Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
|Home / Children's
Table of Contents
Slaying Digital Dragons
Alex J. Packer, author
Jon Davis, illustrator
Free Spirit Publishing
6325 Sandburg Road, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55427-3674
9781631985966, $24.99, PB, 408pp
Synopsis: Without avoiding the dark side of technology, "Slaying Digital Dragons: Tips and tools
for protecting your body, brain, psyche, and thumbs from the digital dark side" is interactive and
comprehensive reference book empowers teens and young adults to take charge of their digital
life and improve their mental health and well-being. Quizzes and exercises guide readers through
the process of evaluating their relationships with their screens, social media, and tech in
With a frank and humorous approach to a timely topic, educator and psychologist Alex J. Packer
pulls back the curtain on the hidden aspects of the digital world and shares: Signs that screen
time is affecting teens' bodies, brains, and relationships; Tips for protecting their privacy, safety,
and reputation; Ways social media and algorithms can distort their reality and sense of self; Tools
for finding life balance and resetting their screen scene.
"Slaying Digital Dragons" is a clarion call to action and making the choices that are right for
teens and young adults. It doesn't demand ditching smartphones or deactivating social media.
Instead, it suggests strategies for playing favorite games and posting on favorite apps, while also
doing good in the world and bringing joy and encouragement to others. "Slaying Digital
Dragons" invites its readers to join the resistance and learn how to thwart the manipulative forces
trying to control and profit off their users. And it gives teens and young adults what they need to
stay safe and take charge of their digital life.
Critique: Given the impact of social media on the physical, mental, and emotional well being of
teens and young adults, "Slaying Digital Dragons : Tips and tools for protecting your body, brain,
psyche, and thumbs from the digital dark side" from Free Spirit Publishing should be a part of
every personal, professional, family, middle school, high school, college, and university library
Internet & Social Media Safety collection.
Editorial Note: Alex J. Packer, Ph.D., is an educator, psychologist, and award-winning author of
numerous books for parents and teenagers including How Rude! The Teen Guide to Good
Manners, Proper Behavior, and Not Grossing People Out. Alex is sought after by the media for
his provocative commentary on manners, child-rearing, and substance abuse prevention, and has
led workshops and lectured widely across the United States and around the world.
The Too Tall Giraffe
Christine Maier, author
Aviva Brueckner, illustrator
Author Academy Elite
9781647467067, $19.99, HC, 34pp
Synopsis: Savannah looked forward to her first day at a new school. She tried to make friends,
but the giraffes in her class thought she was too tall. With no one to play with, Savannah focused
on her schoolwork. Would this prepare her for the day her classmates were in danger? The day
when Savannah would have to decide if she would help the giraffes that had been mean to
Critique: "The Too Tall Giraffe" by the impressive team of author/storyteller Christine Maier and
artist/illustrator Aviva Brueckner is about the life skills associated with: Starting at a new school;
Looking different; Dealing with bullies; and Finding a child's particular abilities. A charmingly
entertaining picture book approach to encouraging children that being different from others has
an important value in and of itself. "The Too Tall Giraffe" is about helping others, fitting in, and
dealing with bullies -- making it an ideal and highly recommended addition to family, daycare
center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children
ages 4-8 on the subject of multiculturalism, tolerance, and dealing with bullies.
Cow Boyhood: The Adventures of Wilder Good
S. J. Dahlstrom
Paul Dry Books
1700 Sansom Street, Suite 700, Philadelphia, PA 19103-5214
9781589881549, $9.95, PB, 176pp
Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Wilder has spent his boyhood watching men like his grandpa Papa
Milam... and wanting to be like them. Now he is leaving on a two day cattle drive through river
and canyon country with his aging Papa and another older man, Red Guffey. In big ranch country
full of livestock and wild animals, Wilder is forced to recognize that his own instincts and
abilities may have become greater than those of his heroes.
Critique: Another original and inherently entertaining work of fiction by S. J. Dahlstrom that will
be of particular interest to young readers ages 8-1, "Cow Boyhood" is the seventh volume in the
author's 'The Adventures of Wilder Good' series and is particularly and especially recommended
for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Country/Farm Life
The American History Shelf
The Traveling Camera
Alexandra S. D. Hinrichs, author
Michael Garland, illustrator
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA 90049-1682
9781947440067, $17.99, HC, 32pp
Synopsis: Author Alexandra Hinrichs and artist Michael Garlands picture book "The Traveling
Camera: Lewis Hine and the Fight to End Child Labor" combines stunning visuals with a poetic
text to tell the inspiring story of Lewis Hine (September 26, 1874 - November 3, 1940), a
teacher, photographer, and sociologist who employed his art as a tool for social reform.
Working for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), Hine traveled the country, taking
pictures of children as young as five toiling under dangerous conditions in cotton mills, seafood
canneries, farms, and coal mines. He often wore disguises to sneak into factories, impersonating
a machinery inspector or traveling salesman. He said, "If I could tell this story in words, I
wouldn't need to lug a camera." His poignant pictures attracted national attention and were
instrumental in the passage of child labor laws.
"The Traveling Camera" also includes extensive back matter with timelines, original
photographs, and a bibliography.
Critique: A well informed and exceptional picture book biography of a remarkable man and his
contribution to changing America's attitude towards the use (and abuse) of child labor, "The
Traveling Camera: Lewis Hine and the Fight to End Child Labor" is an extraordinary and
unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library
American Biography collections for children ages 6-9.
The Science Shelf
How to Teach Grown-Ups About Pluto
Dean Regan, author
Aaron Blecha, illustrator
9781913750510, $14.99, HC, 112pp
Pluto has not been a planet since 2006. But this tiny world still inspires people of all ages while
sparking controversy. In his delightfully witty book, "How to Teach Grown-Ups About Pluto",
astronomer Dean Regas teaches children ages 8 to 12 how to educate grown-ups about the
cutting-edge science of space, most crucially the reason why Pluto is NOT a planet anymore.
Delving into the history of space discoveries, the key players who have helped our understanding
of the universe (including the 11-year-old girl who named Pluto in the first place), and the
ever-changing nature of science, "How to Teach Grown-Ups About Pluto" will equip every
young reader with the tools they need to bring their grown-ups fully up to speed, and to sneak in
as many amazing astronomical facts as possible.
Of special note is the inclusion of a handy quiz at the end so that kids can check that their
grown-ups have been paying attention!
Fun and factual, "How to Teach Grown-Ups About Pluto" is very highly recommended as an
addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Popular Science
collections in general, and the planetoid once known as the Planet Pluto.
Water: A Deep Dive of Discovery
Christy Mihaly, author
Mariona Cabassa, illustrator
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140
9781646862801, $19.99, HC, 63pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "Water: A Deep Dive of Discovery" by the team of author
Christy Mihaly and illustrator Mariona Cabassa, children ages 7-12 will enjoy immerse
themselves in a fascinating compendium of facts about water! This comprehensive yet accessible
exploration of water will help young readers understand many aspects of one of our planet's most
precious resources - and how they can protect it.
A friendly water droplet character guides children through topics ranging from melting and
freezing to the ways in which water literally shapes the Earth. Tales by storytellers from around
the world are sprinkled through the book, highlighting the variety of ways in which global
cultures value water.
The engaging format of "Water: A Deep Dive of Discovery" includes gatefolds and booklets with
hands-on activity ideas for learning about and protecting water. The topics covered include: The
importance of water to life; How much of the planet is made of water; Where in the world water
is located; Freezing, melting and evaporation; The water cycle; Why animals and plants need
water; Salt water versus fresh water environments; Uses for water, including water as a source of
renewable energy; Water conservation and how to keep water clean.
Critique: Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, "Water: A Deep Dive of
Discovery" is a strongly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community
library Oceanography, Environmental, and Ecology science collections for young readers.
The Cookbook Shelf
Meera Sriram, author
Ines de Antunano, illustrator
Laurel P. Jackson, contributor
9781646862825, $17.99 HC, $8.58 Kindle, 40pp
Dumpling Day is a recipe exploration of a family tradition of making dumplings together, pairing
recipes by Laurel P. Jackson with art by Ines de Antunano, as Meera Sriram describes the event.
There's a dumpling party in town, and ten families cook their ethnic dumpling delights, from
Italian ravioli to Indian samosas. From Nigeria and China to Syria and Russia, dumplings create a
delightful interplay between ethnic groups who each have their favorite dumpling dish. Parents
and librarians looking for cookbooks and ethic discussions for children ages 4-8 will find a
delicious combination of topics in Dumpling Day.
Kids Can Bake: Recipes for Budding Bakers
Esther Coombs, illustrator
Laura Paton, editor
c/o The GMC Group
9781787081093, $17.99, HC, 64pp, Ages 6-12
"Kids Can Bake: Recipes for Budding Bakers" is a lavishly illustrated collection of kid-friendly
recipes for a wide variety of foods. Each individual recipe is illustrated in numbered steps in
sequence across from the page listing the recipe title and ingredients. The detailed illustrations
make the recipe techniques particularly accessible to young cooks.
Recipes are presented in the following categories: Bread, Pizza & Savory Snacks; Pies & Tarts;
Cookies & Other Sweet Treats; Cakes, Cupcakes & Muffins; Bars & Tray Bakes; Desserts and
Cake Toppings. Although originally published in the UK, "Kids Can Bake" recipe quantities are
in standard US measurements. Ingredients are commonly available in standard
Delicious recipes include: Chicken Pie, British Scones, Macarons, Oatmeal Bars, Caramel
Shortbread, Marble Cake, Focaccia, Beef Empanadas, Marble Cake, and Profiteroles. The
simplicity of the instructions will encourage young chefs to tackle ambitious baked goods
recipes. "Kids Can Bake" is made to tempt preteens and teens to tackle culinary ambitions and
delight their family and friends with the toothsome results.
The Picturebook Shelf
Home of the Wild
Louise Greig and Julia Moscardo
Home of the Wild tells of a young boy who finds an orphaned fawn in the forest. He brings it to
his cottage and helps her heal during a summer in which fawn and boy become close friends.
But, a wild animal needs to return to its home, eventually. Can the boy bear to part with his new
best wild friend? A lovely rhyme accompanies the warm story of a boy who learns the real
meaning of friendship in a delightful picture book exploration.
Little Fairy Can't Sleep
Daniela Drescher, author/illustrator
9781782507673, $17.95, HC, 24pp
"Little Fairy Can't Sleep" is a lovely illustrated tale from author/illustrator Daniela Drescher
about a hedgerow fairy named Faith who cannot sleep on a beautiful summer night. Faith hears
the cricket and forest night sounds and flies off to meet the Sandman when a feeling of magic in
the air prevails. Even the Sandman can't spread enough golden sand to keep his charges fast in
Faith flies on to see a fox mother and her restless cubs, an alert owl, and a wide awake family of
elves living in the roots of a tree. Finally Faith met the moth prince while she rested on a leaf,
and he took her to a midsummer night's party, where fairies and friends danced and celebrated
the beautiful night.
At the end, all tired out, Faith was accompanied home by the moth prince to her own soft bed,
where she slept soundly, dreaming of "a busy sandman, a mother fox, a grumpy owl, a singing
elf, a kind moth prince and a magical party." Best of all, she slept peacefully until morning.
Highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library fairytale picture bok
collections for children ages 6-12, "Little Fairy Can't Sleep" is filled with magical illustrations of
the midsummer night's creatures and fairy kin. Parents should note that "Little Fairy Can't Sleep"
makes for perfect bedtime reading with any restless child.
Who is it, Whoodini?
Roman Yasiejko, author
Gustavo Ramos, illustrator
9781953458322, $15.99, HC, 40pp
Eyes wide with surprise and necks twisting to see, two owls whoo-hooted, "Now who could that
be?" When a mysterious bird crashes into a tree, two curious owls--Cahoots and Whoodini--set
out to investigate. They fly down to interview their barnyard friends, but after gathering all the
clues, they're still stumped until Whoodini overhears an unexpected hint.
Clever clues, teamwork, and a delightful surprise ending await young detectives ages 4 to 7 in
this charming mystery where children will fully enjoy following the clues to reveal an
unexpected surprise in the pages of "Who is it, Whoodini?". A rhyming mystery read-aloud the
picture book by the team of author/storyteller Roman Yasiejko and artist/illustrator Gustavo
Ramos, "Who is it, Whoodini?" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare
center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young
Ian Eagleton, author
Clara Anganuzzi, illustrator
9781911373520, $17.99, HC, 32pp
Synopsis: Violet's world has changed. Her voice has gone from a giggle to a whisper. So when
her teacher casts her in the school play, she is filled with worry. How will she ever stand in front
of a crowd and overcome her shyness? With the love and support of her family, Violet must find
her inner confidence and turn that whisper into a roar!
Critique: A charmingly written and attractively illustrated picture book story on the subject of
shyness and stage fright, "Violet's Tempest" by author/storyteller Ian Eagleton and
artist/illustrator Clara Anganuzzi is a delightful, entertaining and thoroughly 'kid friendly'
addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library
collections for children ages 4-8.
Douglas & McIntyre
c/o Harbour Publishing
9781771623087, $18.95, HC, 32pp
Synopsis: After all the campers and hikers return to the city at the end of summer, a group of
animals from the forest decide to pay them a visit. When Raccoon, Moose, Bear, Otter and their
friends arrive in the big city, everyone is so excited to see them that they shout and run away with
joy. The animals have a fun-filled day rampaging through the city and learning about human
customs, until some new friends with large nets give them a ride back home.
Critique: A delightfully humorous and original picture book supported by charming illustrations
on every page, "City Day" by gifted storyteller and artist Glenn Brucker will make children laugh
while educating them about the importance of treating animals' wilderness home with care and
respect. Simply stated, "City Day" will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly
popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library
picture book collections for children ages 3-5.
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
These new arrivals from Candlewick provide young readers with thought-provoking, colorful
reads, and are highly recommended choices.
Gail Armstrong's Space (9781536219876, $24.99) appears in an oversized book of papercut
depictions of space, and hold over 30 flaps to lift. Adults working with kids who seek interactive
representations of astronomy will find its vivid facts and displays lend to read-aloud fun as the
little space ship at the center of the cutouts leads to flaps harboring space discoveries. The
astronomical facts are presented in a manner that young picture book readers will find both
educational and memorable.
Susan Hood's We Are One: How the World Adds Up (9781536201147, $17.99) receives fun
illustrations by Linda Yan as it offers picture book readers the opportunity to understand basic
math ideas such as part/whole relationships and fractions. This is presented in a survey of themes
of peace and unity, which will appeal to adults seeking more than just a math-oriented coverage
alone. From definitions of terms from ancient Mesopotamia to how equations apply to the
simplest concepts of being part of a family and team, We Are One is enlightening and supportive
on many different levels, and is recommended as both a math book and as a story of cooperative
Helen Yoon's Off-Limits (9781536207316, $17.99) tells of a curious child who understands that
Daddy's home office is off limits...but sees no harm in just looking around. There, she discovers
all kinds of fun and different things. As she gets into a tangle of trouble, the young protagonist
begins to understand just what 'off limits' means, and why Dad's office is on that list.
Most whimsical of all is David Ezra Stein's Interrupting Chicken Cookies for Breakfast
(9781536207781, $17.99), which presents a new spin on nursery rhymes with a little chicken
who is hungry for cookies. It turns out that everyone loves cookies, and the sassy little red
chicken provides interpretations of Mother Goose that inject cookies into almost every scenario.
What's Papa to do with such a single-minded child? Lovely, colorful drawings support an
engaging story that's perfect for read-aloud fun.
Winter Lullaby by Dianne White (9781536209198, $17.99) features lovely illustrations by
Ramona Kaulitzki as it follows Mama Bear and Small Bear, who are on their way to sleep for the
winter. There's only one problem. Small Bear sees the other animals preparing for winter, and
doesn't want to just go to sleep while the world moves through the season wide awake. Can
Mama Bear lull him into hibernation with an offer that counters the inviting activity that Small
Bear observes around him? An inviting story pairs with lovely, gentle winter scenes to invite kids
to sleep and into understanding how the world operates.
Wild by Sam Usher (9781536220001, $17.99) tells of a boy and his grandfather, who look after a
feisty cat. The boy thinks that "All we have to do is play with her, feed her, and cuddle her!
Easy!" The truth is something more, as the cat resists all efforts to be friendly and lets them know
that she has her own ideas about moving into a new home. Any household with a cat well knows
how this will go...and will appreciate the fun story of a family that must learn new boundaries
from their pet.
Walrus Song by Janet Lawler (9781536207552, $17.99) sports lovely drawings by Timothy Basil
Ering that support a simple, rollicking rhyme about the walrus: "In icy waters/Walrus
thrives/seeking spots/where bivalves thrive." Natural history facts are presented in a format
designed to engage and educate the very young with large-size full-color pages, action-packed
rhymes, and descriptions that adults will want to use as the jumping off point for further
discussions about the sea world in general and walrus in particular.
The Robin & the Fir Tree (9781536220025, $18.99) is retold by Jason Jameson. It tells of a fir
tree that grows in a great forest. While friend Robin spins stories of travel and adventure, he can
only stay rooted and listen to these magical tales of other places. One day, everything changes.
It's Christmas, and the fir has a role to play. But, is it one that will take him away from his
beloved friend forever? This gorgeously illustrated, captivating story is the perfect ticket for
holiday season read-aloud and year-round contemplation.
Pamela Butchart's Jeremy Worried About the Wind (9781536220186, $17.99) delights with a
story about a kid who worries about everything from evil squirrels and spotted bananas to the
wind. In contrast, his friend Maggie doesn't worry about anything. What's the worst that could
happen? Jeremy finds out...and receives a lesson about worrying during the course of an
extraordinary adventure and lesson in courage.
All of these titles are exceptional presentations and highly recommended for family, elementary
school, and community collections for young readers.
Two new picture book presentations are attractive stories that will appeal to the very young.
Kyo Maclear and Gracey Zhang's The Big Bath House (9780593181959, $17.99) covers a day
spent at a traditional Japanese bath house, and uses a lilting rhyme to outline the experience.
Tasteful drawings of the group bathing place incorporate the idea that "clothes will be shed," but
that adults and children will follow special routines, and will have fun at the big bath house.
Donna Jo Napoli and Naoko Stoop's Words to Make a Friend: A Story in Japanese and English
(9780593122273, $17.99) tells of two girls who don't share the same language, but do share a
love of snow. Each teaches the other about snow and their language through phrases presented in
Japanese and English, inviting young readers to embrace both the pleasures of winter and cultural
differences. Both are fine picture book choices that parents will find involving.
Both of the titles are highly recommended school library, community library, and personal
555 Broadway New York, NY 10012
Scholastic's latest lineup of inviting titles will reach all ages with books that are compelling and
fun. Picture book readers especially, will find these five new stories wonderful choices.
Only My Dog Knows I Pick My Nose by Lauren Tarshis (9781338680256, $17.99) features
whimsical illustrations by Lisa Bronson Mezoff and tells of friendship and the special
relationship between a boy and his dog. The narrator does everything right...or, does he? Only his
faithful dog friend knows the things he does wrong. This inviting story is a warm representation
of not just a relationship, but a boy's ability to be honest.
Our Table by Peter H. Reynolds (9781338572322, $17.99) presents the lovely story of a girl
whose family is too busy to share a meal together. Violet fondly remembers a time when the
table was a central place for "Laughter, singing, celebrating, sharing. Making memories
together." Recently, Violet's been alone as her family "finds new places to be." How she brings
them back together makes for an evocative tale.
Lauren Child's The Goody (9781338789546, $17.99) tells of Chirton, a good child who always
obeys the rules...unlike his sister, who specializes in defying them. One day, Chirton wonders
why he's devoted to being a Goody. Maybe it's time to try something different? Chirton's
experiences and reflections are accompanied by admonitions (in red text) that advise kids about
being good ("If people have decided you are good, do not disappoint them by being bad."). The
interactive dialogue invites kids and read-aloud adults to consider Chirton's choices and their
consequences, creating a story that will delight adults looking for new ways of engaging the very
young with thought-provoking lessons about life.
Jane Yolen and Mark Teague's How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodbye? (9781338363357, $17.99)
imparts a serious message about mustering courage, facing fears, and coming to terms with
various absences. It is a top recommendation for adults seeking to engage the young picture book
readers with attractive characters (dinosaurs) and serious subjects (saying goodbye in different
ways). Kids receive a humorous story about dinosaurs that have different ways of saying
goodbye, whether it's to a father departing for work, or a grandmother whose departure after a
visit provokes a resentful response. The lively, understandable ways dinosaurs can react provides
both whimsical fun and much food for thought.
Just in time for January celebration is Bryan Collier's We Shall Overcome (9781338540376,
$18.99), which uses the Civil Rights song as a backdrop for exploring young Collier's journey as
she travels from past to present, considering early Civil Rights events and modern-day political
protests. The focus on overcoming adversity with hope and courage creates a message that brings
alive the girl's world and her interpretation of overcoming wrongs, and is paired with lovely,
full-page drawings of her movements through daily life.
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 10020-1513
These new arrivals are fine leisure reading choices that will attract picture book learners and their
parents with satisfyingly original presentations.
Parker Curry & Jessica Curry's Parker Shines On: Another Extraordinary Moment
(9781534454743, $17.99) receives engaging drawings by Brittany Jackson as it tells of big sister
Parker Curry, who plays dress-up and dances with her little sister. When a dancer joins her class,
the opportunity for friendship and expanded lessons will engage ages 4-8 in a tale replete with
ballet dreams and colorful representations of a child's experiences.
Trees by Tony Johnston and artist Tiffany Bozic (9781534475175, $17.99) offers a simple
exploration packed with gorgeous drawings of trees and how they harbor songbirds, blooms, and
beauty, both day and night. Bozic's drawings are featured in an oversized format that is one of the
most colorful renditions of natural environments available for the very young, while Johnston's
simple, evocative coverage of the atmosphere and beauty of trees creates an appeal that will
attract nonfiction and fiction young readers alike.
Patricia Polacco's Go Ask Ozzie (9781534478558, $17.99) presents a Rotten Richie story about
siblings. It focuses on Polacco's older brother in another fun adventure. Patricia can't get away
from her biggest problem in life: her rotten older brother, who is "the most embarrassing brother
in the world." From his refusal to take baths to his infatuation with her best friend's older sister,
this autobiographical story of siblings whose relationship changes is appealing and
Carla Hall's Carla and the Christmas Cornbread (9781534494695, $17.99) features inviting
illustrations by Cherise Harris which capture the holiday atmosphere and special celebrations of
Carla, who accidentally eats a special cookie intended for Santa. Kids ages 4-8 will find this story
of a grandmother's warm house and the special sights, smells, and learning opportunities it brings
to be a fun exploration of a different kind of Christmas.
Thankful by Elaine Vickers (9781534477346, $17.99) features pictures by Samantha Cotterill
and holds an invitation for young readers ages 4-8 to consider what they are thankful for in life.
A girl writes down the simple things she is thankful for, which include "snow that softens the
whole world" and "a smooth road for riding bikes with friends." The story invites kids to
consider gratitude and the good things in their lives - a message parents will find particularly
important to discuss with a young picture book reader.
All are recommended picks for discriminating picture book enthusiasts.
4035 Park E. Ct. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Three new picture books are recommended for libraries looking for lasting, involving tales.
Candice Ransom's Only Margaret (9780802855084, $17.99) is a biography of Margaret Wise
Brown that adds to the Incredible Lives for Young Readers picture book series. Nan Lawson's
engaging drawings lend to the story of a young writer who dreamed of creating children's books,
and whose original ideas led to many classics children love. Ages 5-9 will appreciate this
encouraging tale of achievement.
Poems selected by June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling in For Every Little Things: Poems and
Prayers to Celebrate the Day (9780802855190, $18.99) are especially thought-provoking and
engaging. Helen Cann's gorgeous nature drawings are beautiful embellishments for ages 4-10,
who fill find this Junior Library Guild selection to be rich in beautiful drawings and equally
powerful works by Emily Dickinson, Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro, and some fifty other voices that
provide encouraging writings for kids.
Alex Nogues and Miren Asiain Lora's One Million Oysters on Top of the Mountain
(9780802855695, $17.99) comes from a geologist who provides an early reader with captivating
details about seas, rocks, and tectonic plates. Ages 6-10 will appreciate this early education about
the natural world, which pairs nicely with intriguing drawings by Miren Asiain Lora to create an
earth science reader that invites kids to learn more about the natural world around them.
All are exceptional publications.
The Board Book Shelf
Hide-and-Seek Peekaboo: Beginning Baby
Nicola Slater, author/illustrator
680 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
9781797203690, $10.99, Board Book, 16pp
Synopsis: "Hide-and-Seek Peekaboo: Beginning Baby" by author and illustrator Nicola Slater is
is part of a new board book with lift-the-flap elements for new parents and their children ranging
from infancy to three year olds. With its distinctive yet accessible art and educational concepts,
"Beginning Baby" is specifically designed to make growing and learning as easy as playing and
dreaming -- and very highly recommended for every baby's first library -- as well as daycare
center, preschool, and community board book collections.
Where's My Little Love Bug?: A Mirror Book
Pamela Kennedy, author
Sebastian Braun, illustrator
c/o B&H Publishing Group
1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234
9781087750361, $8.99, Board Book, 18pp
Highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, Sunday School, and community
library collections, "Where's My Little Love Bug?: A Mirror Book" is a sweetly charming board
book with which children ages 1-4 will fully enjoy spotting new parent-child bug pairs and lift
the flaps to find each little love bug with each turn of the page. "Where's My Little Love Bug?: A
Mirror Book" features colorful artwork by artist/illustrator Sebastian Braun and a rhyming text by
author/storyteller Pamela Kennedy showing children that God puts all of His creatures (including
bugs and kids) right where they belong! On the last page, children will look into a mirror, where
they'll see themselves cuddling safe and sound with the adult who is reading to them.
Zoom: Construction Site Adventure
Susan Hayes, author
Susanna Rumiz, illustrator
What on Earth Books
Zoom: Construction Site Adventure is a delightful board book peppered with cut-out and pop-up
sections. The simple, charming text is all about the hard yet rewarding work of construction. As
young Maxie plans to build a skyscraper, Maxie imagines the entire construction site process in
detail! "It's time to lay the foundation. Maxie directs the crew. / 1. Drill deep holes into the
ground. 2. Mix up concrete. 3. Pour the concrete in. 4. Lower steel cages into the ground." Zoom:
Construction Site Adventure is a thoroughly enjoyable and educational board book for parents
and little ones to share, highly recommended.
What's Up, Construction Truck?
Matthew Reinhart, author
Toby Leigh, artist
c/o Harry N. Abrams
9781419749827, $16.99, Board Book, 10 pp
With "What's Up, Construction Truck?", a board book created by the team of author/storyteller
Matthew Reinhart and artist/illustrator Toby Leigh, young children will enjoy following
construction workers through a busy day on the job as the lift the flaps to open the bulldozer's
doors and peek inside; help a crew member put on his helmet; and lift up the shovel to help the
driver prepare a new bike trail for paving. When the story is over, they can follow simple
instructions to transform the pages of the board book into a three-dimensional bulldozer! So very
highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book
collections for children ages 3-5, there is so much to discover in this stunning, unique, and
interactive board book from Matthew Reinhart.
The Graphic Novel Shelf
Top Shelf Productions
PO Box 1282, Marietta GA 30061-1282
9781603095006, $24.99, PB, 288pp
Synopsis: What happens when our most precious belongings are no longer considered to be
precious? When something we once loved suddenly becomes junk, the result is the unleashing of
a powerful energy.
One night, ice-skating prodigy Florence Sato is overwhelmed by pressure and throws away her
skates. This fateful moment accidentally summons a "junkwraith," a terrifying ghost which seeks
revenge for its abandonment by attacking the memories of its former owner. Before she forgets
who she is, and to find out who she really wants to be, Florence must set off (with her trusty
digital assistant Frank) on a long journey into the Wastelands to put to rest the monster she
Critique: A unique and entertaining blend of illustration and original fantasy that is all the more4
impressive when considering that "Junkwraith" is Ellinor Richey's debut as the author/illustrator
of the graphic novel. "Junkwraith", an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to
middle school, high school, and community library graphic novel collections for young readers
ages 13-17. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Junkwraith" is also readily
available in a digital book format (Kindle/comiXololgy, $16.99).
Editorial Note: Ellinor Richey loves bringing imaginary things to life, whether this be through
game concepts, comic art or ink illustrations. When not thinking about comics, she loves
thinking about animation, playing the clarinet and pine trees in sunsets. She currently lives with
her plants in a small studio apartment overlooking the Gothenburg harbor in Sweden.
Leigh Dragoon, author
Angela De Vito, illustrator
c/o Hyperion Books for Children
9781368028356, $20.99, HC, 160pp
Synopsis: Evony is an orphaned princess from a kingdom destroyed by a power-hungry witch.
Prince Ammon has recently been drawn to her, or at least he's drawn to her uncanny ability to
sense when familiars (who are servants to the witches) are approaching his kingdom's
And Evony, well Evony has always longed for something more with Ammon. Wanting to prove
himself to his kingdom and parents, Ammon takes Evony outside the borders to fight the
familiars head-to-head. All is well until they're captured by witch Aradia, who steals Ammon's
heart and leaves his body to turn into one of her familiars. What's worse, his sister Nissa has been
taken hostage by Aradia's daughter.
Evony makes it her mission to retrieve Ammon's heart and save Nissa, taking her into the
mysterious Witchlands. There, she will discover a secret about her past that will change
Critique: Original, inherently riveting, unreservedly recommended for middle school, high
school, and community library graphic novel fantasy collections for young readers ages 12-18.
"Heartless Prince" by author/storyteller Leigh Dragoon and artist/illustrator Angela De Vito will
be an immediate and enduringly popular acquisition that will leave its young (and not so young!)
readers looking eagerly toward more titles from this creative, imaginative, and talented
Editorial Note #1: Leigh Dragoon has adapted both Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy and
Marie Lu's Legend series into graphic novel scripts. She has also written two prose Adventure
Time novels: Queen of Rogues and The Lonesome Outlaw.
Editorial Note #2: Angela De Vito is a freelance animator, storyboard artist, and character
designer working in NYC. She has worked on animation for commercials and series pitches.
Angela has worked for such studios as Hornet, Inc.; Titmouse, Inc.; Aardman Nathan Love;
Click 3X; CHRLX; and Disney Digital Network. She was also the animation director for
Comedy Central Digital's Loafy, created by Bobby Moynihan.
A New Sheriff in Town
Brett Bean, author/illustrator
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593226605, $12.99, HC, 80pp
Synopsis: Fennlock Fox and Penny the Pig head to the Wild, Wild West! When a chatty chicken
named Nugget makes it to the zoo to beg for help ridding his little Western town of a gang of
feral cats, the Zoo Patrol Squad is on the case. But when they get there, the sheriff is missing, and
no one can seem to find any of the townsfolk. Will Penny and Fennlock be able to save the town,
or will the dastardly Glaring Gang have the last meow?
Critique: "A New Sheriff in Town" is the third book in author and illustrator Brett Bean's
outstanding graphic novel series 'Zoo Patrol Squad'. Ideal and entertaining reading for children
ages 7-10, "A New Sheriff in Town" is especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary
school, middle school, and community library graphic novel collections for young readers. It
should be noted for personal reading lists that "A New Sheriff in Town" is also readily available
in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
Stuntboy in the Meantime
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 10020-1513
Young readers past the picture book stage will find Stuntboy In the Meantime by Jason Reynolds
just the ticket for a fun leisure read. Stuntboy is a superhero...or so he likes to think. Intent on
saving others and carving out a reputation for himself, he becomes involved in rescue efforts that
both challenge his perception and somehow involve a cat. Vivid drawings and unexpected
encounters keep this graphic novel energetic and fun.
The Music CD Shelf
Nature Child - A Dreamer's Journey
Red Pony Records
$16.99 / $TBA digital
Grammy-nominated country music singer/songwriter Sylvia presents Nature Child - A Dreamer's
Journey, a wonderful original album for children, families, and dreamers of all ages. The original
acoustic, American roots songs call to the listener's senses of creativity, joy, and wonder. Nature
Child - A Dreamer's Journey is a choice pick for school and public library children's music
collections, and also makes an excellent family gift. The tracks are Avalon, Imagination, Every
Time A Train Goes By, Don't Be Afraid To Dream, If I Only Had Wings, Nature Child, Dancing
Over An Emerald Isle, Home Is, My Best Friend, Good Night Sleep Tight My Little One, (Hey
Hey Hey) It's A New Day, and I Love You For Who You Are.
For Children of All Ages
You and Us
$25.00 CD / $TBA digital
For Children of All Ages is a children's album created especially to promote healing from trauma
connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. Musician and clinical art therapist Nicole Porter and the
band You and Us have created a heartwarming, emotional, and inspirational collection that will
lift the spirits of listeners of all ages. Highly recommended, especially in these trying times. The
tracks are Nowhere Now Here, Good Day Sweet Children, Ama Appa Aya, Absolutely
Awesome, Hands Up High, Relation Ship, Tic Tac Toe, Safe Island, Ouch a Booboo, Soul
Survivor, Mary Faery, Name the Change, Social Connections, Be Bold Be Brave, Raw
Emotional Power, Farewell Sweet Children, 1 2 3 Floor!, and You and Us.
You Are Magic
Brave New People
$13.99 CD / $9.49 MP3
You Are Magic is the joyous debut children's album by Triple Rainbow, featuring a lively
medley of acoustic folk and pop-rock. Lighthearted lyrics, catchy tunes and jubilant rhythms
make You Are Magic a treasure for the whole family. The tracks are You Are Magic, Bad Kitty,
Dance Party, Fam Jam, Slime, Exactly Perfect, The Lake, Facts, Why Can't Every Day Be
Halloween?, Stuffy Scavenger Hunt, Under the Water, Beautiful All, This is a Song, Pit of Your
Stomach, and Get Happy.
The Elementary Grade Fiction Shelf
Three new titles from Disney are attractive, fun additions for libraries catering to advanced
Catherine Hapka's The Little Things in Life: Simple Reflections from the Hundred-Acre Wood
(9781368076098, $22.95) features pictures by Mike Wall that accompany Milne's classic
Winnie-the-Pooh quotes with lessons to be gained from Pooh's world. A wide age range will find
these tales of a day spent wandering the woods to be evocative, thought-provoking affirmations
that encourage readers to consider how little experiences in life translate to big opportunities for
positivity and reflection.
Guess What!? by Mo Willems (9781368070935, $12.99) features the Unlimited Squirrels in an
adventure that tells of Zoom Squirrel's foray to the beach. The fuzzy friends experience a
conundrum: "I love going to the beach. I just do not like being there." Their zany reflections on
life's pleasures and challenges will appeal to the very young with appealing picture antics.
Tales of Courage and Kindness by Disney Books (9781368077118, $16.99) gathers a range of
princess stories that follow Disney characters, especially Disney Princesses, and the themes of
kindness and courage. These stories lend to bedtime reading for those beyond the early picture
book age. Sidebars peppered into the mix review each female character's traits, dreams, and
heroic moments, while descriptions are supplemented by full-color, full-page Disney
All these Disney titles are unusual, fun recommendations for discriminating family, elementary
school, and community library collections for young readers.
555 Broadway New York, NY 10012
Elementary to early middle grade readers will appreciate Bassem Youseff and Catherine R.
Daly's The Magical Reality of Nadia (9781338572285, $14.99), which receives engaging black
and white illustrations by Douglas Holgate as it explores a young Egyptian immigrant who
moved to America when she was six years old. Her desire to win a design contest is just one
facet of her interests and personality, which lend her plenty of strength until a new schoolmate
shows up and teases her about her Egyptian heritage, shaking her confidence. It takes a magic
amulet to inject the dose of confidence that shows her how to win in more than one way.
Chris Newell's If You Lived During the Plimoth Thanksgiving (9781338726374, $8.99) arrived
too late for Thanksgiving mention this year, but deserves a place in libraries for years to come. It
provides a lively blend of history and questions about what it was like to live during pilgrim
times. Kids learn details about the pilgrims through a history that comes with a "you are there"
feel to reflect on the lives of the English colonists and those around them. Plenty of detail
supplements invitations for kids to think about the pilgrim experience on a more personal level
than most books provide.
Kids who like ghost and monster stories will relish Dan Sasuweh Jones and Ponca Nation's
Living Ghosts & Mischievous Monsters: Chilling American Indian Stories (9781338681628,
$12.99). Over thirty short stories have been gathered from American Indian cultures across North
America in this volume. Witches, ghouls, skeletons, and more supernatural forces converge
under one cover to present a satisfyingly diverse set of stories that will appeal to advanced
elementary grade to early middle school readers. Black and white art by Weshoyot Alvitre
(Tongva) compliments an outstandingly diverse collection.
The Historical Fiction Shelf
Irene Latham, author
Charles Waters, author
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
9780593322888, $18.99, HC, 448pp
Synopsis: In 1860, long after the United States outlawed the importation of enslaved laborers,
110 men, women and children from Benin and Nigeria were captured and brought to Mobile,
Alabama aboard a ship called Clotilda. Their journey includes the savage Middle Passage and
being hidden in the swamplands along the Alabama River before being secretly parceled out to
various plantations, where they made desperate attempts to maintain both their culture and also
fit into the place of captivity to which they'd been delivered.
At the end of the Civil War, the survivors created a community for themselves they called
African Town, which still exists to this day. Told in 14 distinct voices, including that of the ship
that brought them to the American shores and the founder of African Town, the novel "African
Town" by co-authors Irene Latham and Charles Waters is a powerfully affecting historical
story-in-verse that recreates a pivotal moment in US and world history, the impacts of which we
still feel today.
Critique: Although a work of skillfully crafted and poetic fiction, "African Town" is soundly
based on a real historic event. The result is a uniquely memorable read and a highly
recommended addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction
collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "African Town" is also readily
available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).
Editorial Note: Irene Latham & Charles Waters are "Poetic Forever Friends" rst and
collaborators second. They are the writing team behind Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race,
Mistakes, and Friendship, which was awarded a Charlotte Huck Honor, and Dictionary for a
Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z, an NCTE Notable Poetry Book. They
share a passion for poetry and are committed to creating meaningful books for young
The Literary Fiction Shelf
The University Press of Kentucky
663 South Limestone Street, Lexington, KY 40508-4008
9780813151076, $12.95, PB, 96pp
Synopsis: When Trina Sims and Jenny Bryan first meet, they don't relate well to each other.
Jenny is troubled, struggling to escape personal demons, and somewhat closed-minded, the result
of growing up in a racist town. Trina is a proud Black woman who is ambitious, strong-willed,
and unafraid to speak her mind. But after the pair spend a few days together, they soon realize
that they're both yearning for understanding and a fresh start and are, at heart, more alike than
At the center of every tree can be found the heartwood -- the very soul of the tree. And at the
heart of "Heartwood" are characters with more complexities and contradictions than appear on
the surface. Members of a rural Kentucky community, their lives are loosely connected through
chance encounters, and yet somehow deeply intertwined. This captivating story by novelist
Nikky Finney is filled with the sights and sounds and hopes and hurts of a land and its people.
Some are burdened with racist attitudes, anger, and fear, while others strive to see the good in
This "tiny little book about the human heart and what it can do" was first released 25 years ago as
part of New Books for New Readers, a series designed for adult literacy students. In this
expanded anniversary edition of "Heartwood", and enhanced with the inclusion of a new preface
by Finney, all readers will find lessons about life and understanding, and the encouragement to
live audaciously while acknowledging the goodness that is all around us -- if we only strive to
recognize and embrace it.
Critique: An elegantly written and illuminating novel, "Heartwood" is one of those deftly crafted
and original stories that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been
finished and set back upon the shelf. While especially and unreservedly recommended for
community, college, and university library Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for
personal reading lists that this new anniversary edition is also readily available in a digital book
format (Kindle, $6.38).
Editorial Note: Nikky Finney is a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets and holds the John
H. Bennett, Jr., Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Letters at the University of South
Carolina. She edited Black Poets Lean South and authored On Wings Made of Gauze, Rice, The
World Is Round, Head Off & Split (winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry), and
Love Child's Hotbed of Occasional Poetry. Finney's work, including her now legendary National
Book Award acceptance speech, is on display in the inaugural exhibition of the African
American Museum of History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
The Middle Grade Fiction Shelf
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 10020-1513
Older readers ages 8-12 will appreciate two interrelated books that explore an 11-year-old girl's
struggle to communicate with the world. Not since Karen and With Love From Karen (both told
from the viewpoint of the mother of a child with cerebral palsy) has the subject received such a
Sharon M. Draper begins the story with Out of My Mind (9781416971719, $9.99), which
presents the first-person experiences of Melody Brooks, a disabled girl whose powerful brain
struggles with her incapacitated body. Melody can't talk, move, or write. She's stuck inside her
head. But her determination to communicate and succeed against all odds creates a thoroughly
engrossing story about positivity, disability, and courage that follows Melody as she struggles to
become part of the world. Her 'hidden superpowers' enable her to approach the world in a
different way, earning a place in it that is thought-provoking and ultimately uplifting.
Draper's Out of My Heart (9781665902168, $18.99) continues her saga, is set a year later, and
follows Melody's ongoing attempts at independence. Here, readers receive her first summer camp
experience and move through the fears that haunt her encounters with a completely different
environment. The camp helps Melody confront and move past her fears and the barriers to her
success, creating opportunities that move her forward as she becomes braver, stronger, and more
The two books together are enlightening, heart-warming, and filled with a positivity that preteens
will find thoroughly absorbing.
Middle grade readers receive some excellent new leisure reading choices.
Iggy is the Hero of Everything by Annie Barrows (9781984813367, $13.99) provides black and
white illustrations by Sam Ricks to supplement a heavy dose of humor as it tells of Iggy, who
thinks his rescue plans are ingenious, and larger than life. Unfortunately, the world operates on a
slightly different level, and others do not always share his perspectives on what happened and
why. As Iggy embarks on some hilarious mishaps, young readers receive a vivid series of
misadventures that are unexpected in their outcomes, and hard to put down.
Phil Corbett's Kitty Quest (9780593205464, $12.99) is a full-color graphic novel that's also
packed with humor. It introduces two kittens who are down on their luck and in need of cash.
What better vocation to embark upon than being monster slayers, even if they know nothing
about the art! A huge beast willingly provides the threat they need to gain experience, but it isn't
the last thing the precocious kitties will encounter as ghosts, warriors, and magic enter the picture
to test the would-be feline heroes.
Ashlyn Anstee's Shelby & Watts: Tide Pool Troubles (9780593205310, $12.99) is recommended
for advanced elementary readers beyond the picture book stage who are entering into the world
of full-color graphic novels. Shelby likes mystery. Her best friend Watts is an intellectual. The
dynamic duo's blend of scientific and detecting skills are challenged by a hermit crab's contention
that all the shells are missing from the beach (and he didn't do it). Can they solve what appears to
be an impossible mystery?
All of the titles for young readers are highly recommended school library, community library and
The YA Fiction Shelf
The Aquamarine Surfboard
In The Aquamarine Surfboard, Condi is thirteen and is dedicated to surfing. Her ambition to
learn is stymied by the changing atmosphere of her small beach town, which is turning into a
resort area with private beaches and limited beach use for those who don't own them. Also
moving in alongside newfound threats to her lifestyle and world is a mystery, as she meets a
fellow surfer, is invited to enter a forbidden surfing area, and then encounters Koan, the
Riddlemaster of the Sea, and other strangers who introduce her to quite a different world residing
alongside her own familiar town. Suddenly, Condi is a stranger in her own home, her ambitions
and future tested by forces she'd never known existed.
One reason why this story will appeal beyond young adults who already like beach and surfing
stories is Kellye Abernathy's ability to create an atmosphere of mystery from the start. Another is
that Condi freely enters areas forbidden to most kids in her town. Her ability to reject barriers to
her goals, whether it be entering the world of the rich surfer kids from the big houses around the
cove (who largely have the sport locked down) or to enter areas forbidden to those who can't
afford the cost of a surfboard or wetsuit is part of the underlying message of this adventure:
Never give up on your dreams.
Abernathy infuses these dreams with the salty air of the seaside ("Don't. Think. Just. Breathe.
Pressing her toes into the smooth deck of the terrace, she leans into the breeze. Eyes closed, she
lifts her chin, setting her breath to the salty thrum of the sea. In her mind's eye, the wood under
her feet melts into a polished surfboard.") as she hones worlds of fantasy, reality, and a gray area
in-between, cementing them with the feisty, determined Condi's dreams and activities. As untold
stories and hidden truths come to light, Condi embraces new opportunities that change her life
with her grandmother Grand Ella and the dreams that she fosters from the arrival of her beloved
surfboard Aquamarine, which introduces new challenges and relationships.
The weave of mystery and evolving connections are very nicely presented. Readers become
engaged with Condi's life and objectives through this combination of psychological insight and
interpersonal relationships, which evolve from unexpected places to impart unanticipated
lessons. As she interacts with the Beachlings, she learns new ways of viewing the world. The
result is a fine story that both entertains and provides many thought-provoking moments. Its story
of a magical journey that tests Condi's desires and sense of community alike will attract teens
who will find her ambitions and experiences thoroughly absorbing.
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780310768272, $18.99, HC, 352pp
Synopsis: Aissa has never felt so trapped and alone even with her sister and friend by her side.
Zandria (once her other half) has become cold and inflexible after her time in the Technocrats'
dungeon. Their friend Remy may still side with his father, a Magi leader who refuses to believe
his spymaster has turned traitor. And Aissa herself is now an enemy of her Magi people after
falling in love with (and binding her heart to) Aro, a Techno prince who puts all their lives at
Aissa is determined to uncover the secrets of the Alchemist Alliance that created her and
Zandria's unique magical powers ... as well as learn whether the Alliance's research holds the key
to healing the rift between the Magi and Technocrats after centuries of war. But with her people
preparing for battle, it will take more than lost spells and hidden secrets to accomplish her goal.
Especially as the bond between her and Aro grows deeper and threatens everything Aissa has
Critique: The sequel to her novel "Twin Daggers" and highly recommended for middle school,
highschool, and community library YA Fantasy Fiction collections for young readers ages 13 to
16, "Heartless Heirs" by MarcyKate Connolly is another original novel by a skilled and
imaginative author who combines fantasy and magic with a riveting storyline that focuses on
social issues, joins action and intrigue with love and romance, and has a cover that features foil
and embossing. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Heartless Heirs" is also readily
available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Love and Other Sins
9781736814024, $24.95, HC, 326pp
Synopsis: Mina's life is going according to plan; she's acing AP Calc and is perfectly content with
her nonexistent social life. Though only a high school junior, Mina knows time is an investment,
and she's putting all her capital into academics.
Oliver, a child abuse survivor who grew up in the foster care system, is ready to burn down his
old life and start from scratch-complete with a new name and emancipation papers-in L.A.
When the two are thrown together through circumstance and develop an unexpected connection,
they discover how hard it is to keep the past in the past.
Critique: "Love and Other Sins" by novelist Emilia Ares is deftly crafted, thoughtful and
thoroughly entertaining coming-of-age YA drama about an teenagers having to deal family, love,
violence, and the residue of abuse set against the backdrop of contemporary Los Angeles. While
especially recommended for highschool and community library YA Contemporary Romance
collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Love and Other Sins" is also readily
available for young readers in a paperback edition (9781736814000, $12.95) and an inexpensive
digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).
When We Were Them
Laura Taylor Namey
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534471276, $19.99, HC, 384pp
Synopsis: When they were fifteen, Willa, Luz, and Britton's friendship was everything. When
they were sixteen, they stood by each other no matter what. When they were seventeen, they went
through the worst. And when they were eighteen, Willa ruined it all.
Now, it's the week of graduation, and Willa is left with only a memory box filled with symbols of
the friendship she destroyed: A book of pranks. Corsages from a nightmarish homecoming
dance. A greasy pizza menu. Greeting cards with words that mean the world. It's enough to make
Willa wonder how anything could tear her, Luz, and Britton apart. But as Willa revisits the
moments when she and her friends leaned on each other, she can't avoid the moments they leaned
so hard their friendship began to crack.
As Willa tries to find a way back to Luz and Britton, she must confront the why of her betrayal,
and answer a question she never saw coming: Who is she without them?
Critique: A skillfully plotted, impressively original, and throughly entertaining novel for
adolescent readers ages 12-18, "When We Were Them" by Laura Taylor Namey is highly
recommended, especially for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction
collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "When We Were Them" is also
readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).
Red Deer Press
c/o Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited
9780889956391, $14.95, PB, 288pp
Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Dale Melnyk finds himself stuck in an iron lung, desperately fighting
for breath -- and wishing he could die. It is the worst outbreak of polio in the history of
Winnipeg, and Dale is one of the many young victims being treated in the early 1950s.
"Second Chances" by novelist Harriet Zaidman follows Dale's slow and often agonizing struggle
to regain his life, first of all to breathe on his own and then to regain the use of his limbs. Will he
ever be able to play hockey again, he wonders? Dale comes to realize that he is doing better than
a number of the other patients including Charlene, a young Metis girl confined to a wheelchair
but always trying to help their fellow patients.
When Dale discovers his younger brother Brent is also in the polio ward because their father
rejected the school program vaccine, a confrontation with his father becomes inevitable. Brent is
not getting better and will be dealing with paralysis indefinitely. When Dale finally emerges from
his recovery he must reassess what is most important in life -- a life that has been changed
Critique: In an era of anti-vaccinators perpetuating the continuance of a pandemic, "Second
Chances" is especially timely and although a work of fiction has a very genuine 'real world'
relevancy. Deftly scripted by a gifted writer, "Second Chances" is an extraordinary and highly
recommended addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction
collections for young readers ages 12-16. It should be noted for personal reading lists that
"Second Chances" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Everything Together: A Second Dad Wedding
Benjamin Klas, author
Fian Arroyo, illustrator
One Elm Books
c/o Red Chair Press
c/o Lerner Publisher Services (dist.)
9781947159655, $16.99 hc / $9.99 Kindle
Synopsis: When Jeremiah arrives in Minneapolis to spend the summer with his Dad, everything
feels odd. His dad's fiance, Michael, has buried the apartment in piles of DIY wedding
decorations. His best friend Sage now spends all her time with a new girl as quirky and bright as
Sage ever was. Everywhere he goes, Jeremiah feels like the odd one out. Eager for something to
get him away from all this, he starts volunteering in an English class for refugees. As the summer
goes on, Jeremiah finds community in new places and with unexpected friends.
Everything Together is about exploring your place in the world and the tangled ways we connect.
This is the sequel to Second Dad Summer.
Critique: The sequel to Second Dad Summer, Everything Together: A Second Dad Wedding is a
young adult novel about finding purpose and connecting with others. Jeremiah feels somewhat in
the way and left out when he goes to Minneapolis to spend the summer with his Dad. Jeremiah's
Dad is about to marry Michael, and Jeremiah's best friend Sage spends nearly all her time with a
new girl. Feeling like he's in the way, Jeremiah resolves to put energy into something that will get
him some space from his Dad and his best friend. Jeremiah volunteers to help an English class
for refugees, an experience that provides the opportunity to make new friendships. Although the
series features LGBT characters, these novels are not exclusively about LGBT issues; they
explore a wide range of connections, friendships, problems, and shared experiences. Both Second
Dad Summer and Everything Together are highly recommended for school and public library YA
Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Everything Together is also
available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Editorial Note: Benjamin Klas lives in Minnesota with his partner and their son. His work has
appeared in literary magazines and a collection by LGBTQ authors.
Fian Arroyo has been illustrating for more than 20 years. He lives in the mountains of North
Carolina. When he is not drawing he can be found fishing or mountain biking.
The Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Mystic of the Midway
A. A. Blair
9781592111183, $24.99, HC, 136pp
Synopsis: Effie knew she wasn't the same after her accident but didn't realize how different she
had become until her family vacation. When Effie begins to hear whispers and have visions
things get really strange! Effie finds a love letter to her mother that isn't from her father! A
strange mystery girl seems to follow her wherever she goes but vanishes before Effie can
confront her. Even the rides in the amusement park begin to speak to her! Effie wonders; is she
going crazy? Are all the things that are happening trying to tell her something?
Effie enlists the aide of her detective brother, Jimmy, along with her long time Crystal Beach
buddies Lydia and her mischievous little brother Sniff. The friends race through the old
amusement park to try and find answers while trying to avoid a local bully. As their investigation
deepens Effie begins to be haunted by dreams that seem to hold the key to everything that is
happening. When the investigation falters Effie struggles to overcome self-doubt and the
realization that her idyllic vacation spot isn't what it seems to be. Trying not to lose faith, Effie
embraces her new abilities hoping the whispers and signs will lead her and her friends to the
answers they need to save her family and discover the identity of the mystery girl!
Critique: An absorbing and entertaining read from first page to last, "Mystic of the Midway"
showcases author A. A. Blair's genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative storytelling
that keeps her young readers ages 13-17 fully engaged from one plot twist to another. Simply
stated, "Mystic of the Midway" is especially recommended for middle school, high school, and
community library YA Fiction collections.
The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
The Velvet Fox
555 Broadway New York, NY 10012
Catherine Fisher's The Velvet Fox provides a Clockwork Crow story that will appeal to prior
series readers and newcomers alike. Orphan Seren Rhys is looking forward to a quieter life after
her adventure of rescuing Tomos from enchantment, but when a mysterious new governess
brings a magical toy that introduces a dilemma about her future, she must once again embark on
a rescue mission...this time, involving her new family. Young readers of magic and fantasy will
find the Welsh folklore and adventure make for a spellbinding stand-alone tale that's hard to put
Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms
Jamar J. Perry
Bloomsbury Children's Books
9781547606948, $16.99, HC, 320pp
Cameron Battle grew up reading The Book of Chidani, cherishing stories about the fabled
kingdom that cut itself off from the world to save the Igbo people from danger. Passed down over
generations, the Book is Cameron's only connection to his parents who disappeared one fateful
night, two years ago.
Ever since, his grandmother has kept the Book locked away, but it calls to Cameron. When he
and his best friends Zion and Aliyah decide to open it again, they are magically transported to
Chidani. Instead of a land of beauty and wonder, they find a kingdom in extreme danger, as the
Queen's sister seeks to destroy the barrier between worlds. The people of Chidani have been
waiting for the last Descendant to return and save them. Is Cameron ready to be the hero they
All the more impressive when considering that "Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms" is
author and storyteller Jamar J. Perry's debut as a novelist. Inspired by West African and Igbo
history and mythology, this deftly crafted and original story celebrates the triumphs and
challenges of a boy finding his truth path to greatness. While very highly recommended,
especially for elementary school, middle school, and community library Folktale & Fantasy
collections for young readers ages 8-11, it should be noted for personal reading lists that
"Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms" is also readily available in a digital book format
What Lurks in the Shadows
S. C. Shannon
Dorrance Publishing Company
9781638670049, $20.00, PB, 294pp
Synopsis: Told from two points in time leading up to one epic showdown, "What Lurks in the
Shadows" by S. C. Shannon is twisty, compulsive, and terrifying account of a modern
It's the end of the world and 20-year-old Grace has a front row seat. What was once a carefree
suburban life has become a daily struggle to survive, and the days are spent preparing for
whatever might come next. Just as Grace and her family begin to adjust to their new,
post-apocalyptic normal, a much more terrifying threat emerges, and survival is quickly replaced
with just trying to stay alive.
Critique: A deftly crafted and simply riveting read from beginning to end, "What Lurks In The
Shadows" by author S. C. Shannon is an original and unreservedly recommended addition to
highschool and community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections for readers ages 15 and
older. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of Dystopian Fiction and Post-Apocalyptic
Science Fictin fans that "What Lurks In The Shadows" is also readily available in a digital book
format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Psychology Shelf
Just a Thought
Jason Gruhl, author
Ignasi Font, illustrator
c/o Shambhala Publications, Inc.
300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115-4544
9781611808605, $16.95, HC, 32pp
Synopsis: Through playful rhyming text by author and storyteller, Jason Gruhl, and enhanced
with vivid, fun illustrations by artist/illustrator Ignasi Font on every page, "Just a Thought" is an
entertaining and informative picture book that introduces children ages 4 - 8 to the way our lives
are shaped by our thoughts. "Just a Thought" will help to teach children self-awareness by
recognizing negative self-thought and recurring thought patterns. That regardless of whether they
have happy, weird, or mean thoughts -- those are all just thoughts, and no single thought can
define us. That the magic of mind is that it's a space where anything is possible!
Critique: A unique, informative, entertaining, and thought-provoking picture book, "Just a
Thought" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool,
elementary school, and community library picture book collections. It should be noted that for
personal reading lists that "Just a Thought" is also readily available in a digital book format
Editorial Note #1: Jason Gruhl believes that all kids are smart, brave, kind, and creative, and he
writes books to help them remember that. As an author and psychotherapist for children and
adults, Jason is dedicated to making a difference in people's lives and to helping them realize
their power and potential. Jason is a former special educator and the former executive director
and founder of The Joshua School (a school for children with Autism spectrum disorders and
developmental disabilities in Boulder and Denver, Colorado). He holds a master's degree in
counseling psychology (www.gruhlcounseling.com).
Editorial Note #2: Currently residing in Barcelona, Spain, Ignasi Font is the art director for
Bungalow Studio, where he creates expressive and poetic ways to communicate ideas through
animation, music artwork, editorial illustration, and children's books.
The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf
Blancaflor, The Hero with Secret Powers
Nadja Spiegelman, author
Sergio Garcia Sanchez, illustrator
9781943145553, $16.95, HC, 56pp
Synopsis: Raised by a mean ogre of a father who eats his opponents for dinner, Blancaflor is
often told not to show off her own considerable powers for fear of scaring off suitors. When a
prince falls from the sky and wakes up in her lap, she is spellbound and moves heaven and earth
to help the endearing, yet not so clever, young man, all while trying not to let him know about
herself and her father!
Critique: With the publication of "Blancaflor, The Hero with Secret Powers: A Folktale from
Latin America" by the team of author/storyteller Nadja Spiegelman and artist/illustrator Sergio
Garcia Sanchez, this updated, graphic novel formatted, classic South American tale extolling the
strength and resourcefulness of women is especially and unreservedly recommended for family,
elementary school, middle school, and community library Folklore & Fairytale collections for
young readers ages 8-12. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Blancaflor, The Hero
with Secret Powers" in a paperback edition (9786976535258, $9.99).
The Pets/Wildlife Shelf
12 Starr St, Thomaston, ME 04861
Young nonfiction readers receive plenty of stories about the sea and the seashore, but the
oversized presentation and captivating illustrations in Ocean Planet: Animals of the Sea and
Shore presents a different format and approach that delights the eye and mind and lends to library
Included in the discussions are reptiles, deep sea life, island animals (such as the lemurs of
Madagascar), and other creatures usually not included in a typical focus on the sea-influenced
world. This allows for a broader natural history that is captivating in its intersections between
shore and sea, promising to delight a wide audience with its broad inspections of and connections
between different natural worlds.
100 Endangered Species
c/o The GMC Group
Synopsis: 100 Endangered Species is a little book with a big ambition: to highlight 100
endangered species from around the world and the work being done to bring them back from the
brink of extinction. It began as part of the 100-Day Project on Instagram, where the author
teamed up with the People's Trust for Endangered Species to illustrate one new species every day
for 100 days. From giant anteaters to Andean bears, seahorses to sungazer lizards, it explores the
incredible species that we're in danger of losing for ever, highlighting their plight and the
conservation efforts having a direct, positive impact on the ground. Packed with exquisite
illustrations, fascinating facts and essential maps and charts, it is both a beautiful gift and a
shout-out to future generations to get involved with protecting our precious wildlife.
100 endangered species from around the world, illustrated and described
Charts their habitat, distribution, conservation status and threats faced
Highlights conservation efforts, inviting readers to take positive action
For ages 7+
Critique: Intended for young readers ages 7 and up, 100 Endangered Species spotlights 100
different animals in danger of extinction. Each two-page spread features one page of text about
the animal's habitat, life cycle, and greatest threats, as well as a simple and vividly colorful piece
of artwork representing the animal. From the sunda pangolin ("scaly anteater") to the giant
dragon lizard ("sungazer lizard"), Egyptian vulture, sloth bear, hedgehog seahorse and much
more, 100 Endangered Species is captivating, educational, enlightening, and highly
recommended especially for school and public library children's collections.
Editorial Note: Illustrator and author Rachel Hudson collaborates with leading conservation
organizations in the UK including Butterfly Conservation, the National Trust and the Wildlife
Trusts. She has illustrated for BBC Wildlife Magazine and was awarded Best Rural Creative
Business in the South East and Greater London region in the Rural Business Awards 2019/20.
She lives in Hampshire, England, on the edge of the South Downs National Park.
The Archaeology Shelf
The Curse of the Mummy
555 Broadway New York, NY 10012
Candace Fleming's The Curse of the Mummy: Uncovering Tutankhamun's Tomb gives middle
grade readers a lively chronicle of the search for the young Egyptian's tomb, and the underlying
belief that the tomb was cursed. Myths, realities, archaeological inspections, and history combine
in a animated survey that reads with the drama of fiction, but is reinforced by solid facts and
supplemented by intriguing black and white illustrations liberally peppered throughout. These
devices bring the story to life.
The Health/Medicine Shelf
What is Coronavirus?
Sabbithry Persad, MBA
Firewater Media Group
9780981243931, $19.95 print / $9.95 ebook
What is Coronavirus? How it Infects, How it Spreads, and How to Stay Safe is an illustrated book of choice for educators
and parents who want not a light and simple cursory review, but an in-depth introduction to viruses in general and the
special properties of the novel coronavirus in particular.
Many an adult who has difficulty understanding COVID-19, or who wants to review the basics, will find What is
Coronavirus? well-detailed, well referenced, and filled with insights about why this virus differs from all others that have
affected the human race in the past.
The book begins with the bare-bones basics of what a virus is and how it typically spreads, before moving to the novel
coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and its disease and peculiarities. It compares COVID-19 to typical colds and flu, outlines
differences in its spread and impact, and moves to specifics of how COVID-19 affects various organs in the body, and how
the body fights back.
Although there's a lot of physiology involved in this discussion, What is Coronavirus? always maintains an accessible tone,
adding plenty of visuals to reinforce its pragmatic consideration of all the physiological, psychological, and social
ramifications of the disease in a way that all readers can easily understand.
As What is Coronavirus? addresses these topics, no stone is left unturned, from historic to social investigations. Visuals
reinforce information such as how various-sized droplets of coronavirus spread differently and require less distance to prove
The result is a visually appealing book with its diagrams, illustrations, and pages of detail. It's the perfect introduction for all
ages that pinpoints both the science and the overall affects of the virus on human lives.
It helps that the editors of this book seasoned virologists with decades of experience, and are well versed in scientific
process and technical accuracy. Persad covers a lot of territory about the world of viruses in only eight chapters. While it
doesn't shy away from naming the dangers of viruses, in particular COVID-19, this work focuses on reassuring young
readers that progress is being made in the efforts to combat the virus. A useful addition for middle school libraries
While What is Coronavirus? will be chosen for young readers ages 12 and older, its value as a basic, fact-filled introduction
should be considered as an important source for adults, as well. This is a recommendation that needs to move beyond the
children's section in a library to reach out to the general public with much-needed facts presented in an easily digestible,
Books in Series
Adventures with Divot & Swish in the Ozark Mountains
Beth Brown, author
Charlotte Strickland, illustrator
Divot & Swish Publishing
9781735170039, $17.95, HC, 56pp
Synopsis: After a fun week at sports camp in the Ozark Mountains, Divot & Swish meet a new
friend, McKenna the Mountain Biker, who invites the duo on an exciting biking adventure. At
first Divot feels nervous about biking, because she remembers the kids who made fun of her
when she rode her bike to school. And while Swish is confident in his bike-riding skills, he is
unsure of himself when he has something important to say and needs to use his voice. With
McKenna cheering them on, will Divot & Swish discover the superpower of confidence it takes
to conquer the mountain bike trails?
Critique: "Adventures with Divot & Swish in the Ozark Mountains: The Superpower of
Confidence" by the team of author/storyteller Beth Brown and artist/illustrator Charlotte
Strickland is the second action-packed and thoroughly entertaining book in their 'Adventures
with Divot & Swish' children's book series. The two familiar characters, Divot and Swish
develop a new friendship, explore the Ozark Mountains on bicycles, and practice creating the
superpower of confidence.
The Adventures with Divot & Swish children's book series teaches life skills through sports to
kids ages 2-11 in an engaging and empowering way. The fun-filled story and colorful
illustrations capture the attention of toddlers, while elementary students enjoy the relatable,
sports-loving characters, and the challenges they encounter to develop their inner
Entertaining, inspiring, and rhythmical, "Adventures with Divot & Swish in the Ozark
Mountains: The Superpower of Confidence" is very highly recommended for family, elementary
school, and community library Life Skills, Friendship, and Self-Esteem children's book
Editorial Note: Beth Brown, Ph.D., is passionate about teaching and positive youth development
through sport. A life-long educator, she began her career as an assistant women's golf coach at
the University of Kansas before becoming a lecturer at Washburn University. In 2003, she joined
The First Tee, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching youth life skills through golf. In her 15 years in
this role, Dr. Brown created innovative programs and curriculum, impacting more than 10
million youth worldwide through the game of golf.
The Story Monsters Ink
Story Monsters LLC is dedicated to helping authors of all genres strive for excellence through our marketing and
publicity services, Dragonfly Book Awards contests, Story Monsters Approved! awards program, opportunities for
connecting with schools, and the award-winning Story Monsters Ink(R) magazine.
There's a Mouse in My House
Dr. Dawn Menge
This polar bear has found himself with an uninvited guest who is causing mayhem in his home.
How do two characters learn to live together in peace and harmony when they don't have the
same taste? Polar Bear is soon to find out that when he is more receptive to the mouse, they
enjoy each other's company. The illustrations are wonderful, bright, and cheery even in what
starts out as a negative experience. I recommend this read to be added to your family's library.
Ruffles and the Red, Red Coat
Ruffles has a new coat - a red, red coat - that he does not like at all. He does not like wearing a
coat. Period. But when his friend Ruby comes by wearing her stylish blue coat, he begins to
rethink that position. The fun illustrations and simple, repetitious text make this a great book for
young readers. (Ages 2-5)
Baby, Sleepy Baby
Angela Brooksbank, illustrator
Dr. Dawn Menge
A lovely lullaby about sleepy babies. Putting our little ones to sleep is a comforting experience
for both the parent and child. This beautifully illustrated tale describes the intimacy that comes
with a newborn and her family. I highly recommend this book for families with young ones.
Neverwoof is aptly named because he never "woofs" or barks. No matter what happens around
him, he never makes a sound. Until a burglar threatens to rob his family's home. Then, he does
something quite unexpected which gives a delightful twist to the story. The rhyming text and the
cartoon-like illustrations work well to carry the story along in a very kid-friendly manner. (Ages
D is for Drool: My Monster Alphabet
Amanda Noll and Shari Dash Greenspan, authors
Howard McWilliam, illustrator
Dr. Dawn Menge
When Ethan can't sleep, he doesn't count sheep - he says his ABCs. But in monster-loving
Ethan's alphabet, A is for Arms, B is for Belly, C is for Claws, and D is for Drool! What a
colorfully illustrated book! The academic concepts of learning the basic alphabet are enhanced by
the use of the monsters as the characters. An older child would be completely thrilled to read this
book to their younger sibling. (Ages 3-5)
The Impossible Mountain
Brother and sister, Anna and Finn, live in an isolated village, safe behind a stone wall. Anna is a
dreamer. When she sees the Mountain in the distance, she wants to climb it. Even though the
villagers tell her she's too little, she ignores them. She takes her brother with her, and they share
the adventure of a lifetime. With child-friendly illustrations and a storyline a child will
understand, even little ones will believe they can have big dreams and go on big adventures.
The Grasshopper and the Owl
Namrata Agarwal, author
Lisa Wee, illustrator
Dr. Dawn Menge
I enjoyed this read because it teaches natural science events that can be used for further
communication with children on how to problem-solve. The reader would best use this by asking
many questions as the story is read, "What do you think the grasshopper should do?" and "What
would you do if you were in a situation you needed to leave?" The illustrations are colorful and
will engage the reader. (Ages 3-6)
Dr. Dawn Menge
Dad's office is off-limits, which only makes it more intriguing to his curious young daughter. As
soon as she sees an opening, she sneaks in to have a look around. After all, there's no harm in just
looking, right? Our class enjoyed reading the antics of the child who wandered into her dad's
office. The ending was a lovely surprise and our class thought they handled things quite nicely.
This is an entertaining read that was fun for the father and daughter at the end. (Ages 3-7)
Time is a Flower
In this magical meditation on the nature of time, Julie Morstad shines a joyful light on a
difficult-to-grasp concept for young readers and reminds older readers to see the wonders of our
world, including children themselves, through the lens of time. This beautifully written,
beautifully illustrated picture book gives visual meaning to the concept. Enjoy! (Ages 3-7)
Grandude's Green Submarine
Paul McCartney, author
Kathryn Durst, illustrator
Paul McCartney, a former Beatle and coauthor of the song "Yellow Submarine," created this
whimsical story about a grandfather (Grandude) who is always coming up with unique ideas and
wonderful adventures. In this story he takes his grandkids on a new adventure in his Green
Submarine. Of course, they run into difficulties. Who will save them? The book is filled with
spectacular illustrations that are sure to capture any child's imagination. (Ages 4-6)
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Robert Frost, author
Susan Jeffers, illustrator
Sometimes it's difficult to understand what a poet is trying to say just by reading the words. But
illustrator Vivian Mineker brings Robert Frost's famous poem to life with vivid illustrations,
giving readers a whole new appreciation for the poem. (Ages 4-8)
How the Birds Became Friends
Noa Baum, author
Zev Labinger, illustrator
Based on a Burmese folktale, Noa Baum and Zev Labinger retell the story of how the birds
became friends. "Long ago when the world was very young, the birds did not get along. They
were always fighting about who was better." The repetitious text and beautiful illustrations help
convey the message of kindness and friendship. (Ages 4-8)
Little Witch Hazel: A Year in the Forest
This book is a compilation of four short stories about Hazel, the little witch. Each story takes
place in a different season, spring through winter. The stories come full circle at the end of the
year when an event that is mentioned in the first story is presented again in the last one, giving a
perfect ending to the book. (Ages 4-8)
Interrupting Chicken: Cookies for Breakfast
David Ezra Stein
Dr. Dawn Menge
I read this to my class, and they loved it. They even remembered some of the old nursery rhymes.
Hidden in the theme of the book is reading with a parent and child. This brilliantly written fun
read encourages reading, developing rhymes, and there is even a nutritional lesson. Cookies are
always best for breakfast, I believe. (Ages 4-8)
The Big Bath House
Kyo Maclear, author
Gracey Zhang, illustrator
Random House Studio
Dr. Dawn Menge
The customs in Japan are very different from ours in the United States. This young girl
experiences the Japanese culture as she visits with her Baachan. Shoes are left at the door and as
you visit the bath house, you learn that they have very different traditions than we do. Woman of
all ages gather to bathe in a big bath house. There is talking, singing, and relationship-building.
This is an excellent book to encourage being comfortable in your own skin. (Ages 4-8)
Faith, Family, & Fun: Monthly Lessons to Color and Connect with God's Love
Cathy D. Dudley
This book is designed for families to share in monthly devotions. There are actually 14 lessons as
the author has included entries for both Easter and Christmas in addition to the 12 given for each
month of the year. Each lesson starts with a short story that can be related to the Bible. And each
lesson contains several sections, including a page to be colored. Although it's designed for family
sharing, I think it would work just as well as a book for young people to work through
themselves. (Ages 5+)
Lucy Branam, author
Kevin M. Barry, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
Monday has a bad reputation for spoiling the weekend and sending everyone back to work and school. After being tormented one too many times, Monday decides to take the day off and
throws the rest of the week into chaos. This is a clever take on an ordinary event, with delightful
illustrations and a funny storyline. (Ages 5-8)
The Proudest Color
Sheila Modir and Jeffrey Kashou, authors
Monica Mikai, illustrator
Zahra sees and feels color in her world. When she's happy, her hands tingle with a "razzledazzle"
pink. When she's upset or sad, she can feel a deep blue behind her eyes. Her skin is brown, and
she wants to feel proud of it, but sometimes it's hard when you're the only kid in school with
brown skin. This is a wonderful story for children to relate to the struggles of someone like them.
Mambo Mucho Mambo! The Dance That Crossed Color Lines
Dean Robbins, author
Eric Velasquez, illustrator
Dr. Dawn Menge
Segregation can be a difficult subject for families to discuss. Dancing together was not allowed
in the 1940s, up until a band called Machito came along. They mixed people and music to create
an amazing sound called Latin jazz. The Palladium Ballroom broke all the rules and mixed
sounds and dancing together. An energizing dance emerged called the Mambo! The author's
notes and references give the readers resources to piece this exciting part of history together.
Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country
Mouni Feddag, illustrator
Dr. Dawn Menge
This wonderfully illustrated book takes readers on a journey to every country in Africa. It is
broken up into regions and introduces subjects such as employment, sports, traditions, and the
history of each area. What a wonderful introduction to the continent of Africa and will surely
educate the reader and will be a catalyst for continued learning. A perfect tool for a child who
needs to write a report for their classroom. (Ages 7-12)
Thomas Taylor, author
Tom Booth, illustrator
In the third mysterious tale of Eerie-on-Sea, it's almost Ghastly Night, and the Shadowghast - an
ancient spirit in a lantern - lurks in wait for the power to enslave the town. Mr. Taylor is a master
storyteller. Adults and children alike would enjoy all three of his books. The only bad part of all
three is when readers get to the end. It was a joy to read this book and I wish it could go on
forever. I hope to read every book he writes. (Ages 8-12)
BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends): A Girl's Guide to Happy Friendships
Jessica Speer, author
Elowyn Dickerson, illustrator
BFF or NRF is the ultimate interactive guidebook to help you learn the ins and outs of friendship.
Explore the topics of gossip, bullying, and feeling left out, along with ways to strengthen the
friendships that mean the most to you. This book is fun to read but best of all, it's filled with great
advice and teaching quizzes. Young readers will absorb such great advice on recognizing bad
relationships and creating good ones. A must-read. (Ages 8-12)
The Rizzlerunk Club: The Big Bad Lies
Lily Lattuga finally feels settled after moving to a new town and starting the fourth grade at a
new school. She gets to live right across the lake from her best friend, Darby, who loves frogs
and drawing just as much as Lily does. They even have their own club: the Rizzlerunks. But then
things start going wrong: the new boy in class is a liar and a bully, and Darby begins acting
strangely - she even breaks the Rizzlerunk pledge of honesty and gets Lily into trouble! A great
teaching tool to demonstrate to young readers why lying never works. (Ages 8-12)
Catch that Dog!
When Joanie first encounters Masterpiece, he's curled up in an alley and she mistakes him for (of
all things!) a cat. Soon, though, she cleans him up and shows him home and discovers he is, in
fact, a poodle. What Joanie doesn't know is that Masterpiece isn't any ordinary poodle. No,
Masterpiece is a world-famous poodle, who was dognapped! Young readers will really love
reading this book as the story tugs at their heartstrings and causes them to bond with both Joanie
and Lucky. (Ages 8-12)
Me and the Weirdos
Jane Sutton, author
Doreen Buchinski, illustrator
Cindy Krinkle has a loving but extremely unusual family. Her mother does cartwheels
everywhere she goes. Her father rides to work on a bike with an umbrella attached. Her sister
collects can labels and has a sea urchin for a pet. Other kids call her family weirdos and she
wonders why she's the only normal person in her house. So she makes a plan to "unweird" them
all. There's a lot of funny moments in this story, many readers will relate to Cindy, but will
hopefully learn by the time they finish this book the true meaning of family. (Ages 9-12)
Paradise on Fire
Jewell Parker Rhodes
Addy is haunted by the tragic fire that killed her parents, leaving her to be raised by her
grandmother. Years later, Addy's grandmother has enrolled her in a summer wilderness program.
There, Addy joins five other Black city kids - each with their own troubles - to spend a summer
out west. Young readers will be glued to the story. This is a coming-of age adventure about a
timid girl who turns out to be a hero. I really loved it. (Ages 10+)
Can playing dead bring you back to life? Maybe on Dead Wednesday... On this day, the worlds
of a shy boy and a gone girl collide, and the connection they make will change them both forever.
There are so many twists and turns that took this story in a different direction. Young readers
may get a bit dizzy as this tale unfolds but I believe they will long remember its meaning. A great
book to give the young reader in your family. (Ages 10-12)
Eleanor Amplified and the Trouble with Mind Control
Running Press Kids
Join world-renowned investigative reporter Eleanor Amplified as she goes undercover to help a
student reporter and fan, Miku Tangeroa, expose the corruption at her middle school. Together
they discover that the new organic lunch program and tech-based learning systems are doing
more harm than good and might actually be part of an evil plot that might put all of Union City in
danger. Young readers will love following the clues! I did! (Ages 10+)
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
Site design by Williams Writing, Editing &