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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 24, Number 4 April 2014 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Donovan's Bookshelf Holiday Shelf Relationship Shelf
Environmental Shelf Science Shelf Math Shelf
Easy Reader Shelf Picturebook Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Crafts Shelf Memoir Shelf Self-Help Shelf
Poetry Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Money/Finance Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf DVD Shelf Music CD Shelf
Graphic Novel Shelf Activity Shelf Multimedia Shelf
Biography Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fiction Shelf
Judaic Shelf Christian Shelf Religion/Spirituality Shelf
Social Issues Shelf Health Shelf Jobs/Careers Shelf
Books in Series    

Donovan's Bookshelf

Sweet Tea
Wendy Lynn Decker
Serendipity Media Group, LLC
9584 N. Shannon St., Fresno, CA 93720
ASIN: B00HZ6CD16 Ebook $9.99, 350 pages
9780615958484 Paperback $14.99 _swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

Sweet Tea is a fine young adult story presented in the first person and revolving around the responsibilities of sixteen-year-old Olivia, who first learns that her mother may be mentally ill from a TV talk show on the subject. The question is: what to do now?

Her mother's always been 'eccentric', but Sweet Tea's opening sentence quickly pinpoints the truth: "Mama was different from other mothers, only I didn't realize how different, until the day she buried our Thanksgiving turkey in the front yard. At the time, Mama believed the sacrificial act would save our sinful souls. In actuality, it challenged me to sacrifice my own."

As a 'child', Olivia surely can't force her mother into treatment; yet as a young adult she faces the prospect of being alone with a more-than-eccentric woman as her older sister prepares to move away in search of fame and fortune, leaving Olivia alone to cope with her mother. There's no help from her younger brother Luke, either: he's more than buried himself in a fascination for taking things apart and putting them back together. Only he tackle his home life in this manner, so he ignores it.

Even after Olivia's suspicions are confirmed, life doesn't get any easier: there's no relative to tap for help, no support system to engage Olivia in a consideration of the choices a parent's mental illness can bring, and Olivia has to muster courage and resourcefulness to bring about positive results all on her own. There is only the kindness of two strangers to rely on...but can she trust them? And can she overcome her own fears to move out into the world with no support system behind her?

Therein lies the meat of Sweet Tea (actually more bittersweet than sweet): Olivia's struggle to cope with her mother's condition while retaining her own sense of independence and growth.
Olivia may be young, fearful, and inexperienced, but her determination to build a life regardless of its special challenges is notable and uplifting, and carries readers along a dual path of appreciation for Olivia's home life and more mundane teen challenges of boyfriends and decisions made in life outside her home.

So many titles on mental illness narrow the focus to coping and neglect the overall bigger picture of how a home life with mental illness can interact with a wider world outside home's front door. Not so Sweet Tea, which provides a more realistic portrait from a teen's viewpoint that embraces so much more than a singular concern.

Yes, her mother's condition threatens to dominate her life - but that's not her only world. As Olivia's worlds coalesce, one of her biggest challenges is learning to trust in the efforts of others: "I guess my initial thoughts about Westin were wrong. Even if I hadn't changed my mind, he was right. I had no choice but to have faith at that moment."

And as Olivia makes decisions about her future, from her mother's fate to her career possibilities as a journalist, she finds life offers her far more than a limited or dangerous future with a mentally ill parent.

In the end Sweet Tea is about many life-changing moments: survival, coping strategies, faith, trust - and personal evolution.

Life, death, and everything in between: Sweet Tea offers a bittersweet taste of what life's all about, and will immerse young adult and adult readers alike in a life well lived.

Magical Animals
Ian White, illustrated by Gaston Hauviller
465 Westview Avenue Englewood, NJ 07631
9781564924063, $14.95, Page Count: 32

Magical Animals pairs a rollicking rhyme about a bored young boy with vivid color drawings by Gaston Hauviller, and is a recommendation for either parental read-aloud or for young picturebook readers who have an introductory command of language and an appreciation for animals, fantasy and rhyme.

Leo is bored: his mother reinforces the idea that magic is not real, so he's facing the prospect of growing up in a world devoid of wonder when - flash, bang! - a wizard with a silver beard and red cape appears to refute this notion and to introduce the idea that "It's a magical world if you know where to go."

One would expect the wizard to - flash, bang! - transport Leo to an alternate universe, or something filled with elves, gnomes, and fantasy. Instead the wizard is intent on showing Leo the magic of nature, and gorgeous color drawings accompany discoveries of hummingbirds, turtles, mountain goats and more.

All this is presented in a fun rhyming story: ""Mountain goats prance on a hillside so sheer./ Just the mere sight of it fills me with fear./ How can they run in so steep a location?/Magical hooves are the sole explanation!"

True magic is 'hard to explain' and it's everywhere, right outside Leo's window. All it takes is a dedicated wizard, a bit of belief, and a desire to explore the world to bring these natural wonders to life.

This is truly a different take on the natural history picturebook theme. By injecting a sense of magic and discovery and using a fictional format to explore nature, young readers will be far more interested in embarking on their own discoveries of the great outdoors and nature's wonders.

The bright, involving drawings by Gaston Hauviller are both realistic and fantastic, often juxtaposing the wizard and Leo in lively, impossible observational interactions with a real-looking bit of nature - as in their observation of spiders, where the spider is presented large-sized on its web while tiny-sized Leo and the wizard float outside the web on colorful parachutes.

The concluding message pairs magic with the real world and will provide picturebook readers with a warm feeling of discovery and magic of their own, making this a fine and inspirational recommendation for young leisure readers who love magical stories.

In the Comfort of Shadows
Laurel Bragstad
Orange Hat Publishing
2709 Minot Lane, Waukesha, WI 53188
9781937165635, $12.99 paperback; $3.99 ebook, 344 pages

In the Comfort of Shadows tells of one Ann Olson, who is on a treasure hunt to reveal the hidden secrets of her family and childhood - with little to go on but the memories of an estranged hermit cousin who lives by himself on a run-down farm in rural Wisconsin. Ann thinks she's prepared for almost anything - but what she discovers in Emmett's house, past, and present will reveal the truth not only about her own heritage and why she was adopted, but the ultimate places her search will lead her.

Many adoptees wind up wanting to know the entire story behind their adoption at some point in their lives. Like Ann, many have relatively little to go on, and must piece together circumstances from family stories and rumors.

Ann has an advantage, however, in the presence of a distant relative, now elderly, who knows the truth of her heritage: and so her journey to meet this man results in discoveries of his diaries and truths about his background as well as hers. Even as her sister turns away from further investigation, happy with the way things are, Ann perseveres in her quest.

In the Comfort of Shadows is about much more than family secrets, politics, adoptee struggles, or even self-discovery: ultimately it's about love past and present, the forces that shape it, and the results of its decisions. It's also about facing the unexpected and understanding the depths of friendship, connections and family. As Ann comes to discover the complexity revolving around these links, she also comes to feel more than she thought about not only past events, but possibilities of romance in her future.

Only when Ann absorbs the truth about her past and the diaries that hold keys to understanding love and loss can she move beyond her quest to embrace what lies ahead in her own future.

The diary entries are poignant, filled with mystery, promise, affection and hope during a time of war. Ann's review of them leads to discoveries about love's perseverance: "Viewed in retrospect, the events of the past few months have had a profound effect on my philosophy of life in general."

As the story moves from wartime Germany, France, love lost to another, separations due to 'circumstance of war or heart', and poetry and diary entries, Ann slowly comes to know a truth that gets Emmet to talk about his life and help Ann understand about her own heritage.

As Ann learns more, she slowly comes to believe Emmett's story makes sense - even if it is an explanation she never could have imagined or anticipated.

In the Comfort of Shadows is all about uncovering family connections and how past affects present. It's a fine story of biological connections, sacrifice, and how the presence and ramifications of close-held secrets become recurring themes in the lives of all involved. Like ripples in a pond, Ann's search and revelations affect all around her - including a love who has some secrets of his own.

Poignant, engrossing and unpredictable, In the Comfort of Shadows is a moving story of past, present, and future all wound tightly into an adoptee's quest for the truth.

ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties
J Bean Palmer and Chris Palmer
Holly Hill Press
9781456620806, $3.99,

Ordering Links: pe-cod-witch-series-j-bean-palmer/1117927553?ean=2940149011278&itm=1&usri=elsbeth

ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties centers around almost-ten-year-old ElsBeth Amelia Thistle (the youngest witch on Cape Cod) and her journey to integrate her different worlds of science and magic, and is an engaging fantasy recommended for advanced elementary through middle school readers.

A gorgeous, colorful painting of ElsBeth and a moonlit castle across the water invites young readers to enter a plot that represents Book Three of the 'The Cape Cod Witch Series', but which stands well on its own for newcomers.

More than twenty full-color illustrations by Melanie Therrien throughout the saga provide visual embellishment to the story, which opens with a spooky encounter of a castle ghost commanding the youngest of the Thistle clan across the sea to Scotland.

Present-time Cape Cod is the next scene, where the young witch senses an evil danger about to descend on and change her happy world: "...Like her future had become unsettled. Like some danger had just sailed up and dropped anchor in her future. Hardly anyone knew she was a witch -- this was just something that wasn't discussed. A good, nine-year-old witch, granted, but a witch nonetheless. She knew her perceptions were sometimes a little different, and they didn't ask her permission to come in on her. And she definitely didn't always understand them."

As ElsBeth finds herself on a long journey, summoned by ancestral ghosts who need her help, she encounters magic and different kinds of allies in unexpected places along the way. Far from home, she discovers some of her old friends have been conscripted to accompany her - and slowly her two disparate worlds blend.

The very fact that ElsBeth and her friends have all been lifted from everything familiar and transported to someplace outside of all their experiences lends to new perceptions - and this, again, is one of the ongoing strengths of the story: "She was a little worried about Veronica, who was always aware how pretty she was, and didn't seem altogether pleased she might not be the prettiest girl around right now. But that seemed a small worry compared to what they'd been through getting here."

ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties isn't a one-dimensional fantasy adventure: readers are treated to a host of sensations and experiences wedded to emotion and reflection; and that's one of its strongest features, keeping it 'real' and inviting: "She wanted to ask the insightful bat if he thought it was OK for her to go on the trip today. But there wasn't time, and he'd probably just say, "Think for yourself." He was always encouraging ElsBeth to think things through on her own. And as much as she wanted to be good at that, she knew thinking about things wasn't her strongest point. She preferred action. She liked to just start ... and then keep going."

Too many fantasies (especially for young adults) focus more on the fantasy setting and adventure than on personal interactions and revelations. What sets apart better writings is an attention to psychological depth, which is more than evident in the passages of reflection and understanding throughout ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties.

The other books in the series have not been seen by this reviewer; but if they're anything like this one, they deserve all the acclaim they have already received elsewhere.

Suffice it to say that ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties is about as fine a middle school fantasy as you could get: vivid, packed with ghosts and mystery, and yet tempered with an attention to interpersonal depth that is rare and inviting.

Harley P. Davidsun's Loony Bin
Ken Derby
Illusion Publishing
061587228X, Paperback: $6.00, Kindle: $2.99

Harley P. Davidsun's Loony Bin is a zany and fun read set in a fourth grade class and presents an unconventional teacher and his crazy classroom assignments: perfect reading for kids who are typically bored by your usual stories of school.

Teacher Harley P. Davidsun makes his difference evident from the moment students set foot in his classroom: "The HIM was leaning back in the teacher's chair with his black motorcycle boots propped up right in the middle of the teacher's desk. His faded, frayed, torn-up blue jeans looked like they were at least a hundred years old. A long ponytail hung over the back of his sleeveless black t-shirt, and a gold hoop dangled from his left earlobe. Dark sunglasses sat on his crooked nose, and a scraggly beard lay on his bulging belly, almost reaching to his big, silver belt buckle.

The HIM didn't say a word. He just crossed his huge, tattooed arms over his ample belly and sat there eyeballing every kid who passed by his desk."

And lest appearances lie, the teacher's first greeting also indicates that school will be anything but normal this year: "...he grumbled in a sort of grizzly-bear voice wrapped up in a Southern drawl: "Welcome to the fourth grade loony bin."

As Gomez and his best friend Fester come to know their unconventional teacher - and participate in his antics - they discover that it will be the best school year they've ever experienced - and so readers in grades 3-6 will also discover the Loony Bin to be one of the liveliest, most unpredictable reads about school to land on their desks in quite some time.

Mind you, there are lessons taught within the hilarious escapades throughout: ""Here are a couple things, some real gems of wisdom you all oughtta tuck away in your gray matter for safe keepin'. If you eat like a pig, you're gonna look like one. Believe me, too many chocolate fudge sundaes and sittin' in front of the TV like a couch potato will be hazardous to your health.""

And even when Mr. D. is hospitalized and out of commission after an accident, the antics continue (at school and in the hospital), fostered by his unique brand of humor, insights on the world, and an attitude which successfully rubs off on his young students.

Ironically enough, one of his substitute teachers becomes equally zany, even participating when a fart-making contest erupts in the classroom and crescendos with a toilet-paper war pitting boys against girls.

There's absolutely nothing boring - or predictable - about Harley P. Davidsun's Loony Bin: even the most reluctant reader will become immersed in the whimsical exploits of teachers and students, and will find this to be a compelling page-turner.

Journey To Landaran
Judy Goodwin
Diamond Print Press
1480 W Page Ave, Gilbert, AZ 85233
eBook: ISBN-13: 9781310098789
Print: ISBN-13: 9780615917474
eBook: $3.99, Trade paperback: $14.99, 321 pages 5917474

Journey To Landaran is Book One of the 'Spirit Mage Saga', and is young adult fantasy at its best, presenting a map and an old (230-year) woman who holds onto a fading hope that a seven-times granddaughter living an isolated rural life will give birth to the last generation with the Life Talent that has condemned Korva to be one of the last Great Protectors of her era.

Her desires for peace are about to be answered as she makes the discovery that, indeed, Arlene is about to give birth to not one but two Talents: forces that will change the world.

Tavish and Aidah manage to successfully grow up in a small village with no evidence of their strange abilities: but that peaceful time is about to come to a close as they began to manifest Talents of their own. It's obvious that Tavish is a Firestarter, but Aidah fears she's also developing her own Talent ... a force that will both compliment and supersede her brother's formidable powers.

Time for a journey and a mission: one that could not only change the world, but lead nations to war (after all, with the ability to read minds, travel through dreams, and possess bodies, the sky's the limit.)

Or so it seems to twins who face danger at every turn, struggling with undeveloped powers and their evolution and the designs and schemes of those who would harness such for their own goals.
Mature young adults will find this no simple saga: it's permeated with the hearts and minds of some who are good and some who are evil.

A swirl of secrets revolve around their efforts, challenging both to new perspectives and to setting aside personal comfort for the greater good: "Brenton didn't need to know any of this. He was burdened enough with the care of them, and his thoughts were bleak....If he knew what Rangwar was doing to his niece right under his protection, it would devastate him. She couldn't do that to him. And Tavish - well, he'd shoot flames if he knew, and run off to defend her honor. And Derg - he'd probably die of shame like he always said he'd do if he failed in his role as guardian. She didn't really know what he'd do, but it would be to harm himself, of that she was certain. He always kept things inside. Just like her."

From deaths that need avenging to inner struggles to find courage against all odds, Journey To Landaran is as much about the hunt for personal bravery as it is about handling outside forces, spreading darkness, and strange new powers. The focus is on Aidah, in particular, and her growth and perspectives fuels an already-volatile story of powerful twins who go out into the world to seek their destiny.

As the two become immersed in events that preclude war, Journey To Landaran also is about developing social and political savvy in a changing world - and while its conclusion is open-ended, suffice it to say that great changes take place between the story's opening and its conclusion.

Keep in mind this is Book 1: as such, look for more great things as Aidah and her brother find their talents affecting a world-changing battle.

Dracula: The Real Story
Ken Derby
Illusion Publishing
8369 NW 66 St #3920, Miami FL 33166
ISBN-10: 0615919758
ISBN-13: 9780615919751
Ebook Price: $2.99, Page Count: 101

Dracula: The Real Story is a juvenile biography at its best: and because the subject involves a somewhat sinister figure, it'll attract more leisure readers in the 9-12 age group than most biographies.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy a vivid nonfiction probe of one Vlad Dracula, a little-known Romanian prince who emerged from fugitive status to become one of the most influential warlords of his time, operating between the Ottoman and European Empires with such cunning and brutal tactics (even for the fifteenth century) that he earned the title 'Vlad the Impaler'.

Dracula: The Real Story opens with a quiz and a challenge: who was the real Dracula? Was he a supernaturally-powered count who feasted on the blood of women by night, stymied only by religious symbols; was he a prince obsessed with torture, who terrorized warlords and ambassadors alike? Either way, Dracula was relatively fearless - and the intense descriptions of violence, and the author's skill at contrasting reality with fantasy will draw mature young readers into a fascinating story that seems like fiction, but is historical fact.

Its dialogue isn't your usual stilted nonfiction read, but a lively set of interactions between author and reader often couched in the first person to encourage a personal level of involvement: "Dracula, a prince? I don't think so, you might say to yourself. Princes are noble, charming, and civilized. Besides, I've never heard of this skull-nailing, bloody carpenter. Dracula's a bloodsucker, a vampire, right? Fangs, blood, bats, garlic, wooden stakes, castles, know - the count! Ah, yes. The count. The world knows about him, but where did he come from?"

Would that all young adult nonfiction titles adopt this tone: there'd be many more young readers interested in learning, with such an entertaining and interactive approach! But then again, what young reader wouldn't be interested in learning more about Dracula, the first vampire outlined in literature?

Quotes from source materials (letters, writings of the times) accompany this lively survey and support its contentions and history. From how Vlad discovered his brother had been tortured and murdered to the politics of his era and a focus on revenge which turned into a lifelong obsession with violence, Dracula: The Real Story is more than a narrowed focus of a man's life, but a wider portrait of fifteenth century intrigue and power struggles. Juvenile readers learn about the dilemmas, conflicts, and approaches to war that were altered by Dracula and his motivations, and, surprisingly, how he was viewed as a hero by some.

Want to get juveniles interested in history? Begin with Dracula: The Real Story: there's no better way of creating this interest than with a work of nonfiction that uses the specter of a real-life 'vampire' and then brings it to life with vivid, rich and interactive descriptions!

First Impression: A Shadow Maven Paranormal
Pauline Creeden
AltWit Press
201 George Emerson Lane, Yorktown VA 23693
9781495303944, $7.99, Pages: 170

First Impression opens with a bang: the bang of an owl's beak on the window; and young adult audiences are off and running from its first captivating paragraph: "I watched for the owl with my Hogwarts letter to appear on my 10th birthday, but he never did. So when an owl taps at my bedroom window near midnight six years too late, I am more confused than elated. I had never seen an owl before except in the movies. The street lamp casts a yellow pallor on this one, but still its feathers shine just shy of iridescent. Varying shades of brown and gold weave throughout its wings and cover its back. It pecks again at my window pane with its amber beak."

As Chira's story evolves, readers come to recognize Chira is a realist who longs for a touch of magic in her pragmatic world. Given her strength and determination, she does find that magic; albeit not in places and forms she expects.

All the elements of a captivating story line are cleverly woven into a vivid, memorable plot: there's a haunted schoolhouse, a new transfer student who has a pet owl and a strange past, a stepfather whose vicious tongue and surly ways seek to repress Chira's spirit, and most of all: the spark and fight of a teen determined to get the most out of life.

As Chira becomes friends with the enigmatic Ben and his owl companion, they embark on a journey of discovery and sleuthing that involve them a real investigation that involves the disappearances of teens in a nearby town.

As boundaries between the supernatural and reality blur, the two find themselves on a very strange journey together that reveals hidden truths and requires help from the other side: "Ben's jaw tightens and his voice sounds hard and raspy, somehow even deeper than usual because it's low. "There are only two kinds of haunting. Impressions and Possessions. This is clearly an impression." "Huh?"..."Proof of an impression." Ben leans in. "What she just described was like a movie on replay. The impression of a life was imprinted in the place where violence occurred. That much is obvious. That's the first sort of 'ghost.'"

In such a scenario, Ben's background (having been raised by monks) is not only an oddity; it's an asset offering a rare opportunity for understanding and problem-solving. As he and Chira face down impossible dangers in the course of their adventures, they awaken something deadly that could be from another side. Or, is it human after all?

Satisfying twists and turns of plot keep young adult readers guessing throughout, with curses becoming gifts and back again. Is a demon on the loose, or is it the ugliness of a real world gone amok?

Either way, First Impression succeeds in creating a spellbinding story wrapped around a spunky, irrepressible protagonist and her newfound friend, and creates an absorbing story packed with adventure right up to its emotionally charged, satisfying conclusion.

Diane Donovan
Senior Reviewer

The Holiday Shelf

Easter Bunny's Amazing Day
Carol Benoist & Cathy Gilmore, authors
Jonathan Sunday, illustrator
Liguori Publications
9780764823534 $16.99

Also available in Spanish (9780764824562), Easter Bunny's Amazing Day is a beautifully illustrated children's picturebook created to help teach young readers about the true meaning of Easter. The story is from the perspective of a frightened little grey-and-white rabbit, who witnesses the very first Easter, almost two thousand years ago. In search of shelter, the rabbit is accidentally sealed in the stone tomb that holds the body of Jesus Christ. For three days, the rabbit waits with Jesus, sealed in the cave. Then a miracle happens, and Jesus rises. "He stroked my fur with gentle hands and said, 'Don't be afraid, Little Bunny. I am with you.' Hearing His voice... I knew I'd never be afraid again. The special day when the man who glowed came out of the dark is called Easter. They call me the Easter Bunny because that was the amazing day he took all my fears away." Heartwarming and inspirational, Easter Bunny's Amazing Day is especially recommended for Sunday School picturebook libraries.

Simon and the Easter Miracle, A Traditional Tale for Easter
Mary Joslin, author
Anna Luraschi, illustrator
Lion Children's Books
c/o Lion Hudson PLC
Wilkinson House, Jordan Hill Road, Oxford OX2 8DR, England
9780745960548, $8.99,

"Simon and the Easter Miracle" is a children's version of the story of Jesus bearing his cross upon his back to the place of his crucifixion. Because he was weak and tortured, he was unable to carry the heavy cross. Roman soldiers forced an innocent bystander, a farmer/merchant named Simon, to abandon his goods and carry the cross for Jesus to the place of his crucifixion and death. Jesus thanked Simon for his help and Simon was struck by his gentleness, wondering what he had done to deserve to die. Jesus answered "Preaching a message of peace." Afterwards, amidst darkness and chaos, Simon discovered his market goods of eggs, bread and wine, had been spilled and spoiled except for a few stained eggs. He took the eggs home in a basket and put everything away sadly. Next morning, Simon found the eggs broken, as though they had hatched, though he knew they were not hatching eggs. Later he discovered twelve pure white doves flying around his head in the fields. This was a sign of great blessing, for doves are associated with those who work for peace. Simon recognized the miracle. Later that spring, a new season's crops were promising and fruitful. Gentle colorful illustrations help tell this traditional Easter story to young children in pictures which silently convey warmth and kindness in the middle of cruel death, affirming a hopeful message of resurrection and rebirth even in the midst of death.

Moms Make the Best Friends
Abigail Wilentz
Hachette UK
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781846014451, $12.99,

Moms Make the Best Friends receives fine color illustrations by Amy Schimler and surveys the special relationships between mothers and daughters. It's packaged in the small kind of book that lends to all ages from advanced elementary through adults and it's meant as a celebration of mothers and daughters, capturing typical moments between the two. The result requires no depth or complexity and makes for an involving story perfect for Mother's Day or general appreciation.

The Relationship Shelf

Dating! 10 Helpful Tips for a Successful Relationship
Laura Buddenberg, MS and Alesia K. Montgomery
Boys Town Press
14100 Crawford Street
Boys Town, NE 68010
9781934490525 $9.95

Although Dating! 10 Helpful Tips for a Successful Relationship is written especially for teens, readers of all ages and backgrounds will find its practical, no-nonsense advice invaluable. From ways to cope with powerful emotions, to how to select an appropriate gift in the early stages of relationship, to warning signs that a prospective partner is unfit (too controlling, violent, possessive, or in the worst cases, "grooming" young people for sexual abuse), Dating! 10 Helpful Tips for a Successful Relationship is a "must-read" for young person past puberty. "Sometimes, people use 'electronic means' to stalk, harass or intimidate someone. If your significant other asks to see your phone (or takes it from you!) to find out whom you've called or texted, you're being harassed, no matter how much the other person claims to care about you."

The Environmental Shelf

Lou Lou
Safia Guerras, author
Mai S. Kemble, illustrator
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478723592, $24.95,

"Lou Lou," the name of the heroine from Kayla island in the Maldives, is spelled with two little hearts instead of "o's" because a heart stands for love, and wherever Lou Lou goes, the love of her grandma and grandpa go with her. Lou Lou is a six year old girl who was born and lived on enchanted Kayla island in the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. Lou Lou had always lived on her tiny island but she must leave it now with her parents; the island's reef and sand beaches are disappearing because of global warming causing the seas to rise. Lou Lou and her parents knew for a long time they would have to leave, and finally the sad day arrived along with the rescue ship. Lou Lou had been told many enchanting stories about her beautiful tropical island home by her grandparents, and she is very sad to leave it forever. Lou Lou sees that her parents also are very sad on the ship taking them away, and she seeks a quiet corner on the large noisy ship to cry her own tears. A surprising experience awaits her! In the underwater porthole window on the sea she sees a beautiful mermaid with long red hair! It is a good omen, reminding her of all her grandparents' magical tales of the underwater world surrounding their island home. Lou Lou begins to think more hopefully of what may lie ahead for her and her family, on their new adventure seeking a new home. Lou Lou will need many new friends on her travels to far away countries such as Japan, Africa, England, and the United States, and young readers of "Lou Lou" are invited to become her friends also and travel with her on her hopeful journey. Charming colorful illustrations bring Lou Lou and her beautiful tropical island home to life in this moving story which should teach empathy for victims of global warming.

The Science Shelf

Women In Space
Karen Bush Gibson
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781613748442, $19.95,

Intended for young readers ages and 12 and older, "Women in Space: 23 Stories of First Flights, Scientific Missions, and Gravity-Breaking Adventures" by Karen Bush Gibson is a 240 page compendium that superbly showcases the role of women in the evolution of space exploration. Deftly written profiles of twenty-three outstanding women who made significant contributions as female astronauts, cosmonauts and mission specialists will prove to be as inspiring as they are informative. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Women in Space: 23 Stories of First Flights, Scientific Missions, and Gravity-Breaking Adventures" is very highly recommended reading and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to both school and community library collections. It should be noted that "Women in Space: 23 Stories of First Flights, Scientific Missions, and Gravity-Breaking Adventures" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Sea Slime: It's Eeuwy, Gooey, and Under the Sea
Ellen Prager, author
Shennen Bersani, illustrator
Sylvan Dells Publishing
c/o Arbordale Publishing
9781628552102, $17.95,

"Sea Slime: It's Eeuwy, Gooey, and Under the Sea" is an exciting, educational marine book about sea slime for children in grades K-3. Amazing, realistic color illustrations complement the simply written, instructional narrative about the source, nature and attributes of that marvelous, gooey, undersea substance known as sea slime. Slime may seem eeuwy, but it has many positive aspects. Sea slime can provide protection, cover, or even sunscreen functions for different marine creatures. Sea slime can help many marine creatures keep healthy and clean, as well as providing some nutrition. It can also help deter predators. Sea slime comes in many forms and colors and shapes, but it is definitely a marine animal health and well-being asset. "Sea Slime" has several ending educational sections including For Creative Minds, Slimy Animals True or False? Why Slime?, Lifestyles of the Wet and Slimy, and Make Your Own Slime (It's Fun and It's Messy). all these learning activities and more are suggested online at for this informative and innovative marine educational book about "Sea Slime."

Flowerpot Press
142 2nd Avenue North
Franklin, TN 37064
$24.95 each

Flowerpot Press presents two kid-friendly, hardcover compendiums packed with fascinating scientific facts and striking color photography, which make learning about the world fun! "The Really Big I Didn't Know That Book" (9781770939271) collects the stand-alone books "I Didn't Know That Some Bugs Glow in the Dark", "I Didn't Know That Some Sharks Keep Losing Their Teeth", "I Didn't Know That Some Dinosaurs Laid Eggs", and "I Didn't Know That Some Cars Can Swim" under one cover. Likewise, "The Really Big Awesome Book" (9781770939295) gathers the stand-alone books "The Awesome Book of Monsters of the Deep", "The Awesome Book of Volcanoes", "The Awesome Book of the Universe", and "The Awesome Book of Prehistoric Animals". "The biggest known structure in the universe is the Great Wall. It is a superwall, a group of superclusters, some 500 million light-years long, but even this may not be the biggest structure; there may even be structures three billion light-years across!" Both supersized collections are a great way to get young people excited about learning and discovery, and both are highly recommended for public and school library collections, or for gift-giving to enrich blossoming young minds.

The Math Shelf

Mysterious Patterns
Sarah C. Campbell, author
Sarah C. Campbell and Richard P. Campbell, photographers
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street
Honesdale, PA 18431
9781620916278 $16.95

Featuring gorgeous photography throughout, Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature is a picturebook that teaches young readers the basics about fractals - recurring patterns that are "the same near as far", commonly found in nature. Fractals appear in the branches of a tree (trees are programmed to grow, divide, grow, divide, etc. so that its outermost twigs form a similar pattern to its trunk and first few branches), the shape of leaves, the head of broccoli, the veins in one's lungs, the weathered rock of mountains, and much more. An afterword about Benoit Mandelbrot, one of the first mathematicians to understand and teach others about fractals, rounds out this astonishing, reader-friendly introduction to mysteries of mathematics in the natural world. Highly recommended for all ages, and especially for public library collections.

Albert the Muffin-Maker
Eleanor May, author
Deborah Melmon, illustrator
Kane Press, Inc.
350 Fifth Ave., Ste. 7206, New York, NY 10118
9781575656328, $7.95,

"Albert the Muffin-Maker" is a Mouse Math series title that uses zesty, original cartoons and fun mouse stories to teach ordinal numbers concepts to children age four and up. Albert the mouse decides to make muffins for a little treat of his own, borrowing ingredients and tools from family, friends and neighbors. The trouble is, Albert does not realize when he is asking others to "share" too many things for his muffins. When Albert is finally done collecting and mixing all ten of his muffin ingredients, Wanda takes him along on a little visit to every neighbor and friend who was asked to contribute ingredients. Finally everyone who has shared has received a muffin in return, and Albert returns home with Wanda, dismal at the thought of no leftover muffins to eat, just the smell of delicious baked muffins. Fortunately Wanda has reserved two of Albert's muffins to share with Albert, which taste very nice indeed. Additional fun learning activities and suggestions are listed at the end of this engaging Mouse Math teaching story.

The Easy Reader Shelf

Two Bunny Buddies
Kathryn O. Galbraith, author
Joe Cepeda, illustrator
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
9780544176522 $16.99

Two Bunny Buddies is a playful, easy reader picturebook about two bunny rabbits who are the best of friends. But one day they quarrel over which path to take. Each bunny goes a different, lonely way; can they ever meet up, look past their harsh words to one another, and be friends again? Simple sentences and exuberant, bold illustrations bring to life this heartwarming story about learning to overcome and move beyond rough patches in one's friendships and everyday life. Also highly recommended for beginning readers is Rita Gray's "Have You Heard the Nesting Bird?" (9780544105805, $16.99), a children's picturebook about the different calls that birds make, brought to life with stylized artwork and topped off with a handful of fun facts about our feathered friends.

The Picturebook Shelf

Norman, Speak!
Caroline Adderson & Qin Leng
Groundwood Books
c/o Douglas & McIntyre Ltd.
110 Spadina Avenue, Suite 801
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5V 2K4
9781554983223 $17.95

Norman, Speak! is a children's picturebook about a boy who adopts a lovable dog from an animal shelter. But the dog Norman doesn't seem to understand commands, or even his own name. Could it be that Norman isn't very smart? A chance encounter at the park reveals the truth - Norman does in fact know how to sit, shake, and obey other commands... if given in Chinese! Chinese is a difficult language to learn, so Norman is quite intelligent after all! The boy learns a few Chinese phrases so he can better communicate with his furry best friend, in this heartwarming picturebook that young dog lovers will adore. Also highly recommended for young readers is Groundwood Books' 30th anniversary edition of the classic picturebook "101 Things to Do with Baby" (9781554983797, $16.95), a wonderful and charming read-aloud resource to help little ones adjust to the presence of a new sibling in their lives.

Bear and Bird
James Skofield, author
Jennifer Thermes, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
Suite 200, 315 East Eisenhower Parkway
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781585368358 $15.99

Bear and Bird is a children's picturebook about a lasting friendship. When a little robin falls out of his tree while learning to fly, Bear comes to his rescue. This sparks the beginning of a wonderful ursine-avian friendship; although Bird has to migrate south each year, he always comes back as soon as he can to see his cherished from Bear again. But one year, Bird comes back to learn from Bear's grandchild that Bear is gone forever. "Bird let his head droop. He could not say anything. The bear looked at him with soft eyes. 'There now,' he rumbled quietly. 'You are sad. But death must come to each of us. Bear was very old. Shad a long, happy life. You were part of her happiness. You were her friend.'" A beautiful story about the enduring qualities of love and friendship, Bear and Bird is highly recommended.

The Grudge Keeper
Mara Rockliff, author
Eliza Wheeler, illustrator
Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781561457298 $16.95

The Grudge Keeper is a delightful children's picturebook that blends storytelling and metaphor. In the little town of Bonnyripple, no one personally keeps a grudge; instead, everyone depends on Cornelius, the Grudge Keeper, to file and record their many complaints. But the jibes, huffs, insults, squabbles and more pile up higher and higher - until there are more grudges than one man's house can hold! When a storm scatters grudges all around, burying poor Cornelius under a pile of ill will, can the people learn to move past their differences and save him? A playful story with a heartwarming, lifelong moral, The Grudge Keeper is highly recommended.

May the Stars Drip Down
Jeremy Chatelain, author
Nikki McClure, illustrator
115 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011
9781419710247 $17.95

May the Stars Drip Down is a lullaby picturebook illustrated with coolly beautiful, blue-and-white papercut artwork. The soothing lyrics by musician Jeremy Chatelain lend themselves perfectly to being read aloud, especially right before naptime or bedtime. "Up above the floating clouds of white, / In a spray of stars you climb so high, / Where light spills over from the moon. / May the billowed clouds catch you." An audio download of the original song complements this gentle, tender bedtime picturebook.

Always By My Side
Susan Kerner, author
Ian P. Benfold Haywood, illustrator
Star Bright Books
13 Landsdowne Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
9781595723369 $16.99

Always By My Side is a rhyming children's picturebook with a profound message - even though a father may not be physically present, his love for his sons and daughters stays forever. Though work, duty, divorce, or death may separate a father (Always By My Side never specifies), the special bond he shares with his children is part of every day and every moment. "And when I hear the birds in song, / or barking dogs at play, / I know that he is speaking to me / in a very special way..." Warm, colorful illustrations complement this emotional and inspirational picturebook, highly recommended.

Ben & Zip: Two Short Friends
Joanne Linden, author
Tom Goldsmith, illustrator
Flash Light Press
c/o Independent Publishers Group
814 North Franklin Street
Chicago, IL 60610
9781936261284 $16.95

Ben & Zip: Two Short Friends is a charming children's picturebook about a short little boy named Ben, and his good friend Zip. An accident suddenly separates them during a busy day at the beach. How is Ben to find Zip? Ben is so short that all he can see is people's knees! When he climbs on a bench, all he can see are bellies! When he climbs even higher, all he can see is hair! Ben perseveres, and finally locates Zip in time to help him. Poor Zip has a tough time being short too, because Zip happens to be a dachshund! The delightful, free-spirited illustrations add the perfect touch to this silly, playful story.

Winter is for Snow
Robert Neubecker
Disney Hyperion
125 West End Avenue
New York, NY 10023
9781423178316 $16.99

Winter is for Snow is an exuberant children's picturebook celebrating the joys of the winter season from a child's point of view. It begins with a young brother and sister arguing about the winter season. The sister doesn't like the cold, or having to wear extra clothes! But the brother teaches her how much fun winter can be - it's the season for playing in snow, sledding, skating, or even skiing on the mountainside! Charming, playful, and featuring delightful hand-drawn illustrations, Winter is for Snow is just plain fun to read aloud and share. Also highly recommended is the Disney picturebook "An Amazing Snowman" (9781423185147, $16.99), based on the popular children's movie "Frozen".

Big Rig
Jamie A. Swenson, author
Ned Young, illustrator
Disney Book Group
114 Fifth Avenue, 14th floor
New York, NY 10011
9781423163305 $16.99

Big Rig is a simple, rhyming picturebook about the delivery adventure of a hardworking eighteen-wheeler truck. Of particular interest is how several phrases of real-life trucker jargon are seamlessly worked into the otherwise simple story, which is supplemented by a glossary of trucker lingo definitions, such as "Kiddie cars: school buses", "Alligator: Tread from an eighteen-wheeler in the road", "Shiny side up and rubber side down: Be careful!" and so on. Exuberant color illustrations enliven this fun read-aloud story.

Churchill's Tale of Tails
Anca Sandu
Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781561457380 $16.95

Churchill's Tale of Tails is a whimsical children's picturebook about a proud pig who accidentally loses his own tail. What's a tailless pig to do? Churchill tries on an assortment of other animal tails, from a lavish peacock tail to a proud tiger's tail, but in the process he neglects his two closest friends. Will Churchill remember that the support of his friends is more precious than a thousand tails? Churchill's Tale of Tails is an easy-to-read, warmhearted story, supplanted with exuberant illustrations and a gentle underlying moral.

Tiny Rabbit's Big Wish
Margarita Engle, author
David Walker, illustrator
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
9780547852867 $16.99

Newberry Honor-Winning author Margarita Engle presents Tiny Rabbit's Big Wish, a children's picturebook about a little rabbit who wishes to grow big. No matter how hard he longs to become gigantic, he only grows a little bit, especially his ears. But could being small with big ears be a blessing in disguise? The gentle color illustrations add just the right touch to this simple, lovely children's picturebook about learning to appreciate one's own innate gifts and talents.

The Cat with Seven Names
Tony Johnston, author
Christine Davenier, illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472
9781580893817 $16.95

The Cat with Seven Names is a children's picturebook about a plump but friendly cat, who befriends different people around town, including an elderly librarian, a homeless war veteran, a hardworking police officer, and a little girl. Some of them feed the cat, and each person gives him a different name, but all of them appreciate his comfort and affection. Can one friendly cat bring an entire neighborhood of diverse people together? Loosely based on author Tony Johnston's beloved pet, The Cat with Seven Names is a wonderful story that young cat lovers everywhere will enjoy.

Anna Walker
Clarion Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
9780544259003 $16.99

Peggy: A Brave Chicken on a Big Adventure is a unique children's picturebook about a little black hen who is suddenly swept away from her home by a gust of wind. Lost in the big city, how is she to find her way home? Only the most subtle of anthropomorphic elements are present (Peggy can't talk to most people because they don't understand her chicken clucking), but the images of a little chicken exploring the marvels of a busy city street are a sight to behold. Peggy: A Brave Chicken on a Big Adventure is a wonderful storybook, ideal for young people just beginning to learn how to real aloud.

The Highest Number in the World
Roy MacGregor
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
9781770495753, $17.99,

The Highest Number in the World receives fun drawings by Genevieve Despres and tells of nine-year-old Gabe Murray, who loves hockey and who has a lucky number 22, the same as her hero Hayley Wickenheiser. However, disaster strikes when her new coach gives her a team jersey with the number 9: how can she play when she isn't even wearing her lucky number? A wise grandmother intervenes and soon Gabe is learning about numbers, players, luck and hockey alike in a fun picturebook story for any young female athlete.

Gabby: Drama Queen
Joyce Grant, author
Jan Dolby, illustrator
Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited
195 Allstate Parkway
Markham, Ontario Canada L3R 4T8
9781554553105 $18.95

The precocious little girl Gabby returns in Gabby: Drama Queen, a children's picturebook that encourages young people to experiment with words, or even play a simple word game. When Gabby and her friend Roy are in the backyard, letters come tumbling out of her special storybook. Together they rearrange these letters to put on a special play for their slightly loopy yet lovable neighbor (inspired by Phyllis Diller). Author Joyce Grant's love of reading and lifelong support of children's literacy shines through jubilantly playful story, brought to life with uniquely energetic illustrations.

Candy Goes Shopping
Tierney McMillian, author
Dwight Nacaytuna, illustrator
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781490714332, $12.68,

"Candy Goes Shopping" is a story about children learning to make choices such as in shopping. Candy is pleased to go shopping with her mother at a mall nearby. Her mother encourages her to make choices in her shopping for certain items. Candy chooses some gumdrops in a candy store, a special bird-like toy, a jump rope and some CDs. Then Candy had a nice lunch with her mother and chose a small cheeseburger, milk and fries for her lunch. Her mother praises her for her good choices at lunch and in shopping. Finally they return to the mall and Candy chooses a pink sweater, a white flower dress and a sun hat. Her mother again praises her wise choices and they return home together. Later, her mother enjoys a CD Candy thoughtfully chose for her with sounds of the ocean. Pleasant colorful cartoon-like illustrations ornament this delightful story about learning to make multiple simple choices in life.

Twixy Is a Rock Star
Jessica Lin and Mira Lin, authors
Mira Lin, illustrator
Fun Contour
24 Imperial Aisle, Irvine, CA 92606
9780991240807, $11.66,

"Twixy is a Rock Star" is an amazing artistic creation by a 10 year old girl with assistance from her parent. Twixy is the middle bird of a hummingbird family, with older brother Trixy and younger sister Twiggy. Twixy is an easy natured middle bird child, but he has a very loud, discordant singing voice. His mother agrees that he should take lessons to learn to control the volume of his tweets. On his way to meet his teacher, Twixy uses his loud voice to stun a threatening praying mantis. Finally he reaches the home of Dorian, his music teacher and he learns many wonderful things about how to control his voice. The story ends with Twixy performing in rock concerts attended by fans from all over the world. Detailed colored pencil drawings by the young author present Twixy in all his glory, with a touch of humor. "Twixy is a Rock Star" is a fabulous story written and illustrated for an elementary age audience by a talented, creative, ten year old girl (with parental collaboration).

Barbie Barton, author
Raymond Reyes, illustrator
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781493143719, $32.09,

"Davey" is the exciting story of a boy who fell asleep on a riverbank after disobeying his mother and climbing a tree nearby. His dream became his ocean adventure. Davey had been warned not to go swimming in the river, but he decided to dangle his bare feet into the water, being hot from climbing. Next thing he knows, he is in the river being swept out to sea. Very sorry that he had disobeyed his mother's warning, Davey cried for help from God, and help arrived in the form of Friendly Fish, a large blue fish who agreed to transport Davey back to his riverbank starting point. Together Davey and friendly Fish navigate some scary ocean dangers, including a big grey shark. With the slightly grumpy help of a sleeping octopus and the cleverness of Friendly Fish, Davey is soon free from hiding in the deep sea cave and returned to his riverbank destination. Thanks to Friendly Fish, Davey is safe and soon awakens to the sound of his mother calling his name. Davey promises to always try to obey his mother in the future. "Davey" is an exciting adventure story with bright illustrations and funny verse narratives from an awakened octopus, unforgettable and entertaining to kids age 7 and up.

Whaley's Big Adventure
Alexander Luke, illustrator/author
Carole P. Roman, presenter
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781494845117, $9.99,

Written and illustrated by the five-year old grandson of award -winning juvenile author Carole P. Roman, "Whaley's Big Adventure" describes the ocean search of Whaley the blue whale for whales who represent some of the other 40 species of whales that live in the ocean. On his journey, Whaley meets an orca whale, a humpback whale, a gray whale, a white beluga whale, a sperm whale, and a whale shark. Every whale had a different matching name, and Whaley was very excited to swim home and tell his parents about his new friends. Even better, his parents agree to his request to invite his friends over for a play date soon! "Whaley's Big Adventure" is illustrated by truly artistic paintings of all the different whale species created by Alexander Luke at age 5, a very talented artist and story teller. In addition to excellent quality illustrations and an intriguing story, "Whaley's Big Adventure" is filled with accurate biological information about the different species of whales. Children age 6 and up will love this unusual whale sampler presentation by the talented grandson of a very famous author.

Jaci Hooper, author
Thinkstock, illustrations
WestBow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781490811208, $16.95,

"Gary" is a versed narrative illustrated story about an eight year old boy who decides to yield to the temptation of stealing. First it was just a candy bar from a classmate and friend, but unfortunately this led to more stealing behavior episodes. Gradually Gary became "sneaky and sly," cramming his pockets full of stolen goods that he took home to hide in his bedroom. Finally Gary ended up covered, even smothered by his stolen goods in his room, unable to open the door to let in his parents and escape his habit of stealing. Finally Gary lingers alone in his stuffed small room with all his stolen things, crying because he was trapped in a prison he made for himself. "Gary" is a powerful story about a common problem behavior that children may experience or try. It's moral lesson is clear and to the point, becoming a springing-off point for further parental discussion and dialogue about how to avoid or stop stealing from others, and why it is wrong.

In Search of Happiness
Juliette Saumande, author
Eric Puybaret, illustrator
Susan Allen Maurin, translator (from French to English)
Auzou Publishing
24-32 rue des Amandiers, 75020 - Paris, France
9782733827086, $16.95,

"In Search of Happiness" is a magical story about a boy's courageous search for something different from Prudence, it is Happiness. Kalim lives in the land of Prudence where all things are planned and portioned so as to be safe and predictable, but this is not enough for Kalim. Against his grandfather's cautious advice, he decides to follow a mysterious songbird from the Land of Milk and Honey on his way to the Land of Happiness. Though tossed and turned in a boat at sea, Kalim perseveres on his quest for Happiness. he eats sweet candy from a tree and writes a letter to his grandfather, but is surprised to learn that there may be more to the Land of Happiness. Asking the mysterious bird for his heart's desire, (a fuzzy rabbit, dinosaur teeth, a flashy racing car, and a wand that turns rocks into gold), Kalim finds that he has been sidetracked into the Land of Spoiled Children, which he at first mistook for the Land of Happiness. Many more exciting adventures await Kalim before he finally decides he can find happiness again with his Grandpa, because "the Land of Happiness is everywhere people are happy." "In Search of Happiness" is illuminated and transformed by its visionary illustrations, encouraging fantasies, dreams, and magical quests.

Chirpy: Chirpy's First Time Flying
Bud Johnson, author
Dr. Miral Hassan, MSD, DMS, illustrator
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452567631, $13.99,

"Chirpy" is an inspirational story about a young bird's first attempt to fly, written in a format to encourage parent and child bonding in a reading experience. Delicately illustrated with gentle pastels and expressive landscapes, "Chirpy" is a simple story about having and owning a dream, then overcoming inner fears and doubts to pursue and achieve it. Chirpy is a young bird in the nest who feels ready to fly. Although he is excited, he is also afraid and full of doubts about his ability to succeed. some animal friends like Sal the skunk and Roxy the rat seem to mirror and magnify his fears. But other wise friends like Oscar the owl and Mira the butterfly believe in Chirpy and encourage him to trust in himself and jump into his future, because everything he needs to succeed is already right there inside of him. Finally Chirpy leans over his nest, jumps over his fears and flies ....over the mountains and off into the sunset! Chirpy addresses his friends and readers directly with his final message, "Achieve your heart's desire!" Readers are joyously invited to follow Chirpy on his next exciting adventure.

Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144

Aaron Becker's JOURNEY (9780763660536, $15.99) tells of a lonely girl who draws a magic door on her bedroom wall, there to escape into another world of adventure where she is in charge of creating vehicles to carry her along on the journey. Her capture by a dangerous emperor nearly leads to disaster but also holds the uncertain promise of change - if she is brave and kind enough to work through the danger. JOURNEY offers up a lovely adventure saga with a parable for faith and understanding woven into a compelling wordless picturebook story. Patricia MacLachlan's NORA'S CHICKS (9780763647537, $15.99) tells of a Russian girl's new home on the American prairie, and how she misses her home. Her family seems happy in their new home but Nora feels empty - until her father brings home ten chicks and two geese for Nora to call her own. Kathryn Brown's lovely drawings accent a warm story of loneliness and adjustment in a warm saga highly recommended for any with rudimentary reading skills.

Clarion Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003

Kate Samworth's AVIARY WONDERS INC. SPRING CATALOG AND INSTRUCTION MANUAL (9780547978994, $17.99) provides a whimsical yet darkly pointed story centering around a 'catalog' that offers everything needed to make a living, breathing bird from handmade parts. Underlying all is a message about the importance of protecting natural habitats, but the underlying whimsy also shines and so young readers can take it either way, while many an adult will find the inherent natural history realities compelling and wonderfully done. Laura Numeroff's NIGHTY-NIGHT, COOPER (9780547402055, $16.99) tells of two kangaroos who have a surprise, with a special bedtime approach just for kangaroos that make for a special world. Lynn Munsinger provides the warm, lovely pictures that pair perfectly with a sweet bedtime story parents will love to read aloud.

Simon and Schuster
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor
New York, NY 10020

Ben Cort illustrates Ringo Starr's OCTOPUS'S GARDEN, which includes a new recording of the song on a cd inside a read-aloud whimsical story. Sentences from the song receive fun embellishment with large-size color drawings capturing the song's underlying fun. Any young reader interested in fun fantasy musings and any parent who enjoys The Beatles will find this a lively read-along. Jorey Hurley's NEST (9781442489714, $16.99) is all about hatching and growing up and comes from a new artist who considers a bird's life for ages 3-7. Simple drawings accompany one-word-per-page descriptions of a bird's life in a gentle read recommended for new readers with an affection for birds.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Night of the Paranormal Patterns
Robert Black
Royal Fireworks Press
First Avenue, PO Box 399
Unionville, NY 10988
9780898244823 $9.99

Night of the Paranormal Patterns is a fantasy novel for young adults that incorporates pre-algebra math problems. The story follows seventh grader Lennie Miller, whose recent move to the small, seemingly sleepy town of Bailey, Indiana turns her life upside down in ways she never imagined. Lennie's new neighbors include ghosts, vampires, werewolves, aliens, gremlins, even a Cheshire bat - and they all need help solving their math problems! Lennie is forced to be their "Pattern Finder", deducing solutions to increasingly complicated mathematical riddles. If she can't figure out how her ancestor angered the Mystical Realm and crack a hidden code passed down through the generations, she just might have to solve monsters' math problems for all eternity! Night of the Paranormal Patterns is not only a rousing fantasy adventure; it also encourages young people to look at solving math problems in a new way, as each conundrum originates organically from the monsters' daily lives. Highly recommended, especially for public and school library YA collections.

Depleting Ore: A Minecraft Novel
Jason Hewitt and Victoria Hewitt
Privately Published
9780615977584 $9.95

Nominated for three awards in fantasy and juvenile fiction, Depleting Ore: A Minecraft Novel is a story set in the world of the immensely popular, sandbox-style building game of Minecraft. Herobrine, cruel overlord of the Nether, wants to seize control of Minecraft, and sends an army of pig zombies and wither skeletons to do his bidding. Three people stand against him, working together to build resistance in their small town of Cumberlon; do they have any chance of saving the world? Readers of all ages will enjoy this exciting saga, and any Minecraft player will immediately recognize the sense of adventure, daring, and limitless possibilities - all in keeping with the spirit of the game!

The Divergent Companion
Lois H. Gresh
St. Martin's Griffin
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250045102, $12.99,

Any reader of the 'Divergent' trilogy who wants to know more will find this a powerful examination of the post-apocalyptic world created by Veronica Roth, set in a future Chicago where humanity's now contained in five distinct factions with different values. Beatrice is sixteen and it's time to choose between them. Readers of Divergent who know the setting will benefit from a reader that includes further background into the themes, settings and adventures of all three books, considering everything from character personality traits to the simulations so much a part of the Divergent environment. The result is a powerful unauthorized guide any Divergent fan will relish.

Invasion Of The Overworld
Mark Cheverton
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781490930831, $7.99, 170pp.,

In "Invasion Of The Overworld" by Mark Cheverton, a young boy is suddenly transported into his favorite game, Minecraft. As Gameknight999, he struggles through spine-tingling life and death adventures, with giant spiders, zombies and creepers hunting him at every turn, and that the NPCs are alive and battling for their very survival. A war is raging across all the server planes between the monsters of the Overworld and the NPCs. If the mobs win, then they'll destroy everything within Minecraft, and be able to move into the physical world to take over everything. Only Gameknight999 can stop this war and save everyone. He is the key to salvation for all living creatures...or maybe he's not the key at all, maybe he's the fuse to destruction. "The Invasion of the Overworld is filled with exciting battles, suspenseful adventures, and detailed characters that will take the reader on a fully immersive journey that will let them see and feel Minecraft. The story has a strong message about anti-bullying and shows the negative ramifications of these anti-social behaviors. "The Invasion of the Overworld" teaches a compelling message that is resonating with both kids and adults all over the world. Very highly recommended and entertaining reading for kids ages 10 and older, "Invasion Of The Overworld" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.49).

The Rocket Ship Bed Trip
N. Jane Quackenbush, author
Lynne Villalobos, illustrator
Hidden Wolf Books
St. Augustine, Florida
9780991104505, $12.95,

"The Rocket Ship Bed" is an amazing bedtime fantasy story about a boy who dreamed his bed took off from his room into the open sky to roam the starry skies of night. Written in lulling narrative verse with spectacular starburst color illustrations, "The Rocket Ship Bed" combines just the right mix of the astral sublime with the familiar and comforting, as the boy takes his stuffed bunny and bed on an all night galactic voyage. Rounding meteors and asteroids, nebulae and space junk, he follows his nose from the Milky Way galaxy back home to his own room where the smell of breakfast cooking gently awakens him to a new and exciting day. "The Rocket Ship Bed" closes with six stunning night photos of celestial bodies for further inspiration and food for thought. "The Rocket Ship Bed Trip" presents a perfectly balanced combination of reality sliding into fantasy and back in both imagery and narrative. It is both soothing and stimulating to young minds eager to explore the universe and dream new dreams.

Penelope's Imagination Runs Wild
A. J. Funn, author
Raphael M. De La Rosa, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491807798, $21.99,

"Penelope's Imagination Runs Wild" is a fun and creative approach to reading through hieroglyphic language that can be deciphered by reading pictures and sounding out or eliminating letters. Puzzle solving and reading comprehension skills yoke together to work out these entertaining pages, while Penelope dreams up stories about traveling back in time to cave people on earth and also meets extraterrestrial beings on other planets, finally returning to greet a new sibling family member of her own. Here are some fun pages and prose to work out together as a family or an adult/child partnership. Critical thinking, spelling skills, and creativity are all very useful in approaching this Glyffix original. If readers or readers' parents are stumped, translation help is available at "Penelope's Imagination Runs Wild" represents a challenge and an achievement to determined young readers partnered with adventurous parents and caretakers.

The Crafts Shelf

Epic Rubber Band Crafts
Colleen Dorsey, author
Design Originals
c/o Fox Chapel Publishing
1970 Broad Street, East Petersburg, PA 17520
9781574219142, $7.99,

"Epic Rubber Band Crafts: Totally Cool Gadget Gear, Never Before Seen Bracelets, Awesome Action Figures, and More" is a fun craft pattern book for kids age 7 and up with over 15 exciting new projects for rubber band loom crafters. Here are easy to understand, step by step instructions with endless color photos to demonstrate techniques as well as clearly numbered diagrams, colorful sidebars, and a plethora of awesome creative ideas, tips and tricks. From simple bracelets to penguins, robots, and cell phone covers, here are a multitude of easy to more complex projects for the growing skilled craftsperson to tackle. Rubber band jewelry is not just for girls in this cool new craft book filled with tons of fresh ideas that will appeal to both boys and girls.

The Memoir Shelf

Half a Bucket At a Time, Twice As Many Trips
Lorenz E. Travis, author
Mauri Anzaldua, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781477276112, $20.99,

"Half a Bucket At a Time, Twice As Many Trips" is an inspirational true story about a real woman named Gena Travis, born on a Midwestern farm and raised by a hardworking father who was both a farmer and factory worker. Gena learned as a young girl of 10 years that she could tackle and finish any job if she took it in small steps. Her father needed her to carry heavy buckets of grain to feed farm calves while he worked his second shift factory job. When he learned she was unable to lift the full bucket of grain, he told her, "Carry half a bucket at a time and make twice as many trips!" This life secret was taken to heart by the young Gena, and she lived her full life for 45 + years by carrying half a bucket at a time and making twice as many trips. Her achievements were many and wonderful, and her message is shared with an audience of young readers by her loving husband who remembers her legacy with this loving tribute story which is an inspiration to all. Dying of breast cancer at age 45, Gena left a treasured legacy that can be shared with all. Delicate pastel paintings and drawings emphasize the sensitive nature of this loving woman's soul and determination to complete her good work a half a bucket at a time.

The Self-Help Shelf

Sam Solves a Problem
Lillian Hunter, author/illustrator
Value-Publishing Inc.
700 Lavaca, Suite 1400, Austin, TX 78701
9780988472921, $16.98,

"Sam Solves a Problem" is a practical, inspirational book about a boy who turned a frown upside down and helped his family solve a problem of "no fun time." Sam was an ordinary boy who wanted to do more fun things with his family when they were together. Sam's mother and father both worked all day while he attended school and day care. At night, when he asked his father or mother to play games with him, they were often too tired to play. This made him feel angry, and slighted, and he shouted at his father, determined to ignore him too, to hurt him. But later Sam discovered that both his parents were feeling too tired to play with him because they had to work so hard all day at their jobs, and there were still jobs of care to be done at home at night. Instead of being angry and self-centered, Sam began to offer to help his dad and mom with simple tasks that needed to be done at home, like picking up his toys and cleaning his room, to give them a little more time. This worked well on several levels. More needed tasks got done quicker at home, and Sam felt included as a part of the family unit, tackling problems together. Best of all, due to Sam's offering to help, more time was freed up for the family to do fun things together. Sam's mother made him a hero costume because she said he was a superhero because he showed love by thinking of ways to help others. "Sam Solves a Problem" turns the story into an invitation to the reader, ending with three blank framed pages to be filled with drawings of the reader's family, the reader doing something to help his family, and the reader him/herself. "Sam solves a Problem" is a perfect manual for inspiring and encouraging kids to help take part in family tasks and responsibilities, and to grow. Colorful stick figures of Sam and his family and playful text help keep the tone light while the story succeeds. "Sam Solves a Problem" is winner of the Mom's Choice Award Honoring Excellence, naming this book "among the best in family friendly products."

The Poetry Shelf

The Great Big Green
Peggy Gifford, author/illustrator
Boyds Mills Press
815 church Street, Honesdale, Pennsylvania 18431
9781620916292, $15.95,

"The Great Big Green" is an artist's fantasy illustrated poem about all things green, from mysterious tiny tree frogs to mountains and oceans of dark green sea waves. In a way, "The Great Big Green" is an enormous riddle, presented in multiple trappings of green hues. The author/illustrator took special delight and care to use multiple textures, fabrics, stones, and unusual substances to create layer upon layer of living green things ... it is a consummate mystery! With the posed riddle answered only partially on the last page, "The Great Big Green" will keep children age 6 and up involved, listening, looking, and guessing about the nature of the world they live in. "The Great Big Green" is designed to encourage creativity and pure enjoyment in the art of reading.

A Child's Garden of Verses
Robert Louis Stevenson, poet author
Brian Wildsmith, illustrator
Star Bright Books
13 Landsdowne Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
9781595720573, $19.95,

"A Child's Garden of Verses," the well known children's classic collection of imaginative fantasy poems about childhood is re-envisioned in this re-issued volume with stunning 60's retro-contemporary illustrations by famous artist Brian Wildsmith. Originally released in 1966, this beautiful classic is layered with the patina of generations of children's enjoyment and pleasure. Robert Louis Stevenson's verses about boats, pirates, toy soldiers, the Land of Counterpane, bedtime adventures, meadow plays, and more all enjoy another life being read to another fresh young audience. Stunning, brilliantly colorful contemporary paintings present the older portraits of sailor -suited children at play in a dazzling expression of the joy of these lasting poems of childhood by Robert Louis Stevenson. "A Child's Garden of Verses" is a beautiful classic of timeless appeal, reissued to be enjoyed by children and adults of every age.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Two Parrots: Inspired by a Tale from Rumi
Rashin Kheiriyeh, author/illustrator
NorthSouth Books Inc.
c/o Myrick Marketing & Media
455 Sam Ridley Parkway West, Smyrna, TN 37167
9780735841710, $17.95,

"Two Parrots" is a beautifully illuminated and interpreted traditional Iranian tale by the famous 12th century poet Rumi, freshly presented to Western juvenile audiences by multiple award-winning author/illustrator Rashin Kheiryeh. Stunning contemporary graphic illustrations in tones of red, green, brown and white express the sumptuous spirit of this beautiful Persian setting and tale. A wealthy merchant visits and friend and receives a wonderful live parrot in a cage, just as he had wished for. Although he loves the parrot very much and gives it every luxury a golden cage can hold, the parrot is sad. Preparing for a trading trip to India, the merchant asks all his servants and his parrot what gifts they would like him to bring back. The parrot's only request is for a message to be delivered to his parrot friend: "I would love to see him but I can't because I live in a cage." Finally the merchant finds the parrot's friend in India and delivers his message, only to see the beautiful parrot friend start to tremble and fall down dead. Upon returning home, the merchant is asked by his parrot to report if he delivered his message and he sadly and sorrowfully tells him the tale. Once again, the parrot lay down dead. Weeping and mourning, the merchant takes the parrot out of his cage to hold him. Amazingly, the parrot recovers and flies away to a tree in the garden, explaining to his master that he and his friend had learned it is better to gain freedom by playing dead than to spend one's life in a cage. The rich merchant learned his lesson well, and invited the parrot back to visit his garden, flying in freedom, any time. In the future, the merchant was blest by the occasional visits of the two beautiful parrots. "Two Parrots" is a timeless tale about love and freedom, about true treasures and true regard. Its incomparable setting, sensitive prose translation and presentation do much to suggest the richness of historic Iranian wisdom and culture and the gift of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, thirteenth century Persian poet, theologian, and Sufi mystic.

The Money/Finance Shelf

Money Doesn't Grow on Trees!
Jennifer Moore-Mallinos, author
Gustavo Mazali, illustrator
Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
250 Wireless Blvd., Hauppage, NY 11788
9781438003498, $6.99,

"Money Doesn't Grow on Trees!" is an amusing illustrated educational fantasy about money-bearing trees and bushes that would seem to be the answer to a young boy's dream. Eventually, however, Tommy (whose dream this story turns out to be) discovers there is a down side to having endless supplies of money and things that money can buy. Fortunately his mother awakens him and suggests he start working to earn the money he will need to buy a nice new basketball hoop he wanted. Tommy works hard at helping with the produce stand and saves his money for a few weeks until finally he can afford to buy his new basketball hoop with his own earnings. Tommy enjoys shooting hoops with his new purchase, but he is also proud of his own hard work and effort to earn and save the money to buy it. Tommy realizes it is a good thing money doesn't grow on trees! Additional suggestions for dialogue and teaching the meaning of financial responsibility are in the Parents' Guide at the end of "Money Doesn't Grow on Trees!" an excellent learning guide and story for children age 7 and up.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Adventures on Green Pasture Farm: Scruff An Orphan Lamb
Mary Ann Pascucci, author
Jingo, illustrator
WestBow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781490811840, $20.45,

"Adventures on Green Pasture Farm: Scruff an Orphan Lamb" is the true story of a faithful orphan lamb, bought and raised by the author after her mother had rejected her. Named Scruff for a tuft of hair in the middle of her forehead, the orphan lamb thrived on midnight milk feedings and later delicious grain. One stormy night the sheep needed to be brought in to the barn from the pasture for the winter. This was a complicated and difficult task for shepherd and sheep, but Scruff faithfully followed her familiar shepherd's voice through the wind, rain, and mud to the safe barn with the other sheep. However, it was discovered one sheep named Rosie was missing! How would they ever get her to come in by herself. The shepherd trusted to faith and ordered her son and helper to bring Scruff with them back out to the night pasture to get Rosie. Sure enough, Scruff followed and helped reassure Rosie when they found her so they could bring both sheep back into the sheltering barn. What an adventure. The author uses many Biblical quotations as part of her story, and indeed the faith between the sheep and shepherd is much like that faith that grows between men and women and God. Exciting dark colored illustrations point out the danger and adventure of the story, and the gentle, trusting relationship between Scruff and her shepherdess. "Scruff An Orphan Lamb" is a wonderful story for elementary age students with excellent Bible study implications and lessons. We anticipate more titles in what may become an inspiring series, Adventures on Green Pasture Farm (located near Markdale, Ontario).

On Kiki's Reef
Carol L. Malnor, author
Trina L. Hunner, illustrator
Dawn Publications
12402 Bitney Springs Rd., Nevada City, CA 95959
9781584694779, $8.95 (pb),

"On Kiki's Reef" is a beautifully illustrated children's nature book about a green sea turtle named Kiki who survives to adulthood and lives on a colorful coral reef in the ocean. Kiki begins her life as a tiny hatchling sea turtle who scrambles to the ocean with her brothers and sisters, many of whom do not survive. Kiki is smart and brave, she paddles the large ocean and hides in seaweed from predators and survives her first 6 years. by then her shell is brighter and her flippers are stronger. She finds a wonderful new home the color of rainbows in a huge coral reef. she seas many examples of partnership in the creatures around her, like the clownfish and the anemone. Kiki herself partners with a gang of tangs who help keep her shell clean of algae by nibbling and eating the algae crusted on her shell. Wrassers also help clean some fish's mouths and teeth. Kiki knows to beware some fish such as sharks which can crack her shell and eat her. Other creatures such as the seahorse use camouflage to help them survive in the ocean and reef. Kiki is quite comfortable in her coral reef home, as she recognizes both friends and creatures that threaten danger to her. She even sees a human diver snorkeling among the reef. Kiki manages to escape a fisherman's net and make it back to her island where she lays her eggs. then Kiki returns to her coral reef home in the ocean. Written in entertaining verse and filled with accurate facts and information about the ocean life of sea turtles, "On Kiki's Reef" is designed to appeal to children ages 3-8. It's educational value is undeniable, and the beautiful colored illustrations provide accurate portraits of many reef and sea creatures. The end of the book contains further educational material including a thumbnail portrait list of featured creatures, teaching treasures or suggested learning activities, more thumbnail portraits and bios, and a map showing coral reefs of the world.

A Place for Butterflies
Melissa Stewart, author
Higgins Bond, illustrator
Peachtree Publishers
1700 Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318
9781561457892, $7.95,

"A Place for Butterflies" is a beautifully illustrated nature book that explains the special needs of different species of butterflies for habitat and food. Some of the myriad species of butterflies described include: the Mourning Cloak, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtale, the Black Swallowtale, the Thicket Hairstreak, Mitchell's Satyr, the Oregon Silverspot, Harris' Checkerspot, the Palos Verdes Blue, the Monarch, the Karner Blue, and the Schaus Swallowtail. Each butterfly's range and habitat is presented on a green-shaded map of North America, and special requirements for food and habitat are presented in color shaded sidebars by painted illustrations. The simple narrative text highlights what people can do to help butterflies live and grow, as well as why it is important to protect butterflies. Other projects that can be completed to help butterflies and additional butterfly facts are presented in the last pages of "A Place for Butterflies." Winner of the Green Earth Book Award and the Izaak Walton League of America Conservation Book of the Year, "A Place for Butterflies" is excellent educational nature literature for children age 5 and up.

The DVD Shelf

Fruit & Vegetables: Color Power
Learning ZoneXpress
667 East Vine Street
Owatonna, MN 55060

An educational DVD for all ages, Fruit & Vegetables: Color Power teaches viewers about the health benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables. Divided into brief segments suitable for homeroom viewing, Fruits and Vegetables emphasizes the importance of good nutrition as part of a healthy lifestyle. The DVD tracks are "Why eat fruit and vegetables" (7:13), "How much do I need?" (3:55), "How can I eat more?" (6:37) and "How do I select?" (5:34). Highly recommended, especially for school and public library DVD collections. 23 min. 19 sec total, closed-captioned.

The Music CD Shelf

D is for Django
Django Jones
Deputy Jones Recordsc/o Waldmania! (publicity)
130 Maywood Drive
San Francisco, CA 94127

Three members of the award-winning band Girlyman have come together as harmony-singing trio Django Jones! Their debut family-friendly album, D is for Django, is a half-and-half mix - the first part features high-energy music, while the second part consists of soothing tunes and lullabies. Playful, charming, and changeable, the songs are a joy for listeners of all ages. D is for Django is a choice pick for rousing young ones to face a new day, or calming them before bedtime. Highly recommended! The tracks are "All That I See" (3:12), "Intro to p-o-p" (0:27), "P-O-P" (3:17), "intro to jack" (0:16), "Jack Of All Things" (3:28), "intro to counterpoint" (0:43), "Counterpoint" (3:39), "into to smallest breed" (0:31), "Smallest Breed" (2:58), "intro to bigfoot" (0:28), "Bigfoot" (2:00), "intro to potato leek soup" (0:21), "Potato Leek Soup" (1:26), "intro to breakfast" (0:19), "Breakfast" (2:20), "intro to germs" (0:59), "Germs" (2:21), "intro to bones" (0:27), "Bones" (2:15), "intro to all along" (0:16), "All Along" (3:42), "intro to every day" (0:25), "Every Day At This Time It Rains" (3:47), "intro to lullabies" (0:06), "Love You Like I Do" (3:11), "Lullabies" (3:54), and "Long Time Sun" (5:47). 53 min.

No School Today
Danny Weinkauf
Megaforce Records
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street
Portland, OR 97221

Master of multiple instruments, songwriter, producer, "They Might Be Giants" bassist and Grammy-winner Danny Weinkauf presents No School Today, a cheerful children's album funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign. Featuring sixteen purely original, fast-beat pop songs, "No School Today" has a pro-science, pro-learning message hidden deep within its clever lyrics. Adults as well as children can enjoy the up-tempo tunes, making No School Today an excellent choice for family car trips or weekend entertainment. The tracks are "Hey!", "Archaeology", "Our Love Fits" (special guest Laurie Berkner), "Champion of the Spelling Bee", "The Ballad of Ben", "Marsupial", "Ambivalent", "Ice Cream", "No School Today", "The Moon is Made of Cheese", "Whipped Cream", "Cast My Vote", "Oh No Oh Yeah", "Together We Can Fly", "Lullaby for Quinn", and "The Kidney That Lived in Four People" (special guest Hank Green).

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Ransom Riggs
Yen Press
9780376246289, $20.00,

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children appears in a graphic novel format with artwork by Cassandra Jean to accompany the story of a boy who has grown up hearing his grandfather's stories of his fantastic life at Miss peregrine's home during World War II, even observing photos of the children. As he ages Jacob comes to believe that the photos were forgeries and the stories false, but after his grandfather's death he sets out to learn the truth behind his grandfather's tall tales - and what he discovers will change his world. This graphic novel format represents a completely illustrated adaptation of Ransom Riggs' best-selling novel and is a pick for a wide age range already excited by the graphic novel format.

The Activity Shelf

The 1990s Coloring Book
James Grange
Ulysses Press
PO Box 3440, Berkeley CA 94703-3440
9781612432243, $10.00,

The 1990s Coloring Book: All That and a Box of Crayons is all about nostalgia and coloring and introduces an activity book packed with movies, TV shows, fashions and fun pop culture trivia moments from the 1990s, and is a pick for children and adults who want a culture-oriented coloring book. More than just a collection of line drawings, pages remark upon and capture the feel of the 1990s and provide information useful to any who have not lived 'the scene' of the times. While kids are usually the ones to color, any adult with an interest in coloring will find this a fun approach.

The Multimedia Shelf

Through the Woods
The Okee Dokee Brothers
Okee Dokee Music
c/o Beth Blenz-Clucas Publicity
5505 SW Illinois Street
Portland, OR 97221

Grammy award-winning musicians The Okee Dokee Brothers (Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander) present Through the Woods: An Appalachian Adventure Album, an all-ages folk CD with DVD features that included a medley of original and traditional songs. Created to capture the spirit of hiking the Appalachian trail, Through the Woods encourages respect for nature's beauty and grandeur, insight into mountain culture, and the rich history of traditional Appalachian music. A 40-minute supplemental documentary film of the Okee Dokee Brothers' travels is as educational as it is entertaining, laced with humor, interviews with mountain musicians, camping tips and foibles, and much more. Through the Woods is as a great way to celebrate spring and rekindle enthusiasm for the outdoors! The tracks are "Through the Woods", "Big Rock Candy Mountain", "Jamboree", "Evergreen", "Walking with Spring", "Out of Tune", "Black Bear Mama", "Hillbilly Willy", "Riddle & Rhyme", "Tiny Little Life", "Ruby Jane", "Fiddlestick Joe", "Lighten Your Load", "Echo", and "Baby Mine". Also highly recommended is the previous CD/DVD in The Okee Dokee Brothers' Adventure Album Series, "Can You Canoe?"

The Mouse and the Meadow
Chad Wallace, author/illustrator
Dawn Publications
12402 Bitney Springs Rd., Nevada City, CA 95959
9781584694823, $8.95,

"The Mouse in the Meadow" is a beautifully illustrated nature story about a young field mouse who begins to explore his world and its other living inhabitants. Written in jaunty narrative verse, "The Mouse and the Meadow" traces a series of breathtaking encounters between the filed mouse and others in the meadow. Some he meets are friends, some are neutral, and some are predators interested in feeding upon him. The caterpillar transforms tot chrysalis, the spider spins a miraculous web, and the mouse and turtle give friendly advice and even shelter. But the snake and owl are deadly predators looking for a quick field mouse meal. "The Mouse in the Meadow" comes with a Pop-up App which can be scanned to show the mouse pop up from the page illustration throughout his meadow adventure. Written for a juvenile audience ages 4 to 10 years, "The Mouse and the Meadow" also contains pages of related information and suggestions for further exploration and study, including both books and web sites. A second juvenile nature education title by the same publisher that is also highly recommended is "The Swamp Where Gator Hides (9781584694717, $8.95)," by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Roberta Baird.

The Biography Shelf

Leonard Bernstein and American Music
Catherine Reef, author
Morgan Reynolds Publishing
620 South Elm Street, Suite 387
Greensboro, North Carolina 27406
9781599351254, $28.95,

"Leonard Bernstein and American Music" is an excellent music biography of a famous American conductor and composer written to appeal to a student audience age 11 and up. Part of the Modern Music Masters series featuring 20th century and more recent composers and performers, "Leonard Bernstein and American Music" highlights the many varied achievements of the great American conductor/composer over a career spanning over 50 years, from 1937 to 1990. Leonard Bernstein was a passionate musician, composer, and conductor who was determined to allow the message of great music be accessed by a wide, freely flowing audience. He was an Everyman figure of enormous importance in American serious music. This biography features many black and white and color photos of the conductor and many associates and friends throughout his spectacular career, teamed with a fast moving, exciting narrative of the amazing life achievements, travels and performances of the renegade impresario. From "West Side Story" to "Candide," from "Trouble in Tahiti" to the "Chichester Psalms," from Tanglewood to the Pacific Music Festival in Japan, Bernstein's amazing musical career in composition and conducting is unequaled in breadth, scope, and variety. Always vital, part of a cutting edge of musical awareness, Bernstein's legacy will be enjoyed, performed, and analyzed for ages to come. Presenting Bernstein's life and achievements condensed into 107 pages, "Leonard Bernstein and American Music" does a spectacular job of covering the dazzling details and highlights of an amazing career. The biography ends with a timeline from 1918 to 1990, a list of sources by chapter, a bibliography, web sites, and list of major works (Bernstein wrote 18 concert works from 1943 to 1989, two operas, music for three ballets, music for six musicals, and five books about music). This excellent juvenile series is given highest recommendations for music education sources.

Beyonce: A Biography of a Legendary Singer
Michael A. Schuman, author
Enslow Publishers, Inc.
Box 398, 40 Industrial Road, Berkeley heights, NJ 07922
9780766042308, $19.95 (schools/libraries), $26.60 (trade)

"Beyonce: A Biography of a Legendary Singer" is the most recent title in the juvenile series African- American Icons, for readers age 11 and up. This 107 page interest-packed biography covers background and highlights from the fabulous career of the famous, award-winning singer known as Beyonce, born as Beyonce Giselle Knowles in Houston, Texas on September 14, 1981. born of an African American father and a mixed race mother (part Creole, African American, American Indian, and Jewish) into a middle class family, Beyonce has trained, sung and performed to entertain audiences since she was seven years old. Her family roots are deep and secure, and she inherited a powerful belief in herself along with a strong work ethic. "Beyonce: a Biography of a Legendary Singer" traces the singer's exemplary career from 1990 to 2013 in seven exciting narrative chapters. Beyonce has always done her best and has worked to inspire and raise other talented young women singers. With her beloved family's full support, she maintained her stability throughout meteoric career changes. Seven chapters cover the singer's rise from talent show performances to Superstar at the Superbowl, performing for the Obama's, and much more. The biography closes with a full Chronology, Selected Discography, Filmography, and chapter notes. Sans photo-illustration and packed with life-changing actions and events, "Beyonce: A Biography of a Legendary Singer" is an excellent and refreshing juvenile biography sure to inspire young readers.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Ocean Secrets (A Fairy Houses Mystery #2)
Tracy Kane and Genevieve Aichele, authors
Tracy Kane, illustrator
Light-Beams Publishing
10 Toon Lane, Lee NH 03861
9780976628958, $14.95,

"Ocean Secrets" is the second mystery in The Fairy Houses Series (currently consisting of eight books and a DVD), lightly illustrated chapter books for middle grade readers about exploring nature and building or finding fairy houses in nature. Combining elements of fantasy, nature, and mystery genres, "Ocean Secrets" chronicles the adventures of Kate, Luke, and friends as they explore the wonders of the Isles of Shoals, off the coast of New England. The children learn much about living near the ocean, creating beach fairy houses out of stones and beach treasures like shells and seaweed. The tantalizing mystery they are led to help solve takes them underwater, along beach shores, and into almost fabled pirate history. Even a possible ghost makes a midnight visit in a walrus skull mask as the children continue their exploration of the history and setting of the Isles of Shoals. The creative approach to nature and ocean exploration is what sets this middle grade series apart, inviting a wide span of interests from the natural to the fantastic, and heightening sensitivity to the natural world, underwater and on land. Sensitive black and white illustrations set the slightly haunting tone of "Ocean Secrets" and will leave young readers eager to find the next book in this appealing, award-winning series.

The Fiction Shelf

Jeremy Stone
Lesley Choyce
Red Deer Press
c/o Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited
195 Allstate Parkway
Markham, Ontario, Canada, L3R 4T8
9780889955042 $12.95

Jeremy Stone: A Novel is an unusual young adult novel told entirely in accessible free verse. The story follows Native American teenager Jeremy Stone, who has a difficult time adjusting to his new school. Bullied and taunted with racial epithets, Jeremy just wants to chisel out a solid future, but then he meets Caitlan, an inexplicably fascinating young woman with a mysterious boyfriend. Jeremy's connections to the spirit world - including a wise yet long dead storyteller known simply as "Old Man" - becomes just a perilously critical as his connections to the real world, in this coming-of-age story about navigating treachery, deceit, confusion, and challenge. Highly recommended.

Sammy the Karate Squirrel
Rachael Ann Bowman, author
Ana Maria Paramo, illustrator
Inspiring Voices
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462408009, $13.95,

"Sammy the Karate Squirrel" is an exciting, fast moving chapter story about a young squirrel named Sammy who dreamed of taking karate lessons, like the boy, Aaron, whose yard tree Sammy lived in. Sammy loved to watch Aaron practice his karate kicks and moves, but when he asked his mother to take lessons, she told him karate was not for squirrels. Sammy had other squirrel responsibilities, such as watching his sister, gathering nuts, and doing homework and chores. So Sammy decided to secretly memorize and practice the karate moves he saw Aaron doing in the yard. His friend Brycen the rabbit helped by keeping watch while he was practicing so his mother wouldn't find out he was disobeying her. Finally one day Sammy's sister, Kim was being hunted by Mr. Hawk. Sammy's mother cried for help and Sammy thought fast, got close to Mr. Hawk, and delivered some spectacular karate kicks that knocked Mr. Hawk out just in time, for he had little Kim in his talons. "Run!" Sammy cried to Kim and she got away. After a bit, Mr. Hawk gradually woke up and flew clumsily away. Sammy's mother was so proud of him, she praised him for learning karate kicks and gave him permission to continue karate lessons. Perhaps the happy moral is something like "Follow your dream, no matter how unlikely or unsuitable!" Charming colored pencil illustrations keep the story snapping and reader interest high. "Sammy the Karate Squirrel" is an early chapter book, written to be read effortlessly by interested young readers.

It's OK!! Everybody's Different
Paula E. Gelbach, author
Kathleen K. Potts, illustrator
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781483600758, $17.49,

"It's OK!! Everybody's Different" is an illustrated collection of three short tales dealing with friendship and differences, coping with bullying, and cultivating originality. The first story, The Purple Bottomus, is written in narrative rhyming verse and illustrated with charming, delicate animal portraits in gentle colors of the rainbow. In this story, a purple hippopotamus compares her purple bottomus to that of several of her animal friends, only to discover that all the animals, from the lion to the skunk, felt they had beautiful bottomuses too and that every difference is worth celebrating "because we ALL have beautiful bottomuses!" The second story, "Frightened Jack, the Yellow Jacket" is written in prose and deals with a yellow jacket who is scared away from his swarm by a bully yellow jacket. By talking to his mother and his ladybug friend, Penelope, Jack discovers some better ways of coping with the bullying behavior, and he decides to make different choices about who to hang with until his friends decide they are tired of Mr. Big Bully's behavior and choose to hang out with him again. The third story, also written in narrative prose, is about Katie Snowflake, a polar bear who teaches first grade at the North Pole. Katie loved teaching little polar bears in first grade because she wanted all her students to be creative and learn to think for themselves. She did not want any of her students to feel bad about having different ideas, about an art project, for example. This was her experience as a young cub in school, and it made her ill with a stomach ache. Katie made sure her students knew she was proud of them for all of their differences and their achievements, and that it was ok and even good to have different ideas. All three stories are aimed at a juvenile audience in grades K- through first or second grade. The impact of their positive messages can help magnify self esteem and good adjustment, while the imaginative approach in the storytelling and the graceful rainbow animal illustrations encourage a delight in fantasy and fun in reading and learning.

Kristen Simmons
TOR Teen
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765329608, $17.99,

THREE provides a fine Article 5 novel revolving around two wanted fugitives, Ember and Chase, who arrive at a safe house where they hope to live a quieter life - and, instead, find ruins. But there may be survivors, and the tracks that lead away from the wreckage could lead to a new life or further danger. The search is on for a new, safe place to hide: one which will reveal truths about an organization known as Three, which is responsible for the little that remains of hope in the world. Will Ember choose safety over fighting back? Prior fans of the Article 5 scenario will find this a vivid read.

Simon and Schuster
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, NY, NY 10020

Ann Redisch Stampler's AFTERPARTY (9781442423244, $17.99) tells of one Emma, who is tired of being a dutiful daughter - and who finds her desire to be dangerous in the form of one Siobhan, a girl who is everything Emma is not. But Siobhan is falling apart, a boy has interrupted their friendship, and each of their lives is quickly spinning out of control. AFTERPARTY is a vivid read, involving mature young adult readers in an exciting exploration of courage, danger, and growth. Donna Jo Napoli's STORM (9781481403023, $17.99) tells of sixteen-year-old Sebah, who loses everything in a storm and takes shelter in a tree, trapped by flooding. Days pass, her companion weakens, and there seems little hope until she and Aban build a raft to survive a stormy sea, only to embark on yet another impossible journey. This story of Noah and his ark comes from a very different perspective and will prove engrossing and vivid.

Delacorte Press/Knopf
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019

McCormick Templeman's THE GLASS CASKET (9780385743457, $17.99) tells of Rowan, whose last brush with death was when her mother died when she was little. Now death has come back in the form of doomed riders who storm their small village, disappear into the forest, and are found dead. The times are changing and so Rowan finds the intruders have brought with them something evil, with the power to change Rowan's life once again. A vivid story evolves. Lanie Bross' FATES (9780385742825, $17.99) tells of Corinthe, a girl whose foolish wishes lead her to fall from her calm life in Pyralis Terra and to become exiled in the human world, tasked with making sure people's fates unfold according to plan. Her last assignment is murder and will culminate in her return home. The only problem is - Corinthe may be incapable of undertaking the one task that could lead to her freedom: not if it costs the life of one she is coming to love. A fine fantasy evolves. Mark Huntley Parsons' ROAD RASH (9780385753425, $16.99) tells of Zach, a musician who can sometimes translate his hard life into good lyrics, until he's kicked out of his own band. Now he's a musician without a group - until he joins a new band and embarks on a road trip tour for the summer: a trip that will change everything. Fierce encounters and strong emotions make this an engrossing story. Amber Kizer's PIECES OF ME (9780385741163, $16.99) provides a collection revolving around the lives of five completely different teens: Jessica, Samuel, Vivian, Leif and Misty. Each has experienced some kind of injury, some kind of test of faith, and each has confronted death as part of their possible future. They are connected - and their greatest journey is just beginning. A vivid story of these connections evolves in a recommendation for teens.

The Judaic Shelf

Frogs in the Bed, My Passover Seder Activity Book
Ann D. Koffsky, author/illustrator
Behrman House Inc.
11 Edison Place, Springfield, NJ 07081
9780874419139, $7.95,

"Frogs in the Bed" is a great illustrated Seder activity book based on a well known song of the same name. Children are encouraged to follow along with the seder after the imaginatively illustrated song featuring Pharaoh discovering frogs in his bed and everywhere. An initial seder activity is called Seder Symbol Strings. It shows a collection of traditional foods on the seder plate, each of which is a symbol that teaches about Passover. Children are asked to follow the strings to connect each food with the element or quality which it symbolizes. In addition four cups of wine or grape juice are drunk, with the Hebrew symbol in a frame nearby. Following is the Mah Nishtananh: the Four Questions, written in Hebrew, English alphabet, and English. Additional seder crafts and activities follow, including a Passover Comic titled Magid and Miracles and a copy of The Frog Song. "Frogs in the Bed" is an imaginative, entertaining and educational seder activity book for children age 6 and up, and would make a special holiday gift experience for Passover.

The Christian Shelf

A is for Abinadi
Heidi Poelman, author
Jason Pruett, illustrator
c/o Cedar Fort, Inc.
2373 West 700 South
Springville, Utah 84663
9781462113699 $14.99

A is for Abinadi: An Alphabet Book of Scripture Heroes is an ABC picturebook, in which each letter of the alphabet is paired with a brief story or description of a person from the Old Testament, the New Testament, or the Book of Mormon. "V is for Visiting Angel. The angel Moroni came to visit Joseph Smith many times to teach him about the gold plates. Hundreds of years before, Moroni buried the gold plates in the midst of battle to keep them safe. The angel Moroni helped Joseph find them so we could read them today." Colorful, shadowed illustrations make amazing events from Scripture come alive, in this unique alphabet book meant for Christian parents and children to share.

God Is With Me
Cornelia Mary Bilinsky, author
Candace Camling, illustrator
Pauline Books & Media
50 Saint Pauls Avenue
Boston, MA 02130-3491
0819831220 $10.95

Intended for young people ages 4-7, God Is With Me: Always and Everywhere is a rhyming picturebook created to introduce Christian children to a key tenet of the faith - awareness of God's presence in each moment of daily life. "God is with me in my family, / Who give me love and care; / God is with me in the friends / With whom I play and share. // God is with me in the angel / Who stays right by my side / As my special guardian / To watch me and to guide." The gentle color illustrations beautifully complement the read-aloud poem, in this heartwarming picturebook ideal for parents and children to share.

Noah and the Ark
Marla D. Estrada, author/illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491827413, $17.99,

"Noah and the Ark" is a creative retelling of the Biblical story in Genesis in verse for a young readership, complete with original, humorous colored pencil illustrations. The beautiful and inspiring story of the covenant between God and Noah as shown by the rainbow is presented in dignified but simplified language, reminding all of the original Old Testament writing. Children will enjoy reading and hearing this reverent, vibrant story in this new version.

The Religion/Spirituality Shelf

Everyone Prays
Alexis York Lumbard, author
Alireza Sadeghian, illustrator
Wisdom Tales Press
PO Box 2682
Bloomington, IN 47402
9781937786199 $17.95

Written especially for young people ages 4-8, Everyone Prays: Celebrating Faith Around the World is an easy reader picturebook about the universal nature of religious faith. The thoughtful artwork depicts a Native American sun dance ceremony; visits to the sacred sites of Jerusalem; Japan's Shinto shrines; Maasi dances in Kenya; pilgrimages to the holy river Ganges in India, and much more. The underlying message is that though people of divergent cultures have many different ways of praying, their expressions of love, humility, and respect for the divine are universal. Highly recommended, especially for its promotion of religious tolerance and understanding - sentiments that the twenty-first century world needs more than ever.

The Social Issues Shelf

Kid Police
Shirley Lott, author
Joshua Allen, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491837979, $15.99,

"Kid Police" is a book for kids (age 9 and up) about the role kids can play in a neighborhood to help protect each other and their neighbors from crime. Written by a police officer in Greenville, Mississippi, "Kid Police" is about a cooperative effort between a team of neighborhood kids of different races/ethnicities to keep watch in their home neighborhood and report any suspicious activities to their parents and the police. Their tree house club is called Kid Police, and they want to empower other kids to join them in helping to keep each other and their neighborhood safe. They learn to be eyes and ears and to report possible crimes to their parents and to the police with parental permission. Also, they learn never to talk to strangers and to call 911 for help when needed. "Kid Police" is a great book about empowerment for kids, with lots of good suggestions and ideas for helping kids be proactive in helping to prevent crime.

The Health Shelf

Out of Order
Dale Carlson, author
Carol Nicklaus, illustrator
Bick Publishing House
16 Marion Road
Branford, CT 06405
9781884158377 $14.95

ALA Notable author Dale Carlson presents Out of Order: Young Adult Manual of Mental Illness and Recovery, a straightforward, accessible, and thorough guide to mental disorders. Though written especially for teens and young adults, Out of Order's plan, matter-of-fact language (all psychological jargon is presented with definitions, and a glossary for easy reference) demystifies mental problems and treatment options for readers of all ages and backgrounds. Chapters cover mood disorders, anxiety and personality disorders, addictions, sex and gender disorders, learning and intellectual disabilities, and much more. "...we all exhibit 'abnormal' patterns of behavior sometimes. The boy who is shy and withdrawn at a party is exhibiting the same form of behavior as the schizophrenic patient curled up against a hospital wall. The girl, all excited, whirling about, talking and laughing without taking a breath is as hyper as someone gripped in mania. The difference is that relatively healthy people bounce back from a mood or stress, do not lose touch entirely with reality, and go on with their lives. It's a matter of degree and extent." For its honest treatment of a difficult subject - one that young people need to know about in order to prevent suicides, control harmful behaviors, or seek help when needed - Out of Order is worthy of the highest recommendation, especially for public and school library collections.

The Jobs/Careers Shelf

When I Grow Up I Want To Be... a Firefighter!
Mark Shyres, author and illustrator
Debbie Hefke, illustrator
Wigu Publishing
c/o Barron Ressler, Publisher
1278 Glenneyre Street
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
9781939973115 $12.95

Part of the excellent "When I Group Up I Want To Be..." series, When I Grow Up I Want To Be... a Firefighter! is a softcover children's picturebook with cheerful drawings on photographic backgrounds, written to teach young readers about the demanding job of a firefighter, and about fire safety basics. Young Will has feared fire and firefighters (who look scary in their heavy coats and masks!) for as long as he can remember, and dreads his class' upcoming field trip. But then he learns more about these brave people who do dangerous, life-saving work - and that they have to face down their fears, too! "'Absolutely. I am totally afraid of fire,' said the captain. 'You can't be a firefighter if you are not. Fire is dangerous. But you have to learn to overcome your fear to do your job. I am more afraid of someone getting hurt than I am of fire.'" The final two pages are devoted to a fire safety checklist and simple instructions for making a home fire escape plan; every family should discuss and share these practical guidelines length, before an emergency situation arises.

Books in Series

If You Were Me and Lived in ... Kenya
Carole P. Roman, author
Kelsea Wieranga, illustrator
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781481979917, $9.99,

"If You Were Me and Lived in ......Kenya" is the latest in an award-winning, innovative and exciting children's world cultures educational series. Written to appeal to an audience from ages pre-K through eight years, "If You Were Me and Lived in ... Kenya" begins with a map of the country of Kenya with its capital, Nairobi, with a colored outline later repeated within a world map to locate Kenya in the continent of Africa. Typical names for Kenyan boys and girls are suggested, such as Kainu, Kioni, or others, and the appropriate words for father and mother are identified as Baba and Mzazi. The common unit of currency given is a shilling, and favorite foods such as riyama choma (roasted goat or beef) and chapati (a type of flatbread). A milk drink is chai, and snacks are samosas, fried triangular pastries with vegetable and meat fillings. School is called shule, and toys are often handmade, like gallimoto, clever push toys handcrafted out of available materials. A celebrated holiday is the Mombasa Carnival, and a famous place to visit is the Masai Mara National Reserve in southwest Kenya. Children enjoy playing cricket for an outdoor sport or game. At the end of the book is a glossary of twenty one Kenyan words or names and their meanings, as used in the book. Promoting healthy learning about world cultures among children of all countries, this title from a Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World offers excellent, accurate, accessible information about being a girl or boy in Kenya today. Another outstanding title from this multiple award-winning series that is highly recommended for children pre-K-8 years is "If You Were Me and Lived in ...... India" (9781484930861, $9.99), by the same author and illustrator.

Strangers on the High Seas
Carole P. Roman, author/illustrator
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781480177222, $9.99,

"Strangers on the High Seas" is number 4 in the award-winning Captain No Beard series for young children, filled with colorful fantasy pirate and animal crew members of the Flying Dragon, favored ship of Captain No Beard and younger sister, Cabin Girl Cayla, pirate adventurers. "Strangers on the High Seas" has moments of high excitement and danger when a strange dark chip known as Shark Bait begins to chase them over the high seas. Deciding they should not engage or speak to strangers, Captain No Beard and the crew of the Flying Dragon take evasive action. The final lesson in heroism comes in the form of a strange rescue, from an unlikely crew member. "Strangers on the High Seas" is an amazing, delightful, healthy, fun-filled kids series with sound moral and social lessons at its core. Ebullient, fantastic color illustrations and cartoons swoop off of every page, bringing the ship's action to the story's pages. "Strangers on the High Seas" is another excellent adventure which is really a fable with a moral or two to be learned in the midst of having fun with books. Another wonderfully entertaining title from this original series that is also a prime reading recommendation for kids age 4-8 is "The Treasure of Snake Island" (9781482390971, $9.99).

Learn to Draw: Drawing Dinosaurs
Jorge Santillan, illustrator, and Sarah Eason, author
Gareth Stevens Publishing
111 East 14th Street, Suite 349, New York, NY 10003
9781433995286, $26.60,

Part of a fine juvenile drawing series titled Learn to Draw, "Drawing Dinosaurs" is a colorful, carefully illustrated drawing instruction book for grade school children that focuses on learning how to draw dinosaurs. Beginning with a practical list of basic art supplies, the manual continues with specific instructions for drawing six different well-known dinosaur species, including T. Rex, Stegosaurus, Diplodocus, Triceratops, Velociraptor, and Allosaurus. Each chapter contains introductory information about the dinosaur followed by step by step sketch instructions accompanied with black and white example illustrations. As the final two steps are presented, the drawing is colored in with suggested colored background and added interesting facts about the dinosaur pictured. Shapes progress from simple geometric basic forms for outline to more rounded outlines with added authentic detail such as claws, teeth, and more. At the end of "Drawing Dinosaurs" there is a page of terms and definitions labeled the glossary and added suggestions for further information, including books and websites. Also highly recommended are these additional titles from the Learn to Draw series by the same author/illustrator team: "Drawing Pirates and Pirate Ships " (9781433995446, $26.60), "Drawing Dragons " (9781433995323, $26.60), "Drawing Knights and Castles " (9781433995408, $26.60), "Drawing Fairies, Mermaids, and Unicorns " (9781433995361, $26.60), and "Drawing Baby Animals" (978143399524, $26.60).

Pomelo's Big Adventure
Ramona Badescu, author
Benjamin Chaud, illustrator
Enchanted Lion Books
351 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
9781592701582, $17.95,

"Pomelo's Big Adventure" is the fourth title in the highly creative, unusual "Pomelo the Garden Elephant" series. "Pomelo's Big Adventure" leads the tiny pink garden elephant on an exciting, mysterious adventure quest without predictable parameters. Pomelo plans and packs for his adventure and embraces many of the surprising experiences he encounters. While both the delightful illustrations and the paradoxical, unpredictable writing are described as "a little subversive," the main experience to be shared in "Pomelo's Big Adventure" seems to be a message of profound faith and serene resilience in the face of the unexpected. No wonder the story is unpredictable, it seems to be about life, and creating a response to life. "Pomelo's Big Adventure" is sure to be an intriguing experience for young readers who will eagerly anticipate the next installment of the series.

Toys and Games Then and Now
Bobbie Kalman, author
Crabtree Publishing Co.
PMB 59051, 350 fifth Avenue, 59th Floor, New York, NY 10118
9780778701293, $17.70, RLB, $7.95, PB,

"Toys and Games Then and Now" is an exciting illustrated title contrasting and comparing children's popular activities, toys and pastimes of the modern era to times of long ago. Designed for readers ages 5-8, "Toys and Games Then and Now" uses colorful photos and vintage illustrations to show children at play over the years. while there are many differences between toys and games played today and those of many years ago, there are also similarities and even some old games such as blocks, dominoes, and board games that are still popular among children. A simply worded narrative complements a vivid use of contrasting illustrations to compare children's exciting games and toys of two eras separated by time. Chapters cover parlor games, classroom games, outdoor fun, power toys, toy with wheels, party games, sports then and now, and much more. "Toys and Games then and Now" is completed with Learn More section listing books and websites for additional related information. Also highly recommended are these additional titles by the same author from the series From Olden Days to Modern Ways Modern Ways: "Travel Then and Now (978780778701293, $17.70)," "Food And Farming Then and Now (9780778701262, $17.70)," "Communication then and Now (9780778701149, $17.70)," "School Days Then and Now (9780778701279, $17.70)," and "Community Helpers Then and Now (9780778701156, $17.70)."

Investment Options for Teens
Tammy Gagne, author
Mitchell Lane Publishers
P.O. Box 196, Hockessin, DE 19707
9781612285405, $29.95,

"Investment Options for Teens" is an outstanding financial planning resource for teens within the teen investment series titled A Teen Guide to Investing. Characterized by clear explanations of complex financial practices and legal limitations or requirements, "Investment Options for Teens covers an overview of early financial planning in six chapters plus a summary of investment options. Presented in color photo illustrated sidebars and page decorations, chapters cover information on having enough money to invest, starting small, planning for the future, discriminating which risks are worthwhile, saving for retirement, and the summary of investment options. The last includes brief definitions of a 529 plan, certificates of deposit, IRA's, mutual funds, savings bonds, statement savings, and stocks. Color sidebars framed with tiny piggy banks contain investor trivia tidbits of interest, and exciting background illustrations add interest to the text. Finishing with a section suggesting further reading material, On the Internet, bibliography and glossary, "Investment Options for Teens" offers a well rounded thumbnail sketch of current investment options available to maturing teens. Additional titles from this highly recommended series include the following: "Buying Mutual Funds" (9781612284279, $29.95) by Marylou Morano Kjelle, "Buying Stocks" (9781612284255, $29.95) by Claire O'Neal, "Buying Bonds" (9781612284248, $29.95) by Tammy Gagne, "A Dividend Stock Strategy For Teens" (9781612284262, $29.95) by Tammy Gagne, and "Safe-Haven Savings" (9781612284286, $29.95) by Tammy Gagne.

Marco Polo: Junior Biography from Ancient Civilizations
John Bankston, author
Mitchell Lane Publishers
P.O. Box 196, Hockessin, Delaware 19707
9781612284347, $29.95,

"Marco Polo" is an exciting, concise biography of the famous Italian explorer of over 700 years ago. With a compelling narrative enhanced with authentic color illustrations taken from period paintings, writings, and related material, "Marco Polo" is a reliable verifying resource for young adults and teens. Educational sidebars presenting crucial background information are featured throughout, outlining precious added depth of historical context. Containing five chapters, a chronology, timeline, and chapter notes, "Marco Polo" covers the major events (including a world widening journey from Venice to Cathay and back) of an exciting explorer/ journalist's life for modern young readers. Also highly recommended are these additional volumes featured from the series titled Junior Biography from Ancient Civilizations: "Lief Erickson" (9781612284309, $29.95) by John Bankston, "Nero" (9781612284392, $29.95) by Pete Diprimio, "Alexander the Great" (9781612284316, $29.95) by John Bankston, "Archimedes" (9781612284378, $29.95) by Claire O'Neal, "Genghis Khan" (9781612284323, $29.95) by John Bankston, "Augustus Caesar" (9781612284385, $29.95) by Tammy Gagne, "Confucius" (9781612284361., $29.95) by Russell Roberts, "Socrates" (9781612284330, $29.95) by Jim Whiting, and "Homer" (9781612284354, $29.95) by Tammy Gagne.

The Biography of Numbers: Measurement
Kevin Cunningham, author
Morgan Reynolds Publishing
620 South Elm Street, Suite 387, Greensboro, North Carolina 27406
9781599353982, $27.45,

"The Biography of Numbers: Measurement" is a title in the mathematical concepts educational series, written for readers age 10 and up. Five far reaching chapters cover the history of measurement from pre-Biblical times to the present, touching on cubits, mysterious monuments and ways, the quest for a metric system, and the goal of a universal system. A helpful timeline accompanies "Measurement," as well as two pages of biographical sketches of important historical figures in the history of measurement, complete with thumbnail portraits. Finishing with a glossary, bibliography and web sites, "The Biography of Numbers: Measurement" is a stellar compendium of historical reconstruction of human attempts to quantify and measure. Attractive color illustrations, photos, and maps add interest and context to this exciting instructional series. Also highly recommended are the following titles form the Biography of Numbers series, all by the same author, Kevin Cunningham: "Numerals" (9781599353968, $27.45)," "Zero" (9781599353920, $27.45)," and "Pi (9781599353944, $27.45).

High Time for Heroes
Mary Pope Osborne
Random House
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780307980496, $12.99,

High Time for Heroes adds book #51 to the 'Magic Tree House' series and tells of Jack and Annie, who must find another secret of greatness for Merlin the magician. This time their time travels take them to Egypt in the mid-1800s, in search of Florence Nightingale. The only problem when they find her is that she's unhappy with her own life and can't help them find happiness for Merlin: so now they are charged with two missions. A fun adventure emerges, cementing fact with the fictional time travel approach.

Lonely Planet Publications
150 Linden Street, Oakland CA 94607

The newly-launched board book 'World Search' series is meant to inspire children to explore their world, and offers ages 3 and up fun explorations of amazing, silly, and engrossing things that happen around the world, from animals to urban areas. In packaging each book as a 'focus', Lonely Planet has produced a winning series that offers kids specific approaches to world experiences. AMAZING JOBS (9781743219201, $14.99) covers the most amazing jobs in the world, from being a Bollywood stuntman to being a wild animal vet in Africa or a 'flying doctor' in Australia. BUSY PLACES (9781743219188, $14.99) travels to real cities around the world in search of extraordinary things, from a busy and colorful Moroccan market to crowded Shanghai. INCREDIBLE ANIMALS (9781743219225, $14.99) explores some of the most amazing animals on the planet. Each book features some 50 flaps to lift - which may not make the recommendable for the rigors of library lending, but sure will attract attention from young board book readers interested in tactile experiences. All are unique, top recommendations for any board book reader.

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

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