message that we all have sinned, and we all can be forgiven, and given eternal life through belief in Christ. We can't make another believe, just like we can't make a seed grow in the ground. All we can do is share the story. Is that what everyone means by 'planting a seed'?" The colorful, appealing illustrations of characters confronted with dilemmas and learning about peaceful conflict resolution enhance this heartwarming, spiritually nourishing story.

One Special Me
Allia Zobel Nolan, author
Pauline Siewert, illustrator
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781400312801, $14.99 1-800-251-4000

One Special Me: A Book Celebrating How God Makes Us Special is a rhyming, pop-up Christian picturebook for children that extols the wonders of how God made each person different. "Sometimes my eyes look green, and other days they're blue. / I use them to help others see the good things they can do. // My eyes are big and brown. They're good for spotting stars. / And when I wear my glasses, I can almost see to mars." Inquisitive young readers are encouraged to gently lift flaps, wiggle paper discs, and more for a variety of scene changed that emphasize the timeless message of God's love for all His diverse children.

Karen Pettingell, author
Debra Hoskins, illustrator
Frankie Dove Publishing
PO Box 3875, Federal Way, WA 98063
9780978648725, $16.99

Nosy is a softcover picturebook for young Christians, rendering the Old Testament story of Passover and the Exodus from the viewpoint of a mother sheep, Baa Shirley. She lives in ancient Egypt with other sheep, her owner Benjamin, a big dog Dusty, and her beloved baby lamb Nosy. But history is about to take place - Passover is coming. Young Nosy dies, and Baa Shirley is heartbroken over his loss, but his blood protects the life Benjamin's firstborn son Saul. Baa Shirley and Dusty travel with Benjamin and Saul into the desert, trusting in the guidance of God. Only the will and protection of God can guide the refugees across the Red Sea! Colorful illustrations balance this heartfelt, emotional retelling of a biblical tale.

Rainy Day Games
Andy McGuire
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736923712, $15.99 1-800-547-8979

Rainy Day Games: Fun with the Animals of Noah's Ark is a unique children's picturebook loosely based on chapters 5-9 of Genesis. When a flood covered the world, the animals on Noah's ark had to entertain themselves through rainy days - how did they do it? Rhyming words and soft, captivating color illustrations in a realistic style enhance this wonderful read-aloud story ideal for parents and children to share during rainy days. "Pretend that Noah's ark floats by, / And watch the games that they would try. // Hide and seek can be a treat. / Chameleons can be tough to beat. // To tease your brain on stormy days, / You have to try a zebra maze."

The DVD Shelf

The Care Bears: Care-A-Lot Collection
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
c/o Andrea Blain Public Relations, Inc.
9750 Crawford Avenue. Skokie, IL 60076
DVD, $22.98,

The Care Bears are perennial favorites of preschoolers and their parents. Now there is a 2-disc DVD boxed set that showcases twenty-two Care Bear episodes featuring all of the Care Bears and their friends whose adventures help young viewers with a variety of real life experiences such as accepting a new babysitter, improving at sports, making new friends, dealing with braces, accepting a new baby in the family, and so much more! This full-framed DVD boxed set features Dolby sound, subtitling for both English and Spanish, closed captioning, and has a total running time of 264 minutes. A delight for preschoolers, "The Care Bears: Care-A-Lot Collection" is especially recommended for family, preschool, daycare, and community library DVD collections for children.

Bob the Builder On Site
HiT Entertainment
HiT Entertainment
230 Park Ave South, 13th floor, New York, NY 10003
Lionsgate Publicity (publicity)
H180005, $19.98,

Many a young child has developed a fondness for the massive machines that construct the world's buildings. "Bob the Builder On Site: Bob's World Meets the Real World Houses & Playgrounds" takes the critically acclaimed Bob the Builder children's series as the characters go and show children how their homes are built and how the playgrounds they enjoy so much are constructed. Educational as it is entertaining for youngsters, "Bob the Builder On Site" is a must for any youngster who has spent more than the minimum time playing with a Tonka truck.

Jane and the Dragon: A Dragon's Tale
Shout! Factory LLC
2042-A Armacost Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90025
Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street, Portland, OR 97221
9781603991056, $14.99

As seen on NBC, Jane and the Dragon: A Dragon's Tale is a children's DVD collection showcasing the first five episodes of a marvelous children's animated series based on author Martin Baynton's best-selling children's books. Brought to life with Weta Workshop's stunning, three-dimensional computer animation - so advanced as to show the fluid movement of Jane's fiery red hair and the natural flow of characters' clothing - Jane and the Dragon: A Dragon's Tale stars a spunky, twelve-year-old heroine who wasn't content simply to grow up to be a lady-in-waiting. She dared to face a fearsome dragon and rescue Prince Cuthbert; her bravery earned her special permission from King Caradoc to begin training as a knight's apprentice. At the beginning of the first episode, Jane is already working hard at her training, and has formed a fast friendship with the witty and easygoing Dragon - but her first test to be worthy of her chosen path as a future knight looms large! Other episodes show the dilemma of Jane's friend the Jester challenged to a duel of honor by a much larger, stronger, and more experienced opponent; the difficulties Jane must face in learning to work as a team with her fellow squire; and her personal troubles when her mother forbids her to attend the castle ball as a knight, stipulating that she must wear a gown or not go at all. Superb voice acting, captivating visuals worthy of the theater screen, and intelligent writing sure to entertain viewers of all ages make Jane and the Dragon: A Dragon's Tale a superb DVD ideal as a gift for dragon lovers of all ages and enthusiastically recommended for school and community library DVD collections for children.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

O'Shaughnessey: A Boy and His Leprechaun
Jeremy McGuire
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432708924, $14.95 1-888-672-6657

Playwright Jeremy McGuire presents O'Shaughnessey: A Boy and His Leprechaun, a chapter book for young readers that brings a legendary Irish creature to life. Young Bobby Mahoney has real-world problems - his parents are divorcing, and his little sister is sick; when he befriends a leprechaun that calls himself O'Shaughnessey (because faerie names cannot be pronounced by most humans), he is drawn into a magical world on the flip side of his own. Events in each world are interconnected with one another, and Bobby's journeys will lead him to confront hostile fairy folk and cave-dwelling Ban-Shees, and even take him to the depths of the fearsome Mountain of Shadows. A handful of black-and-white illustrations grace this modern-day fairy tale, highly recommended.

Singing to the Sun
Vivian French, author
Jackie Morris, illustrator
Kane/Miller Book Publishers
PO Box 8515, La Jolla, CA 92038-8515
9781933605944, $16.95 1-800-968-1930

Singing to the Sun is a children's picturebook written in the style of a fairytale. A young prince grows up as the heir to powerful father and a wealthy yet greedy mother. When he hears of a life-or-death test posed by a faraway king in return for the hand in marriage of one of his three daughters, he decides to set out and face the challenge that has claimed the lives of so many other contenders. His father urges him to marry the princess who will bring him power; his mother demands that he marry the princess who will bring him wealth. The third princess brings naught but love. With the help of a clever jester, the prince is able to survive the challenge - but which princess will he choose, and will she choose him in return? A fairytale with a most unexpected twist at the end - the prince may not get to marry the princess, but that doesn't mean that the story ends badly for either of them! - Singing to the Sun deserves high praise for its original twist on classic storytelling.

The Biography Shelf

Lang Lang: Playing With Flying Keys
Lang Lang with Michael French
Delacorte Press
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780385735780, $16.99,

Lang Lang was born in China in 1982: at three he began to learn piano; today he's one of the world's best pianists. His story of his rise from poverty to fame provides young adults in middle school grade levels with a moving biography, is co-written between Lang Lang and his adapter Michael French, and makes for a dynamic, moving story, highly recommended for any middle to high school collection strong in contemporary biography and autobiography or the arts.

Seven Miles to Freedom
Janet Halfmann, author
Duane Smith, illustrator
Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9781600602320, $17.95

Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story is a children's picturebook based on the incredible true-life story of African-American hero Robert Smalls, who grew up a slave in South Carolina yet dreamed of being free. He patiently awaited his chance, until he was behind the wheel of the ship - at which point he seized the opportunity to steer the ship past Confederate forts in the harbor, toward the safety of the Union fleet. After his escape, Smalls would go on to become one of the Civil War's foremost heroes, and later a Congressman who fought for civil rights. An inspirational picturebook brought to life with impressive, slightly abstract painted artwork.

Dancing to Freedom
Li Cunxin, author
Anne Spudvilas, illustrator
Walker & Company
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780802797773, $16.95 1-800-289-2553

Dancing to Freedom: The True Story of Mao's Last Dancer is a children's picturebook based on the true-life story of author Li Cunxin, who was selected by Chairman Mao's officials to become a dancer. His arduous training allowed him to travel to America and around the world. Even though he was not permitted to see his family, he kept them in his heart and dreams. "One day a wonderful thing happened. I learned that my parents could come from China to see me dance! Could it be true that after all this time I was to see them again?" A final page tells young readers more about the China that Li knew growing up in the 1960s - a very strict place in which the government firmly controlled people's lives and possessions, and a place that has since changed greatly. Illustrator Anne Spudvilas traveled with Li to visit Li's village, family, and friends as well as studying Chinese brush painting to grace Dancing to Freedom with a truly authentic touch. Also highly recommended is the "Young Readers' Edition" of Li's autobiography, "Mao's Last Dancer".

The Music Shelf

Makin' Waves
Dune Disc
c/o Waldmania!
130 Maywood Drive, San Francisco, CA 94127
DD0004, $12.99,

"Makin Wave"s is a unique music CD for young listeners. Featuring fifteen original songs, Leonardo's rock 'n roll style compositions and performances are backed up by a chorus of teens who have Downs Syndrome. Each number is flawlessly recorded and showcases a life-affirming and positive message through a combination of lyrics and rhythms that ill fully engage children of every age and background. The individual numbers comprising this outstanding music CD includes Swimming; Beach Day; Surfin' on My Guitar; Showtime; One Person; Beautiful Place; Aeiou; Hula Hoppin'; Ready for Success; Buried Treasure; Under the Sea; Hawaii; Rainbow; The Song; and the title piece, Makin' Waves. Natural, entertaining, and offering forty minutes of fun and inspiration, "Makin' Waves is enthusiastically recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library children's music collections.

Big Round World
Trout Fishing in America
Trout Records
PO Box 914, Prairie Grove, AR 72753
Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity (publicity)
5505 SW Illinois Street, Portland, OR 97221 1-888-439-8342
TRT-20, $15.99,

Showcasing a range of musical styles and several songs derived from song writing workshops with children conducted by the duo Ezra Idlet and Keith Grimwood who perform as Trout Fishing in America, "Big Round World" offers young listeners with fourteen lively, entertaining, original, and superbly recorded pieces that include My Favorite Jeans (2:51); When You Get Dressed (2:31); Martin Luther King & Rosa Parks (3:06); A Tiger and a Monkey and Me (4:09); Too Good to Be True (3:42); Always Chew Your Food (2:33); Curse of the Spinach (1:37); The Alarm Clock Rings (2:32); I Don't Care (2:43); there's a Rumor Going 'Round (2:22); Pearl (2:21); It Must Be Halloween (2:50); Five (3:56); and the title piece, Big Round World (3:48). Offering a wide variety of musical genres from Afro-pop, to jazz, to rock, to Bluegrass, "Big Round World" is enthusiastically recommended for family, preschool, daycare center, elementary school, and community library CD music collections for children.

Upside Down
Jim Cosgrove
Hiccup Productions, Inc.
PO Box 8156, Prairie Village, KS 66208
CD, $12.99,

Performing under the kid-pleasing stage name of Mr. Stinky Feet, Jim Cosgrove has become one of the country's most popular children's music composers and performers of our day. "Upside Down" is the latest CD album from this award-winning children's musician and continues to showcase his amazing talent and ability to engage the attention and imagination of his young audiences. The fourteen original compositions performed by Cosgrove and comprising "Upside Down" are Buggy Hop; Pizza Tree; Seven Holes; Scribble; Let's Stick Together; Sullen Sally; Red Shoes; Swing; Stinky News Update; Pardon the Pig; Drink; This Little Light of Mine (with Doo-Dad Mike, Funky Mama & Dino O'Dell); Dreamland; and the title piece, Upside Down. Superbly recorded in a CD format, "Upside Down" is ideal for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library CD music collections for children. Also very highly recommended are Cosgrove's earlier 'Mr. Stinky Feet' albums: Stinky Feet; Stinky Feet Live!; Mr. Stinky Feet's Christmas; and Mr. Stinky Feet's Road Trip Live.

Rocketship Run
The Laurie Berkner Band
Two Tomatoes Records
c/o SKG Publishing
55 Hiawatha Trail, Highland Park, IL 60035
69584234062, $18.98,

Children's music requires the same caliber of intelligent professionalism, originality, and performance standards as does music for adult audiences. The Laurie Berkner Band (consisting of Laurie Berkner in collaboration with Susie Lampert and Adam Bernstein) flawlessly perform and record twenty-four new songs (and in the case of Going on a Hunt in four different musical styles) range from a Brazilian samba to an Irish jig, to a folk song set against a gospel/country background. Lively vocals based on 'kid friendly' melodies (that will also have an immense and immediate appeal to their parents), this masterfully produced and enthusiastically recommended CD album showcases Going on a Hunt-ska (1:11); Mouse in My Toolbox (2:17); Candy Cane Jane (3:07); All Around My Room (1:30); One More Stop on the Train (2:15); Going On a Hunt - blues (1:04); Jump and Fly (2:31); Pigbasket (2:06); Five Day's Old (3:05); Mr. Bassman - and Piano Girl (2:33); Winter Lullaby (2:34); Let's Samba (2:39); Going on a Hunt - conga (1:11); My Blue Sailboat (2:31); Balance Beam (2:04); thunderstorm (2:08); Fast and Slow (2:22); Going on a Hunt - jig (1:10); Farm Song (2:32); Nona (1:29); Walk Along the River (3:16); Going on a Hunt - hand jive (1:43); Fly Me to the Moon (2:44); and the title piece, Rocketship Run (2:24).

The World History Shelf

Pier 21: Stories from Near and Far
Anne Renaud
Lobster Press
1620 Sherbrooke Street, West, Montreal, Quebec, H3H 1C9, Canada
9781897073704, $16.95

Part of the "Canadian Immigration" series, Pier 21: Stories from Near and Far is a fact-filled book for young people about Pier 21, a building that saw 500,000 Canadian service people off to fight in World War II, as well as witnessing the arrival of countless children, war brides, refugees, and displaced persons. Illustrated with maps and historic black-and-white photographs as well as some color photography, Pier 21 is a surprisingly detailed resource that brings the dock's rich history to vibrant life. Enthusiastically recommended for children's library Canadian History shelves. "During the first half of the 20th century, Canada's immigration politics mirrored the intolerant beliefs of many Canadians about certain people... 'Non-preferred' immigrants included Blacks, Asians, and Jews. Changes were later made to Canada's immigration policies to eliminate such discrimination."

The Bilingual Shelf

Grandfather's Story Cloth
Linda Gerdner and Sarah Langford, authors
Stuart Loughridge, illustrator
Shen's Books
1547 Palos Verdes Mall #291, Walnut Creek, CA 94597
9781885008343, $16.95

Grandfather's Story Cloth is a bilingual English/Hmong picturebook about a young Hmong-American boy named Chersheng, whose grandfather has Alzheimer's disease; sometimes Chersheng's grandfather doesn't know where he is. But Chersheng's mother shows Chersheng a story cloth, stitched with care and embroidered in the Hmong tradition by his grandfather. Through the cloth, Chersheng learns of his grandfather's memories of life in Laos. Inspired by the cloth and his Grandfather's stories of how life was before war forced him to come to America, Chershing embarks on his own art project, as a means of expressing love stronger than a disease that attacks and destroys memory itself. A profound story, warmly illustrated and highly recommended especially for children's library collections.

The Native American Shelf

The Woman Who Married a Bear
Retold by Elizabeth James
Illustrated by Atanas
Simply Read Books
74 Pease Avenue, Verona, NJ 07044
9781894965491, $16.95 1-800-788-3123

The Woman Who Married a Bear is a children's picturebook retelling a Native American legend about a prideful young girl who insults bears, and must accept the severe consequences of her misdeed. Angered by her insults, the Bear People decide that she must be punished - but one of them has fallen love with her, and requests permission to make her his wife instead. She lives with the bear and has two children with him; at first she feels bitterness, but she adjusts to her new life. When the opportunity comes to escape with her brothers, she cannot do so without her husband knowing - yet he chooses to sacrifice his life rather than slay any of her brothers and make her sad. She returns to her people with her children, having undergone a tremendous transformation; she spends her life teaching her people about the importance of respecting all animals, and killing them only one necessary. In the end a day comes when she and her children have the opportunity to rejoin the bear people. The serene, panoramic color illustrations reflect the majesty of nature and wild things in this enduring folktale, and an afterword mentions different variations of the legend told among Native American tribes. The Woman Who Married a Bear is truly a classic story in the most profound sense of the word.

The Art Shelf

Horse Drawing Studio
c/o Becker & Mayer
11120 NE 33rd Place, Suite 101, Bellevue, WA 98004
9781603800044, $24.99

Horse Drawing Studio is the perfect activity kit for budding artists with a passion for equines! Horses have long been notoriously difficult to draw (let alone animate); Horse Drawing Studio simplifies the process by providing two possible horse models with stand, a set of drawing tools (six pastels, four colored pencils, a graphite pencil, a smudger, and an eraser) and a "Saddle Up!", an easy-to-follow, colorful book that walks one through the process of drawing and coloring horses. Highly recommended not just for children, but also for novice artists of all ages out to capture the spirit of the equine.

Look-Alikes Around the World
Joan Stiner
Little, Brown & Company
237 Park Avenue North, New York NY 10169
9780316811729, $15.99,

Artist Joan Stiner uses everyday objects in three-dimension scenes of over forty famous landmarks and familiar vacation picks from Europe to the U.S. in this fun set of facts, photos and look-alike concepts. This book appeared some time ago but deserves ongoing mention as a fabulous, lasting library pick filled with fun and teaching kids to 'look twice' at art for hidden wonders.

The Judaic Studies Shelf

Capturing the Moon
Edward M. Feinstein
Behrman House Inc.
11 Edison Place, Springfield, NJ 07081
9780874418408, $22.00,

Stories are a child's first exposure to ways of life outside the confines of their own home. "Capturing the Moon: Classic and Modern Jewish Tales" is an engaging and entertaining anthology of stories specifically intended for Jewish parents and children to share together at story time. These are stories that will inspire and educate readers, stories that are enhanced with Feinstein's deft pen in his retelling of these classic tales. Simply stated, "Capturing the Moon" is a must for any Jewish family and a welcome addition to community library multi-cultural collections for children as well.

The Aviation Shelf

Airplanes Soaring! Turning! Diving!
Patricia Hubbell
Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591
9780761453888, $14.99,

Megan Halsey and Sean Addy's AIRPLANES SOARING! TURNING! DIVING! Provides simple one-line descriptions of all kinds of planes, from military aircraft to props, rotor planes and more, and will prove a powerful, appealing title for any beginning reader who loves planes.

The Picturebook Shelf

Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman
Marc Tyler Nobleman
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780375838026, $16.99,

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster are two teens in Depression-era Cleveland who are mild and meek, escaping into fictional worlds of adventure fantasy. The two made up their own stories and thus Superman was born. This is the first picture book about how these two created the largest superhero of them all, and is a pick for any picturebook nonfiction holding. Ross MacDonald provides a blend of full-page color illustrations and comic-like panels for further attention.

Rembrandt and the Boy Who Drew Dogs
Molly Blaisdell
250 Wireless Boulevard, Hauppauge, NY 11788
9780764160974, $14.99 1-800-645-3476

Rembrandt and the Boy Who Drew Dogs: A Story about Rembrandt van Rijn is a children's picturebook set in 1650s Amsterdam, when artist Rembrandt van Rijn is at the peak of his prowess, and his son Titus longs to follow in his father's footsteps. But Rembrandt tells his boy that he is too young to learn how to draw and paint. What is Titus to do? The simple color illustrations bring to life this thoughtful story about father-son bonds, honing one's practice in a chosen craft, and the (sometimes) helpful efforts of man's best friend. Highly recommended.

Give a Goat
Jan West Schrock, author
Aileen Darragh, illustrator
Tilbury House, Publishers
2 Mechanic Street, Gardiner, ME 04345
9780884483014, $16.95 1-800-582-1899

Give a Goat is a picturebook based on a true-life story of philanthropy sure to appeal to young readers of all ages. Mrs. Roswell's fifth-grade class learns how the gift of a goat helped Beatrice, the young daughter of a family in Uganda. "The goat gave lots of milk - more than enough for the whole family to drink. Beatrice was in charge of selling the extra milk. With all that milk, Beatrice's family got healthier, and they earned enough money to pay for school. Beatrice finally got her wish!" Hearing the story inspires the children to undertake a similar charity - they want to give a goat too! Together they learn about teamwork as they engage in a special charity fundraising math project; by selling healthy snacks, they raise enough money to buy a goat, a flock of chickens, and some ducks to help three families. The delightfully minimalist color illustrations add the perfect touch to this wonderful story with a positive message about the value of philanthropy and helping others.

Marty Crisp, author
Robert Papp, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
c/o Thomson Gale
27500 Drake Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48331-3535
9781585363551, $17.95 1-800-231-5163

Written by veteran journalist and award-winning author Marty Crisp, and illustrated by Robert Papp (whose awards include one sponsored by Cat Writers Association!), Titanicat is a beautiful children's picturebook based on the true story of the ship's cat of the doomed Titanic. A young man named Jim befriends the ship's cat and her litter of kittens; when Jim observes the cat acting strangely, and carrying her kittens off of the Titanic just before its departure, he must make a split-second decision whether to stay on board or bring her the last kitten of her litter. Disturbed by the ill portent of her distress, he leaves the ship at the last second and adopts the cat family - only to learn much later how narrowly he escaped drowning at sea. An author's note at the end tells of the true events that inspired the story - when the Titanic ship's cat got off in Southampton, taking her kittens with her, a superstitious young sailor followed. The soft, realistic color illustrations bring the heartwarming tale to life; cat lovers of all ages are sure to love Titanicat for its superior quality artwork.

Blackberry Banquet
Terry Pierce, author
Lisa Downey, illustrator
Sylvan Dell Publishing
976 Houston Northcutt Blvd., Suite 3, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
9781934359709, $16.95 1-877-958-2600

Blackberry Banquet is a simple, exuberantly rhyming children's picturebook about a number of forest animals who delight in eating blackberries. "Mouse appears and she reaches high. / The munching mouse gives a merry sigh. / Squeak! Mmm-mm!" An extra "for creative minds" section includes fascinating facts about blackberries, including the warning "Do not pick and eat berries unless an adult is positive that they are edible (some berries can be poisonous) and haven't been sprayed with pesticides." These final pages educate young readers about the role of plants in the food web, how animals help plants, and more, including a final warning about blackberry bushes: "In some places, certain types of blackberries are considered to be invasive... Blackberry bushes can become very brambly and sometimes grow near water sources. In some places, this could make it difficult for animals to get to their food or water." A thoughtful children's book that both entertains and educates, highly recommended.

Lighthouse Lindy
Gloria D. Butler, author
Laura Shanley, illustrator
Arbor Books, Inc.
244 Madison Avenue, #254, New York, NY 10016
9780979046964, $16.95

Award-winning newspaper writing and poet Gloria D. Butler presents Lighthouse Lindy, a gentle children's picturebook about an anthropomorphic lighthouse named Lindy, who faithfully guides sailors at sea. When the modern, computerized Lighthouse Laramie is built nearby, Lindy is shut down for a time - she questions her own worth compared to the arrogant new Laramie. But when hurricane weather cuts out Laramie's power, he can no longer help desperate sailors - it's Lindy's old-fashioned gas light and her faithful lighthouse keeper that save the day. The two lighthouses learn the importance of teamwork, and that each of them has a unique strength, in this simple tale brought to life with soft color illustrations by award-winning artist Laura Shanley.

The New Blue Tractor
Stacey Gable
Dog Eared Publishing
4010 West 86th Street, Suite H, Indianapolis, IN 46268
9781598584240, $13.95,

Children just learning to read benefit most from books whose themes and subjects are of perennial interest to them. Farms and farm equipment have fascinated young children for generations. This is a fact well known to teacher and parent Stacey Gable who has written "The New Blue Tractor" in the Dog Eared Publishing series 'Readin' Machines'. The full page colored artwork of Richard Neuman is a perfect complement to Gable's single story line text at the bottom of each illustration. The simple story is one of how a farm family obtained their tractor and how they put it to use through every season of the year. An elegant entertainment for early readers, "The New Blue Tractor" is enthusiastically recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library picturebook collections.

A New Home for Beaver
Henna Goudzand Nahar, author
Jeska Verstegen, illustrator
North-South Books Inc.
PMB 248, 455 Sam Ridley Parkway West, Smyrna, TN 37167
9780735821958, $16.95

A New Home for Beaver is a children's picturebook about meeting new neighbors. When Beaver tries to move to the river bank, Elephant and Pig give him a cold welcome - Beaver is a stranger, and to them, an intruder, despite his attempts to introduce and ingratiate himself. But after Beaver is sent away, Elephant and Pig can't stop thinking about his friendly disposition! Whimsical color illustrations enhance this gentle, upbeat story.

Metal Man
Aaron Reynolds, author
Paul Hoppe, illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781580891509, $15.95 1-800-225-3214

Metal Man is a children's picturebook told from the point of view of an African-American boy during the heat of summertime. The young boy befriends a welder to turns junk into the most amazing things! The vibrant drawings of award-winning artist Paul Hoppe practically burst off the page in this unabashed celebration of the joys of summer, family, and creating artworks through metal welding.

Katie and the Magic Umbrella
Kristine Kahanek, author
Michael Albee & Valerie Jimenez, illustrators
K. CO. KIDS Publishing
5611 Colleyville Blvd., Suite 260, PMB #160, Colleyville, TX 76034
9780980142303, $14.95

Written by television meteorologist and mother of two Kristine Kahanek, Katie and the Magic Umbrella: A Story Adventure is a fantastic children's picturebook about a guardian angel with pink wings named Katie. When a thunderstorm is brewing, she takes her magic umbrella and teaches the children in her care that thunderstorms aren't bad things at all - they're an important part of nature. She teaches them scientific facts about the clouds that storms come from, and the lightning that causes thunder. "Lightning is electricity and the flash is hotter than the surface of the sun! So hot, it makes the air crash together to make the loud sound of thunder. The closer you are to the lightning, the faster you hear the thunder." An educational as well as entertaining book, especially recommended to share with young people who are nervous about the storms - since knowing more about them is the first step to conquering fear!

Gail Gibbons
Holiday House
425 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780823421695, $16.95

Corn is an educational children's picturebook packed cover to cover with fascinating and fun facts about corn - from when it was cultivated by the Aztec and Mayan civilizations to how popcorn is made to its many uses, and its planting and pollination cycles. "A hull covers a kernel. Inside each kernel there is some moisture. When a kernel is heated the moisture expands. Pop! The hull bursts open. Now the popcorn is ready to eat." Brightly illustrated in yellow and green hues, Corn is highly recommended as a wonderful addition to children's library collections.

Tyrannosaurus Drip
Julia Donaldson, author
David Roberts, illustrator
Feiwel & Friends
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312377472, $16.95

Tyrannosaurus Drip is a charming children's picturebook about a conflict between dinosaurs. The peaceful, plant-eating duckbill dinosaurs live across the river from the ferocious, meat-eating T-Rexes. And what the T-Rexes want to eat most is duckbill dinosaur meat! When a duckbill egg hatches in a T-Rex nest, the little duckbill named Drip finds that he just can't adapt to their carnivorous ways. Not only does little Drip find solace with the other duckbills, he proved clever and heroic enough to save them all from the T-Rex menace! The whimsical illustrations add the perfect touch to this delightful dino-adventure.

Neela Potts Has Lots of Knots
Tina L. Wuehr, author
Mari Brown, illustrator
Pipsqueak Publishing
1558 Stafford Third Line, Cobden, Ontario K0J 1K0
9780973996234, $21.95

Neela Potts Has Lots of Knots is a children's picturebook about a young girl whose hair just won't behave. Neela's knotty hair resists everything - it won't be combed or picked, it looks terrible in a bun, and attempts at ponytails are even worse. What's a young girl to do? The wacky color illustrations add the perfect visual touch to this rollicking, "hair-raising" adventure!

Snake in the Grass
Hans Sande, author
Gry Moursund, illustrator
Tonje Vetleseter, translator
MacKenzie Smiles, LLC
San Francisco, CA
Ingram Publisher Services (distribution)
One Ingram Blvd., PO Box 3006, LaVergne, TX 37086
9780981576107, $16.95

Cited the "Best Picturebook 2007" by the Norwegian Cultural Department, Snake in the Grass is a children's picturebook about a cheerful, anthropomorphic bunny rabbit who befriends a snake. Together the rabbit and the snake embark on an imaginative journey of adventure, from the local vegetable garden to the wondrous, wild lands of the Amazon jungle. The brightly colored illustrations in the style of a child's crayon scribblings perfectly fit this wild, wacky, and wonderful tale.

Alena & the Favorite Thing
Eric B. Anderson, author
Jakub Kuzma, illustrator
Edgecliff Press
9066 Long Lane, Cincinnati, OH 45231
9780979865930, $13.95

Alena & the Favorite Thing is a softcover children's picturebook about the loving bond between a young girl and her father, smoothly illustrated in a very distinctive, cartoony style. Alena's Poppa has lost her favorite thing, but he can't quite remember what it is, and asks his daughter to help him find it. Alena and her faithful teddy bear search every place both real and imaginary to find Poppa's favorite thing - which turns out to be nothing less than her joyful smile! A delightful story book especially recommended for fathers and daughters to share.

Anything but Hank!
Rachel Lebowitz and Zachariah Wells, authors
Eric Orchard, illustrator
Emeryville, Canada
Northwestern University Press (distribution)
629 Noyes Street, Evanston, IL 60208-4210
9781897231364, $19.95

Anything but Hank! is a rhyming children's picturebook about a young infant in need of a name. His father wants to call him Hank, but his mother is against the idea. A pig decides the boy is in need of wisdom from a Wizard and his Mexican bearded lizard, which so happens to specialize in naming babies! Together they go on a wondrous journey, brought to life with sweeping paintings by illustrator Eric Orchard. Anything but Hank! is a lovely read-aloud book perfect for storytime.

The Player Piano Mouse
Adam Dachman, author
Jenniffer Julich, illustrator
Player Piano Mouse Productions
833 S. Iowa St., Suite 105, Dodgeville, WI 53533
9780979779404, $14.99

The Player Piano Mouse is a wonderful picture book for young fans of mice and music. Set during the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, The Player Piano Mouse tells of a little girl mouse named Melody who longs to play the piano. In addition to the colorful and charming illustrations of anthropomorphic mice characters, The Player Piano Mouse is enhanced with snippets of music - playable themes for each character that young people (or anyone else) taking piano lessons can play! The result is an exciting adventure about pursuing one's dream. Enhanced with a historical glossary of famous people and places that appear in the tale, The Player Piano Mouse is an exceptional gem of a storybook.

The Old Animals Forest Band
Sirish Rao, author
Durga Bai, illustrator
Tara Books
38/GA Shoreham, Fifth Avenue, Besant Nagar Chennai 600 090 India
Consortium Book Sales & Distribution
34 Thirteenth Avenue NE, Suite 101, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55413-1007
9788186211458, $16.95

East Indian author Sirish Rao presents The Old Animals Forest Band, a children's picturebook about four animals who are turned out from their homes when they all grow old and are unable to work as well as they used to. A dog, cow, donkey, and rooster band together after being thrown out by their respective masters; when they spot a group of thieves counting their ill-gotten gains, the animals discover the true power of their combined singing! A heartwarming tale of camaraderie and joyful love of music, illustrated in a distinctively iconic style.

Natalie & Naughtily
Vincent X. Kirsch
Bloomsbury Children's Books
104 Fifth Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10011
9781599902692, $16.99 1-800-289-2553

Natalie & Naughtily is a whimsical children's picturebook about two young girls (Natalie always does things one way, and Naughtily always does things another way) who live in a house on top of the greatest department store in the world. They love to play in the many-storied department store, but one day their butler hands them a note from their parents, reading "Today is going to be a very, very busy day. It would be a great help if you did not play in the store." So the girls resolve that today they will go to the store to help out! But being helpful isn't as easy as it seems, and they're told to move on at floor after floor - until they find just the right people to help out after all! Colorful artwork of the happy-go-lucky girls and a kid-friendly narrative style distinguish this charming tale.

Kiki's Hats
Warren Hanson
Tristan Publishing
2300 Louisiana Avenue North, Suite B, Golden Valley, MN 55427
9780931674945, $16.95 1-866-545-1383

The message "our gifts live on and on..." is the heart and soul of Kiki's Hats, a children's picturebook about an upbeat old lady who loves to knit hats for kids and adults and give them away. An underlying moral message about how much fun it is to do something good for someone else - whether knitting a hat, raking a neighbor's leaves, or visiting someone who is sick - is a much needed antidote to the endless advertising pressures of today's consumer society. Charming color illustrations add the perfect touch to this celebration of the importance of cultivating a loving and generous spirit.

Cat Nights
Jane Manning
Greenwillow Books
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10019-4703
9780061138881, $16.99

Cat Nights is a children's picturebook about Felicity Witch, whose 263rd birthday has given her the magical power to turn into a cat. Felicity has eagerly anticipated this day, yet there are limits to a witch's power - if she turns into a cat nine times, she can never turn back into a witch! Felicity's cousins watch her use the spell on eight nights, and in order to keep their beloved Felicity around they try to hex her into not wanting to be a cat. But in order to take away her desire to be a cat, the spell has to take away all her ability to find joy in life! At last Felicity's cousins acknowledge their mistake and lift the spell. Felicity knows that to become a cat again is to become a cat forever, but it's what she wants to be more than anything else, even though she will miss being with her cousins as a witch. A charming picturebook about being true to one's heart, perfect for the Halloween season.

Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully
Audrey Penn, author
Barbara L. Gibson, illustrator
Tanglewood Press, LLC
PO Box 3009, Terre Haute, IN 47803
9781933718156, $16.95

The fourth book in the popular "Kissing Hand" series, Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully is a children's picturebook about a young raccoon who has trouble with a bullying badger. Mrs. Raccoon tells Chester an insightful story about another forest far away, where a pointy blue stone that could injure soft paws was transformed into a smooth pebble with the help of animals who live there. Chester and his friends resolve to work together to help the bully change his ways, and ask the badger to play, with surprising results! A thoughtful story with the positive message that the best way to get rid of an enemy is to turn him into a friend, beautifully illustrated with jump-off-the-page gorgeous color artwork. Also highly recommended are "The Kissing Hand", "Pocket Full of Kisses" and "A Kiss Goodbye".

Little Bit & Big Byte: A Day at the Beach
Craig T. Feigh, author
Patrick Carlson, illustrator
LifeVest Publishing
4901 E. Dry Creek Rd., #170, Centennial, CO 80122
159879616X, $11.99

Little Bit & Big Byte: A Day at the Beach is a colorful children's picturebook with a clever purpose - to familiarize young people to the world of computers and the Internet. Chronicling the adventures of cheerful, anthropomorphic computer parts in Cyberville, Little Bit & Big Byte is a fun read ideal for helping young ones become accustomed to the marvels modern technology. "Assisting Webster is his friend, Kay Board. She has a slender body, a long neck, and a face that looks like a mouse. Big Byte thinks she quite a number and just his type."

The Tree
Karen Gray Ruelle, author
Deborah Durland DeSaix
Holiday House
425 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780823419043, $16.95

The Tree is a wonderful children's picturebook about an elm tree that has stood within New York City for more than 250 years. It was a sapling during the city's early settlement, and it survived plague, fire, and war. It lasted longer than many a great building constructed nearby, including the first two Madison Square Gardens. Superbly illustrated in a soft, impressionist art style, The Tree celebrates American history as well as reverence for nature. Highly recommended.

Cary Fagan, author
Nicolas Debon, illustrator
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9780887768392, $18.95 1-800-788-1074

Thing-Thing is a whimsical children's picturebook about a stuffed toy that isn't quite a teddy bear, rabbit, dog, or cat, but rather something a little like each. Thing-Things hopes to find a child who will love it and talk to it, but Archibald Crimp is not that child - he throws poor Thing-Thing out the sixth-floor window of the Excelsior Hotel! Oh, dear! The wacky, colorful illustrations add this perfect touch to a storybook about the bright side that can shine on even the most difficult situations.

Heart in the Pocket
Laurence Bourguignon, author
Valerie d'Heur, illustrator
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
c/o Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
2140 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780802853431, $16.50 1-800-253-7521

Heart in the Pocket is a tender children's picturebook about the unbreakable bond between parent and child. An anthropomorphic mother kangaroo adores her little Jo-Jo very much; it's time for him to grow up and venture out from the safety of her pocket, but she will always treasure him. A gentle storybook brought to life with simple, heartwarming color illustrations. "Mama Kangaroo loves her Jo-Jo a lot, lot, lot. / She sings him sweet songs. / She finds him beautiful desert flowers. // And she will always hold his heart in her pocket."

Whose Ears Are Whose
Lana Jordan, author
Pam Farrance & Melanie Babcock, illustrators
Puffball Press
c/o Jorlan Publishing, Inc.
PO Box 2882, Cedar City, UT 84721
9781933830018, $14.00

A finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Whose Ears Are Whose is a rhyming children's picturebook about a boy and a girl who find that their toy critter friends have all misplaced their ears. Which set of ears goes with which toy animal? "'Our brains are full of fluff,' bawled Cow. / 'We can't think what to do.' / 'Cheer up,' I said. 'With my know-how, / you'll soon be good as new.'" The final page encourages young people to look at pictures of toy animals with mismatched ears and point to where each one's ears should go. Playful color illustrations add the perfect touch to this delightful read.

Julie Black Belt
Oliver Chin, author
Charlene Chua, illustrator
PO Box 31846, San Francisco, CA 94131
9781597020091, $15.95

Julie Black Belt: The Kung Fu Chronicles is a picturebook about a young girl who learns how to study martial arts. She dreams that learning kung fu will make her more like a movie star, but is surprised to find out how much hard work is involved! But her teacher encourages her; "A black belt is just a white belt that doesn't quit." Julie learns how to incorporate her martial arts practice into her daily life; when the day of her gold belt test comes, she's nervous but passes with flying colors, earning a special prize - an autographed photo of her favorite celebrity, Brandy Wu! The utterly exuberant artwork enhances this wonderful picturebook ideal for helping get young girls excited about the prospect of learning self-defense.

The Boston Balloonies
Ed Shankman, author
Dave O'Neill, illustrator
Commonwealth Editions
c/o Memoirs Unlimited, Inc.
266 Cabot Street, Beverly, Massachusetts 01915
9781933212760, $14.95

The Boston Balloonies is a cheery, rhyming children's picturebook about colorful balloon creatures who gallivant about the fine city of Boston and take in its wondrous sights and features. "They drift down the alleys. / They glide up the streets. / They float past the shops / That sell silver and sweets. // And the ones that sell books, / And a few that sell jeans, / And a bunch that are known / For their Boston Baked Beans!" Color illustrations brimming with leap-off-the-page enthusiasm add a special touch of cheer to this fun and friendly storybook.

Bear Dance
Jan Wahl, author
Monique Felix, illustrator
Creative Editions
c/o The Creative Company
123 South Broad Street, Mankato, MN 56001
9781568461991, $25.65 1-800-445-6209

Bear Dance is a children's picturebook about a bear who loves to move to the music of the wind and the songs of birds. One day, he is captured, and taken away from the wild world; forced to dance for the amusement of humans to unnatural music, he is quite miserable indeed. But the resourceful bear manages to free himself, and enjoy his dance of freedom once more. The charming, playful illustrations add the perfect touch to this delightful storybook.

'Opihi Baby
J. Lovins
The Bess Press
3565 Harding Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816
9781573062855, $14.95 1-800-910-2377

'Opihi Baby is a gentle picturebook about the tender bonds between family and baby. Panoramic color illustrations enhance the rhyming text of a Hawaiian mother's musings about her infant girl. The final few pages encourage young readers to examine the artwork at length and search for hidden secrets, and the last page is a glossary explaining the meanings of Hawaiian words scattered throughout the text. A captivatingly beautiful children's book, ideal for reading at story time or bedtime.

Little By Little
Amber Stewart & Layn Marlow
Orchard Books
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012
0545061636, $12.99,

Otto can do many things, from playing to being kind to frogs but he cannot swim; and for an otter, this is a big problem requiring a little help from a sister. This easy, whimsical picturebook story will appeal to any child tackling swimming skills, and is also a positive story of how a 'can do' and troubleshooting attitude can help, as well as thoughtful siblings and friends. Parents and libraries will find it appealing to young readers.

Random House/Knopf
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019 1-800-726-0600

Debbie Bertram and Susan Bloom's THE BEST BOOK TO READ (9780375847028, $14.99) addresses a common problem: how a child can choose a book to read among all available. A fun rhyme accompanies a survey of different kinds of books that invite an avid reader at the library. Michael Garland's large full-page bright color drawings lends excitement. John Burningham's JOHN PATRICK NORMAN MCHENNESSY THE BOY WHO WAS ALWAYS LATE (9780375852206, $16.99) tells of a boy who can't seem to get to school on time. His teacher doesn't believe his imaginative stories and punishes him until the time John gets to school on time and finds something strange has happened to his teacher. A zany story of timeliness with a twist makes for a fun tale out of the ordinary.

Clarion Books
215 Park Avenue South, New York NY 10003

Jack is very quiet, but the rest of his family is very noisy. So when he tells them he's leaving, nobody hears him and when night falls, nobody knows where he is. How can Jack's loud family find him? Jessica Meserve's CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME? (9780547028347, $16.00 ) will appeal to any soft-spoken child in a loud world, and is an engaging story of finding a voice that's heard. Adam Rubin's THOSE DARN SQUIRRELS! (9780547007038, $16.00) tells of a bird-loving man who tries to build seed and berry feeders for his wild birds but squirrels keep thwarting his efforts. How a grumpy old man comes to terms with the local wildlife makes for a fun, realistic story replete with whimsical drawings by Daniel Salmieri.

Does A Sea Cow Say Moo?
Terry Webb Harshman
Bloomsbury Press
175 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010
1582347409, $16.95,

Does a sea cow say moo? Flash loves learning about mysterious creatures of the sea, but he has lots of questions. Rhymes and word-plays give answers and add whimsical reflections to this zany natural history survey, with large and quirky drawings by George McClements enhancing the effort.

Bats at the Library
Brian Lies
Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116
9780618999231, $16.00,

Another inky evening is here and it's Bat Night at the library: a time when book-loving bats fly in to adventure and storytime's lure. Brian Lies' gorgeous, fun drawings highlight a different kind of bookworm and add appeal and zest even adult read-alongs will appreciate. Highly recommended for discriminating picture book libraries seeking captivating, different story lines and appealing drawings.

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591

Karen Rostoker-Gruber's BANDIT (9780761453826, $15.99) tells of a cat who sees his toys, blanket, food and personal items vanishing one by one. Then his owner carries him to the car. Is he leaving or are they moving? BANDIT receives appealing, fun drawings by Vincent Nguyen and provides a whimsical story line for cat fanciers. Joan Elizabeth Goodman's BALLET BUNNIES (9780761453925, $14.99) tells of bunnies who put on dance clothes and go off to a dance studio to dance. Basic ballet positions ala bunny style are covered in a fun survey young ballet dancers will find appealing and educational. Susan Stevens Crummel's TEN-GALLON BART AND THE WILD WEST SHOW (9780761453918, $16.99) receives Dorothy Donohue's large-sized full-page drawings as it covers one Bart, bored until Buffalo Chip's Wild West Show rolls into town. He's sure he can win the bull-riding contest and become the show's star but he has to ride the insane Crazy Bull to do so AND he struggles with laziness. Can he wake up enough to become famous? Eric A. Kimmel adapts THE FISHERMAN AND THE TURTLE (9780761453871, $16.99), a fun story set in the time of Aztecs in which a fisherman captures a green turtle god who grants the fisherman three wishes but his wife is displeased and always asks for more. When she takes charge, trouble results. Martha Aviles' drawings lend excitement while good picturebook reading skills will assist in appreciating the complex plot. Judy Cox's MRS. MILLIE GOES TO PHILLY (9780761453727, $15.99) tells of silly Mrs. Millie, who loves to use animal words in place of others when talking to her kindergarten class. Their visit to the historic Philadelphia comes with many corrections in this zany story. Jonathan London's FLAMINGO SUNSET (9780761453840, $16.99) receives Kristina Rodanas' lovely drawings as it tells of a flamingo's life cycle, from egg to adulthood. Rodanas' drawings are gorgeous, full-page and brightly colored, assuring kids will be drawn to the book for its eye-catching illustrations. Loreen Leedy's MISSING MATH: A NUMBER MYSTERY (9780761453857, $16.99) tells of a fun mystery in which the numbers all over town suddenly vanish. The animals can't use the phone or even tell time: even computers are useless. Can the town's detective solve this numbers mystery? Kids receive a rhyming text along with a fun survey of the importance of math to everyday living. Margaret O'Hair's MY PUP (9780761453895, $14.99) tells of the fun a little girl has with her new puppy. Large full-page drawings by Tammie Lyon offer a zany twist of images to accompany the rollicking story of puppy trouble and fun.

Zen Ties
Jon J. Muth
Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012
0439634253, $17.99,

Summer has arrived and so has Koo, Stillwater Panda's haiku-speaking young nephew. When Stillwater encourages Koo and friends to help a grouchy neighbor in need, their efforts are rewarded in this appealing, fun blend of panda and Zen lessons perfect for young picturebook readers.

Cary Fagan & Nicholas Debon
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th Floor, Toronto Ontario M5A 2P9 Canada
9780887768392, $18.95,

Thing-thing's identity is not obvious: not a stuffed dog, cat nor bear, but has elements of each and the hope that one day it'll find a child to love it. A child unlike one Archibalde Crimp, who had just tossed Thing-Thing out of an apartment building window. Against all odds and with some surprising circumstances Thing-Thing achieves his dreams in this fine story recommended for picturebook readers with good reading skills in grades 2-4.

c/o Penguin Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014 1-800-847-5515

When Quantz stops to pet a big red dog, he gets fleas and when he trades them for a talking uncle, too much talk provides yet more troubles. He keeps trading up until he reaches a surprising end. A tall tale combined with whimsical drawings makes for a hilarious story spiced with Britt Spencer's zany drawings. Eileen Spinelli's THE BEST STORY (9780803730557, $16.99) is enhanced by Anne Wilsdorf's fun drawings as it tells of a library contest for the best story written. A girl believes she'll win but what elements contribute to a 'best' story line? Her survey of action, drama, and writing elements is inspirational and fun. Jonathan London's FROGGY GOES TO CAMP (9780670010981, $15.99) receives Frank Remkiewicz's fun drawings as it tells of Froggy's upheavals at camp Run-A-Muck. From food fights to overturned kayaks on the lake, Froggy's always in the middle of trouble in this zany story for ages 3 and older. Jackie French Koller's PETER SPIT A SEED AT SUE (9780670063093, $15.99) enjoys oversized, fun drawings by John Manders as it tells of four friends who begin a watermelon seed-spitting adventure involving everyone in town until the mayor puts a stop to it. Read-aloud text and hilarious drawings will reach ages 3 and older with a zany story line. All are excellent choices for discriminating picturebook collections.

The Fiction Shelf

Robert Brooks, author
Helle Urban, illustrator
Mystic Jaguar Publishing
10821 Margate Road, Suite A, Silver Spring, MD 20901
9780979229404, $17.95

Sonrieta is a children's storybook written in the style of a modern fairytale. Set in the land of Grimly Valley, a severe place where being serious is considered honorable and smiling is forbidden, Sonrieta is about a young girl who defies tradition with her happiness. Her parents try to teach her proper grim depression by sending her away to the Frowning Tower, but instead Sonrieta befriends the -painter, musician, poet, and dancer living there. Together the new friends return to the Town of Grim to show even the Great Grim himself and the Guards of the Grimmest Way that life is better when happiness, joy, and wonder are rightfully celebrated. Sonrieta may appear at first glance to be a picturebook, and indeed features a number of colorful and inspirational full-page illustrations, but the text is quite lengthy and involved. Sonrieta is therefore most appropriate for intermediate level young readers who are ready to tackle the next step beyond picturebook fare. Highly recommended.

Chasing Fun
Thea Calzoni
Calzoni and Fleckner
9 Galtes Crescent, Brunswick West, Victoria, Australia, 3055
9780646489049, $20.00

While formal education takes place during normal school hours, a lot of 'real life' lessons are learned after classes are over and outside of school and parental curriculums. That is the theme of Thea Calzoni's debut novel, "Chasing Fun", the story of Australian 'Year 9' school girls, Stef (from an Italo-Australian background), Alara (whose parents are Turkish), Niki (a wild child), and Jess (a regular Aussie girl whose parents are disappointed in her first term reports). Jess thinks to avoid parental restrictions and supervision by forming a 'Homework Club' with Steff and Alar -- but the purpose isn't so much to bring up their grades as to spend time together (and with boys) after school and on weekends. But things don't work out right as the girls encounter violence, the law, and the necessity to come to terms with their parents. An original story, "Chasing Fun" has an Australian cultural element enhancing a story of universal appeal and is highly recommended for American teens and community library young adult fiction shelves.

The Gold Scissors
Teri Tao
Golden Peach Publishing
1223 Wilshire Blvd., #1510, Santa Monica, CA 90403
9781930655195, $4.99,

When you have something wonderful, there are those who would take it. "The Golden Scissors" tells of talented Lotus and her magical scissors which make anything she cuts out of paper come alive. But her greedy landlord sees only money instead of a girl's art. "The Golden Scissors" is a charming child's tale, presented in the dual language format of Chinese and English. Also of interested by Teri Tao for Children, is "The Butterfly Lovers" (9781930655140, $5.99), equally as charming as "The Golden Scissors". Both of these unique bilingual children's books are highly recommended for family, school, and community library collections.

Pinky and Peanut: Trouble Times Two
Deena Cook and Cherie McIntosh, author
Trina Scruggs, illustrator
P & P Publishing, LLC
4957 Lakemont Blvd. SE, Suite C-4 #316, Bellevue, WI 98006
9780979702013, $4.99

The latest in the "Pinky and Peanut" series, Pinky and Peanut: Trouble Times Two is a children's chapter book about two young girls who are best friends. They share a clubhouse, a journal, and a friendly dog; both delight in making the most of their imagination. But now something strange is happening; Peanut is spending a lot of time with Tammy instead of Pinky, and Pinky's mom and dad are acting oddly. Simple black-and-white illustrations enhance this wonderful storybook about dealing with the challenges of growing up - and that good things can come from changes in one's life, not just scary things.

Sunny's Adventures
Leketha Marie Johnson
Jabberwocky Books
212 3rd Avenue North, Suite 570, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9780980245608, $12.95

A Sunny's Adventures is a children's storybook emphasizing the development of critical thinking and reasoning skills in young people. A collection of brief mysteries centering around an inquisitive young African-American girl, Sunny's Adventures is illustrated with simple black-and-white pictures on almost every page, and is sure to engage young reader's minds as well as entertain them. The five mysteries in the anthology are "The Case of the Missing Puppy", "The Case of the Missing Turtle", "The Cooking Contest Mystery", "The Case of the Missing Doll" and "The Disappearing Diamond Ring". A wonderfully welcome addition to children's reading lists, especially recommended for young girls.

The Lyre Birds
E.J. Stewart
Leaf and Vine Books
387 Ivy Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
9780615187624, $16.95,

When the Crimson Cardinal goes missing, the King makes good on his promise. "The Lyre Birds" is a story of fantasy that is sure to help young readers get started. While the King goes to war, the enemy works against his kingdom through treachery, as its inhabitants deal with their own problems. With charming illustrations by William Stewart, "The Lyre Birds" is a great starter fantasy novella for young readers.

Santa Claus in Baghdad
Elsa Marston
Indiana University Press
601 N. Morton Street, Bloomington, IN 47404
9780253220042, $15.95,

Half a world away, are children really all that different? "Santa Claus in Baghdad: And Other Stories about Teens in the Arab World" is a collection of stories that although fictional, express the real thoughts and beliefs of many Arabic Teens in the modern world. Showing the issues that Arabic students face, American readers will learn to empathize with these teens and not be scared of something they don't understand. "Santa Claus in Baghdad" is a unique anthology of stories, highly recommended to young adult readers everywhere.

Waves of Grace
Patrick Doherty
All About Kids Publishing
9333 Benbow Drive, Gilroy, CA 95020
9780974444666, $9.95,

When life collapses all around you, someone always has to look to the one thing that will keep them sane. "Waves of Grace" is the story of Marguerite and her disintegrating life at home. All she has to keep her spirits up are her friends, and her pastime of surfing. A championship is coming, and Marguerite direly wants to compete but life seems to object to her getting to do so. "Waves of Grace" is a riveting coming of age tale, highly recommended to teen readers who like a good book as much as they like catching a wave.

175 5th Avenue, 8th Floor, New York NY 10010

Moving to a new house is bad enough; but being the new kid in school is worse. Ellie's sure she won't fit in: she loves to read, and nobody seems to acknowledge her not even teachers, in Ruth McNally Barshaw's Edie McDoodle: New Kid in School (1599902389, $12.99 ) . But when the students decide to rally together for a cause, Ellie's right behind them and her attitude may gain her friends, yet. Kids in grades 3-7 will find this an excellent story. James Lincoln Collier's THE DREADFUL REVENGE OF ERNEST GALLEN (1599902206, $16.99) tells of one Gene, haunted by a voice from the past that tells of something bad that happened in town something Gene's grandfather and his friends wants to keep quiet. When Gene and friends decide to clear his grandfather's name, the voice becomes more dangerous in this story of secrets exposed.

Random House/Knopf
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019 1-800-726-0600

Ten-year-old cousins Jesse and Daisy have always dreamed of having a magical adventure, so when a thunder egg hatches and a baby dragon appears, the two kids are entranced. Soon they discover the task of being a Dragon Keeper is demanding and they are charged with keeping Emmy safe from the villainous Saint George, who drinks dragon's blood. THE DRAGON IN THE SOCK DRAWER (9780375855870, $14.99) is a fun story middle-grade fantasy readers will find compelling. Maria Padian's BRETT MCCARTHY: WORK IN PROGRESS (9780375846755, $15.99) tells of an eighth-grade corner kicker in Maine whose prank makes her become a juvenile delinquent and a loser. Brett has to figure out how to survive when everyone is changing, many are now against her, and nothing is easy. Middle school leisure readers will find this a compelling tale. Lenore Look's ALVIN HO: ALLERGIC TO GIRLS, SCHOOL, AND OTHER SCARY THINGS (9780375839146, $15.99) tells of one Alvin, who is afraid of everything: trains, bridges, teachers, girls and even school. But he loves superheroes and dreams he's actually Firecracker man in disguise. Elementary to early middle school grade readers will find Alvin Ho's adventures compelling in this involving story. Clara Vidal's LIKE A THORN (9780385735643, $14.99) tells of Melie, whose mother is prone to erratic behaviors that Melie has devised rituals to cope with. The work as a young girl but now that she's becoming a teen she's increasingly unhappy: how can she survive as a thorn in her mother's side? Joshua Doder's GRK AND THE HOT DOG TRAIL (9780385733618, $14.99) tells of the Malts and the Raffifis, on holiday in New York City and ready to enjoy its pleasures when the statue of the Golden Dachshund goes missing at the National Museum. Max volunteers to help the police but he's leading them to the wrong man, and it's up to Tim and Grk to follow a trail of hot dogs to the real culprit in this fun, whimsical elementary-level read. Jeanne Birdsall's THE PENDERWICKS ON GARDAM STREET (9780375840906, $15.99) tells of sisters ready for adventure. Mr. Penderwick's sister has decided it's time for him to start dating, so it's time for the Save-Daddy Plan, a plot so zany that it makes many other problems of romance and mischief pale in comparison. A funny and fast-paced story evolves for middle school readers. Rachel Neumeier's THE CITY IN THE LAKE (9780375847042, $15.99) tells of a missing Prince and a Kingdom disrupted, where strange old magic has awakened and a new force has permeated the land. When Timou's father vanishes she discovers these changes are somehow linked to her, and she discovers mysterious powers are at work. Readers of Henning Mankell's A BRIDGE TO THE STARS will relish SHADOWS IN THE TWILIGHT (9780385734967, $15.99), continuing the story of Joel Gustafson, his father and their friends in a new story of good deeds, divine intervention and putting the world right. A fine story evolves of discovery and change. Dale E. Basye's HECK: WHERE THE BAD KIDS GO (9780375840753, $16.99) tells of Milton and Marlo Fauster who die in a marshmallow-bear explosion and go straight to the otherworldly reform school of Heck, where home ec is conducted by Lizzy Borden and ethics with Richard Nixon. Middle school into adult readers will find this a hilarious tongue-in-cheek story: the older the reader, the more the political and social associations will be relished. Michael Scott's THE MAGICIAN: THE SECRETS OF THE IMMORTAL NICHOLAS FLATTIEL (9780385733588, $16.99) tells of a dangerous magical book of Abraham the Mage which could destroy the world, and which holds the secret of eternal life. Dee is two pages away from knowledge and destruction and only Josh and Sophie who are thousands of miles away can stop him. Immortality, magic, and a fast-paced pursuit make for a gripping story high school students will relish. Erica Verrillo's ELISSA'S ODYSSEY (9780375839481, $16.99) tells of Elissa, who has escaped the greedy Khan with the help of friends and now seeks to be reunited with her father. Her separation from her friends leads to a dangerous journey to regain all she's lost in this story, representing Book Two of the Phoenix Rising trilogy, and recommended for collections where Book One has already proved popular. Catherine Banner's THE EYES OF A KING (9780375838750, $16.99) tells of Leo, who has spent five years remembering his life, from military school and his oppressive family life to his blossoming magical powers. When he finds himself on a very different path because of this magic, he writes an entirely different saga in this fantasy for middle to high school students.

Nightmare at the Book Fair
Dan Gutman
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of Americas, New York NY 10020
1416924388, $15.99,

Trip had no idea of how dangerous the library could be all he knows is that he absolutely hates to read, and just wants to play lacrosse. Perhaps it's destiny that a stack of books knocks him cold and that he wakes up with no idea of where he is, facing a dangerous new world in which book fantasy seems to have spawned a new reality. NIGHTMARE AT THE BOOK FAIR is fun, unpredictable and packed with satisfying twists and turns even non-readers will relish.

A Curse Dark as Gold
Elizabeth C. Bunce
Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012
0439895766, $17.99,

Gold thread promises Charlotte a way out of debt and a chance to save her family's woolen mill, promising a future for them all but what will it cost her to get the thread? She must bargain with the mysterious Jack Spinner and may have to give up everything she loves to a powerful strange who spins gold. A fine fantasy will attract high school readers seeking re-embellishments of classic story lines.

The Kingdom of Strange
Shula Klinger
Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591
9780761453956, $16.99,

Thisbe wants to share her writing with someone but her parents are literary critics, her friends don't care, and when she becomes involved in a writing class group project, she is motivated to seek outside contact online with another student from another school. And her partner shares her feelings about not fitting in, as well as her love of language. A fine story of discovery evolves.

c/o Penguin Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014 1-800-847-5515

Michael Delaney's OBI, GERBIL ON THE LOOSE (9780525478904, $16.99) tells of Rachel, who owns Obi and goes on vacation with the rest of the family, leaving her pets home alone. The neighbor hired to feed the pets overlooks Obi: it's imperative that Obi escape, for she won't survive long without food and water. Her breakout leads to new worlds and new dangers in this fun, simple tale for elementary to middle-school grades. Kevin Bolger's SIR FARTSALOT HUNTS THE BOOGER (9781595141767, $10.99) tells of King Reginold the Not Very Realistic who is sick of his naughty son Prince Harry, whose pranks are not appreciated in the royal household. It's up to Sir Fartsalot, the bravest and most potent knight in the land, to solve the riddle of the Foul West Wind odor and to face the pranks of Harry who decides to convince the knight that a Snotty Scoundrel is prowling around. Mike Knudson and Steve Wilkinson's RAYMOND AND GRAHAM RULE THE SCHOOL (9780670011018, $14.99) tells of best friends who have been waiting the 4th grade for a long time until they find they're stuck with an old, creepy teacher and an embarrassing class play. Will their coveted year turn out to be the worst ever? Stacy Curtis provides zany black and white drawings for the elementary-to-middle-school grade reader. Gail Gauthier's A GIRL, A BOY, AND THREE ROBBERS (9780399246906, $14.99) provides elementary grades with the story of Brandon, who would rather watch TV than participate in the crazy games his friend Hannah makes up until neighbors attempt to steal Hannah's cat and a real-world quest evolves. Joan Bauer's PEELED (9780399234750, $16.99) tells of a high school reporter eager to stand up for the truth even when a ghost is involved. A host of ghostly sightings involves Hildy in a run to discover what's really going on, uncovering a dangerous plot in the process. Susan Maupin Schmid's LOST TIME (9780399244605, $16.99) tells of pre-teen Violynne, who is orphaned and wonders what happened to her parents, archaeologists who vanished during a dig. When a thief breaks into the house seeking her, she's involved in a host of spooky events that may provide clues to her parents' disappearance and the mystery revolving around them. High school readers will find it an involving read.

Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012

Ruby's turning sixteen and all she wants is a big party and lots of pictures of the event until her long-lost father shows up in Siobhan Vivian's A LITTLE FRIENDLY ADVICE (0545004047, $16.99). She's not sure how to think and feel, especially when a new boy complicates matters. Middle school readers will find this a compelling story of evolving relationships and change. Garth Nix's SUPERIOR SATURDAY (0439700892., $17.99) is another 'Keys to the Kingdom' series title best enjoyed by collections with prior familiarity to the plot. Arthur here has wrested five of the Keys from their immortal guardians, the Trustees of the Will but the Sixth Key poses different, greater challenges. Superior Saturday isn't just one of the Trustees she's the oldest Denizen and the most powerful sorcerer within the house. Arthur faces his greatest challenge when a house is being destroyed and only the keys can save the House and his home city. A vivid fantasy comes to life for middle school readers.

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591

Elvira Lindo's MANOLITO FOUR-EYES (9780761453031, $15.99) tells of Manolito, named after his father's truck, who doesn't mind his nickname of 'Four-Eyes'. From a battle with his best friend over Susana to confrontations with the school bully, MANOLITO FOUR-EYES provides elementary to early middle school grades with a zany, compelling story of a very unusual personality. Patricia Hermes' EMMA DILEMMA AND THE SOCCER NANNY (9780761453017, $15.99) is the third book about Emma O'Fallon, but no prior familiarity with the titles is needed to make this a library addition. Her latest dilemma involves her traveling soccer team's first game in Washington D.C. She wishes her cool nanny would go along to be the team chaperone, but her mother wishes to go and her mother has no idea about soccer. Add hidden pets in an apartment and a problem with a ball-hogging teammate and you have a fine story kids ages 8-11 will appreciate. Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's SIMPLY SARAH: EATING ENCHILADAS (9780761453000, $14.99) tells of an ordinary-looking girl who lives in an ordinary apartment building in Chicago who is always trying to be different. Kids ages 6-9 will relish this story of a third-grader who wants to be special but finds it difficult to make choices that set her apart from the norm.

The Self-Help Shelf

J. Krishnamurti
Krishamurti Publications of America
PO Box 1560, Ojai, CA 93024
Bick Publishing House (publicity)
307 Neck Road, Madison, CT 06443
9781888004250, $14.95,

One's entire life is made up of how they relate to those around them. "Relationships: To Oneself, To Others, To The World" is a guide to relationships aimed at teenagers. Endorsed by the Dalai Lama himself, Krishnamurti's wisdom is sound and heeding it should produce positive results. The knowledge within, although geared toward young adults, is sound for any age. "Relationships" is a must.

Books in Series

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591
9780761476313, $499.95,

Each 140+ page volume in the impressively produced 'World and Its Peoples: Eastern & Southern Asia' series from Marshall Cavendish focuses upon a different country or region of Asia. As such, each informed and informative volume provides an excellent, basic reference for any middle school to high school collection where geography reports on Asian countries are of interest. Eleven volumes come packed with both vintage and contemporary color and black and white photos, full-page maps, and surveys of each country's government, culture, and modern history. Perfect material for reports, and invaluable as a community and school library reference collection, the 'World and Its Peoples: Eastern & Southern Asia' is thoroughly 'kid friendly' and ideal for home schooling curriculums as well.

Morgan Reynolds Publishing
620 South Elm Street #223, Greensboro, NC 27406

Four excellent books in the superbly produced Morgan Reynolds 'Profiles in Mathematics' series each offer a little over 100 pages of biographical background on selected mathematicians. Stephen Ornes' SOPHIE GERMAIN (1599350629, $28.95) surveys a woman born at a time when it was unacceptable for a female to study. Despite all obstacles Sophie pursued an education under an assumed name and won many honors. Stephen Gimbel's RENE DESCARTES (1599350602, $28.95) surveys the life of a philosopher and mathematician whose work superceded the disputes which nearly destroyed him. From struggles between science and personal belief to his struggle to publish his own work despite Church restrictions, this provides a fine overview. Chad Boutin's PIERRE DE FERMAT (1599350610, $28.95) surveys a 17th century thinker whose work influenced many. His low-key approach lead to his name not being widely known, and while his arguments ruined his reputation, his work helped change the world. Krista West's CARL FRIEDRICH GAUSS (1599350637, $28.95) covers a mathematician who made many discoveries and applied them to geography and astronomy alike. All are fine picks for advanced elementary to middle school libraries strong in biography or math history.

Black Rabbit Books
PO Box 3263, Mankato, MN 56002
$32.80 (each), $137.70 (set)

"The Global Village" is a nonfiction children's book series intended for young readers in grades 7-9, concerning issues caused by globalization. Each volume features full-color photography throughout as well as a clear, candidly written of the positives, negatives, and challenges posed by its topic. A 'great debate' section at the end of each book summarizes the main points on both perspectives of each issue, and web sites are recommended for pursuing more information. The individual volumes are "Aid and Development" (9781599200996), "Food and Farming" (9781599201030), "Migration and Refugees" (9781599201016), "Natural Resources" (9781599201023), "Trade" (9781599200989), and "Travel and Tourism" (9781599201009). Enthusiastically recommended for children's public library and elementary school library collections, especially in today's modern world where understanding matters of globalization is more important than ever, "The Global Village" is ideal as a home schooling curriculum supplement as well.

Enslow Publishers
Box 398, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922-0398

Joining others in the 'Revolutionary War Library' but standing well alone is John Micklos, Jr.'s FROM THIRTEEN COLONIES TO ONE NATION (0766030156, $23.95), a 48-page book for grades 3-4 providing an excellent historical introduction to early American history. Color drawings and maps, sidebars of facts and information, large-size print and chapter notes, an index and a glossary make this a top pick for any elementary-level library including early American history for this grade range. The same grade level will also benefit from 200 YEARS WITH ABRAHAM LINCOLN: ONE MAN'S LIFE AND LEGACY (0766032663, $27.93) by Helen Koutras Bozonelis, which considers Lincoln's impact on American life 200 years after his birth. A survey of his life and achievements explores how Lincoln's revolutionary concepts affect modern life, adopting a different approach than most political or biographical treatments. Carmen Bredeson's BABY ANIMALS OF THE TROPICAL RAIN FOREST (0766030040, $21.26) will appeal to grades 1-3 with its very easy introduction to baby animals. Beginning readers and adults who wish a read-aloud primer will find it a very simple introduction that uses bright, full-page color photos and large print to explore animals and their environment. Eye-catching and fun. From how many types of sand dunes there are to how many legs a recluse spider has, Frederick L. McKissack Jr. and Lisa Beringer McKissack's COUNTING IN THE DESERT (0766029883) blends natural history with numbers and will appeal to collections both strong in biomes and early math skills.

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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