Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / Children's Bookwatch

Children's Bookwatch

Volume 18, Number 4 April 2008 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Poetry Shelf Christian Studies Shelf
Audiobook Shelf Fiction Shelf Books in Series
Music Shelf Picturebook Shelf Bilingual Shelf
Science Shelf DVD Shelf Biography Shelf
American History Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf Judaic Storybook Shelf
Easy Reader Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Alphabetland: The Story of Y
Rick McAtee, author
Barbara Hammons, illustrator
Turning a New Page
PO Box 91603, Tucson, AZ 85752
9780976203056, $14.95

The latest in the educational "Alphabetland" series designed to teach young people about phonics through storytelling that anthropomorphizes the letters of the English alphabet, Alphabetland: The Story of Y tells how the curious consonant "Y" came to be at the center of a destructive conflict between the consonants and the vowels. Both the consonants and the vowels want Y to join them, but neither side thinks to ask Y what she wants! At last the wise old letter Z puts a stop to the fighting, and the letters of the alphabet hear out Y's wish: to be a consonant that sometimes makes special sounds like the vowels. Z decrees, "If Y only wants to be different some of the time, she could borrow one of the vowel sounds we already have. This will work only if the vowels agree to lend one of their sounds. It can not be a new sound." Together, the letters of the alphabet accept this compromise - mostly (there will always be some who say that Y is a vowel because it can make an i or e sound), and work together rebuilding Alphabetland. The simple, engaging color pictures bring to life this delightful allegorical tale in a superb series for reading aloud to young people. Highly recommended, especially for public library collections of children's books.

Too Much
Linda Taylor West, author
illustrated by Shangrila Studio
Little Britches Children's Books
PO Box 1188, Willow, AK 99688
9780979818929, $12.95

Too Much is a children's picturebook about the importance of restraining one's appetite and eating a healthy balanced diet. Simple rhyme brings home a message that all children need to learn as early as possible, especially in today's modern era of rising child obesity rates. "Your body will love you, be healthy and strong, / If you feed it wisely you'll never go wrong. // Let's not forget some things that are fun. / But, remember, nothing should be overdone." Cheerful, cartoony illustrations help bring home the point in this invaluable and positive-minded book highly recommended for both children's library and children's private collections.

Arnie and His School Tools
Jennifer Veenendall
Autism Asperger Publishing Company
PO Box 23173, Shawnee Mission, KS 66283
9781934575154, $21.95 1-877-277-8254

Written and illustrated by school-based occupational therapist Jennifer Veenendall, Arnie and His School Tools: Simple Sensory Solutions That Build Success is a children's picturebook about Arnie, a young boy with sensory modulation difficulties - that is, he's a "mover". His body needs to move, and his hands need to be busy, which makes it hard to sit still in school and pay attention to his teachers! What is a naturally restless boy to do? Fortunately, his parents and teachers instruct him in simple helpful strategies, including fidgets, chewy pencil toppers, earplugs, headphones, ball cushions, weighted vests, and more, as well as the use of natural physical movement to help keep his body calm and enable his mind to focus. Arnie and His School Tools is no ordinary picturebook; it's also a useful teaching aid for occupational therapists, teachers, and parents helping elementary children understand helpful basic sensory tools. "Sometimes I jump on our mini-trampoline, and at other times I jump and crash into our couch pillows. All these things help calm my body and my mind so I can get my homework done." Suggested discussion questions, a list of resources for children and parents, and helpful websites round out this enthusiastically recommended picturebook, especially for public and elementary school libraries.

Kimbo Educational
PO Box 477T, Long Branch, NJ 07740-0477 1-800-631-2187

When it comes to children, music can serve a variety of purposes and functions including recreation, education, and motor skill development. Kimbo Educational has five specialized music CDs that are perfect for use with preschool, daycare and kindergarten children. Ronno and Liz Jones-Twomey's award-winning "Catch a Brain Wave Fitness Fun" (KIM 9191CD) offers seventeen lively tunes for guided movement and fitness that will also enhance listening skills and creative movement activity specifically designed to stimulate brain development. "Moving to Math" (KIM 9189CD) by Pam Schiller provides children with twenty-two musical songs, dances, and games to develop their math literacy. Georgiana Stewart's "One Foot On, One Foot Off" (KIM 9196) comprises six vocal and six instrumental tunes for basic floor and balance beam motor skills. Ideal for use individual or with small groups, "It's Fun To Clap" (KIM 9195CD) by registered music therapist William C. Janiak features twelve coal and music numbers whose slow, repetitive songs and music-based activities are designed to improve speech, language and communication skills. "Yoga And You: Basic Yoga Techniques For Beginners" (KIM 9192CD) by yoga instructor Rachelle Goldsmith combines narration with music to take children through a step-by-step process that will aid in strengthening their bodies through controlled stretching that incorporates creative visualization and develops calmness of mind and spirit. All of these superbly recorded Kimbo Educational titles are enthusiastically recommended for family, daycare, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.

The Poetry Shelf

John Frank
Roaring Brook Press
33 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003
9781596431973, $17.95 1-800-462-4703

A well crafted poem is an effective inducement for parents and teachers seeking to interest children in reading as a personal pastime. Profusely illustrated throughout with the color photography of Ken Robbins, "Keepers: Treasure-Hunt Poems" by John Frank is a collection of thirty poems that are specifically and successfully intended to interest young readers. The poems are thematically organized into five major sections according to where childhood treasures are to be found: At the Beach; In the Attic; In the Mountain and Desert; At the Flea Market; Beneath the Ground. A delightful compendium of superbly crafted, thoroughly 'kid friendly' verse, "Keepers" would make a popular and welcome addition to personal, school, and community library poetry collections for young readers (and not-so-young readers who are still young at heart!). 'Comic Book': Good ol' Clark Kent,/That mild-mannered reporter,/on sale at a swap meet,/a buck and a quarter.//Not bad for a comic/in decent condition--/I wish, thought, that it were/a mint first-edition.

How To Catch a Fish
John Frank, author
Peter Sylvada, illustrator
Roaring Brook Press
33 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003
9781596431638, $17.95 1-800-462-4703

Written by Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book author John Frank, How To Catch a Fish is a unique children's picturebook offering thirteen different poems about fishing under different conditions worldwide. The soft, slightly abstract yet vividly evocative illustrations by Christopher Medal-winning artist Peter Sylvada perfectly complement the primal rhythm of the verses. For example, the poem that describes seine fishing in Turtle Bay, Tobago reads, "Within the early hours of day / we launch our small boat from the beach / and spread our net out on the bay, / then shortly after drag it back / upon the shore, and sort the catch- / anchovy, tuna, kingfish, jack- / and if we're lucky there'll be lots / to fill the village supper pots." A read-aloud treat to share between parents and children who love the sport and art of fishing.

The Christian Studies Shelf

Who Made the Morning?
Jan Godfrey and Honor Ayres
New Day Publishing
26 Bluff Ridge Court, Greensboro, NC 27455
9780979824708, $9.99

Who Made the Morning? is a Christian picturebook that embodies children's questions about God in a charming storybook format. When Little Brown Bird wonders 'Who is God?', her question takes her on journey farther than she's ever been before, in a quest to learn about and thank the God who made the morning. "'Did you find God, the maker of all the world?' asked the chattering birds when she reached her tall, tall tree. 'Yes,' Little Brown Bird chirped happily. 'God was with me in all the places I went and he looked after me. God the maker of all the world is with me all the time, wherever I go.'" The thoughtful colorful illustrations add the perfect touch to this picturebook with a resounding religious moral, highly recommended for church or Christian children's libraries.

Am I Forgiving?
Jeannie St. John Taylor
Kregel Publications
PO Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501
9780825436598, $12.99 1-800-733-2607

Written for young readers age four to eight, Am I Forgiving? is a children's picturebook about the Christian value of forgiveness. When young Erik's best friend Chuck ignores him to play with another boy, and pelts Erik with snowballs (causing Erik to run his sled into a tree and break his arm!), Erik resolves never to forgive either of them. But then Erik remembers what the Bible says about the virtue of forgiving, and prays to Jesus for help in overcoming his own bitterness. "I don't say, 'That's all right' or 'You didn't mean to.' I just say, 'I forgive you.' That's okay, isn't it? God doesn't expect me to pretend Chuck didn't do anything wrong." The bright, colorful illustrations bring to life this simple parable, ideal for parents to read aloud to their children.

Sirgen and Katheren
J. Michael Swinden
Pleasant Word
c/o WinePress Publishing
PO Box 428, Enumclaw, WA 98022
9781414110387, $10.99

Sirgen and Katheren is a short Christian storybook for young people, about the father-daughter bond that develops between Sirgen, a formerly destructive dragon who learns the importance of compassion from Katheren, a nine-year-old orphan who insists that Sirgen provide for her because she has no place else to go (Sirgen had just recently destroyed her village). Together they make a perilous journey to an orphanage run by nuns; there, both Sirgen and Katheren learn about the noble teachings of Jesus Christ and the bounty of God's love. The adventures continue as Katheren grows up and falls in love with a handsome prince; when she is kidnapped by agents of a rival nation, Sirgen must confront another dragon to rescue her! A brief and simplistic story, illustrated by a handful of childlike black-and-white illustrations, nonetheless profound for its depictions of true love and caring. Especially recommended for young dragon fans.

Milo and the Green Wagon
Lisa M. Umina, author
Chad Thompson, illustrator
Halo Publishing International
6415 Granger Road, Independence, Ohio 44131
9780979742941, $15.95

Milo and the Green Wagon is a Christian children's picturebook promoting the good works of the real-life Action Changes Things (ACT) Mission food drives. Part of the Milo series starring an anthropomorphic, cuddly white bear, Milo and the Green Wagon teaches young readers about the important role God plays in all our lives, and follows Milo's idea of using a green wagon to collect donations ranging from children's books to blankets, toys, baby food, and groceries. "As the ACT Mission team walked back to their van, Mary noticed a man sleeping on a park bench. 'Do we have a blanket for the man sleeping on the park bench?' asked Mary. Matt's mom replied, 'Yes, here's a soft, blue blanket.' Mary gently covered the man and said, 'This should keep you warm.' The man opened his eyes, smiled and said, 'Thank you.'" The bright, cartoony illustrations add a heartwarming touch to this positive-minded message about compassion and charity work in God's name.

A Child's Bible
Anne Edwards & Shirley Steen, adaptors
Charles Front & David Christian, illustrators
Paulist Press
997 MacArthur Boulevard, Mahwah, NJ 07430
0809128675, $16.95 1-800-218-1903

A Child's Bible is an anthology of stories from the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible, adapted for young adult readers to enjoy and interspersed with simple yet colorful illustrations on almost every page. Most sections of the bible are rendered into short passages several paragraphs long. Quotes from Jesus Christ and other Biblical figures are typically repeated verbatim; other story elements are often streamlined or simplified. "St. Luke 8-1-3 Jesus Journeys: Jesus visited every town and village teaching and telling people the good news about God's kingdom. He traveled with his twelve disciples, and certain women whom he had healed, such as Mary Magdalene, Joanna (the wife of Herod's agent, Chuza), Susanna and several others who had money to help support him." Highly recommended, especially for church youth libraries and Christian households with younger children.

The Audiobook Shelf

Oh, the Places You'll Go!
Dr. Seuss, author
John Lithgow, peformer
Listening Library, Inc.
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780739363911, $11.99 1-800-726-0600

Read aloud by comedian John Lithgow (perhaps best known for his performance in "Third Rock from the Sun"), Oh, the Places You'll Go! is an audiobook production of a brief yet wise and tongue-in-cheek humorous graduation speech, as created by the one and only classic children's author Dr. Seuss (1904-1991). In his characteristic metered rhyme, Seuss speaks of the Great Balancing Act and encourages those listening to develop their untapped potential. "And will you succeed? / Yes! You will, indeed! / (98 and 3/4 percent... guaranteed.)" Rounding out the audio CD is an unabridged production of "The Lorax", Dr. Seuss' classic warning against the ecological danger posed by mindless progress, as narrated by Ted Dansen. Packaged with a convenient gift card holder, Oh, the Places You'll Go! is a time-tested classic especially recommended as a graduation gift for young (and old!) people who have just completed any major educational achievement of note. 1 CD, approx. 30 minutes.

Gordon Korman
Recorded Books, LLC
270 Skip Jack Road, Prince Frederick, MD 20678
9781428171916, $77.75 1-800-638-1304

Performed by various narrators, Schooled is an unabridged audiobook adaptation of a story about life in middle school, as written by Gordon Korman (perhaps best known for "No More Dead Dogs", a novel about the excessively overused trope of killing off a beloved pet in children's literature). Ideal for readers age 11 to 111, Schooled follows young Capricon "Cap" Anderson, who has spent his entire life with his grandmother on a farm commune - until his grandmother is hospitalized and he must attend Claverage Middle School while living with his guidance counselor. The transition is rocky at best, and when the Claverage students follow their tradition of nominating the biggest nerd for class president, Cap is the number one choice! Yet Cap's positive outlook and enthusiasm just might turn him into the best president ever. A delightful story about learning to adapt and thrive in radically changing circumstances, highly recommended. 4 CDs, 5 hours.

Encyclopedia Brown Finds the Clues
Donald J. Sobol, author
Greg Steinbruner, performer
Recorded Books, LLC
270 Skip Jack Road, Prince Frederick, MD 20678
9781428172210, $25.75 1-800-638-1304

Encyclopedia Brown Finds the Clues is the unabridged audiobook presentation of a classic mystery for young people ages 8 and up, part of a series that earned a Special Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Ten-year-old Leroy Brown, known as "Encyclopedia Brown" to his neighbors, loves to help crack the most perplexing cases. From aiding his chief of police father at the dinner table, to solving other kids' neighborhood mysteries for 25 cents a day, Encyclopedia is the local go-to guy for situations that leave everyone else stumped! Packed with nuggets of trivia, and even opportunities for listeners to help Encyclopedia Brown solve the case, Encyclopedia Brown Finds the Clues is a worthy and time-tested addition to private and public children's libraries everywhere. 2 CDs, 1.5 hours.

The Fiction Shelf

The Jellybeans and the Big Dance
Laura Numeroff and Nate Evans
Harry Abrams Inc.
115 West 18th Street, New York NY 10011
9780810993525, $15.95

Emily loves to dance and is taking her first dance class where she anticipates she'll meet others who love to dance - but instead she meets girls who like very different things. Will she be able to save their dance recital from disaster? Turns out the girls have different strengths: Lynne Munsinger's fun drawings make for an excellent embellishment of this story of differences brought together.

Hannah Pritchard: Pirate of the Revolution
Bonnie Pryor
Enslow Publishers
Box 398, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922

Hannah's family is murdered by British soldiers and Iroquois warriors, sending Hannah on a journey of revenge and adventure. She joins an American privateer ship during the Revolutionary War, and must hide the fact she's a girl in order to avenge her family. What begins as a personal vendetta expands to a broader understanding of the role of pirates in the Revolution, involving readers in a fine work of historical fiction.

The Fan's Guide to the Spiderwick Chronicles
Girffin Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010
0312351534, $9.95

Fans of the Spiderwick Chronicles now have an unauthorized guide to the facts behind the Spiderwick world in a new book which uses drawings, quizzes, and facts to provide insights into the world of fantasy and magic. Characters, magical beings, and references to the Chronicles invite prior fans to appreciate the underlying Spiderwick logic and fantasy.

Eye of the Crow
Shane Peacock
Tundra Books
Box 1030, Plattsburgh, NY 12901
9780887768507, $24.99

Young adults who relish detective stories will find much to like in EYE OF THE CROW, set in 1867 London and telling of a woman's murder and the son of a Jewish intellectual, Sherlock Holmes, who dreams of a better life to rise him above impoverishment. His investigation of the murder brings him into social and cultural conflict in this 'boy Sherlock Holmes' story.

Griffin's Castle
Jenny Nimmo
Orchard Books
c/o Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012
0439025540, $16.99

Pre-teen Dinah is determined to make a run-down old mansion a home at last for her and her mother, when her loneliness leads her to wish the animal statues at a nearby Welsh castle would come to life and keep her company. When magic brings them to life she's delighted at first - but when they limit her freedom she comes to realize they are not a delight but a danger - a danger which could threaten her new life. GRIFFIN'S CASTLE is packed with delightful fantasy and a 'must' pick for any who enjoy fantasies and strong characterization.

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

N.D. Wilson's LEEPIKE RIDGE (9780375838736, $15.99) tells of a preteen who has always lived next to Leepike Ridge - but who finds himself lost beneath it when he escapes the man set to marry his mother and finds his escape raft has left him underground. His discoveries under the ridge - of a body, a dog and more - will answer questions and challenge his survival skills in a riveting adventure kids will relish. Debi Gliori's PURE DEAD FROZEN (9780375833175, $15.99) returns the Strega-Borgia family with a new adventure when a baby is born to the family but immediately is snatched away and replaced by a demon baby. Ancient evil comes back to life and the family's gearing up for a showdown in this fun fantasy. Siobhan Dowd's THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY (9780375849763, $15.99) tells of a boy who mysteriously vanishes from the sealed pod of the London Eye. Even the police are baffled - and it's up to Ted and his older sister to become sleuthing partners, tracing a trail of clues across London in search of an endangered cousin. Add the tensions surrounding their stormy relationship and you have a satisfying mystery powered by changing personal relationships. Karen Schwabach's THE HOPE CHEST (9780375840951, $16.99) tells of one Violet, a young lady on the run from her parents in 1917 - and in search of a sister who has left to journey to New York. Violet's search for her sister leads her on to Tennessee, where Chloe is fighting for women's rights, involving Violet in a new world of women's rights. THE HOPE CHEST brings to life early women's suffrage efforts and makes for an adventure-filled read.

The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum
Kate Bernheimer and Vicolette Ceccoli
Schwartz Wade Books
Random House
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780375836060, $16.99

A girl lives in a castle in a museum in this original fairy tale about a tiny girl who lives on display in a castle. When the museum visitors go home the girl is lonely - how can she keep her fans with her at all times? A magical world comes to life in a fun story that invites kids to look at scenes and imagine.

How Mohammed Saved Miss Liberty
M.S. Holm
Sentry Books
c/o Great West Publishing
PO Box 31361, Tucson AZ 85751-1631
9780979619908, $14.95

Though intended for middle grade and young adult readers, How Mohammed Saved Miss Liberty is an welcome novel for readers of all ages and backgrounds. After the tragedy of the September 11th attacks, life in Ohio's small town changes drastically for fourteen-year-old Mohammed and his family. Their masjid is vandalized; their family business is boycotted; he has to endure taunts and threats at middle school for being a Muslim; and worst of all, his trip to New York City with the Young Engineers Club is cancelled. Mohammed is crushed over the loss of his boyhood dream to see Miss Liberty; even when the Young Engineer's trip is suddenly rescheduled, he learns the statue is closed to the public. Determined to realize his dream of going to see it, he dares to break the rules and visit Liberty Island - not a safe thing to do in the currently hostile political climate! A thoughtful novel that invites the reader to see the world from a different perspective, and a much-needed contribution to children's literature shelves in the wake of hysteria or predispositions to assume the worst about all Muslims in the wake of 9/11.

Journey to Gonzales
Melodie A. Cuate
Texas Tech University Press
PO Box 41037, Lubbock, TX 79409-1037
9780896726246, $17.95 1-800-832-4042

Book three in the "Mr. Barrington's Mysterious Trunk" series, Journey to Gonzales continues the series of historical time-travel fiction for young adults, blending educational insight into Texas history with exciting adventure. Young Nick, troubled by the loss of a friend at the Battle of San Jacinto, returns to Mr. Barrington's trunk hoping to change history, yet this time the trunk magically transports him to Gonzales, Texas in 1835. Nick meets historical characters including young Alamo defenders William King, John Gaston, and Galba Fuqua, and becomes caught up in the tangled skein of events leading toward the Battle of Gonzales. Meanwhile, Hannah and Jackie are searching for Nick in hopes of bringing him home safely, yet when Hannah falls down a riverbank, Lieutenant Ramirez, part of the Alamo de Parras Company of dragoons tasked with retrieving the Gonzales "Come and Take It" cannon. Escorted to Ramirez's camp, the girls see firsthand the Mexican army and their point of view of the rising tensions in Texas. An eye-opening adventure that literally makes history come alive for young readers, and is sure to whet the reader's appetite for learning more. Also highly recommended are the previous books in the series, "Journey to the Alamo" and "Journey to San Jacinto".

Make Me a Home
Tamra Norton
Bonneville Books
c/o Cedar Fort, Inc.
2373 W. 700 S., Springville, UT 84663
9781599551135, $12.99

Author and mother of seven Tamra Norton earned the Utah Commission on Literacy's "Book of the Month" award in April 2006 for young adult novel "Make Me a Memory." Now, in Make Me a Home, Norton examines the difficult realities a young person must deal with when a loved one is deployed abroad for an extended period. Allie Claybrook spent most of her sixth-grade year as the 'new kid' of her elementary school; when Ivy Peterson and her handsome older brother Ty move to town, Allie befriends Ivy - but Celeste the most popular girl in Allie's class, is as interested in Ty as Allie is! Make Me a Home weaves a tapestry of daily life as Allie learns ways to cope with her father's deployment to Iraq and Ivy weathers her parents' divorce. Together, Allie and Ivy learn the importance of friendship and a place to call home. Make Me a Home does not shy away from serious issues, yet is thoroughly accessible and amenable to young adults. Highly recommended especially for school libraries, and as a the starting point for discussions with young people who must face the difficulty of the separation from or loss of a central figure in their life.

Gray Rabbit and Friends
Missy K.
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor, New York, NY 10016
9780533158027, $7.95 37 pp. 1-212-736-1767

The debut children's book by author Missy K., Gray Rabbit and Friends is a softcover storybook perfect for young readers who have graduated from picturebooks are ready to start enjoying wordier fare. Playful black-and-white illustrations embellish this anthology of five very brief tales featuring an eclectic cast of woodland creatures. In "Gray Rabbit and the Bully", the little gray rabbit joins forces with his friends and neighbors to stand up to Jack Rabbit, the troublemaker bully of the woods. In "Gray Rabbit Makes a Deal", Gray Rabbit must think of a wonderful present no one else has to give to the fierce (and hungry!) Golden Eagle in return for safe passage - but what can he possibly find to give? "Brown Bunny and the Four Seasons" teaches young people about the cycle of the seasons, and the security of knowing that spring will return no matter how cold winter gets. "Gray Rabbit Finds a New Home" has the simple, memorable moral that home is where the heart is, no matter how fearful or anxious one might feel about making the change. "Gray Rabbit Wants to Fly" is the final tale, about learning to love and embrace one's own best qualities even though there are some things (such as flying) that not everyone can do; "Every animal has at least one thing that they do better than any other animal." A charming collection highly recommended for young people, or for reading aloud during storytime or bedtime.

Astro Socks
Leigh M. LeCreux
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, #100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595463756, $9.95

Written by educator and mother of two Leigh Le Creux, Astro Socks is an adventurous novel for young adults, following a young boy named Chris who sets out to transform his dream of becoming an inventor into reality. A handful of simple, child-drawn, black-and-white illustrations intersperse this story of confronting the hurdles on the road of making one's dream into reality. Faith, determination, hard work, and the love and support of one's family are all essential invaluable in the quest to realize his full potential. An inspirational and constructive story, highly recommended especially for children's school and public library collections.

The Thompson Twins Cruise Adventure
Terry Sclafani
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432715427, $10.95 1-888-672-6657

Licensed captain Terry Sclafani presents The Thompson Twins Cruise Adventure, a novel for young adults following the adventures of fraternal twins Sammy Thompson and her brother Nicky. When an unfortunate accident blinds Sammy, she learns to adjust and explore the world with the aid of her seeing-eye dog Gus. For their twelfth birthday, the twins set out on a cruise with their parents that will take them from Florida to Jamaica, Colombia, and through the Panama Canal on the way to San Diego. The excitement heats up when the twins save a kidnapped passenger from a Colombian drug cartel, and that's only the start of the action! The first of a planned trilogy, The Thompson Twins Cruise Adventure is a thoroughly enjoyable, kid-friendly story.

Pinky and Peanut: The Adventure Begins
Deena Cook and Cherie McIntosh, authors
Trina Scruggs, illustrator
P & P Publishing, LLC
4957 Lakemont Blvd. SE, Bellevue, WA 98006
9780979702006, $4.99

Former second-grade teachers Deena Cook and Cherie McIntosh present Pinky and Peanut: The Adventure Begins, a novel for young people about two young girls, Pinky and Peanut, each of whom is unhappy about being forced to move to a new town at the end of summer before starting second grade. Yet a chance meeting in their new hometown leads them to a summer adventure of friendship and fun together. A handful of simple black-and-white illustrations intersperse this entertaining and delightful story about the joy of getting to know new people.

Books in Series

Crabtree Publishers
350 - 5th Avenue #3308, New York NY 10118

Bobbie Kalman's 'Visual Dictionary' titles are excellent elementary-grade coverages, offering 32 pages each of detail for young learners. NATIVE COMMUNITIES (0778735052) surveys Native nations coast to coast, offering pictures of tools, daily life, and artifacts, COLONIAL COMMUNITY (0778735028) offers visuals on daily plantation life and tools, PIONEER COMMUNITY (0778735044) focuses on small villages, work, and pursuits of children and adults, and OLD WEST (0778735038) reveals motivations for going 'out West', jobs, and how settlements expanded. Each book in the 32-page 'Land/People/Culture' series provides a focus on different countries: the division of each country into three books allows for a narrowed focus perfect for reports. Sierra Adare's GREECE: THE PEOPLE (0778793095), THE CULTURE (0778793109) and THE LAND (0778793087) and Debbie Smith's ISRAEL: THE CULTURE (0778793133), THE LAND (0778793117) and THE PEOPLE (0778793125) each pair contemporary color photos with insights on daily life, history, and culture. These are perfect beginning titles for classroom discussions of each country, suitable for reports. The 'How to Improve At' sports series provides tips on advanced skills and basics alike, with a little under 50 pages of facts inviting kids in grades 4-6 to understand each sports' requirements for improvement and advancement. SOCCER by Jim Drewitt (0778735699) provides a step-by-step guide to mastering soccer using photos to discuss skills and moves, SWIMMING by Paul Mason (0778735702) surveys the rules of competitive swimming and how to improve performance, and KARATE by Ashley Martin (0778735680) discusses sparring, attacking, and the right way to advance. The step-by-step photos leave nothing puzzling and are keys to better understanding, elevating these beyond the usual blends of history and text discussion.

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591 1-800-831-9881

Five books in the 'Drama of African-American History' series, each about eighty pages in length, provide advanced elementary to early middle school grades with a fine survey of Afro-American history. James Haskins and Kathleen Benson with Virginia Schomp's THE RISE OF JIM CROW (9780761426400, $23.95) surveys the rise of prejudice and lynchings in America and the early Afro-American struggles for freedom, Dolores Johnson and Virginia Schomp's THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE (9780761426417, $23.95) considers the roots of the early Renaissance and the rise of black arts in America, Virginia Schomp's MARCHING TOWARD FREEDOM (9780761426431, $23.95) the Depression and World War II's impact on civil rights efforts, Irma McClaurin and Virginia Schomp's THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT (9780761436424, $23.95) continues the survey of the blossoming of civil rights and its spread across North and South, and Irma McClaurin and Virginia Schomp's FACING THE FUTURE (9780761426448, $23.95) considers social justice, education, and ongoing issues affecting the black community. Jim Haskins provides the general editing which brings together this second group, adding to the first group's overviews of key events and decades in Afro-American history. Contemporary color photos and lively writing makes this series a top pick for libraries seeking to add works on black history.

Armadillo Books
232 Waller Street, San Francisco, 94102

The success of the Harry Potter novels has clearly demonstrated that even in this age of video games and iPods, there is a hunger in children for a good book to read. And if that book is part of a series -- so much the better. Written specifically for young readers by Patrick H. T. Doyle is a new series from Armadillo Books called 'Edgar Font's Hunt For A House To Haunt' that showcase the adventures of Edgar Font, a ghost that needs to find somewhere to haunt, especially when his grandchildren come to visit. The first volume of the series, "The Castle Tower Lighthouse" (0978613201, $6.99) finds Edgar considering an abandon lighthouse. Edgar and his grandchildren Audrey and Garret soon discover that there's more to this lighthouse -- like mystery, danger, and an adventure they'll not soon forget! "The Fakersville Power Statons" (097861321X, $7.99) finds the trio considering Grandpa Edgar considering haunted a mansion at the base of the Fakersville waterfall (connected to the town's power station) that he knew of some 60 years earlier when he was still mortal. The problem is that somehow over those six decades all memory of Fakersville seem to have been erased and our hearty trio must solve this mystery and place their trust in an elusive stranger as they uncover the secrets behind the oblivion of Fakersville. Especially recommended for young readers ages 9 and older, these first two fantasy/suspense novels comprising the 'Edgar Font's Hunt For A House To Haunt' series are very highly recommended for personal, school, and community library collections and will leave their readers looking eagerly toward the next title in this well crafted series.

The Music Shelf

Dixieland Jazz For Children
Johnette Downing
Wiggle Worm Records
c/o Waldmania!
130 Maywood Drive, San Francisco, CA 94127
CD, $15.00

You are never too young to appreciate authentic jazz played by musicians whose skills are equaled only by their enthusiasm for America's truly indigenous music. Backed up by Jimmy LaRocca's Original Dixieland Jazz Band, New Orleans singer, songwriter, and children's musician Johnette Downing has recorded nineteen original songs that set snappy, kid-friendly lyrics to the upbeat, polycultural tunes that reflect and resound with the unique and unmistakable rhythms of jazz played superbly in the Dixieland style. Superbly performed and recorded, the individual songs range from Rolling Down the River; to That Dixie Beat; to New Orleans Strut; to Tiger Rag. With a total time of 46:06, "Dixieland Jazz For Children" will make a lively and popular addition to any family, school, or community library CD music collection for children of all ages and cultural backgrounds!

Rock of All Ages
John D. Boydston III, songwriter
Daddy A Go Go
CD, $12.99 1-877-50-DADDY

The sixth album for pre- and post-kindergarten listeners written by Atlanta stay-at-home dad John Boydston, Rock of All Ages is a music CD full of toe-tapping songs for young people to enjoy. Featuring rock-n-roll rhythms the whole family can enjoy, Rock of All ages blends guitar, vocals, bass, and drums into an energetic, enthusiastic experience. A treat for families to share, especially when getting fired up in the morning for an exciting day ahead. The tracks are Rock of Ages (2:45); Nana-Nana Boo-Boo (2:48); School Bus Driver (1:55); Idaho! (3:11); What a Wonderful World (3:02); The Root Beer Song (2:44); John Barleycorn Must Dye (3:24); Snoopy vs the Red Baron (3:01); Get Yer Yo-Yo's Out (2:34); Money Doesn't Grow on Trees (3:03); I Lost My Teddy Bear (3:24); and 'Round and 'Round (2:37).

Feel The Beat
LeAnn Haggard
Kimbo Educational
PO Box 477T, Long Branch, NJ 07740-0477
KIM 9197CD, $15.95, 1-800-631-2187

Physical exercise is a core necessity for healthy children and one of the ways to encourage them is through the use of lively 'kid friendly' music. In "Feel The Beat", LeAnn Haggard showcases a complete exercise program from boys and girls ages 4 to 6. Eleven of the pieces combine lyrics with rhythm and are organized into three warm-ups (Space Rock Warm-Up; Break Beat Boogie; Wiggle and Walk); high-energy dance-style routines (Fell the Beat; Funky Fitness; Techno Trek); slow-down routines (Classical Connection; Jazzy Jazz); and 'Pick Up the Beat!' (reprising Feel the Beat; Funky fitness; and Techno Trek). The remaining seven pieces comprising this superbly produced and recorded collection are instrumental versions of Space Rock Warm-Up; Break Beat Boogie; Wiggle and Walk; Feel the Beat; Funky Fitness; Techno Trek; Classical Connection; and Jazzy Jazz. "Feel The Beat", ranging from African to Latin to Hip Hop rhythms, is enthusiastically recommended for preschool, kindergarten, day-care center, family, and community library CD music collections.

The Picturebook Shelf

What Bird?
Cherie Zendarski
Bouncing Ball Books
PO Box 6509, Spring Hill, FL 34611
1934138002, $14.95

What Bird? is a simple, rhyming children's picturebook about a cat who eats the family canary and responds to accusations of the misdeed with the feline equivalent of saying 'What bird?' The childlike color illustrations help convey the upbeat story and its happy (if not terribly realistic) ending: "I know you did not mean it, / So do not sit and pout. // Let us hurry to the doctor, / She might just get him out! // Our doctor has many talents / There is much that she can do, // And soon our sweet canary / Will be singing just for you." A whimsical storybook sure to induce a smile or chuckle in young cat and bird lovers alike.

Little Blue Penguin
Patricia L. Atchison, author
Jo-Anne Jagers, illustrator
Wood Lily Publishers
Box 457, Water Valley, Alberta, Canada T0M 2E0
9780978336912, $17.95

Little Blue Penguin is a children's picturebook featuring simple illustrations that reinforce the primary colors introduced in the joyful story about a stuffed penguin much beloved by its little girl owner. Little Blue Penguin shines different colors when he feels different emotions - excitement (orange), love (pink), fear (white) and so on. During a trip to the zoo, the girl loses her Little Blue Penguin and he must spend some time in a scary lost-and-found box - but at last she finds him again. "Little Blue Penguin loved his home. He loved Becky. He loved to shine. What a sight it was! Outside it looked like every colour of the rainbow lit up the night sky." As an extra bonus, a photograph on the back cover shows what real little blue penguins look like (these small blue penguins are a species known as 'fairy penguins' that live in Sub-Antarctic regions south of New Zealand). A charming and delightful picturebook especially recommended for young penguin lovers.

A Race for Charley
Elaine Stafford, author
Irene Joslin, illustrator
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781434335876, $14.95 1-800-280-7715

A Race for Charley is a softcover children's picturebook written in rhyme about a young boy who is physically disabled and confined to a wheelchair from birth, but doesn't let that stop him from enjoying life to the fullest. Despite his physical differences, his heart, warmth, and personality shine through. "Charley's parents knew that people may always / look and wonder what went wrong / His legs don't work, but his mind and heart are strong / They told him 'Charley you have a heart / of gold. You love to laugh and joke' / 'You are friendly to both young and old / and different kinds of folk' / 'Don't worry about what people think, / for they don't know your heart' / It's how you treat others that will set you far apart." The simple color illustrations add a gentle touch to this spiritually uplifting book, recommending for teaching young children about the differently abled.

Wandihnu and the Old Dugong
Elizabeth and Wandihnu Wymarra, authors
Benjamin Hodges, illustrator
Magabala Books
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR 97213
9781921248184, $17.00 1-800-944-6190

Wandihnu and the Old Dugong is a softcover children's picturebook about a young Australian girl who has lived her whole life in the city of Sydney, and now spends her first summer visiting her Aka (grandmother) on Badu Island, a place with a different customs and a traditional language called Kala Lagaw Ya. When Aka falls sick, she needs oil from the dugong (a local marine animal) as medicine, but the dugong doesn't understand English - only carefully repeated phrases in Kala Lagaw Ya will draw its attention. The girl learns to repeat the phrases that her grandmother teaches her and befriends the dugong, who gives its medicinal oil as a gift. Light, soft, watercolor-style illustrations enhance this simple yet heartwarming tale about learning to cherish one's linguistic and cultural roots through ties with family and new friends.

Meadow Dance
Dennis Rockhill
Raven Tree Press
c/o Delta Publishing Company
1400 Miller Parkway, Mc Henry IL 60050
9780974199252, $16.95 1-877-256-0579

Featuring gorgeous, incredibly detailed and vibrant colored pencil artwork (composed of multiple layers of color), Meadow Dance is a lighthearted children's picturebook about an afternoon nap and butterfly dreams. A little girl sleeping under a blanket of meadow flowers is the gateway to dazzling adventure on butterfly wings. As delightful to read-aloud as it is to contemplate the rainbow of colors on every page, Meadow Dance is especially recommended as a way to celebrate the spirit of spring with young people. "I slowly awaken to an empty cocoon, the caterpillar gone. / But she is up there! // A dancing rainbow, a beautiful butterfly!"

I Wonder...
Harriet Fishel, author
Jim Nuttle, illustrator
Shooting Star Edition
c/o American Literary Press
8019 Belair Road, Suite 10, Baltimore, MD 21236
9781561679959, $14.95 1-800-873-2003

I Wonder... is a delightful, rhyming picturebook about a little girl who muses about what life would be like if numbers ceased to be (what if there were no 5?) or cows, hens and the like quit doing their jobs to produce milk and eggs! The colorful, cartoony illustrations reflect the spirit of whimsy and imagination run rampant in this read-aloud storybook. "All the beautiful clovers / with leaves up to 4, / would only have 3, / if '4' were no more. // And what would all / of the animals do, / if in stead of 4 legs, / were walking on 2?"

Say Daddy!
Michael Shoulders, author
Teri Weidner, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
c/o Thomson Gale
27500 Drake Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48331-3535
9781585363544, $15.95 1-800-231-5163

Written by Michael Shoulders, who has long spread the word to schools and conferences that "reading is magic", Say Daddy! is a children's picturebook about a close-knit bear family who loves to read. When a new baby bear joins the family, Mother shares a book about love, while Brother reads a tale about friendship. Aunt and Uncle read about joyful adventures, and Daddy reads a book about promises and dreams. Daddy bear tries to get the little bear to say 'Daddy' for his first word, but whose name will the baby say first? The kindly color illustrations add warmth and heart to this lovable, literacy-promoting picturebook. Highly recommended.

Kid Canine - Superhero!
P.T. Custard, author
P.T. Custard & David Pearson, illustrators
Black Plume Books
608 Jordan Trace, Chesapeake, VA 23323
9780978531713, $13.95

Award-winning children's author P.T. Custard presents Kid Canine - Superhero!, a cheerful children's picturebook about a mild mannered pet named Dill who dreams of being a superhero. Unfortunately, poor Dill often thinks there is trouble when there really isn't any! "Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they even look like small, fluffy dogs whose only true superhero power is to make people smile. The best superhero power of them all." The simplistic, colorful illustrations add a charming touch to this gentle story, and the final page has a special treat - a colorful photograph of the real-life Dill! Little dog lovers especially are sure to enjoy this heartwarming storybook.

Monkey and the Engineer
Jesse Fuller, author
David Opie, illustrator
Red Psych Productions
PO Box 696 Fairfax, California 94978
9780979397264, $14.95

Monkey and the Engineer is a children's picturebook adaptation of a song written by African-American railroad worker and musician Jesse "Lone Cat" Fuller (1896-1976), about a railroad engineer and his remarkably astute pet monkey - a simian quite capable of running the train all by itself! Artist David Opie brings the tall tale of the engineer's monkey to life with vibrant, cartoony illustrations, creating a wonderful storybook distillation of American musical and cultural history. "Once upon a time there was an engineer. // He drove a locomotive both far and near. // He was accompanied by a monkey who would sit on a stool / watching everything the engineer would do. // One day the engineer wanted a bite to eat. / He left the monkey sitting on the driver's seat." Highly recommended.

The Pig and Miss Prudence
Linda Stanek, author
Lauren Castillo, illustrator
Star Bright Books
The Star Building, 30-19 48th Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101, $15.95 1-800-788-4439

Set at the turn of the nineteenth century into the twentieth century, The Pig and Miss Prudence is an enjoyable children's picturebook about a woman whose quarrel with a pig that nibbles on her flowers escalates into a grand escapade! Miss Prudence finds herself unexpectedly riding the pig through the busy city, crashing into flower carts and shipyard workers while chased by a rowdy crowd, through a hat shop, the museum, the church, and finally the mayor's office. The exuberant art style of Lauren Castillo adds high-energy to the hijinks, while the cheerful prose of author Linda Stanek immerses the reader in a world gone by. "Miss Prudence rose to her feet, adjusted the cameo at her throat, and placed her hands on her hips. 'I declare!' she said. 'If I didn't know better, I'd say that pigs run the city!'"

The Contest Between the Sun and the Wind
Heather Forest, Ph.D. author
Susan Gaber, illustrator
August House Little Folk
c/o August House Inc.
3500 Piedmont Road NE, Suite 310, Atlanta, GA 30305
9780874838329, $16.95 1-800-284-8784

Award-winning author Heather Forest, Ph.D. adapts an ancient moral tale The Contest Between the Sun and the Wind: An Aesop's Fable, a children's picturebook evocatively illustrated by Parent's Choice Award artist Susan Gaber. The story recounts a day when the sun and the wind chose to engage in a test of strength; whoever could cause an ordinary traveler to remove his coat would be the winner. No matter how forcefully the wind blew, the traveler just clutched his coat more tightly; yet the gentle, persuasive warmth of the sun encouraged him to take the coat off on his own! A timeless and highly recommended picturebook tale about the quiet power hidden in gentle persuasion.

To Share One Moon
Ruowen Wang, author
Wei Xu & Xiaoyan Zheng, illustrators
Kevin & Robin Books Ltd.
64 Clancy Dr. Toronto, M2J 2V8, ON Canada
9780973879957, $22.95

Seen through the eyes of a Chinese-Canadian young girl, To Share One Moon is a children's picturebook about the Chinese Moon Festival, a holiday similar to Thanksgiving in North America, when celebrating families get together to admire the full moon while eating sweet moon cakes and enjoying good tea. Under the full moon, friends keep in contact, families are reunited, and separated loved ones reconnect. and absent loved ones are fondly remembered. The joyful illustrations portray the happy moments of the holiday through a child's eyes, as well as her sadness over the legend behind the Chinese Moon Festival, in which the Moon Lady is tragically separated from her husband. "Under the bright Mid-Autumn moon, I make three wishes and believe they will be granted: I wish that this full moon has the magic power to hold families together. I wish that the Moon Lady will eventually return to her husband, who is still awaiting her on earth. And I wish that all loved ones, no matter where they are, will look up at this full moon tonight and think of each other with a tender heart."

Roonie B. Moonie: Lost and Alone
Janan Cain
Illumination Arts Publishing
PO Box 1865, Bellevue, WA 98009
9780974019086, $15.95 1-888-210-8216

Written and illustrated by award-winning children's book creator Janan Cain, Roonie B. Moonie: Lost and Alone is a children's picturebook featuring a young, anthropomorphic bee who longs to become a great explorer like his hero, Christopher Columblebee. When Roonie's explorations take him to a dark, unfamiliar place, he encounters scary situations and is approached by a suspicious stranger. Roonie must remember his mother's advice and listen to his own instincts to stay safe. Instead of going along with a stranger, Roonie keeps searching until he finds someone can who can help him in the proper fashion. "Roonie took a deep breath and carefully approached the mother ladybug. 'Ex-ex-excuse me,' he said nervously. 'My n-n-n-name is Roonie B. Moonie. I was exploring and got lost Could you please call my mom and tell her where I am?' 'Of course I will call her,' the ladybug replied kindly. As he recited his phone number, which he knew by heart, Roonie was happy that he had trusted his feelings and used his head." The colorful oil paintings on charcoal paper bring to life this story that is not only enjoyable, but also invaluable for parents to share with their children while rehearsing what they should do and how they should be careful to protect themselves if they should become lost. Highly recommended, especially for children's public library collections.

The Bilingual Shelf

We Are Girls Who Love To Run
Brianna K. Grant, author
Nicholas A. Wright, illustrator
Balanced Steps, LLC
PO Box 1179, Duvall, WA 98019
9780979851117, $17.99

We Are Girls Who Love To Run is a bilingual English/Spanish children's picturebook, told in first-person perspective by young girls who enjoys running for health and for fun. "I am beautiful. When I smile, my eyes sparkle, and my spirit glows for the world to see. Freckles parade across my face. My arms and legs are graceful as I circle the track." Far more than a standard picturebook, We Are Girls Who Love To Run encourages finding joy in life through exercise, and impresses the value of self-confidence rather than allowing oneself to become obsessed with unrealistic Hollywood ideals of beauty. The colorful illustrations, done in a soft yet realistic style, show young women from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds experiencing a shared joy in running. A wonderful and uplifting story; the final page has an assortment of true-life quotes from women young and old who love to run.

The Storyteller's Candle
Lucia Gonzalez, author
Lulu Delacre, illustrator
Children's Book Press
2211 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110-1811
9780892392223, $16.95

Set in New York City during the winter of 1929, The Storyteller's Candle is a bilingual English/Spanish picturebook about a librarian named Pura Belpre, who introduces children - including cousins Hildamar and Santiago, who recently arrived from Puerto Rico - to the wonders of the public library. The library belongs to everyone, regardless of whether one speaks Spanish or English, and has the potential to be a community hub of learning and sharing. Created by the award-winning team of author Lucia Gonzalez and artist Lulu Delacre, The Storyteller's Candle honors the real-life Pura Belpre, the first Puerto Rican librarian hired by the New York Public Library System, who actively advocated bilingual story hours, buying Spanish language books, and implementing programs based on traditional holidays. Highly recommended, especially for children's and public library collections.

The Science Shelf

The Super Soybean
Raymond Bial
Albert Whitman & Company
6340 Oakton Street, Morton Grove, IL 60053-2723
9780807575499 1-800-255-7675

Written and photographed by award-winning author Raymond Bial, The Super Soybean teaches kids and young adults about the amazingly useful properties of the humble soybean, from food source to ingredient in fuel, plastics, soap, medicine, and more. The agricultural process of growing and harvesting soybeans, as well as the history of the soybean in American economics and culture, is also discussed. Featuring splendid, full-color photography on every page, The Super Soybean is an informed and informative educational account, ideal for young people who are ready for significantly more complex reading material than the average picturebook. Highly recommended.

How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate
Lynne Cherry and Gary Braasch
Dawn Publications
12402 Bitney Way, Nevada City, CA 95959
9781584691037 1-800-545-7475

How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate: Scientists and Kids Explore Global Warming is a nonfiction science book for young people about a hot-button modern issue. Written with the assistance of top scientists in the field, How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate goes into depth on climate science. Though How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate is lavishly illustrated with full-color photographs throughout, its meticulous attention to detail and mere quantity of text is well beyond that of an ordinary picturebook, making it best suited for young adults teenagers, and even curious adults. "Ornithologists were finding that birds were arriving earlier and changing their range - the places animals or plants can be found year after year... But why, they wondered, were these changes happening?" Of particular interest is the final "What You - and a Million Kids - Can Do" section, which lists positive ways kids can help the environment and reduce their carbon footprint, such as recycling, using compact fluorescents instead of light bulbs, minimizing use of appliances and unplugging those not needed, eating less meat, buying less, and getting involved in the community. Highly recommended especially for public and school library collections.

Earthquakes And Volcanoes FYI
Melissa Stewart
Smithsonian Institutions
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
0060899514, $16.99 1-800-242-7737

A collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and HarperCollins Publishers, Melissa Stewart's "Earthquakes And Volcanoes FYI" is a spectacularly illustrated, 80-page picturebook specifically designed to show children ages 8 to 12 the powerful geologic forces behind earthquakes and volcanoes, why they happen, how they are detected, and how they can (and have) changed the very shape of the earth. "Earthquakes And Volcanoes FYI" addresses key questions such as where earthquakes happen, what was the largest volcanic eruption, plate tectonics and these natural disasters, what advances science has made to predicting earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Also available in a paperback edition, Melissa Stewart's thoroughly 'kid friendly' text, enhanced with colorful illustrations, photos and diagrams, makes "Earthquakes And Volcanoes FYI" an essential and highly recommended addition to school and community library Science Shelf reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

The DVD Shelf

Hip Hop Harry: Move Those Feet
Allumination Filmworks
21250 Califa Street, Ste 102, Woodland Hills, CA 91367
DVD, $14.98

The latest in the Emmy nominated, Parent's Choice Approved series, Hip Hop Harry: Move Those Feet is a children's DVD featuring the lovable, rapping, oversized-H-medallion and watch-wearing yellow teddy bear Hip Hop Harry in three episodes designed to get young people to exercise and express themselves through dance. "Fancy Footwork" teaches a moral of positive competition when two young girls Savannah and Sophina find themselves on opposite teams in the Hip Hop Central dance contest. "I Like To Move!" presents a Fitness Fun Day at Hip Hop Central; Hip Hop Harry has invited a fitness expert to teach kids some fun new exercises, and Scott discovers the joy of composing poems with rhyming words. In "You Can Dance!", young Katie has been trained in ballet but wants to learn how to dance Hip Hop, so Hip Hop Harry recommends that she take some dance classes at Hip Hop Central - and she learns some new moves step by step! Bonus features include Hip Hop Harry's Memory Game and a "Ready, Set Learn!" video. A stimulating DVD meant for young people age three and up, designed to engage both ;minds and bodies. 75 minutes, color.

Arthur Season 10
WGBH Boston Video
c/o SSA Public Relations
16027 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 206, Encino, CA 91436
978159375 8134, $49.95

The latest in the Emmy award-winning series for Outstanding Children's Animated Program, Arthur Season 10 collects nineteen of Arthur's public television adventures on a thinpack set of five DVDs. Eight-year-old anthropomorphic aardvark Arthur Read and his friends confront the joys and difficulties of everyday life, from issues that arise out of keeping secrets to the experience of going to the hospital. Special features included closed captions for the hearing impaired, described video for the visually impaired, and downloadable teaching materials including the "Let's Read!" activity booklet for families, in English and in Spanish. The cheery, simple animated style combined with a matter-of-fact presentation that never patronizes children makes Arthur Season 10 a treasury, highly recommended especially for public library collections. 4.5 hours, color.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
c/o Andrea Blain Public Relations, Inc.
9750 Crawford Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076

Three affordable children's DVDs from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment make for excellent additions to public library children's DVD collections. Thomas & Friends Engines and Escapades ($14.98, 50 min.) collects several episodes never seen on TV, continuing Thomas' railroad adventures and introducing his new friends Madge. English, Spanish, and French voice tracks round out this energetic children's collection of short yet adventurous antics. Bob the Builder: Building Bobland Bay ($14.98, 54 min.) also offers content never seen on TV, as it follows Bob and the Can-Do Crew as they work with some brand new machine team members to create a new town of fun on the sea coast. English, Spanish, and French tracks enhance this charming and constructive computer-animated anthology, sure to pique young people's interests in the fascinating construction trade. Barney: Animal ABCs ($14.98, 56 min.) is the most educational of the set; it follows Barney and his live-action friends as they play a game to find an animal for each letter of the alphabet. Featuring English and Spanish options, Barney: Animal ABCs makes learning fun, enhanced by the sheer delight of seeing exotic real-life animals. All three DVDs are especially recommended as family-friendly birthday or holiday gifts to young people.

The Biography Shelf

Abraham Lincoln
Karen Judson
Enslow Publishers
Box 398, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922

A little over 120 pages of historical background provides an excellent political and social biography in ABRAHAM LINCOLN, joining others in the 'Americans: The Spirit of a Nation' series to provide links between political lives and social change. Sidebars of information, a lively text bringing Lincoln's personality to life, and a history which blends family life and political insights makes for a detailed, engrossing coverage.

Delicious: Life and Art of Wayne
Susan Goldman Rubin
Chronicle Books
680 - 2nd Street, San Francisco CA 94107
0811851680, $15.95

Kids in grades 4-6 will relish this colorful biography - just over a hundred pages in length - of one Wayne Thiebaud, an artist whose food paintings have come to represent not only food but 20th century American art as a whole. From gum machines and paint cans to stadiums, Thiebaud's art representations captured and depicted popular American culture, and DELICIOUS reviews his life, influences, achievements and art forms with an eye to exploring his lasting impact. Any library strong in colorful biographies for kids will find this a pick that lends to leisure browsing as well as report assignment.

Photographing Greatness: The Story of Karsh
Lian Goodall
Napoleon & Company
178 Willowdale Avenue, Suite 201, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M2N 4Y8
9781894917346, $19.95 1-877-730-9052

Illustrated with black-and-white photographs and sketches throughout, Photographing Greatness: The Story of Karsh is the hardcover biography of Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002), an ethnic Armenian who immigrated to North America in the 1920s and settled in Ottawa, Canada. His fascination with and talent for photography led him to open his own studio; he eventually earned a reputation as the world's finest portrait photographer. He took immortal images of the world's most famous musicians, artists, actors, and politicians, and also dedicated himself to humanitarian work, particularly on behalf of sick children. Part of the "Stories of Canada" series, Photographing Greatness is an informed and informative biography detailing the life and times of successful career man and positive role model. Enthusiastically recommended for children's public and school library collections.

She Touched the World
Sally Hobart Alexander and Robert Alexander
Clarion Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780618852994, $18.00 1-800-225-3362

Written for young adults and teenagers, She Touched the World: Laura Bridgman, Deaf-Blind Pioneer is the biographical story of Laura Bridgman (1829-1889), the first deaf-blind American child to receive a significant education in the English language, fifty years before the more famous Hellen Keller. With the help of a doctor, determined to find a way to help this intelligent, curious young girl communicate with the world despite the limitations of her own body, she became a teacher and an inspiration to others - and when Helen Keller's mother learned about Bridgman's achievements, she knew that her own daughter could be helped. An utterly fascinating and inspirational true-life story, illustrated with a handful of black-and-white photographs. Highly recommended especially for high school and public library collections.

A Song for Cambodia
Michelle Lord, author
Shino Arihara, illustrator
Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9781600601392, $16.95

A Song for Cambodia is a children's picturebook about serious matters - war, human cruelty, and the power of music to kindle hope in one's darkest hour. A simplified biography of the childhood of real-life humanitarian Arn Chorn-Pond, A Song for Cambodia tells of how Khmer Rouge soldiers murdered Arn's family and sent him to a children's work camp, where he labored for long hours on the brink of starvation. When the guards requested volunteers to play music, Arn dared to volunteer - receiving his only chance for survival. He learned to play a traditional Cambodian musical instrument, as his life literally depended upon it; his teacher and several fellow students were later executed. Music was the one thing that gave Arn hope and comfort through his trying ordeal of escape, sickness, and survival at a refugee camp. An American volunteer saved his life and adopted him; adjusting to life in America was not easy. An afterword tells of Arn's award-winning humanitarian work with survivors of war, and his efforts to reclaim and spread knowledge of Cambodian music. Though A Song for Cambodia covers somber subject matter, it does so in a tasteful and respectful fashion; the result is a high-quality picturebook strongly recommended especially for public library children's collections.

I, Vivaldi
Janice Shefelman, author
Tom Shefelman, illustrator
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
c/o Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
2140 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780802853189, $18.00 1-800-253-7521

Intended for young readers age seven to eleven, I, Vivaldi is a children's picturebook story about the childhood of classical violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741). Though there are a few author's liberties taken with Vivaldi's factual biography, most notably telling the story directly from Vivaldi's point of view, I, Vivaldi stays reasonably close to what history tells us of this remarkable music genius. Vivaldi's mother pushed him to enter the priesthood, but Vivaldi's first and foremost passion was his music - how was he to find his life's destiny? The text is moderately complex as picturebooks go, making I, Vivaldi ideal for young readers who are almost ready to make the transition to chapter books. Highly recommended.

The American History Shelf

I'm Your Very Own Flag
Sue Voorhees, author
Judy Hayward, illustrator
Old Soldier Publishing
PO Box 346, Washington, Texas 77880
0976416743, $12.50

I'm Your Very Own Flag is a rhyming children's picturebook about the patriotic message of the U.S. flag. Simple colorful illustrations embellish this brief story of the history of the flag, and why it means so much to Americans today, as told from the anthropomorphized perspective of the flag itself. "And as each new state joined our great country / They added a new star to the blue of me. / Now I have 50 pinned to my chest / And for each of the 50 I do my best. // I won't disappoint my parents you see, / Because they fought so hard for me. // And there's one thing more I'd like you to know, / As long as the winds continue to blow, / I'll love you, defend you - / For freedom's my stand, / Wherever I fly under God's loving hand." A thoughtful foundation for teaching young people about patriotism and the importance of showing respect to the flag, and through it, to those who have sacrificed for America throughout history and continue to do so in the present day.

Texas Rangers: Legendary Lawmen
Michael P. Spradlin, author
Roxie Munro, illustrator
Walker & Company
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780802780966, $16.95 1-800-289-2553

Texas Rangers: Legendary Lawmen is an amazing children's picturebook about the legendary Texas Rangers, lawmen who worked to protect fellow citizens from the hazards of frontier life in the 1820s. The Rangers were also present at key moments of Texas history, such as the defense of the Alamo along with heroes such as Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, and their espionage of the Mexican army during the war for independence. The simple illustrations add life and color to this fascinating tribute, which offers a glimpse of what the life of an Old West lawman was really like."Ranger Gonzaullas eventually rose to the rank of captain. He believed in using scientific methods such as fingerprints to capture outlaws, and he started the first modern laboratory for crime detection in Texas. He went on to solve some of the most famous crimes in Texas history." Highly recommended.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Casey Cougar
Ronald & Diana Meyer
Natures Beauty Publishing Inc.
PO Box 107, Oxford, Michigan 48371-0107
0975470124, $19.95

Professional photographer Ronald Meyer along with his wife and co-author Diana Meyer present Casey Cougar, the de facto sequel to "Freddy Fox." Illustrated with breathtaking photographs of a young cougar as it grows up into an adult, Casey Cougar presents a simple story about growing up and setting out on one's own, enhanced by true-life facts about the species. "Climbing trees builds agility, balance and strong muscles. Casey often climbs the trees that grow next to the den. Playing tag helps develop hunting skills. Some lessons are learned at play; others through schooling." A simple yet warmhearted and timeless children's picturebook. Also highly recommended is "Freddy Fox", a similar coming-of-age tale starring a fox cub and featuring more of Ronald Meyer's eye-catching wildlife photography.

Wild Cats Past & Present
John E. Becker, Ph.D., author
Mark Hallett, illustrator
Darby Creek Publishing
7858 Industrial Parkway, Plain City, OH 43064
9781581960525, $18.95 1-800-328-4929

Featuring stunningly beautiful full-color photography, Wild Cats Past & Present is a nonfiction guide about the many fascinating and resourceful wild feline species found throughout the globe, from lions, tigers, jaguars and cheetahs to pumas, bobcats, and lynx, to diminutive wild species scarcely bigger than a domestic cat such as the black-footed cat, the fishing cat or Pallas' cat. A brief passage concerning domestic and feral cats is included, including the sadly devastating effect feral cats have had on the indigenous wildlife of some areas (notably Australia) and the positive influence of trap-neuter-release programs as a humane alternative to controlling feral cat numbers. Perhaps most valuable is the important lesson that wild cats are not pets; even a small ocelot is a wild beast first and foremost, and should not be owned by private citizens. Though intended for young adults, the lavishly photographed Wild Cats Past & Present is a treat for cat lovers of all ages. Highly recommended, especially for children's library collections.

Baby Mountain Sheep
Aubrey Lang, author
Wayne Lynch, photography
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
311 Washington Street, Brighton, MA 02135-3303
9781554550425, $15.95 1-800-387-9776

Part of the "Nature Babies" series by the prolific team of author Aubrey Lang and wildlife photographer Wayne Lynch, Baby Mountain Sheep is a children's picturebook featuring gorgeous color photography of mountain sheep and amazing true facts about their life cycle. Following a precocious wild baby sheep with a bad leg and her family, Baby Mountain Sheep tells of sheep social life, the efforts they take to avoid dangerous predators, and much more. An index and a "Did You Know?" section of wildlife facts for parents and teachers round out this latest contribution to a wonderfully educational series.

Frankie the Walk 'n Roll Dog
Barbara Gail Techel, author
Victoria Kay Lieffring, illustrator
Joyful Paws
9780980005202, $14.95

Frankie the Walk 'n Roll Dog is a softcover picturebook based on the true-life story of the author's dog Frankie, a dachshund whose spinal injury paralyzed her lower body but not her spirit. Frankie was custom fit for a wheelchair, and learned to keep on rolling and make the most of life. "In order to get me to try out my new wheels, Mom coaxes me with doggie biscuits. Inch by inch, I move forward. Pretty soon, I am walking around the block and don't even notice the wheels behind me. As we walk by Travis, the neighbor boy, he yells, 'Hey, look! That dog has tires!' I hold my head high and roll along with pride." Illustrated with dramatically shaded color artwork, Frankie the Walk 'n Roll Dog is a heartwarming and uplifting picturebook conveying a positive-minded message about making the most of life despite disabilities.

The Judaic Storybook Shelf

Chicken Man
Michelle Edwards
Junebug Books
c/o NewSouth, Inc.
PO Box 1588, Montgomery, AL 36102
9781588382238, $16.95 1-334-834-3556

First published in 1991, and now in a new edition with an updated 2007 afterword from the author, Chicken Man is a classic National Jewish Book Awards Winner picturebook about a man who lives and works on a kibbutz (a special type of farm in Israel). Chicken man loves the chickens of his chicken coop more than anything, and he's so happy taking care of them everyone becomes convinced he has the best job on the kibbutz. When a new work list is posted, he must change jobs and work at the laundry instead - leaving his chickens wasn't easy, but he resolved to do his best and sing while he worked; this leads everyone to think that laundry is the best job on the kibbutz, and his duty is changed to gardening. But when the chickens stop producing eggs because they were deprived of their favorite keeper, the kibbutz learns that it's the person who does the job that makes the biggest difference, and Chicken Man is reunited with his beloved chickens. The new afterword briefly reflects on how kibbutzes have changed in the modern era (children's houses or work lists are generally not found within them anymore). But the central theme of Chicken Man, the value of making the best of every situation, is a positive message enthusiastically recommended to young readers of all backgrounds.

The Easy Reader Shelf

Barefoot, Shoefoot
Mary Clare Lockman, author
Karen Norman, illustrator
Privately Published
9781604026122, $8.95 651-646-7984

Barefoot, Shoefoot is flat-spined, easy-reader picturebook featuring delightful animal characters who wear different footwear for different situations, and also enjoy the pleasure of being barefoot from time to time! The lively, colorful illustrations are eye-catching and the simple phrases will help young people build up their basic vocabulary, especially concerning footwear. "When I wear rain boots, / I can dance through puddles after a summer storm. / When I wear cowboy boots, / I'm the tallest one in my class." A fun and enjoyable read-aloud book to share.

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design