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

Children's Bookwatch

Volume 31, Number 8 August 2021 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Science Shelf Health Shelf
Self-Help Shelf Biography Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Mythology Shelf Board Book Shelf
Picturebook Shelf Environmental Shelf Middle Grade Fiction Shelf
YA Fiction Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Activity Shelf
Graphic Novel Shelf Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf
Sports Shelf Christian Shelf Religion/Spirituality Shelf
Story Monsters Ink Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Lila Lou's Little Library: A Gift From The Heart
Nikki Bergstresser, author
Sejung Kim, illustrator
Cardinal Rule Press
9781735345116, $16.95, HC, 32pp

"Lila Lou's Little Library: A Gift From The Heart" is the story of a little girl named Lila Lou who loves to read, morning, noon and night. Books are everywhere in her house. Lila Lou has so many books, she makes forts out of them! But when her mom decides that Lila Lou has one too many books, will Lila Lou be forced to get rid of her cherished books?

Children ages 5-7 will enjoy finding out how Lila Lou uses her creativity and activism to save her books and inspires a community.

"Lila Lou's Little Library" by author/storyteller Nikki Bergstresser and artist/illustrator Sejung Kim is a delightfully charming picture book that showcases the key concepts of sharing, creativity and community supported by the many advocates of positive parenting solutions. Coming with a free Reader's Guide for children that is available for free download from the publisher website and which includes lesson plans, activities and discussion questions to allow parents, teachers and caregivers to explore the topic further and deepen comprehension, "Lila Lou's Little Library: A Gift From The Heart" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $1.99) and highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections.

Wow! What a Trip!
Susan M. Tarrant, author
Susan Lavalley, illustrator
WoW Publishing
9780999431405 $16.95 hc / $12.95 pbk / $7.99 Kindle

Synopsis: WoW! What a Trip! was written to help parents explain to their young child or children a new baby is on the way. The illustrations by a Master Oil Painter and Pastelist show the beginning to ending stages of pregnancy right up to and including the birth of the baby. The book was designed to create and develop conversations between the expectant mother and their child to help prepare and have them look forward to being a big brother or sister. As an example, the first picture depicts two cells in mommy's tummy. The parent(s) can ask their child what they see in the picture. Depending on how their child answers, the parent will have the opportunity to explain what is happening during the early stages of pregnancy.

The illustrations in the book provide many talking points during the various stages of pregnancy. Pictures depict cells multiplying, the first evidence of arms and legs, the connection with the umbilical cord, the recognition of fingers and toes, a depiction of the ultra-sound being taking of the new baby, a representation of many possible names, the family getting the family room ready for the new baby, the car going to a hospital, and a picture of the baby born with the family.

The book also give the family a place for relevant photos, a page to record memories of the pregnancy, and access to the author for assistance in help with communicating the meaning of the illustrations. The book speaks to the importance of having their child appreciate what is happening to mom during her pregnancy. WoW! What a Trip! should help a young child learn and understand that bringing a new child into their family and the world is all about love.

Critique: Wow! What a Trip! is a wonderful picturebook crafted to help parents prepare their young child or children for the arrival of a new baby. The warm, lovingly crafted illustrations show how a baby develops through the stages of pregnancy, along with the gentle text designed to facilitate instruction. Wow! What a Trip! is not only educational, but also a work of love, meant to help bring a family closer together. Highly recommended, both as a reference and resource for public library collections and for family collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Wow! What a Trip! is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Unstoppable: Women with Disabilities
Helen Wolfe, author
Karen Patkau, illustrator
Second Story Press
9781772602098 $19.95

Unstoppable: Women with Disabilities is a picture book written for children, especially young girls, about ten real-life women who have worked to make the world a better place despite their own disabilities. Each woman is introduced in a two-page spread; one page shows colorful, realistic, and dynamic portrait art, while the other page offers a modestly detailed biography highlighting her accomplishments. Unstoppable: Women with Disabilities is an inspirational showcase of female role models, highly recommended for both school and public library children's collections.

The Science Shelf

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Elements
Lisa Congdon
Chronicle Books
9781452161594 $22.99 hc / $9.99 Kindle

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Elements is designed to introduce young readers ages 10-15 to the periodic table of elements. Colorful illustrations and fascinating facts related to each element's discovery, uses, special properties and more make The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Elements fun as well as educational to page through. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Elements is a "must" for school and public library children's collections with a focus on science and STEM education. Highly recommended!

The Health Shelf

Never Kiss a Chicken
William C. Pack, author
Lily Liu, illustrator
121 Publications
9781949356328 $17.39

Never Kiss a Chicken is a charming, rhyming children's picturebook with an important message about safety around live poultry. Basic rules for being responsible around live chickens and eggs are punctuated with the exhortation "Never Kiss a Chicken!!!" Other rules from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) include "Live poultry should be kept outdoors at all times", "Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry, their eggs, or anything where they live and roam", and "Cook eggs until both the yolk and white are firm". Never Kiss a Chicken is a "must" especially for any family with both young children and backyard chickens, and its important message for preventing poultry-related diseases makes it a choice pick for both school and public library children's picturebook collections. Highly recommended.

The Self-Help Shelf

Tame the Beast
D.K. Brantley, author
Rodrigo Paulo, illustrator
Sir Brody Books
9781951551094 $9.99

Tame the Beast is a rhyming children's picturebook about anger management. "Taming the Beast" means cooling off and controlling anger before it escalates. The colorful illustrations metaphorically show young children learning how to tame their anger (represented as monster versions of themselves - a werewolf, a vampire, a mummy, and so on) by doing whimsical things, or "Remember good times / when you laughed, loved and joked / with your closest bat friends and dearest werefolk. // And consider when / they set your fury aflame / that the blame may not be / only theirs as you claim." Tame the Beast is a basic yet excellent self-help book ideal for parents to read aloud and share with young children, highly recommended.

The Biography Shelf

The Girl Who Loved Giraffes
Kathy Stinson, author
Francois Thisdale, illustrator
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
9781554555406, $19.95, HC, 32pp

When Anne Innis Dagg saw her first giraffe in a zoo she was entranced. So much so that a love for giraffes shaped her whole life. She decided at a young age that she would one day travel from her home in Canada to study giraffes in their natural environment in Africa.

After overcoming obstacles based on her gender, Anne succeeded in fulfilling her dream in 1956 and became the world's leading scientific expert on giraffes.

In their picture book biography of Anne Innis Dagg, "The Girl Who Loved Giraffes: And Became the World's First Giraffologist", author/storyteller Kathy Stinson and artist/illustrator Francois Thisdale have created a beautiful story that captures the dramatic story of Anne's life, the majestic beauty of giraffes and fascinating facts about this most intriguing and magnificent creature. "The Girl Who Loved Giraffes: And Became the World's First Giraffologist" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book biography collections for young readers ages 5-8.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Whole Whale
Karen Yin, author
Nelleke Verhoeff, illustrator
Barefoot Books
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140
9781646861637, $19.99, HC, 32pp

A charmingly entertaining and unique picture book for children ages 3-6 by the team of author/storyteller Karen Yin and artist/illustrator Nelleke Verhoeff, "Whole Whale" features one hundred unusual animals who all try to squeeze into the oversized pages of this raucous rhyming tale of story book. 'But can we fit a whole blue whale?' is repeated throughout, as more animals join the melange with the whole whale is finally seen via fold-out pages -- making "Whole Whale" an especially and particularly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.

The Secret Life of Whales
Rena Ortega
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500652671, $16.95, HC, 48pp

Whales are amazing and ginormous mammals, as well as being some of the biggest creatures to have ever lived on Earth! "The Secret Life of Whales" by artist and storyteller Rena Ortega is a beautifully drawn children's picture book that shares with young readers ages 6-8 some of the most incredible and thrilling truths about the many different kinds of whales. From where they migrate to how they care for their young, "The Secret Life of Whales" is thoroughly 'kid friendly' compendium of fascinating facts. With so many things to learn, young nature lovers won't be able to put down this charmingly illustrated introduction to these elusive animals. Illustrated throughout in full color, "The Secret Life of Whales" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library Marine Wildlife collections.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Kuan Yin
Maya van der Meer, author
Wen Hsu, illustrator
Bala Kids
c/o Shambhala Publications, Inc.
300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115-4544
9781611807998, $17.95, HC, 32pp

Miao Shan isn't your typical princess. She likes to spend her time quietly meditating with the creatures of the forest or having adventures with dragons and tigers. Miao Shan's heart is so full of love that her dream is to spread happiness throughout the land and help people endlessly. But her father has other plans for her -- he intends to have her married and remain in the palace. With the help of her little sister Ling, Miao Shan escapes and begins her journey to discover the true meaning of compassion.

During their adventure, Ling and Miao Shan are eventually separated. Ling must overcome doubts, fears, and loneliness in order to realize what her sister had told her all along -- that love is the greatest power in the world. After the sisters' reunion, Miao Shan realizes her true calling as Kuan Yin, the goddess of compassion.

Critique: A princess-adventure picture book story unlike any other, "Kuan Yin: The Princess Who Became the Goddess of Compassion" by the team of author/storyteller Maya van der Meer and artist/illustrator Wen Hsu is ancient Chinese tale of the world's most beloved Buddhist hero is a story of sisterhood, strength, and following your own path. Featuring museum quality artwork throughout, "Kuan Yin: The Princess Who Became the Goddess of Compassion" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Fantasy/Folklore/Fairytale collections for children ages 4-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Kuan Yin: The Princess Who Became the Goddess of Compassion" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

The Mythology Shelf

Introduction to Norse Mythology for Kids
Peter Aperlo
Ulysses Press
9781646041909, $14.95
B08LDWH1YN, $6.99

Synopsis: Get to know the stories behind your favorite Norse heroes, gods, and villains with this in-depth introduction to Norse mythology. Learn all about how Thor got his hammer Mjolnir, or the cunning and mischievous adventures of the trickster Loki. Discover fantastical creatures, fearsome monsters, and epic battles - all from ancient Scandinavia - with stories including:

Thor and the Clay Giant
The Death of Baldr
Loki's Dangerous Children
And more!

Plus, in addition to the mythical tales, you'll also learn what daily life was like for Vikings and how they fought. This book is more than just a collection of gods and goddesses, it's the perfect collection of Nordic and Viking trivia for any kid who loves to learn about history or for fans of Marvel movies!

Critique: Introduction to Norse Mythology for Kids: A Fun Collection of the Greatest Heroes, Monsters, and Gods in Norse Myth lives up to its title as a compendium of legends from ancient Scandinavia, as well as fascinating historical facts about how the Vikings once lived and fought. Even though Introduction to Norse Mythology for Kids is written especially for young adults, readers of all ages will enjoy this immersion into the original stories of the mighty Thor, the deceitful Loki, the beautiful Freyja, and more. A handful of black-and-white illustrations, and a detailed mini-encyclopedia of Norse gods, heroes, monsters, and more round out this thoroughly enjoyable and edifying treasure, highly recommended for both personal and public library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Introduction to Norse Mythology for Kids is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99).

The Board Book Shelf

A is for Anemone
Roy Henry Vickers & Robert Budd
Harbour Publishing
9781550179477 $12.95

A is for Anemone: A First West Coast Alphabet is a children's board book that features all twenty-six letters of the alphabet in the context of the natural splendor of Canada's West Coast. Striking, full-color illustrations by Indigenous artist Roy Henry Vickers add vibrance to this beautiful and educational ABC book, ideal families with very young children. The board-book pages and illustrations even have a slight tactile component, like the outline of a mountain scene shown at night.

Over in the Ocean
Marianne Berkes, author
Jeanette Canyon, illustrator
9781728243467, $8.99 paperback
9781728242316, $9.99 boardbook

Over in the Ocean: A Coral Reef Baby Animal Counting Book is a children's board book featuring dazzling, beautiful illustrations photographed from exquisitely sculpted clay. The simple, rhyming text pairs short poems with the numbers 1 through 10; each number is further demonstrated through a corresponding assortment of baby animals that live in a coral reef. The book's rhymes are crafted so that they may be sung along to the simple melody of the classic song "Over in the Meadow"; a musical representation is on the board book's final page. Over in the Ocean is a wonderful and educational addition to family board book collections, highly recommended.

What Can You See?: On a Construction Site
Kate Ware, author
Maria Perera, illustrator
Tiger Tales
PO Box 70, Iron Ridge, WI 53035
9781680106886, $9.99, Board Book, 12pp

The collaborative project of author/storyteller Kate Ware and artist/illustrator Maria Perera, "What Can You See?: On a Construction Site" is a charmingly presented board book entertainment fo children 2-5 who will love to peek through the pages of this busy little volume to discover what goes on at a construction site! The peek-through pages and detailed pictures are just right for young learners. In its twelve pages, children will discover all of the different machines and equipment needed to complete a construction project -- this time, it's a school that's being built! A bulldozer pushes rubble out of the way; a worker uses a shovel to dig a small hole; and a cement mixer mixes cement to be poured for the building's foundation. All of the workers and machines must work together to complete the project -- making "What Can You See?: On a Construction Site" an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library board book collections.

Screen Time Is Not Forever
Elizabeth Verdick, author
Marieka Heinlen, illustrator
Free Spirit Publishing
6325 Sandburg Road, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55427-3674
9781631985379, $8.99, Board Book, 24pp

As important as screens are in our lives, we all need to unplug, especially young children. "Screen Time Is Not Forever" by the team of author/storyteller Elizabeth Verdick and artist/illustrator Marieka Heinlen is an active and encouraging board book that offers young children and families an easy way to set boundaries and limits for screen time, and to find enjoyable ways to spend time without screens. "Together, we say, 'All done.' Now follow up with something fun."

Screen time can be helpful and fun, but it's important for toddlers to learn that screen time can't be all the time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends consistent limits on screen time for young children. With her trademark mix of empathy and encouragement, author Elizabeth Verdick offers appealing and healthy alternatives to using screens, like singing, swinging, or playing pretend!

"Screen Time Is Not Forever" ends with additional ideas and activities to help adults navigate screen time with toddlers and preschoolers -- making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, and community library board book collections.

Sleeping Bear Press
315 East Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48108

These are two new board book titles for very young children ages 3-7 from Sleeping Bear Press that are unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library collections.

"Catch a Kiss" (9781534111547, $9.99,16pp) by author/storyteller Deborah Diesen and artist/illustrator Kris Aro McLeod is the story of Izzie, a young girl who just loves when her mama blows her kisses to catch. Smooch kisses, zig-zag kisses, and even triple decker kisses! But even though she runs and leaps for it, Izzie misses a kiss! Her heart sinks as she watches it zip higher and higher into the sky. When Mama lets Izzie in on a sweet secret she realizes that her mama's love will always come to find her, no matter what! This silly and tender story is a universal one of a parent's love.

"A Horse Named Jack" (9781534111554, $9.99, 16pp) by author/storyteller Linda Vander Heyden and artist/illustrator Petra Brown is 2018 Nominee Annie Karcher Best in Rhyme Top 10! It is the story of Jack who is a rather silly horse. And when bored, he takes it upon himself to unlatch his stall and go for an adventure through the farm before escaping into the neighbor's garden for a snack. This rhyming story counts up to ten as Jack makes his way across the farm and then back down as he races home with the neighbor hot on his heels.

When I Hold You
Ashley Huffstutler, author
Airin O'Callaghan, illustrator
B&H Publishing Group
9781087739410, $9.99 Board Book

Synopsis: Where does a mother's love come from? Ashley Huffstutler shows us it comes directly from the heart of God. When I Hold You is a gentle and celebratory poem that draws the comparison between a mother's tender love for her children and God's nurturing love for us.

A perfect gift for any new or existing mother, When I Hold You captures the universal experience of the mother-child bond. As young readers, ages 0-4, listen to the rhyme and see the diverse illustrations, they will better understand how God reveals His love to us through our relationships with one another. With Scriptures woven throughout every image, both mother and child will be encouraged to worship the God whose love lasts forever!

Critique: When I Hold You is a heartwarming board book that shows mothers caring for their babies. Mothers and babies of many different races are portrayed, including one illustration of a white mother playing happily with her child of color. "When I count your twinkling toes, / I think of every star God knows." Scriptures are subtly woven into the art of every two-page spread of this heartwarming, beautiful board book perfect for families with young children ages 0-4. Highly recommended.

The Picturebook Shelf

Too Cute to Spook
Diana Aleksandrova, author
Alicia Young, illustrator
Dedoni, LLC
9781953118011, $17.99, HC, 32pp

The story of Lorry encourages kids to love who they are!

Everyone knows that a monster's favorite thing is to scare kids. Lorry is no exception. He wants to be the scariest monster of all. Lorry wants to follow in the steps of his famous ancestors: his dreadful great-grandfather, Scabby Moldbody, who was known for making kids scream the loudest, and his gruesome great-grandmother, Henrietta Fang, who was responsible for more nightmares than any other monster. There is only one small problem, Lorry is cute, and kids aren't afraid of cute little monsters. Being a different monster makes Lorry sad and ashamed. Unable to fit in, he learns how to stand out.

A delightfully original and entertaining picture book story with an important message about self-esteem for children ages 3-8, "Too Cute to Spook" by the team of author/storyteller Diana Aleksandrova and artist/illustrator Alicia Young will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Too Cute to Spook" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781953118004, $13.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Jenny the Chimpanzee
Lotus Kay, author
Chey Diehl, illustrator
Eifrig Publishing
PO Box 66, Lemont, PA 16851
9781632332486, $14.99, HC, 26pp

A collaborative picture book for children ages 4-9, "Jenny the Chimpanzee" is a story by the team of author/storyteller Lotus Kay and artist/illustrator Chey Diehl about the history and origins of humanity's evolution, explained simply by a chimpanzee named Jenny. Young readers will be reminded of how interconnected humans are with all other wildlife on this planet. Informative, entertaining, and impressively original, "Jenny the Chimpanzee" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Jenny the Chimpanzee" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781632332479, $9.99).

Sounds Like School Spirit
Meg Fleming, author
Lucy Ruth Cummins, illustrator
Dial Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593108321, $17.99, HC, 32pp

They have school spirit, yes they do! Children ages 4-8 will enjoy follow kids from circle time to the lunch line in the colorful pages of "Sounds Like School Spirit", a lively, rhyming picture book by the team of author/storyteller Meg Fleming and artist/illustrator Lucy Ruth Cummins which perfectly showcases the high energy of a new classroom. With a call and response like "We say ALPHA, you say BET," built into the text, kids will love reading and cheering along this ultimate back-to-school ode, this interactive, cheer-filled picture book that joyfully celebrates the community we build at school. Wonderfully entertaining, "Sounds Like School Spirit" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library school themed picture book collections.

The Roller Coaster Ride
David Broadbent, author/illustrator
Child's Play
250 Minot Avenue, Auburn, ME 04210
9781786285614, $17.99, HC, 32pp

Vincent and his Grandma are on their way to the beach. As they get nearer to their destination, his excitement grows as he imagines riding on the roller coaster and other attractions! Will the day out meet his expectations? Reach Charity and their members were especially helpful to author/illustrator David Broadbent with respect to ensuring an authentic representation of a child with an upper limb difference in this outstanding and unique picture book story which is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Life Skills collections for children ages 3-7.

Three Little Engines
Bob McKinnon, author
Lou Francher, illustrator
Steve Johnson, illustrator
Grosset & Dunlap
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9781524793357, $18.99, HC, 48pp

Graduation day is finally here! The Little Blue Engine, the Yellow Passenger Engine, and the Red Freight Engine are excited to take their final test of Engine School: making their first solo trip over the mountain. But each engine encounters different challenges and obstacles on their journey. Gorgeous illustrations by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson combine with a poignant story told by author Bob McKinnon will entertainingly remind a new generation of readers ages 3-7 to "think they can." A lovely, charming, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' picture book, "Three Little Engines" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Three Little Engines" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Five Little Angels
Kathleen T. Pelley, author
Dubravka Kolanovic, illustrator
Elk Lake Publishing Inc.
9781649491800, $19.99, HC, 54 pp

Children ages 3-6 will fully enjoy joining in a celestial romp with five little angels, who hop on a cloud to take a peek at the world below, and see all sorts of loving acts of kindness, which sends them into a frenzy of delight. The collaborative project of author/storyteller Kathleen T. Pelley and artist/illustrator Dubravka Kolanovic, "Five Little Ages" from Elk Lake Publishing is a truly lyrical read aloud to teach children just how kindness can build heaven on earth. While especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, Sunday School, and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Five Little Angels" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781649491817, $13.99) and in digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Mr. Robert Monkey Returns to New York
Arnold Johnston, author
Deborah Ann Percy, author
Kelly O'Neill, illustrator
Belle Isle Books
c/o Brandylane Publishers
5 South First Street, Richmond, VA 23219
9781953021083, $22.95, HC, 32pp

Mr. Robert Monkey and Bobby Penicki are the very best of friends. When Mr. Robert gets lost during a family move to New York City, Bobby is devastated. Children ages 3-8 will fully enjoy meet Robert Monkey's new friends as he travels by plane, truck, and backpack on his brave journey back home! A thoroughly charming, memorable, and fully 'kid friendly' picture book story, "Mr. Robert Monkey Returns to New York" is especially recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Mr. Robert Monkey Returns to New York" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.95).

Starting Over in Sunset Park
Jose Pelaez, author
Lynn McGee, author
Bianca Diaz, illustrator
Tilbury House, Publishers
12 Starr Street, Thomaston, ME 04861
978088448844, $17.95, HC, 40pp

Jessica and her mom, Camila, must live in their cousins' crowded apartment until Camila finds work making holiday decorations and they can afford their own place. Isolated on the playground and baffled in class, unable to understand her teacher's instructions, Jessica is intensely homesick. But little by little, things get better. She begins to learn English, and she loves the cats she and her mom care for to earn extra money. Left behind by traveling owners, the cats make the best of their situation, inspiring Jessica to do the same.

Also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Starting Over in Sunset Park" by authors Jose Pelaez and Lynn McGee, and featuring the full color illustrations Bianca Diaz, is an original, entertaining, especially charming, and highly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 6-8.

The Farm Shop
Devon Avery
Suteki Creative
9781948124676, $19.95 Hardcover/$10.95 Paper/$3.49 ebook

The Farm Shop is an engaging picture book story of a girl, Kirelle, and her cat Sam who go on a walk that brings them to The Farm Shop, where they learn about a busy barn filled with animals and discoveries. Talking cat Sam is Kirelle's guide, but the talking farm animals also interact with her. The sheep sell delicious chocolate baas, the ducks sell cheese quackers, and the cows sell not milk, but Hollywood moovies. Read-aloud parents will find the large-size drawings by Ema Tepic add special fun to the story of a girl who explores the farm animal environment. There are also plenty of opportunities for enjoying the animal sound effects made by the farm shop purveyors. But the best lesson lies in an experience that Kirelle takes home with her. Parents will find this lesson and the underlying emphasis on politeness to be another strong point in a picture book which is whimsical, fun, and thought-provoking all in one. The Farm Shop also offers the perfect lesson on generosity and positive interactions, supporting the story line with uplifting life messages that adults will welcome.

Not Yeti
Kelly DiPucchio
Viking Penguin
9780593114070, $17.99

Not Yeti is a picture book story about monsters, rudeness, and one very different beast, Yeti, who eschews the usual image of a monster. Yeti is polite, loving, and talented. And yet, he's still alone, his reputation belaying his loving nature. How can Yeti overcome the stigma of his race to find special friends? Ages 4-8 will appreciate a lovely story that is made even more fun by Claire Keane's colorfully compelling drawings.

The Pepperstorm
Rafael Ordonez and Marisa Morea
9788417673802, $15.95

The Pepperstorm paints a different picture of the elephant who's afraid of a mouse as it tells of a history which begins with mice being afraid of elephants. The pepperstorm changed this scenario and is the subject of a whimsical, fun fable that paints a very different picture of oblivious elephants and resourceful mice determined to conquer their (literally) biggest fear. The solution that emerges is unpredictably fun and a story young picture book readers and read-aloud parents alike will relish, especially with their intriguing embellishments.

Random House

Three picture book stories are fun reads that will provide lasting value to parents and lending collections alike.

Bea Birdsong and Lucy Fleming's How to Spot a Best Friend (9780593179277, $17.99) outlines the difference between a friend and a best friend and provides a whimsical survey on how to find one. A little girl determined to find her best friend at school that day pursues her dream of spotting the perfect prospect. As she makes her goal, youngsters receive a whimsical, fun story about kindness and what makes for an exception chum, with illustrations providing fun embellishments throughout.

Nicolo Carozzi's Brave as a Mouse (9780593181836, $17.99) is a standout story about friendship, courage, and risk-taking. It tells of a mouse's very bold ideas, play, and contrasts the notion of a good idea versus what constitutes a real risk. Carozzi's illustrations are dark but especially compelling as a little mouse perhaps bites off more than he can chew and learns some important lessons in the process.

Michael Whaite's 100 Cats: Cute Kitties to Count (9780593308332, $12.99) invites young picture book readers to test rudimentary counting skills with a host of cute cats and rhymes that follow their antics. Parents and kids who like kitties will find this exploration lively, vivid, and enchanting as the very active cats of all types embark on fun adventures. These wonderful stories are recommended for personal collections and libraries alike.

Scholastic Press

These new books from Scholastic offer picture book readers excellent, exciting themes and intriguing presentations.

Sam Wedelich's Chicken Little and the Big Bad Wolf (9781338359008, $17.99) marries two traditional tales into a new story as it explores a skeptical Chicken Little's encounter with a nightmare he didn't believe in. As his message spreads, Chicken Little inadvertently sparks a barnyard revolution that prompts him to investigate the Big Bad Wolf legend in more detail. Fun,
simple drawings embellish a very strong adaptation of the Big Bad Wolf/Chicken Little stories.

Ross Burach's The Little Butterfly That Could (9781338615005, $17.99) is a companion to The Very Impatient Caterpillar, yet stands nicely on its own for newcomers without prior familiarity with its predecessor. Its humorous review of a butterfly challenged by flowers that lie beyond his flying abilities encourages kids to work through seemingly impossible challenges in their own lives, even as it teaches them about butterfly migration. Illustrations are hilarious and colorful embellishments as the little butterfly faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Simon James Green and Garry Parsons's Llama Glamarama (9781338736182, $14.99) tells of a llama's secret passion: dancing. Larry keeps his fun secret until one day he discovers the Llama Glamarama, a celebration that encourages him to come out into the open with a talent and approach to life that is different. A joyful, colorful story of self-acceptance and talent emerges to invite kids to embrace and celebrate their own unique abilities.

All are inviting, celebratory works about growth and discovery that kids will find both entertaining and thought-provoking.

Simon and Schuster

Simon and Schuster's latest publications are delightful attractions for collections seeking superior acquisitions.

Bear Can't Wait by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman (9781481459754, $17.99) is a picture book story about a bear who is so excited about throwing a surprise party that he can't wait. This causes many problems, some predictable and some unexpected, as Bear capitalizes on his own impatience to speed things up. The illustrations are particularly well done and colorful, inviting kids with alluring, vivid landscapes and scenarios.

Kelly Leigh Miller's I Love My Fur! (9781534478954, $17.99) is a picture book featuring Bigfoot, who has a lot of fur that he's actually quite fond of. Because he loves his appearance so much, and takes such good care of it, he imagines everyone around him holds a similar view of his special countenance. Imagine his surprise when a little fur gets to be too much! Is there ever too much of a good thing? The whimsical tale takes an unexpectedly delightful turn.

Teen readers will find compelling Bethany Mangle's Prepped (9781534477506, $18.99) that tells of Becca, who grows up in a family of doomsday preppers in a neighborhood that encourages survivalist training and thinking. For them, doomsday is just around the corner. They're even arranging Becca's marriage to Roy, who is totally immersed in his prepper world. But, are their goals and objectives real? An accident changes everything and challenges Becca's ideas that there is life beyond their prepper fanaticism, and Roy's certainty that his belief is the only right course of action. All are highly recommended picks as standouts from the crowd.

Sleeping Bear Press

Two new arrivals will delight picture book readers looking for something different, colorful, and particularly discovery-oriented.

Barbara Joosse's Lulu & Rocky in Rocky Mountain National Park (9781534111332, $16.99) will reach ages 4-8 with a fun story that takes them to the Rocky Mountains in the fourth installment of the travel adventure series. Here Rocky and Lulu go hiking, camping, and learn about the park and how best to explore its wonders without impacting them. Renee Graef's drawings of the two foxes and their penguin chaperone are engaging and fun, providing full-page, bright embellishments that capture the park's unique qualities.

Nicholas Solis's The Color Collector (9781534111059, $16.99) gives ages 4-8 the engaging story of quiet new girl Violet, who attracts the attention of a fellow loner as she is always alone and stays apart from her classmates. One of them, a boy, notices that Violet is always picking up things from the ground...items which seem to hold no connection to one another What is she doing? As the two interact, themes of appreciating the world in different ways, accepting diversity, and embarking on a friendship from shared experiences come to life; all supported by the lovely illustrations of Renia Mettallinou, who follows the kids as they move from a linear black-and-white world to one filled with color.

Both new picture book titles are standouts that deserve attention and acquisition.

Candlewick Press

Two picture book readers are standouts recommended for home and lending library lasting delight.

Shirley Parenteau's Bears at the Beach (9781536208382, $16.99) enjoys colorful drawings by David Walker as it explores the special challenges bears face trying to cope with building a sand castle on the beach. A rollicking rhyme follows Big Brown Bear and the four little bears as they face their greatest challenging making their sand castle a reality against all odds. The colorful bear drawings capture action and fun.

Juana Martinez-Neal's Zonia's Rain Forest (9781536208450, $17.99) tells of Zonia's home just outside the rain forest, which embraces it. Every morning the forest calls to her and provides new wonders...until one morning, the forest's message is disturbingly different. The forest's diverse friends help her see the world in new ways. Can she, in turn, help the wider world see what she loves about the forest? A fine story emerges with an important, tender message for young picture book readers.

Disney Press

The two new picture books from Disney will attract young leisure reader attention with their evocative messages and fun tales.

Ryan T. Higgins' The Bruce Swap (9781368028561, $17.99) tells of Bruce the bear, who does not like fun. Thus, he faces a special challenge when a fun-loving cousin Kevin comes to visit, thwarting his grumpy view of the world with a special vision of pleasure that comes to 13 Go Away Lane. Bruce's mouse friends hope Kevin will save the day, but before that can happen, there is a lot to overcome. Even though Kevin's worldview is certainly more appealing, is there such a thing as too much fun? Some big words and thoughts blend into this story (existential questions and doppelgangers), so parents may wish to assist the very young not only with vocabulary, but the delightful bigger-picture thinking the book embraces.

Disney's Minnie Mouse receives focus in Minnie's Fixer-Upper (9781368055895, $7.99), a board book for the very young which explores Minnie's first house buy. But Daisy and Cuckoo-Loca are opposed to moving from their apartment. The secret is out, but it's not a good one. How can Minnie convince them that the new house is a good home? Parents who read this story aloud will find its bright illustrations compelling and fun for the very young.

The Environmental Shelf

Earth's Climate Heroes
Daniele Horton
VIBE (Verdani Institute for the Built Environment)
9781736866917, $13.99 Paper/$7.99 ebook

Earth's Climate Heroes is highly recommended for any children's collection strong in environmental and recycling books, presenting a message with a difference for young readers ages 7-10. It opens with a history of the Earth in which animals and humans live in harmony with the environment. As time passes and relationships change, Earth develops a fever (global warming), and a group of environmentally-conscious kids decide to investigate the situation and help the planet heal. As the diverse group of concerned young citizens contemplates the problem, they feel empowered by joining together. These hopeful young people try to engage parents and adults in finding a solution, but ultimately decide to use the power of cooperative thinking amongst themselves to begin the process of change. Their library research gives background on how the situation developed - but can kids truly make a difference?

Earth's Climate Heroes says "yes," reinforcing this idea with a series of observations in which these self-appointed 'Climate Heroes' contribute their skills and efforts towards positively changing the world around them. Besides receiving a basic education on climate change, Earth's Climate Heroes excels in reinforcing the idea that kids can be proactive and empowered in their responses to a situation that appears to stymie the adults around them. This approach combines the power of conducting proper research and scientific investigation with the experience and "huge hearts and bold costumes" that the children tap to get the word out about what kids can do to become Climate Heroes.

This story will reach young readers frustrated with adult responses and slow or overly complicated programs, outlining a simple approach to problem-solving that fosters environmental consciousness, from picking up trash to building gardens and planting trees. A glossary of terms concludes and supports the story, but the heart of the message - that kids, too, can be proactive and effective - creates a positive path towards empowerment that focuses not just on the usual science and idea of environmental preservation, but the nuts and bolts of how to actually achieve this. The concluding section on 'How Can You Become An Earth's Climate Hero?' summarizes the key points in a way kids can easily understand. Adults looking for messages kids can pick up and run with will find Earth's Climate Heroes a powerful example of how to reinforce activism and science-based learning, allowing kids to truly make a difference not just individually and as a neighborhood, but as members of the world community.

Albatros Media

Two new picture Albators Media Nature/Ecology books by the team of author/storyteller Pavla Hanackova and artist/illustrator Linh Dao for children ages 5-9 are especially recommended picks for family, elementary school, and community library collections.

"Take Me Home: Forests of the World" (9788000059457, $14.95, HC, 26pp) is a compilation of succinct facts about forests from around the globe, pointing out the animals and plants found in them, as well as the unique features and inner workings of these environments. It will take children around the world as they get to know different types of forests and its inhabitants as well as plant. Animal friends will join them on this informative picture book journey. The animals will have adventures of a lifetime as they want to get to the home they belong to. But what if they don't know where their home is? Luckily, they have Charlie. He'll accompany them on their journey to see and discover various forests to find which one is the right one for each of them. And what happens after they reach their final destination? The animals will love to tell the young reader on a journey where they will learn many new things!

"Take Me Home: Waters of the World" (9788000059440, $14.95, HC, 26pp) is a delightfully entertaining and informative compendium facts about bodies of water from around the globe, pointing out the animals and plants found in them, as well as the unique features and inner workings of these environments ranging from polar waters to the Amazon river -- and finding out which one is the right one for each of them, as well as what happens after they reach their final destination!

The Middle Grade Fiction Shelf

Marcus Makes a Movie
Kevin Hart, author
David Cooper, illustrator
9780593179147, $16.99 hc / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Marcus is NOT happy to be stuck in after-school film class... until he realizes he can turn the story of the cartoon superhero he's been drawing for years into an actual MOVIE! There's just one problem: he has no idea what he's doing. So he'll need help, from his friends, his teachers, Sierra, the strong-willed classmate with creative dreams of her own, even Tyrell, the local bully who'd be a perfect movie villain if he weren't too terrifying to talk to.

Making this movie won't be easy. But as Marcus discovers, nothing great ever is - and if you want your dream to come true, you've got to put in the hustle to make it happen.

Comedy superstar Kevin Hart teams up with award-winning author Geoff Rodkey and lauded illustrator David Cooper for a hilarious, illustrated, and inspiring story about bringing your creative goals to life and never giving up, even when nothing's going your way.

Critique: Award-winning actor and comedian Kevin Hart presents Marcus Makes a Movie, the story of an African-American boy who realizes that participating in after-school film class offers a golden opportunity - the chance to transform the cartoon superhero he's been drawing for years into a movie! A cheerful, upbeat adventure intended for young readers ages 8-12, Marcus Makes a Movie is especially recommended for school and public library Middle Grade Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Marcus Makes a Movie is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Siegfried: The Liberator of Germania
John Eklund
9781532095153, $28.99 Paperback
9781532095177, $38.99 Hardcover
B085D95JBG, $3.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Just over two thousand years ago a great hero liberated his people from the clutches of the Roman Empire, defeating the Romans in the most decisive battle in world history and forever changing the course of Western Civilization. Although his Latin name, Arminius, was recorded by prominent Roman historians, there was surprisingly no mention of him in the later discovered sagas of his own Norse people. Yet, the Norse and Germanic legends from Iceland to Austria all tell of a mythical dragon slayer named Siegfried, who was noble and brave, and who shared many similarities with the true to life warrior Arminius.

Is it possible that the greatest hero in Norse literature was purely mythological, and that the one true historical hero, who saved his people and generations of their descendants from slavery, was completely forgotten? The only logical conclusion is that the dragon slayer Siegfried is the mythical transformation of the historical Arminius. Without a doubt, his victory over the Romans in the Teutoburg forest in the year AD 9 was a feat worthy of legendary status. This is his story? the saga of Siegfried, Liberator of Germania.

Critique: Written for middle grade readers, yet possessing an inherent appeal that transcends ages, Siegfried: The Liberator of Germania is a fictional saga drawn from the theory that the legendary Germanic hero who liberated his people from the Roman Empire and the mythological dragon slayer of Norse legend could have been the same person. A handful of color illustrations enhance this captivating story of war, heroism, and hope. Siegfried: The Liberator of Germania is highly recommended, especially for youth fiction collections and connoisseurs of mythology retold.

Cooper's Story: A Puppy Tale
W. Bruce Cameron
9781250163387, $16.99 Hardcover
B08GJRKMKK, $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: When Cooper - a Malamute-Great Dane puppy - is taken to an adoption fair, he finds the perfect forever home with a boy named Burke. Soon Cooper discovers his very important purpose: to help Burke by pulling his wheelchair, fetching things for him, and assisting him in and out of his chair.

Cooper's Story is an uplifting new Puppy Tale in the popular series by #1 New York Times bestselling author W. Bruce Cameron.

Critique: Cooper's Story: A Puppy Tale is a novel written especially for young readers 8-12, although the heartwarming story will appeal to dog lovers of all ages. Cooper's Story is told from the perspective of Cooper, a malamute-Great Dane puppy who is adopted for a special purpose. As a helper dog for the boy Burke, it's Cooper's job to fetch things on cue, assist Burke in and out of his wheelchair, and go to school with Burke. Then. Burke no longer seems to need Cooper as much. What's the purpose of a helper dog when no help is needed? A delightful doggy tale, Cooper's Story is highly recommended especially for school and public library YA fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Cooper's Story is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The YA Fiction Shelf

One Great Lie
Deb Caletti
Simon & Schuster
9781534463172, $19.99 hc / $10.99 Kindle

Synopsis: When Charlotte wins a scholarship to a writing workshop in Venice with the charismatic and brilliant Luca Bruni, it's a dream come true. Writing is her passion, she loves Bruni's books, and going to that romantic and magical sinking city gives her the chance to solve a long-time family mystery about a Venetian poet deep in their lineage, Isabella Di Angelo, who just might be the real author of a very famous poem.

Bruni's villa on the eerie island of La Calamita is extravagant - lush beyond belief, and the other students are both inspiring and intimidating. Venice itself is beautiful, charming, and seductive, but so is Luca Bruni. As his behavior becomes increasingly unnerving, and as Charlotte begins to unearth the long-lost work of Isabella with the help of sweet, smart Italian Dante, other things begin to rise, too - secrets about the past, and secrets about the present.

As the events of the summer build to a shattering climax, Charlotte will be forced to confront some dark truths about the history of powerful men - and about the determination of creative girls - in this stunning new novel from award-winning author Deb Caletti.

Critique: A thoughtful novel that will appeal to young adults and adults alike, One Great Lie follows a young, aspiring author whose dreamlike acceptance to a writing workshop in Venice, Italy turns into a much darker experience. Charlotte loves to write, and relishes the chance to learn from the brilliant and talented Luca Bruni. Yet meeting the charismatic man in person, and searching for answers about a historical Venetian poet, leads to troublesome discoveries. Could a relatively unknown woman have been the true author of a famous historical poem? Secrets of the past and cover-ups of the present intertwine, in this emotional saga about creativity and control, recommended especially for public and high school library YA fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that One Great Lie is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

When We Were Strangers
Alex Richards
Bloomsbury Children's Books
9781547603640, $17.99, HC, 304pp

Seventeen-year-old Evie Parker is devastated in the wake of her father's sudden death. But she knows something her mother doesn't: the day of his heart attack, her dad was planning to move out. After finding his packed bags, an impulsive Evie puts everything away to spare her mom more heartache.

To make matters worse, Evie soon learns the reason her father was going to leave: he had been dating his twenty-two-year-old receptionist, Bree, who is now six months pregnant. Desperate to distract herself, Evie signs up for a summer photography class, where she meets a motley crew of students, including quirky and adorable Declan. Still, Evie can't stop thinking about her father's mistress. Armed with a telephoto lens, she caves in to her curiosity, and what starts as a little bit of spying on Bree quickly becomes full-blown stalking. And when an emergency forces Evie to help Bree, she learns there's more to the story than she ever knew.

"When We Were Strangers" by author Alex Richards is a riveting new YA novel about betrayal, complicated family secrets, and getting to the heart of what matters -- ultimately asking teenage readers just how far they'd be willing to go to unravel a dark family truth. While highly recommended for middle school, high school, and community library Contemporary YA Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "When We Were Strangers" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Shadows Over London
Christian Klaver
Camcat Books
9780744303766, $24.99, HC, 320pp

Justice Kasric's world is turned upside down when her father forcibly bundles the entire family into carriages in the middle of the night and carts them off to a strange mansion on the outskirts of London. The Faerie are invading-and the Kasric siblings don't even have a chance to stay neutral, because different members of their family are working for opposite sides.

But Justice isn't your average fifteen-year-old girl growing up in Victorian London. She's an irrepressible scoundrel, and she always has a plan. These qualities have ostracized her from the rest of the family before now, but even her older siblings look to her to help them escape. Justice certainly isn't going to stay locked up once she discovers the world of Faerie, especially once she and her siblings discover magical talents they never knew they had.

Critique: Original, carefully crafted, and impressively entertaining from first page to last, "Shadows Over London" by author/storyteller Christian Klaver is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to Middle School, High School, and community library YA Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated fantasy fans that "Shadows Over London" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780744303438, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

This Poison Heart
Kalynn Bayron
Bloomsbury YA
9781547603909, $18.99, HC, 384pp

Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch. When Briseis's aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined--it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri's unique family lineage.

When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri's sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it -- until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.

A deeply compelling and compulsive page turner of a story about a young woman with the power to conquer the dark forces descending around her, "The Poison Heart" by novelist Kalynn Bayron is an especially recommended addition to middle school, high school, and community library YA Fiction collections for ages 13-17. It should be noted for the personal reading lists that "The Poison Heart" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781526632791, $12.61) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.11).

The Activity Shelf

Inside the Suitcase
Clotilde Perrin
Gecko Press
9781776573431, $21.99, HC, 20pp

"Inside the Suitcase" is that story of how, once upon a time in a little house behind the hills, a boy packs his suitcase for a long journey. Children ages 3-8 will enjoy Lifting the flaps "Inside the Suitcase" to see what he takes, and travel with him over oceans and mountains, under water and into the forest. With every step on this voyage of obstacles, the boy faces a decision that will lead to a new adventure and help him get home. Young readers will delight in delving ever deeper into each page and will always remember what's in the suitcase! Part puzzle, part fairy tale, this is a magical adventure from the mischievous French author and illustrator Clotilde Perrin's interactive picture book story is particularly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.

Shadowbox Hunt, second edition
Laura Seeley
All About Kids Publishing
9781733046886, $25.00, HC, 36pp

Now in a new second edition (and just like the original edition), "Shadowbox Hunt" by Laura Seeley showcases a dozen lushly detailed and museum quality paintings covering 12 different subjects ("Colors", "Mammals", "Food", "Numbers", "Shapes", "Opposites", "Birds", "Letters", "Your Five Senses", "Reptiles", "Fish & Amphibians", "Telling Time" & "Bugs & Blossoms") with each being intricately presented in a shadowbox format.

Offering hours of inherently fascinating entertainment for children ages 6-8 (and adults from 20 to 105), "Shadowbox Hunt" provides a unique and extraordinary 'Search & Find' experience and one that will make it an immediately and enduringly popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Children's Activity collections.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor
Shaenon K. Garrity, author
Christopher Baldwin, illustrator
Margaret K. McElderry Books
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
9781534460867 $14.99 pbk / $10.99 Kindle

Synopsis: One dark and stormy night, Haley sees a stranger drowning in the river. Since her greatest passion is Gothic romance novels, she knows her moment has come. But when Haley leaps into the water to rescue the stranger, she awakens in Willowweep. It certainly looks like the setting of one of her favorite books: A stately manor. A sinister housekeeper. Three brooding brothers. There's even a ghost.

Except Willowweep is not what it seems. Its romantic exterior hides the workings of a pocket universe - the only protection our world has against a great force of penultimate evil, and its defenses are crumbling. Could cruel fate make Haley the heroine that Willowweep needs?

Critique: The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor is a full-color graphic novel intended for young adults, yet with an enduring appeal that transcends generations. A young woman with a passion for Gothic stories finds herself drawn into a pocket dimension that resembles her favorite literary genre. Can she navigate tropes made manifest to vanquish a horrifying evil? The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor is a reality-warping read, thoroughly enjoyable from cover to cover, and highly recommended especially for school and public library graphic novel collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark
Adapted by Jenny Laird
Illustrated by Kelly & Nichole Matthews
Random House Books for Young Readers
9780593174715 $9.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark transforms the first chapter book of Mary Pope Osborne's "Magic Tree House" series into a full-color graphic novel, adapted by Jenny Laird and beautifully illustrated by Kelly & Nichole Matthews. The adventure follows two young adults, Jack and Annie, who discover a mysterious treehouse filled with books and magic. The treehouse takes both of them into the prehistoric past, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth! Jack and Annie need to figure out how to get home... and maybe learn a few things in the process, both about dinosaurs and about cooperating with each other! Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark is a wonderful way to encourage young people to read, and a choice pick for both school and public library graphic novel collections. Highly recommended!

Long Distance
Whitney Gardner
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
9781534455658, $14.99 paperback
9781534455665, $21.99 hardcover
B08LDTWZ7B, 10.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Vega's summer vacation is not going well.

When her parents decide it's time to pack up and leave her hometown of Portland, Oregon, behind for boring Seattle, Washington, Vega is more than upset - she's downright miserable. Forced to leave her one and only best friend, Halley, behind, Vega is convinced she'll never make another friend again.

To help her settle into her new life in Seattle, her parents send Vega off to summer camp to make new friends. Except Vega is determined to get her old life back. But when her cellphone unexpectedly calls it quits and things at camp start getting stranger and stranger, Vega has no choice but to team up with her bunkmates to figure out what's going on!

Critique: Long Distance is a colorful graphic novel written for young adults, yet its charm and heartwarming humor will appeal to readers of all ages. Vega is a nine-year-old girl with a passion for astronomy, who is distraught when her Dads move to another city... and she has to leave her one and only best friend, Halley, behind. Vega's parents send her to a summer camp designed to help kids build friendships, but Vega just wants her old friend and her old life back. Then things at the camp take a turn for the weird; as things get more and more bizarre, Vega is forced to team up with her camp bunkmates! Long Distance is a delightfully engaging adventure touching upon the all-too-common dilemma of being separated from one's friends. Highly recommended, especially for public and school library young adult graphic novel collections.

The Smurfs Tales #1: The Smurfs and The Bratty Kid
9781545806197 $14.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: On the occasion of the all-new animated TV series starting on Nick this September, an all-new series of Smurfs graphic novels! The Smurfs are back in new stories in English for the first time!

First, when Papa Smurf's stork gets wounded in a storm, he must rely on the kindness of a local farmer to nurse the stork back to flying condition. A different kind of storm arrives in the shape of Johnny, the nephew of the farmer. The boy is as aggressive as his uncle is friendly. Making his way to the Smurfs Village, Johnny leaves a path of destruction in his wake, putting the whole village in jeopardy. Plus, tales of the Smurfs on vacation! Plus, there's plenty of medieval action and adventure from the king's page (and loyal ally to the Smurfs) Johan his silly sidekick, the mischievous jester Peewit, go off on an adventure featuring Papa Smurf. Plus, even more smurfs comic strips to add some blue and brighten any day.

Critique: The Smurfs Tales #1: The Smurfs and The Bratty Kid is a full-color graphic novel of short stories and comic strips featuring the lovable, iconic little blue folks in brand-new adventures! Brimming with adventure and humor that will make readers of all ages chuckle, The Smurfs and The Bratty Kid is especially recommended for public library graphic novel collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Smurfs and The Bratty Kid is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Audiobook Shelf

Little Gem
Anna Zobel
Read by Olivia Beardsley
Oakhill Children's Audiobooks
c/o Ulverscroft
9781399101448 $TBA

Synopsis: When her spell at Witchcraft School goes wrong, Gem lands in an unfamiliar, empty cottage, outside a strange, colourful town. Everyone in Ellsworth Pining thinks Gem is their new village witch, even when Gem tries to correct them. And Gem's new friends do need her. The Weather Worker is missing, and there are tales of a terrifying beast in the woods. Gem might know a spell that could help - if she can get it right.

Critique: Intended for young listeners ages seven and up, Little Gem is an audiobook about a student witch named Gem, who accidentally winds up in a charming town where everyone is convinced that she is their new village witch. When Gem realizes that her new friends need her, she strives her best to help them, despite her own doubts about her powers. Little Gem is a heartwarming story about rising to the occasion, highly recommended for family, school, and public library children's audiobook collections. 3 CDs, 2 hours 30 min.

All Our Hidden Gifts
Caroline O'Donoghue, author
Performed by Alana Kerr Collins
Brilliance Audio
Walker Books
9781713587743 $18.99 9 CDs / $19.99 hc / $2.99 Kindle

Synopsis: After Maeve finds a pack of tarot cards while cleaning out a closet during her in-school suspension, she quickly becomes the most sought-after diviner at St. Bernadette's Catholic school. But when Maeve's ex-best friend, Lily, draws an unsettling card called The Housekeeper that Maeve has never seen before, the session devolves into a heated argument that ends with Maeve wishing aloud that Lily would disappear. When Lily isn't at school the next Monday, Maeve learns her ex-friend has vanished without a trace.

Shunned by her classmates and struggling to preserve a fledgling romance with Lily's gender-fluid sibling, Roe, Maeve must dig deep into her connection with the cards to search for clues the police cannot find?even if they lead to the terrifying Housekeeper herself. Set in an Irish town where the church's tight hold has loosened and new freedoms are trying to take root, this sharply contemporary story is witty, gripping, and tinged with mysticism.

Critique: Written by Caroline O'Donoghue and superbly performed by Alana Kerr Collins, All Our Hidden Gifts is an audiobook for young adults about the bonds between friends, and former friends. When schoolgirl Maeve Chambers discovers a dusty set of tarot cards, she uses them to give readings, which are popular at first. Then Lily, a girl who used to be Maeve's best friend before Maeve betrayed their friendship in an incident that still haunts Maeve, is goaded into accepting a tarot reading. Something mysterious related to the cards causes Lily to disappear, and Maeve must defy supernatural forces to bring her back! Fortunately, Maeve has help from two classmates, the resourceful Fiona and Lily's cryptic older sibling Rose, in this reality-bending modern-day fable. All Our Hidden Gifts is captivating to the end, and highly recommended especially for school and public library children's audiobook collections. 9 CDs, 10 hours. It should be noted for personal reading lists that All Our Hidden Gifts is also available in hardcover (Walker Books, $19.99) and a Kindle edition ($2.99).

The Music CD Shelf

You Are Magic
Alison Faith Levy
Strange Little Girl Music
$12.00 CD / $10.00 digital

You Are Magic is a delightful, family-friendly album of retro-inspired pop songs designed to inspire a spiritual discussion between parents and children. Although not expressly religious, the songs ponder fundamental questions about values, humanity's purpose, what people can do to make the world a better place, and more. You Are Magic is a joy to share, and highly recommended for both family and public library music collections. The tracks are Roots & Branches, Turn Around, You Are Magic, Putting It Back Together, Draw, Canopy, The Gift, Now is the Moment, and Leaves & Sky. 26 min.

Family Tree
Privately Published
$TBA CD / $14.49 MP3

Family Tree is a family-friendly music CD by Bronx-based music artist Fyutch, with contributions from guest music artists. The songs advocate social justice, celebrate accomplishments in Black history, cherish family bonds, and much more. Family Tree is heartwarming, inspirational, and highly recommended for both personal and public library family music collections. The tracks are Grandpa Charles, Family Reunion, Black Women In History, Juneteenth, Pick It Up, Great Aunt Alberta, Family Tree, Song For Mama, Indigenous Peoples' Day Remix, Empathy, Graduation Bop, Aunty Sheila, Apple Of My Eye, My Crown, This Kwanzaa, and Aura Is Cool

Sonia De Los Santos
Privately Published
$TBA CD / $9.49 MP3

Esperanza is a bilingual music album for the whole family, featuring beautiful English and Spanish vocals to original songs brimming with hope, love for community, and the joy of discovery. Heartwarming and delightful, Esperanza is a wonderful addition to family music collections. The tracks are Esperanza, Quiero Que Nueva York Sea Mi Casa, Fan-Dan-Go, Chichimoco, Lluvia, Suena, Ya Llego, Fiesta, Fiesta!, This Land Is Also Mine, El Armadillo Redovero, Luciernaga, and This Year.

The Sports Shelf

The Young Cyclist's Companion
Peter Drinkell, author
Thomas Slater, illustrator
Cicada Books
9781908714961, $16.99 Hardcover
B095L1G51R, $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Who doesn't remember what it feels like to be a young person on a bike. Cycling offers kids an unrivaled freedom and independence. With global cycling trends on a new, post-pandemic high, ever more young people are experiencing the joys of the beautiful machine.

This book is aimed at young people who are already proficient cyclists and are keen to learn more. It explains all the basics: How to choose a bike (types of bike, getting the right fit), basic maintenance (changing a tire, cleaning your bike), cycling techniques (pedaling, gearing, cornering, bunny hops) and next level cycling (competitions and training).

Alongside these informative texts there is a cornucopia of facts and trivia about the unusual habits of famous cyclists, the weirdest, biggest, furthest and longest bikes and journeys, the most useful cycling life-hacks, etc. This multi-layering of information makes this an inspirational read on many levels.

Critique: Even though The Young Cyclist's Companion features easy-to-follow text pepped with a wealth of color photographs and simple illustrations, it's packed cover to cover practical tips and useful advice that novice cyclists of all ages will find useful. From how to adjust bicycle brakes or mend tire punctures, to cycling techniques for descending, cornering, gearing and more, to recommended cycling gear and safety guidelines for group riding, The Young Cyclist's Companion is brimming with useful and potentially lifesaving information. The Young Cyclist's Companion is a "must-have" for any young adult who owns or is learning to ride a bicycle, and highly recommended especially for school and public library children's collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Young Cyclist's Companion is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Christian Shelf

Saint Spotting (Or How to Read a Church)
Chris Raschka
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
4035 Park East Ct. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
9780802855213, $17.99

Saint Spotting (Or How to Read a Church) is a picture book consideration of saints, symbols, and Christian images that invites young readers to understand the different images and stories of the saints. Colorful drawings of each saint accompanies a short sketch of their lives and meaning, making this picture book the perfect starting point for adults seeking to teach the young to understand and recognize both Christian religious figures and their representation and teachings.

The Religion/Spirituality Shelf

Guru Nanak: First of the Sikhs
World Wisdom
1501 E. Hillside Dr., Bloomington, IN 47401
9781937786892, $17.95

Guru Nanak: First of the Sikhs tells of the founder of the Sikh religion and his life, and is a picture book recommended for a wide age range. From how he absorbed spiritual lessons form his Hindu teacher at age five and learned about the rituals which would appease the gods to his enlightened responses to his lessons and how he forged his own path to spiritual understanding, kids with good reading skills or adults who wish to impart the basic tenants of the Sikh belief system in general and Guru Nanak's life in general will find this a colorful biographical and spiritual sketch. Demi's lovely drawings add to and embellish the journey.

The Story Monsters Ink Shelf

Story Monsters LLC is dedicated to helping authors of all genres strive for excellence through our marketing and publicity services, Dragonfly Book Awards contests, Story Monsters Approved! awards program, opportunities for connecting with schools, and the award-winning Story Monsters Ink(R) magazine.

Hello, Garden!
Katherine Pryor, author
Rose Soini, illustrator
Schiffer Kids
9780764361098, $9.99

Diana Perry

This is the perfect board book. Unlike many books for this age group, I found it to be complete in every way. It doesn't just tell little ones what vegetables grow in a garden, it shows what else you can find in a garden like butterflies and caterpillars. Due to the wide variety of interesting subjects, I also see how this book will encourage little ones to want to learn to read. I found it a treasure guaranteed to instill a love of reading in any child. (Ages baby+)

Ruffles and the Red, Red Coat
David Melling
Nosy Crow
9781536220216, $14.99

Lori Orlinsky

Ruffles the dog is like a typical toddler. He likes a lot of things - howling, fetching and sleeping - but oddly enough, he just doesn't like his red coat - even on rainy days! So when he goes out with his pup pal, Ruby, on the rainiest of days, he finds he may have been a bit stubborn, and the red coat actually makes him happy. Kids will love Ruffle's childlike personality the sequential illustrations.
(Ages 2-5)

Punk the Skunk Learns to Say Sorry
Misty Black, author
Ana Rankovic, illustrator
Berry Patch Press
9781951292119, $11.99

Lori Orlinsky

Punk the Skunk is a bit of a bully, frequently engaging in what he believed to be harmless
teasing. But one day, in an effort to impress his friends, Punk upped the antics, eventually leaving Punk alone with no one to play with. Punk soon learns an important lesson about how to be a good friend. A good conversation starter about bullying. (Ages 2-8)

How to Apologize
David LaRochelle, author
Mike Wohnoutka, illustrator
Candlewick Press
9781536209440, $16.99

Lori Orlinsky

How many times have we told our children to say they're sorry? How to Apologize is a concept book packed with silly scenarios (a porcupine that pops his friend's balloon to a giraffe who borrows a worm's socks without permission) and illustrations to help kids understand why saying sorry is the right thing to do, and how best to say it. (Ages 3-7)

Mi Casa Is My Home
Laurenne Sala, author
Zara Gonzalez Hoang, illustrator
9781536209433, $16.99

Christine Irvin

Author Laurenne Sala introduces young readers to the Spanish language by mixing many Spanish words into the story's text. Lively, colorful illustrations, and an interesting subject matter will keep youngsters turning the pages. (Ages 3-7)

Helen Yoon
9781536207316, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Kids will have a good chuckle when they get to the end of this book. A young girl goes into her daddy's office even though she knows it's "off limits." Of course, she gets into his stuff and makes a mess. But she gets an unexpected surprise when she goes back to her own room. (Ages 3-7)

Time for Bed, Old House
Janet Costa Bates, author
A.G. Ford, illustrator
9781536209983, $16.99

Christine Irvin

When Isaac spends his first night away from home at Grandpop's house, he is very apprehensive about going to sleep in a different house. But Grandpop has a unique solution to that problem. Any child who has ever had to sleep away from home will understand Isaac's fears as Grandpop gets him ready for bed. (Ages 3-7)

God's Coming to Visit!
Franz Hubner, author
Angela Glokler and Rea Grit Zielinski, illustrators
Flyaway Books
9781947888289, $18.00

Darleen Wohlfeil

The illustrations in this story are simply as sweet and amazing as the message itself! Please take time to enjoy them. This timeless reminder gives us a chance to chuckle at ourselves, and to remember the things that really matter. Every home and church bookstore should be sure it has a sufficient number lined upon their shelves! Truly delightful! (Ages 3-7)

We Are One: How the World Adds Up
Susan Hood, author
Linda Yan, illustrator
9781536201147, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Count to 10 along with your kids as you learn about the world (and the things in it) together. Combining a counting book with facts and trivia in the text, filling it with expressive, kid-friendly illustrations, and providing a reference section with additional information at the end of the book makes for a winning combination for everyone. (Ages 3-7)

Alis the Aviator
Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail, author
Kalpna Patel, illustrator
Tundra Books
9781101919057, $17.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

This very accurate historical approach to learning the ABC's will surely delight any aviation fan of any age! From Avro Arrow to Zeppelin, Alis leads you not only through the alphabet, but on a fun tour through a virtual aviation museum. Named for Dr. Alis Kennedy, one of the first female Canadian commercial pilots. (Ages 3-7)

Maisy's Chinese New Year
Lucy Cousins
9781536215649, $12.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

A wonderfully illustrated picture book describing the Chinese New Year. Maisy invites all her friends to celebrate with her. Presents to bring happiness and luck, lucky red money packets, stories to share, and a big bright firework display to end the evening. (Ages 3-7)

Sadie Sprocket Builds a Rocket
Sue Fliess, author
Annabel Tempest, illustrator
Two Lions
9781542018036, $17.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

The contributions that women have made in science is rarely taught. Sadie is the first to Mars and soon reaches to fame. I recommend Sadie's adventure into space to encourage young girls and boys to share in their science adventures into space. (Ages 3-7)

Sam Usher
9781536220001, 17.99

Christine Irvin

A young boy finds out that there might be more to taking care of a cat than just playing, feeding, and cuddling with them. The cat they are keeping for the day takes them on a "wild" adventure. Minimal text and expressive illustrations make this a perfect choice for young readers. (Ages 3-7)

Little Sock
Kia Heise and Christopher D. Park
Sleeping Bear Press
9781534110052, $14.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

Some of us find comfort in routine. Always knowing what to expect out of our day, a situation, or even our lives. The more we can settle into a controlled environment, the safer we feel. But some like Little Sock, wearies with the same old thing day after day. He longs for adventure beyond his normal routine, and he takes a chance to dare and believe. Follow him in his brave search as you read this encouraging story. (Ages 4-5)

Dogs Love Cars
Leda Schubert, author
Paul Meisel, illustrator
9781536203097, $17.99

Christine Irvin

From the yard to the park, from school to the market, from one end of the day to the next, dogs are full of joy. Dogs love cars and walks and napping and people and a host of other things. The book is filled with great kid-friendly illustrations, and joyous, descriptive text. Share this delightful book with anyone who loves dogs. (Ages 4-8)

Hat Cat
Troy Wilson, author
Eve Coy, illustrator
9781536213669, $17.99

Christine Irvin

An endearing look at the special relationship between a stray cat and an old man, written with tenderness and understanding, and illustrated with expressive watercolor illustrations that work
perfectly with the text. (Ages 4-8)

The Rock from the Sky
Jon Klassen
9781536215625, $18.99

Christine Irvin

Part picture book, part chapter book (with four chapters), this book has minimal text and suggestive illustrations that will amuse young readers as they read the words, study the pictures, and try to figure out what will happen next. (Ages 4-8)

The Tallest Tree House
Elly MacKay
Running Press Kids
9780762462995, $16.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

Mip and Pip are two very likable fairies with one big message! Competition, get ahead quick, and bigger and faster are not always better, are some of the great issues to be gleaned from this story. Along with the joys that can be found when friends work together! (Ages 4-8)

Lili's Seasons
Lucie Albon
Schiffer Books
9780764361043, $9.99

Diana Perry

Discover the imaginative world of the On the Fingertips series with Lili Mouse and her friend Henri. Dive into each season with these two lovable mice as they go apple picking, throw snowballs, dig in the garden, and play in the golden sand. Beginning readers will love the activity pages in back that teaches them how to draw, how seasons affect the leaves on the trees, and examples of things to draw from birds and leaves to acorns and flowers. (Ages 5-8)

Lili's Colors
Lucie Albon
Schiffer Books
9780764361036, $9.99

Diana Perry

Notes of humor and poetry echo in their dialogue as these two lovable mice playfully use descriptive words to bring each color to life. From red and blue to gray and pink, learn about colors, shapes, and spatial relationships and how they make up our surroundings. Little readers will love the story but will spend endless days perfecting their art with the lessons that teach on their level. A must for every pre-school, kindergarten, and home school classroom. (Ages 5-8)

Walrus Song
Janet Lawler, author
Timothy Basil Ering, illustrator
9781536207552, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Lyrical text, kid-friendly illustrations, and a subject matter that kids will enjoy are sure to make this a favorite in any household. Youngsters who are interested in walruses will be able to learn more about them from the additional information the author has included at the back of the book. (Ages 5-8)

When We Say Black Lives Matter
Maxine Beneba Clarke
9781536222388, $16.99

Christine Irvin

This wonderful picture book teaches youngsters what the phrase "Black Lives Matter" really means, using evocative and descriptive language, as well as illustrations that resonate with the text. (Ages 6-9)

Megabat and the Not-Happy Birthday
Anna Humphrey, author
Kass Reich, illustrator
Tundra Books
9780735266049, $12.99

Diana Perry

It's Daniel's birthday, and Megabat wants to join in all the fun, but his excitement gets the best of him and suddenly the birthday celebrations are on the brink of disaster. Young Readers from first to third grades will really bond with this very fun-to-read chapter book. I loved the first one and hope to read all Megabat stories to come. (Ages 7-10)

Ducks Overboard! A True Story of Plastic in Our Oceans
Markus Motum
9781536217728, $17.99

Christine Irvin

Young readers can learn about how plastic is polluting our water by following the story of 28,000 plastic ducks that spilled into the Pacific Ocean from a shipping container. The author includes two pages of interesting and helpful information in the back of the book. This book would make a great addition to a school library and would be helpful when students are learning about ocean pollution. (Ages 7-10)

Thinklers! 4: Full-Color Brain Ticklers
Kevin J. Brougher and Lisa M. Santa Cruz
Missing Piece Press
9780997795929, $16.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

A fun workout for the senses! And a great way to fill those quiet moments of boredom. Over 200 visuals are displayed to clean out those mental cogs in the brain, and surely dispel any fog that may linger there. Each picture stimulates thought and recall. Think you will be able to succeed in figuring out all these What's the Word? puzzles? It will create a fun time trying! (Ages 8+)

Mystery Club (Wild Werewolves/Mummy Mischief)
Davide Cali and Yannick Robert
HMH Books
9781328550439, $9.99

Christine Irvin

Two stories in one graphic novel. In the first one, a mysterious stranger has posed a question about monsters in London, leading the Mystery Club on an adventure around London to figure out if the legend is true. And in the second story, when train passengers see a mummy on the metro, the Club springs into action once again, chasing down clues to figure out if the mummy sighting was real. This is a great two-for-one book for those who love both a good mystery and a good graphic novel. (Ages 8-12)

A Small Zombie Problem
K. G. Campbell
Knopf Books
9780553539585, $7.99

Christine Irvin

Celebrated illustrator K.G. Campbell brings a touch of Tim Burton to this singularly strange and wonderful story about a lonely boy whose life is about to get a whole lot more complicated when a zombie follows him home. Reading this first book will leave you "hungry" for more. (Ages 8-12)

Blood and Silver
Vali Benson
Tellwell Talent
9780228827542, $11.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

This story has a little bit of everything, history, discovery, love, and hardship. In the 1800s, gold and silver were discovered. Amid the hopes of prosperity, a small makeshift town of Tombstone, Arizona was struggling with cultural mistrusts. Throughout this entertaining story, one thought prevailed. Sincerity and honest respect was a power that crossed all barriers. A young girl, open to change, desperate for help, unscripted in political correctness, was able to reach beyond the differences and create lasting bonds of love and respect that transformed lives. A lesson well worth learning! (Ages 12+)

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design