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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 33, Number 10 October 2023 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Writing/Publishing Shelf Holiday Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Science Shelf Psychology Shelf
World History Shelf Board Book Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Middle Grade Fiction Shelf Young Adult Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Poetry Shelf Activity Shelf
Graphic Novel Shelf Music CD Shelf Multimedia Shelf
Biography Shelf Mythology Shelf Christian Shelf
Atlas Shelf Books in Series  

Reviewer's Choice

You Can't Say That!
Leonard S. Marcus
Candlewick Press
9780763690366, $18.99, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: A powerful photo essay on transgender teens is called anti-religious and anti-family. A meticulously researched primer on sex education stirs up accusations of pornography and child abuse. Picture books about two mommies (or two penguin daddies) set off a hue and cry. Two hugely popular children's series run afoul of would-be censors, one for its scatological humor, the other because it's deemed too scary. Kids' books that touch on race, sex, LGBTQ matters, the occult, "coarse language", and more have found themselves under the scrutiny of those who challenge First Amendment rights and seek to ban books in schools and libraries.

"You Can't Say That!: Writers for Young People Talk About Censorship, Free Expression, and the Stories They Have to Tell" is where thirteen top children's and young adult authors speak out about what it's like to have your work banned or challenged in America today. Prompted by Leonard S. Marcus's insightful questions, they discuss why their books have faced censorship (both blatant and "soft") and how those challenges have or haven't affected their writing, and why some people feel they have the right to deny access to books.

Of special note us how "You Can't Say That!: Writers for Young People Talk About Censorship, Free Expression, and the Stories They Have to Tell" compiler and editor Leonard S. Marcus also puts First Amendment challenges into an historical context and takes a promising look at the vibrant support network that has risen up to protect and defend young people's rights to read, write, and publish.

Critique: Now available for personal reading lists in a new paperback edition (9781536232974, $14.99), in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781713587989, $28.99, CD), "You Can't Say That!: Writers for Young People Talk About Censorship, Free Expression, and the Stories They Have to Tell" is an extraordinary defense against the ills of book banning and the tyranny of the minority with respect to the freedom of speech issues involved in the self-appointment of biased, bigoted, and prejudiced censors. Thoroughly appropriate for children ages 9-11 (as well as their parents, teachers and librarians!), "You Can't Say That!: Writers for Young People Talk About Censorship, Free Expression, and the Stories They Have to Tell" is especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school and community library Book Censorship & Banning collections and curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Leonard S. Marcus ( is one of the world's preeminent authorities on children's books and the people who create them. He is the author of more than 25 award-winning biographies, histories, interview collections, and inside looks at the making of children's literature's enduring classics. His reviews and commentary have been featured in the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post, The Horn Book, and on numerous radio and television programs including Good Morning America, All Things Considered, PBS NewsHour, BBC Radio 4, CBC As It Happens, Beijing Television, and Radio New Zealand, among others.

Sankofa: A Culinary Story of Resilience and Belonging
Eric Adjepong, author
Lala Watkins, illustrator
Penguin Workshop
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593385944, $19.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: What if home was a place you've never been? For Kofi, a first-generation Ghanaian American boy, home is a country called Ghana. But it's a place he's never been. When tasked to bring a dish that best represents his family's culture to school for a potluck lunch, Kofi is torn. With the help of his Nanabarima (grandfather), Kofi learns the hardship and resilience his family has endured -- and how food has always been an integral part their story and culture. Sankofa is a reminder that food can transport you to a place called home -- even if you've never been there.

Critique: The collaborative project of author, storyteller and professional chef Eric Adjepong and artist/illustrator Lala Watkins, "Sankofa: A Culinary Story of Resilience and Belonging" deftly blends a delightfully entertaining and original story with distinctively memorable and impressive artwork -- the result is a unique and fun picture book with an important underlying message concerning prejudice and racism. Of particular interest and value to children ages 4-8, "Sankofa: A Culinary Story of Resilience and Belonging" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Sankofa: A Culinary Story of Resilience and Belonging" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Eric Adjepong ( is the host of a series of live, virtual cooking classes that explore West African cuisine and food of the African diaspora. Adjepong rose to prominence as a finalist on season 16 of Bravo's Top Chef and as a contestant on season 17 of Top Chef All-Stars. As a first-generation Ghanaian American born and raised in New York City, Adjepong sources the flavors and influences in his cooking from many of the West African dishes he grew up eating.

Editorial Note: Lala Watkins ( is an illustrator, author, and self-proclaimed "good vibes connoisseur." A graduate of the Ringling College of Art & Design, she has worked on numerous children's books and comics.

Gratitude the Great
Pamelyn Rocco, author
Taylor Barron, illustrator
Collective Book Studio
9781951412029, $17.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Gratitude is the greatest natural superpower. "Gratitude the Great" is the story of Frankie who got the nickname of Gratitude the Great when her cousin Hope came to visit and taught Frankie how to make Rea bracelets -- a gratitude tradition in her Brazilian family. The two of them made a bunch and decided to give them away to thank some of the cool people they saw on the boardwalk.

What starts as a sweet gesture of family gratitude, quickly goes viral and soon this dynamic duo will have much more to be thankful for.

Critique: Of special note that in her Afterword, author Pamelyn Rocco prompts children and parents alike on ways to invite gratitude into daily life and ignite their own natural superpower. Charmingly illustrated with the artwork of Taylor Barron, "Gratitude the Great" is a life lesson themed picture book with the underlying message of how showing kindness benefits every one -- often in unexpected ways. "Gratitude the Great" a very special and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Skills/Friendship picture book collections for children ages 4-7.

Editorial Note #1: Pamelyn Rocco is a manifestation expert and gratitude course junkie with a severe '70s obsession. She can be followed on Instagram at @houseofbashery, (

Editorial Note #2: Taylor Barron ( can always be found with a sketchbook in her hand. She's an artist who believes that storytelling is the most important thing you can do.

The Brothers Zzli
Alex Cousseau, author
Anne-Lise Boutin, illustrator
Vineet Lal, translator
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
c/o Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
9780802856098, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: One day, the brothers Zzli come to the doorstep of a little girl named Welcome. Welcome has plenty of room in her big, empty house, and the travelers (who have come from far away) make good pancakes and even better company.

But others in the forest find this new family strange, even dangerous. When the bears invite their neighbors to a big party, only Welcome's friend the bat shows up. Soon after that, a policeman knocks on their door, threatening to destroy the brothers' beloved beehives. Maybe Welcome and her friends need to find someplace that might accept three bears, a bat, and a girl like her: somewhere to call home at last.

Critique: Showcasing charming and delightful illustrations by Anne-Lise Boutin that reminiscent of vintage children's classics, and ably translated into English by Vineet Lal, "The Brothers Zzli" by author/storyteller Alex Cousseau invites young readers ages 6-10 to join a bear family's search for belonging in a world that views them with suspicion. "The Brothers Zzli" is poignant picturebook story that can easily initiate conversations between parents and their children, as well as teachers and their students, about the impact of prejudice, the struggles of refugees, and the responsibility we have to our neighbors -- especially the new ones.

Editorial Note #1: Alex Cousseau ( has published over eighty books for children in his native France. His works have been honored with many awards, including the Premio Andersen Prize in 2021 and the Bologna Ragazzi Fiction Award in 2018. The Brothers Zzli is Alex's English-language debut.

Editorial Note #2: Anne-Lise Boutin is a French artist and illustrator whose work is inspired by the mysterious and marvelous. She studied art at the Duperre Art School and at the Arts Decoratifs School, both in Paris. The Brothers Zzli is Anne-Lise's English-language debut. She can be followed on Instagram @anneliseboutin

Editorial Note #3: Vineet Lal is a translator of books from French to English, including A Perfect Spot, The Brothers Zzli, and A Head Full of Birds (all Eerdmans). He studied French at Princeton University and the University of Edinburgh. Vineet lives in Scotland. He can be followed on Twitter @vineet_uk

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Kid's Word Cookbook, Book 2
Scott Ravede
Scott Ravede Books
9781734867152, $10.99

Kid's Word Cookbook, Book 2 employs silly stories, artwork, and a sense of fun to explain the quirks and puzzles of the English language in a manner kids can not only easily understand, but will find compellingly entertaining. This approach to language takes the form of wordplay "dishes" that highlight contrasts in words such as "ties," which receives a lilting rhyme and equally captivating illustrations by Rivka Ravede as it considers:


Two ties.

Tying two ties.

Tying two ties tightly.

Tying two ties too tightly.

Trying to tie two ties too tightly.

Trying to tie two ties too tightly takes two tries to tie two ties."

The recipe portion of the entertainment looks like a formula for the kitchen, but reads like a prescription for better understanding and employing the English language. In the above example, "Teas and Ties and Tees and Thais," the 'ingredients' are tied to Language Elements that further emphasize English:


Thai tie tide

Tied two too

To by buy






Identical Rhymes

Rich Rhymes

The resulting formula for successfully understanding elements of English is especially highly recommended for home schooling parents who would explain and explore the incongruities and intrigue of the English language, as well as for educators seeking to teach through a sense of fun adventure. Whimsical stories from the foundation of learning encourage kids to seek out and identify the different forms of wordplay in each narrative. Tied to the first successful wordplay 'cookbook', Kid's Word Cookbook, Book 2 represents yet another building block in literacy for young readers and ESL students who struggle with the English language's oddities, alliterations, and puzzles of linguistic description.

Kid's Word Cookbook, Book 3
Scott Ravede
Scott Ravede Books
9781734867183, $17.99 Hardcover/$10.99 Paper

Five silly new stories, a glossary of literary terms, and a sense of adventure mark the third book in this series of kids' wordplay cookbooks, furthering Scott Ravede's unique approach to teaching the difficult English language in a more appealing manner than most books. Why should teachers and parents consider this third addition to the series? Scott Ravede points out that "The books ascend in level of sophistication as you progress through the series. So, beginning readers will want to start with Book 1 and go in order."

This, in itself, makes each book uniquely rich in its building block approach to teaching language, but their additional attraction lies in the diversity of stories created to emphasize, explain, and entertain young readers about the English language's attractions and incongruities. Here, heteronyms, homonyms, and homophones receive rich examples in 'Too Many Toucans,' 'Left Leaves,' and more. The rhymes that open each story are intriguingly original: "If a left-leaning tree/has only leaves on the left,/will the tree go upright/when the leaves have all left?"

Silly scenarios evolve a better understanding of language, which will lend particularly well to adult/child interactive experiences as the engaging tales unfold, enhanced by Rivka Ravede's equally whimsical, fun illustrations. Parents and educators who work with kids will find the concluding questions reinforce the lessons, while the glossary of terms and insights on language offer formulas for better understanding the basic elements of language. While home schooling parents and educators will want to have this book (and its companions) in their personal or school lending libraries, ideally the Kid's Word cookbooks will receive more of an interactive assignment as classrooms and reading groups absorb a silly/serious discussion of English's words and ironic results.

It's rare to see 'fun' and 'learning English' in the same descriptor, but the wordplay whimsy of Kid's Word Cookbook, Book 3 achieves both with a sense of wonder and serious inspection that will attract a wide audience and will even educate into adult circles.

The Holiday Shelf

Latke's First Hanukkah
Alan Silberberg
Viking Children's Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593623169, $7.99, Board Book, 16pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Latke's First Hanukkah", author Alan Silberberg brings his signature humor to a board book audience of children ages 6 month to 3 years with a silly, accessible introduction to the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

Latke is having a party to celebrate the miracle of the oil, and before the holiday is over, all his friends will join him.

On the first night of Hanukkah, the latke lights the menorah. On the second night of Hanukkah, the gelt gets sweet and giddy. The party grows and grows until the eighth night of Hanukkah, when Latke's home is full and all eight candles on the menorah are lit (plus the shamas!).

Critique: Fun, charming, informative, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in tone and presentation, "Latke's First Hanukkah" will prove a welcome and prized addition to family, daycare center, preschool, and community library holiday board book collections. It should be noted that "Latke's First Hanukkah" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note: Alan Silberberg ( is an award-winning author, cartoonist, and children's TV creator who has worked with Nickelodeon and Disney. Though he messed up at his bar mitzvah, he's made up for it by celebrating Hanukkah, Passover, and Purim in the trilogy of books that combines food with funny. "Latke's First Hanukkah" is his first board book.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Porter and Midge: Paws for Safety
Giselle Nevada, author
Jennie Chen, author
Raise the Woof Press
9798987749951, $19.99, HC, 38pp

Synopsis: "Porter and Midge: Paws for Safety" is an exciting and educational picture book by author/storyteller Giselle Nevada and artist/illustrator Jennie Chen that is a kid's guide to safely interactions with dogs. Children ages 4-8 will learn how to be safe around dogs as they join lovable Mastiff Porter, friendly Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Midge, and their owners CJ and Lora as they guide kids through safe and respectful dog interactions using engaging rhymes and charming illustrations.

"Porter and Midge: Paws for Safety" emphasizes approaching dogs calmly, seeking permission before petting, and communicating in ways that make dogs feel secure and loved.

Critique: Enhanced for the parents of a child with the inclusion of 'A Note to Parents', "Porter and Midge: Paws for Safety" is essential reading for any child who loves dogs and wants to become a responsible and caring pet owner of a canine companion of their own. Fun and informative, "Porter and Midge: Paws for Safety" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library Pet Care & Training collections for children ages 3-12, it should be noted that "Porter and Midge: Paws for Safety" is also available for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9798987749975, $12.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note #1: Giselle Nevada ( ) has owned several mastiffs. Some she acquired from reputable breeders and others she rescued as adults. Fostering rescued mastiffs and helping them work through their issues led to a keen interest in socialization as a means of preventing future issues. She loves working with her dogs and has dabbled in carting, conformation, agility, rally, trick dog, nose work, and many other canine sports.

Editorial Note #2: Jennie Chen founded Keep Austin Dog Friendly. Over the last 20 years, Jennie has owned Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs and Lowchen. She has earned numerous titles in conformation, competitive obedience, rally, herding, animal assisted therapy, and more. She is passionate about the relationship people build with their beloved canines, and she has been an advocate for people living with disabilities who need a service dog to live independently.

Ben Rothery's Deadly and Dangerous Animals
Ben Rothery
Tilbury House, Publishers
9781958394250, $19.95, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: From the saltwater crocodile's vise like bite to the golden eagle's lightning attack from the air, many of the creatures featured in the "Ben Rothery's Deadly and Dangerous Animals" picture book are built for danger. But what makes a chameleon or ant so threatening, and which creature is the deadliest of all to humans, despite its tiny size?

Award-winning illustrator Ben Rothery's fact-filled picture book of the planet's most dangerous creatures has the answers.

Critique: Featuring museum quality artwork on every page, this large format (9 x 0.5 x 12.1 inches" hardcover edition of "Ben Rothery's Deadly and Dangerous Animals" from Tilbury House Publishers is an extraordinarily informative and unreservedly recommended pick for elementary school, middle school, and community library Zoology and Wildlife collections for children ages 8-12. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Ben Rothery's Deadly and Dangerous Animals" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.48).

Editorial Note: Ben Rothery ( is a detail-obsessed illustrator from Norwich, England, via Cape Town. He combines multiple processes to create intricate and delicate illustrations and repeating patterns, full of fine detail and vibrant color. Much of Ben's work is inspired or informed by his love of nature - he grew up wanting variously to be a shark, a dinosaur or David Attenborough crossed with Indiana Jones, but settled on illustration as a way to bring those fantasies to life on paper. Ben works from a small studio in London, which he shares with an unnecessarily large collection of very sharp pencils.

The Ultimate Book of Reptiles
Ruchira Somaweera, author
Stephanie Warren Drimmer, author
National Geographic Kids
c/o National Geographic Press
9781426373732, $19.99, HC, 192pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Ultimate Book of Reptiles: Your guide to the secret lives of these scaly, slithery, and spectacular creatures!", young readers ages 8-12 will enjoy learning about lizards, snakes, turtles, crocodiles, and other reptiles including something called a tuatara, and even enormous prehistoric reptiles (think real-life sea monsters!).

They will discover what makes a reptile a reptile; how these creatures live, hunt, hide, and raise their young, and the wild adaptations that make them so unique. Learn which snake is the most venomous on the planet and which are surprisingly gentle creatures, which reptile is born with a highly developed third eye in its forehead, and which one is so tiny it could balance on the tip of your finger -- plus vitally important conservation information and impactful ways to join the fight to save endangered reptile species right from home!

With gorgeous full-color photographs and nail-biting from-the-field stories from Dr. Somaweera (including the time he waded waist-deep into a cave teeming with gigantic crocodiles!) "The Ultimate Book of Reptiles" lives up to its titles as it takes its readers up close and personal with wild, weird, and just plain wonderful reptiles.

Critique: This large format hardcover volume (9.47 x 0.73 x 12.11 inches, 2.59 pounds) of "The Ultimate Book of Reptiles: Your guide to the secret lives of these scaly, slithery, and spectacular creatures!" is brilliantly illustrated and exceptionally 'kid friendly' in style, organization and presentation -- making it an ideal and welcome pick for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Wildlife collections in general and supplemental Reptile/Amphibian Biology curriculum studies lists in particular.

Editorial Note #1: Ruchira Somaweera ( is a herpetologist and National Geographic Explorer who has spent more than two decades traveling the world studying reptiles and amphibians. He earned his Ph. D. in zoology from the University of Sydney and was a research scientist at CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) and is currently a principal environmental scientist at Stantec Australia and an adjunct research fellow at the University of Western Australia. He's also an advocate for public awareness and education: He has a YouTube channel called Zootopica; co-manages a specialized, science-based wildlife expedition venture called Aaranya Wildlife Odysseys.

Editorial Note #2: Stephanie Warren Drimmer ( is a longtime writer for National Geographic Kids magazine and has written several books for Nat Geo Kids, including Roar! 100 Facts About African Animals, Animal Showdown, Night Skies, Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff, and Ultimate Weatherpedia.

Ultimate Mammalpedia
Stephanie Warren Drimmer, author
National Geographic Kids
c/o National Geographic Press
9781426373213, $24.99, HC, 272pp

Synopsis: What animal figured out how to eat a porcupine? Which creature smells like popcorn? How can cheetahs run so fast? From the colossal blue whale to the tiny pygmy shrew, plus lions, hippos, polar bears, sea otters, quokkas, orangutans, dolphins, and more, young readers ages 7-10 can check out the 200-plus mammals in this colorful encyclopedia!

"Ultimate Mammalpedia" by Stephanie Warren Drimmer is packed from cover to cover with fascinating facts about the fiercest, fastest, strangest, coolest, and most aww-inspiring mammals on the planet including: A lively introduction to the furry world of mammals, including distinguishing characteristics, mammal homes, family life, and more; Fascinating information about more than 200 mammals, including their scientific name, habitat, diet, behavior, and latest discoveries, all reviewed for accuracy by experts in the field; Incredible photographs of your favorite animals - and ones you never knew existed; Colorful graphics illustrate mammal habitats, life cycles, and more; Fun fact boxes about quirky characteristics, fascinating physical features, bizarre behaviors, and more

From familiar favorites like tigers, pandas, and wolves, to the rare and exotic, like narwhals and volcano rabbits, the mammals inside this volume will fill young redaers with wonder and appreciation for our planet and the many amazing creatures that call it home.

Critique: Exceptionally 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, this large format, hardcover edition (8.78 x 0.94 x 11.13 inches, 2.91 pounds) of "Ultimate Mammalpedia" from National Geographic Kids is fun and informative browse through as well as unreservedly recommended as a core addition to family, elementary school, and community library Wildlife collections and supplemental Zoology curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: The other National Geographic Kids Ultimate "pedias" include: Ultimate Dinopedia 2nd edition; Ultimate Bugopedia; Ultimate Reptileopedia; Ultimate Oceanpedia; Ultimate Predatorpedia; Ultimate Weatherpedia

Editorial Note #2: Stephanie Warren Drimmer ( is a longtime writer for National Geographic Kids magazine and has written several books for Nat Geo Kids, including Roar! 100 Facts About African Animals, Animal Showdown, Night Skies, Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff, and Ultimate Weatherpedia.

Little Loon Finds His Voice
Yvonne Pearson, author
Regina Shklovsky, illustrator
Collective Book Studio
9781951412333, $17.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Ooo aaa woo woo! Papa Loon's voice calls out long and strong across the water. He warns of danger. He defends his family's home. He even wards off predators. But Peep! Eep! Squeak! Little Loon's voice is nothing like his Papa's. When an eagle attacks, will Little Loon find his voice in time?

A water bird found throughout much of North America, loons are famous for their echoing calls. "Little Loon Finds His Voice" by author/storyteller Yvonne Pearson is the endearing (and factually accurate), coming-of-age tale of one little loon finding his voice, and with it, his place in the world. Breathtaking illustrations by artist Regina Shklovsky transport young readers to misty lakes and towering pines, and informative loon facts at the end detail the life and habits of these enchanting birds.

Critique: Informative and fun, "Little Loon Finds His Voice" is especially and unreservedly recommended as a high value pick for family, elementary school, and community library Baby Animal/Birds picture book collections. While also available for very young children in a board book edition (9781685559762, $12.95) in May, 2024, there is a digital book edition (Kindle, $7.99) of "Little Loon Finds His Voice" as well.

Editorial Note #1: Yvonne Pearson's debut picture book, Sadie Braves the Wilderness, was published in May 2017. In 2018 she won the Loft-McKnight Fellowship in writing for children. Yvonne has been selected for the Loft Center for Literature's Shabo Award for a picture book and won two Artist Initiative Grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board for children's literature projects.

Editorial Note #2: Regina Shklovsky ( is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Sonoma County, California. She illustrated the 2018 picture book, Fun in the Mud, which was a 2019 Moonbeam award winner and a 2018 Nautilus award winner. She is passionate about bringing stories to life with pictures and thoughtful design. Her work is rooted in traditional drawing and painting, mixed with vector graphics. She collaborates with local entrepreneurs and authors, as well as independent publishers.

The Science Shelf

Bart's Heart
Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr. MD, author
Colby Zahn, illustrator
Histria Kids
c/o Histria Books
9781592113040, $21.99 hc / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Bart is tries to survive his hockey game while his Dad shouts fun facts about the structure and function of his heart. We hope that the text will promote the habit of parents, caregivers and teachers reading with their children. We also hope that it will spark an interest in the human body in children of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

Critique: "Bart's Heart" is the second in the Anatomy for Kids Series with educational children's books about the human body. It presents facts about the human heart in an entertaining, colorful manner. In addition to the facts presented, there is a glossary at the end of the book which provides both meanings of the medical terms as well as pronunciations. There is also a small heart hidden in the detail of each illustration for the young reader to discern. Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in style, illustration, organization and presentation, "Bart's Heart" is especially and unreservedly recommended as an addition to family, elementary school, and community library Human Anatomy picture book collections for children ages 5-7. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bart's Heart" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Cargill H. Alleyne, Jr, M.D. is a neurosurgeon in private practice in Augusta Georgia. He is a former Professor and Chairman of Neurosurgery at Augusta University. His honors include Castle Connolly's "Top Doctors" and America's "Best Doctors." Dr. Alleyne's bibliography includes over 500 scholarly contributions. He is a member of numerous professional organizations and is currently a Director of the American Board of Neurological Surgery. (

Editorial Note #2: Colby Zahn, M.S., C.M.I is an illustrator at UWorld E-learning Providers. She was formerly an illustrator in the Department of Neurosurgery in the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. (

The Psychology Shelf

I Think I Think a Lot
Jessica Whipple, author
Josee Bisaillon, illustrator
Free Spirit Publishing
9798885540087, $17.99, HC, 36pp

Synopsis: When a young girl notices that "I think. I think a lot. I think I think a lot. More than most other kids.", she begins to wonder about the various ways she and her classmates approach doing good work, caring about people's feelings, and showing they're grateful. She comes to accept herself just as she is and celebrates the differences between herself and her classmates. "I care a lot. Not more than other kids, just in my own way."

Critique: Inspired by author/storyteller Jessica Whipple's personal experience with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), "I Think I Think a Lot" can be a starting point for parental and classroom discussions about over-thinking or obsessive thought and about the many ways individuals see and experience the world. The neurodivergent main character allows young readers to see themselves and others in the story and emphasizes self-acceptance in the face of comparison. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.09), "I Think I Think a Lot" is a fun, charmingly illustrated, and very highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections on childhood self-esteem and life skills issues.

Editorial Note #1: Jessica Whipple ( is a writer for adults and children. She is also the author of "Enough Is..." (Tilbury House). Her poetry has been published in print and online literary magazines. She can be followed @JessicaWhippl17 on Twitter.

Editorial Note #2: Josee Bisaillon ( really enjoyed school and always returned home full of stories to tell. She liked being in the classroom so much that she pursued her education all the way to university, where she studied graphic design. It was there that she fell in love with illustration. Since 2005, with scissors and brushes in hand, Josee has illustrated more than 40 children's books, as well as magazines and newspapers for adults.

The Grand Hotel of Feelings
Lidia Brankovic
Cicada Books Ltd.
9781800660410, $16.99, HC, 32pp (Ages 4-6)

The Grand Hotel of Feelings introduces the manager of an unusual hotel who helps the feelings that come to stay in the building. As the picture book explores the stays of Sadness, Anger, Anxiety and other emotions, it also reveals the underlying layers of these feelings and how, quite often, they can lead to others. This is the perfect item of choice for adults to use when encouraging the young to discuss their emotions and explain often-confusing connections between them, using a whimsical overlay to address serious subjects and spark conversations among all ages.

The World History Shelf

How the New Seven Wonders of the World Were Built
Jiri Bartunek and Tom Velcovsky, authors
Jan Sramek, illustrator
9788000068435, $17.95

How the New Seven Wonders of the World Were Built presents a revised list of world wonders selected by some 600 million people who voted for structures from 2000 to 2017. Thus, young readers will discover not just ancient architecture, but modern wonders chosen not by privileged scholars, but by ordinary people. The Roman Colosseum, Petra of Jordon, and South America's Machu Picchu thus receive profile, along with a world-hopping opportunities to consider structures that represent a broader cross-section of world architecture than the usual views of seven wonders. History, cultural revelations, and colorful drawings backed with detail bring these achievements to life in a picture book highly recommended for libraries interested in a broader range of wonders based on revised modern perceptions of what makes for a great architectural creation.

The Board Book Shelf

Once A Bear: A Counting Book
Ron Atlas, author
Zach Horvath, illustrator
Collective Book Studio
9781951412197, $9.95, Board Book, 24pp

Synopsis: Once a bear sat on a chair. He is soon joined by a furry friend and then, one by one, other playmates follow. Each bear claims a chair as they wait with eager anticipation for what happens next in "Once A Bear", a sweet board book counting story.

Critique: With dynamic rhymes by author/storyteller Ron Atlas and lively illustrations by artist/illustrator Zach Horvath, "Once A Bear: A Counting Book" offers an engaging premise for very young children ages 6 month to 6 years to practice their counting and is very highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library board book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Ron Atlas is the author of several picture books and is a Reading Buddy for early grades in public elementary schools. He lives in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Editorial Note #2: Zach Horvath is an illustrator of both fiction and nonfiction books, and is the author and illustrator of a series of comics. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.

Noodles, Please!
Cheryl Yue Chepusova, author
Rebecca Hollingsworth, illustrator
Collective Book Studio
9781951412364, $12.95, Board Book, 28pp

Synopsis: With its theme of A to Z Foods of the World, "Noodles, Please!" is an alphabet book to set young taste buds aflame. Noodles are a universally loved food, from Ash Reshteh in Iran to Zaru Soba in Japan. In this original board book shaped to mimic bowls, children ages 6 months to 4 years old will discover 26 different varieties as they eat their way through the alphabet. Who knew noodles could be served so many ways: long and short, hot and cold, spicy and sweet, in broth and baked, paired with vegetables, meat and fish.

Critique: A highly recommended and unique board book for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library collections, "Noodles, Please!" provides a culinary tour of the world, highlighting cuisines from over a dozen different countries. With each new letter, a new dish is introduced identifying its country of origin and name written in both English and the country's native language.

Editorial Note #1: Cheryl Yau Chepusova is a designer, writer, and author of the Big Cities Little Foodies travel series. As a Hong Kong native and city dweller, she has traveled around Asia and also lived and worked in Toronto, New York, and most recently San Francisco. Her writing has appeared in Design Observer, Metropolis, Print, and others. She spends her days designing apps and software for companies like Slack, Pinterest, The New York Times, and Squarespace. She enjoys picnics with her two children, teaching them multiple languages, and learning about the world together through picture books.

Editorial Note #2: Rebecca Hollingsworth was born and raised in Nottingham, UK. She studied art in college before heading to Leeds Arts University where she attained a First-Class Honors Degree in Illustration. Being very family orientated, she returned home to Nottingham to pursue a freelance career, joining Inspire Art Licensing in 2016 where her design style has grown and evolved.

The Book For Kids That Are Big (And Those That Want To Be)
Luben Redwood, author
Widya Arumba, illustrator
Independently Published
No ISBN, $13.00, Board Book, 16pp

Synopsis: Young children will enjoy this story of a boy named Matteo who wishes his way into adulthood -- only to discover the perks of being a kid!

This compelling children's large format board book can start important conversations with young children who are always wishing they were older. It teaches gratitude for the adults in a child's life and to enjoy the little things.

"The Book For Kids That Are Big (And Those That Want To Be)" by author/storyteller Luben Redwood and artist/illustrator Widya Arumba intentionally leaves plot points open to encourage conversation between the parent or teacher and the child.

This debut work from author Luben Redwood evokes contentment and arouses imagination. The artwork from Widya Arumba R. L. is positively stunning.

Critique: Fun, fascinating, and novel, "The Book For Kids That Are Big (And Those That Want To Be)" is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library board book collections for children ages 4-6

Editorial Note #1: Luben Redwood is an author and entrepreneur who opened an e-commerce page at the start of the pandemic. He chose his product niche after witnessing how his baby daughter gravitated toward varying household items instead of playing with her toys. Hence the name:

Editorial Note #2: There is an extensive listing of Widya Arumba's book illustration projects at

The Picturebook Shelf

Books Make Good Friends
Jane Mount, author/illustrator
Chronicle Books
9781797209654, $18.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: Lotti is a little girl who isn't sure she wants to make friends. She's shy, and she doesn't really know how. While everyone around her is playful, outgoing, and loud, Lotti prefers a quiet place and a book to read. Lotti LOVES books. To her, books are full of magic and aren't as scary as new friends. But perhaps Lotti's books can show her how to find magic in everyday moments, and maybe the friends she can share this magic with are closer than she thinks.

Dedicated bibliophile and skilled illustrator Jane Mount makes her children's book debut in this imagination-driven story of a shy booklover's attempts to open her mind and find joy with the people around her. This journal style narrative (which includes fun recommended reads on each page) explores the process of book discovery for bibliophiles-in-training, and is perfect for enthusiastic and reluctant aspiring young readers alike!

Critique: As fun as it is unique, "Books Make Good Friends" will appeal to all manner of children ages 5-8. It is especially useful in promoting literacy. Children will love discovering new books as they engage with the interactive format of this journal-style of the very special picture book, which features book recommendations, book lists and stacks, and lots of bookish commentary and questions in Mount's signature hand-lettering. The backmatter also features a stack of all author Jane Mount's favorite books, along with her charming commentary. Finally, aside from being a wonderful tool for excited young readers, "Books Make Good Friends" will prove to be a welcome resource for those who care about making reading more accessible to children (including teachers, librarians, parents, and family members) as well as fostering connections with young readers. "Books Make Good Friends" is unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Books Make Good Friends" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Jane Mount ( is an illustrator, designer, writer, and thingmaker, and she particularly makes things for people who love books. She is the founder of Ideal Bookshelf (; the author and illustrator of Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany; and the illustrator and co-author, with Jamise Harper, of Bibliophile: Diverse Spines. She really loves books!

There Are Dinosaurs in the Library!
A.G. Allen
Independently Published
9798988293910, $18.95 Hardcover/$17.95 Paper

There Are Dinosaurs in the Library! presents Library Day, which is a day young Alyssa particularly hates. But, how can you hate the library when there are dinosaurs in it?

Wise teacher Mrs. Barker leads a very skeptical child to the library and introduces a dinosaur book, which doesn't impress Alyssa at all. Until a confused-looking stegosaurus leaps out of a book, leading a group of dinos to invade. Not one to let leadership assume responsibility, Alyssa makes her move, introducing disaster into the scenario.

A.G. Allen creates a picture book story that is inviting and surprising on different levels as Alyssa receives some lessons on the library's attractions and Mrs. Barker's powers. Vivid, colorful illustrations by Octavio Cordova seals the deal with inviting spectacles that will earn the delight and attention of young picture book readers and read-aloud parents looking for whimsical, fun lessons about dinos and library attractions.

With its very different form of magic, There Are Dinosaurs in the Library! stands out as a lovely adventure with several messages about adaptation, escapades, and the possibilities of entering a book's inviting world.

We Are Afro Unicorns
April Showers, author
Anthony Conley, illustrator
Golden Books
c/o Random House Children's Books
9780593704172, $5.99, HC, 24pp

Synopsis: Each Afro Unicorn has superpowers: Unique is the problem solver with the power to heal and protect; Divine cheerleads and uplifts others, possessing super strength; and Magical is the all-knowing one with the power to read minds.

"We are Afro Unicorns" is the newest addition to the Golden Books series and children ages 2-5 will thoroughly enjoy getting to know these amazing Afro Unicorns and celebrate the power inside of themselves!

Critique: When Afro Unicorn creator April Showers realized that her favorite emoji (the unicorn!) was only available in white, she was inspired to create a more inclusive brand for children of color and ages 2-5 to celebrate how magical, unique, and divine they truly are. With the utterly charming illustrations of artist Anthony Conley, "We Are Afro Unicorns" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library Golden Books collections.

Editorial Note #1: Entrepreneur, innovator, and founder April Showers is the creator of Afro Unicorn(R) picture books and board books for children of color to celebrate how magical, unique, and divine they truly are. When Afro Unicorn creator April Showers realized that her favorite emoji - the unicorn! - was only available in white, she was inspired to create a more inclusive, conscious brand. Shattering the glass ceiling, trailblazer Ms. Showers is the first Black woman to own a fully licensed character brand with a presence in seven major retailers across the United States and Canada with 25 categories, from apparel and accessories to toys, puzzles, books, bedding, backpacks, collectibles, and an original Afro Unicorn Holiday EP. The other books in the Afro Unicorn series include "The Most Magical Time of the Year!" and "A Magical Day".

Editorial Note #2: Anthony Conley ( was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Ever since he was young he loved drawing characters. It was so exciting for Anthony to come home from school to watch cartoons. From He-Man to Robotech, he would draw every character he saw. Anthony would also design his own original characters, making mini books with a few sheets of blank paper stapled together at the spine. The stories he illustrated were in the realm of superhero comics and toon-style funny pages. Throughout his upbringing, Anthony always knew he would one day be an artist. He attended Otis College of Art and Design which helped to jump start his career.

Brown Girls Rule
Ashok Banker, author
Brittney Bond, illustrator
Beaming Books
9781506484150, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: An empowering acclamation for girls bearing melanin of all kinds, "Brown Girls Rule" by author/storyteller Ashok Banker and artist/illustrator Brittney Bond centers and uplifts girls of degrees of color in an inspiring poem that is one part love letter, two parts battle anthem.

Ashok Banker and Brittney Bond collaborate to bring this song to life with a brilliant array of brown girls as politicians, athletes, scientists, teachers, queens, and leaders in countless other roles where brown girls rule. Triumphant and uplifting, "Brown Girls Rule" is a very special picture book providing a powerful reminder for girls of color that they may be young, but they are mighty.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, singular, unique and a fun read from cover to cover, "Brown Girls Rule" is a very special and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Skills picture book collections for children ages 4-12. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Brown Girls Rule" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.49).

Editorial Note #1: Ashok Banker ( is widely acknowledged for pioneering English-language genre fiction in India, having authored over 80 books in various categories. As a neurodivergent (AuDHD) and non-binary writer, he is passionate about inclusivity and representation. His debut picture book "I am Brown" won the Bank Street College Prize, made the Book Trust Great Books list, and was translated into several languages.

Editorial Note #2: Brittney Bond ( was born in sunny South Florida to a Jamaican family. She is currently based on the East Coast. A self-taught artist, she works primarily digitally with a passion for using appealing color palettes, intriguing lighting, and a magical and positive aura throughout her illustrations.

The Bear and Her Book
Frances Tosdevin, author
Sophia O'Connor, illustrator
Jolly Fish Press
9781631637643, $19.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: "The Bear and Her Book" by author/storyteller Frances Tosdevin and artist/illustrator Sophia O'Connor is a picture book story of a book-loving bear who sets off to see the world. She takes one special thing -- her copy of Bear's Big Book of Being Wise. But when she meets different creatures, each needing her help, she discovers that books aren't just brilliant at fixing problems -- they can also help you make new friends. And if you're lucky, books can take you to a very special place indeed!

Critique: With its theme of the value of books, reading, and libraries, "The Bear and Her Book" is a thoroughly charming, fun and 'kid friendly' picture book that is an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 4-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Bear and Her Book" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Frances Tosdivin ( lives life in a constant state of wonder, which she hopes equips her well to write picture books. She studied at Newnham College, Cambridge, where she read a mix of Archaeology/Anthropology and Classics. Her passion is writing for children whose imaginations know no bounds.

Editorial Note #2: Sophie O'Connor ( is an illustrator currently residing in the South East of Cornwall, England.

Mother Nature Nursery Rhymes
Mindy Bingham, Penelope Colville Paine and Sandy Stryker
Paper Posie Publishing Company
9780970794499, $19.95 Hardcover/$14.95 Paper

This picture book treasure of environmentally aware nursery rhymes originally appeared in 1990, but remains as relevant to young audiences of modern times as it did in the past. It's a delight to see it reincarnated in 2023 in a lovely presentation illustrated with equally compelling and timeless art by Itoko Maeno.

The poetic approach to plants, animals, and the natural world brings each to life with a delicate twist of rhyme and insight that helps early learners absorb the basics about environmental importance and preservation. Today, more than ever, this inviting message needs to fall upon young ears; not deaf ones.

Read-aloud adults will find these twists on familiar nursery rhymes to be enlightening and educational, as well. Take the classic 'Little Miss Muffet' for an idea of how nature, here, is represented as being appealing rather than threatening: "Little Miss Muffet

Sat on her tuffet/Eating a berry sorbet/Along came a spider/Who sat down beside her/To frighten the houseflies away."

Readers might initially question why such approaches are tailored to babies and the very young, who are hardly in the position of becoming even early advocates. The reason is: because these are the future stewards of the world. There is no inappropriate time for starting this education and appreciation, much less developing cognizance about the importance of the world beyond human use and intentions. This is why the compelling rhymes and focus of Mother Nature Nursery Rhymes not only needs, but deserves a place in any child's library. Its ability to gently instruct and cultivate a better attitude towards nature and its appreciation and preservation can't be introduced at a young enough age.

My Dog is NOT a Scientist
Betsy Ellor, author
Luisa Vera, illustrator
Yeehoo Press
9781953458469, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Yara is out to prove that she's the greatest scientist in town! Her annoying neighbor Eddie always wins the Science Fair, but this year is going to be HER year. Like every good scientist, Yara starts with a question, makes observations, and comes up with a hypothesis . . . but each time she starts an experiment, her dog, Renzo, ruins it! Could Renzo be up to something more than making trouble?

Critique: A fun, charming, and simply delightful picture book for children ages 4-8 by author/storyteller Betsy Ellor and artist/illustrator Luisa Vera "My Dog is NOT a Scientist" is an original, humor laced, and positively endearing story about a passionate, young girl scientist who is determined to achieve her goal -- no matter what! While an extraordinary and highly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "My Dog is NOT a Scientist" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note #1: Betsy Ellor ( lives in a house near the beach where curiosity and chaos run wild. She divides her time between seeking out great stories and designing spaces like science labs, classrooms, and restaurants where others can cultivate their own curiosity. Her previous works include the anthology Heroic Care, and Sara Crewe, a family musical that's been performed across the U.S.

Editorial Note #2: Luisa Vera ( was born in Spain. After getting a degree in Fine Arts, she moved to New York, where she continued her illustration studies. Her characters have nosed their way into the pages of The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, The International Herald Tibune, La Vanguardia and El Pais, and have dressed up for all kinds of occasions, such as book covers, posters, catalogues, children's books, and exhibitions.

My Breathing Earth
Paul Many, author
Tisha Lee, illustrator
Yeehoo Press
9781953458629, $18.99, HC, 36pp

Synopsis: "My Breathing Earth" by author/storyteller Paul Many and artist/illustrator Tisha Lee is a poignant and lyrical picture book that evokes the joy that a little girl experiences as she thrills to the beauty of what she calls "Earth's breath" -- the air surrounding her.

Tisha Lee's truly delightful illustrations draw young readers ages 4-8 through the girl's vivid sensations of Earth's breath from the time it flutters her eyelashes open in the morning until it cradles her as she sleeps at night. An author's note by Paul Many provides fun facts about the atmosphere, as well as actions children may take to help their Earth breathe better.

Critique: "My Breathing Earth is ideal for gift-giving, certain to become a treasured addition to any family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, or community library picture book collection -- and will inspire the curious minds of young environmentalists and nature lovers alike.

Editorial Note #1: Paul Many ( has been publishing award-winning children's books for the last 20 years. He believes that every breeze carries with it a new experience if we can only stay astonished enough.

Editorial Note #2: Tisha Lee ( is an artist living in California. She loved drawing from an early age, which later evolved into studying fine art and art history in college. She happily works out of a light-filled studio in her backyard with a few dogs at her feet.

Busy Betty & the Circus Surprise
Reese Witherspoon, author
Xindl Yan, illustrator
Flamingo Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593525128, $19.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Busy Betty has always been busy. Every day she wakes up with a million questions and a billion ideas! And today she has an amazing idea: she's throwing her mom a birthday party. Shhh -- It's a surprise!

Then Betty and her best friend, Mae, have the best idea of all: What if they threw Mom a circus surprise party?! It will be the greatest day in the history of the universe!

Everything is perfect until Betty realizes (oh, no!) Mom's birthday isn't today! It's next month. Whatever will they do with their circus surprise now?

Critique: A gifted storyteller, Reese Witherspoon's "Busy Betty & The Circus Surprise" is an an original, exuberant, smart, and larger-than-life character who encourages young readers ages 3-7 to tackle each obstacle with enthusiasm, excitement, and big ideas. A fun and thoroughly 'kid friendly' read that is impressively enhanced by artist/illustrator Xindi Yan's thoroughly charming illustrations, "Busy Betty & The Circus Surprise" is especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections. It should be noted that "Busy Betty & The Circus Surprise" is also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Reese Witherspoon is an award-winning actress, producer, founder and New York Times bestselling author. (

Editorial Note #2: Xindi Yan ( left behind a small city in China to realize her dream of being a published artist. She traveled thousands of miles to study, live, and work in New York. Having always wanted to illustrate children's books, Xindi buried herself in countless books and drawings. She is the illustrator of Sylvia Rose and the Cherry Tree by Sandy Shapiro Hurt, the Craftily Ever After series by Martha Maker and The Itty Bitty Witch by Trisha Speed Shaskan.

Mae and Gerty and the Matter with Matter
Elaine Vickers, author
Erica Salcedo, illustrator
Beaming Books
9781506485416, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Mae is fed up with her parents thinking her younger sister, Gerty, is a science genius. But as Mae learns that science is all about asking questions and trying new things, she realizes that she can be a scientist too and joins her sister to explore all types of matter.

Critique: "Mae and Gerty and the Matter with Matter" by author/storyteller Elaine Vickers and artist/illustrator Erica Salcedo is a humorous, fun, informative, and heartfelt picture book story introduction to the science of matter for young readers ages 4-8. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99), "Mae and Gerty and the Matter with Matter" will prove a welcome and enduringly popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library science themed picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Elaine Vickers ( is an award-winning author of picture books (Thankful, How to Make a Memory) as well as novels for middle graders (Like Magic, Paper Chains, Half Moon Summer) and young adults (Fadeaway, Where There's Smoke).

Editorial Note #2: Erica Salcedo lives in Spain and is a freelance illustrator who holds a Master's degree in Graphic Design and Illustration.

Mariajo Ilustrajo, author/illustrator
Frances Lincoln Children's Books
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780711276765, $20.98, HC,

Synopsis: The flood comes gradually at first. All the animals ignore the obvious and go about their busy lives, disjointed from one another and preoccupied by their own problems. Eventually, the flood water reaches a height that they can no longer ignore and they have to work together to save their city. Then all the animals join together in a line and pull out the plug that is drowning the city.

Critique: "Flooded" by author/illustrator Mariajo Ilustrajo is an original and exceptionally illustrated picture book story that teaches a message not to let problems fester and with a little team work and community spirit, no problem is insurmountable. A fun read with an underlying and important relevance to the environment and ecology, recycling and green living, "Flooded" is an especially recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for ages 3-6. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Flooded" is also available in a paperback edition (9780711276796, $18.77).

Editorial Note: Mariajo Ilustrajo is a Spanish author/illustrator based in the UK. After many years working as an illustrator/designer, her passion for picture books led her to study a MA in Children's Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art and graduated in 2021. The development images for "Flooded" (her first published picture book as an author/illustrator) were the new talent overall winner at the World Illustration Awards 2020. "Flooded" was oritingally published in May 2022 and has now been translated into 14 different languages.

Aldo Renaldo and the Renegade Alphabet
George M. Johnson, author
Dawn Burn, illusrator
Prende Publishing
c/o Histria Books
9781592112968, $21.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: What if the alphabet started to misbehave while you were trying to learn it? Aldo Renaldo has been having trouble with his alphabet, but he finally thinks he knows it and wants to tell Mommy. When he checks one last time, he finds the letters around his walls are behaving badly. The K knocks out the O, and the W does cartwheels with the M. He tries to restore order, but cannot. All is not lost, though, because when Mommy enters,

Aldo uses the new words he has heard from the letters, as he recites the alphabet. When he looks up, the renegade alphabet has restored its proper order.

Critique: Of special appeal to children ages 3-5 and having to deal with being left handed, dyslexic and other reading/writing impairments, "Aldo Renaldo and the Renegade Alphabet" will prove a welcome, fun, informative, and insightful addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-5. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Aldo Renaldo and the Renegade Alphabet" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Of special note is that George M. Johnson is a Finalist in the San Francisco Writers Conference Writing Contest and the character, Aldo Renaldo, was inspired by Johnson's own experience as a lefty who wrote a few letters backwards in the early days!

Editorial Note #1: George M. Johnson is an award-winning writer, fascinated by the more visual (and collaborative) forms of writing: drama, screenwriting, and picture books. His first picture book, How Hope Became An Activist (Dixi Books) was a Finalist for the Eric Hoffer Awards Montaigne Medal for the most thought-provoking books in all genres. Marisa and the Mountains was a starred selection in the Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids, and it is a Finalist in the Chocolate Lily Book Awards. Sophia's Secrets won the Pacific Northwest Writers' Association Children's Story competition.

Editorial Note #2: Dawn Burn is a painter, with a Masters Degree in Visual Art, who took a leap of faith in 2020, retiring early from a career as a highschool art teacher to pursue her life fulfillment goal. Since retiring Dawn has realized what was creatively possible of her love of art, books, and education, while illustrating Aldo Renaldo and the Renegade Alphabet. Dawn has also used the experience of her own empowerment, to become a certified Life Empowerment Coach, and speaker, engaging others in their own momentum for change, and personal fulfillment.

Just SNOW Already!
Howard McWilliam, author/illustrator
Flash Light Press
9781947277984, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: When the forecast calls for snow, one little boy is thrilled. He keeps peeking outside to see if it's snowing - but he only looks up! His single-minded focus on the sky makes him completely miss the increasingly comical chaos occurring outside his door, which includes a monster truck, a firetruck, escaped monkeys, and carousing clowns.

The boy bides his time and tries to wait patiently, but waiting is boring! As the hours go by and not a snowflake is seen, the boy begins to worry that it might NEVER snow again! That's no fun! If only he would notice all of the wacky events unfolding outside!

Finally, when the boy is just about to give up, the long-awaited white stuff arrives with a single jubilant word - SNOW! All of his frustration instantly disappears, and the boy rushes outside declaring, "I knew it would snow! I knew it!" Still oblivious to the pandemonium around him, he concludes, "Nothing's as fun as snow!"

Bursting with vibrancy and hilarious details, "Just SNOW Already!" fully captures children's love of snow (as well as the frustrating side of waiting) while offering a humorous lesson about living in the moment and noticing what's around you.

Critique: Singularly well-crafted by author/illustrator Howard McWilliam, "Just SNOW Already!" is a fun read specially designed for children ages 3-5. While especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Values/Emotions/Feelings picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Just SNOW Already!" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note: Howard McWilliam is the award-winning illustrator of the I Need My Monster series, When a Dragon Moves In series, John Cena's Elbow Grease series, and many other children's books, with over 1 million copies sold. He is the cover artist of The Week (US & UK), and he lives with his wife and three sons in Cheltenham, England. "Just SNOW Already!" is his authorial debut.

Gray Fox in the Moonlight
Isaac Peterson, author/illustrator
Collective Book Studio
9781685550325, $17.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Gray Fox wanders alone in the forest at night. The woods are illuminated in the silvery light of the full moon and stars. She gazes around in wonder at the light in the birch grove and stops to look at her reflection in the river. But something calls to her in her reverie. She must return to her den by dawn to care for her kits when they wake.

Critique: With its simple poetry young children ages 2-8 will fully enjoy, "Gray Fox in the Moonlight" by author/illustrator Isaac Peterson is a fascinating journey through a nighttime wonderland that in an original picture book fully celebrates the love between parents and children. The simple but stellar two-color illustrations overflow with light in this evergreen and memorable story that illustrates the value of independence in the parental relationship as well as the powerful bond which calls us home from wandering. "Gray Fox in the Moonlight" revels in the profound beauty of nature, making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections. With its underlying message for children about self-esteem, it should be noted that "Gray Fox in the Moonlight" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note: Isaac Peterson ( is a fine artist and designer who grew up in Alaska. "Grey Fox in the Moonlight" is inspired by one of his earliest memories: cross-country skiing to school in Fairbanks during the part of winter when it is completely dark. Isaac has taught art extensively all over the US.

The Tiny Tailors
Kat Macleod
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
9781760763787, $17.95, HC

Synopsis: Children ages 4-8 will enjoy joining the Tiny Tailors in the garden as they stitch, weave, and piece together their costumes for the upcoming Spring Parade. The berries have been threaded into sleeves and the daisies arranged into a fan -- but it looks like something might be missing. Will the Tiny Tailors be able to find what they need in time for the parade?

Critique: In "The Tiny Tailors", author/illustrator Kat Macleod's signature mixed-media style captures all the wonders and possibilities of the garden. A new bud can be turned into a cape and an armful of forget-me-nots can make the most beautiful gown. Seemingly ordinary elements (flowers, feathers, leaves, and seeds) are turned into stylish suits and floral costumes when seen from the Tiny Tailors' vantage point.

A variety of verbs describe the costumes' construction, helping young readers learn the language to build their own creations. Explorers big and small are encouraged to use their imagination and discover new natural artifacts in their own garden. Illustrated in color throughout, "The Tiny Tailors" is an especially recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Editorial Note: Kat Macleod ( is an illustrator, designer, and exhibiting artist. Her instantly recognizable illustrations feature botanical forms, a balance of bold and delicate line work, bright colors, and collage textures. She is endlessly inspired by nature, fashion, textiles, and the drawings of her three young boys. She has illustrated several books: Bird, The Cocktail, Sequins & Sequence, and Michi Girl's Like I Give a Frock, and What on Earth Are You Wearing?

The Movie Chair
Shari Borkin, author/illustrator
Christen Faith
9798887512013, $28.95, HC, 50pp

Synopsis: "The Movie Chair" by author/illustrator Shari Borkin is the picture book story of a caring little chair in a movie theater who is particularly fond of the weekends when children come to the theater. This delightful chair takes great pleasure in hiding coins in her cushions so that the children can buy snacks, poking rude adults with her spring, and being involved in many other weekend calamities.

But when all seems well, adversity strikes when the movie theater is remodeled, and the chair finds herself learning a new lesson on a different adventure than she ever expected. But things have a way of working themselves out by having faith.

Critique: Of special appeal and value to young readers (and their parents) with an interest in Christian oriented Family/Friendship stories, "The Movie Chair" is charming, original, thought-provoking, and fun. While also available in a paperback edition (9781685708139, $17.950 and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49), "The Movie Chair" is especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8.

Editorial Note: Shari Borkin ( has been a registered art therapist for over twenty-five years. In her career, she used her training to focus her work on students with disabilities. Shari worked with children in specialty schools, taught an adaptive art class ranging from ages eighteen to eighty in Redding, California, and has also worked in the California prison system in mental health. Shari now teaches art in private practice, and incorporates principles of Feng Shui in her life. Shari's creative past includes writing and donating a series of children's meditation CD's. and is considered a guardian angel, by Kids Wish Network. Shari has also shown her personal artworks in many galleries.

If You See a Bluebird
Bahram Rahman, author
Gabrielle Grimard, illustrator
Pajama Press
9781772782844, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Although his family is now safe in their new country, Ali finds himself wishing he could go back to Afghanistan. A day spent picking blackberries with Nana reminds him of their old house with the mulberry tree he loved, and the day the soldiers came. He recalls their nighttime flight and the crowded buses and airplane that took him to this beautiful but unfamiliar place. When Ali and Nana spot a bluebird, she tells him to make a wish. Ali wishes to go home, but, as he comes to learn, home is not a place. Home is the love his family has for each other.

Critique: "If You See a Bluebird" by author/storyteller Bahram Rahman and artist/illustrator Gabrielle Grimard is an ALA Schneider Family Book Award Honor Book and is thoroughly kid friendly and appropriate for young readers ages 5-8. With its storybook portrayal on the experience of former refugees as they learn to adapt and embrace a new country and a new home. "If You See a Bluebird" fully capture Ali's two worlds -- his homeland of Afghanistan and his new home in America. This very special and unique picture book is unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections.

Editorial Note #1: Bahram Rahman ( was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and grew up during the civil war and the first Taliban regime. He came to Canada as a refugee in 2012, and today is a senior policy advisor at the Ministry of Health in Ontario. Bahram's first picture book (and Governor General's Literary Award finalist) "The Library Bus", was praised by the New York Times for documenting the barriers to education experienced by girls in war-torn countries and their resilience and ingenuity in overcoming them. His 2021 picture book "A Sky-Blue Bench" was an honor book for the ALA Schneider Family Book Award, among many other honors.

Editorial Note #2: Gabrielle Grimard ( transformed her love of design into a career in illustration over the course of her studies at Concordia University and the University of Quebec. In 2018, Gabrielle's picture book Stolen Words won the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award and was a finalist for the TD Canadian Children's Book Award. Not My Girl was a USBBY Outstanding International Book. Her creativity has been applied to children's publishing, advertising, and educational contexts. She has a 'Painted Words Represent website at

A story of family togetherness that redefines the meaning of home.

Dear Stray
Kirsten Hubbard, author
Susan Gal, illustrator
Nancy Paulsen Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593110003, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: When a little girl adopts a tigerish stray kitten from the shelter, her family isn't sure about her choice. But she can see that she and the kitten have lots in common as they both have a tendency to lash out when they're uncomfortable. The little girl does her best to be patient and give her kitten plenty of space, treating it the way she likes to be treated. And in doing so, somehow they figure out just the right ways to help calm each other.

Critique: Featuring a poignant text by author/storyteller Kirsten Hubbard supported by the evocative art of artist/illustrator Susan Gal, "Dear Stray" this a delightfully fun picture book story about two friends who share the heart of a tiger. While also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99), "Dear Stray" is an unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-7.

Editorial Note #1: Kirsten Hubbard ( also wrote the middle grade novels Watch the Sky, Race the Night, and the Secrets of Topsea series (as Kir Fox with M. Shelley Coats), and the young adult novels Wanderlove and Like Mandarin. An author, artist, and freelance writer, she lives in Los Angeles.

Editorial Note #2: Susan Gal ( is the author and illustrator of several picture books, including TWOgether, Night Lights, Please Take Me for a Walk, and the illustrator of the award-winning Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail.

Jhupli's Honey Bee Box
Achintyarup Rayh, author
Shivam Choudhary, illustrator
Amazon Crossing Kids
9781662514678, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Where is Baba? Why isn't he back yet? A little girl named Jhupli is restless as evening sets in. Her father, Baba, has gone into the dense jungle to gather honey, and she's worried. There are tigers in there -- and sometimes people go into the jungle and don't come back out. Jhupli wonders, Why must Baba be in danger every day? Then Jhupli has an idea, one that might help keep her father and other honey gatherers safe: honey bee boxes!

Critique: "Jhupli's Honey Bee Box" by the team of author/storyteller Achintyarup Rayh and artist/illustrator Shivam Choudhary is an impressive picture book originally published in India and now available for American children ages 4-8. The impressively kid friendly artwork brings to life the magnificent Sundarbans region which is a place as menacing as it is beautiful. Showcasing the love between a resourceful young girl and her dad, "Jhupli's Honey Bee Box" is an original, memorable, and fun selection for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers.

Adeline by the Sea
Lauren Oakey, author
Britt Van Deusen, illustrator
Brandylane Publishers
9781958754498, $26.95 HC, 36pp

Synopsis: It's summer, and that means a family trip to visit Grandpa on the coast! Henry loves staying in the old house by the water; he loves listening to Grandpa's stories, watching the purple martins build their nests, and of course, keeping an eye on his baby sister, Adeline. After all, that's a big brother's responsibility! But with little Adeline getting bigger, is it time for Henry to learn the difference between protecting someone and loving them enough to let go?

Critique: A fun and charming picture book by author/storyteller Lauren Oakey and artist/illustrator Britt Van Deusen, "Adeline by the Sea" is an ideal picture book pick for family, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers ages 5-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Adeline by the Sea" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781958754504, $15.95).

Editorial Note #1: Lauen Oakey ( is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she studied World Religions and Italian language. She has lived in Italy and Switzerland, worked mostly in non-profits, and is a lover of language and the rhythm of words. "Waiting for Adeline" is her first book.

Editorial Note #2: Britt Van Deusen ( studied painting at the College of William & Mary as well as L'Atelier Marchutz in Aix-en-Provence, France, earned a Master's degree in Art Education from Virginia Commonwealth University, and taught art in Henrico County public schools, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. In her current work, Britt maps out new ways of seeing the self, in particular the pre-adolescent and adolescent self. In her portraits, Van Deusen turns a blind eye towards popular culture and a bright searchlight towards a young person's inner world, in the hopes of projecting outward the complex and powerful sense of self that they present. Endeavoring to represent subjects faithfully and respectfully, Van Deusen strives to create a new iconography of the self for young people who are growing up in this 21st-century Gilded Age.

How Happy Is a Lark?
Gail Kuhnlein, author
Jenny Kalejs, illustrator
9798218056940, $11.99, PB, 34pp

Synopsis: As a picture book for children ages 3-6, "How Happy Is a Lark?" by author/storyteller Gail Kuhnlein will answer such timeless questions such as "how wise is an owl?" and "how clever is a fox?" This first introduction for young children to a fun aspect of language features joyful artwork by Jenny Kalejs that will make them smile. How fast is a jackrabbit? A jackrabbit beats a shooting star in a race across the Milky Way!

Critique: A fun read from start to finish, of special note is the inclusion of a one page listing of 'Ideas for Parents, Teachers, Caregivers'. "How Happy Is a Lark" by the team of author/storyteller Gail Kuhnlein and artist/illustrator Jenny Kalejs will prove a welcome and enduringly popular pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "How Happy Is a Lark" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note #1: Gail Kuhnlein is "as happy as a lark" to publish her first children's picture book. She's been writing stories since she was young, including typing her family newspaper, "The Gail Star," as a child. Gail majored in journalism and public relations at Michigan State University. Most recently, she's loved being the communications specialist for the University of Michigan's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology for over 16 years. The publication of this book is a dream come true for Gail.

Editorial Note #2: Jenny Kalejs is the talented illustrator who did drawings with watercolor that beautifully bring this picture book story to life.

Dear Stray
Kirsten Hubbard
9780593110003, $18.99

In Dear Stray, a little girl is given the choice to adopt a kitten, but chooses the prickliest one she can find... one filled with fury. Why choose a kitten that is "sticky, scratchy, spiky"? The little girl who narrates this story of her choice exhibits a wisdom beyond her years as she considers her attraction to the little beast and reflects that "maybe we needed each other." A lovely story of adaptation, change, and growing love marks the story of a girl and a cat who find, in each other, new possibilities for understanding and growth.

Tiger Tales

Two uplifting, fun picture books from Tiger Tales offer young leisure readers compelling stories.

Steve Smallman's Doggy Dance-Off (9781664300255, $18.99) is illustrated by Robert Starling, who captures a host of dancing dogs in a celebratory story that contrasts different dance styles and fun. Kids attracted to dance and lively themes of dogs at play will find the dance-off focus and whimsical tales to be attractive.

Suzy Senior's Santarella (9781664300323, $18.99) features an engaging twist on two classic themes: Cinderella and Santa Claus. Lucy Semple's colorful and detailed, playful drawings enliven the spin on a Cinderella experience which takes place at Christmas and involves not a fairy godmothers, but Santa's intervention in her life. Christmas is more about jobs and gift-giving, however, as Cinderella lends a hand and discovers unexpected results from her efforts.

Both of these new titles from Tiger Tales are original and attractive creations -- as well as very highly recommended for picture book leisure readers and read-aloud adults.

Pajama Press

Sylvie Daigneault's The Imaginary Alphabet (9781772782998, $22.95) is a delightfully ornate, original representation of ABC fantasy that moves well beyond the familiar, inviting young learners, read-aloud parents, and educators to add whimsy into the effort to learn one's alphabet. From Jumping Jackrabbits Juggling Jars of Jellybeans to Perky Penguins Painting Pretty Pictures, the book creates a medley of impossible, fantastic, and visually alluring scenarios that adds delight to the alphabetical learning task in a very different manner.

Michelle Kadarusman's We the Sea Turtles: A Collection of Island Stories (9781772782851, $18.95) will appeal to advanced elementary to middle grade readers with its tales of nine island children who face life-changing moments that embrace both ecological and personal challenges. These lovely writings present positive, enlightening scenarios as they depict the very different lives and approaches of island residents around the world, from Manhattan to Komodo Island in Indonesia. This makes for a collection that is diverse in its environments, but unified in its messages of positive growth.

Both of these new titles are standouts and highly recommended for libraries catering to young readers.

Wm. B. Eerdmans

The Biggest Mistake by Camila Pinotonato (9780802856111, $17.99) is translated by Debbie Bibo and tells of a little lion cub charged with catching his own gazelle. He thinks it will be easy, but what evolves is a series of mishaps as his attempts to snag a gazelle keep failing. This picture book treatise on "really good and really bad" decisions is a seemingly-simple read that sports big messages about problem-solving, perseverance, and courage. Adults who choose The Biggest Mistake as a fun story will find it also holds much value by reinforcing many different concepts for the very young.

Darshana Khiani and Dow Phumiruk's Building a Dream: How the Boys of Koh Panyee Became Champions (9780802855473, $18.99) is a fine story of Thailand and the floating village of Koh Panyee, where a group of soccer-loving boys who had nowhere to practice became a formidable team, with a little innovative thinking. The boys built a platform for practice that resulted in the world's first floating field, facing environmental and social challenges in the process of joining together to achieve their goal. Illustrator Dow Phumiruk's digital images enhance the story with a lovely tribute to culture and colorful solutions that incorporate advice on how to play differently from the mainland boys to make the most of a special world.

Bette Westera and Mattias De Leeuw's Later, When I'm Big (9780802856104, $17.99) is a fine picture book reflection that follows a child's dreams of what she will do when she is older. Everything is possible, from dancing with jellyfish to flying to the stars. For now, however, she must gain courage to face some personal challenges that scare her as much as her dreams encourage her to be her best.

These are fine stories and highly recommended for young readers seeking stories of courage and creative thinking.

Simon & Schuster

These new arrivals from Simon and Schuster provide young picture book readers and adults choosing for them with an appealing set of experiences and fun stories.

Our Pool by Lucy Ruth Cummins (9781534499232, $18.99) is a picture book exploration of a hot day in the city which will appeal to readers who want to vicariously enjoy the sights, sounds, and experience of jumping into a community pool. From observing different skin types at the pool and handling sunburns to the young and old folks who obtain equal enjoyment from cooling off in the City pool's waters, Lucy Ruth Cummins paints a charming story of interactive pool experiences which will reach out to any kid interested in water play and fun.

Sophia N. Lee's Lolo's Sari-Sari Store (9781534494473, $18.99) will especially appeal to libraries looking for multicultural picture book tales. Christine Almeda illustrates the appealing story of a girl who used to spend her summers helping Lolo run his sari-sari store, which holds wide neighborhood appeal and variety in the Philippines. Now that she's far from home, she misses both her grandfather and the store. How can she translate these opportunities for connection and friendship into a very different setting?

Jackie Azua Kramer and Lenny Wen's Empanadas for Everyone (9781665914581, $18.99) tells of a Saturday ritual in which Carina visits Tia Mimi in her barrio to make empanadas with her aunt. One Saturday, her aunt volunteers at the neighborhood food center instead. She asks Carina to make them alone. How can a young girl help contribute such an important dish to the community? Parents who choose this story for read-aloud will find it holds much magic and many opportunities for discussing all kinds of subjects, from attempting new things to participating in community work.

Saira Mir's Always Sisters: A Story of Loss and Love (9781665901567, $18.99) can be used to help youngsters understand the grief brought about by pregnancy loss. Raya can't wait for her baby sister to arrive, and has all kinds of plans. One day, Mama returns home to inform her that the young sister won't be appearing after all. How can Raya cope with a sibling who never really appeared, and the dreams that were dashed? Shahrzad Maydani's illustrations are gentle accompaniments to this picture book story of a special and different kind of sibling loss.

The Welcome Home by Amy June Bates (9781534492325, $18.99) is a warm story about inclusion and friendship which tells of a quiet couple seeking change in their life. What better way of doing so than introducing a new pet into their world? But, what kind of pet? One by one, they try out and accept all manner of creature into their lives, from snails to elephants, finding that each offers new possibilities to challenge their set rituals and lives. Engaging drawings enlivens this story of love, acceptance, and change.

All of these new titles from Simon & Schuster are top recommendations for libraries and parents seeking standout picture book stories.

Candlewick Press

Candlewick's bright new titles are recommended for picture book leisure readers seeking fun, appealing stories.

Katrina Germein's My Dad Thinks He's a Pirate (9781536225020, $18.99) is illustrated by Tom Jellett, and tells of an unusual father's propensity for humor. A child considers how his father somehow thinks he's a pirate, learning to "speak parrot" and hoisting the "angry flag" of skull and crossbones. The blend of fantasy, humor, and a child's observation of his playful father makes for an involving story.

Briony May Smith's A Practical Present for Philippa Pheasant (9781536228489, $18.99) tells of a lovely little bird that lives in a forest, but can't seem to cross a busy road. The solution seems to lie in an interesting woman wearing a bright yellow uniform, who harbors the magic of stopping cars. Philippa has never seen such a thing. What gives this woman the power to command vehicles? Whatever it is, Philippa aspires to be the same. Especially lovely artwork accompanies a whimsical animal story that will attract kids and read-aloud parents with something truly special and original.

Grandpa is Here! by Tanya Rosie (9781536231267, $18.99) follows the visit of a grandfather who brings a suitcase of flavors from his foreign home. As grandfather and child share their very different worlds and the delights to be found within them, readers receive a warm tale powered by Chuck Groenink's attractive illustrations and a sense of discovery Rosie reinforces as they present the growing connections between generations.

Each of these creative new stories will stand out as inviting leisure reads and read-aloud options for all ages.

The Middle Grade Fiction Shelf

The Extraordinary Adventures of an Ordinary Girl
E. Grayson
Many Realms Media
9798360043393, $12.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook

Middle grade readers who choose The Extraordinary Adventures of an Ordinary Girl for leisure reading are in for a treat, because Clara Frank's journal of her life-changing experiences entering middle school will mirror many of the hopes, expectations, and experiences of young readers in the same situation.

Clara has read many books about middle school and the often-unwelcome changes it introduces. Her parents aren't helpful in reviewing their own memories -- in fact, her father cautions that "high school will be worse", which does nothing to address the overwhelming feelings Clara is experiencing now.

Her normally-wise mother holds the opinion that, somehow, Clara is extraordinary. How she grows into this promise, navigates middle school's challenges, and faces unpredictable and daunting adversities in everything that previously felt set in life (even her family) is the topic of compellingly rich, honest account cemented by the confessional tone of Clara's diary entries.

E. Grayson creates a compelling portrait that reflects the increasingly jaded worldview of a girl whose life is buffeted by too many changes all at once. This leads to her candid reflection that "Life sucks and then you die, I guess." How Clara grows to realize there is more to living than survival alone makes for a story that is filled with questions, answers, and observations that lend to her growth in extraordinary ways.

Couched in the pages of a personal story, Clara's progression is replete with psychological growth that starts and stops in fits of frustration and new realizations. Clara's awakenings will serve as thought-provoking moments for many a middle grade reader, and also offer fodder for discussion groups as she tackles vastly revised life experiences. Her moves to attempting to be more grown-up in her perceptions dovetails nicely with the situations that force her to move forward with new reactions to her life.

The result is a completely engrossing, memorable account of not one, but many life transitions affecting young Clara's world and its promise.

Libraries and middle grade readers seeking an evocative, realistic survey to the tune of Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret and other fictional attractions will find the combination of strong characterization, an intimate diary format, and a series of changing situations to be compelling and revealing, making The Extraordinary Adventures of an Ordinary Girl a top recommendation for this age group.

Zodatia: Age of the Animals
C. M. Major
Right Line Publishing
9780999180327, $14.29, PB, 218pp

Synopsis: All young rabbit Tarwen Birchwood wants to see was the rabbit in the moon, but an uninvited guest (Rattus, the rat) hurls Tarwen into the big, wild world beyond the trees of Brushland, and soon Tarwen learns he is the only one who can save the creatures of Zodatia from being enslaved by the race of malevolent hogs. First, however, the young rabbit must survive a summons to appear before the great and mysterious Dragon King.

Critique: Deftly crafted and in the tradition of such classics as Watership Down and Animal Farm, "Zodatia: Age of the Animals" by author/storyteller C. M. Major is a unique animal fantasy novel that will have a very special appeal for young readers ages 8-14 with an interest in animals, friendship, family and fantasy. This edition of "Zodatia: Age of the Animals" from Right Line Publishing is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Animal & Friendship Fiction collections.

Race for the Ruby Turtle
Steve Bramucci
Bloomsbury Children's Books
9781547607020, $17.99, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: Jake Rizzi is about to spend the summer at his great-aunt's cabin in the mossy, sodden Oregon backwoods. His parents seem to need a break from him and his ADHD. He tries not to take it personally, but isn't sure about his aunt's off-the-grid lifestyle and strange stories about a turtle with a ruby-colored shell.

Soon, Jake learns that the turtle is more than a myth. And thanks to a viral article online, strangers from all over the world have arrived to search for it -- including a sinister animal poacher and towering twin zoologists from Sweden. Jake is sure that finding the turtle will change how people see him and his "attention issues" -- but he'll need help. Setting off with his new friend Mia, Jake must decide what matters more -- personal glory or protecting the wonders of nature.

Critique: A deftly crafted, heartfelt, and fun middle grade eco-adventure story of friendship and self-discovery for young readers ages 8-11, "Race for the Ruby Turtle" by novelist and storyteller Steve Bramucci is a unique and entertaining story that is unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections. Having a very special appeal to young readers with an interest in children's environmental, self-esteem, and action/adventure stories, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Race for the Ruby Turtle" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.59).

Editorial Note: Steve Bramucci ( is the author of The Danger Gang series, a travel/food writer, an adventurer, a teacher, and a born storyteller. He has written for National Geographic Books, Afar, Outside, the Orange County Register Magazine, and dozens of other outlets. He is also the founding editor of the LIFE section at and is a passionate conservationist.

The Young Adult Fiction Shelf

Sovereign Assassin
Robert New
Shooting Star Press
9781925821826, $29.99, PB, 286pp

Synopsis: In the tiny European country of Tantalia, Princess Niobe is being groomed to ascend to the throne. Secretly, however, from the age of sixteen, the Princess has been trained by her martial arts instructor, Gethan, to kill the businessman responsible for her parent's deaths.

Once queen, she will have 'sovereign immunity' and be free to kill without prosecution. Niobe strikes, but unbeknownst to her, one of her kills is caught on video and she is identified as an assassin. Her people, however, seem accepting of the idea and of their Queen's unconventional shadowy activities. Then a TV producer comes to her with a novel idea - how about a reality tv show about her next kill?

Safe in the knowledge she can't be prosecuted Niobe ponders, and eventually agrees. But there are more questions than answers. For a start -- how will the world respond to a sovereign assassin?

Critique: Original, interesting, entertaining, and exceptionally well written, "Sovereign Assassin" by talented novelist Robert New is a simply riveting read and will have a very special appeal to young readers ages 13-18. While also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99), "Sovereign Assassin" is an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Robert New ( has degrees in psychology, sociology, biology and education, all of which inspire his writing.

Jett Jamison and the Secret Storm
Kimberly Behre Kenna
Black Rose Writing
9781685132439, $16.95 paper/$4.95 ebook

Jett Jamison and the Secret Storm presents another book in the preteen Brave Girls Collection, juxtaposing the social issue of banned books with a personal secret that both lead Jett to tap her inner resources to expose all kinds of secrets to the world around her. This is something she has resisted heavily. From its opening lines, first-person Jett reflects on a daring act that will redefine the reader's ideas (in this case, of graffiti): "Dad calls it a criminal act. I argue that if done respectfully, it's more like speaking out. I looked it up. The definition of vandalism includes the word malicious. I am not malicious. I do what I do to remind myself of where I've been and where I'm going."

Jett is not just reminding herself. She's reminding the world of its hidden undercurrents, and by exposing these varied secrets, she is both applauded and challenged by her own choices and actions. How long can one be brave and defiant, even if making small gestures of resistance? Jett doesn't know. What she does know is that her restroom refuge is not only limited, but likely can't continue. Her ability to candidly self-assess her options is but one of the strengths of her story: "I've got to quit running away to this restroom. But, oh how the silence in here calms my heart right back to where it belongs."

Kimberly Behre Kenna crafts a delicate dance between hiding and exposing Jett's experiences. The unusual fears Jett harbors, such as that of jet noise ("It's a big joke that Jett hates jets. Their noise is almost as bad as the voices."), is only the overt sign of what simmers beneath the surface. As various forces coalesce around Jett, from classmates and friends to adults, her growth process is outlined from both internal and external forces that inject wisdom and reflection into her emotional processing. What is the connection between banned books and hidden emotions? "Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures."

As Jett's emerging courage and supportive connections force her to confront "bad stuff bubbling away deep down inside of me," Jett walks into the strength of a survivor who reflects her struggles into bigger-picture actions rather than simply hiding. Libraries and readers seeking exceptional pre-teen fiction that focuses on abuse, growth, recovery, and resources for healing trauma that operate and influence on different levels will find Jett Jamison and the Secret Storm powerfully written and compellingly presented. Ideally, the book won't just repose on library shelves, but will assume a more active role in book clubs and tween discussion groups focused on these subjects and on stories that speak of the unspeakable: childhood sexual abuse and how everything can change.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Night Raven
Johan Rundberg, author
A. A. Prime, translator
Amazon Crossing Kids
Brilliance Audio
9781662509582, $17.99, HC, 192pp

Synopsis: It's 1880, and in the frigid city of Stockholm, death lurks around every corner. Twelve-year-old Mika knows that everyone in her orphanage will struggle to survive this winter. But at least the notorious serial killer the Night Raven is finally off the streets... or is he?

Mika is shocked when a newborn baby is left at the orphanage in the middle of the night, by a boy with a cryptic message. Who is he? And who is this "Dark Angel" he speaks of? When a detective shows up, Mika senses something even more sinister is going on.

Drawn in by Mika's unique ability to notice small details (a skill young Mika has always used to survive) the gruff Detective Hoff unwittingly recruits her to help him with his investigation into a gruesome murder. Mika knows she should stay far, far away, and yet, with such little hope for her future, could this be an opportunity? Maybe, just maybe, this is Mika's chance to be someone who matters.

Critique: Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in tone, style, and presentation, "The Night Raven" is a 'Moonwind Mystery' written by Swedish author Johan Rundberg and ably translated into English for young American readers ages 10-14 by Annie Prime. This 'whodunnit' mystery is a fully entertaining and highly recommended addition to middle school and community library Mystery Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Night Raven" is also available in a paperback edition (9781662509599, $9.99), in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9798400116179, $18.99, MP3-CD).

Editorial Note #1: Johan Rundberg is an award-winning author of children's books who lives in Stockholm. He has written picture books, early readers, and middle grade, including Karlekspizzan, Knockad Romeo, and the series Haxknuten. In 2021, he was awarded Sweden's most prestigious literary prize, the August Prize, in the children's and YA category for Nattkorpen, the original edition of The Night Raven, which was first written in Swedish. Nattkorpen was also the winner of a Swedish Crimetime Award in the children's and YA category. There are now four books in this series published in Sweden.

Editorial Note #2: A. A. Prime (Annie Prime) is an award-winning translator of Swedish literature. She was born in London and traveled the world studying a number of languages before settling in the English coastal town of Hastings. She now works full-time as a translator, specializing in the weird, witty, and wonderful world of children's and young adult fiction. She holds an MA in translation from University College London and has published more than twenty books in the UK and US. In her free time, she can be found belly dancing, folk singing, horse riding, and sea swimming.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Vermilion Sunrise
Lydia P. Brownlow
Warren Publishing
9781960146342, $33.95 Hardcover/$20.99 Paper/$6.49 ebook

Young adult readers seeking stories that embrace elements of sci-fi paired with thriller components will welcome the fast-paced action and intrigue that permeates seventeen-year-old Leigh's new world in Vermilion Sunrise.

The story opens with a compelling bang: Leigh awakens nauseous, covered in peach slime, and confused about her situation. She's in a cryorecovery room awakening from a long sleep, and has traveled ten light-years from home to be among the first colonists in a new world. She's been sleeping for thirteen years, and her memories have been stolen. All she knows is that she needs to go home!

Lydia P. Brownlow embeds her story with mystery and discovery. These two components drive Leigh's life towards unexpected discoveries as she interacts with fellow teen colonists and redefines what "home" really means. The new world may not be as new and unsullied as they expected, however. It brings with it new discoveries, realizations about their past and future, and even new journeys washed by the possibility of memories that will fill in the blanks and reveal the truth of their mission and lives.

Brownlow also injects philosophical, deeper-level thinking into the story which adds value with its thought-provoking insights. All these elements make Vermilion Sunrise a standout in teen sci-fi reading. As Leigh and Lex uncover their realities and destinies, young adults will find their saga compelling and hard to put down.

Libraries seeking exceptionally powerful stories of new beginnings, new connections, and old truths will find Vermilion Sunrise a welcome collection addition.

Stars & Swashbucklers
Lilah Fitzgerald
DartFrog Books
9781959096641, $25.99 Hardcover/$15.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook

Stars & Swashbucklers is a young adult steampunk story written by a teen who is largely involved in the world of professional dance. Her equal prowess at the written word and an exceptionally creative take on a futuristic scenario in which Earth has been broken up into space 'islands' makes for a compelling, visionary story that is a standout for not only its setting and action, but its humor.

Lilah Fitzgerald exhibits this wry sense of humor from the start as she presents an alluring advertisement for the maiden space voyage of the starship Halthow, as narrated by 'average girl' Anya Marcox. She longs to be a privateer searching for Earth's relics from before The Breaking across space, but this is an extraordinarily dangerous profession which also attracts monsters -- and one her brother would never allow.

The island-hopping airship journey she is embarking on will bring her in direct conflict with this vision of being 'ordinary' and will also place her in a dangerous position of becoming an active participant in the greatest treasure hunt of all when an encounter with an alluring stranger draws her from her steerage passage into the heart of danger.

Fitzgerald's first-person story represents a powerful foray into the unexpected as a four-hour journey that will lead to a new home turns into something very different. From the nightmares that haunt Anya's dreams to the reality that plagues her choices and footsteps, young adults will find themselves thoroughly and quickly immersed in a world supercharged not just by confrontations with monsters, but by new realizations about connections between upbringing and strengths.

As Anya keeps new secrets, considers another's promise to keep her safe, and experiences sea changes in perceptions and involvements, readers will find her encounters and realizations breathtakingly captivating. "Average lives for average girls." This thought powers the story and constantly reminds Anya of her initial lessons in life, but as she moves further and further away from their meaning, she discovers an impact and adventure she never could have foreseen for herself.

Neither will readers -- and the added value of this element of surprise and growth makes Stars & Swashbucklers a strong recommendation for libraries and young adult readers seeking exceptional pairings of action and self-realization in the sci-fi and steampunk worlds.

The Magic Willow
Leslie Brooks
Love Incarnate Books
9780996652339, $17.50, HC, 236pp

Synopsis: "The Magic Willow" is the story of a young village girl who stammers, enters a magical kingdom, and meets a prince who is lame. Together they go on a quest to restore the power of good to the kingdom and, in the process, they each find the courage and true inside themselves to come to a place of confidence, self-acceptance, and healing.

High in a castle tower floating over clouds (hidden by a layer of magic so deep and impenetrable that only these few are aware of it) four powerful beings gather in secret around a great stone scrying pool set in the center of the room.

"We cannot allow humanity to continue as it is. They have forgotten about magic, and the world of dreams and possibilities."

They turn, as one, to a shimmer of light that appears in the room, and they watch as it gradually shifts to become a beautiful copper-haired young woman, lithe, regal, and elegant, called from a realm of Other.

"I must go to that plane," she vows, "and be that girl, unconscious and forgetting all, and learn again."

And so it begins.

Critique: "The Magic Willow" by author Leslie Brooks action/adventure heroic fantasy at its best. Original, well crafted, and just plain fun, "The Magic Willow" will have a very special appeal to young adult readers ages 14-18 with an interest in fantasy, romance, and magic. While especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Magic Willow" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note: Leslie Brooks ( has been writing all of her life, as well being a painter, sculptor, psychotherapist and 'soul worker'.

Iora and the Realm of Legends
Arefa Tehsin
Crimson Dragon Publishing
9781644644413, $14.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook

Young adult readers of epic fantasy and adventure who look for stories embedded with these elements and solid, compelling young characters will find Iora and the Realm of Legends a gripping read.

It holds a simple query: what if an evil rainforest legend escapes into the real world? And what if a tag team of twelve-year-olds who have entered the arena of rainforest legends are the only force that can stop it?

In this story, Iora, the Spirit of the Jungle, is called upon to help the Angels and force the evil to retreat.

The tale opens with reflections on this evil force, then moves to Iora, Owlus, and Chinar, who are charged with thwarting its move into reality from the fantasy realm. The story's complex setting and contention might confuse kids at first, but Arefa Tehsin creates compelling characters whose special interests and force power through any initial complexity. Losing the battle would mean that the trio becomes trapped in this realm, to become legends themselves.

As a series of encounters mingle to create avenues of confusion and new possibility for the trio, young readers will find the potentials and promises of this realm to be as inviting as considerations of its impact on the broader environment outside its borders.

Tehsin creates an inviting fantasy journey through legends and lore that tests the three young characters as well as the Inventor's narrative. Iora and the Realm of Legends is Book 2 of the Iora's Adventure Series (Book 1 is Iora and the Quest of Five).

Libraries and middle school readers seeking a vivid fantasy that weaves adventure with insights about family and friendship connections will find the quest presented Iora and the Realm of Legends a captivating read that traverses new opportunities and perceptions of changing the world and confronting evil forces.

Star Wars: The High Republic: Tales of Light and Life
Zoraida Cordova, et al.
Disney Lucasfilm Press
c/o Buena Vista Books
9781368093798, $18.99, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: "Star Wars: The High Republic: Tales of Light and Life" is a compendium of High Republic authors who share original short stories set in the Star Wars universe that bridge Phases, resolve mysteries, and offer tantalizing hints of what is to come. Young Star Wars fans ages 12-17 will thoroughly enjoy rejoin the further adventures of the Jedi and Padawans, Pathfinders and Path members, heroes and villains ahead of the launch of Phase III. The contributing short story authors include Zoraida Cordova, Tessa Gratton, Claudia Gray, Justina Ireland, Lydia Kang, George Mann, Daniel Jose Older, Cavan Scott, and Charles Soule.

Critique: A 'must read' for the legions of young (and young at heart) dedicated Star Wars fans, "Star Wars: The High Republic: Tales of Light and Life" is a fun, fascinating, and memorable read from start to finish and will prove to be an extraordinarily and enduringly popular addition to personal, middle school, highschool, and community library Science Fiction collections. It should be noted that "Star Wars: The High Republic: Tales of Light and Life" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

The Otherwoods
Justine Pucella Winans
Bloomsbury Children's Books
9781547612543, $17.99, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: Some would call River Rydell a 'chosen one': born with the ability to see monsters and travel to a terrifying spirit world called The Otherwoods, they have all the makings of a hero. But River just calls themself unlucky. After all, it's not like anyone actually believes River can see these things -- or that anyone even believes monsters exist in the first place. So the way River sees it, it's better to keep their head down and ignore anything Otherwoods related.

But The Otherwoods won't be ignored any longer.

When River's only friend (and crush) Avery is kidnapped and dragged into The Otherwoods by monsters, River has no choice but to confront the world they've seen only in their nightmares-but reality turns out be more horrifying than they could have ever imagined. With only their cat for protection and a wayward teen spirit as their guide, River must face the monsters of The Otherwoods and their own fears to save Avery and become the hero they were (unfortunately) destined to be.

Critique: A fun, lively, well scripted, and entertaining read from cover to cover, "The Otherwoods" by author Justine Winans will have a particular interest for fans of original fantasy novels for young readers ages 8-12. While highly recommended, especially for elementary school, middle school, and community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Otherwoods" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Justine Pucella Winans ( graduated with a B.F.A in Acting from Chapman University and now works at a talent agency. She can be followed on Twitter and on Instagram @JustinePWinans

Betrayal of Hope
Justin Doyle
Justin Doyle Publishing
9798986029924, $4.99 ebook

The third volume in the Star Marked fantasy adventure for teens is recommended for those who have absorbed and enjoyed the prior volumes, and brings to a conclusion the ongoing efforts of Darynn, Fyra, and Kaylaa to navigate through a war and save the starving Olan-Har while tying up the loose ends of their connections to and impact on the world. Darynn is tapped by his commander to infiltrate enemy ranks in an effort to confront the enemy and turn the tide against them, as well as tackling the rising magical abilities that simmer in his psyche. Joined and supported by a loyal band of friends, Darynn comes to question who and what he is really fighting for even as he struggles with the dual mission of preserving the secrets of the gods, which need to get into the right hands in order to fulfill potential and prove a benefit.

Just as in his previous books, Justin Doyle creates a winning, action-packed adventure that tests hearts and minds as much as magic and loyalties. Many close calls test the characters as they each strive to become something greater than their calling and move beyond their seemingly set fates in life. The search for balance, momentum, and salvation continues as bloody confrontations vie with efforts each character makes to support their lives, mission, and one another.

Teens seeking vivid magical encounters and stories of confrontation and realization will appreciate the fast pace and action in Betrayal of Hope, but it's the thought-provoking moments, which carry the young people to their greatest confrontation yet, which make this concluding volume to the trilogy such an attraction. Of particular note are the twists on ideas of redemption, torture, and revenge which introduce thought-provoking passages about survival and realization. The result is a compelling, fiery conclusion to the series. It is very highly recommended for libraries and readers who found Justin Doyle's prior books powerful, and who will find that Betrayal of Hope puts the closing touches on a story that sizzles with entertainment, magic, and a revised sense of home and loyalty.

Artichoke Stars and Chicken Fried Shark
Craig Higgens
Mystic Publishers
9781948266840, $20.95, PB, 414pp

Synopsis: A nerdy outcast who hears voices, fifteen-year-old Mickey discovers a shiny purple artichoke sticking out of the sand along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Digging it free only opens him up to the insane events that follow. For an ageless menace is prowling the waters of the Gulf, ready to claim the Earth as its own. And Mickey, a kid with a party in his head, has no choice but to confront the creature who holds him captive in the cross hairs of its double fins.

Critique: Original, memorable and a fun read from first page to last, "Artichoke Stars and Chicken Fried Shark" by author Craig Higgens will have a very special appeal to young readers, ages 11-14, with an interest in Alien Invasion and Post-Apocalyptic science fiction novels. While especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school and community library Science Fiction collections for young readers, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Artichoke Stars and Chicken Fried Shark" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.95).

Editorial Note: Craig E. Higgins ( grew up a repressed Catholic school boy in New Orleans, soaking in its multiculturalism, eclectic charm, and swamp-haunted mystery. Seeking to expand his horizons, Craig left the Deep South and traveled across the American Southwest. He helped keep Austin weird and experienced the majesty of the Texas plains. The author currently resides in southern Nevada, not far from glitzy Las Vegas and hush-hush, top-secret Area 51.

The Poetry Shelf

Psalms of Wonder: Poems from the Book of Songs
Carey Wallace, author
Khoa Le, illustrator
Flyaway Books
9781947888340, $20.00, HC, 64pp

Synopsis: A psalm is a song that we sing to God.

Sometimes the psalmists are joyful, sometimes troubled. Sometimes they're angry, at the world or at God. Sometimes they're overwhelmed by God's love or dazzled by the beauty of God's world. But however they feel, they bring it all to God -- their mess, their pain, and their joy. Through many generations, people have called on these beloved ancient songs to express their deepest emotions to God and one another.

For readers of all ages, these inviting poems and gorgeous illustrations comprising "Psalms of Wonder" are inspired by the book of Psalms, echoing all its wonder and courage, comfort and joy, protection and love. For children, "Psalms of Wonder" offers an introduction, bridging to the beloved phrases and images of Scripture. For readers who already know and love the Psalms, the poems reveal a refreshing new perspective while holding true to respected biblical translations. Perfect for savoring and sharing, this luminous collection will resonate deep in the hearts of all God's children.

Critique: While especially appropriate for children ages 3-7, readers of all ages (and their parents) will enjoy the artwork of illustrator Khoa Lee provided in full support of the adapted poetry from the biblical Book of Psalms by Carey Wallace, "Psalms of Wonder" is a large format picture book (9 x 0.25 x 11.25 inches) to be lovingly browsed through one inspiring page at a time. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.00), "Psalms of Wonder" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, Sunday School, and community library collections.

Editorial Note #1: Carey Wallace ( is a writer of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, including Stories of the Saints: Bold and Inspiring Tales of Adventure, Grace, and Courage and the novel The Ghost in the Glass House. She is the founder of several innovative organizations that offer encouragement and connection for artists of all kinds.

Editorial Note #2: Khoa Le ( is the illustrator of a number of acclaimed books for children, and her paintings have been honored and exhibited across Asia. She lives in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

The Activity Shelf

Forest School Handbook
Naomi Walmsley, author
Dan Westall, author
The GMC Group
9781784946654, $24.99, PB, 168pp

Synopsis: The "Forest School Handbook" by co-authors Naomi Walmsley and Dan Westall and effectively illustrated and lively collection of activities, crafts, bushcraft skills and nature-based play which will inspire kids to thrive outside of their home.

Whether just out for a walk, going camping or exploring in the woods, this handy-sized (5.83 x 0.63 x 8.19 inches, 14.1 ounces) and easily portable volume is the ideal and essential instructional guide and 'how-to' manual for connecting young children with the natural world. Packed with ideas and activities for children of all ages, there are bushcraft basics, survival skills, nature crafts and ideas for both energizing and peaceful outdoor play -- and so much more!

Encouraging controlled risk taking, boosting social skills, wellbeing and a healthy resilience, the "Forest School Handbook" is the ultimate and effective way to avoid parent/child battles over screen time and teacher/pupil classroom-induced fatigue.

Critique: A remarkable compendium of fun, safe, and educational DIY outdoor activities, the "Forest School Handbook" will be an enduringly valued and appreciated resource for parents and teachers wanting to offer children attractive alternatives to their computer, phone, and television screens. "Forest School Handbook" is a critically important and valued addition to family, preschool, elementary school, middle school, and community library Nature Crafting & Activities collections.

Editorial Note: Dan Westall and Naomi Walmsley run Outback2Basics from their patch of woodland in Shropshire in the UK. Specializing in bushcraft and Stone Age skills, they provide unique experiences for school children and teachers to connect to nature. Dan has been a bushcraft teacher for many years and has also acted as a medic and survival consultant on various TV shows. Naomi is a qualified bushcraft instructor and Forest School Leader and believes that every child should be able to safely light a fire and have at least ten uses for a stick by the age of ten. Together, they undertook a five-month Stone Age immersion experience in the US, living in the wilderness without any modern equipment, profoundly influencing their lives and teaching.

21 Things to Do With a Tree
Jane Wilsher, author
Martin Stanev, illustrator
Ivy Kids Eco
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780711280540, $21.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: The collaborative project of author Jane Wilsher and artist/illustrator Martin Stanev, "21 Things To Do With A Tree" is a fresh and fun outdoors activity book with which young readers can learn about (and make friends with) their very own and chosen tree!

First, select the friendly wooden giant that you want to get to know, then meet and explore it more fully with 21 games and activities, all taking place in the great outdoors. Then hug your tree, rub its bark, ask your tree how old it is and meet the animals that make their homes in its branches.

You can also take a bath with your tree (a forest bath that is!), play games together, and make forest art.

Critique: "21 Things To Do With A Tree" offers a playful and fun approach to an outdoor activities for children ages 6 to 10 which will support learning, help foster a vital bond with nature, and stimulates creative and imaginative play. Innovative, original, inspiring and fun, "21 Things To Do With A Tree" will prove an enduringly popular pick for family, elementary school, and community library Nature Studies and Environmental Activities collections for kids and their parents.

Editorial Note #1: Jane Wilsher is an author and editor based in London. She has over 20 years' experience publishing and making award-winning best-selling children's books for all ages.

Editorial Note #2: Martin Stanev ( is an illustrator and author based in the UK. His work combines simplified shapes, playful lines, and limited color palettes, and is often inspired by vintage illustrated books, historical periods, the natural world and childhood nostalgia. Martin's debut picture book The Planet in a Pickle Jar was selected by The Guardian as a Best Children's Book of 2021 and has been translated into ten languages worldwide. Martin also illustrated 21 Things to Do With a Tree, an eco-friendly activity book published by Ivy Kids in September 2023.

Moon Knight: Age of Anubis
Jonathan Green
Aconyte Books
9781839082573, $16.95, PB, 272pp

Synopsis: When N'Kantu, the Living Mummy, escapes his sarcophagus and steals an artifact that turns swaths of mankind into zombies, Moon Knight steps in to save the day! But he is hampered by an eager Egyptologist whose choices seem to influence his personalities and strengths. As Moon Knight and the Egyptologist chase N'Kantu from the streets of New York to navigating traps, tricks, and riddles within an ancient temple in Egypt, the two uncover an evil ritual that will begin a battle between gods over the power of life and death. Only the Egyptologist holds the key to unraveling the dark plot -- everybody's lives are in their hands!

Critique: A fun adventure that young adults, teens, and adults will thoroughly enjoy, "Moon Knight: Age of Anubis" by Jonathan Green is a Marvel: Multiverse Missions Adventure Gamebook. Like other gamebooks in the series, "Moon Knight: Age of Anubis" is a hybrid of a choose-your-path adventure and a solo role-playing game, with easy-to-learn game rules. The reader in the role of an Egyptologist aiding the hero Moon Knight, in a quest to stop N'Kantu the Living Mummy from instigating a zombie apocalypse! To fully experience the gamebook, the reader needs to use pencil and paper to keep track of some basic statistics and inventory, and have one or two six-sided dice ready to roll. The reader's choices and a little bit of luck will help Moon Knight save the day - or lead to the unfortunate Egyptologist's early demise! Original, memorable, and a valued addition to the ever-expanding Marvel Universe, "Moon Knight: Age of Anubis" is a choice pick for personal and community library gamebook collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of the legions of Marvel Superhero fans that "Moon Knight: Age of Anubis" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

Editorial Note: Jonathan Green ( is an award-winning writer of speculative fiction with more than eighty books to his name. He has written everything from Fighting Fantasy gamebooks to Doctor Who novels, by way of Sonic the Hedgehog, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Judge Dredd. He is the creator of the Pax Britannia steampunk series for Abaddon Books.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Paper Planes
Jennie Wood, author
Dozerdraws, artist
c/o Mad Cave Studios, Inc.
9781952303548 $14.99 pbk / $8.99 Kindle

Synopsis: After a life altering incident, Dylan and Leighton are sent to a summer camp for troubled youth. Can Dylan and Leighton save their friendship and protect their future while trying to survive camp?

Former best friends Dylan Render and Leighton Worthington attempt to successfully navigate their way through a summer camp for troubled youth. They both need a good evaluation at the camp. Otherwise, they'll be sent away, unable to attend high school with their friends. While participating in camp activities and chores, Dylan and Leighton re-examine the events that led up to the incident that sent them to camp, the incident that threatens their futures and their friendship with each other.

Critique: Paper Planes is a full-color graphic novel for all ages; although matters of gender, sexuality, and relationships are an intrinsic part of the coming-of-age story, there is no sexual content beyond the act of kissing. Paper Planes is about the challenges of growing up while navigating LGBTQIA issues, social relationships, cultural and economic divides, and more. In Paper Planes, Leighton Worthington and Dylan Render are inseparable best friends. Leighton is a biracial girl with wealthy parents, whose African-American mother has willfully severed ties with her blood relatives. Dylan Render was assigned female at birth, but their gender doesn't fit neatly into a simple description. Dylan's family is impoverished, and Leighton's parents consider Dylan to be "trouble". Dylan is attracted to Leighton and wants to be more than friends, but Leighton is asexual - she doesn't and can't feel romantic interest for anyone. A problematic incident has sent both Dylan and Leighton to a summer camp for troubled youth, and if they don't get a good evaluation, then they won't be able to keep attending high school with their friends! Paper Planes is a captivating story of characters who must confront their own weaknesses even as they strive to find balance in their relationships and figure out their goals in life. Highly recommended, especially for public and school library graphic novel collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Paper Planes is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

Daiel Snaddon, James Clarke, and Daniel Snaddon, creators
Catalyst Press
9781946395825, $21.99, PB, 230pp

Synopsis: Siku has always called the Zambezi River her home. She understands the water -- and strangely enough, it seems to understand her, too, bending to her will and coming to her aid in times of need. But things are changing on the river, a great dam is being built, displacing thousands of Shonga people and things are changing in Siku, too, as her ability to manipulate water grows out of control, and visions of a great serpent pull her further from reality and her loving father, Tongai.

When Tongai ventures to the Kariba Dam to find a cure for Siku and never returns, she sets off to find him with the help of Amedeo, the young son of Kariba's chief engineer. Together, they traverse elephant graveyards, rugged jungles, and ancient ruins, outrunning pirates, bootleggers, and shape-shifting prophets ready to use Siku to their own advantage. But Siku soon discovers that her father has been shielding a terrible secret: Siku is actually the daughter of the Great River Spirit, Nyaminyami, and the only way to bring about the necessary rumuko (a ritual which has brought balance to the Zambezi for centuries) is for Siku to give up the only life she's ever known.

With the future of the Shonga resting on her shoulders, Siku must journey to the source of the river to understand the ancient power hidden within her.

Critique: A large format (8 x 0.5 x 10.75 inches, 1.76 pounds), deftly scripted, impressively illustrated, and entertaining graphic novel for young readers ages 10-14, "Kariba" by the co-creator team of Daniel Clarke, James Clarke, and Daniel Snaddon is an inherently compelling read that will hold a special interest for fans of African Folk Tales and Action/Adventure Fantasy Fiction. "Kariba" is an unreservedly recommended pick for personal reading lists and elementary school, middle school, and community library Graphic Novel collections.

Editorial Note #1: Daniel Clarke is a Cape Town-based artist working in animation, film and illustration. He started his career in animation in 2008 at Triggerfish Animation Studios, a collaboration that has lasted up until today and has seen him act as Production Designer and Art director on projects such as the feature film Khumba, BBC's Stick Man and Snail and the Whale. As an illustrator and designer he has worked, amongst others, with clients such as Netflix, Animal Logic, The Line, National Geographic Kids, Nike, Adidas, and Penguin Random House. Daniel has worked as an illustrator and art director for international feature films such as Chronicle (Josh Trank, 2012); The Giver (Philip Noyce, 2014); and Chappie (Neil Blomkamp, 2015). Daniel recently directed Aau's Song, a Star Wars: Visions film from Lucasfilm, available on Disney+.

Editorial Note #2: James Clarke was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and educated at the University of Cape Town, where he studied history and literature and completed his Masters in Creative Writing as a Harry Crossley Fellow. In 2016, he was the South Africa finalist in fiction for the PEN International New Young Voices Award. Kariba is his first graphic novel collaboration.

Editorial Note #3: Daniel Snaddon ( is an artist, illustrator, and film director of Scottish-South African and Chinese-Australian descent, who grew up in Nelspruit, a short drive away from the Kruger National Park. He has worked in the animation and film industries for fourteen years, best known for his work with Triggerfish Animation Studios and with Magic Light Pictures' animated BBC Christmas specials. Daniel served as the founding director of CTIAF, South Africa's premiere animation festival, for 4 years.

Pearl of the Sea
Anthony Silverston, author
Raffaella Delle Donne, author
Willem Samuel, illustrator
Catalyst Press
9781946395740, $19.95, PB, 168pp

Synopsis: Since her mother left, Pearl has spent more and more time in the ocean, fishing to help her father pay the bills. But when she gets mixed up with a group of illegal abalone poachers and starts diving near a restricted wreck, Pearl meets an ancient sea monster named Otto -- who isn't quite as monstrous as she thought. And when Otto's enemies come back to finish what they started, Pearl is the only one who can save him, but only if she has the courage to let go of her past and open up to others -- including the girl from class she's got a crush on.

With her one-eyed pup sidekick and a whole lot of nerve, Pearl may just be able to save Otto and finally tell the truth to her father -- and, more importantly, to herself.

Critique: With vibrant full-color illustrations by Willem Samuel, "Pearl of the Sea" is a South African adventure story by co-authors Anthony Silverston and Raffaella Delle Donne that deftly explores in a graphic novel format we are all both bound to and freed by nature. A large format (7.75 x 0.5 x 10.5 inches, 1.2 pounds) paperback from Catalyst Press, "Pearl of the Sea" is the compelling and original story a teen-aged heroine who is determined to live life by her own rules highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as middle school and community library Graphic Novel collections for young readers ages 10-13.

Editorial Note #1: Anthony Silverston is partner and Head of Development at Triggerfish Animation Studios in South Africa where he is currently overseeing a slate of projects in development and production. These include Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire, an anthology of 10 short films in production with Disney+, Mama K's Team 4 with Netflix, and Kiya with Disney, eOne and Frogbox, as well as a number of feature films and TV series in development with various partners.

Editorial Note #2: Raffaella Delle Donne has over fifteen years of experience in the animation industry developing and creating content for Disney, eOne, Wekids, Snipple Animation, Netflix, Baobab Studios and Triggerfish Animation Studios. She was the TV Development Executive for the Triggerfish Studios/Disney Storylab that incubated Mama K's Team 4 and co-wrote the award-winning features Adventures in Zambezia and Khumba. Raffaella is currently a writer and Executive Creative Consultant on Kiya and the Kimoja Heroes, a new preschool show slated for release on Disney. (

Editorial Note #3: Willem Samuel ( is a visual artist working in animation and comic books. His autobiographical novel, Mengelmoes, was published in the UK by Soaring Penguin Press in 2016 to critical acclaim. His comic work has featured in zines internationally, including the cult series Bitterkomix and in cyberspace via the award-winning online anthology Aces Weekly, brainchild of David Lloyd (V for Vendetta). Previously, Willem Art Directed the pan-African comic Supa Strikas, which was adapted into an animated series. More recently he served as Head of Story on the animated feature Seal Team as well as creating concept art for the Warhammer+ streaming series, Hammer & Bolter.

YAHGZ: The Craynobi Tales
Art Baltazar, author/illustrator
9781545810590, $14.99, HC, 88pp

Synopsis: In the colorful pages of the graphic novel "YAHGZ: The Craynobi Tales" by author/artist Art Baltazar, young readers ages 7-12 will enjoying joining up with Craybi Craynobi and his son, Crayski Craynobi (the future chosen one with the chosen nose), as well as their many friends and allies like Weezerd the wise wizard, as they adventure through mythical lands to try to save the city of Yahgz and its people, the Yahgeez.

But are Craybi and Crayski enough to face the Giant Green Gorilla? Or even bigger foes as they ford a river of mud, or enter the Land of Ashes? Craybi and Crayski will need their wits and some helpful allies to help everyone!

Critique: "YAHGZ: The Craynobi Tales" by cartoonist Art Baltazar launches a fun and original new series of graphic novels that will be particularly prized for young fans of the genre. While a very highly recommended pick for elementary school and community library graphic novel collections for young readers, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "YAHGZ: The Craynobi Tales" is also available in a paperback edition (9781545810583, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Art Baltazar ( is a creative force behind The Eisner Award winning "Itty Bitty Hellboy" and the Eisner Award, Harvey Award Winning DC Comics' "Tiny Titans", as well as the artist of The DC "Super-Pets" children's book series. Artie also co-wrote DC's "Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam", Young Justice, Green Lantern Animated (comic) and is the artist/co-writer for the epics "Superman Family Adventures" and the new "Super Powers" series from DC comics. Recently, he became co-Founder of the AW YEAH COMICS comic shop and co-Creator of the AW YEAH COMICS comic book series starring Action Cat and Adventure Bug.

The Music CD Shelf

Buzz Buzz
Laurie Berkner
Kidz Bop Enterprises, LLC
$10.98 CD / $19.98 vinyl / $9.99 download

Buzz Buzz is a classic children's music album by Laurie Berkner, now in a fully remastered 25th anniversary edition released in the Kidz Bop label on all streaming platforms, on CD, and on vinyl. The playful tunes with whimsical lyrics are as appealing as ever. Buzz Buzz exemplifies the "gold standard" of children's music - fun, lively, and charming in a way that connects with parents, too! Highly recommended for both personal, public, and elementary school library children's music collections. The tracks are I Really Love To Dance, The Pretzel Store, Pig On Her Head, Bumblebee (Buzz Buzz), Telephone, There's A Little Wheel A-Turnin' In My Heart, Monster Boogie, In The Clouds, The Cookie Bakers Of The Night, The More We Get Together, I'm A Mess, Ice Cream Cone, Clean It Up, Little Red Caboose, Rum Sum Sum, Magic Box, The Valley Of Vegetables, Popcorn Calling Me, Lots Of Little Pigs, The Erie Canal, and I Had A Friend.

Resilient Child
Miss Julieann
Privately Published
$TBA digital

Award-winning children's musician and music therapist Miss Julieann presents Resilient Child, a family music CD created to do more than entertain. Resilient Child is based on Miss Julieann's work with children recovering from trauma, neglect, or abuse. The songs were written to help children and families develop the skills they need to build resilience against challenges and stress. The upbeat, heartwarming tunes carry strong positive message about going back to school, welcoming diversity, withstanding the physical and emotional tempests of everyday life, expressing gratitude, the importance of telling things to a responsible adult no matter how uncomfortable those things are to say, and much more. Resilient Child is highly recommended for both family, school, and public library children's music collections. The tracks are Who Are The People You Go To?, You Supported Me, Gratitude Song, Where Do You Feel Safe?, Hey Baby Lullaby, I Need A Break, Help Me, I Am Resilient, Silly Feeling Faces, Be A Tree, and I Am Enough.

Snow is Falling! Songs for Christmas, Hanukkah & Kwanzaa with Sukey Molloy
Sukey Molloy
Privately Published
$9.99 CD / $9.99 download

Snow is Falling! Songs for Christmas, Hanukkah & Kwanzaa with Sukey Molloy is a festive children's album of classic featuring classic winter holiday songs. Beloved children's performer Sukey Molloy brings timeless music about Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa to life with her upbeat performance. Snow is Falling! is a fun way to set the mood for children's holiday parties, and highly recommended. The tracks are Jingle Bells, A Holly Jolly Christmas, Oh Chanukah, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Sleigh Ride, Kwanzaa is Here, Frosty the Snowman, I Saw Three Ships, I Have a Little Dreidel, Up on the Housetop, Feliz Navidad, Hanukah Dance (Hanukkah), Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Greensleeves, Kwanzaa, Happy Joyous Hanuka (Hanukkah), Good King Wenceslas, and Snow Is Falling.

Mr. Greg & Cass McCombs Sing and Play New Folk Songs for Children
Mr. Greg and Cass McCombs
Smithsonian Folkways
$14.98 CD / $24.98 vinyl / $9.99 digital

Mr. Greg & Cass McCombs Sing and Play New Folk Songs for Children is a debut album of original children's songs by preschool teacher Mr. Greg and singer-songwriter Cass Mc Combs. The album is years in the making, tested in Mr. Greg's classroom and directly inspired by what school kids were saying. A warm and wonderful collection that sneaks a little bit of education into its lively tunes here and there, Mr. Greg & Cass McCombs Sing and Play New Folk Songs for Children is a choice pick for family, school, and public library children's music collections. The tracks are Little Wilma Wiggly Worm, Friends from All Around the World, J-O-B, Requiem for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, A Builder's Got a Hammer and Nails, Each One of Us, What's Your Favorite Kind?, I'm a Nocturnal Animal, Paper Airplane, My Skull Is Made Outta Bone, Wave a Flag for Harvey Milk, Things That Go in the Recycling Bin, Roll Around Downtown, Deciduous Tree, We Build a Lot of Muscle as We Exercise, The Sounds That the Letters Make, Who Are You?, Together with You, Oona Louise My Friend, and Friends From All Around The World.

Let's All Sing!
Susie Tallman & friends
Rock Me Baby Records
$9.99 CD / $9.49 MP3

Let's All Sing! is a joyous album especially ideal for children from infancy through age eight and their families. Beloved children's musician Susie Tallman invited several of her friends to collaborate in this joyous medley of classic tunes with a sprinkling of original songs. Let's All Sing! is highly recommended for family, school, and public library children's music collections. The tracks are Garden of Sounds, The Crawdad Song (with Scott Durbin), King Kong Kitchie, Pizza Pasta Opera (with Vivian Fang Liu), Liza Jane, Gotta Give Love (with Suzi Shelton), This Land is Your Land, The Green Grass Grows All Around, My Aunt Came Back, Live Cycle (with Shelly Ley), Take Me Out to the Ballgame (with Michael Reilly Burke), Over the River and Through the Woods, Peace Like a River (with Bianca Sings), Little Red Caboose (with Brady Rymer), Catch A Falling Star, and Che Che Koolay (with G. Kobiana Nakigan).

The Multimedia Shelf

Ammu's Treasures
Chandrika Tandon
Soul Chants Music

Inspired by a grandmother's desire to share meditation, memories, and wisdom with her grandchildren, Ammu's Treasures consists of two music CDs, a third CD of chants, two sticker sheets of cute animal characters meditating and making music, and a thick book of the song lyrics and chants on the CDs, with full-color pictures of the happy animal characters on every page. A small, square-shaped cardboard box neatly holds all of the items, enabling convenient storage. Chandrika Tandon created the entire compendium of 35 songs and 21 chants as "a hug for the world"! Numerous guest artists contributed to the music, which ranges from traditional folk tunes to French chansons, pop culture songs from the 50's and 60's, and more. The third CD, "Chants to the Light" is a 26-minute collection of 21 ancient Vedic chants set to Indian scales, ideal for fostering relaxation and meditation. Ammu's Treasures is a joy for parents and grandparents to share with their children, highly recommended. 137 minutes.

The Biography Shelf

Friend of Numbers
Priya Narayanan, author
Satwik Gade, illustrator
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
c/o Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
9780802856081, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Growing up in southern India during British rule, Srinivasa Ramanujan was fascinated by numbers: they made patterns that only he could see. Soon he spent as much time as he could in the world of mathematics, exploring concepts and trying to publish his ideas. In 1914, twenty-six-year-old Ramanujan sailed to England to work with the acclaimed mathematician G.H. Hardy. Cambridge University was so different from home, but Ramanujan's love of numbers kept him going. He had big questions to ask -- and important discoveries to make!

Critique: The collaborative work of author/storyteller Priya Narayanan and artist/illustrator Satwik Gade, "Friend of Numbers: The Life of Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan" is captivating biography that follows the short but brilliant life of a man recognized as a genius in his time and ours. With bright, occasionally amusing art and an informative section of back matter, "Friend of Numbers" offers young readers ages 5-9 a biographical introduction to of one of history's most incredible mathematical minds. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.09), "Friend of Numbers: The Life of Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan" is a very special and unreservedly recommended pick for elementary school and community library picture book biography sections for young readers.

Editorial Note #1: Priya Narayanan is a writer, poet, and interior architect based in Ahmedabad, India. While researching Friend of Numbers, she traveled to many places associated with Srinivasa Ramanujan, including his homes in Kumbakonam and Chennai, India, and in Cambridge, England. Visit Priya's website at and follow her on Twitter @moonspotting

Editorial Note #2: Satwik Gade is an artist and designer whose work is inspired by comics, Indian mythology, and Impressionist art. He lives in India, where he is the political cartoonist for the newspaper The Hindu. Follow Satwik on Instagram @satwikgade

The Little Books of the Little Brontes
Sara O'Leary, author
Briony May Smith, illustrator
Tundra Books
9780735263697, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Many years ago, the four motherless children of the Bronte family (Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne) lived in a windswept house by the moors with their father. Although their lives were often filled with sadness and their world was only as large as the distance they could walk, their inner worlds were bound only by their imaginations. Hungry for stories, these children devoured novels and poetry, history and fables. And with the gift of a group of toy soldiers, they were inspired to make their own stories, and their own tiny books -- a passion that would last them a lifetime.

A moving and atmospheric story about the power of imagination, the joy of storytelling and the love of books, "The Little Books of the Little Brontes" by author/storyteller Sara O'Leary and artist/illustrator Briony May Smith will enchant both those who admire these literary sisters and those who are learning about them for the first time. Of special note is the includion of an author's note, a timeline of the Brontes' lives, and a fun craft with instructions on creating a personal little book.

Critique: Fun, informative, special, and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library picture book biography collections for young readers ages 5-9, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Little Books of the Little Brontes" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Sara O'Leary ( is the Canadian author of many beloved picture books for children, including This Is Sadie, which was adapted by the New York City Children's Theatre, and its follow-up, This Is Ruby. Among her most recent books for children are Gemma and the Giant Girl, the recipient of several honors in Canada, and Maud and Grand-Maud, which received three starred reviews. Sara is also the author of the adult novel A Ghost in the House. A graduate of the UBC Creative Writing Program, she has taught screenwriting and writing for children at Concordia University in Montreal.

Editorial Note #2: Briony May Smith ( is the creator of The Mermaid Moon and Margaret's Unicorn, which has been licensed in ten countries and also appeared on the Indie Bestseller list. Her other published books in the U.S. include Imelda and the Goblin King, which the Wall Street Journal called "enchantingly illustrated." She lives in the UK.

Traveling Shoes
Alice Faye Duncan, author
Keith Mallett, illustrator
Calkins Creek
9781635925807, $18.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: Future Olympian Willye B. White was born in 1939 in Money, Mississippi -- but money was exactly what she didn't have. Abandoned by both her parents, she worked alongside her grandparents in the cotton fields. Willye had big dreams, though. So when her cousin noticed she was the fastest runner around, Willye jumped at the chance to put on her traveling shoes and run her way to better opportunities. And run Willye did, first for the Tennessee State Tigerbelles and then for the US Olympic team. Her struggles weren't over though -- time and again, Willye had to remind herself, "I believe in me", whether she was running and jumping or witnessing the turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement.

Critique: "Traveling Shoes: The Story of Willye White, US Olympian and Long Jump Champion" showcases author/storyteller Alice Faye Duncan's signature combination of poetry and prose combined with artist/illustrator Keith Mallett's lifelike illustrations. Young readers ages 7-10 will be inspired by this picture book story of Willye White's persistence and will learn how she contributed to Black progress with muscle and grit. While a strongly recommended pick for family, elementary school, and community library picture book biography and African-American biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Traveling Shoes: The Story of Willye White, US Olympian and Long Jump Champion" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note #1: Alice Faye Duncan ( is the author of multiple children's books, including Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop, which received a 2019 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. Her most recent books include Opal Lee and What it Means to Be Free, Evicted!, and Yellow Dog Blues, illustrated by Chris Raschka.

Editorial Note #2: Keith Mallett ( is a painter, etcher, and ceramic artist, who has been nominated for the NAACP Image Award. In 2017, he created the Google doodle celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. He has multiple picture books, including Runaway: The Daring Escape of Ona Judge, and Curve & Flow: The Elegant Vision of L.A. Architect Paul R. Williams.

The Mythology Shelf

A Natural History of Magical Beasts
Emily Hawkins, author
Jessica Roux, illustrator
Frances Lincoln Children's Books
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780711278820, $30.00, HC, 64pp

Synopsis: Tales of magical creatures have been told across the world for generations. But are these stories merely flights of fancy, or is there any truth to the legends of unicorns and dragons, centaurs and griffins?

Presented as the notebook of a 1920s zoologist, "A Natural History of Magical Beasts" is a lavish volume that sets out to answer this question, revealing the hidden world of the magical beasts that live among us. Within these pages young readers will meet bizarre and beautiful creatures from around the globe, discovering their habits, habitats and the legends surrounding them. Learn about the anatomy of a unicorn, the life cycle of a phoenix, incredible dragon courtship dances and much more in this ultimate guide to magical creatures.

This exquisitely illustrated album will entrance all true-believers and fantasy enthusiasts.

Critique: "A Natural History of Magical Beasts" is the fourth volume in the Frances Lincoln Children's Books series ("A Natural History of Fairies", "A Natural History of Magick" and "A Natural History of Mermaids"). In the form and format of a vintage notebook, "A Natural History of Magical Beasts" is an impressive and charming collection of beautifully illustrated compendiums on topics of lore and legend. Fascinating facts are accompanied by breathtaking illustrations, all presented in an engaging narrative form. The collaborative project of author Emily Hawkins and artist/illustrator Jessica Roux, "A Natural History of Magical Beasts" is a stellar and unreservedly recommended pick for family, elementary school, and community library Folktale/Mythology collections for young readers ages 6-10.

Editorial Note #1: Once a children's book editor, Emily Hawkins is now a full-time author. Her work has been featured on the New York Times bestseller list (Oceanology, 2009) as well as winning the Children's Travel Book of the Year Award (Atlas of Animal Adventures, 2016). Along with her background in children's non-fiction Emily has a strong interest in myth, folklore and storytelling. In 2020 she wrote A Natural History of Fairies, which has been translated into twelve languages, selling more than 100,000 copies worldwide. Emily holds a first-class English degree from Nottingham University, and lives in Winchester, UK.

Editorial Note #2: Jessica Roux ( is a Nashville-based illustrator and plant and animal enthusiast. She loves exploring in her own backyard and being surrounded by an abundance of nature. Using subdued colors and rhythmic shapes, she renders flora, fauna, food, and many other things with intricate detail reminiscent of old world beauty. Her first book with Frances Lincoln was A Natural History of Fairies (September 2020).

The Christian Shelf

The Treasure: Ancient Story Ever New of Jesus and His Church
Mary Machowski, author
Flavia Sorrentino, illustrator
New Growth Press
9781645073161, $29.99, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Treasure: Ancient Story Ever New of Jesus and His Church) (and in the tradition of his well-loved bestsellers "The Ology" and "WonderFull"), author Marty Machowski deftly weaves a study of the Bible with that of a fictional story.

"The Treasure" follows the adventures of Mira and Theos who discover a sea captain's personal journal which offers clues to a hidden treasure. They can only solve the riddle of the treasure by studying two ancient scrolls, the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. Young readers ages 8 to 12 will enjoy embarking on their journey with the siblings as they solve their puzzle and the discover the captain's treasure -- Christ!

While these New Testament books are often thought of as two separate books telling different stories, they are really two halves of one greater story recorded by Luke. Through Luke's retelling of Jesus's work on earth and the Spirit's work in growing the church, we see the Father's love on full display. "The Treasure" will help children grow in their knowledge and love of God.

Critique: Charmingly illustrated with 'kid friendly', full color drawings throughout by Flavia Sorrentino, this hardcover edition of "The Treasure: Ancient Story Ever New of Jesus and His Church" by Marty Machowski and flawlessly published by New Growth Press will prove a very welcome, informative, thought-provoking, entertaining, and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, Sunday School, and community library Bible themed collections for children.

Editorial Note #1: Marty Machowski ( is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA, where he has served on the pastoral staff for over thirty years. He is the author of a number of family devotionals, curricula (including the Gospel Story for Kids), children's books, and parenting titles. His latest releases include Darkest Night Brightest Day, The Light Before Christmas, and Angels on Your Side.

Editorial Note #2: Flavia Sorrentino ( lives and works as a freelance illustrator in Rome, where she grew up. She loves her city and the figure of speech, "Rome wasn't built in a day," which inspires her each day to seek new ways of communication and expression. She has worked hard on her technique which has taken her across the globe, from France to America and beyond!

Montana's Mission: Protecting the Forest
Victor Hess
Independently Published
9780999564066, $10.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook

Montana's Mission: Protecting the Forest is the second book in the Christian children's adventure series The Wesley Club Adventures, introduced in Florence's Journey: Proving Something). It follows events in the late 1950s as young Montana MacCarthy fosters a special appreciation of God and nature as part of an adventure club charged with three rules of conduct: "First, do no harm. Second, do all the good you can; and Third, do all you can to be close to God." Lofty ideals for young people, but Montana and the five other kids from confirmation class strive to make the most of their lives and make the most positive impact in the world by tackling mysteries and situations most adults would either bypass or not see.

Family picnics, church outings, and community ties might not seem exciting topics for a children's book, but Victor Hess brings the kids and their lives to rich reality, presenting their unique abilities, their upbringing and connections, and the mysteries that permeate their world. Their explorations of the natural world that surrounds them and the dilemmas involving its interactions with the community brings the added value of an appreciation for all of God's creatures into the fold of an adventure that rests on growing mysteries and conundrums that test the kids' spiritual and psychological mettle. As clues mount in a mystery that involves beavers, rabbits, and other creatures, the young investigators and their followers come to new realizations about their lives, missing eagles, and the forces that work within and against the community (and, perhaps, God).

Libraries and readers looking for a special brand of Christian fiction for young people that melds adventure with experiences that lead the young characters to become Wildlife Agents on a new mission will find the blend of intrigue and spiritual and mystery issues in Montana's Mission: Protecting the Forest an outstanding read. It furthers the Wesley Club members' connections to each other and the human and natural communities around them.

The Atlas Shelf

My First Atlas of the World, third edition
Skye Powers-Kaminsk, writer/expert
National Geographic Kids
c/o National Geographic Press
9781426374197, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: This newly updated third edition of "My First Atlas of the World" ensures that even the youngest explorers will have the most current information available to help them understand the world. Simple, colorful maps teach kids about Earth's land, water, and countries. Bright, bold pictures and lively, accessible text showcase the world's people, places, and animals. Readers will learn elementary mapping skills and concepts such as the difference between a globe and a map, along with answers to such questions as "What is a continent?" and "Where is the ocean?"

Features of this new edition include: Instructions for how to read and understand a map; 4 world maps; 7 continent maps; a United States map; a map of Canada, as well as Mexico and Central America maps; a Glossary and Pronunciation Guide; along with Fun Facts sprinkled throughout -- a whole lot more!

Critique: Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, this large format hardcover edition (10.56 x 0.36 x 13.75 inches, 1.45 pounds) colorful atlas is ideal for use with children ages 3-5 and is especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library children's Maps/Atlas collections.

Editorial Note #1: Skye Powers-Kaminski is a National Geographic certified educator with a bachelor's degree in environmental geography and a master's in science and social studies education. With more than 20 years in the field of education, she has extensive experience in curriculum design and instruction. She has a passion for biogeography education and enjoys helping others develop an understanding and connection between ourselves, nature, and the cultural and physical world.

Editorial Note #2: The National Geographic and maps go together like latitude and longitude. For more than 130 years, National Geographic maps have helped spread geographic knowledge to people around the world. Eye-catching graphic elements give the maps their distinctive look and enhance their readability. National Geographic combines the latest data gathered by space-age technology with innovative mapping techniques to create state-of-the-art political, physical, and thematic maps. Meticulous research and attention to detail have established a standard of excellence that is recognized worldwide.

National Geographic Kids Beginner's United States Atlas
Skye Powers-Kaminski, writer/expert
National Geographic Kids
c/o National Geographic Press
9781426374203, $19.99, HC, 128pp

Synopsis: The United States of America is a very big country, and the cartographic experts at National Geographic want young readers ages 7-10 to have the engaging tools and resources they need to explore and understand it. This fully revised and updated fourth edition of the "National Geographic Kids Beginner's United States Atlas" features large, vibrant maps custom designed for children, along with bright, bold photographs and lively text that bring the nation's people, places, and natural wonders to life.

Featuring are: Empowering instructions for how to read and understand maps; Colorful physical and political United States maps; 50 state maps designed to make it easy to find towns, cities, and physical features such as mountains, rivers, and lakes; Lively essays highlighting each state's unique character and strengths; Regional maps that provide a broad context for each state's location; A feature on United States territories; More than 200 colorful photographs; United States facts at a glance, such as the largest cities, the highest mountain, and the largest states by area -- and more!

Critique: Not only is this newly updated fourth edition of "National Geographic Kids Beginner's United States Atlas" a core and necessary addition to family, elementary school, and community library Atlas/Maps collections for children, it should be noted that it is also readily available for personal use in a paperback edition (9781426375224, $13.99, 128pp).

Editorial Note #1: Skye Powers-Kaminski is a National Geographic certified educator with a bachelor's degree in environmental geography and a master's in science and social studies education. With more than 20 years in the field of education, she has extensive experience in curriculum design and instruction. She has a passion for biogeography education and enjoys helping others develop an understanding and connection between ourselves, nature, and the cultural and physical world.

Editorial Note #2: The National Geographic and maps go together like latitude and longitude. For more than 130 years, National Geographic maps have helped spread geographic knowledge to people around the world. Eye-catching graphic elements give the maps their distinctive look and enhance their readability. National Geographic combines the latest data gathered by space-age technology with innovative mapping techniques to create state-of-the-art political, physical, and thematic maps. Meticulous research and attention to detail have established a standard of excellence that is recognized worldwide.

Books in Series

Becky's Choice: A Ghost's Story
Diane Green
DCG Books
9798986589992, $12.95

Becky's Choice: A Ghost's Story is another Becky Chalmers story for ages 13 and older. It promises a ghostly plot, but adds in unexpected romance and intrigue to embed Becky's story with many attractive elements.

History and mystery collide when Becky, now fifteen, explores the New Jersey State Archives with her historian uncle, only to unearth a ghost haunting the annex's hallway. The ghost presents Becky with story embedded with a dilemma and tragedy, opening with a smooth recap of the six-member family's structure to set the stage for newcomers to Becky's world who may be unfamiliar with her prior exploits.

At this point, it should be noted that this is a faith-based series that will especially interest Christian readers. References embrace this fact as Becky confronts not only revised reality, but her own fears. Its survey of life (and afterlife) challenges includes considerations of bigger-picture thinking about ethics and morals as Becky enters into unfamiliar territory that forces her to make some unusual choices.

Another notable facet of the story is that intrigue and history are crafted in just under a hundred pages. This will especially draw reluctant readers who typically eschew complicated plots or long-winded descriptions, as well as modern generations attracted to shorter works that pack a punch. Becky's family interactions also take center stage, which creates a fuller-flavored story than most writings for this age group, which focus on young protagonists who seem to be alone in their quests for truth and their adventures.

Family is not far in the background of Becky's world, here. The result is a compelling brand of entertainment and thought-provoking historical mystery that both adds to the Becky Chalmers experience (and series) and stands nicely alone for newcomers. Libraries and readers seeking a story that pulls through its vivid, realistic focus on problem-solving and achievement will find Becky's Choice: A Ghost's Story notable and worthy of pursuit.

Find Me in Time: Mission Apollo
L.T. Caton
Find Me In Time IP Holdings, LLC
9788987396131, $8.99

The second book in the Find Me in Time series, Mission Apollo, brings middle grade readers to the Tree House Club's second adventure -- following the moon landing via a personal experience of time travel. Aaron, Emma, Ashley, Keith, and Harry embark on a journey that brings them to Mission Control and the making of the Apollo mission, but spies and intrigue emerge to affect not only the moon landing effort, but the history and involvement of the kids.

L.T. Caton contrasts real efforts made in the moon landing with a scenario in which five proactive children find themselves personally engaged in the making of history. The first-person story is replete with science, a "you are here" feel revolving around the Apollo mission, and the special abilities of savvy kids to observe things the adults around them tend to miss. From connections between Apollo and civil rights efforts to the milieu of the 60s and struggles for equality and achievement, many of the underlying social patterns of the past are also revealed as the kids observe and learn new things.

Caton's ability to bring history to life through the young observers' eyes and experiences makes this second book in the time travel series just as compelling and educational as the first. Libraries and readers seeking time travel journeys that involve proactive kids of the future becoming actively involved in outcomes of the past will find Mission Apollo displays the mantle of a mystery, the power of history, and the emotional connections of kids who do more than quietly observe the past. They actively engage with it -- thus participating in their futures.

Terrific Toddlers
Carol Zeavin and Rhona Silverbush, authors
Jon Davis, illustrator

Terrific Toddlers is a nine book series written for and about children ages 1-3 by co-authors Carol Zeavin and Rhona Silverbush -- and charmingly illustrated by the artistry of Jon Davis.

"Boo-Boo!" (9781433828751, $14.99, HC, 16pp) When JoJo falls down and hurts her chin, her dad tries to help her boo-boo. But JoJo is scared! Her dad helps her understand that boo-boos aren't so scary. Boo-Boo! is about small cuts and scrapes and includes a Note to Parents and Caregivers about helping toddlers with minor injuries.

"All Mine!" (9781433828775, $8.99, HC, 16pp) Ava, Kai, and JoJo are playing with their toys at school, but they aren't ready to share and take turns. Can the teacher help them out? Written with simple language and reflective of children's realities "All Mine!" is based on an understanding of the developmental level of young toddlers.

"Bye-Bye!" (9781433828768, $8.99, HC, 16pp) It's hard for toddlers to say bye-bye sometimes, especially to Mommy and Daddy! "Bye-Bye!" is a book written for toddlers about separation, reassuring them that mommies and daddies always come back. It also includes a Note to Parents and Caregivers about helping toddlers with saying goodbye.

"Potty!" (9781433832512, $8.99 HC, $8.54 Kindle, 16pp) Potty! is a reassuring potty training story for toddlers that offers insight into the many stages that kids can be in. It includes more information for parents about supporting toddlers as they build the bridge to potty training.

"New Baby!" (9781433832505), $8.99 HC, $8.54 Kindle, 16pp) In New Baby! toddlers expecting a new addition to the family don't know exactly what will happen, and it can be confusing and emotionally challenging. Through the introduction of the new sibling, to the incorporation of it into daily life, toddlers will be reassured that while things will be different, mom and dad still love them just the same and have enough love for the new baby, too. Included in "New Baby!" is information for parents and caregivers about reassuring a toddler that they will not be forgotten when they have a new sibling.

"Time To Go!" (9781433832529, $8.99 HC, $8.54 Kindle, 16pp) Sometimes toddlers don't want to go, don't want to leave, don't want to stop what they are doing! "Time To Go!" is a book for toddlers about leaving when they don't want to or ending an activity they don't want to stop. Also included is useful information for parents and caregivers about helping you and toddlers have an easier time when it's time to go.

"Haircut!" (9798987655719, $8.99, PB, 24pp) What does it mean to get a haircut? JoJo, Jack and Kai don't quite know -- they just know they don't want them! See JoJo's and Jack's mommies and Kai's daddy help them navigate their haircuts in this reassuring book for toddlers who may have fears about the process. There is an invaluable 'Note to Parents and Caregivers' offering tips for dealing with haircut reluctant toddlers at the end.

"School!" (9798987655702, $8.99, PB, 24pp) Jack's first day of preschool is here! What will happen there? Will he like it? Join Jack as his mommy and his teacher help him adjust to this major addition to his life in this reassuring book for toddlers about the sorts of activities they will encounter at preschool.

"Grocery Store" (9798987655726, $8.99, PB, 24pp) Toddlers love going to the grocery store! ...Except when they don't! JoJo, Jack, Ava and Kai all go on the same day but have four very different experiences. This is a useful and age appropriate book for toddlers (and their parents, too) about the adventure that is the Grocery Store!

Critique: An outstanding series for very young children with respect to their having to deal with real live demands and stresses -- and their parents and caregivers who want to help them deal emotionally, physically, and socially with those inevitable encounters, activities and decisions. While each title is available separately, families, daycare center, preschools, and community libraries would be well advised to acquire the entire nine titles series for use with very young children.

Editorial Note #1: Carol Zeavin earned her BA in music from UCLA and became a successful freelance orchestral violinist and chamber musician in New York City. She earned master's degrees in education and special education from Bank Street College and worked with infants and toddlers from 1992 to 2010, both as head teacher at Rockefeller University's Child and Family Center and Barnard's Toddler Development Center, and as a special educator employed by Y.A.I. and Theracare. She continues to perform classical music in NYC and teaches violin and piano to kids and grownups of all ages and abilities.

Editorial Note #2: Rhona Silverbush ( co-author of the Terrific Toddlers series, studied psychology and theater at Brandeis University and holds a juris doctor from Boston College Law School. Rhona is the co-author of Speak the Speech! Shakespeare's Monologues Illuminated (Faber and Faber, 2002) and has taught theater to all age groups from tots to adults. She has taught at Columbia University Teachers College and is also a freelance writer and editor and a consultant for families of children and teens with learning differences and special needs.

Editorial Note #3: Jon Davis ( is an award-winning illustrator who has illustrated more than 70 books, including the Terrific Toddlers Series for Magination Press. He works digitally, in Photoshop with a tablet and pen and based in the Lake District, England. He can be followed on Twitter: @JonDavisIllust

The Child's World, Inc.

A premier publisher of children's books, The Child's World has launched 'Machines at Work', a new series for kids ages 4-8 showcasing a variety machines that help to make the world we live in today.

"Fire Trucks" by Cynthia Amoroso (9781503869561, $32.79, HC, 24pp, Ages 4-8) Wee-ooo! A fire truck speeds past! Learn about the emergencies fire trucks are used for, and what makes them so important.

"Garbage Trucks" by Marv Alinas (9781503880801, $32.79, HC, 24pp, Ages 5-6) Crunch! A garbage truck picks up a trash can and empties it! Learn more about the different types of garbage trucks, and find out what happens when you take out the trash.

"Dump Trucks" by Cynthia Amaoroso (9781503869554, $32.79, HC, 24pp, Ages 5-6)
Crunch! A garbage truck picks up a trash can and empties it! Learn more about the different types of garbage trucks, and find out what happens when you take out the trash.

"Tow Trucks" by Cynthia Amoroso (9781503880818, $32.79, HC, 24pp, Ages 5-6) How are tow trucks used? What are the special parts of a tow truck? How do tow trucks work? Learn more about these important trucks!

"Trains" by Hall Rogers (9781503880825, $32.79, HC, 24pp, Ages 1-7) Roar! A train speeds past! Find out what trains carry in their many cars, from people to building supplies and fuel.

"Airplanes" by Cynthia Amoroso (9781503869493, $32.79, 24pp, Ages 5-6) Zoom! A huge plane is flying overhead! Learn more about the different types of airplanes, from passenger jets to cargo planes.

"Concrete Mixers" by Jean Eick (9781503869523, $32.79, 24pp, Ages 4-6) Whirr! A concrete mixer's drum spins round and round! Learn more about why these big machines never stop moving.

"Bulldozers" by Marv Alinas (9781503869509, $32.79, HC, 24pp, Ages 5-6) Smash! A massive bulldozer flattens a building! Learn more about how bulldozers move over any surface, and find out what they are used for.

"Diggers" by Marv Alinas (9781503869547, $32.79, HC, 24pp, Ages 5-6) Buckets, booms, and backhoes are just a few of the cool parts on these interesting machines.

"Cranes" by Marv Alinas (9781503869530, $32.79, HC, 24pp, Ages 5-6) Clank! A crane drops a steel beam on top of a skyscraper! Find out more about wrecking balls, heavy loads, and other things a crane might lift.

"Cherry Pickers" by Hal Rogers (9781503869516, $32.79, HC, 24pp, Ages 4-6) Buzz! A worker in a cherry picker cuts a power line high above the trees! Learn more about how cherry pickers work and what they are used for.

"Tractors" by Hal Rogers (9781503880832, $32.79, HC, 24pp, Ages 5-6) Chug! Chug! A tractor rumbles across a corn field! Find out about the many jobs a tractor can do, and learn about where they are important.

Critique: Each individual library bound, full color illustrated, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' title provides additional features to aid comprehension including a table of contents, informative sidebars and captions, an activity, critical-thinking questions, sources for further research, a phonetic glossary, an index, and an introduction to the author. Individually or as a complete set, these "Machines at Work" titles are unreservedly recommended for preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for young children.

Editorial Note: The Child's World is an independent, family-owned company that has been publishing books for schools and libraries since 1968. They strive to create educational books that children will enjoy reading.

The Child's World, Inc.

Deftly compiled by Pam Rosenberg and charmingly illustrated by Mernie Gallagher-Cole, The Child's World has published a new series of library bound and thoroughly 'kid friendly' joke books for young readers ages 6-9 -- each of them having a particular theme to their humor.

"Doctor Jokes" (9781503880733, $32.79, HC, 22pp) Doctor, doctor! If you want to know what you should do if you accidentally swallow a harmonica, this is the book for you! Kids will have fun reading and repeating these physician-related funnies.

"Food Jokes" (9781503880757, $32.79, HC, 24pp) Don't tell an egg a joke unless you want it to crack up! Food Jokes is the perfect kid-friendly compilation of quips that will keep the entire family giggling at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

"Space Jokes" (9781503880771, $32.79, HC, 24pp) Why did the astronaut take a mop into space? To clean up the stardust! How is a telephone like the planet Saturn? They both have rings! Kids are sure to enjoy reading and telling these out-of this-world jokes.

"Sports Jokes" (9781503880788, $32.79, HC, 24pp) How do you start a firefly race? Why is tennis such a noisy game? How do robins get in shape? Just how many sports jokes can you get into one book? You will soon discover the answers to all these questions! This book will keep your fellow fans giggling throughout the game!

"Dinosaur Jokes" (9781503880740, $32.79, HC, 24pp) How do dinosaurs pay their bills? With Tyrannosaurus checks! What should you do if a dinosaur sneezes? Why, get out of the way, of course! These are just two of the dinosaur jokes that will have you laughing and rolling on the floor until your stomach is, well, saurus.

"Animal Jokes" (9781503880726, $32.79, HC, 24pp) Did you ever wonder why the whale crossed the road, or what you get if you cross a cow with an octopus? Young readers will enjoy a clever and creative selection of riddles and jokes related to four-legged, feathered, and finned creatures.

"Holiday Jokes" (9781503880764, $32.79, HC, 24pp) Want to know what kind of music the Pilgrims played? Ever wonder why vampires can't play baseball in the daytime? You'll find the answers to these silly questions in this book. From Valentines Day through Christmas, you can keep your family and friends ho-ho-ho-ing throughout the holidays with these great jokes.

"Riddles" (9781503880795, $32.79, HC, 24pp) What do you call a book that both tickles your funny bone and tests your brain? That's an easy one: Hah-Larious Riddles! Here are dozens of riddles to keep your noggin working hard!

Critique: Highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library humor book collections for young readers, each title also features a table of contents, informational sidebars, a phonetic glossary, a fun-facts section, critical-thinking questions, sources for further research, and an index.

Editorial Note: The Child's World is an independent, family-owned company that has been publishing books for schools and libraries since 1968. They strive to create educational books that children will enjoy reading.

Child's Play

Child's Play is a premier publisher of books for children. 'First Feelings' is their newest series of board books by artist/illustrator Paula Bowles for very young children ages 6 months to two years.

Developed in conjunction with a child psychologist, these board books focus on the six main emotions experienced by very young children. Featuring non-gendered characters and avoiding stereotypical associations of color and emotion, each book introduces the child to the feelings raised by one dominate emotion. Coping strategies are discussed where necessary. Written with both neurodivergent and neurotypical readers in mind this outstanding series includes:

"When I Feel Loved" (9781786287502, $6.99, 12pp) is a warm book about feeling love. A calming book about feeling angry. 'When I Feel Loved' also includes examples of expressing affection without physical contact.

"When I Feel Happy" (9781786287489, $6.99, 12pp) is about feeling happy -- even when we talk about it easily.

"When I Feel Scared" (9781786287458, $6.99, 12pp) is a comforting board book about feeling scared -- as well as a calming board book about feeling angry.

"When I Feel Surprised" (9781786287496, $6.99, 12pp) is a reassuring book about feeling surprised -- and another calming board book about feeling angry.

"When I Feel Sad" (9781786287472, $6.99, 12pp) is a validating book about feeling sad, as well as a calming book about feeling angry.

"When I Feel Angry" (9781786287465, $6.99, 12pp) is focused on how to deal with feeling angry.

Critique: Developed in conjunction with a child psychologist and charmingly illustrated in full color, each of these large format (7.75 x 0.5 x 7.75 inches) board books on emotions and feelings is truly exceptional and especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections.

Editorial Note: Paula Bowles ( grew up in a house full of animals, and spent much of her time drawing and making comics with her brother. Having discovered she could actually do drawing as a job, she studied illustration at Falmouth College of Arts, graduating in 2005. She now lives and works as a freelance illustrator in Bristol, UK. Paula has illustrated books for publishers like Bloomsbury, The National Trust and Random House. She loves drawing cute, funny characters and writing her own stories too.

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

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