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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 12 December 2005 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice American History Shelf Woodworking Shelf
Railroading Shelf Military Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Fiction Shelf Holiday Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Environmental Shelf Audiobook Shelf Library Video/DVD Shelf
Books in Series Gardening Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

The Sea Monster
Chris Wormell
Jonathan Cape/Trafalgar Square
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, North Pomfret, VT 05053-0257
0224070258 $16.99 1-800-423-4525

A great sea monster lives at the bottom of the sea: but one day he swims to shore and begins his adventure on land. When a young boy finds a deep pool at the beach he discovers himself stranded when the sea takes his boat - and the sea monster finds a new toy to enjoy. A fun sea story with a different twist to its ending.

Thomson Gale
27500 Drake Rd., Farmington Hills MI 48331-3535

Four drug titles will reach grades 4-7 with important information suitable for reports. The 'At Issue' coverage Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (0737722592, $19.95) packs in a range of opinions pro and con about various aspects of ADHD. From issues of diagnosis and treatment to TV usage and forced drugging, this is perfect for classroom debates. Heather Moehn Mirman's Issues In Drug Abuse (1590180356, $28.70) joins others in Lucent's 'Contemporary Issues' series, discussing issues relating to drug abuse, from the racial discrimination issue surrounding drug testing to its relevance in schools. Great for classroom debate. Karen Balkin edits Drug Legalization (0737722037, $23.70), presents pro/con arguments about legalizing drugs, from America's heritage of liberties to why legalization may not indicate approval. Laura Engendorf edits Medical Ethics (0737722134, $23.70), a thought-provoking survey of miracle treatments, options, and issues. From federal funding and payment sources for medical procedures and medicines to issues of cloning and organ harvesting, Medical Ethics surveys cutting edge controversies. Mary Williams edits Epidemics (0737722-835), surveying issues surrounding epidemics and their control. From mandatory immunization requirements and civil liberties to testing and health policy, Epidemics provides plenty of food for thought.

The First Teddy Bear
Helen Kay
Stemmer House Books
4 White Brook Road, Gilsum, NH 03448
088045153X $11.95 1-800-345-6665

The First Teddy Bear is an informative and entertaining read which deserves ongoing and continuing recommendation as a fine classic story of just how the first teddy bear was created. 38 pages of detailed text pair Susan Detwiler's expert drawings with the real story of a president's involvement in the first teddy bear.

Tsunami: Monster Waves
Mary Dodson Wade
PO Box 398, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
0766017869 $23.93

This newly updated edition of a prior classic includes amateur video footage of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, enhancing and providing contemporary details to an overall coverage of the science and effects of tsunamis. A bibliography, glossary, Internet resources and more pack lots of detail into 64 pages, while color photos abound.

Artificial Intelligence
Anne Rooney
Chrysalis Education
1980 Lookout Drive, North Mankato, MN 56003
1593891237 $29.95

Plenty of books on this topic have appeared for older readers, so it's refreshing to find one for grades 4-6: a 48-page primer packed with information yet written for younger audiences. Artificial Intelligence is part of the 'Tomorrow's Science' series and it pairs vivid color photos with plenty of facts on the topic, plus sidebars of 'case studies', 'ask yourself', and vivid contemporary details. Artificial Intelligence is simply perfect for reports - and something very different from the norm.

Leopold, The Liar Of Leipzig
Francine Prose
1350 Avenue of Americas, NY NY 10019
0060080752 $15.99

Leopold, The Liar Of Leipzig, Einav Aviram's engaging and lively drawings illustrate the zany tale of the people of Leipzig, who marvel at Leopold's amazing tales about wonders of the world. His far-fetched stories has entertained generations - and everyone believed they were true, until a great scientist and explorer arrives in Leipzig and accuses him of being a liar.

All Rivers Flow To the Sea
Alison McGhee
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140
0763625914 $15.99

Teen Rose can't help but relive the accident that left her older sister in a coma: her efforts to resolve or distract herself from the memories aren't working, and her family and friends are no help. Slowly she finds ways of working through her haunting memories in All Rivers Flow To the Sea, a first-person story of recovery.

What Can I Do Today?
Allison Stoutland & Cathy Hofner
Inch by Inch Publications
PO Box 15, Okemos, MI 48805
0967094135 $16.95

The collaborative and highly recommended work of author Allison Stoutland and illustrator Cathy Hofner, What Can I Do Today?: To Make This World A Happier Place shows young readers how a child's lemonade stand sets off a chain-reaction of kind deeds and unassuming actions which expands from the neighborhood into the broader community and beyond, "happying" hearts and lives along the way. The simple one-line text and on-page picture format makes What Can I Do Today? a perfect combination for entertaining beginning readers and has the added attraction of a worthwhile message that each and every one of us can make the world a happier place by our everyday activities.

Jane On A Crane
Jane Dana & Viktor Bakhtin
Green Troubadour Press
E8840 McCoy Road, North Freedom, WI 53951
0976100002 $25.00 1-800-214-8110

Jane On A Crane introduces the museum quality artwork of Victor Bakhtin to an American audience. This is a body of artwork that perfectly enhances Jane Dana's eco-adventure for young readers in a timeless tale about an extraordinary place and fascinating people. Paleo Grus and Jane go to Bhutan, a mystical land where dreams, prophecy and history interweave. This is a place where black-necked cranes return to a young king's domain which is under threat, and a band of foreign outlaws lurk, and a mysterious monastery high on a cliff holds what might be the answer to protecting one of Earth's last unspoiled places and the cranes that depend upon it for their very survival. Strongly recommended for both school and community library collections for young readers, Jane On A Crane is deftly written, beautifully illustrated, and a thoroughly entertaining read.

The American History Shelf

Eldorado Ink
PO Box 100097, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

Decades Of The 20th Century is a simply outstanding ten volume series ($24.95 each) that is especially appropriate for young readers grades 2 through 6. Each individual volume is dedicated to presenting an historical overview of a particular decade of world history beginning with the 1900s and concluding with the 1990s. At the beginning of each volume is a "Key Events of the Decade" box. The concisely informative text is profusely illustrated with historical photography of the people and events that shaped, influenced, and reflected that particular decade. Each volume concludes with a listing of "Winners and Achievers" for that particular decade. Each volume has a definitive index that will prove of especial value for young readers doing preliminary research for school papers. Each volume is specifically designed to stand alone and can be acquired separately (list price $29.95, library price $24.95 each) or as a ten volume set (1-932904-10-7, list price $299.50, library price $249.50). Decades Of The 20th Century is informative, "user friendly", and a core acquisition grade school, community library, and home-schooling 20th century world history reference collections.

The Woodworking Shelf

Woodshop For Kids
Jack McKee & Rusty Keeler
Hands On Books
1117 Lenora Ct., Bellingham, WA 98225
1884894534 $21.95

Written by Jack McKee and illustrated by Rusty Keeler, Woodshop For Kids: 52 Woodworking Projects Kids Can Build is a thoroughly "user friendly" guidebook of creative and entertaining woodworking projects that young people can create, given age-appropriate adult supervision and guidance. Individual chapters include detailed instructions for 52 different projects, from a marble roll to a sailboat letter holder to a step stool; tips on how to find free wood and use woodworking tools safely; advice on acquiring and woodworking tools appropriate for kids; and much more. 179 black-and-white photos and illustrations round out this helpful and constructive guide to a stimulating, family-friendly activity.

The Railroading Shelf

All Aboard!
Susan Kuklin
Orchard Books
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
0439455839 $16.95

Young train fans who enjoy vivid, bright picturebook stories will find All Aboard! A True Train Story captures perfectly the sights, sounds, and travels of some of America's oldest steam engines. Kuklin's color photos provide plenty of close-up and action shots, while dialogue covers both train operations and scenic passages. A lovely 'you are there' train ride.

The Military Shelf

10,000 Days Of Thunder
Philip Caputo
Atheneum/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of Americas, NY, NY 10020
0689862318 $22.95

Kids in grades 5-7 will find 10,000 Days Of Thunder to be a readily accessible survey of the Vietnam War which explores a war which lasted ten thousand days, sparking riots and controversy across America. Here are anecdotes from soldier and civilians, profiles of the actions of leaders, antiwar movements, and sidebars of quick facts paired with full-page maps, black and white and some color photos, and a dynamic coverage of key campaigns and battles: in short, everything a young researcher needs to know about the war.

The Picturebook Shelf

A Pioneer ABC
Mary Alice Downie & Mary Jane Gerber
Tundra Books
75 Sherbourne Street, 5th floor, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P9
0887766889 $15.95 1-800-788-1074

Mary Jane Gerber's museum quality artwork perfectly showcases Mary Alice Downie's alphabet book, A Pioneer ABC. This unique introduction to pioneer history in the form of an ABC book (B is for Bandalore (a forerunner of the yoyo), H is for the Hornbook (the textbook that most children learned to spell with), X is for the eXhaustion of hardworking homesteading families). Each painting is framed by a border in which are placed numerous thematically appropriate items for that particular letter within an historical pioneering context. Detailed background notes on how each item figured in the life of pioneers are provided along with a list of them for young readers to find. Unique, imaginative, and a brilliant approach to children learning their alphabet, A Pioneer ABC is an ideal addition to any preschool, kindergarten, family or community library collection.

Richard C. Owen Publishers
PO Box 585, Katonah, NY 10536

There are fifteen inexpensive, consistently charming, and very highly recommended paperback picturebooks for beginning young readers from Richard C. Owen Publishers this fall. Each is characterized by a simply story, elegantly told, warmly illustrated, entertaining story just right to capture the interest and improve a child's reading skills while inculcating a love of reading. These new titles are $5.00 each and include Beach Feet (1572747501) by Marjorie Jackson (Lynda Cohen, illustrator); Kitty Goes Splash (1572748230) by Merle Roddy Hill (Cathy Diez- Luckie, illustrator); The Paper Bag (1572747560) by Carolyn Ford (Cathy Diez-Luckie, illustrator); How Fox Became Red (15727-4717X) by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss (Kathy O'Malley, illustrator); My Mom's Apron (1572747536) by Claudia Moore O'Brien (Joanne Friar, illustrator); My Favorite Place (1572745355) by Maryellen Heller (Joanne Friar, illustrator); Trick Rabbit (1572747161) by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss (Pat Paris, illustrator); My Name is Erica Montoya de la Cruz (1572747323) by David Zirin (Deborah White, illustrator); The Coral Reef (1572747293) by author and photographer George Robinson; Two Fables Of Aesop (1572747188) by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss (Bruce MacDonald, illustrator); Why Animals Never Got Fire by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss (Bruce MacDonald, illustrator); Hoops And Me (157274751X) by David Furr (Tom Simonton, illustrator); Jeepers (15-72747552) by Craig Rondinone (Tom Simonton, illustrator); The Legend Of Scarface (1572747528) by author and photographer Charles Perry; and The Stone Hat (1572747544) by Douglas Hood (Tom Simonton, illustrator). Reading teachers and story-hour librarians seeking to reward beginning readers in curriculum or contest driven reading encouragement programs would well consider utilizing these inexpensive titles as incentive rewards.

Bee-bim Bop!
Linda Sue Park
Clarion Books
215 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10003
0618265112 $15.00

Bee-bim Bop is a traditional Korean dish: it's also a story about a child cooking with a parent, and it's also a rollicking verse of the experience, under Linda Sue Park's seasoned hand. The recipe's included in the lively story of a child who helps her mother from start to finish - and concluding it all is a kid-friendly version of the theme.

Waking Day
Constance Morgenstern, et al.
NorthWord Press
c/o T&N Children's Publishing, Inc.
Minnetonka, MN 55343
1559719192 $17.95 1-888-255-9989

The text of Waking Day is a poem by Constance Morgenstern and is set off, page by page, line by line, with full color paintings by Claude Monet, Edgar Dega, Vincent van Gogh, John Singer Sargent, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Childe Hassam, Fidelia Bridges, Pierre Bonnard, Berthe Morisot, Theophile Alexandre Steinlen, Frank Weston Benson, Theo van Rysselberghe, and Frederick Carl Frieseke. The result is a deft juxtaposing of 24 exquisite Impressionist paintings paired with the engaging lines of a simple, joyful poem about sunlight. With the inclusion of brief biographical information on each featured artist and the Impressionist period, Waking Day is one of those simply gorgeous picturebooks that will enchant readers from 8 to 80 and is as suitable and recommended for school and community library collections as it is for the family artbook shelf.

There's A Crocodile Under My Bed!
Ingrid & Dieter Schubert
Front Street
862 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806
1932425489 $15.95 1-877-512-8366

Mom and Dad are about to go out for the evening and poor Peggy is facing a crocodile under her bed. Luckily he's more interested in playing than eating - and the two friends enjoy a lively night in which fear turns to fun. Good reading skills lend to the story of a crocodile which helps Peggy in both bath and bed.

The Last Pair Of Shoes
Sashi Friedman
Merkos Publications
291 Kingston Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11213
082660031X $13.95

Seva's realistic, captivating drawings in The Last Pair Of Shoes lend to the lovely story by Sashi Friedman of an old shoemaker who always has time for his visitor, and who loves talking about his childhood in Poland. Here he tells of his last pair of shoes, and of six children struggling for survival during hard times with a father away at war. Kids receive a moving story which challenges them to think. Good reading skills required but well worth any effort: parents will also want to use this as a read-aloud fable for a wider age range.

c/o Penguin Publishing Group
345 Hudson, New York, NY 10014

A truly dastardly crime has caused chaos in Ant Hill: some cows are missing and a bunch of ladybugs are surely to blame. Brad Sneed's Deputy Harvey And The Ant Cow Caper (0803730233, $16.99) requires some reading skills but provides exceptionally bright, zany full-page drawings and an unusual mystery story to spice the effort. Melinda Copper's version of Snow White (0525474749, $16.99) is truly a winning, lovely and unusual version of the classic: for here Snow White is inspired by master painters around the world and assumes the form of animal characters. The enchanting bunny Snow White and the seven animal dwarfs is a keepsake even for those already thoroughly familiar with the original tale. Kathy Hall and Lisa Eisenberg's Stinky Riddles (0803729286, $14.99) joins others in a popular early reader series for kids which relies on riddles for entertainment. From what little skunks like to do after school to scent clues throughout, this easy reader comes loaded with engaging drawings, mystery, and incentive to read.

Mind Your Manners!
Diane Goode
Farrar Straus Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
0374349754 $16.00

Come dine with the Abbotts at their house - but watch out: they speak with mouths full, spit, and have terrible manners. Contemporary drawings blend with Victorian-style etiquette advise with a funny twist ("Smell not of thy meat, nor put it to thy nose") to create a hilarious set of examples of good - and bad - behaviors.

The Jade Stone
Caryn Yacowitz
Pelican Publishing Company
1000 Burmaster Street, Gretna, LA 70053
1589803590 $15.95 1-800-843-1724

Chan Lo is a stone carver who has a special assignment to carve a dragon from a lovely piece of green and white jade - but there may not be a dragon in the stone. Indeed, the stone has other ideas of what it wishes to be, and Chan is faced with a dilemma: to please his emperor or listen to the stone's needs. Who will prove the most powerful? Lovely drawings by Ju-Hong Chen bring the traditional tale to life.

Isabel's House Of Butterflies
Tony Johnston
Gibbs Smith, Publisher
PO Box 667, Layton UT 84041
1578051282 $6.95 1-800-748-5439

Enhanced with Susan Guevara's graceful and lively illustrations, Isabel's House Of Butterflies by Tony Johnston tells the story of a young girl who enjoys the sight of thousands of butterflies roosting in her favorite tree. As the weather turns cold butterflies fill the sky with vibrant color as they migrate deep into the warm southern forests of Michoacan, Mexico. But a long, dry year and a very cold winter will mean having to cut down the tree upon which those butterflies roost -- unless Isabel can think of another way to save both her family and the "House of Butterflies". The flawless blending of pictures and text make Isabel's House Of Butterflies an enthusiastically recommended and enduringly popular addition to any school or community library collection.

Glasses: Who Needs 'em?
Lane Smith
Viking Press/Penguin Publishing Group
345 Hudson, New York, NY 10014
0670841609 $16.99

"Only dorks wear glasses," maintains the young patient, but it's up to the 'mad optometrist' to prove otherwise in Glasses: Who Needs 'em? From pink elephants and little green men to robots, the optometrist is convinced all could benefit in this zany, whimsical tale of a young patient who needs some extraordinary examples.

Knopf/Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019

Good reading skills or parental assistance will lend a wider age range to the lovely tale Dona Flor: A Tall Tale About A Giant Women With A Great Big Heart (0375823379, $15.95) by Pat Mora. Raul Colon's gorgeous drawings lend to the captivating tale of a giant lady who lives in a tiny village in the American Southwest. A friend of kids, she plays and reads with them and even protects her beloved neighbors when a terrifying animal threatens the village. Spanish words and phrases pepper the story. Also recommended for kids with reading skills or reading parents is Josephine Poole's Anne Frank (0375-832424, $17.95) which provides an unusual picture book biography from Anne's diary to bring her story to a younger audience than usual, and Poole's Joan Of Arc (0679890416, $17.95), achieving the same in providing a dramatic story of the historical figure. Both are illustrated with fine, realistic drawings by Angela Barrett. Jack Prelutsky's Read A Rhyme, Write A Rhyme (0375822860, $16.95) receives Meilo So's excellent drawings to illustrate poems selected by Jack Prelutsky as inspirations for helping young readers write their own poetry. Poems by many different writers offer themes readily understandable by the young. Jim Jinkins' Back To School Is Cool! (037583236X, $12.95) returns the spunky Pinky Dinky Doo to kids moving into easy chapter books. It's the first day of school and Tyler is so nervous about first grade that he hides in the dirty laundry pile. It's up to Pinky Dinky Doo, his sister, to handle the results. Barbara Park's Junie B. First Grader: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May.) (0375828087, $11.95) is a step above the picture book reading level but holds excellent black and white illustrations by Denise Brunkus and a format which will appeal to kids in grades 1-3 with its latest Junie B. story of holiday time. Junie is doing lots of happy thins to celebrate - but may keeps ruining her happiness. Can she serve as a proper Secret Santa to her enemy? David Almond and Stephen Lambert's Kate, The Cat And The Moon (0385746911, $15.95) presents a winning picturebook fantasy as it tells of a child who changes into a cat at night and roams the countryside while everyone is asleep. Fun fantasy in a very accessible picture book format makes the tale available to a wide audience of young readers. Just in time for the holidays is the whimsical Lynn Rowe Reed Theolonius Turkey Lives! (On Felicia Ferguson's Farm) (9375831266, $15.95). Every Thanksgiving one turkey disappears from Felicia Ferguson's farm - and now Thelonius is the only turkey left - and he's not going without a fight. Thelonius begins a campaign to save himself in this zany tale of a determined turkey.

Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012

Mark Sperring's The Fairytale Cake (04-39683297, $15.95) is decorated by Jonathan Langley and makes an exciting story for readers used to fun: what if your birthday cake was created by a delicious cast of characters from favorite nursery rhymes such as Little Bo Peep? Here each play a part in the baking process - and a hilarious effort is documented. Audrey Wood's The Deep Blue Sea: A Book Of Colors (043-9753821, $15.99) receives Bruce Wood's colorful drawings as it provides a very simple story educating kids about color. An unpredictable rollicking rhyme format lends to the account. Robert Neubecker's Beastly Bath (0439640008, $14.99) provides an excellent read-aloud book for kids about a little beast who takes a bath. Parents will find the drawings fun and the admonition to 'clean your claws, your fur and scales' hilarious. Pam Munoz Ryan's Nacho And Lolita (0439269687, $16.99) receives Claudia Rueda's colorful, whimsical drawings as it tells of a rare bird proud of his brilliant feathers and songs - but lonely that there's nobody to share his beauty with. When Nacho meets swallow Lolita, he wonders if two very different birds can find happiness. A fine story of friendship and uncertainties. Barbara McClintock's Cinderella (0439561450, $15.99) pairs McClintock's vintage and lovely drawings with the classic story of a downtrodden step-child who doesn't give into to depression despite it all. Faith McNulty's If You Decide To Go To The Moon (0590483595, $16.99) receives Steven Kellogg's fun and realistic drawings as it speculates what would happen to a buy who went into space. From sage advice ("when you are thirsty, don't try to pour orange juice into a glass. With everything weightless, it would collect into floating liquid balls.") to space science, kids receive a healthy dose of facts mixed into the story of what would happen on a trip to the moon. James Mayhew's The Knight Who Took All Day (0439748291, $15.99) tells of a foolish knight who wants to impress a princess with his prowess. What he needs is a dragon to fight: but is his bravery all talk and no action? A fun tale of uncertain courage evolves. David M. Schwartz's If Dogs Were Dinosaurs (0439676124, $16.99) offers a lesson in size as it asks how a dog's habits would change if he were as big as a dinosaur. Principles of ratio and proportion are applied in the course of a zany story with explanations on how to do the math to come up with explanations and fun examples. Margot Zemach's Eating Up Gladys (043-966490X, $16.99) receives Kaethe Zemach's fun drawings as it presents the story of an older sister in charge when their parents are out. Gladys can call the shots - but her sisters have had enough of her bossiness, and they decide on a fun plan of revenge…

The Fiction Shelf

1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019

Five new titles provide action and adventure for young leisure readers ages 10-13. Andy Spearman's Barry, Boyhound (037-5832645, $15.95) tells of a boy who is dog on the inside. He sees advantages to being a dog - you don't have to be clean, for example - but there are disadvantages, too - especially when it comes to talking fleas, an angry mother, and an exploding raccoon. A hilarious tale of change. Viola Canales' The Tequila Worm (0385746-741, $15.95) tells of young Sofia's coming of age. She comes from a family of storytellers and here tells of growing up in the Barrio: celebrations, quinceaneras, Christmas - and when she's singled out to receive a scholarship to a boarding school she has the chance to leave her family to enter a very different world of rich girls and cultural differences… Wendelin Van Draanen's Sammy Keyes And The Dead Giveaway (0375823506, $15.95) provides a new twist: here Sammy Keyes is motivated not to solve the crime: she's the perp, her arch enemy Heather is the suspect. Even more puzzling - threatening messages and her enemy's guilt are drawing her in despite herself. Mark Crilley's Billy Clikk: Rogmasher Rampage (0385-731124, $10.95) tells of a mission for Billy to go on his first solo operation to face monsters menacing a Chinese mountain village. The only problem is - bossy Ana Garcia will come along and she doesn't hesitate to remind Billy of her seniority. Black and white drawings pepper the adventure and keep the action flowing smoothly. The latest addition to Grace Cavendish's 'Lady Grace' series, Deception (0385733216, $7.95) tells of a terrible discover on the River Thames involving the Queen's Lady Pursuivant, Grace, in a new mystery. As Grace discovers a dangerous counterfeiting scandal, intrigue comes alive on every page. Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell's new 'Edge Chronicles' addition Vox (0385750803, $12.95) tells of the evil Vox Verlix who plots new dangers to the world of Edge. Harry Potter fans will relish the Edge Chronicles: it'll reach a younger age group but pack in adventure, here telling of a librarian's skyship struck down in a seedy side of town and facing slavery as an employee of the evil Vox.

Hubert Invents The Wheel
Claire & Monte Montgomery
Walker & Company
104 - 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10001
0802789900 $16.95 1-800-289-2553

Kids in grades 4-6 will appreciate Hubert Invents The Wheel, a zany story of one teen Hubert, who has some ideas of how to make his life in Ancient Sumeria easier - by inventing the wheel, his greatest creation. So why doesn't the world rejoice? It could be because the Assyrian enemies try to use his invention to reduce his people to roadkill - and it's up to Hubert to save civilization. Black and white illustrations by Jeff Shelly pepper a zany tale.

Rhymes With Witches
Lauren Myracle
115 West 18th St., New York, NY 10011
0810958597 $16.95

Jane has been selected by the school to be the freshman recruit at Crestview Academy - and from her new role she gains much popularity, though stealing it from others. While she revels in the clique and her newfound importance, it takes the needs of another loner to make her face her new persona and the results of her actions and compliance with the school's most popular group. Rhymes With Witches is a recommended and highly entertaining read.

The Sisters Grimm
Michael Buckley
Amulet Books/Abrams
115 W. 18th Street, New York, NY 10001
0810959259 $14.95 1-800-759-0190

In The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy-Tale Detective, Sabrina and Daphne Grimm have had to face the mysterious disappearance of their parents and a grandmother they never knew, but this is only the beginning of their problems: Granny reveals the girls have two famous ancestors, the Brothers Grimm, whose classic book of fairy tales is actually a real history book. And, it's up to the girls to become fairy-tale detectives! A rollicking investigation of a giant results.

Candlewick Books
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140

Nothing's more important to Simeon Zook than his family and their farm, so when a fire breaks out, he's determined to uncover its cause - even if it's his own fault, in Cathryn Clinton's Simeon's Fire (07636-27070 $15.99). His investigation leads to a discovery and a possible new danger to his family if he tells in this fast-paced story. Paul Shipton's The Pig Scrolls By Gryllus The Pig (076362702X, $15.99) is a story quite different from the norm: set in ancient Greece, Gryllus has been transformed by Circe into a pig - and is content to stay that way until pushy prophetess Sibyl kidnaps him and informs him only he can save the world. So much for the leisurely life of a swine: Gryllus becomes a reluctant hero in this zany Greek tale packed with both action and humor.

Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of Americas, NY, NY 10020

Bethany's thirteenth birthday is approaching and as it does her parents behave increasingly oddly, until her father leaves Bethany quite suddenly with an aunt she never knew existed in Margaret Peterson Haddix's Double Identity (0689873743 $15.95). In her aunt's small town everyone reacts with shock when they met Bethany: as the mystery increases Bethany decides to uncover the secret about her past - and about the mysterious Elizabeth. Plenty of twists and turns make for an absorbing plot. Tim Bowler's Apocalypse (1416903704, $16.95) presents a thriller for mature readers. Kit and his parents are sailing when they find the world changed: fog rolls in, compasses won't work, and they are stranded on a barren island where a wild girl and a strange man lure Kit from his parents. Why do the islanders seem to hate him - and what has happened to the world he's known? Riveting tension all the way. Speaking of tension, E.R. Frank's Wrecked (0689873832, $15.95) is one of the most moving stories you could find on the aftermath of an auto accident. An auto crash involving three teens kills one, leaves a passenger disabled, and is viewed from the driver's perspective in Wrecked. For Anna has killed her brother's girlfriend in the accident and has to handle not only the death but the rift with her brother and her passenger friend, who was drunk at the time. An emotionally charged story of responsibility. Deb Caletti's Wild Roses (0689867662, $15.95) tells of a teen living with a volatile, bullying stepfather who to the world is a famous violinist and composer. His preparation for a comeback concert brings him to the edge of sanity: as Cassie tries to hide his increasing instability from the public, she becomes more afraid - until Dino's first student, a brilliant young violinist - arrives on the scene to introduce love into the confused mix. A fine story of romance and mental illness evolves.

The Holiday Shelf

The Christmas Bell
Rolf Krenzer
McGraw Children's
8787 Orion Place, Columbus, OH 43240
1577684109 $15.95

Maja Dusikova's simple and compelling drawings lend to this story of Rachel, who finds a beautiful silver bell in the street and sets off on a journey to Bethlehem, where she finds the baby Jesus. The Christmas Bell is a new and entertaining twist on the traditional story - one which involves an unusual gift and a girl's quest.

Dingles & Company
PO Box 508, Sea Grit, NJ 08750

Judy Zocchi and Rebecca Wallis provide a lovely set of holiday books which will appeal to young learners with bilingual editions and very basic facts. On Thanksgiving Day/El Dia De Accion De Gracias (1891997750, $15.50) provides an introduction to Thanksgiving, outlining traditions, customs, and providing activities along with its facts; On Christmas Day (1891997475, $15.50) and its bilingual companion On Christmas Eve/La Nochebuena (1891997483, $15.50) tell of how Christmas is celebrated around the world; and On Halloween Night (1891997777, $15.50) and companion La Noche De Halloween (1891997769, $15.50) tells of Halloween traditions and how different cultures celebrate.

The Bird In Santa's Beard
Jeffery L. Schatzer, et al.
Mitten Press
2500 S. State St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104
1587262886 $18.95

Written by Jeffery L Schatzer with the assistance of Mark Bush and Don Rutt, The Bird In Santa's Beard: How A Christmas Legend Was Forever Changed is superbly and imaginatively illustrated by Ty Smith combinations of art and photography. This is the story of how a bird was given Santa's permission to nest in his beard in order to keep warm in the winter. Santa is having trouble making his rounds across the world. But with the help of the bird, he comes upon a solution that worked so well it is still the one used to this very day! Lively, colorful, original, and fun, The Bird In Santa's Beard is a wonderful contribution to the every growing library of Santa Claus lore and legend!

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Gareth Stevens
330 W. Olive St., Milwaukee, WI 53212
$20.67 Each

Pair the vivid drama of fiction written by Rebecca Johnson with the true facts of nonfiction and add engaging photos by Steve Parish and you have an idea of the appeal of a very simple new animal series geared for kids in grades 1-3. Each book holds only 24 pages, each page with a line of information and a full-page color photo, making them perfect introductions for the very young who love wildlife. Sea Turtle's Clever Plan (0836860759) tells of baby turtles who face danger upon hatching; The Proud Pelican's Secret (083685974X) tells of a clever pelican's fishing trick; Clown Fish Finds A Friend (0836-859693) tells of a lonely clown fish facing too much color in the world; Koala Commotion (0836859723) tells of a koala bear's adventure; The Kangaroo's Great Escape (0836859715) tells of kangaroos facing a deadly fire; Little Dolphin's Big Leap (0836859731) tells of a little dolphin who longs to leap into the air like her elders; Tree Frog Hears A Sound (0836859766) presents simply gorgeous colorful tree frog photos as it follows the story of a frog's investigation of a puzzling sound, and The Cranky Crocodile (0836859707) tells of the mean, nasty Mrs. Crocodile. All are presented in story form - but all contain easily digestible facts and vivid photos the very young will simply love.

Firefly Books
155 East 34th St., #5B, NY, NY 10016
$9.95 Each

Dan Bortolotti's 'Changing the Future for Endangered Wildlife' series offers two lovely 64-page coverages of animal rescue focus on specific wild animals and their needs. Panda Rescue (1552975576) introduces some of the people trying to save the giant panda from extinction, and the special challenges and issues they face; Tiger Rescue (1552975584) reveals why tigers are facing extinction. The focus on what people are doing to save them provides kids with more than the usual overview of declining habitats and human negligence, and will appeal to grades 4-6 with their positive insights.

Lerner Publishing
241 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401
$25.26 Each

The 'Animal Scavengers' series by Sandra Markle is one of the best we've seen in elementary-level nature books. For one thing, the series premise itself stands out, emphasizing that animal scavengers are prevalent and useful. For another, the cover art is vivid and captivating: even adults will take a look once they catch sight of the close-up and dramatically captured creatures. Vultures (082253195X), Wolverines (0822531984) and Tasmanian Devils (0822531992) each pack in nearly 40 pages of detail, including a bibliography, glossary and index - but it's the color close-up photos on every page which are dramatic and follow the initial excitement from cover to conclusion. Very highly recommended indeed: an outstanding series.

Crabtree Publishing
350 - 5th Ave., #3308, NY, NY 10118

Crabtree's titles are geared to curriculum needs and thus make excellent choices for schools who face regular report needs. These recent Bobbie Kalman books are real winners, and highly recommended picks for discriminating collections for grades 2-5. Endangered Elephants (0778-718603) surveys the life cycle of an elephant, its specific environmental needs, and why these bring it in increasing conflict with humans; Endangered Chimpanzees (077871859X) surveys chimp habits and why they are hunted and vanishing; Endangered Pandas (0778718581, $22.60) surveys where pandas live, their narrow eating habits and loss of habitats, poaching problems and protection efforts; and Endangered Leopards (0778718566, $22.60) identifies the eight kinds of leopards, their life cycle and differences, and why there's less room for them. The 'Food Chains' titles ($22.60 each) are also winners for young students of ecology. Seashore Food Chains (0778719499) surveys how plants to carnivores obtain food from sun, sand, and surf; Prairie Food Chains (0778719472) discusses how food is made and consumed in a prairie environment - something only touched upon in most competing 'food chains' books which focus on rainforests and shore primarily; and Tundra Food Chains (0778719466) discusses tundra animals, plants, and food webs. All include discussions of environmental protection, species status, and plenty of facts and color photos.

The Environmental Studies Shelf

Young Person's Guide To The Prairie
Wendy Munson Scullin
South River Press
PO Box 392, Indianola, IA 50125-0392
0977076407 $11.95 1-800-350-6680

Young Person's Guide To The Prairie is an introduction to what constitutes a prairie and prairie ecologies. Writer, gardener, and prairie scholar Wendy Scullin describes the dynamics of grasslands in straightforward text accessible to readers of all ages and backgrounds. A handful of black-and-white photographs illustrate discussions of variations between prairies, and how best to preserve prairies and the thriving life they support for the future. An index allows for easy reference in this ideal guidebook especially for young people curious about the natural world.

Stargazer/Creative Company
123 S. Broad St., Mankato, MN 56001

Filled with a profusion of full-page color photos and a facing page of information make this 32-page presentation by Michael George, Endangered Jewels: Rainforests (12583412522, $27.10) striking indeed; especially as it opens with several pages of eye-catching animal photos before proceeding into the facts. Kids in grades 2-4 will find it an inviting approach which uses strong visuals to attract, then easy explanations to inform. Jane Walker's Environmental Disasters: Oil Spills (1932799109, $27.10) provides the same grade level with 32 pages of detail on oil spills, from history and environmental challenges to differences between land and sea spills, cleanup operations, and prevention.

Midnight Forests
Gary Hines
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church St., Honesdale, PA 18431
1563971488 $16.95

Few biographies for kids survey Gifford Pinchot and his role as the father of the conservation movement in this country, which makes Midnight Forests: A Story Of Gifford Pinchot And Our National Forests all the more important. Robert Casilla provides an excellent survey here: good reading skills for grades 3-4 lend to learning about Pinchot's time spent in the woods, his political influence, and his vision for preservation.

The Audiobook Shelf

Cornelia Funke, author
Brendan Fraser, narrator
Listening Library, Inc.
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
0307281620 $60.00 1-800-726-0600

The sequel to "Inkheart", Cornelia Funke's Inkspell is an unabridged fantasy audiobook deftly narrated by Brendan Fraser about a magical story so real its characters came to life, and changed the life of Meggie, the young girl who wrote the story, forever. Now Dustfinger, the fire-eater who came into being from words, needs to return to the original tale; when he discovers a crooked storyteller with the ability to read him back, he abandons his apprentice, who in turn seeks out Meggie. The storybook has grown far more complex, and at times dangerous; together Meggie and her friend must "write" the wrongs of an enchanted world before a bad ending claims them all! Inkspell is an enthralling audiobook for all ages, and highly recommended. 16 CDs, 18 hours and 50 minutes.

Greenhaven Press
27500 Drake Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48331-3535

These medical and health titles are recommended for teen audiences, as well as many an adult or ESR students who will find them equally important. David M. Haugen and Matthew J. Box's Terrorism (073772501X, $28.70) joins others in the 'Social Issues Firsthand' series to provide an introductory overview to policy debates over terrorism. From living under occupation and mourning terrorist attacks to terrorists on trial, this series specializes in first-hand source accounts to accompany debates of issues surrounding them. Kelly Barth edits Human Medical Trials (073-7726695, $29.95), which takes a historical look at the history and social issues surrounding such trails, joining others in the opposing viewpoints 'At Issue in History' series. Almost 150 pages considers research on human subjects with physicians, nurses, subjects, politicians and debates on all sides adding their insights. Quotes from source materials supplement different studies and research issues. Clay Farris Naff edits the 'Contemporary Issues' companion Biological Weapons (0737731834, $23.70), packing in debates on biological weapons in an anthology filled with case studies, statistics and personal accounts. Each essay receives a brief introduction, a summary of main points, and an overview of the issue, whether it be military defenses of bioweapons, experiments of nations considering bioweaponry, or a review of different types of such weapons. Andrea Nakaya's Obesity (0737732342, $23.70) joins other Opposing Viewpoints overviews in debating weight-related issues. From effective ways to reduce obesity - including lawsuits against fast food places and streamlining labeling requirements for nutrition to considering social and individual responsibility, Obesity will prove good for classroom debate. Stuart Kallen edits Are Privacy Rights Being Violated? (073-77235610, $19.95), a survey of how businesses use data and related issues of employee and consumer rights. Also included are privacy rules, Patriot Act violations, and arguments on other types of privacy violations. All are excellent for high school through adult readers: anyone seeking overviews that make you think.

The Library Video/DVD Shelf

The Happy Elf
Anchor Bay Entertainment
1699 Stutz Drive, Troy, MI 48084

Featuring the voice and music of Harry Connick Jr., as well as the talents of Carol Kane, Lewis Black, Rob Paulsen, and Mickey Rooney, The Happy Elf is a delightful computer-animated, Christmas-themed, family-friendly cartoon DVD. The Happy Elf follows the story of Eubie, a hard-working Santa's helper whose positive take on life is put to the test when he decides to bring Christmas cheer to the gloomy town of Bluesville. One little elf's enthusiasm may seem outmatched at first by the frowns and disapproval of authority, but Eubie isn't one to quit half- done! DVD special features include full-screen and widescreen options, three elf games, a storyboard, printable holiday cards, a bonus Bluesville coloring book, a "making of" interview, and more. A wonderful modern Christmas fable especially meant to be shared with young children.

Firefighter George & The Florida State University Flying High Circus Teach Nutrition
Start Smarter
PO Box 421194, Atlanta, Georgia 30342 404-944-1351

Firefighter George & The Florida State University Flying High Circus Teach Nutrition, Plus How & When To Dial 911 is an omnibus educational video with a lesson plan booklet. Lessons 1 & 2 feature the Florida State University Flying High Circus Performers as they review the new food pyramid and teach young people about the importance of nutritious foods and a balanced diet. Lesson 3 involves Firefighter George with the help of The Atlanta New Century School, and shows children how to handle emergency situations and dial 911 on the telephone. Situations include when a house has smoke coming out of it, when a child in the water is in trouble, when a parent is lying unconscious on the ground, or a burglar is trying to break into the house. The lesson plans promote not only health and survival skills, but also math and reading skills with classroom-tested activities, according to the NCTM and NCTE teaching standards. A highly recommended instructional video for public, private, and home schools alike. 54 min., color.

Books in Series

World Almanac Library
330 West Olive Street, #100, Milwaukee, WI 53212
$30.00 Each 1-800-848-2928

The "World Almanac Library Of The Holocaust" series by David Downing is recommended as basic library reference for grades 3-7: each book focuses on a particular aspect of Holocaust history and includes source material references, black and white photos, and plenty of detail in each 48-page coverage. Fighting Back (0836859464) tells of Jews who stood up against the Holocaust and found ways of fighting their oppressors, Origins Of Holocaust (083685943X) explores the roots of anti-Semitism and how it rose from religious intolerance to a social program; The Nazi Death Camps (083685-9472) tells of the six major Nazi extermination camps; Aftermath And Remembrance (0836859480) documents the end of the Holocaust and how the nightmare continued for many Jews after the war, and Toward Genocide (0836859456) shows the deadly Nazi march across Europe before war's end. In narrowing the topic, each book is able to provide more in-depth coverage.

Weekly Reader/WRC Media
330 W. Olive #100, Milwaukee, WI 53212
$19.33 Each

The 'Early Learning Library' titles published by Weekly Reader are 24-page easy readers for the very young, published in sets offering kids very basic information. Take the 'I Use Math' titles: each relates math to everyday life, from games and kitchen work to store and workshop - and each book also appears in a Spanish/English bilingual format. I Use Math In The Workshop (0836848586) and its Spanish counterpart Uso Las Matematicas En El Taller (0836860039) covers building projects; I Use Math At The Game (0836848551) and Uso Las Matematicas En El Juego Depelota (0836860004) discuss math in sports calculations; I Use Math In The Kitchen (0836848578) and counterpart Uso Las Matematicas En La Cocina (0836860020) discuss kitchen measuring; I Use Math At The Doctor's (0836848543) and Uso Las Matematicas En El Medico (0836859995) survey scales, temperature and more; I Use Math At The Store (083684856X) and Uso Las Matematicas En La Tienda (0836860012) surveys the shopping process, and I Use Math On A Trip (0836848594) and Uso Las Matematicas En Un Viaje (0836860-047) tells of maps and measurements. All are geared to grades 1-3. The bilingual Spanish/English 'Water Habitats' introduces the same age group to water habitats using the same full-page bright color photos of kids interacting with their environment: recommended picks include Wetlands (0836860322), Lakes (08368602-92), Beaches (0836860276), Ocean Floors (0836860306), Rivers (08368603-14) and Coral Reefs (0836860284). The 'Animals: Desert' series focuses on desert creatures with the same bilingual format/age range reached for Gila Monsters (083-6848276) and its Spanish bilingual Mostruos De Gila (0836848411), Vultures (0836848314) and its bilingual sister Vultures/Buitres (0836848454) and Rattlesnakes/Serpientes De Cascabel (0836848-438). 'Animals that Live in the Desert' adds more desert wildlife: Jackrabbits/Liebres Americanas (083684842X) describes hares; Roadrunners (0836848306) and Roadrunners/Correcaminos (083684-8446) describes the bird of the desert, an Coyotes (0836848268) and its bilingual Coyotes (0836848403) describes appearance and natural history. The 'Animals and Their Senses' set provides a focus on different animal senses and how different animals use them. Animal Touch (083-6848063) and its bilingual Animal Touch/El Tacto En Los Animales (0836848187) covers animal appendages and touch; Animal Sights (0836848039) and companion Animal Sight/La Vista En Los Animales (0836848152) tells of how animals see differently, Animal Smell (0836848047) and Animal Smell/El Oleato En Los Animales (0836848160) tells of how different animals use their sense of smell; Animal Taste (0836848055) and Animal Taste/El Gusto En Los Animales (0836848179) tells of taste buds and how different animals desire different foods, and Animal Hearing (083684802) and Animal Hearing/el Oido En Los Animales (083684-144) tells of how animals use hearing to survive. The 'People We Should Know' series ($25.05 each) are also winners, each presented in either English or Spanish. Cesar Chavez (0836847458) and the Spanish version (0836847598) provides 24 pages pairing black and white photos with a coverage of the farmworker's life and fight for civil rights; Neil Armstrong (0836847-44X) and its Spanish version (0836847-58X) tells of a boy who dreamed of flying and grew up to be the first man to walk on the moon; John F. Kennedy (0836847-474) and Spanish version (083684761X) introduces a young President who was a politician and family man; Walt Disney (0836847466) and Spanish companion (836847601) tells of a man who loved to draw as a boy and grew up to create some of the best cartoons in the world; Rosa Parks (0836847482; Spanish, 08368476-28) documents an African-American who fought for equality with quiet determination. All provide biographical sketches to a younger audience than is usually treated to such coverage. Simply outstanding.

The Gardening Shelf

Kids' Container Gardening
Cindy Krezel
Ball Publishing
PO Box 9, Batavia, IL 60510
1883052432 $14.95

Gardening is lots of fun, especially with this project-oriented introduction that offers 17 different gardening projects with kids in mind, from growing a hanging basket of vegetables to creating a water garden complete with fish. Simple lists of what's needed to start each project are embellished by color photos of young gardeners and botany insights with simple facts. Children in grades 3-5 will find Kids' Container Gardening most inviting.

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

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