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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 34, Number 4 April 2024 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Writing/Publishing Shelf Social Issues Shelf
Psychology Shelf Environmental Shelf Science Shelf
Wildlife Shelf American History Shelf Economics Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Board Book Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Bilingual Shelf Elementary Fiction Shelf Middle Grade Fiction Shelf
Young Adult Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Graphic Novel Shelf Art Shelf Money/Finance Shelf
Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Christian Shelf Judaic Shelf
Islamic Shelf Books in Series Suzie Housley's Bookshelf

Reviewer's Choice

I am Book
Joren Cull
Penguin Workshop
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593659243, $18.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: In the picture book pages of "I am Book" by Joren Cull, young readers will be introduced to "Book" -- a plain old book with a dusty yellow jacket and torn pages. When Book's library closes, it moves to a new one in a neighboring town, expecting a friendly welcome. But the kids there don't care for books with dusty jackets and torn pages! So, Book hatches a plan to change its jacket and rewrites its pages to fit in with the new crowd. After several hilarious failures to do so, Book finally learns to accept itself just the way it always was -- spelling misteaks (mistakes) and all.

Critique: Unique, lively, clever, and fun from start to finish, as well as with presenting important underlying message about the value of reading, "I am Book" by author and illustrator Joren Cull is a highly prized and unreservedly recommended pick for family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 5-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "I am Book" from the Penguin Workshop is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Joren Cull ( is an author, illustrator, and animator from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Their work has appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, National Geographic, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Guardian, Reader's Digest, and The Globe and Mail. Joren's work has been celebrated with awards from American Illustration, Applied Arts, and The National Magazine Awards. They also received a Webby Award for best animation. Joren likes ice cream and records!

Our Home: The Love, Work, and Heart of Family
Lori Sugarman-Li, author
Maria Perera, illustrator
Collective Book Studio
9781685554286, $18.95, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: It's funny to get so excited about things we may think of as chores. But what if you thought of it this way -- each job is a hug at its core!

With the publication of "Our Home: The Love, Work, and Heart of Family" by author/storyteller Lori Sugarman-Li and artist/illustrator Maria Perera, children will follow a diverse cast of families as they discover all it takes to make their homes welcoming and cared-for places. From making their bed to helping in the kitchen, young readers will realize how much they contribute and the value of all family members sharing this beautiful work.

With its eye-catching illustrations, "Our Home" is a thoroughly 'child friendly and engaging read along where they will learn that taking care of the home isn't just a chore -- it is also an act of love and joy that can bring the whole family together.

Critique: An original and fun read from start to finish, with its emphasis on family values and self-esteem, "Our Home: The Love, Work, and Heart of Family" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Lessons/Life Skills picture book collections. It should be noted that "Our Home" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note #1: Lori Sugarman-Li is a Coach, Speaker, and Author. She is dedicated to fostering meaningful conversations within families, encouraging them to contemplate how they care for one another and their shared space.

Editorial Note #2: Maria Perera ( graduated with a degree in art history, then studied graphic design. She has worked as a freelance illustrator for several international publishers, magazines and advertising agencies and loves to work on portraits and children's books.

Sashiko's Stitches
Sanae Ishida, author/illustrator
c/o Worthy Publishing
9781546005339, $18.99, Hc, 40pp

Synopsis: Sashiko is a young girl with very big feelings. When her mother teaches her about her namesake (the traditional Japanese practice of mending through embroidery) she finds an outlet for some of those emotions. With each stitch, the dark cloud around her lightens, until her big fears begin to feel less scary. As she heals tears in the fabric, she begins to find a sense of calm and hope.

Critique: A gentle, charming, and deeply resonant picture book, "Sashko's Stitches" author/illustrator Sanae Ishida deftly explores the transformative power of creative expression and the finding of inner peace through this unique form of Japanese needlecraft.. Children and parents alike will take away an appreciation for this beautiful artistic tradition, and for the great potential creative practices have to help us cope with difficult emotions. "Sashiko's Stitches" is especially and unreserved recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-7.

Editorial Note: Sanae Ishida ( is a Seattle area author-illustrator of the Little Kunoichi the Ninja Girl picture book series, and Little Sumo, a board book series. She is also the author of several books on sewing and enjoys making clothing, resulting in too many handmade clothes for herself and her daughter.

My Book and Me
Linda Sue Park, author
Chris Raschka, illustrator
Red Comet Press
9781636550947, $18.99, HC, 36pp

Synopsis: Meet the child who loves books in "My Book and Me", a lyrical tribute to the joys of books and reading by Newbery medalist Linda Sue Park and featuring the jubilant illustrations of celebrated Caldecott artist Chris Raschka.

This is my book.
My favorite book.
I carry it with me
wherever I go.

"My Book and Me" invites young children to reflect on beloved books which are friends we hold dear; books we read over and again; books that may take us to places afar to experience the world in different ways, and books that comfort and reassure us. "My Book and Me" is a jubilant paean to literature is a celebration of favorite authors, characters, and stories; those that we cherish the most and are friends for life... which books are your favorite?

Critique A celebration of the joy of reading and the value of books, and showcasing a diverse group of children, all enjoying their favorite books, "My Book and Me" deserves as wide a readership as possible and therefore an unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-6. It should be noted that "My Book and Me" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Linda Sue Park ( is the author of the Newbery Medal-winning A Single Shard, the best-seller A Long Walk to Water, and the highly-praised novel Prairie Lotus. She has also written several acclaimed picture books and serves on the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. She can be followed on Twitter: @LindaSuePark

Editorial Note #2: Chris Raschka ( received the Caldecott Medal for The Hello, Goodbye Window and for A Ball for Daisy. He also won a Caldecott Honor for the book Yo! Yes?. He has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as one of the most original illustrators working today, and he continues to create stories and art that appeal to readers of all ages. Follow Chris on Instagram @chris.raschka

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Colossal Words for Kids
Colette Hiller, author
Tor Freeman, illustrator
Frances Lincoln Children's Books
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780711278752, $19.99, HC, 80pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Colossal Words for Kids", parents, caregivers and teachers can boost a child's growing vocabulary with 75 hilariously illustrated poems from Colette Hiller, author of the critically acclaimed kids' poetry book "The B on Your Thumb".

Each poem in this funny, funky book teaches a specific important word, as well as its meaning and spelling, in an innovative and accessible format that kids will love. Using rhythm and wordplay, the poems help build a colossal vocabulary, thinking skills and literacy - without kids even noticing! But most of all, this book delights young readers with the joy and silliness of the English language.

Building a colossal vocabulary has never felt so natural, or so much fun! Each word in this collection is defined in a simple rhyme. Using rhythm, humor and logic, each word's meaning is made clear and accessible. Kids will want to try them out straight away: it's a ready-to-use collection!

Kids will love: Rolling rhymes that will be chanted again and again; Fun and quirky drawings by Tor Freeman that bring these educational poems to life; An holistic learning premise from Colette Hiller, skilled in writing educational poetry for children.

From Ambiguous to Zealous, all the words showcased in "Colossal Words for Kids" are for 7-to-12-year-olds and were selected from vocabulary lists intended for older children, so that younger children can challenge themselves and discover a wealth of great new words!

Critique: Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books in a large picture book style format (8.7 x 0.65 x 11.6 inches, 1.3 pounds), "Colossal Words for Kids" is enthusiastically recommend for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Children's Poetry collections and Vocabulary Developmental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: Colette Hiller ( is a writer, arts producer and author of the critically acclaimed poetry book The B on Your Thumb. Her children's rhymes have been featured on BBC Words and Pictures and her children's album, Applehead, has been a hit with kids across the world, selling over 50,000 copies. An advocate of early learning, Colette believes that even very young children are receptive to the joy of wordplay. She taught her own twins to read by the time they were three.

Editorial Note #2: Tor Freeman ( is a London-based illustrator. In 2012 she was awarded the Sendak Fellowship. In 2017 she won the Guardian Graphic Short Story Prize. Her books include the Digby Dog and Olive series.

The Social Issues Shelf

Letters to My Darling Daughter
Sugar Snap Studio
Walter Foster Jr.
c/o Quarto Group Children's Books
9780760385210, $18.99 HC, $9.99 Kindle, 32pp

Synopsis: "Letters to My Darling Daughter" is a picture book love letter from parent to daughter brimming with advice and life lessons. Each spread of this charming picture book features a letter or note from a parent to their daughter, along with a captivating illustration. A tenderhearted encapsulation of a parent's love, "Letters to My Darling Daughter" shows young girls ages 3-6 how they can grow up to be independent and strong girls and women.

Encouraging young girls and reminding adult women to stand up against inequality in their lives, the powerful messages inside include:

"Your body is your own"
"Success comes in many forms"
"Treat others how you'd like to be treated"
"You are rare and unique, so embrace yourself"
"Your ideas matter"

The last page of "Letters to My Darling Daughter" includes space for the parent to write their own personal message to their darling daughter.

Critique: Unique, fun, and an ideal pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Lessons/Life Skills picture book collections, "Letters to My Darling Daughter by Sugar Snap Studio is an ideal gift book to a daughter of any age from her mother, and for such celebratory occasions as baby showers, graduations, Mother's Day, birthdays, and more.

Editorial Note #1: Sugar Snap Studio is led by Jessie Ford, an English illustrator whose colorful view of the world has been brightening people's lives for the last decade. Her graphic shapes, bold color palette, hand-drawn typography, and textured layers create a handmade effect that has been commissioned by clients such as Harry N. Abrams, Rodale Kids, Volkswagen, Samsonite, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Unilever, and Westin Hotels. Her books include ABC: What Can She Be?, ABC: What Can He Be?, ABC: What Can I Be?, ABC for Me: ABC Everyday Heroes Like Me, and ABC for Me: ABC Let's Celebrate You & Me.

Laddie, the Lobster, Meets New Friends
Summer Belle, author
Tatum Grace, author
Janelle Metzgus, illustrator
Robert D. Reed Publishers
9798873894475, $14.95, PB, 36pp

Synopsis: "Laddie, the Lobster, Meets New Friends", was co-authored by Summer Belle and her eight-year-old granddaughter, Tatum Grace. Artist/illustrator Janelle Metzgus has exquisitely captured each sea creature and the plot in such a charming way.

With bullying as such a problem in our day and age, this delightful picture book is about sea creatures who act in loving ways, never making fun of a disability but bonding as friends instead. Sarah, the Seahorse, has part of one of her fins missing, as does Sammy, the Shark.

Young children (and their parents, teachers, and caregivers) will enjoy "Laddie, the Lobster, Meets New Friends" and its message -- especially anyone with a disability or who is bullied for any reason. Children who are do note have a disability will benefit by becoming more altruistic and understanding after reading "Laddie, the Lobster, Meets New Friends".

Critique: At the heart of the story is that Laddie, the Lobster is missing part of one of his claws. He is so happy he has lots of friends, and no one is perfect, and that is okay. That is what makes "Laddie, the Lobster, Meets New Friends" such an important 'life lesson' and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-8. It should be noted that "Laddie, the Lobster, Meets New Friends" is also available in a digital book format (Lerner, $5.99).

Sticks vs. Stones
Rosanne L. Kurstedt, author
Agnes Saccani, illustrator
c/o Worthy Publishing
9781546003939, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Sticks or stones? When best friends George and Georgina disagree over which is better, their argument escalates to shouts of "I don't want to be your friend!" "No, I don't want to be your friend!", until two new friends show them a better way.

As they argue, George and Georgina build grander and grander structures, resulting in delightfully whimsical depictions of castles and thrones built from sticks and stones. As a fun picture book, "Sticks vs. Stones" is ideal for kick-starting conversations about considering someone else's point of view, and packed with wonderfully expressive characters and the humorously overblown emotions of a childhood fight.

Critique: The collaborative work of author/storyteller Rosanne L. Kurstedt and artist/illustrator Agnes Saccani, "Stocks vs. Stones" from WorthKids is a splendid picture book that will create a laced-with-humor story time experience for children ages 4-7 and is a specially prized pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections about friendship, emotions, and feelings.

Editorial Note #1: Rosanne Kurstedt ( is currently the Assistant Regional Advisor of the New Jersey Chapter of the SCBWI. When not writing children's books, she's an adjunct professor at Hunter College and the Associate Director of READ East Harlem/Hunter College. She's the author of 100+ Growth Mindset Comments (Newmark Learning, 2018) and co-author of Teaching Writing with Picture Books as Models (Scholastic, 2000). Additionally, Rosanne is the founder of The Author Experience, a 501(c)(3) organization that works to support the literacy growth of students in communities facing economic challenges.

Editorial Note #2: Agnes Saccani ( has had creative passions and hobbies since childhood, including drawing, crafts, and photography. She picked up digital illustration as a hobby a few years ago and soon found her childish soul drawn to the world of children's books. Agnes pulls inspiration from cartoons, animated movies, childhood memories, nature, and art. Her style features cute and funny characters that help kids fall in love with books. Agnes is from Hungary and resides in Italy.

The Psychology Shelf

The Cat Who Couldn't Be Bothered
Jack Kurland
Frances Lincoln Children's Books
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
9780711287457, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: There is a cat. A cat that couldn't be bothered to do anything... anything at all. His friends ask him if he wants to play but he doesn't feel like it. They invite him on adventures to far-off places, but he would rather stay at home. Until one day, a friend asks how he is doing, and the true reason why he'd rather do nothing is revealed. He is feeling sad.

"The Cat Who Couldn't Be Bothered" is a picture book story about feelings, friendship, and the importance of speaking to someone when you don't feel right. This beautiful socially aware story offers: Reassurance to kids that feeling sad sometimes is normal; Help for them understand the behavior of others and promotes empathy; Encouragement for them to be more in touch with their feelings; A sense of fun while also broaching a tricky topic like being sad.

Both children and adults will love the quirky and hilarious cat's refusal to take part in anything, and the sweet and important message behind this unique picture book story about a feeling.

Critique: With the rising statistic on anxiety and depression levels in children over the past couple of decades, it has never been more important to introduce kids to the importance of mental health. "The Cat Who Couldn't Be Bothered" by author/illustrator Jack Kurland is a bright children's picture book is an easy way to for parents, teachers, counselors, and caregivers to talk with them about feelings and looking out for others. It also provides an excellent jumping-off point for at-home and classroom discussions about emotional wellbeing and caring for others. While highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Skills/Emotions picture book collections for children ages 2-6, it should be noted that "The Cat Who Couldn't Be Bothered" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Jack Kurland is an author-illustrator from Leigh-on-Sea in the UK. After graduating from Winchester School of Art in 2013, he spent seven years working as a graphic designer. He paused to go traveling for two years, where he realized he wanted to achieve an ambition he'd always had: to create children's books. He now finds the balance between being a graphic designer, and working on illustrating and writing stories.

The Environmental Shelf

Olga Fadeeva, author
Lena Traer, illustrator
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
c/o Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
9780802856227, $18.99, HC, 56pp

Synopsis: Water is everywhere, and we rely on it every single day. But do you ever wonder about water? How much water is on our planet? What happens when there is too much water or too little water? Why does it rain? What are lakes, rivers, seas, and oceans? Why are the seas and oceans blue and salty? What lives underwater? What about water in human history -- how did people get water in ancient times? How do we get water today? What do humans build to travel on the water, and how have we harnessed waterpower? How do we protect this amazing resource for the future?

Gorgeously illustrated and informative, "Water: Discovering the Precious Resource All Around Us" invites children to tour through science and history. Colorful acrylic art and energetic text by Olga Fadeeva helps young readers learn about the natural resource we have depended on since the beginning of life itself.

Critique: Thoroughly 'kid friendly' for young readers ages 8-14 and with an interest in oceanography, water cycles, and the impact of excessive water and an inadequate water supply's impact on all life (including we humans), "Water: Discovering the Precious Resource All Around Us" is ably translated into English by Lena Traer and very highly recommended -- especially for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library recycling and environmental studies collections.

Editorial Note #1: Olga Fadeeva is the author and illustrator of Wind: Discovering Air in Motion (Eerdmans) and many other books for children. In a starred review, Kirkus called Wind "thoroughly engaging, masterful in both design and imagery." Olga's art has been honored in Italy, China, and her home country of Russia. Follow Olga on Instagram @olgafadeeva_illustrations. (

Editorial Note #2: Lena Traer ( is a Russian- and English- language translator with a focus on books for children and young adults. She has translated Wind: Discovering Air in Motion and On the Edge of the World (both Eerdmans) into English and has also translated a variety of picture books and scientific materials into Russian. Born and raised in Siberia, Russia, Lena now lives in California.

The Science Shelf

Extreme Weather for Kids
Matthew Cappucci, author
Stephanie Hathaway, illustrator
Quarry Books
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780760385142, $19.99, PB, 144pp

Synopsis: Specifically designed and intended to harness children's natural curiosity, "Extreme Weather for Kids: Lessons and Activities All About Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Blizzards, and More!" is an action-packed introduction to meteorology that deftly incorporates firsthand accounts from inside Mother Nature's most dramatic moments.

For each phenomenon introduced, explanatory text, informative illustrations, sidebars, and asides allow readers to explore at their own pace. Along with storm-chasing reports and photos from in the field, each chapter includes a step-by-step hands-on activity for engaging with the science.

Kids are becoming aware of climate change as the cause of increasing frequency and severity of weather events that give rise to such questions as what is the polar vortex? And why does a disrupted "polar vortex" lead to extreme cold air outbreaks across Europe, Asia, and North America?

Among the many other "in case you were wondering" questions addressed is:

How strong can a hurricane get?
What's the biggest tornado to have ever happened?
How large can hail get?
Is "thundersnow" real? How does it form?
How thick is lightning? And how powerful is it?
Where can I find "fossilized lightning?"
Can it snow in the dessert?
What are "solar storms?"
What makes the northern (and southern) lights?

Weather is one of the most accessible sciences there is. Everyone experiences it in some way or another, and learning the basics behind it naturally sparks interest in other sciences. That's why "Extreme Weather for Kids" also teaches the basic principles of scientific observation, while placing a key emphasis on safety.

Critique: Impressively informative, profusely illustrated, thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, this large format (8.43 x 0.39 x 10.94 inches, 1.5 pounds) paperback edition of "Extreme Weather for Kids: Lessons and Activities All About Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Blizzards, and More!" is unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library Atmosphere & Weather Science collections and curriculums for children ages 8-12. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Extreme Weather for Kids" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Matthew Cappucci is an American meteorologist based in Washington, DC. He graduated from Harvard in 2019 with a degree in atmospheric sciences, and works on all platforms creating and delivering forecasts for an audience locally and internationally. He can be found on TV at FOX5 in Washington, DC, writes daily articles for The Washington Post, provides the forecast on WAMU radio, the capital's NPR affiliate, and produces daily video forecasts in the MyRadar app.

Editorial Note #2: Stephanie Hathaway ( is an artist who specializes in creating educational content inspired by our natural world. She believes in using beautiful, dynamic illustrations to make learning about science and nature exciting and accessible to children of all ages. She is also guided by the notion that many of life's valuable lessons can be learned from nature. It is her hope that her pictorial work will inspire families to explore and learn from the natural world right outside their own door.

The Wildlife Shelf

Little Kids First Nature Guide Birds
Moira Rose Donohue
National Geographic Kids
c/o National Geographic Press
9781426375460, $19.99, Library Binding, 48pp

Synopsis: "Little Kids First Nature Guide Birds" is the newest installment to the National Geographic Little Kids First Big Books series. Little bird fanciers ages 4-8 get to know a variety of common and not-so-common birds through vibrant photos and easy-to-understand profiles.

Children can easily use this sturdy take-along guide to identify birds by their size, coloring, and even their sound, from the kee-kee-kee of a pileated woodpecker to the gobble-gobble of a wild turkey. Readers will also learn about the parts of a bird, their nesting habits, and their stages of growth, from egg to bird.

Fun games and a glossary will get little bird-watchers up and moving, walking the walk, and squawking the squawk!

Critique: Profusely illustrated with National Geographic quality full color photographs, "Little Kids First Nature Guide Birds" is a high premium pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Avian Wildlife collections for children. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Little Kids First Nature Guide Birds" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781426375392, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Moira Rose Donohue ( is the author of all sorts of nonfiction books for children, including the Little Kids First Big Book of the Rain Forest, Little Kids First Big Book of Rocks, Minerals, and Shells, Kangaroo to the Rescue!, and Parrot Genius!, all from National Geographic.

Mysterious, Marvelous Octopus!
Paige Towler, author
Sy Montgomery, photographer
National Geographic Kids
c/o National Geographic Press
9781426376672, $17.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: "Mysterious, Marvelous Octopus!" is playful and informative introduction for young readers ages 5-8 to the fascinating world of octopuses -- big and small, ink-squirting and shape-shifting, all found all around the planet oceans and seas.

With their super smarts and awe-inspiring abilities, octopuses have captivated human imaginations. "Mysterious, Marvelous Octopus!" is a pictorially enriched celebration of all things weird and wonderful about these beloved creatures - - including their eight arms, nine brains, and one-of-a-kind personalities.

Author Paige Towler's lyrical poetic commentary is paired with informational sidebar, making "Mysterious, Marvelous Octopus!" ideal as a charming bedtime read or for pouring over for in-depth octopus info. Gorgeous photos of real octopuses gives young readers up-close and vivid images of the sensational cephalopods ranging from the utterly adorable Dumbo octopus to the stunning blue-ringed octopus -- along with their incredible habitats and body parts.

Critique: Fascinating, informative, fun, and featuring an informative Foreword by naturalist Sy Montgomery "Mysterious, Marvelous Octopus!" from National Geographic Kids is unreservedly recommended as a welcome and prized addition to elementary school and community library Marine Wildlife & Oceanography/Zoology picture book collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists for children.

Editorial Note #1: Paige Towler writes poetry and books, including Girls Can! and Yoga Animals, and was a children's book editor at National Geographic Kids for five years.

Editorial Note #2: Sy Montgomery is a naturalist and the beloved author of the National Book Award finalist The Soul of an Octopus, the memoir The Good Good Pig, and several other nonfiction works.

How Animals Sleep
Jiri Dvorak, author
Marie Stumpfova, illustrator
Benjamin Lovett, translator
Red Comet Press
9781636550978, $18.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: How do animals sleep?

Curious young minds will be fascinated to discover the amazing variety of ways the animals featured in this picture book sleep. Some sleep nearly all the time while others hardly at all; some sleep underwater while others standing on one leg; some sleep in snow while others in the baking hot desert. "How Animals Sleep" invites inquiry and comparison between the animals and their sleep behaviors plus reflection on how we as humans get rest.

Gorgeous, bold block print style illustrations by Marie Stumpfova accompany the informative text from naturalist/author Jiri Dvorak. The large trim size provides an immersive reading experience. Young students of animal behavior may extend the conversation into topics of where the animals live, what they eat, and other related activities. Or they may just be tempted to demonstrate their own abilities to sleep after the final pages come to a close.

"How Do Animals Sleep" features: Pelicans, Parrotfish, Bumblebees, Sea Otters, Seals, Polar Bears, Flamingoes, Hazel Dormice, Giraffes, Cats, Green Tree Pythons, Foxes, Peacocks, Camels, Dogs, and Common Swifts.

Critique: A fun and informative picture book from start to finish, "How Do Animals Sleep" is accessibly translated into English by Benjamin Lovett and will proved to be a highly prized and valued pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Wildlife picture book collections for children ages 4-8. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "How Do Animals Sleep" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99) as well.

Editorial Note #1: Jiri Dvorak spent his childhood in Prague and wanted to become a botanist or the author of adventure novels. After graduating with a degree in plant biotechnology, he realized he did not want to be a scientist. He first worked as a proofreader and now is the editor-in-chief of the magazine Our Beautiful Garden. He is the author of more than ten books that combine his passions for biology and adventure. He has been awarded the Golden Ribbon, lives in Prague, likes to take pictures, sleep and be silent.

Editorial Note #2: Marie Stumpfova ( graduated with a degree in graphics and illustration. Today, she mainly devotes herself to illustration, editorial work, and creating books. Her work as an art director can be seen in the magazine Page, and she has also designed wooden toys for children. She created the book How Animals Sleep as her diploma thesis, which has received praise from critics and readers. Today, it can be read by children in Japan, Poland, Holland, Korea, Hungary, and now the English-speaking world.

Editorial Note #3: Benjamin Lovett ( offers general translations, tourism, screenplay translation, subtitling, journalism, art and literature, music theory, children's literature, history, social sciences, business, marketing, advertising, public relations educational materials.

Serenella Quarello, author
Alessio Alcini, illustrator
Margret Greenan, translator
Red Comet Press
9781636550725, $26.99, HC, 64pp

Synopsis: In the history of Earth, every creature who ever lived contributed towards the richness and beauty of our planet. Each one has a reason to exist, from the giant panda to the pygmy possum, and if we lose them, it will be forever.

"Extinctopedia: Discover what we have lost, what is at risk, and how we can preserve the diversity of our fragile planet" tells a complex story, not just of those who are extinct, but also of those in greatest peril, with explanations of what threatens their survival. It is also a story of hope for animals who have been rediscovered, hope in the form of newly-discovered animals, and hope that we might hear the warning call and act to preserve the amazing biodiversity of our fragile planet for future generations to come.

"Extinctopedia" shares stories about animals that are no longer with us. Young readers will discover endangered animals at risk of extinction. They will also learn about organizations which aim to protect animal life and find out about strategies for preserving biodiversity.

"Extinctopedia" also provides a fascinating catalog of life on earth and encourages young readers to find ways of preserving the incredible diversity of species, so we may all thrive and life itself can endure on this amazing and beautiful planet.

Critique: Authored by Serenella Quarello, illustrated by Alessio Alcini, illustrator, and ably translated into English by Margaret Greenan, "Extinctopedia: Discover what we have lost, what is at risk, and how we can preserve the diversity of our fragile planet" is a Smithsonian collaboration providing an informative journey of discovery through the animal kingdom, past and present, and calls on young readers to educate themselves, and then take action to save the amazing diversity of our planet. Featuring museum quality illustrations, this large format (9.75 x 0.38 x 13.25 inches, 1.45 pounds) hardcover edition of "Extinctopedia" from Red Comet Press is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Environment, Ecology, and Wildlife History collections for children ages 9-12. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Extinctopedia" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note #1: Serenella Quarello is a Spanish teacher, a translator and an author of novels and picturebooks, published in Italy and abroad. She organizes creative workshops for animated reading, creative writing, and literary translation.

Editorial Note #2: Alessio Alcini was born in Abruzzo, Italy in 1993. He studied graphic art at the Academy of Fine Arts in L'Aquila and illustration at the Academy of Fine Arts in Macerata. In 2020 his illustrations were selected for the Bologna Children's Book Fair Illustrators Exhibition.

Editorial Note #3: Margaret Greenan is a translator and English as a foreign language teacher based in Italy. She has mostly translated books for young children and teens, for Italian and international publishing houses.

Insectorama: The Marvelous World of Insects
Lisa Voisard, illustrator
Jeffrey K. Butt, translator
9783039640164, $29.95, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: The world is full of insects. They far outweigh humans on earth, and we couldn't survive long without them. But do you really know them?

Vetted by entomologist Mathilde Gaudreau, the portraits comprising "Insectorama: The Marvelous World of Insects" will give young readers an insect-eye view of some of the most wonderful insects that can be found in parks and forests.

Additionally, young readers will learn plenty of fun facts they can share with friends and family: crickets can hear thanks to ear drums located in their abdomen, unlike the Spring Field Cricket that hears through the knees. Don't forget about the flies and butterflies who can taste with their legs. There are many insects that cross hemispheres when they migrate. The Hercules beetle, at up to seven inches making it the largest beetle in the world -- and so much more.

Ably translated into English by Jeffrey K. Butt, and featuring artist Lisa' Voisard's fascinating illustrations will help young readers to learn the secrets of the 30 insects showcased in "Insectorama: The Marvelous World of Insects" including how to find them and how they need our help; how they navigate and how they reproduce.

Critique: Simply but emphatically stated, "Insectorama: The Marvelous World of Insects" is an ideal, unique, informative, and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library environment/ecology and insect biology collections for young readers ages 10-12,.

Editorial Note #1: Lisa Voisard ( is a graphic designer and illustrator from Lausanne, Switzerland. A White Raven Award Winner, her illustrations are fresh, graphic, colorful and are often inspired by nature. "Arborama" was the first book in Lisa's 'A Marvelous World' series.

Editorial Note #2: Jeffrey K. Butt is a translator residing in St. John's, Canada. Jeffrey holds a Master of Arts degree in French from Memorial University of Newfoundland, as well as a Master of Philosophy in Literary Translation from Trinity College, Dublin. When not translating, Jeffrey enjoys spending time at his cottage, gardening, hiking, traveling, and practicing Taekwon-Do, in which he holds a 4th degree Black Belt.

The Secret Life of Bugs
Moira Butterfield, author
Vivian Mineker, illustrator
Happy Yak
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780711286559, $19.99, HC, 48pp

Synopsis: Let Luna, a friendly ladybird, lead you through the pages of "The Secret Life of Bugs", a beautiful first guide to bug life for young readers as they earn about bug habitats with respect to who lives where, from teeny tiny bugs (featherwing beetles) to the largest of critters (giant stick insect and goliath beetles). Fascinated children will find out the amazing things that bugs can do, like flying high or disguising themselves.

There are also magical creepy crawly folklore stories from around the planet, too. The ladybug has learnt much on her travels and will be a great guide for young readers, perhaps inspiring them to develop a lifelong love of bugs.

Sadly, many insects are under threat, so the ladybug guide is an ideal character to teach children about pollution and climate change, and encourage them to care about all creepy crawlies.

Sumptuous and detailed illustrations by artist Vivian Mineker is essential in creating picture book that deftly mixes natural history with a splash of fantasy. "The Secret Life of Bugs" is an ideal introduction for children ages 7-11 to the beauty of every living thing, even the teeny tiny.

Critique: "The Secret Life of Bugs" from Happy Yak is part of a picture book series that also includes "The Secret Life of Trees", "The Secret Life of Bees", "The Secret Life of Birds", and "The Secret Life of Oceans". A fun and informative read from start to finish, "The Secret Life of Bugs" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Insects themed picture book collections for young readers.

Editorial Note #1: Moira Butterfield is an internationally-published children's book author. Her work includes picture books, board books, fiction, and highly-commended non-fiction books that seek to spark a child's imagination about our world. She studied literature and has lived in and traveled to many places across the world. She currently lives in Bath, UK.

Editorial Note #2: Vivian Mineker is a Taiwanese American from Taipei and Portland, currently working out of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Her interest in art began at a young age, using drawing to express herself and her inner imaginary world. She uses watercolor, colored pencil, and digital processes to create a blend of traditional texture with a modern look and feel.

The American History Shelf

Yellowstone for Kids
Allen Morris Jones, author/illustrator
Bangtail Press
c/o Farcountry Press
9798989301805, $14.95, PB, 48pp

Synopsis: It's no secret that Yellowstone National Park is one of the most amazing places in the world. As you can imagine, it has all kinds of great stories to tell. There are stories about first peoples trading Yellowstone obsidian to Indian tribes in the East, and explorers putting the very first boat onto Yellowstone Lake, and the Army building a Fort in Mammoth Hot Springs. There are stories about ancient volcanoes and molten lava heating geysers from deep underground and wolves being reintroduced and bison coming back from the edge of extinction.

Yellowstone was set aside way back in 1872, and since then it has become one of the world's most treasured places. With 24 delightful illustrations created by author/illustrator Allen Morris Jones, "Yellowstone for Kids" not only looks at the Park's history but it looks at its natural history as well. It tells the story of how this amazing place came to be. No matter how old you are, "Yellowstone for Kids" is the perfect introduction to our country's very first National Park.

Critique: Fun and informative from start to finish, Allen Morris Jones' "Yellowstone for Kids" from Bangtail Press is a welcome and highly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library National Park collections for children ages 5-8.

Editorial Note: Allen Morris Jones ( is a longtime resident of Montana. He has written several books for grown-ups, as well as a whole bunch of magazine articles, essays, short stories, and even some poetry. His first book for kids, Montana for Kids, won the Spur Award in 2019. Along the way, he has worked as a magazine editor, a book editor, and a communications director.

The Economics Shelf

Economics (My World)
Eduard Altarribo
Button Books
c/o The GMC Group
9781787081406, $17.99, PB, 56pp

Synopsis: What is economics and here does it come from? Why do we use it? And how can it affect the world around us? As part of the My World series from Button Books, "Economics" by author and illustrator Eduard Altarribo is specifically and effectively designed to provide an easy-to-understand explanation about the complex world of economics that children ages 8-12 may often hear about on news whenever the topics of 'inflation' and the 'rising cost of living' are mentioned.

"Economics" concisely explains what basic economic ideas and theories are, how economic activity affects our everyday lives and how our societies and the wider world are shaped by its structures and rules. From yard sales to large global businesses, this book explores how economic theories help to explain not only how we act as earners, savers and consumers, but also how places like schools and hospitals are run.

Accompanied by colorful and characterful illustrations, the subject of economics is regarded in the simplest, most objective way possible, so that children have all the information they need to understand the world around them and the role economics plays within it.

Critique: An ideal introduction to the concept and subject of economics and how it is relevant to their lives and the lives of their families, "Economics" by author/artist Eduard Altarribo is thoroughly 'kid friendly' in tone, organization, and presentation -- and very highly recommended for family home schooling curriculums, as well as elementary school, middle school, and community library Money/Finance collections.

The Cookbook Shelf

The Juneteenth Cookbook
Alliah L. Agostini, author
Chef Taffy Elrod, author
Elrod Sawyer Cloud, illustrator
becker&mayer! kids
c/o Quarto Group Children's Books
9780760385791, $19.99, HC, 72pp

Synopsis: A commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, the Juneteenth holiday has been observed in the Black community for over 150 years. With the publication of "The Juneteenth Cookbook: Recipes and Activities for Kids and Families to Celebrate", Alliah L. Agostini (the author of the popular children's book The Juneteenth Story which won the 2022 Black Kid Lit Award for Best Historical title) brings the culinary tradition of Juneteenth to a child's home through historically accurate recipes and educational family activities.

With captivating illustrations of 18 quick and easy recipes, young readers ages 8-11 will enjoy following along with little Alliah and her grandparents as they explore the historical origins of the holiday through food. Make, share, and enjoy kid-friendly takes on some of the most popular Juneteenth celebration dishes ranging from Red Velvet Ice Cream Sandwiches; Frances Price's Calico Potato Salad; Saucy Pulled Chicken Sliders with Bangin' Barbeque Sauce; and Freedom Fizz (homemade red pop); Hot Links & Chow Chow Relish; Corn Muffins with Hot Honey Butter; Mac 'n' Please; Sweet Potato Pie Bars -- and more!

All the recipes comprising The Juneteenth Cookbook" use simple and accessible ingredients, which can be easily substituted for a variety of diets and preferences. Each recipe can also easily be multiplied for larger groups, and the instructions are written with families in mind so everyone from toddler to grandparent can participate in crafting the ultimate Juneteenth celebration spread! Alongside all the delicious recipes, children will also learn a brief history of barbeque and it's importance to the Juneteenth holiday and Black culture in America.

Comprised of 90 percent cooking and 10 percent family and community engagement, "The Juneteenth Cookbook" brings kids and families a sensory-rich, hands-on exploration of this important and historic American holiday.

Critique: This large format (8.9 x 0.5 x 11.4 inches, 1.25 pounds) hardcover edition of "The Juneteenth Cookbook: Recipes and Activities for Kids and Families to Celebrate" is nicely illustrated and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation -- making it a prized and unreservedly recommended addition to family and community library cookbook collections for children. Of special note is that "The Juneteenth Cookbook" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Alliah L. Agostini ( is the award-winning author of a number of books for young readers including: The Juneteenth Story, BIG TUNE, Oprah Winfrey: A Little Golden Book Biography, A Juneteenth Celebration Cookbook, and more.

Editorial Note #2: Taffy Elrod ( is a professional chef, cooking instructor, recipe developer, food writer, and former restaurant owner with over 20 years experience in the food industry. Chef Elrod is also a Culinary Instructor at the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center in Troy, NY, a freelance recipe developer, and food writer. Her work has been featured on and in Plate magazine and The Washington Post.

Editorial Note #3: Sawyer Cloud ( is a Madagascar based artist who has illustrated a number of books including Jade Braves the Dark, Dear Mama's Loving Arms, Our Favourite Things, Earthbred, and Under the Mango Tree.

The Board Book Shelf

Play With Me
Kat Chen
Rise x Penguin Workshop
9780593659717 $8.99 Board Book or eBook

Play With Me pairs words by Kat Chen with art by Lorraine Nam to create the effect of a "playdate in a book," which read-aloud parents will find inviting and unusual for ages 1-3.

Unlike most invitations to enjoy play, this book promotes feelings of empowerment by offering kids a series of decision-making opportunities for how they will play.

Ellison and his friend Rabbit invite readers to join him for a picnic, outlining food and drink choices and complimenting young audiences on whatever they choose, in response. Parents who go on this picnic adventure with their young charges will appreciate the book's lively interactive touches as Ellison outlines the process of making choices, contributing memories and experiences to conversations, and enjoying life.

The result is a board book filled with interactive encouragement as well as fun - a tool adults can employ to encourage kids to grasp the rudiments of interactive participation and positive reinforcement.

The bright art and revealing discussions are major attractions, offering an experience the very young do not ordinarily receive from picture books.

When Moon Blooms
Aida Salazar, author
Caribay M. Benavides, illustrator
Rise x Penguin Workshop
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593659182, $8.99, Board Book, 26pp

Synopsis: Using Mexican concepts, "When Moon Blooms" part of a poignantly lyrical series that invites young children to pay witness to nature, to value it, and to become a steward of the planet. The moon's phases (new, waxing, full, and waning) are seamlessly intertwined with our own natural cadences, showcasing the power and beauty of universal interconnectedness. Acclaimed middle-grade author Aida Salazar lovingly turns her attention to the youngest readers, bringing her signature lyrical text, in English with a few Spanish words interwoven. With vibrant, mystical art by Caribay M. Benavides, "When Moon Blooms" book is a truly meaningful and formative experience for children ages 1-3.

Critique: Fun and informative, "When Moon Booms" by the team of author/storyteller Aida Salazar and artist/illustrator Caribay M. Benavides is a unique and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for very young children.

Editorial Note #1: Aida Salazar ( is an award-winning author and arts activist whose writings for adults and children explore issues of identity and social justice. Aida is a founding member of LAS MUSAS -- a Latinx kidlit debut author collective. Her story "By the Light of the Moon" was adapted into a ballet production by the Sonoma Conservatory of Dance and is the first Xicana-themed ballet in history.

Editorial Note #2: Caribay Marquina Benavides ( is an artist from Merida, Venezuela, and is currently based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is a graphic designer and illustrator whose art is influenced by a nostalgia for the nature of her homeland. Caribay's work spans from commercial to editorial illustration, designing for clients all around the world.

Maisy Loves Bees: A Maisy's Planet Book
Lucy Cousines, author/illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536228588, $9.99, Board Book, 14pp

Synopsis: Did you know that bees use their tongues to eat sweet nectar from flowers, then carry dusty pollen on their bodies to spread it from flower to flower? Or that they need lots of flowers, water, and a dry place to live? With the publication of "Maisy Loves Bees" featuring author/illustrator Lucy Cousins's familiar bold, inviting artwork and cheery narration, even the youngest child can join Maisy as she tends to her growing garden and discovers some fun and informative things about the bees that live there. Open the final gatefold to see how Maisy is helping the amazing bees!

Critique: A part of the immensely popular 'A Maisy's Planet Book' board book series, "Maisy Loves Bees" is unreservedly recommended as a welcome addition to family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for children ages 1-3.

Editorial Note: Lucy Cousins ( is the creator of the beloved Maisy series as well as a series about Little Fish. She is also the author-illustrator of the widely acclaimed Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales, a New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children's Book of the Year, as well as Let's Play Monsters!; I'm the Best; Hooray for Fish!; Hooray for Birds!; Splish, Splash, Ducky!; and The Good Place.

Little Kids First Board Book: Frogs
Ruth Musgrave
National Geographic Kids
c/o National Geographic Press
9781426375361, $7.99, Board Book, 26pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Little Kids First Board Book: Frogs", children ages 1-3 will learn how this a frog develops from a tiny egg to a chubby tadpole to a big-eyed, long-legged adult frog ready to hop, leap, and splash. Along the way, super simple facts and vivid National Geographic photography introduce the youngest explorers to fabulous frogs of all sizes and colors.

Critique: This lively nonfiction board book is part of the Little Kids First Board Book series from the National Geography Press and presents a fresh and fun approach to excite a baby's sense of wonder and make learning about science and nature fun! This board book edition of "Little Kids First Board Book: Frogs" is an especially recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library Wildlife board book collections.

Editorial Note: Ruth A. Musgrave is an award-winning children's writer specializing in marine and animal science. A proud science nerd, Musgrave works with scientists around the world and shares their research and discoveries through her work as a contributing writer for National Geographic Little Kids magazine and author of numerous children's books.

Disney Baby: Peek a boo, Thumper!
Disney Books, author
Jerrod Maruyama, illustrator
Disney Press
c/o Disney Publishing Worldwide
9781368092951, $8.99, Board Book, 10pp

Synopsis: Little ones will love to play hide-and-seek in the forest with Thumper and his friends in "Peek a boo, Thumper!", an adorable 10-page lift-the-flap board book. Giggle along as Baby experiences the surprise and delight of seeing who's hiding in the forest.

Critique: Charmingly illustrated by Jerrod Maruyama and highly recommended for family, daycare center, and community library board book collections for children ages 1-3, "Peek a boo, Thumper!" is part of the simply outstanding "Disney Baby' series. Other titles comprising the Disney Baby board book collection include: Disney Baby: I Love You, Mom and I Love You, Dad; Disney Baby: Teeny Tiny Books; Disney Baby: Alphabooks; Disney Baby: My First Birthday; and Disney Baby: Baby Animals.

Editorial Note #1: Disney Press is for children of all ages who embrace the heart, humor, and imagination of Disney and Pixar's unique brand of storytelling as told through Disney Baby, Classics, Princess, Villains, Disney Junior, Disney Channel, Feature Animation, and Live Action.

Editorial Note #2: Jerrod Maruyama ( is a freelance illustrator specializing in character designs and all things cute!

Farcountry Press

For more than 40 years, Farcountry Press has been a leader in regional publishing, specializing in stunning photography books, fun educational books for children, adventure guidebooks, and thought-provoking history titles. Farcountry's award-winning books celebrate our nation's cities, states, and national parks, and explore our shared heritage. One of their latest projects is a series of baby animal themed board books for children ages 1-3.

"Lab Babies!" (9781560378143, $8.95, Board Book, 26pp) Playful Labrador retriever puppies in black, yellow, and chocolate are cute as can be! Lab Babies! engages its young audience with 13 sweet pup photos accompanied by lively, fun rhymes.

"Golden Babies!" (9781560378150, $8.95, Board Book, 26pp) Meet 13 adorable golden retriever puppies that are sure to steal your toddler's heart! Very young readers will delight in these loveable puppies as they romp, wrestle, and snuggle.

"Loon Babies!" (9781560378303, $8.95, Board Book, 26pp) Loon babies swimming, hitching a ride on Mom, and finding their own way delight in the 13 photos comprising "Loon Babies!"

"Marmot Babies!" (9781560378310, $8.95, Board Book, 26pp) Children will enjoy the playful marmots and their antics as they go about their day.

Critique: As fun as they are charming, these four simply outstanding baby animal board books from Farcountry Press are especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections for ages 1-3.

The Picturebook Shelf

The Empty Box
Lois Wickstrom, author
Nicolas Milano, contributor
Look Under Rocks
c/o Gripper Products
9781954519237, $21.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: This year, when Grandpa puts Caspian's special Unbirthday box under his bed, it's empty. Grandpa insists that he has given Caspian an Invisible Magic Wand. But Caspian has to name it before it will work.

"Maybe," says Caspian. "Good name," says Grandpa. "Nobody will get suspicious." Caspian's hand tingles.

Caspian learns how to squeeze time, so he can move quickly and how to stretch time so he can make things he enjoys last.

Critique: Featuring humor, fantasy and magic, "The Empty Box" is an original Lois Wickstrom an original, charming, and fun story for children ages 4-8 years. With contributions by Nicolas Milano, "The Empty Box" is a very special and recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Empty Box" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781954519244, $10.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99), as well as in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Lois Wickstrom ( lives in a world where imaginary playmates are real. She doesn't remember being born, so she finds unbirthdays are more exciting than the official once-a-year date on the calendar. She's taken so many science classes that she believes science is the solution to almost every problem, including the dilemmas in fairy tales.

Charlie's Great Big Backpack
Margarita del Mazo, author
Guridi, illustrator
9788419607508, $14.99, HC, 44pp

Synopsis: Charlie is going camping with the school and his classmate, Big Louis, the biggest boy in his class, is his partner, the ever-prepared Charlie who has packed lots of things in his backpack.

As soon as they arrive Charlie accidentally hits Big Louis on the foot with a hammer but... fortunately Charlie has all the essentials to make a cast for it. Unfortunately for Big Louis, he puts the cast on the wrong foot!

As the day goes on, with one mishap after another, Big Louis asks the teacher to change partner, but when danger strikes, Charlie shows that a good friend is always there to help.

Critique: Underscored with the theme of friendship, emotions, feelings, and self-esteem, "Charlie's Great Big Backpack" by the team of author/storyteller Margarita del Mazo and artist/illustrator Guridi, is a fun read from start to finish. While especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare care center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Lessons picture book collections for children ages 3-7, it should be noted that "Charlie's Great Big Backpack" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note #1: Margarita del Mazo is a writer and storyteller who is greatly admired in Spain. She has almost twenty books to her name, many of which have been translated into other languages. Among them are the bestsellers Camunas and The Flock (El rebano in Spanish), winning the Madrid Booksellers Guild Award and the Miami Cuatrogatos Foundation Award for best illustrated children's book.

Editorial Note #2: Guridi is an artist from Sevilla (Spain). Since 1995, he's worked and experimented professionally almost every aspect of design, image and advertisement. He has published over seventy books. His work is highly valued in Spain, while also being recognized abroad. His books have been published in USA, France, Germany, Italy, Libano. He currently combines his work as teacher with his career as a children's book illustrator.

Saturday is Pancake Day
Bernadette Green, author
Daniel Gray-Barnett, illustrator
Scibble US
9781957363509, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Dada Henry doesn't feel like pancakes this morning, and Milo and the twins aren't sure why. They persist making more and more elaborate concoctions: 'Maple Come Back for More', 'Little Puddings Supreme', and 'Brussels Sprouts Forget Me Never', but nothing will lure Henry out of bed.

Children ages 3-7 will enjoy coming along on a chaotic culinary adventure as the fox family finds the perfect answer to a familiar problem.

Critique: "Saturday is Pancake Day" by author/storyteller Bernadette Green and artist/illustrator Daniel Gray-Barnett and with its underlying theme of dealing gently with parental mental health and representation of LGBTQI+ families, is ideal kids who love to experiment in the kitchen and young readers. A fun read from start to finish, "Saturday is Pancake Day" is an original and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Bernadette Green juggles writing and working as a disability support worker. She is the author of Who's Your Real Mom?, which was shortlisted for the 2021 CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood.

Editorial Note #2: Daniel Gray-Barnett is an illustrator and author from the Huon Valley in Lutruwita/Tasmania. He likes to think of himself as someone who was put on this planet to tell a few stories before he turns into a grumpy old man. He's worked with clients including Disney, Kiehl's, Sydney Opera House, and The New York Times. His first picture book, Grandma Z, won a Children's Book Council of Australia award for Best New Illustrator.

The Girl Who Planted Trees
Caryl Hart, author
Anastasia Suvorova, illustrator
Nosy Crow
9798887770475, $17.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: When a small girl discovers there was once a lush forest on the great gray mountain, she is determined to plant as many new trees as she can. And even though the blazing sun shrivels the new shoots and fierce storms wash away all her hard work she will never ever give up.

Critique: The collaborative work of gifted author/storyteller Caryl Hart and talented artist/illustrator Anastasia Suvorova, "The Girl Who Planted Trees" is a entertaining and inspiring picture book story for children ages 4-7 about how one girl's dream inspires a whole village and how, together, they can create something incredible. While unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections and a fun read from start to finish, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Girl Who Planted Trees" is also readily available in a paperback edition from (9781788008914, $13.59).

Editorial Note #1: Caryl Hart ( is an award-winning children's author who writes picture books and young fiction. She runs creative literacy workshops for schools, libraries, communities and festivals. Her books have won and been shortlisted for many regional and national awards. She can be followed on Twitter @carylhart1 and Instagram @carylhart

Editorial Note #2: Anastasia Suvorova ( makes illustrations for books, magazines and games. Most of her illustrations are created digitally. She is inspired by shape and color, and the lightness and movement found in nature.

A Little Bit of Everything
Meghana Narayan, author
Michelle Carlos, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534112926, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Amaya was born on a winter night -- and every experience and memory helps to build her identity. She is a little bit of Mama, whose family is far away in India, and a little bit of Papa, whose mother immigrated from China for a new life. She is a little bit of the salty ocean and a little bit of the rolling storm. A little bit of the stars in the sky, and a little bit of so many other things. When Amaya's new sibling arrives, she knows just what to say about who she is, and what her sister will become.

Critique: The truly stunning, whimsical art by Michelle Carlos beautifully combines with the lyrical storytelling of author Meghana Narayan as their elegant picture book, "A Little Bit Of Everything" encourages children ages 5-8 to celebrate their own uniqueness -- and that of others. "A Little Bit Of Everything" is a picture book lullaby to any child who is discovering who they are. Original, unique, fun and inspiring, "A Little Bit Of Everything" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for young readers. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Little Bit Of Everything" from the Sleeping Bear Press is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.04).

Editorial Note #1: Meghana Narayan ( is an author and artist devoted to telling stories that reflect the experiences of diverse readers.

Editorial Note #2: Michelle Carlos ( graduated with a degree in Fine Arts with honors and began her career in filmmaking that eventually led to a decade-long career in post production and an MA in media conservation. Cancer and years of living as an expat in Singapore, Germany, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates woke up the dormant artist in Michelle, which pushed her to relearn the craft, improve her skills and develop her style through daily practice and self study. Her travels, childhood memories, dreams and exposure to cultures around her greatly influence her visual vocabulary, which are now translated into the children's books that she illustrates and writes.

Our Spot
Lindsay Ward, author
Gabrielle Grimard, illustrator
Two Lions
9781542039857, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Every Thursday night, a girl and her papa go to their secret fishing spot in the middle of the city. Now it's just the two of them -- there used to be three. The girl's mother had found this place, and they'd all fished there when the girl was small as peas. Even though it's different now, it's still tradition. The girl and her papa don't talk much; instead, they listen to the waves lapping against the shore as they fish. Sometimes they talk about Mama and the big walleye that always got away. As they head home, the city sparkling in the moonlight, the girl is content, ready for a night of dreaming about Mama and the fish.

Critique: The brilliant illustrations of Gabrielle Grimard beautifully support the gentle and charming picture book story "Our Spot" by author Lindsay Ward. The result is a truly memorable reading experience for children ages 3-7 about love, loss, tradition, and remembrance. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), "Our Spot" is an original and highly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Lindsay Ward ( is the creator of the Dexter T. Rexter series as well as Jessie: Queen of the Road, Rosie: Stronger than Steel, Between the Lines, Pink Is Not a Color, This Book Is Gray, Brobarians, Rosco vs. the Baby, and The Importance of Being 3. Our Spot was inspired by her family's stories about a special fishing hole in the heart of Cleveland.

Editorial Note #2: Gabrielle Grimard ( is the illustrator of the critically acclaimed books The Library Bus, Stolen Words, and Not My Girl, and the author/illustrator of Lila and the Crow. The Library Bus was a finalist for Canada's prestigious Governor General's Award, and her other books have been included on the USBBY Outstanding International Books List, the CCBC Best Books for Kids and Teens List, and more.

My Heart
Katrina McKelvey, author
Deb Hudson, illustrator
EK Books
9781922539571, $19.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: A moving story about the bond between a mother and her child, "My Heart" by author/storyteller Katrina McKelvey and artist/illustrator Deb Hudson depicts the many ways a mother's heart can experience love and emotion while her baby journeys through the milestones of growing up. This lovely picture book story uses repetition and subtle variation to reflect the activity and reactions of the mother's heart, and how they change with each mother-child interaction.

The narrative moves through the early years until the child goes off on their first independent activity, a deeply moving moment for all mothers. Beautifully detailed illustrations depict the connection between mother and child, reminding readers that a mother's heart will always be with her children, no matter where they go.

Critique: Ideal for children ages 4-8, this edition of "My Heart" from EK Books is a beautifully crafted and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Katrina McKelvey ( is a children's author, former primary school teacher, wife and mother living in Newcastle, NSW, Australia. Katrina began writing picture books when her children were 3 and 5. Katrina's previous books for children include Dandelions (2015), Up to Something (2019) and Isla's Family Tree (2020) published by EK books.

Editorial Note #2: Deb Hudson ( is an illustrator who is passionate about drawing images that evoke emotion and thought in their viewer. Inspired by joy- and wonder-filled dreamy moments of the everyday, Deb has been drawing and creating since she was a little girl. Deb taught English in Japan for four years. She then studied for a degree in Fine Arts. Deb's first picture book, The Golden Thread, was published in 2019. Her other works include Pear of Hope (2021) and Milly and the Mulberry Tree (2022), both published by EK Books.

The Fire Truck That Could Fly
Patricia Osborn, author
Eric Castleman, illustrator
Sweetgrass Books
c/o Farcountry Press
9781737238638, $15.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: When a forest fire starts in a remote mountain area with no roads nearby, a Chinook helicopter crew is called to the rescue. Will the brave firefighters be able to stop the blaze?

Critique: A timely picture book about fighting forest fires, "The Fire Truck That Could Fly" by author/storyteller Patricia Osborn and artist/illustrator Eric Castleman is fun, informative, and a strongly recommended pick for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library collections for children ages 8-12.

Editorial Note #1: Patricia Osborn created Huey's Books to publish books for her niece, Eddy. She wanted to show her about the MEDEVAC mission and how the Army National Guard use their aircraft stateside. Patricia loves aviation and getting to be a part of it on both the military and civilian sides. Patricia has a Commercial Helicopter, Commercial Single & Multi Engine Airplane, and Instrument pilot's license, as well as a master's degree in Aeronautical Science with a focus on Human Factors in Aviation. She has written and published "The Ambulance That Could Fly" (2022) and "The Fire Truck That Could Fly" (2023).

Editorial Note #2: Eric Castleman ( is an illustrator and author living in Montana, whose had a a life long interest for picture book writing and illustrating. Working primarily in mixed media, he enjoys integrating various textures and light into his artwork.

Mango Memories
Sita Singh, author
Nabi H. Ali, illustrator
Anne Schwartz Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593486252, $18.99, PB, 40pp

Synopsis: Every summer, the branches of a little girl's favorite tree droops heavy with mangoes. And this year, she is finally old enough to help her family harvest them.

Her brother shares a memory about his first time mango picking: his father holding him steady as he reached high above for the fruit. But when the girl climbs the tree, she becomes too dizzy. Then her grandma shares a mango memory: learning, many years ago, to toss a stone that knocked the fruit from the branches. But when the girl throws her stone, she keeps missing.

How can this little heroine create her own mango memory if she can't even pick a mango?

Critique: Narrated by a determined young Indian child, and set in a lush mango grove, "Mango Memories" is an utterly charming picture book that honors generational traditions and beautifully introduces young readers ages 4-8 to a culture with which they may not be familiar. Very highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Mango Memories" by the team of author/storyteller Sita Singh and artist/illustrator Nabi H. Ali is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Sita Singh writes heart-warming stories with a South Asian backdrop. She is the author of Birds of a Feather, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman, which was a Dolly Parton Imagination Library selection. Another upcoming picture book--Indigo Hands--will be published by Anne Schwartz Books in Fall 2024. Born and raised in Ahmedabad, India, Sita now lives in South Florida with her family.

Editorial Note #2: Nabi H. Ali is a Tamil-American illustrator who enjoys creating diverse works that showcase an array of cultures and people. He is the illustrator of several picture books, including Laxmi's Mooch, which received three starred reviews, was featured on The Today Show, and was a New York Public Library Staff Pick, A Charlotte Huck Honor Book, and a ALSC Notable Children's Book. His other illustrated picture books include Beautifully Me and We Move the World. Nabi lives in California.

Heidi McKinnon
Algonquin Young Readers
c/o Hachette Book Group
9781523525867, $15.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: "Floof" by author/illustrator Heidi McKinnon is an irresistible new picture book for young cat-lovers, cute-lovers, and anyone who has ever been a little bit mischievous!

Floof is floofy.
Floof has many hobbies.
Floof has very important work to do and Floof also has a lot of friends.
Floof is about to have a very busy day...

Kids (and and their parents!) will delight in noticing that when the text says one thing, and the pictures say something very different. "Floof" also gently (and humorously) teaches children the importance of self-love, self-care, and self-belief. This floofy cat is sure to make every reader smile!

Critique: Charming, original, and fun, "Floof" by author/illustrator Heidi McKinnon is a delightful and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-6. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Floof" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781911679493, $13.99).

Editorial Note: Heidi McKinnon ( is a children's book author and illustrator. Based in sunny Melbourne, Australia, her books include I Just Ate My Friend, Baz & Benz, and There's No Such Thing and have been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Children's Book Council Book of the Year Awards.

My Friend Tree
Dawn Casey, author
Genevieve Godbout, illustrator
Ivy Kids Eco
c/o Quarto Group Children's Books
9780711269880, $19.99 HC, $9.99 Kindle, 32pp

Synopsis: Told in minimal and poetic rhyming text from folktale writer Dawn Casey, and featuring the soft, romantic artwork by Montreal illustrator Genevieve Godbout, "My Friend Tree" is a picture book story that introduces a girl and a boy who grow up alongside their friend, an old oak tree. -- The tree is a constant presence in their lives as they play.

Inspired by their shared love for their old friend, they plant a new forest, and tend to it together, finding their feelings for one another deepening and changing alongside the growing saplings. -- As their relationship blossoms, so too does the forest.

The loving couple add three joyful children to the branches of their flourishing family tree, and the woodland thrives and grows with them - one living, loving family.

This sweet and timeless tale packs an emotional punch, showing how love is all around us, and includes instructions for how to plant an acorn and grow your own oak tree, wistfully reflecting the beauty of nature and family.

Critique: A charming picture book that is especially ideal for children ages 4-7 with an interest in nature, it should be noted that "My Friend Tree" is printed by Ivy Kids Eco on environmentally friendly 100% recycled paper. A calming and pleasant read for kids, "My Friend Tree" is a truly lovely and inspiring reminder that nature connects us all -- and of the touching harmony between us as people. A prized addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections, "My Friend Tree" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Dawn Casey draws inspiration from her travels near and far, from tales of old, and from the natural world. She has a particular specialism in the retelling of folktales. Her collection The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales won a Golden Nautilus Award and received an accolade from the American Folklore Society. In previous incarnations, Dawn worked in publishing and as a primary school teacher. Now she retells folktales and writes original stories and picturebook texts for a range of educational and trade publishers. She lives in Sussex, England.

Editorial Note #2: Genevieve Godbout lives in Montreal, where she works as a children's book and fashion illustrator. She studied traditional animation in Montreal and at the prestigious school of "Gobelins" in Paris. Genevieve was born and raised in Quebec, but spent 7 years in London, UK, after her stay in France. Some of her clients include The Walt Disney Company, Chronicle, Tundra, Random House, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, les editions Milan, Comme des Geants and La Pasteque. She also works with clothing designers like Nadinoo and Mrs. Pomeranz, creating illustrations and prints for their collections. Her children's books include When Santa Was a Baby (Tundra Books) and Rose a petits Pois (La Pasteque).

I Love Harriet Kippley
Jenny Lynn Pease, author
Alessia Girasole, illustrator
Free Spirit Publishing
9798765922507, $18.99, HC, 36pp

Synopsis: Harriet and her classmates each have to draw a picture of something they love. Harriet loves unicorns, barbecue chip sundaes, and tubas... but those are already taken. With a little support and encouragement from her family, Harriet finally decides on the perfect thing to draw. Herself!

"I Love Harriet Kippley" by author/storyteller Jenny Lynn Pease and artist/illustrator Alessia Girasole is a sweet, humorous, lively, and charming read-aloud picture book with a simple message of self-affirmation. Harriet's search to find something special and unique to draw can help start conversations with kids about developing self-confidence and recognizing personal strengths.

A section at the back of "I Love Harriet Kippley" offers discussion questions to help kids develop self-awareness and kindness to themselves and others, learn to manage frustration, ask for help, and celebrate their own unique qualities.

Critique: While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.03), "I Love Harriet Kippley" is a throughly charming and 'kid friendly' picture book that will be of particular value to young readers with an interest in stories that deal with school issues, self-esteem, and provide life lessons about emotions and feeling -- making in an ideal and unreservedly recommended pick for family, elementary school, and community library Life Lessons/Life Skills picture book collections for children ages 5-9.

Editorial Note #1: Jenny Lynn Pease has loved writing since a young age. In elementary school, she wrote a book about a witch who learns the value of friendship. Now, she's been writing ever since. Jenny hopes her books make children feel happy, curious, and inspired. She is a former early childhood educator and a current mental health advocate.

Editorial Note #2: Alessia Girasole was born in Milan, Italy, where she currently resides. She has been drawing since early childhood and realized early on that she would turn her hobby into a rewarding career as an illustrator. After graduating from the European Institute of Design in Milan, with a major in illustration and multimedia animation, she decided to focus on illustrating for children.

Ooo... Poo!
Eliot Kretoff
Collective Book Studio
9781685556372, $17.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Smelly, stinky, sandy poop. / Litter poop. Whose poop? / Kitty poop! Please scoop.

Yes, we all poop -- animals and humans, young and old, those who walk and fly and swim. And "Ooo... Poo!" by author/illustrator Eliot Kretoff is a joyful investigation into the who, what, why and where of poop on our planet Earth.

Let's hear it for poo... woo hoo!

The upbeat, rhythmic text of "Ooo... Poo!" encourages young children to celebrate both their time spent on the potty and any scat they come across in the wild.

Critique: Charming, fun, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in presentation, "Ooo... Poo!" from The Collective Book Studio is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library toilet training and human body collections for children ages 1-6. It should be noted for parents and caregivers that "Ooo... Poo!" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99)

Editorial Note: Elliot Kreloff ( is a designer and children's book illustrator. His career as creative director for Scholastic Books, Disney Publishing Worldwide, MacMillan Publishing, Blue Apple Books, and his own studio, Design Five, has spanned over forty years. As an arts educator, he has taught at Parsons School of Design, New York Institute of Technology, Rutgers University and Fordham University. His books have been awarded Best Book of the Year by Child Magazine, and he has received numerous awards from various professional design organizations.

Candlewick Press

Candlewick's latest picture books are highly recommended for elementary-level collections seeking colorful, lasting presentations for young readers.

Christine Iverson's Santiago Saw Things Differently (9781536224535, $18.99) follows the life of Santiago Ramon y Cajal, a Renaissance man who was both an artist and known as the Father of Neuroscience. Luciano Lozano provides lovely color illustrations to accompany the biography of a boy who is an artist, but whose father pressures him to become a doctor instead. As Santiago comes to understand how his artistic eye translates to being a better physician, young readers receive an aspiring story that blends Santiago 's real sketches of the nervous system with Lozano's art and a vivid exploration of a world improved by a creative eye and sense of wonder.

My Mother's Tongues: A Weaving of Languages by Uma Menon (9781536222517, $18.99) receives colorful illustrations by Rahele Jomepour Bell as it explores Sumi's mother, who can not only speak two languages fluently, but switches between them in an instant. As Sumi considers the magic of her mother's linguistic abilities, she absorbs the story of her mother's migration and how her experiences with more than one culture lend to her fluency in both. As this reflection expands to other family members whose tongues may be even more talented, Sumi gains insights into her own heritage.

Stone Age Beasts by Ben Lerwill (9781536231342, $19.99) receives vivid, large-size illustrations by Grahame Baker-Smith as it introduces young readers to the prehistoric era of saber-toothed cats, mammoths, and other creatures. Some eighteen are profiled in this book, which also explains how humans lived alongside them in the Stone Age. Vivid illustrations draw attention, while sidebars of information and an equally compelling introduction to each creature ("Warning: do not approach this bear.") represent entertainment and educational value alike.

Jyoti Rajan Gopal's One Sweet Song (9781536219814, $18.99) is illustrated by Sonia Sanchez and tells of a neighborhood of diverse cultures brought to unity and life by shared musical efforts. Everyone joins in as instruments from around the world accompany a rhythmic textual description of music from all ages and groups that embrace the participants ("Five notes, six notes, seven notes SOAR/from balconies, windows, every door.").

All of these new titles from Candlewick Press are highly recommended choices for discriminating library collections looking for diversity and long-term lending value.

Wm. B. Eerdmans

These new picture book selections from Wm. B. Eerdmans provide stories which are intriguingly different, recommended for libraries seeking out-of-the-box thinking in early presentations.

Marion Kadi's Harriet's Reflections (9780802856210, $18.99) will reach ages 4-8 with the compelling story of a lion's reflection, which picks little Harriet to reflect to, changing her perception of herself. Imagine looking into the waters or mirror to find a lion looking back, complete with a new ferocious countenance and courage! A fine, unusual portrait of self-image and strength emerges from this whimsical tale.

Victor D.O. Santos's What Makes Us Human (9780802856258, $18.99) will reach ages 5-9 with its celebration of language. It comes in the form of a riddle that invites young people to consider linguistic, psychological, and cultural forms of human connections. Anna Forlati's illustrations enhance the exploration of history and experience, inviting young readers to consider their own past, present, and future history and shared relationships.

Joanna LaPati's Guts for Glory: The Story of Civil War Soldier Rosetta Wakeman (9780802854643) tells of teen Rosetta, who wants more involvement with the greater world outside of her family's farm in upstate New York . So she cuts her hair, dresses as a man, and enlists to fight for the Union . As she sends letters home detailing Army life, Rosetta provides ages 7-12 with a vivid feel of the war from an unusual young person's perspective. The excerpts of these writings pair nicely with a biography which explores this uncommon hero's impact and experiences.

All three of these new titles from Wem B. Eerdmans are top picks that elementary-level library collections will want to consider.

The Bilingual Shelf

I Hear a Buho
Raquel MacKay, author
Armando Fonseca, illustrator
Scibble US
9781957363653, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: A mother and daughter are snuggling together on their porch, listening to the sounds of the night. A girl makes animal calls and her mother responds sweetly. To their surprise a real owl appears and flies across the night sky.

"I Hear a Buho" by author/storyteller Raquel MacKay and artist/illustrator Armando Fonseca is a bilingual rhyming picture story for children ages 3-7 with the text in both English and Spanish -- which encompasses language, the parent-child bond, nature, and the benefit of being still, and listening.

Critique: Ideal for parent-child bonding in Spanish speaking households, "I Hear a Bruho" is a welcome, memorable, entertaining, and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library bilingual (English/Spanish) picture book collections for young children.

Editorial Note #1: Raquel MacKay teaches English language learners from many cultural backgrounds. She also teaches Spanish at a little school that she started for young kids in her community (La Escuelita).

Editorial Note #2: Armando Fonseca studied philosophy at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He works as an illustrator in different media: illustrated books, album books, covers, press work. Armando's work has been exhibited in Mexico and abroad and he has been recognised with a special mention at The Sharjah Children's Reading Festival, the Gold Plate, and La Manzana de Oro at the Bratislava International Biennial of Illustration, an honorable mention at Iberoamerica Ilustra, Illustrators Show of the Bologna Fair 2020, and in the illustration Show of the Shanghai Fair.

It Feels Like Family
Diane de Anda, author
Roberta Collier-Morales, illustrator
Gabriela Baeza Ventura, translator
Pinata Books
c/o Arte Publico Press
9781558859906, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: Elena and Miguel's parents don't live in the same house anymore. Now the kids live in two, Mami's during the week and Papi's on weekends.

"At first," Elena says, "it felt like I left half of me behind each time I changed houses. And it didn't feel like family anymore."

Elena wonders if Rico the cat misses Papi; surely, he too senses the change. At the movie theater, only three share the big tub of popcorn. The kids help their mom pick the oranges off the tree, something their dad used to do. On weekends, Papi makes pancakes for them, but they're not quite like the ones their mom makes. "It doesn't feel like family anymore."

Gradually, the siblings begin to adjust to their new lives. At birthday parties, they're surrounded by relatives and "in the circle of cousins, it felt like family again." And when all four grandparents and both parents cheer Elena on at her soccer game, their obvious pride in her feels even better than the points she scored. "It feels like family!"

Critique: "It Feels Like Family / Se siente como familia" is bilingual (English/Spanish) picture book for young readers that explores a difficult subject experienced by many children (divorce and the resulting changes in their lives) while highlighting the importance of relationships with extended family members. Ably translated into English by Gabriela Baeza Ventura, "It Feels Like Family" by author/storyteller Diane de Anda and artist/illustrator Roberta Collier-Morales will prove to be a welcome and highly appreciated addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library bilingual picture book collections for young readers ages 5-9.

Editorial Note #1: Diane de Anda is the author of numerous books for young readers that feature Latino themes and families. Her picture books include The Patchwork Garden (Arte Publico Press, 2013), The Day Abuelo Got Lost (Albert Whitman & Company, 2019) and Mango Moon (Albert Whitman & Company, 2021), winner of a Paterson Prize for Books for Young People and a Skipping Stones Honor Award. Her books have received numerous awards and been named to multiple recommended reading lists such as the New York Public Library's Best Books in Spanish and the Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books.

Editorial Note #2: Roberta Colier-Morales has been an illustrator and artist since 1980, specializing in children's book and multi-cultural illustrations. She has won several awards for her book illustrations and is also, a well-trained in calligrapher, painter and has a lot of experience with surface designs. (

Editorial Note #3: Gabriela Baeza Ventura began working for Arte Publico Press as a research assistant while studying for her doctorate in Spanish at the University of Houston, which she completed in 2001. Now an associate professor of U.S. Latino literature at the university, she became the full-time managing editor at Arte Publico in 1999, and was promoted to executive editor in 2000. Gabriela Baeza Ventura is a board member of a number of organizations and publications, including Dialogo and the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Program. She is also codirector, with Carolina Villarroel, of the U.S. Latino Digital Humanities Center.

Grandma's Hair Is Ankle Length
Adriana Camacho-Church, author
Carmen Lop, illustrator
Pinata Books
c/o Arte Publico Press
9781558859890, $18.95, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: "Grandma's Hair Is Ankle Length / El cabello de Abuela le llega hasta los tobillos" by Adriana Camacho-Chruch is a bilingual (English/Spanish) poetic picture book ode to grandmothers, as a young girl likens her abuela's long hair to strength, security and understanding.

The black strands speak of "finding courage in the unknown," while the white ones represent wisdom and hope.

Author/storyteller Camacho-Church evokes the natural world with references to creatures such as owls and dragonflies, plants like roses and wildflowers, and sunlight, the moon and waterfalls. The girl wonders if her own hair will one day tell stories, and her grandmother assures her it already "holds the whispers of her ancestors.

Critique: Featuring the stunningly beautiful, museum quality illustrations by gifted artist Carmen Lop, "Grandma's Hair Is Ankle Length" depicts a loving intergenerational relationship playing out against the beauty of nature. An English/Spanish bilingual picture book for children ages 4-8 "Grandma's Hair Is Ankle Length" confirms both the importance of the world in which we live and the love between an elder and a child and is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library bilingual picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Adriana Camacho-Church ( draws upon memories of her grandmother, who helped raise her and her siblings in Colombia. After Adriana and her immediate family moved to the United States, she never saw her grandmother again, but never forgot her strong and compassionate character. Adriana grew up in Chicago and Los Angeles where she learned to integrate two cultures and languages. She currently lives in Delaware, where she works as a freelance writer and as a paraprofessional in Delaware's public libraries.

Editorial Note #2: Carmen Lop is a Mexican artist based in Los Angeles. Her work has been selected for inclusion in the 3rd Biennial of Illustration by Pictoline 2022 and the XXXVI Catalogo de Ilustradores de CONACULTA 2016. This is her first picture book.

My First Book of Arabic Words
Aya Khalil, author
Chaymaa Sobhy, illustrator
Tuttle Publishing
9780804856195, $11.99 hc / $11.39 Kindle 32pp

Synopsis: A perfect read-aloud bedtime book and the ideal accompaniment to guide emerging readers by author Aya Khalil, "My First Book of Arabic Words" introduces children to the basic words and simple vocabulary of Arabic through colorful rhymes and beautiful imagery. The ABCs of Arabic life are charmingly captured in artist Chaymaa Sobhy's illustrations, offering a contemporary lens on the great dynamism and diversity found in global Arab culture.

A charming young girl serves as a guide. Along the way, children get an A-to-Z introduction to her family, friends, and community, and follow her fun-filled adventures. Holidays and cultural traditions are woven into the narrative, offering a window into the world of an English-speaking child in the twenty-first century Arabic world.

For example:

E is for Eid al-Fitr.
We celebrate, we eat!
Gather round the table
can you find a seat?

Critique: It's alphabet rhyme time in the pages of "My First Book of Arabic Words: An ABC Rhyming Book of Arabic Language and Culture", an illustrated picture book introduction to Arabic language and culture for children ages 3-8. A fun and informative foray into the Arabic language that combines Aya Khalil's lilting rhymes with Chaymaa Sobhy's vibrant illustrations, "My First Book of Arabic Words: An ABC Rhyming Book of Arabic Language and Culture" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library ABC and Arabic Language/Culture collections for children.

Editorial Note #1: Aya Khalil ( is a freelance journalist and educator. She holds a master's degree in education with a focus in teaching English as a second language. Her first book for children, The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant's Story, is based on the story of her move to the U.S. from Egypt at the age of one. Her articles have been published in The Huffington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, The Post & Courier and the Toledo Area Parent, and she is the author of One World: Egypt and The Night Before Eid. She's been featured on Yahoo!, Teen Vogue and Verona. She was named one of the Arab America Foundation's "40 Under 40" in 2021.

Editorial Note #2: Chaymaa Sobhy ( lives in Cairo and is also the illustrator of Children's Favorite Arabic Stories.

Child's Play International

Children experience all kinds of feelings in a single day, but they can't always name them or talk about them easily. Child's Play International has created a a new bilingual (English/Spanish) series of board books by author/illustrator Paula Bowles for children ages 1-3 that focuses on the six major emotions experienced by very young children.

Child's Play International has launched:

"Cuando Me Siento Sorprendido/When I Feel Surprised" (9781786289209, $5.99, 12pp)
"Cuando Me Siento Amado/When I Feel Loved (9781786289216, $5.99, 12pp)
"Cuando Me Siento Feliz/When I Feel Happy" (9781786289193, $5.99, 12pp)
"Cuando Me Siento Enjoado/When I Feel Angry" (9781786289179, $5.99, 12pp)
"Cuando Me Siento Asustado/When I Feel Scared" (9781786289162, $5.99, 12pp)
"Cuando Me Siento Triste/When I Feel Sad" (9781786289186, $5.99, 12pp)

Critique: Each of the six titles comprising this bilingual board book series on emotions and feelings uses non-gendered characters to illustrate, identify and talk about a single feeling, suggesting coping strategies where relevant. Perfect for developing empathy, resilience and a positive sense of self. During the creation of this series, author/illustrator Paula Bowles drew upon Dr Kathryn Lester (Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychology at the University of Sussex), for invaluable advice. The result is a a series that is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library bilingual (English/Spanish) board book collections for very young children.

Editorial Note: Paula Bowles ( grew up in a house full of animals, and spent much of her time drawing and making comics with her brother. Having discovered she could actually do drawing as a job, she studied illustration at Falmouth College of Arts, graduating in 2005. She now lives and works as a freelance illustrator in the UK. Paula has illustrated books for publishers like Bloomsbury, The National Trust and Random House. She loves drawing cute, funny characters and writing her own stories too. When she's not illustrating or writing, she likes swing dancing, cycling and playing the piano.

The Elementary Fiction Shelf

Closet of Dreams
Mark Ukra & Tara Mesalik MacMahon
9781665301657, $12.99

Closet of Dreams introduces nine-year-old Child, who has a lot of big dreams (as well as many big fears). These fears are sparked by real encounters in life, such as clashes with class bully Eddie which almost prompt Child to forego the bigger dreams in his closet of opportunities.

Young readers will follow Child's adventures as he explores the contents of his Closet of Dreams and interacts with animal friends, and will enjoy a vivid tale illustrated with black and white art by Donna Dyer, which brings the story to life. As Hilda the hound dog points the way to possible fantastic adventures, Child finds that what he doesn't choose to do makes almost as great an impact as what he does.

From finding the best way to share a secret to seeking help when he gets stuck, Child learns many lessons during the course of pursuing these dreams which will give young readers thought-provoking reflection; especially if this story is encouraged and supported by adult read-aloud efforts.

Libraries and adults looking for gentle stories of adventure, courage, and magic will find all these elements and more in Closet of Dreams, a story of team-building and friendship that engages young readers on various issues and understanding opposing forces in life.

Ephraim's Garden
Loralee Evans
Independently Published
9781792390210, $11.95

Ephraim's Garden will appeal widely as both a read-aloud book that adults can enjoy for the very young, and as an attractive fable story for kids up to age ten.

The green valley of Ephrath is tended by gardener Ephraim, who has built an attraction for all ages through his efforts, interesting young, would-be gardeners who both appreciate the beauty and aspire to become garden guardians themselves. Ephraim gathers his young followers and gives each of them a plot to tend in preparation for planting. He warns them that "... the work is not easy, and you will not see the results of your hard work right away."

Jared is a young person who believes in hard work, the garden, and Ephraim's promise. His dedication (and that of fellow avid young plot-tenders) attracts the interest and derision of bullies who aren't interested in putting out that kind of effort. Their scorn brings tears to his tenderhearted friend Lissa, who is always easily affected by what others think. She tells him the root of her sorrow: "They said that we're fools to work this hard, and that if Ephraim really cared about us, he would give us gardens that are already beautiful, not plain patches of dirt."

By now, it's plain to see that Loralee Evans has crafted a story about much more than gardening. She surveys matters of the heart, reasons behind emotions and reactions to them, and teaches young readers survival strategies that embrace understanding and better responses, as the story unfolds.

Lovely, large-size, colorful images from pepper the tale and enhance it with beautiful accent points of children and gardens as Lissa's dilemma unfolds and Jared is called upon to tap unfamiliar resources in order to support her. The notes about real-life conundrums go far beyond a simple portrait of bullies and victims, creating an in-depth inspection of such related topics as self-doubt, courage, kindness, and supporting others' choices as they navigate obstacles in their lives. The result is a picture book story that is packed with wisdom, insight, and discussion material suitable for parents and kids and any adult working with children to build greater understanding about how to be a friend and how to address life's challenges.

Libraries will also want to recommend Ephraim's Garden to discussion groups for young readers, as it holds many insights perfect for kids learning hard lessons about perseverance, friendship, and choice.

The Middle Grade Fiction Shelf

Code Dog
Lois Wickstrom, author
Janet King, contributor
Look Under Rocks
c/o Gripper Products
9781954519800, $14.99, PB, 170pp

Synopsis: Timmy, Beth and Arthur want to find the missing 200 year old Time Capsule. But it's been moved from it's official burying spot and the only clues to its new whereabouts are in code on a map in their old 3rd grade teacher's freezer. They are in fifth grade now, but they are still friends with their favorite teacher.

Their teacher was searching for the Time Capsule and broke her hip. Now, she's in the nursing home, awaiting surgery. Timmy agrees to take care of their teacher's dog until she's well. It's up to Timmy, Beth and Arthur to solve the clues and find the Time Capsule. They also have a science project to complete and they are writing songs for their band.

Timmy discovers that his teacher's dog is friends with the homeless man in the woods. And the man who runs the nursing home is a crook, trying to make money from an empty diamond mine. He's also trying to find the Time Capsule.

Whoever finds the Time Capsule will win $1000. If Timmy, Beth and Arthur don't find the Capsule, they may learn the town's deepest secret!

Critique: Lois Wickstrom is a consummate master storyteller of children's books with a genuine flair for originality. With the publication of "Code Dog" (and with the contributing assistance of Janet King), she has a new and fun read that is ideal for children ages 8-12. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99), "Code Dog" is unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library General Fiction collections for young readers.

Editorial Note #1: Lois Wickstrom ( writes by herself. She writes with co-authors. She asks illustrators what they would like to draw. She maintains that if she ever writes her autobiography, the title will be My Life as a Group Project.

The Young Adult Fiction Shelf

The Jump
Brittney Morris
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
9781665903981, $19.99, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: Influence is power. Power creates change. And change is exactly what Team Jericho needs.

Jax, Yas, Spider, and Han are the four cornerstones of Team Jericho, the best scavenger hunting team in all of Seattle. Each has their own specialty: Jax, the puzzler; Yas, the parkourist; Spider, the hacker; and Han, the cartographer. But now with an oil refinery being built right in their backyard, each also has their own problems. Their families are at risk of losing their jobs, their communities, and their homes.

So when The Order, a mysterious vigilante organization, hijacks the scavenger hunting forum and concocts a puzzle of its own, promising a reward of influence, Team Jericho sees it as the chance of a lifetime. If they win this game, they could change their families' fates and save the city they love so much. But with an opposing team hot on their heels, it's going to take more than street smarts to outwit their rivals.

Critique: An original, deftly crafted, and fun read from start to finish, "The Jump" by Brittney Morris will have a very special appeal to young readers ages 12-16 who have an interest in YA action/adventure novels. With her genuine flair for the kind of narrative driven storytelling that keeps and holds the attention of young readers from first page to last, "The Jump" is a riveting read and unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Jump" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781665903998, $12.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Brittney Morris ( is also the author of "Slay". She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @BrittneyMMorris

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Holden's Promise
Bob Adamov
Packard Island Publishing
9798985359374, $20.00, PB, 208pp

Synopsis: Put-in-Bay investigative reporter Emerson Moore visits Shallotte, North Carolina to relax with an old friend. Little did Moore know that he would be pulled into the intrigue surrounding a suspicious boat offshore the Flounder Pier restaurant in nearby idyllic Holden Beach.

Mixed in the plot are the strange nightly explorations by a retired shrimp trawler captain on the Shallotte River near the Holden Seafood Company plus his longstanding feud with another trawler captain. Toss in a couple unsolved murders, a kidnapping and a sinking boat with two teenagers and you have the ingredients for a compelling adventure.

The family-oriented Holden Beach community finds its peaceful island life upended by the perilous incidences occurring between the Islands Art Gallery in Ocean Isle Beach and a Southport marina.

Critique: "Holden's Promise" by author Bob Adamov is an original, deftly crafted and memorable novel that is replete with endearingly memorable characters and their multi-faceted and inherently fascinating relationships with each other. Especially recommended for young readers ages 15-21 with an interest in action, adventure, and romance on and off the ocean, it should be noted for personal reading lists, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections that "Holden's Promise" is certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular pick.

Editorial Note: Bob Adamov is an Ohio mystery adventure writer whose stories are based in the Lake Erie South Bass Island resort town of Put-in-Bay, the "Key West of the Midwest." His novels follow the adventures of Washington Post investigative reporter, Emerson Moore, and are written in the style of Adamov's favorite author, Clive Cussler.

Wolf O'Rourc
9781951187019, $12.99, PB, 283pp

Synopsis: A timid and lonely sixteen-year-old girl flees from bullying into her dream world of dashing master spy dolls, blue-haired Katy Perry Barbies, and pink Hello Kitty dresses.

And as she hacks her way across the Net behind the avatar of a six foot four hunk with the handle Cowabunga Dude, a presidential video falls into her laptop and puts her pink paradise in peril.

When the clandestine worlds of hacking and military technology collide with her secret crush, she faces the toughest decision of her young life and realizes that hot pink hair cannot hide you from high-tech hitmen!

Critique: The debut to author Wolf O'Rourc's new CyberSeries, "CyberSpiracy" is a compelling adventure where a hacker girl sings and dances past discrimination, prejudice, and fear to save her country and herself. A fun and original read from start to finish, "CyberSpiracy" is especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fiction collections. Of special interest to fans of computer/internet humor, mystery/suspense, and having to deal with bullies, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "CyberSpiracy" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Wolf O'Rourc ( is a member of the Henderson Writers Group, the Sin City Writers Group, and the Las Vegas Screenwriters Group.

The One That Got Away with Murder
Trish Lundy
Henry Holt & Company
9781250292162, $19.99, 384pp

Synopsis: Robbie and Trevor Crestmont have a body count -- the killer kind. Handsome and privileged, the Crestmont brothers have enough wealth to ensure they'll never be found guilty of any wrongdoing, even if all of Happy Valley believes they're behind the deaths of their ex-girlfriends. First there was soccer star Victoria Moreno, Robbie's ex, who mysteriously drowned at the family lake house. Then, a year later, Trevor's girlfriend died of a suspicious overdose.

But the Crestmonts aren't the only ones with secrets. Lauren O'Brian might be the new girl at school, but she's never been a good girl. With a dark past of her own, she's desperate for a fresh start. Except when she starts a no-strings-attached relationship with Robbie, her chance is put in jeopardy. During what's meant to be their last weekend together, Lauren stumbles across shocking evidence that just might implicate Robbie.

With danger closing in, Lauren doesn't know who to trust. And after a third death rocks the town, she must decide whether to end things with Robbie or risk becoming another cautionary tale.

Critique: Age appropriate for young readers 14-18, "The One That Got Away with Murder" by Trish Lundy will have an immense appeal for fans of reluctant teenage female sleuths, compulsive suspense thrillers, and murder mystery detective stories with unexpected plot twists and turns. A riveting read from start to finish, "The One That Got Away with Murder" is a recommended pick for highschool and community library YA Mystery/Suspense Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The One That Got Away with Murder" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Trish Lundy is an East Coast transplant who now calls California home. She received her BA in English from UCLA, where she fell in love with the craft of writing. She's worked in the film industry, in marketing, and is also a former hospice & palliative care volunteer. "The One That Got Away with Murder" is her debut novel.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Daughters of the Lamp
Nedda Lewers
Children's Books Publicity
G.P. Putnam's Sons
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593619308, $18.99, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: Sahara Rashad lives by logic. Loves science. And always has a plan. Except her dad just whisked her away to her uncle's wedding in Egypt, upending every single plan she had for the summer.

In Cairo, Sahara's days are filled with family -- and mystery. First, Sahara's cousins claim the pretentious bride-to-be is actually a witch. Then her late mother's necklace starts glowing -- and then disappears.

Sahara's attempts to recover the necklace lead her to the greatest mystery yet. Deep in an underground chamber lies Ali Baba's magical treasure. Hidden from a line of sorcerers who threatened to use its powers for evil, the treasure was given to Sahara's ancestor Morgana for safekeeping and passed down from mother to daughter for generations. Now only Sahara stands in the sorcerers' way.

Can the girl who's never believed in magic trust the unknown and claim her legacy as the treasure's keeper?

Critique: A fun and original read from start to finish, "Daughters of the Lamp" by author/storyteller Nedda Lewers is the story of a girl who becomes the guardian of Ali Baba's legendary treasure hoard. Of special appeal for young readers ages 8-12 with an interest in deftly crafted fantasy adventures, and available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99), "Daughters of the Lamp" is unreservedly recommended for middle school and community library Fantasy Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Nedda Lewers ( is an author and former teacher. She writes books that take children on fun adventures and feature characters who are trying to make sense of the big, complicated world and their place in it. Even though it wasn't easy growing up with one foot in America and the other in Egypt, Nedda cherishes how that experience has given her a rich and expansive perspective from which she draws to write her stories.

The Stricken
Morgan Shamy
CamCat Books
9780744307696, $19.99, HC, 384pp

Synopsis: Every day in Clara's world, a dark cloud descends upon her town. The storm comes like clockwork, erasing everyone's memories. Everyone except Clara. But after Clara's father mysteriously disappears, things change. The Diviners, captive souls who feed off memories, come for her.

With the help of a mysterious figure, Clara escapes the Diviners and flees to Khalom, a city in a parallel world, where she hopes to find refuge. There, Clara discovers that she is a Noble -- one of the few people to have knowledge of both worlds, along with the ability to venture between the two.

Forced to live the Noble life, Clara goes to school with peers who want her dead. Meanwhile, a rare and dangerous power begins to stir inside of her. The power of Death. And it grows until she's not sure if she can control it.

When the Diviners break through the city's defense and students begin to turn up brain dead, Clara must find a way to harness her newfound power in order to stop the attacks before the city (and her mind) is wiped clean.

Critique: An original and fun read from start to finish, "The Stricken" by Morgan Shamy will be an especially attractive pick for young readers with an interest in Sword & Sorcery style heroic fantasy fiction with an element of romance and dark magic. Exceptionally well written and a compulsive page-turner from beginning to end, "The Stricken" is highly recommended addition to middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Stricken" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99) and a large print paperback edition (9780744307900, $20.99).

Editorial Note: Morgan Shamy ( is a former ballerina turned writer. She has been immersed in the arts since the young age of four, where she performed various roles alongside a professional ballet company for over seven years, and has danced on prestigious stages like soloing at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Momo Arashima Breaks the Mirror of the Sun
Misa Sugiura
Labyrinth Road
c/o Random House Children's Books
9780593564103, $18.99, HC, 368pp

Synopsis: After vanquishing a demon king, saving her mom, and reconnecting with her friend Danny, Momo ought to be living the life she's always wanted. But lately, Danny has been ditching her to hang out with mean-girl Ryleigh -- and groups of kids have begun vanishing without a trace. Then a whole backyard full of cool kids at Ryleigh's exclusive birthday party becomes the latest to disappear, leaving Momo, Ryleigh, Danny, boy band superstar Jin, and Momo's old friend Niko the fox to fight a dangerous new enemy from Shinto legend.

This time they are up against Tamamo-no-mae -- beautiful, bloodthirsty, and manipulative, she's the ultimate mean girl of the Kami-verse. To defeat her, Momo must travel to the Sky Kingdom and steal the legendary Mirror of the Sun. But if she's going to survive monster ambushes, escape giant snakes, and pull off the heist of the millennium, Momo will have to find a way to work with her team (even Ryleigh), and grapple with the growing power that connects her with her storm god grandfather, Susano'o', and her greatest foe -- Izanami the Destroyer.

Critique: Japanese inspired mythology forms the basis of "Momo Arashima Breaks The Mirror Of The Sun" which is the sequel of author/storyteller Misa Sugiura's fantasy novel "Momo Arashma Steals The Sword Of The Wind". Deftly combining fantasy and magic with action and adventure, "Momo Arashima Breaks The Mirror Of The Sun" is a thriller of a read from start to finish and will prove to be an immediate and enduringly welcome pick for elementary school, middle school, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections for young readers ages 8-12. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Momo Arashima Breaks The Mirror Of The Sun" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Misa Sugiura's ancestors include a poet, a priestess, a samurai, and a stowaway. She was born and raised in Chicagoland but eventually found her way to her true home in Northern California, where she lives and writes under a giant oak tree with her husband, two sons, and a cat named Mouse. Momo Arashima Steals the Sword of the Wind is her first middle-grade novel and was inspired by the gods and monsters of her parents' home country, Japan.

Polly Parker Meets Her Shadow
Victoria Lowery
Absolute Love Publishing
9798985574647, $14.95, PB, 211pp

Synopsis: Polly Parker has waited 14 years to meet her shadow and learn the six secrets that are prophesied to save the world from ancient, evil bloodlines. That goal cost her grandparents their lives, but idyllic Higher Realm School promises Polly a safe place to discover the coveted higher knowledge -- or so she thinks!

It's not long before danger finds her, and Polly and her friends must work together to outwit those who want to keep the secrets hidden. Fate also may play a role, as a curious outcome while separating from her shadow leaves Polly questioning everything.

In "Polly Parker Meets Her Shadow", each thought can be made real, holographic adventures can be deadly, and personal bravery can create a destiny that was generations in the making.

Critique: Of special appeal to teens and young adults with an interest in deftly crafted and original Fantasy/Magical Realism novels, "Polly Parker Meets Her Shadow" is a thoroughly 'kid friendly' epic and one which is especially and unreservedly recommended for middle school, highschool, and community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections for ages 13-18. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Polly Parker Meets Her Shadow" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: Victoria Lowery ( is also known as the relationship expert called, The Love Lady. She devotes her life to helping others embrace and understand their emotions. Since emotions are our greatest source of strength and directly affect success in life and love, she's determined to see emotions receive the honor they deserve in education. Her work has led her to becoming a best-selling and award-winning author. She has appeared in books alongside Jack Canfield, founder of the Chicken Soup for the Soul publishing empire and hosted a successful cable television talk show.

Philip Womack
Little Island Books
9781915071262, $12.99, PB, 256pp

Synopsis: A child's desperate voice is calling to Meg Lewis from the garden of her new house. As her investigation leads to a knot of deceit, betrayal and cruelty, as Meg discovers magical powers of her own.

Why is a shape-shifting vixen following her? And what secrets lie hidden in the Golden Tower? Mysteries abound as Meg finds herself embroiled in a centuries-old battle that threatens the very balance of the world itself!

Critique: Impressively original, deftly scripted, and a throughly fun read from first page to last, "Ghostlord" by novelist Philip Womack will prove to be of immense interest for fans ages 12-16 of myths, legends, wizards, witches, and ghosts. Simply stated, "Ghostlord" is unreservedly recommended for the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy buffs, as well as middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fantasy Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Philip Womack ( is a British author and journalist. His writing has appeared in The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Literary Review and The TLS. His books for children and teens include Wildlord (Little Island, 2021), fantasy trilogy The Darkening Path and The Arrow of Apollo. The nonfiction How to Teach Classics to Your Dog was published in 2020.

The Merciless King of Moore High
Lily Sparks
c/o North Star Editions, Inc.
9781635830965, $16.99, PB, 368pp

Synopsis: When the adults of Brockton, Connecticut, morphed into gigantic, bloodthirsty monsters nine months ago, the students at Jefferson High barricaded themselves inside their school. Now eighteen-year-old Kay Kim is one of the Student Council members trying to keep her classmates from starving.

Kay has no poker face and can't keep her mouth shut when she knows she's right, so when she accidentally learns a secret that threatens the delicate power balance at Jefferson, she's dragged out of the school in the dead of night and dumped in the middle of town in a secret assassination attempt.

But when a raiding party of cheerleaders from crosstown rival Moore High comes to her rescue, Kay finds herself among ruthless, hard-partying road warriors who have adopted the feudal trappings of a once-popular video game. Life at Moore is violent and cliquish, but everyone is thriving -- everyone, that is, who survives the kingdom's periodic monster hunts. For Moore's beloved King Max demands only two things: absolute fealty and that everyone at Moore help kill the "dragons".

If Kay wants to survive, she must be granted asylum at Moore -- which means slaying dragons, not asking the wrong questions, and navigating the rival factions, love triangles, and political intrigues at court. But when Kay discovers a deadly secret that reaches all the way to Jefferson, her inability to hide the truth might spark the revolution that burns both schools to the ground.

Critique: Original, deftly crafted, and a fun read from start to finish, "The Merciless King of Moore High" by novelist Lily Sparks is action/adventure fantasy fiction at its best. While also available for the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy fans, "The Merciless King of Moore High" from Flux (North Star Editions) is an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for middle school, highschool, and community library YA Fantasy Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Lily Sparks ( is the author of Teen Killers Club, a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection, Thriller Award nominee, and YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant YA Readers, which launched a trilogy that includes Teen Killers in Love and Teen Killers at Large. Lily has developed TV projects for MTV, FX, and Amazon, written for the CW's Reign and Paramount's Heathers and designed characters for Adult Swim's Royal Crackers.

Kingdom Keepers VII: The Insider
Ridley Pearson
Disney Hyperion
9781423164906, $9.99, HC, 624pp

Synopsis: The Kingdom Keepers' senior year in high school is almost over. For more than three years, things have been quiet. Their battles are long behind them, they agree, the threat to the Disney realm silenced -- albeit at great cost. But inside the catacombs of the Aztec temple where Finn Whitman faced down his nemesis, the monstrous Chernabog, a new threat brews.

Deception and betrayal rock the Kingdom Keepers as the merciless group of Disney villains known as the Overtakers stage an unexpected comeback. But a discovery by the Keepers provides them with one hope of victory -- a lost icon.

It was believed to be gone forever. The Keepers have one last chance to preserve the heart of the Kingdom (Disneyland) from a terrifying destruction decades in the making.

Critique: A fun read from start to finish, "Kingdom Keepers: The Insider" is the seventh title in author Ridley Pearson's original fantasy series. Featuring mystery, magic, and adventure, "Kingdom Keepers: The Insider" will prove a popular pick for personal, elementary school, middle school, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections for young readers ages 10-14. It should be noted that "Kingdom Keepers VII (Kingdom Keepers, Book VII): The Insider" is also available in a paperback edition (9781368046312, $8.99), and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Editorial Note: Ridley Pearson ( is the author of multiple adventure series for (young-ish) readers, including The Kingdom Keepers, Steel Trapp, and with Dave Barry, Peter and the Starcatchers. Ridley is also a best-selling crime novelist of more than 25 titles. Pearson was the first U.S. citizen to be awarded the Raymond Chandler/Fulbright Fellowship in Detective Fiction at Oxford University. In 2013, Ridley was awarded Missouri's Quill Award and inducted into that state's Writers Hall of Fame.

Star Wars: The High Republic: Escape from Valo
Daniel Jose Older, author
Alyssa Wong, author
Petur Antonsson, illustrator
Disney - Lucas Press
c/o Disney Publishing Worldwide
9781368093804, $14.99, HC, 384pp

Synopsis: Centuries before the Clone Wars or the Empire, it is a dangerous time for the galaxy, and the Jedi of the High Republic must face their greatest trials yet.

The villainous Nihil control an area of space known as the Occlusion Zone, where no one is safe, least of all Jedi. One of the Jedi stuck behind enemy lines is Padawan Ram Jomaram, doing his best to help the people of his home planet, Valo, survive Nihil occupation while keeping his Jedi identity hidden. When Ram discovers a trio of young Jedi living in the ruins of the city zoo, he finds himself in a position he never could have imagined: leader.

Ram and the others will have to band together to face their fears and protect the people of Valo as only the Jedi can!

Critique: A 'must' for the legions of Star Wars fans, "Star Wars: The High Republic: Escape from Valo" is a fun read from start to finish and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as elementary school, middle school, and community library Science Fiction collections for young readers ages 8-12. It should be noted that "Star Wars: The High Republic: Escape from Valo" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Daniel Jose Older, a lead story architect for Star Wars: The High Republic, is the New York Times best-selling author of the young adult urban fantasy series Outlaw Saints, the sci-fi adventure Flood City, and the monthly comic series Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures. His other books include the historical fantasy series Dactyl Hill Squad, The Book of Lost Saints, the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series, Star Wars: Last Shot, and the young adult series the Shadowshaper Cypher, including Shadowshaper, which was named one of the best fantasy books of all time by TIME magazine and one of Esquire's 80 Books Every Person Should Read. He won the International Latino Book Award and has been nominated for the Kirkus Prize, the World Fantasy Award, the Andre Norton Award, the Locus Award, and the Mythopoeic Award. You can find out more at

Editorial Note #2: Alyssa Wong writes award-winning fiction, comics, and games. Her stories have won the Nebula, World Fantasy, and Locus Awards and were short-listed for the Hugo, Bram Stoker, and Shirley Jackson Awards. Alyssa also writes comics for Star Wars (Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, War of the Bounty Hunters: Boushh #1), Marvel (Deadpool, Alligator Loki, Iron Fist, Extreme Carnage), and DC (Spirit World, Batman: Urban Legends). They have received multiple GLAAD and Eisner Award nominations. Previously, Alyssa worked at Blizzard Entertainment on Overwatch and Overwatch 2.

Editorial Note #3: Petur Antonsson ( is a freelance illustrator for books, games and animation.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

King Cheer
Molly Horton Booth, author
Stephanie Kate Strohm, author
Jamie Green, illustrator
Disney Hyperion
9781368064637, $24.99, HC, 160pp

Synopsis: When cheer captain Leah steps down months before graduation, the team is shocked. Wait-listed by her dream college, questioning her identity, and suffering from 'senioritis', Leah needs to hand the captain's poms off and focus on her future.

But when the competition for captaincy goes awry, power-hungry twins take command of the squad and immediately pit the cheerleaders against the basketball team in a fight for glory. Balls fly, pom-poms shake, hearts are broken -- and only one person can heal the rift between the teams. But first she'll have to heal herself.

Critique: Co-authored by Molly Horton Booth and Stephanie Kat Strohm, and brilliantly illustrated by artist Jamie Green, "King Cheer" is a contemporary graphic novel for young readers ages 12-17 that reimagines Shakespeare's King Lear in a highly school setting. An LGBTQ blend of comedy and drama, "King Cheer" is an original, witty, engaging, graphic novel story of self-discovery, friendship, and finding the courage to face your future. While highly recommended addition to middle school, highschool, and community library Graphic Novel collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "King Cheer" is also available from Disney-Hyperion in a paperback edition (9781368081115, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Stephanie Kate Strohm ( is also the co-author of Twelfth Grade Night. She is on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok @StephKateStrohm

Editorial Note #2: Molly Horton Booth ( is also the co-author of Twelfth Grade Night. She is on Instagram @MollyHortonBooth

Editorial Note #3: Jamie Green ( is a book illustrator, content creator, and alum of Ringling College of Art and Design '20. Jamie is on Instagram and Twitter @JamieMGreenArt, and on YouTube.

Continental Drifter
Kathy MacLeod
First Second Books
9781250813732, $22.99, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: With a Thai mother and an American father, Kathy lives in two different worlds. She spends most of the year in Bangkok, where she's secretly counting the days till summer vacation. That's when her family travels for twenty-four hours straight to finally arrive in a tiny seaside town in Maine.

Kathy loves Maine's idyllic beauty and all the exotic delicacies she can't get back home, like clam chowder and blueberry pie. But no matter how hard she tries, she struggles to fit in. She doesn't look like the other kids in this rural New England town.

Kathy just wants to find a place where she truly belongs, but she's not sure if it's in America, Thailand... or anywhere.

Critique: A deftly crafted, original, and thoroughly fun read from start to finish, "Continental Drifter" by author/illustrator Kathy MacLeod is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, elementary school, middle school, and community graphic novel collections for young readers ages 8-12. "Continental Drifter" is all the more impress when considering that it is MacLeod's debut as a graphic novelist and illustrator.

Editorial Note: Kathy MacLeod is an illustrator and cartoonist whose work has appeared in The Believer, Catapult, The Hairpin, and Lucky Peach. After spending most of her life in Thailand (with a four-year interlude at Wesleyan University), she is currently living in Germany.

Tea Dragon Tapestry
K. O'Neill, author/illustrator
Oni Press
9781620107744, $9.99, PB, 136pp

Synopsis: Over a year since being entrusted with Ginseng's care, Greta still can't chase away the cloud of mourning that hangs over the timid Tea Dragon. As she struggles to create something spectacular enough to impress a master blacksmith in search of an apprentice, she questions the true meaning of crafting, and the true meaning of caring for someone in grief.

Meanwhile, Minette receives a surprise package from the monastery where she was once training to be a prophetess. Thrown into confusion about her path in life, the shy and reserved Minette finds that the more she opens her heart to others, the more clearly she can see what was always inside.

Critique: Originally published in hardcover (2021) from Oni Press, "Tea Dragon Tapestry" by author/illustrator K. O'Neill is now available for young readers 9-16 in a paperback edition. Told with the same care and charm as the previous two installments of the Tea Dragon series, "The Tea Dragon Tapestry" once again welcomes old friends and new into a heartfelt story of purpose, love, and growth. Of particular interest to young fans of Fantasy Manga graphic novels, "The Tea Dragon Tapestry" is especially recommended for personal, middle school, highschool, and community library fantasy themed graphic novel collections.

Editorial Note: K. O'Neill ( is an Eisner and Harvey Award winning illustrator and graphic novelist from New Zealand. They are the author of Princess Princess Ever After, Aquicorn Cove, The Tea Dragon series and Dewdrop, all from Oni Press. Their books reflect their interest in tea, creatures, things that grow, and the magic of everyday life.

The Happy Shop
Brittany Long Olson, author/illustrator
Oni Press
9781637152799, $14.99, PB, 144pp

Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Darcy just moved to a new country. She's feeling lost and misses her friends back home. That's when she stumbles upon a shop full of mysterious glowing jars labeled with things like "Picking up the last sweater on the rack and it's on sale" and "Having the perfect weather on your wedding day." Much to Darcy's surprise -- what this store sells are happy feelings.

After Darcy accidentally breaks one of the irreplaceable jars, she must make it up to the shopkeepers, Frida and Flora, by doing chores around the store, and is soon tasked with collecting happy feelings. But she learns that the magical business is anything but magical.

With fewer customers than ever, Frida and Flora might have to close their doors. Can Darcy think of an idea to save the Happy Shop? What if they sold more than just happy feelings?

Critique: With the publication of "The Happy Shop" author and illustrator Brittany Long Olsen presents an entertaining and thought provoking graphic novel story for children ages 8-12 with the them of helping those you love and understanding your own feelings. A fun read from start to finish, "The Happy Shop", is additionally impressive when considering that it is author/illustrator Brittany Long Olsen's debut as a graphic novelist. "The Happy Shop" is unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library graphic novel collections for young readers.

Editorial Note: Brittany Long Olsen ( is an author, illustrator, cartoonist, and editor. She has lived in three different countries over the past ten years and made comics about her adventures (and culture shock!) in each one. Her happy jar would contain videos of unlikely animal friends.

The Art Shelf

I Am an Artist
Doro Globus, author
Rose Blake, illustrator
David Zwirner Books
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (distribution)
9781644231210, $19.95, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: Geared to children ages 4 to 8, but with appeal for all ages, "I Am an Artist" by author/storyteller Doro Globus and artist/illustrator Rose Blake is a colorful and playful picture book that asks: Who are artists? Why do they make art? What materials do they use? What tools do they work with? What forms do their artworks take?

Structured around a tour of an artists' studio complex, "I Am an Artist" introduces young readers to street artists, ceramicists, conceptual artists, textile artists, photographers, glassblowers, and more! The artists share their working spaces and their techniques while explaining why they make art.

Critique: Fun, informative, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in organization and presentation, Doro Globus and Rose Blake's "I Am an Artist" from David Zwirner Books is a welcome and unreservedly recommended pick for family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Art, Artists, and Art Appreciation picture book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Doro Globus is a writer, editor, and publisher specializing in creative culture, with a focus on arts publishing. Her first book, "Making a Great Exhibition" is a fun inside look at the life of an artwork, from studio to exhibition. A passionate advocate for sharing creativity, Globus has dedicated her career to telling stories of artists and writers. She is Associate Publisher of David Zwirner Books and has worked in arts publishing for nearly twenty years. She has written about artists and art historians including Dawn Ades, Michael Bracewell, Fred Wilson, and Bridget Riley. (

Editorial Note #2: Rose Blake ( is an illustrator and artist working in London. Her book A History of Pictures for Children: From Cave Paintings to Computer Drawings (2018), written by David Hockney and Martin Gayford, won the New Horizons award at the 2019 Bologna Children's Book Fair. She has worked with a wide range of clients, including The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, BBC, Google, Soho House, The Telegraph, The Sunday Times, Transport for London, and Disney.

The Money/Finance Shelf

How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000, second edition
James McKenna, author
Jeannine Glista, author
Workman Publishing Company
9781523523436, $$13.99, PB, 160pp

Synopsis: This newly updated, expanded, and 'newly mined' second edition of "How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000" by co- authors James McKenna and Jeannine Glista continues to be an ideal 'how-to' guide for young readers on the subject of money -- earning it, saving it, and investing it.

Written in a humorous but informative voice that engages young readers, this is the money management instruction guidebook that every parent who wants to raise financially savvy and unspoiled children should buy for their kids.

Packed with lively illustrations and diagrams that make difficult concepts easy to understand, kids will learn the basics of financial empowerment, good money decision-making, and the appreciation of a hard-earned dollar.

Critique: Comprehensive, exceptionally well organized, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in presentation and style, "How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000, second edition" is particularly appropriate and highly recommended for children ages 10-14. Originally published in a Library Binding edition (2016), this new paperback edition is an essential addition to family, elementary school, middle school, and community library Money Management collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that it is also now available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Song of the Raven
Amanda Hall, author and illustrator
Kelly Berthelsen, foreword
World Wisdom
9781957670041, $19.95, HC, 36pp

Synopsis: Raven has flown down from his world above the sky and has filled the Earth with creatures. But when he sees that the people have forgotten to respect what he has created, Raven angrily rips the shining sun from its place in the sky, leaving the Earth to freeze with just the moon for light.

Life becomes hard for the people below. Little Darkness is an ordinary Inuit boy, except that he has been born with a special gift. But he will only discover it when he finds a strange object on the ice and hears the haunting lullaby his mother sang to him when he was a little baby. In deciding to pick up the object, his adventure will begin, taking him into a vast world beyond imagination.

His journey will change him, the Earth, and all its inhabitants forever.

"Song of the Raven" offers an Inuit message of hope and healing for children, parents, teachers, and anyone who wants to cherish and sustain our beautiful Earth.

Critique: Featuring an informative Foreword by Kelly Berthelsen and graced throughout with the museum quality artwork of Inuit author and storyteller Amanda Hall, "Song of the Raven" from Wisdom Tales is an elegant, impressive, and memorable picture book that especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Folklore/Mythology collections for young readers ages 4-8.

Editorial Note #1: Amanda Hall is an award-winning illustrator of over two dozen books, four of which she also wrote. She is renowned for her wonderfully decorative and colorful children's books both in America and Great Britain, with co-editions in 24 other countries and sales of over 600,000 copies worldwide. Amanda regularly exhibits her original artwork at Chris Beetles Gallery in London, while her e-commerce website ( sells copies of her signed books, prints, wall mural wallpapers, and original illustrations. Among her titles are How the Sea Came To Be: And All the Creatures In It, Out of This World: The Surreal Art of Leonora Carrington, The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau, and in 2022 Little Bear: An Inuit Folktale. (

Editorial Note #2: Kelly Berthelsen is an Inuit writer, poet, translator, and politician who advocates for Greenlandic culture, literature, and indigenous rights. He lives in Greenland. (

The Christian Shelf

God's Little Astronomer
Tina Cho, author
Marta Alverez Miguens, illustrator
WaterBrook Press
c/o WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
9780593579411, $12.99, HC, 40pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "God's Little Astronomer", author and educator Tina Cho invites young readers to see God's creation in the heavens. From the sun, moon, stars, constellations, and comets, this out-of-this-world introduction to space will teach budding astronomers new words, facts, and concepts, while also encouraging them to see God throughout the universe, and reinforcing the message that the same God loves them too.

Impressively illustrated by the artistry of Marta Alverez Miguens, "God's Little Astronomer" includes fact-filled sidebars plus an accompanying Bible verse, making "God's Little Astronomer" the perfect combination of faith and science for budding scientists.

Critique: Informative and fun from start to finish, "God's Little Astronomer" is especially and unreservedly recommended, especially for family, daycare center, preschool, Sunday School, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 3-7.

My Tender Heart Prayer Book
Laura Sassi, author
Sandra Eide, illustrator
Paraclete Press
9781640608429, $15.99, Board Book, 26pp

Synopsis: "My Tender Heart Prayer Books" is a board book comprised of simple yet uplifting prayers for toddlers going through their daily routine and which are accentuated with a "Heart Moment" for parents to share and ponder. Scripture verses are noted throughout that point to God's Word and relevance to everyday experiences.

"My Tender Heart Prayer Book" contains 23 prayers for baby or toddler that encourage gratitude, thinking of others, asking for help, joy, compassion, trust in God, and teach important spiritual cornerstones

Critique: A sturdy board book by author Laura Sassi that can withstand repeated readings and usage at home, church, or classroom, "My Tender heart Prayer Book" is ideal for bedtime reading for with toddlers and little ones. It offers details in the artwork by Sandra Eide for little ones to enjoy and find for "point and learn" discovery. It can also serve as a base for introductory Bible discussion with handy Scripture references and is the perfect size for little hands. Making a great gift choice for many occasions including baby shower, christening, baptism, baby dedication, new grandchild, curious toddlers, "My Tender Heart Prayer Books' is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, Sunday School, and community library Christian board books collections for children ages 1-5.

Editorial Note #1: Laura Sassi ( has a passion for telling stories in prose and rhyme. Her books with Paraclete Press include Happy Birthday, Christmas Child, My Tender Heart Bible, MyTender Heart Prayer Book and My Tender Heart Devotions, coming in 2024. In addition, she is the author of multiple books for young children including the best-selling Goodnight, Ark, Love Is Kind, Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse, Little Ewe, and Bunny Finds Easter. She also writes stories and poems for various children's publications.

Editorial Note #2: Sandra Eide ( is a children's book illustrator from the Pacific Northwest. Sandra works with a mixture of real watercolors, textures, and digital mediums to create her illustrations. Her art is influenced by nature, culture, and the importance of showing all kinds of people in her work.

Share the Joy!
Valerie Ellis, author
Sergio de Giorgi, illustrator
Paraclete Press
9781640608764, $14.99, Board Book, 22pp

Synopsis: "Share the Joy!" is a Christmas Lift-the-Flap style board book that keeps Jesus at the center of Advent & Holiday Season. A rhyming storybook about the Nativity for children ages 1-4, "Share the Joy!" celebrates all the wonderful things that bring children and their parents joy at Christmastime! Charming rhymes by Valerie Ellis and vibrant illustrations by Sergio de Giorgi will entice little readers to lift the flap to learn even more about how they can help make Christmas special for others, and share the gift of Jesus's birth with everyone.

Critique: An ideal and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, Sunday School, and community library board book collections, "Share the Joy" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular for the Christmas season -- and any other time of the Christian calendar.

Editorial Note #1: Valerie Ellis ( is a children's book author, speaker, and founder of the multi-author online resource Our Everyday Parables, which offers book reviews and parenting ideas for families pursuing faith and compassion. A certified teacher, Valerie is passionate about helping kids and parents connect with God and each other in the everyday moments. Her upcoming books are designed to serve families at the intersection of faith and fun.

Editorial Note #2: Sergio de Georgi was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he currently lives with his wife Viviana and two daughters, April and Emma. As a young child, he dressed up in his superhero costume to explore his neighborhood, jumped over rooftops, and went home to write and draw about his superhero adventures. He has never stopped drawing. When his first daughter was born in 2000, he started writing and illustrating for children. In his free time, Sergio enjoys designing toys. (

The Judaic Shelf

How to Welcome an Alien
Rebecca Klempner, author
Shirley Waisman, illustrator
Kalaniot Books
9798986396538, $19.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: When a friendly alien family's spaceship lands in the Abraham's back yard, Debbie welcomes them with traditional Jewish hospitality. While this story hints at the biblical origins of the tradition of welcoming a stranger, it is the silly antics of these out-of-this-world visitors that will have readers laughing out loud. A note at the back pulls it all together and reminds us that a stranger can be anyone from an immigrant to a person that feels alone because they are different and all deserve our hospitality.

Critique: "How to Welcome an Alien" by author/storyteller Rebecca Klempner and artist/illustrator Shirley Waisman is an entertaining delight for children ages 4-9. With its underlying message of hospitality from a Jewish cultural perspective, "How to Welcome an Alien" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children.

Editorial Note #1: Rebecca Klempner is the author of A Dozen Daisies for Raizy, Adina at Her Best, and Glixman in a Fix. (

Editorial Note #2: Shirley Waisman (, has published more than 50 picture books. Her work has appeared in children's books and magazines and art exhibitions. Shirley is currently the Illustrator Coordinator of her regional chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She lives in Israel.

Ella KVELLephant and the Search for Bubbe's Yiddish Treasure
Jen Kostman
Kalaniot Books
9798986396514, $19.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: "Ella KVELLephant and the Search for Bubbe's Yiddish Treasure" by author/illustrator Jen Kostman is the delightful story of Ella, a spunky elephant explorer who is on the hunt for her grandmother's beloved Yiddish language.

Children ages 3-6 will fully enjoy joining with Ella, Bubbe, Zayde, and baby Eli for this colorful beach-day adventure! Children will also love learning new Yiddish vocabulary and seeing that they already use some of these fun and expressive words everyday.

Jen Kostman's lively illustrations are bright and colorful. Children will have fun searching for the many detailed animals in this unique picture book, while parents, teachers and caregivers will love the multi-generational themes. Also featured are a note that helps children to understand the history of the Yiddish language and a glossary highlights vocabulary.

Critique: A fun and thoroughly 'kid friendly' Yiddish themed picture book, "Ella KVELLephant and the Search for Bubbe's Yiddish Treasure" is a welcome and unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Editorial Note: Jen Kostman ( is an author and illustrator with a big imagination and a love for all things whimsical. She graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a BFA in Illustration. As a preschool teacher in New York City, she enjoys reading picture books to her students as often as possible. In 2020, Jen illustrated The Littlest Candle: A Hanukkah Story written by Rabbis Kerry and Jesse Olitzky and published by Kalaniot Books.

A Walk in the Woods
Chani Altein, author
Miri Rooney, illustrator
Marc Lumer, contributor
Hachai Publishing
9781945560712, $13.95, HC, 28pp

Synopsis: Young Benny and Tzvi discover on their walk in the woods with Bubby? They learn that every single creation in our big and beautiful world has an important lesson to teach everyone!

Critique: An original and fun picture book read from start to finish, "A Walk in the Woods" is a part of the Benny & Tzvi series and features a rhyming text by author/storyteller Chani Altein that is fully supported with rich and colorful illustrations by artist Miri Rooney that combined, make "A Walk in the Woods" from Hachai Publishing a very special treat for boys and girls ages 3-6 and is specifically recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Jewish themed picture book collections.

I am a Tree
Hindy Feldman, author
Patti Argoff, illustrator
Hachai Publishing
9781945560750, $7.99, Board Book, 12pp

Synopsis: "I am a seed, so tiny and small..." With these words, a beautiful journey begins! "I Am a Tree" is a brightly colored board book that explores all the steps of growth, from seeds, to shoots, to fully grown trees, complete with motions for babies and toddlers to act out. "I Am a Tree" is an ideal selection for year round lessons about Gadlus Haborei, the weather and seasons, Creation, and of course, Tu B'Shvat!

Critique: Charming, sweet, and fun, "I am a Tree" by author/storyteller Hindy Feldman and artist/illustrator Patti Argoff is an original and thoroughly 'kid friendly' Jewish themed board book that is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, and community library board book collections for children ages 1-3.

The Islamic Shelf

The Monkey, the Cow and the Wolf
Zain Bhikha
Kube Publishing
9780860379218, $11.95, HC, 34pp

Synopsis: "The Monkey, the Cow and the Wolf" is based on the lyrics of the well-loved children's song by renowned singer and songwriter Zain Bhikha. This poem in rhyming verse is a retelling of a combination of three sahih hadith's (strong sayings) from Prophet Muhammad.

Critique: With a very important and underlying message about not being cruel, greedy, or dishonest, telling the truth, and protecting others from injustice -- all from an Islamic perspective, "The Monkey, the Cow and the Wolf" by author/illustrator Zain Bhikha is a unique, welcome, and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for children ages 2-7.

Editorial Note: Zain Bhikha ( is the author of "Allah Made Everything" and has been an inspiration to people the world over since he first began singing in 1994. His uplifting songs aim to reconnect young people with the Creator and fill them with happiness. With over a dozen albums to his name, Zain's songs have graced homes worldwide and touched people's lives in uplifting and often profound ways. He has performed across most continents and remains amongst the most famous Islamic artists.

Books in Series

The Lerner Publishing Group

Lerner Publications is a premier publisher of non-fiction books-in-series for school and community libraries. One of their on-going series is 'Countries on the World Stage' with three new editions:

"Spotlight on China" by Isaac Kerry (9781728491967, $30.65, Library Binding, 32pp) China is one of the world's oldest and most powerful countries. From mountain ranges to bright cities, China is a large nation. With more than 1.4 billion people, it is the most populous country in the world. Discover China from the dynasties that first ruled that nation to the Chinese Communist Party that controls modern China. Young readers will learn how China recreated its economy to become a rich nation. Then discover the challenges China faces from climate change to arguments over land. China's future will impact the rest of the world.

"Spotlight on France" by Ngeri Nnachi (9781728491974, $30.65, Library Binding, 32pp) France currently leads Europe's agricultural production and is one of the oldest countries worldwide. Young readers will learn about France's history, economy, government, and more.

"Spotlight on Brazil" by Isaac Kerry (9781728491950, $30.65, Library Binding, 32pp) Brazil is one of the most diverse countries in the world. It is a global power in agriculture and industry. Young readers will discover the history of the country and learn what Brazil has in store for the future.

Critique: These three new titles (and the entire 'Countries on the World Stage' series are unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library collections for young readers ages 8-12. It should be noted that all three of these new titles are also readily available in a paperback edition ($10.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99) as well.

Workman Publishing Company

There are no characters so popular with children ages 1-3 as the Sesame Street Muppets. Now the Workman Publishing Company has produced two new and additional titles to the Sesame Street 'Indestructibles' series created by Amy Pixton that are soft cover, chew proof, rip proof, non-toxic, and 100% washable.

"Cookie Monster Finds a Snack" (9781523519774, $5.99, 12pp) Join Cookie Monster as he looks for more cookies! And meet Sesame Street friends along the way. Luckily, Cookie Monster won't be hungry for long -- someone on Sesame Street has yummy treats to share!

"Beach Day" (9781523523153, $5.99, 12pp) Join your favorite Sesame Street friends as they head to the beach. Build sandcastles, relax in the shade, and play with a beach ball -- it's all fun in the sun with Elmo, Abby, Zoe, and more!

Critique: Safer than traditional board books for infants, babies and toddlers that use their mouths as well as their hands when playing. Amy Pixton is the mother of triplets and created the Indestructibles series after bits of traditional board books found their way into her babies' mouths. This new format is ideal and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, and community library collections for use with very young children ages 1-3.

Editorial Note: A complete list of the Indestructibles series from Workman Publishers is available on at:

The Child's World, Inc.

The Child's World specializes in publishing books-in-series for school and community library collections. One of their premier new series is the eight volume series 'Fighting for Freedom' and features:

"The American Revolution" by Thomas K. Adamson (9781503880535, $35.64, Library Binding, 32pp) presents an illustrated overview of the American Revolution, including history, important people and battles, and a time line of events.

"The Civil War" by Thomas K. Adamson (9781503880542, $35.64, Library Binding, 32pp) presents an illustrated overview of the Civil War, including history, important people and battles, and a time line of events.

"World War I" by Thomas K. Adamson (9781503880580, $35.64, Library Binding, 32pp) presents an illustrated overview of World War I, including history, important people and battles, and a time line of events.

"World War II" by Thomas K. Adamson (9781503880597, $35.64, Library Binding, 32pp) presents an illustrated overview of World War II, including history, important people and battles, and a time line of events.

"The Korean War" by Tom Streissguth (9781503880566, $35.64, Library Binding, 32pp) presents an illustrated overview of the Korean War, including history, important people and battles, and a time line of events.

"The Vietnam War" by Tom Streissguth (9781503880573, $35.64, Library Binding, 32pp) presents an illustrated overview of the Vietnam War, including history, important people and battles, and a time line of events.

"The Gulf War" by Anita Yasuda (9781503880559, $35.64, Library Binding, 32pp) presents an illustrated overview of the Gulf War, including history, important people and battles, and a time line of events.

"The Afghanistan War" by Max Winter (9781503880528, $35.64, Library Binding, 32pp) presents an illustrated overview of the Afghanistan War, including history, important people and battles, and a time line of events.

Critique: Additionally, each volume comprising the "Fighting for Freedom" series includes a Glossary, a Bibliography (To Learn More), and an Index. Ideal for young readers ages 7-10, each of the eight titles comprising this thoroughly 'kid friendly' series is especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library American History and American Military History collections.

Editorial Note #1: Thomas K. Adamson has written dozens of nonfiction books for kids on sports, space, math, and more.

Editorial Note #2: Tom Streissguth has worked as a teacher, book editor, and freelance author and has written more than 100 nonfiction books for young readers. In 2014, he founded The Archive, a publishing company that compiles the nonfiction works and journalism of renowned American authors

Editorial Note #3: Anita Yasuda is the author of more than 100 books for children. She enjoys writing biographies, chapter books, and books about science and social studies.

Editorial Note #4: Max Winter is a graduate of UC Irvine's MFA program. His debut novel, EXES, is forthcoming from Catapult in 2017.

Crabtree Publishing Company

Crabtree Publishing Company is a leading producer of non-fiction books-in-series for school and community libraries. "Focus on Geography" is one of there newest series for young readers and is comprised of:

"Focus on South Africa" by Natalie Hyde (9781039663176, $33.27, Library Binding, 48pp) South Africa's population lives among and within semi-arid deserts, elevated grasslands, steep mountains, fertile farmland, coastal cities, and more. From mining to agriculture, learn about South Africa's resources and landscapes, its colonial history and struggle to build an equitable society, and the daily life and diverse culture of South Africans today.

"Focus on Haiti" by Ellen Rogers (9781039661226, $33.27, Library Binding, 48pp) Haiti, known for its mountainous and rugged land, is rich in agriculture as well as cultural traditions born from resistance. Read all about the country's land and resources, its beginnings as a profitable colony, the revolution that made it the world's first Black-ruled republic, and the daily life and culture of modern Haitians.

"Focus on Chile" by Linda Barghoorn (9781039806429, $33.27, Library Binding, 48pp) Chile is a long narrow strip of land running half the length of South America and bordered on either side by the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains. Read all about the country's land and resources, the mineral-rich Atacama Desert, and the impact of colonization by Europeans, as well as daily life and culture today for people across Chile. Free downloadable Teacher's Guide available.

"Focus on Ghana" by Heather C. Hudak (9781039806436, $33.27, Library Binding, 48pp) Ghana's landscape includes the large northern savannah, rain forests, and the coastal region, which is small but contains the largest cities. Read all about the country's land and resources, the early trading empire, and the impact of colonization by Europeans, as well as daily life and culture today for people across Ghana. Free downloadable Teacher's Guide available.

"Focus on Australia" by Natalie Hyde (9781039806719, $33.27, Library Binding, 48pp) Australia's varied landscapes--from deserts and forests to the stunning Great Barrier Reef--are as diverse as its unique wildlife. Read all about the country's land and resources, the Aboriginal people, and the impact of colonization by Europeans, as well as daily life and culture today for people across Australia. Free downloadable Teacher's Guide available.

"Focus on Switzerland" by Linda Barghoorn (9781039815247, $33.27, Library Binding, 48pp) Dominated by the mighty Alps and sharing borders with five different countries, Switzerland is known for its beautiful landscapes and multicultural society. Read all about the country's land and resources, the population-dense central plateau, and its early settlement, as well as daily life and culture today for people across Switzerland. Free downloadable Teacher's Notes.

"Focus on Brazil" by Natalie Hyde (9781039815216, $33.27, Library Binding, 48pp) Dominated by the mighty Alps and sharing borders with five different countries, Switzerland is known for its beautiful landscapes and multicultural society. Read all about the country's land and resources, the population-dense central plateau, and its early settlement, as well as daily life and culture today for people across Switzerland. Free downloadable Teacher's Notes.

"Focus on Cuba" by Heather C. Hudak (9781039815223, $33.27, Library Binding, 48pp) Cuba, an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea, is a top tourist destination due to its subtropical climate and beautiful coastline. Read all about the country's land and resources, its complicated political history, and the impact of colonization by Europeans, as well as daily life and culture today for people across Cuba. Free downloadable Teacher's Notes.

"Focus on Indonesia" by Linda Barghoorn (9781039815230, $33.27, Library Binding, 48pp) Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world, made up of more than 17,000 islands, with lush rain forests, mountainous interiors, mangrove forests, rich coral reefs, and sandy beaches. Read all about the country's land and resources, the environmental challenges it faces, and the impact of colonization by Europeans, as well as daily life and culture for people across Indonesia. Free downloadable Teacher's Notes.

"Focus on Pakistan" by Ellen Rodger (9781039806443, $33.27, Library Binding, 48pp) Pakistan is a country of stunning and diverse landscapes that include mountains, deserts, lush forests, plateaus, and raging rivers. Read all about the country's land and resources, the importance of the Indus River, and the impact of colonization by Europeans, as well as daily life and culture today for people across Pakistan. Free downloadable Teacher's Guide available.

"Focus on South Korea" by Heather C. Hudak (9781039663282, $33.27, Library Binding, 48pp) Pakistan is a country of stunning and diverse landscapes that include mountains, deserts, lush forests, plateaus, and raging rivers. Read all about the country's land and resources, the importance of the Indus River, and the impact of colonization by Europeans, as well as daily life and culture today for people across Pakistan. Free downloadable Teacher's Guide available.

"Focus on Mexico" by Linda Barghoorn (9781039663169, $33.27, Library Binding, 48pp) Mexico's varied landscapes (from deserts and mountains to tropical rainforests and fertile plateaus) are as diverse as its people and traditions. Read all about the country's land and resources, the ancient civilizations that thrived there, and its history as a Spanish colony, as well as daily life and culture today for people across Mexico.

Critique: Richly illustrated throughout in full color and unreservedly recommended for elementary school and community library Geography collections for young readers ages 8-12, it should be noted for personal reading lists that each title in the "Focus on Geography" series is also available for personal reading lists in a paperback edition ($15.5).

Editorial Note: Crabtree Publishing is dedicated to producing high-quality books and educational products for K-9+. Each resource blends accuracy, immediacy, and eye-catching illustration with the goal of inspiring nothing less than a life-long interest in reading and learning in children.

Suzie Housley's Bookshelf

Moonstreak and the Magical Museum
Tricia Wagner
Lyridae Books
9781961921245, $27.85, HB, 97 pages
9781961921252, $21.99, PB, 97 pages (Ages Baby - 12)

Synopsis: Welcome to the whimsical world of Moonstreak, the groundhog who finds himself torn between his cozy den and his love for planes soaring high in the sapphire sky. Living at the Midway Village Museum in Rockford, Illinois, gives him the opportunity to be closer to his dream.

Moonstreak's journey takes a magical turn as he delves into the mysteries of the museum, propelled by his profound fascination with a glorious plane hidden within its walls. As Moonstreak navigates through enchanting treasures and magical spells, he must uncover the secrets of Midway Village to find his true identity and forge unexpected alliances to guide him back to his home under the brilliant sky.

Join in discovering the heartwarming adventure of Moonstreak as he embarks on a quest of self-discovery and friendship amidst the allure of Midway Village Museum.

Critique: Moonstreak and the Magical Museum is filled with magic, wonder, and delightful surprises as readers explore the depths of this captivating story. Get ready to be transported to a realm where imagination knows no bounds and where every page invites you to embark on an unforgettable adventure.

Tricia Wagner is a true gem in the world of literature and artistry. Her unique blend of writing and artistic prowess is genuinely mesmerizing. The cover of your book is not just stunning, but an actual work of art that captivates the soul. Her ability to merge these talents seamlessly creates a combination that amazes the reader and is unparalleled and winning. Thank you for sharing your gifts with the world, Tricia Wagner.

Slacksville's Worst Superheros: Tales from Slacksville
K. Peach
Strange Goose
9781963288001, $7.99 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 111 pages

Synopsis: Amid chaos and confusion in Slacksville, Officer John Cop finds himself in a predicament as he tries to apprehend the elusive culprit Peep and his gang of criminals. What starts as a plea for help from the villagers quickly spirals into a comical series of events when a TV reporter inadvertently calls upon self-proclaimed superheroes to save the day. From the overconfident Samsonman to the unconventional Cowman and the efficient The Mom, a motley crew of amateur heroes emerges, much to Officer Cop's chagrin.

As the situation escalates, Officer Cop realizes the need for a coordinated effort to tackle the crime plaguing Slacksville. With patience wearing thin, he devises a plan to harness the unique talents of these misfit superheroes and channel them toward a common goal. By fostering teamwork and providing an opportunity for a young, true superhero to shine, Officer Cop aims to set a trap that will finally bring peace and order back to the town. Stay tuned for the unfolding saga of unlikely heroes banding together for the greater good in Slacksville.

Critique: Slacksville's Worst Superheros is a delightful tale that will captivate both young and adult readers alike. This book offers a fresh look on superheroes, it features, high action drama, humor, and a cast of unforgettable charters featured in a truly engaging way.

K. Peach's newest literary gem is a testament to her unparalleled writing prowess. Prepare to be enchanted as you delve into the pages of this captivating book, that introduces vibrant characters and a gripping storyline await. From the first sentence to the final chapter, be prepared to be spellbound by the magic of K. Peach's storytelling.

Editorial Note: Recommended reading ages 5-11 years.

Suzie Housley, Senior Reviewer

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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